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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Michigan winter scene (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)
Winter scene in rural Michigan
Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt (used by permission)

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Charlie & Rosie Goumas
Charlie and Rosie Goumas

"Open The Eyes Of My Heart Lord"

"And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 6:17).

There are several who receive our daily encouragement messages who are blind so they listen to our podcast messages.  We especially consider Charlie and Rosie Goumas from Boston, whom we met at a conference about ten years ago.  With their sense of sight impaired or nonexistent they have nurtured their other four senses to compensate for their vision loss. 
Melody Wartenbee
This brings back a distant memory for Brooksyne.  She was a hall counselor in college her junior year and became good friends with Melody, a freshman on her hall, who was blind.  Melody could hear things that others did not and she'd recognize family and friends by their scent, the shampoo they used, or by listening to the stride of their walk. 

Melody loved to pull pranks and her most frequent one was to secretly slip into a dorm room, pull the mattress off the bed, drag it to the hallway, and prop it up against the student's door.  The first time this happened it was a great mystery as all the students denied their involvement and no one would question a blind student for such a stunt.  After we caught her in the act each student looked forward to seeing her mattress propped against the door – it was a sign that Melody was her friend.

Just like one who is blind and must totally rely on other senses, we too must totally rely on our spiritual sense when our visual sense is limited.  Welcome it as a time for deepening our faith instead of relying on our own natural instincts since we are told in Scripture that we are to "walk by faith and not by sight."  God's set of blueprints for our lives is drawn out in the Scriptures but His construction of our spiritual life is not completed in a matter of weeks, months or years – it is an ongoing work in progress all our life.

Today's Scripture portion is set about 2,800 years ago.  Elisha was a faith-filled prophet who had enraged the king of Aram with his accurate prophetical pronouncements that were in essence divinely given intelligence.  In anger the king sent an army to the city to find Elisha. In the dark night they quietly surrounded the city in their attempt to capture Elisha. 

Elisha's servant woke up early and saw the vast army surrounding the city.  He went to Elisha in panic and despair and asked, 'Oh, my lord, what shall we do?'  With his physical eyes he could easily see the army and the situation looked altogether hopeless.

"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Elisha, as a man of great faith, saw a reality his servant was unable to see. As I consider this passage I have wondered if Elisha lived in a state of faith where he could always see that which was invisible to others?

I realize I'm a lot more like the servant than Elisha. I have no trouble seeing the enemy's army. Sometimes it seem so massive and poised for attack. I can feel moments of despair as I struggle to see in faith the unseen spiritual reality.

Elisha didn't rebuke his servant but rather prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." That's my own prayer and my prayer for each reader today.

Elisha's prayer was answered immediately in a remarkable way. "Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."  The servant's eyes were opened to see the spiritual realm, the protecting might of the heavenly hosts.  And conversely, the Arameans who relied on their physical eyes to do battle were blinded, in answer to Elisha's prayer, so that they were restrained from harming God's servant (II Kings 6:18).

I firmly believe that this isn't just a historical record of God's help in ages past, but a powerful encouragement for all ages and all believers concerning the unseen reality of the spiritual forces which surround us. A wonderful New Testament promise that we need to hide deep in our hearts is from I John 4:4, "You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."

Fellow believer, may your eyes of faith be open today.  May God help you see the heavenly hosts who are assigned to protect and do battle for you during your earthly sojourn.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, help us to walk by faith and not by sight.  Give us divinely prescribed vision to see the hosts of the heavenly army who stand guard to protect us or engage in warfare against our enemy in the heavenly realms.  We clothe ourselves in Your armor so that we can take our stand against the devil's schemes.  We stand against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  May we walk in confidence rather than fear as we trust You to protect and guide us in all our ways.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note:  Last night we had a relaxing evening and watched several news reports.  After a while my relaxation evaporated into feelings of despair and I told Stephen, "Let's turn it off.  It's all the same and so discouraging."  A silly rerun of Gilligan's Island was a welcome respite from the fearful realities of our unstable world.  As we shared our message this morning from II Kings it helped me to envision the Lord's armies encamped around us holding off those who seek to do us evil for their own ill-gotten gain.  Only God can turn evil into good or in some circumstances He uses evil to reveal His saving grace to those who otherwise turn a deaf ear.

Wedding photo with Melody Wartenbee

We found this 32 year old photo of Melody who sang in our wedding in 1976.  She has a beautiful voice and often sang in our chapel services.  At the time her father pastored a church in the Springfield, MO area where we attended Central Bible College. We were blessed as we found her name in a search this morning, along with a phone number, where she teaches braille to the blind.

We talked to her a brief moment and she immediately recalled who we were.  She was in class so we will call back this evening and catch up on 32 years that have passed!

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"The Battle Belongs To The Lord"  Video  This song came to mind as Stephen was considering songs that have a theme compatible to our message today. This version is the original arrangement and vocals that was introduced by the Maranatha singers.  Its text helps us to visualize the heavenly army doing battle for us.

"My Tribute"  (Audio)  This song was sung at our wedding in Sapulpa, Oklahoma in 1976 by Melody.  This remains our desire as we soon celebrate our 33rd anniversary!

"Blessed Assurance"
 Audio from the Lifespring Hymnstory podcast. Fanny Crosby was a blind hymn writer yet many of her songs refer to seeing and sight such as this hymn which has the phrase, "Visions of rapture now burst on my sight."  Steve Webb does a great job of preparing these hymn story podcasts.

"Open The Eyes Of My Heart"
This lively version is by the Oslo Gospel Choir.

Howard J. Blichfeldt

Today's photo in rural Michigan was taken by Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here. Howard is a friend of this ministry who desires to honor the Lord through his photography.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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