How Well Do You See, Part 2 by Larry W. Peebles

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” This is a common truism being heard these days. It requires no explanation, and is almost impossible to debate.

Similarly, “you don’t see what you don’t see” might be considered an undebatable truism, but is the very statement worth exploring as a follow up to How Well Do You See, Part 1.

In Part 1, it was pointed out that Jesus spoke of “seeing, sight, seen, and blind” over 220 times in the four Gospels. While He walked this earth, He brought many recorded miracles of healing, and a number of these involved the blind. But He actually encountered three types of blindness:

  1. Those who could not see because of the loss of the physical ability to see. The Gospels recorded the miracles of Jesus involving this group as He restored sight to the blind.
  2. Those who could see, but did not know or understand what they saw. In that sense, they remained blind, especially to the things that Jesus taught and did that were supernatural, spiritual, or miraculous. They listened to the teachings, and they saw the miracles, but they still “didn’t get it.” At least they were curious.
  3. Those who were perfectly sure they already saw so well naturally and spiritually that they were not interested in anything Jesus taught or did. In fact, it went beyond not being interested. This group was so hard-core blind they despised Jesus, rejected His teachings, did not believe His miracles, and wanted Him dead.

Two thousand years later, the question remains for most people: How well do you see? As human beings, our natural vision may be perfect, or we get sufficient corrective help with eyeglasses or contact lenses. As spirit beings, created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), who is Spirit, we sorely lack in spiritual vision. If honesty prevailed, most would have to admit to some degree of the type 2 blindness described above. Just like eyeglasses help with natural vision, we need help with our spiritual vision so that we “get it” with respect to the unseen spiritual aspect of our being.

In 2 Kings 6:15-17, when Elisha’s servant looked he could only see the enemy all around. Many of us get up every day, look around, and only see our troubles.  When Elisha prayed “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see”, his servant saw horses and chariots of fire to protect them. This is an excellent comparison of what we see in the natural versus what we could see if our spiritual eyes were opened by God.

Jesus wants to be that help. He came not to make people see, but to help them see. Our cooperation, our curiosity, our interest is required. He can see what we cannot see when it comes to the spirit realm.   He can see the beginning and the end. He can see into the future, and He can see our destiny, the purpose for which we were created. He knows what lies ahead. We need to be interested enough in what He is doing and seeing to ask Him. He is willing to share what He sees for you and me. Let me give you an example from something that happened to me.

I was driving my car home from a Saturday afternoon of running errands around the neighborhood. My wife and I had sung in the choir for an evangelistic crusade in our area the night before, and those praise and worship songs were still in my head. I was alone, singing one of those songs as I headed into a T-intersection where I was forced to turn right or left, as the road I was on came to an end.

A left turn would take me home. The light in the intersection was green on my side, so I had the signal to proceed. Suddenly, a Voice within the car seemed to come over my left shoulder and said two words: “Look left.” If someone were in the car (which they were not), and as the driver, I would expect the voice to come from behind or to the right, but this Voice came over my left shoulder so as to not only tell me to look to the left, but to cause me to turn my head to the left at the same time.

The only thing I saw was a car coming from the left into the T-intersection, perhaps traveling a little above the speed limit. No problem, he had the red light, and would be slowing to a stop. The speed at which I can tell this story is much slower than real time, but what happened next is one of those instances when things seem to happen in slow motion. The Voice was loud and clear on looking left, so I never took my eyes off the car to the left. As I approached the intersection, I tapped my brake, then watched the car, then tapped my brake, and watched the car some more. I finally hit the brake and came to a complete stop as the car coming from the left ran through the intersection. As I watched him drive away, I looked up, and my light was still green. The car had run a red light without slowing. If I had not stopped, I would have been hit broad side, possibly at the driver’s door. The Voice spoke a firm warning which saved me great harm, possibly sparing my life.

Similar to Elisha and his servant in 2Kings 6, the Voice could see in this situation something I could not see. The Voice knew what would happen if He did not intervene. The Voice was the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of the resurrected Jesus, who is God with us today. The Voice sounded so directional it had to come from behind me and to the left. Its source was external to me, so it had to be the audible Voice of God. His instruction saved my life.

Relying on my own natural vision, I could have been seriously hurt. Here’s what I would have seen incorrectly without some spiritual Vision help. I saw a green light, so I had the legal right to proceed. As a good driver, if I had taken a quick look to the left before proceeding through the intersection, I would have seen a car I expected to stop. If I had not stared continually at the car coming from the left, I would not have stopped.   It was a bright sunny afternoon. I thought I could see well, but what I could not see would have led me to a disastrous result.

Jesus wants to help you see what you cannot see. He sees the great plan He has for your life (Jer. 29:11), and He knows your destiny. He is willing to show you the next step, as He knows precisely where to lead you. If He would do it for me, He will do it for you. Years after the Voice said “Look left”, I found this amazing promise from God in Isaiah 30:21- “Whether you should turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying “This is the way, walk in it.”.”

He promises that Voice to guide you and help you see. Maybe you have never been interested in seeing into the spiritual world, or you’ve asked God to see, but nothing happened. Just like the blind man in Mark 8:22-25 required more than one touch from Jesus in order to see, keep asking Him to touch you so you can see and not be spiritually blind. It will save your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treasure Hunters Part 3 by Kay Keith Peebles

The greatest treasures require the greatest sacrifice: our salvation, a great marriage, raising children and a great friendship.

Have you ever told a secret to a friend and realized that they shared your secret with several other people? There are those who know how to be discreet and there are those who do not. The mature friend, who understands the importance of restraint when it comes to a confidence, is a rare gift from God.

God shares His secrets with those closest to Him. He shared His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah with Abraham and allowed Abraham to intercede for the righteous. (See Genesis 18:17-33). He spoke face to face with Moses in the tabernacle Moses erected in the wilderness. (See Exodus 33:7-11).  Isaiah had a revelation of God in heaven and received the call to be a prophet  (See Isaiah 6:1-9); but He does not share His secrets with just anyone. (See Matthew 7:6).

The temple in Jerusalem was built with three separate sections: the outer court, the inner court (also called the Holy Place) and the Holy of Holies. The outer court was for the general public. Both Jew and Gentile were allowed to congregate in the outer court. Only the Jews, however, were allowed to enter the Holy Place. The Holy of Holies was separated from the other two sections by a thick veil. The veil was a heavy opaque fabric as thick as a man’s hand. The High Priest was the only one allowed to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. The Holy of Holies is where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. The Ark of the covenant represented the abiding presence of God. Resting on top of the Ark was the mercy seat upon which the High Priest would sprinkle the blood sacrifices for the sins of the people.

These three sections of the temple represented three different levels of intimacy with God. Discussions about God would take place in the outer court. Teaching of the Torah happened in the Holy Place giving the people of God deeper understanding. The High Priest alone would enter the Holy of Holies as an intercessor on behalf of the people. The responsibility of the High Priest was to minister first to the Lord and then to the people. We are all called to be Priests and Kings. (See Revelation 5:10).

Jesus ministered to the people according to their interest level in the kingdom of heaven. There were three different levels of intimacy: the general public, His disciples, and His most intimate disciples: Peter, James and John. His approach to ministry was different in all three of these levels. He spoke in parables to the general public but explained thoroughly the parables and teachings to His disciples.

In Matthew 13, Jesus told the parable of the sower. Later, His disciples came to Him and asked Him why He spoke in parables and the meaning of the parable of the sower. (See Matthew 13:1-13). His response to them is in verses 11-13; “And He replied to them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is the reason that I speak to them in parables: because having the power of seeing, they do not see; and having the power of hearing; they do not hear, nor do they grasp and understand.'”

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one. Some people who approach Christianity are curious but never serious. Others may attend church but it is more for the social aspects than spiritual. They know “about” Jesus but do not have a personal relationship with Him. They rarely, if ever, pray or study the Bible. They cannot tell you what they truly believe or why. They live their lives led by their flesh (rational mind, senses and emotions) and their own desires, which the Bible says is enmity with God. The second group are disciples, growing in the knowledge of God and seeking the Holy Spirit’s direction. They desire to know the Bible and can explain to a degree, what they believe and why. The third group is made up of those few who are totally committed to Christ in mind, soul and spirit. They have surrendered their lives to His direction and live for Him, not for themselves. These are the ones of whom Paul spoke: “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (See Acts 17:28a).

The third group would be like Jesus’ inner circle of three disciples, to whom He revealed His heavenly glory through the transfiguration. (See Mark 9:2-10).  In verses 9-10 we see: “And as they were coming back down the mountain, He admonished and expressly ordered them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man should rise from among the dead. So they carefully and faithfully kept the matter to themselves, questioning and disputing with one another about what rising from the dead meant.”

The deep treasures of God are reserved for His true disciples who have the discretion to hold the secret until the Lord allows them to share it. The Lord is prophetic and what He speaks will come to pass. He must be able to completely trust His disciple with the protection of any secret or mystery until the “fullness of time” when He desires it to be disclosed to the people.

His call to discipleship is found in Mark 8:34-38. It is a very serious calling, one that requires faithfulness to what God asks them to do. Verse 34 begins: “And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself, [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me].” Continuing in verse 35: “For whoever wants to save his [higher spiritual, eternal] life, will lose it [the lower, natural, temporal life which is lived only on earth]; and whoever gives up his life [which is lived only on earth], for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it [his higher, spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God]. Please continue reading verses 36-38.

John was called the Beloved disciple. He was the one who rested his head on Jesus’ heart. He was also the one who not only wrote the books of John, 1John, 2John, 3John but also the book of Revelation. He saw the revelation of Jesus in His glory returning to set up His kingdom on earth. Abraham saw the City of God coming down out of heaven and the sacrificial Lamb of God Who would take away the sins of the world. (See Hebrews 11:8-10 and Genesis 22:6-8). Jacob wrestled with the pre-incarnate Christ for his blessing (See Genesis 32:24-30), and Moses talked with the Lord face to face, as friend to friend in the tabernacle in the wilderness.  (See Exodus 33:7-11).

God’s presence is not earned, all three groups experienced the presence of Jesus.  It was the level of intimacy that was different, and that comes from the deep longing in the heart of the individual.  In every generation, God has called forth those, who would hear His voice and seek His face. None of them were great men or women; they were ordinary men and women, like you and me, who served an amazing, extra-ordinary, all powerful God! He is calling for those in this day and hour to come forth, to come up higher, to take their place in a long line of seekers who are willing to sacrifice all to meet with Him. The earth is crying and groaning for the true sons of God to rise up and take their place in the earth. (See Romans 8:19).

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all of the words of this law.” There is a treasure hunter inside of you and me. Knowing Him and His ways is the greatest Treasure of all.

How Well Do You See, Part 1 by Larry W. Peebles

I did the best I could.  It was 35 years ago, and I was to preach my first sermon.  The venue was a very small country church east of Dallas.  The church was so small it did not have a full-time pastor.  The associate pastor at our church asked me to fill in for him at that church one Sunday, and I accepted.  I had a very intriguing question raised by a story from Scripture, but I had very few answers.

For a bit of background, one can tell from Scripture that Jesus was very concerned about how well we could see.  The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record over 220 passages where “see, seen, sight, and blind” are used by Jesus.  In some cases, these Gospel passages also refer to the Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, who said one would come (Messiah) who would restore sight to the blind.  For example, see Matt. 11:15 and Isa. 35:4-6.

My intriguing question for that small congregation that day came from the book of Mark, chapter 8, verses 22-26.  In the story, the people of Bethsaida bring a blind man to Jesus and beg Him to touch him.  Jesus took the man outside the village, spit on his eyes, and touched him, and asked if he could see anything.  The man replied he could see people, but they looked “like trees walking around”.  In other words, he could see, but not very clearly.  Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes a second time.  “Then his eyes were opened, his sight restored, and he saw everything clearly.”  Jesus sent him home.

It took two attempts to heal the man’s blindness.  Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was the miracle worker without limitations.  He took His orders only from God the Father, yet He needed a second shot at restoring sight to the blind man.  That seemed so unusual.  Was He having a bad day?  Were His powers in need of a tune up?  That was not the case at all.  The message of this story is a physical representation of a quite common spiritual occurrence.

Isaiah foretold, and Jesus knew that when He came to earth, there would be more than one, in fact three types of blindness He would encounter:

1. A certain portion of the population would have physical and literal blindness from eye diseases, accidents, and other causes.  This was the case with the man in Mark 8 above.  Jesus would miraculously heal these cases.

2. Others, a much larger portion of the population, would have eyes (for natural sight), but could not see in the spiritual sense.  See Matthew 13:13, where Jesus was asked about speaking to the people in parables.  He said “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”  He was actually quoting Isaiah 6:9-10, which goes on to say “this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.”  In other words, there would be some blind because of callousness of heart, and they could not see Jesus as the Son of God.  They might see His miracles, and hear the wonderful words of Truth taught, but they would not fully see (comprehend), and they would miss the spiritual connection with Jesus.  In addition to a vision correction, they would need heart surgery to correct the callousness (Ezek. 36:26-remove the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh) in order to connect with Jesus.

3. Finally, there would be the hard-core blind, those who thought they saw perfectly but were deceived.  They neither needed nor wanted any other help or enlightenment, and out of pride would persecute those who might be led by sight toward the Light of Jesus.  See John 9:39, where Jesus says “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see, and those who see will become blind.”  Most of the Pharisees fit into this category, as did Saul before his conversion experience on the road to Damascus.  Saul, persecutor of converts to The Way, literally became blind in that encounter with Jesus (Acts 9).  He got his physical sight back (and a new name-Paul) when Jesus later called him to carry His name before the Gentiles.

Today, thanks to eyeglasses, modern medicine, hygiene, and vastly improved surgical techniques, physical blindness is not as prevalent as in Jesus’ time.  Regarding the man’s blindness in Mark 8, it took more than one touch by Jesus to heal his physical blindness, just as it often takes more than one touch for the rest of us to be healed of our spiritual blindness toward Jesus.  There was no power shortage on Jesus’ part that day.  He gave us that story as an example and encouragement.

Symptoms of spiritual blindness might be any of the following, and there are probably others:

1. We are too busy or uninterested to pursue Jesus.  He does not fit into our high priority category.  There are plenty of other things crowding our schedule.

2. We go to church, know about Jesus, but we do not know Jesus through a personal relationship.

3. We are a good person leading a good life, and that should be enough to get us into Heaven.

4. We tried Jesus, and it did not work out.

5. The cares and worries of this world have beaten and worn us down to the point we have become calloused to the things of God.  There appears to be no help for us.

In terms of blindness, Jesus knew what He was facing when He walked the earth, and He still knows today.  He is willing to address these symptoms, and He is willing to touch the deepest parts of our being to bring about healing.  He demonstrates from the story that He is willing to, and often does, touch a second time, and a third, and more to bring about the restoration of sight.  He came from Heaven in the form of a man, and lives and reigns today, so that we can see (and hear) Him clearly, can follow and pursue Him, and come to know and understand Him as our personal Friend and Savior, Lord and King.

Jesus did not need a “do-over” to heal the man of blindness in Mark 8, but the man did.  Often we do also.  Ask Him to touch you again.

Treasure Hunters Part 2 By Kay K. Peebles

I have never known a child that didn’t love the game of hide and seek. There is the intrigue of searching for someone that is “hidden”, and the joy of discovery when they are found. Treasure hunters are seekers. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word seek: to search for, to try to reach, to attempt. Both the Hebrew and Greek translations have a stronger definition for the word seek when it applies to the “things above” or God. Their definitions mean to diligently seek, or earnestly seek. This is not a passive stance but one fully engaged with the expectation to find what is being sought.

In Treasure Hunters Part 1, I noted that God had placed the heart of a “treasure hunter” within each of us so that we would seek to know Him. His invitation for relationship has gone forth for all to respond. In addition to the call to enter relationship with the Lord, He gave us the desire to seek things that are hidden.

God really does not make it that difficult for us to find Him. The Lord, like any good parent, leaves clues directing the young child to the right hiding place. Hide and seek is not fun for the seeker unless the goal of finding is reached. Romans 1:19-20 states, “For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity have been made intelligible and clearly discernable in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification].”

My husband and I once taught a Sunday school class of newlyweds at our church. In that class we had a young man who said he had been a devout atheist for most of his life. It was only recently he had found Jesus. We asked him what it was that led him to the Lord. His reply was amazing. He said he had some problems, and since he lived in Colorado, he decided to go to the mountains to get away and think. Camping in the mountains, he sat on the top of a 10,000+ foot mountain and looked out over the layers of majestic peaks and valleys as far as his eyes could see. From inside he felt a revelation that the majesty and beauty he was witnessing was not there by accident. He realized how shallow his beliefs had been. Overwhelmed by a sense of God’s presence, he spoke into the atmosphere, “God, if you are real, make yourself known to me.” At that incredible moment, the God of creation, the Lord Jesus (See John 1:1-3) spoke to the “seeker” inside, giving evidence of His existence. His “prayer” was answered by the Lord and confirmed by an intense feeling of peace, revealing to him that God was real and that He was desiring to have a personal relationship with him.

Psalm 19:1-4a “The heaven’s declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork. Day after day pours forth speech, and night after night shows forth knowledge. There is no speech nor spoken word [from the stars]; their voice is not heard. Yet their voice [in evidence] goes out through all the earth, their sayings to the end of the world.”

This young man had a firm belief there was no god. The problems with which he was dealing, motivated him to get away and “think”. Inside, there was a seeker needing to find answers but not knowing where to go for those answers. He sat on the top of a mountain in a front row seat viewing the majesty and glory of God the Creator, and realized He was witnessing something greater than himself. Then, in a humble response to that new understanding, he prayed his first prayer: “God, if you are real, make yourself known to me”. He had a profound paradigm shift in his beliefs that changed his life forever.

I also mentioned in Part 1 a need to be humble before the Lord. Most people think humility is a position of kneeling with face flat on the ground groveling before the Lord, therefore many resist God. One may bow before monarchy as a sign of respect and honor; how much more the King of all Kings? However, one can bow to the lowest position and still not respect or honor the one before whom they are bowing. All this young man did was realize he was witnessing the profound evidence in nature that there is a Creator who is God, the maker of the heavens and the earth. He then reached out to Him, being willing to change his beliefs by asking Him for help. That is an example of true humility. Pride, to the contrary, will hold fast to its belief even when found to be wrong! Pride not only rejects the ways of God, it rejects God altogether. James 4:6 “But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).

Mankind in general wants to be their own god. They rebel, like small children, against the guidance of someone wiser who has their best interest in mind, to do what they want to do. That response always leads to trouble, sometimes deadly trouble and at the end of life, eternal judgment apart from God. One of my favorite books in the Bible is the book of Proverbs which is rich with understanding. It explains that the wise are willing to be corrected but the proud resist true wisdom. This young man, though wise in his own eyes, encountered the Wisdom of the Ages and realized he had some things to learn. By his willingness to be humble, he received not only answers to his dilemma, he received eternal life!

Treasure hunters are seekers. Jeremiah 29:13 “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” May our heart’s cry be, “Lord, I want to know You more. I will seek You with all my heart because I know You will meet me there”. (See Ephesians 1:17-23; 3:16-20) Seeking requires humility and humility opens our heart to God’s presence.