A medical story comes to us from Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to CBS News, A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision.
Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a "bionic eye," he's regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat.
"It's awesome. It's exciting - seeing something new every day," Pontz said during a recent appointment at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.
By Mike Housholder, CBS news, April 23, 2014, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bionic-eye-retina-implant-surgery-restores-sight-to-michigan-man/
Imagine regaining your sight.
Or, Imagine having sight when you’ve never had it before!
TODAY we are asking God to accomplish the SPIRITUAL PARALLEL in our lives
TODAY we begin a look at our VISION for MINISTRY
Our vision flows from our MISSION: Proclaim Christ as Savior, Pursue Christ as Lord, Praise God as King
Our Vision is Accomplished in light of our UNIQUENESS as church (Our Values).
These values are Evangelism, Teaching, Fellowship, Worship, Prayer and Family. These points are expanded in our Values Statement that was intruduced about 2 months ago.
Aubrey Malphurs said: “Vision is a clear and challenging picture of a future of a ministry as you believe it can and must be.”
WE ASK “Lord, Open Our Eyes!”
There is a powerful story in the Old Testament about God opening the eyes of a man named Gehazi. Gehazi was Elisha’s servant during the period of the northern Kingdom, about 840 BC.
Gehazi and Elisha were surrounded by the enemies forces, but they were also surrounded by God’s angels. Gehazi saw only the enemy, so Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes to see God’s power. We pick up the event in 2 Kings 6
“When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria. As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” He answered, “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.” (2 Kings 6:15–23, ESV)
This event took place 100 years after the Solomon’s death and the division of the Kingdom. It was 80 years BEFORE Israel will be defeated by the Assyrians.
Elijah’s has been taken to heaven in a whirlwind and Elisha is now the prophet in Israel.
The King of Assyria (some translations say Aram) was at war with Israel and his plans for attack were always interrupted because God told Elisha where the Assyrian King was going to attack. Elisha told the King of Israel and he repositioned his forces, frustrating the Assyrian King.
One of the Assyrian King’s servants tells the King that Elisha was responsible for the constant intelligence failures and the kings sends the army after Elisha.
The Assyrian army catches up with Elisha at a village named Dothan, in Galilee. Here is where we pick up the story.
GEHAZI (the “servant of Elisha’) wakes up to the sight of a large army with chariots and horses. He is afraid (6:26)
Elisha TELLS Gehazi: Those who are with us are more than those who are with them!
Gehzai couldn’t see it!!!
Elisha had to pray for Gehazi. “Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17, ESV)
There were “Chariots of Fire”
These are perhaps the same chariots that Elisha saw when ELIJAH was TAKEN UP into heaven. “And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11, ESV)
Elisha knew that God was watching over him. Perhaps the words of Psalm 37 were ringing in Elisha’s ears. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7, ESV)
Elisha’s clear vision allowed him to pray for the Lord to CLOSE their eyes of the Assyrians. Once again, sight or vision is important in this chapter.
Elisha then convinces the Assyrians to march 12 miles to Samaria!! Samaria was the CAPITAL city of Israel. It was surrounded by walls, soldiers and weapons the Assyrians could not see.
Imagine the guards of Samaria!
They were walking into Samaria as blind men! The SOLDIERS would have been in a hush, relying on their sense of hearing to compensate for their lost vision.
Once they entered the city, under the quiet and watchful eye of the entire Israeli army, Elisha prays for their eyes to he OPENED! Wow, what a surprise. They knew that they were defeated. Israel’s king asked Elisha if he should kill these soldiers. Elisha instructs the king to feed them and send them on their way. The story ends with a great victory for Israel which was spared further battles as the humiliated but grateful Assyrians returned home with their story of God’s power at work for in the land of Israel.
Who are you in this story
Hopefully we don’t identify with the Assyrians, because that would mean that we are God’s enemy!
Is it Elisha? I sure wish I were the man with the vision all the time.
Sadly, I think that most of would say that far too often we are just like Gehazi.
Why Couldn’t Gehazi See??
1. He Looked for man’s efforts rather than God’s.
The Previous miracle was the healing of Naaman the Leper.
Naaman was the commander of Ben-Hadad’s army. He was healed of Leprosy.
“So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2 Kings 5:9–14, ESV)
After Namaan is healed, he returned to give a gift to Elisha, but Elisha refused to receive it. You see, Namaan’s wealth came from God’s enemies, and Elisha would have no part of it.
I think that Gehazi’a vision is limited in chapter 6 because of the events of chapter 5.
Gehazi Failed to see the seriousness of sin
Gehazi’s Confidence was in the FLESH
His Measure of success was in the FLESH. 5:26
The GOOD NEWS is that God still used Gehzai in spite of his previous failures. We still find Gehazi with Elisha in chapter 6. He is still battling God’s enemies. Even though his faith is small, he is a follower of the Lord, and he responded with faith when God opened his eyes.
We must pray for God to open our eyes!
Gehazi was WEAK, but WILLING
Gehazi had STUBMLED, but was RESTORED
Gehazi took his stand with Elisha and was ready to die.
We are a lot like Gehazi. We need the Lord to OPEN our EYES.
Our VISION STATEMENT is a picture of the future that we believe that God has for us. We are asking God to open our eyes to help us see where he wants us to go.
We want our vision to come from the LORD, not man.
Our vision is meaningless if it is not GOD who is at work
Before we get to our VISION STATEMENT, the INTRODUCTION to the statement guides us how to treat this statement.
INTRODUCTION to VISION STATEMENT
The VISION of Faith Bible Church is our understanding of where we believe the Lord is leading us in the days ahead. Our VISION reflects the unique VALUES of Faith Bible Church and is the outworking of the MISSION we believe God has given to His Church.
We embark to fulfill this VISION in FAITH (Hebrews 10:23). Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23, ESV)
We recognize that God can redirect our paths (Psalm 37:23). “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;” (Psalm 37:23, ESV)
We seek His Glory (Ephesians 3:21). “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21, ESV)
We submit to His Sovereignty (1 Timothy 6:13). “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,” (1 Timothy 6:13, ESV)
We accept the responsibility of obedience and leave the results with God alone “He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.” (1 Corinthians 3:8, ESV)
LORD, OPEN our EYES
This was prayed by 2 Blind men on the Road from Jericho:
“And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”” (Matthew 20:29–33, ESV)
Lord, open our eyes.