THE ART OF SEEING
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen… the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
…I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions—Joel 2:28
Where there is no vision, the people perish…—Proverbs 29:18a.
…blessed are your eyes, for they see….—Matthew 13:16.
YES ARE FOR SEEING. Eyes are for vision and the eye is described by Jesus as the light of the body. God can and does reveal things to us who love Him by our eyes. Apart from our physical eyes, there are other mediums by which God reveal things to us—visions and dreams. I will want to consider dreams and visions as the eyes of our spirit and the eyes of our understanding.
RECEIVING WHAT YOU SEE: A SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE
Remember in 1 Corinthians 2:14, it is written that the things of God are spiritually discerned. What we see is what we receive. This is a spiritual principle that has repeatedly occurred in so many instances in the Bible.
When God promised Abram (ham) in Genesis 13:14-15, the principle of receiving what we see was in motion:
- And the Lord said unto Abram…Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward and westward. For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.
Before Elijah was taken to heaven, this spiritual principle was also manifested. God had commanded Elijah to hand over his earthly mantle to Elisha who was to replace him. Now the D-day has come and surprisingly, Elijah did not just ask Elisha to may be kneel down and then after a few rituals, hand over the mantle. He rather asks Elisha to make one request, before he (Elijah) is taken away.
This I believe is a lesson for us to learn. There are no assumptions in spiritual matters: God gives us what we ask (Matthew 7:7). Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah replied: “…if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10). They moved on conversing and I am sure Elijah was impacting some truths about being a prophet to Elisha, then suddenly:
- ...there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof... (2 Kings 2:11-12).
The rest of this encounter from verse 13 shows how Elisha now carries the spirit of Elijah because he saw him when he was taken away.
When Moses was born; though there was legislation to kill all Hebrew new born male babies (Exodus 1:22), the motivation for the mother to keep him alive was “…when she saw him that he was a goodly child” (Exodus 2:2). When God called Jeremiah, He asked him: “…Jeremiah, what seest thou? And [Jeremiah] said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the Lord unto [Jeremiah], thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:11).
We need to pray for God to open our eyes. It is not out of place for God to enable the physical eyes to see the things he has for us. Jesus in Revelations 3:18, gives a profound advise.
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes…that thou mayest see.
In Genesis 21:14, Hagar together with her son Ishmael had been driven out of Abraham’s house because of rivalry. She journeyed with the child until they run out of water. Hagar has run out of water and supply. She had nothing left. Now, she was preparing to die. She then positioned Ishmael to avoid seeing him seeing her die. But just when it seemed all hope was lost, God stepped in.
And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink (Genesis 21:19).
I believe the well of water was already in existence: but the circumstances had blinded Hagar not to see the water. God had to step in to open her eyes to see the well of water.
In 2 Kings 6:8, the king of Syria has been planning to besiege the city of Israel. He takes counsel with his generals but Elisha in his chambers intercepts the plans in the realms of the spirit and relays the information to the King of Israel.
This went on for some time and finally when the King of Syria got to know of this, he sent an army to arrest Elisha. Early in the morning a host of army surrounds the city to arrest Elisha. At the sight of the Syrian army, Elijah’s servant got terrified. But Elisha prayed for the servant’s eyes to be opened.
And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha (2 Kings 6:17).
LOOK AROUND YOU
Another exciting and very common way God shows us what he has prepared for us is through the success of other Christians. Have you ever paused to consider the success stories of Christians around you? How do you feel when you read about very impossible situations that were turned around by God?
Next time you want to know what God has for you, just take a break and ponder all the Christian success stories around you. Central University College, Databank, Combert Impressions, Regent University, and Kama Pharmaceuticals. These are all indigenous Ghanaian institutions that were established by Christians and are running successfully. We can also make mention of Habitat for Humanity and World Vision.
If you know more success stories, you can add them to the list. These are living testimonies for us to see and know the extent God can take us.
Hebrews 11, the most popular scripture on faith in the Bible lines up a host of men and woman who God used. Their stories contain amazing insight of what God can do with our lives. These stories are meant to spur us on to greatness, righteousness and most importantly finish our race—running with patience. These cloud of witnesses, as the Bible describes them in Hebrews 12:1 are watching us; they are our spectators. I can hear them saying come on you can make it, come on, God has bigger things for you than the mediocrity you are meddling in, you are bigger than this. Pick yourself up and go on to achieve.
There is greatness deposited in each one of us and if we will avail ourselves more to God, we will be great stories that will be told in future.
If you ever become conscious or aware of a problem or challenge in your surrounding which needs to be addressed, guess what? God has opened your eyes to an opportunity. Don’t go about complaining about problems and inefficiencies around you. They are clues of what God wants you to do. There is a mighty move of God amongst his people and we cannot afford to be passed by, let’s get involved. Don’t take it lightly; what God is doing in the lives of other Christians is a big statement, that He can do something great with your life too.
DREAMS AND VISION
Dreams and visions as I mentioned earlier are other means apart from the physical eyes by which God reveals things to us. I term dreams and vision as our spiritual eyes. Dreams and visions are very much related and in my explanations, I might use them interchangeably. In my opinion there are two kinds of visions and dreams.
- · God’s Plans and Purposes
The first kind of vision and dream is about the plans and purposes of God for our lives. It is what we commonly call God’s perfect will. This is what answers the question of why am I on earth? It answers the question of our mission. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians Church. “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
This is not the popular motivational message of “look at yourself, look at your strength and commit to one thing you love doing.” As much as this instruction is helpful, I think it only scratches the surface of people’s deep desire to find fulfillment in life. I dare say, there is nothing good in us to develop outside of Christ―“…without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5c). In fact, the Bible makes it clear in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
If we are to look into ourselves, all we will produce is human success based on desire for riches and power which will eventually leave us empty. Haven’t you read about very rich and successful people who committed suicide? What about those rich and successful people who are bottle neck deep into substance abuse?
I am not an expert, I cannot tell you how to find the vision for your life, but I can confidently refer you to seek from God. He made us and He has the plans and purposes for our lives—“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:16.). Let us go to God and ask him what’s up?
A HIGHER CALLING
Dreams and vision as described earlier can also take the form of a strong desire to achieve something. That desire does not come in a vacuum; it was planted in your heart by God. The nudging inside of you that you can be more than your current situation is just the Spirit of God pushing you out of your comfort zone. That dissatisfaction with your current situation is just God calling you up higher to great things.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).
…Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter (Revelations 4:1).
There is greatness in us. We are the very dwelling of God and we need to desire all that he has created us for.
When Moses sent twelve spies to spy the land of Canaan, they came back and ten of the spies devastated the Camp of the Israelites with their negative and defeatist report but “…Caleb stilled the people before Moses…” (Numbers 13:30a). Caleb was later on described as: “…he had another spirit with him…” (Numbers 14:24a).
Caleb showed greatness and a desire to reach God’s dream for his life. Let us pursue God’s dreams for our lives with all that is in us.
Maybe you are waiting for the right time to live the dreams God has put in you. You better rise up and work towards your dream. There is no right time. I recently learnt about the term window of opportunity—the fact that every idea or opportunity has a perfect timeline by which it will succeed if implemented. After the window of opportunity has elapsed, even a very potent and perfect idea will become useless and a total failure if implemented. That should teach us a lesson.
THE ART OF HEARING
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard…the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
- And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left—Isaiah 30:21.
- …blessed are …your ears, for they hear—Matthew 13:16.
- Our natural gifts and abilities are limited, but when augmented by inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost, our potential increases many fold—James E Faust.1
GOD SPEAKS AND WE HAVE TO HEAR Him to reveal to us the things He has prepared for us. Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). God still speaks and we have to be able to identify how He speaks to us as individuals. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith…” (Revelations 2:7).
We are living in very busy times and we hardly make time to stop and listen to God speak. Technology is stealing our time to seek and hear from God. Not to say technology is evil, but how and what we do with technology is the issue. On a daily basis we are either ‘facebooking’, ‘twitting’, surfing the internet or speaking endlessly on mobile phones. Television and radio with all the bad news is constantly bombarding us and clouding our ability to hear from God. Our busy schedules also pop at us in the face. We need to get to work early, we need to beat the traffic, and we need to meet that deadline. We are so busy doing so much we barely get the time to pray and study our Bible effectively to hear from God. Even sometimes our busyness include Christian activity.
We have to stop in our tracks and find our way back to God and develop our hearing abilities. God has not stopped speaking, we have stopped listening. He is waiting for us, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).God desires a quality relationship with us. He is waiting to speak to us, if only we will stop to listen to him, we will hear him.
- God will never adjust his agenda to fit ours. He will not speed his pace to catch up with ours; we need to slow our pace in order to recover our walk with Him. God will not scream and shout over the noisy clamor; He expects us to seek quietness—Charles R Swindoll.2
Every believer will have to develop their hearing abilities to hear from God. There are various ways through which we can hear God speak to us. He speaks through the Word, the Holy Spirit, our Inner witness (Our Spirit) and the Five Fold Ministry.
THE VOICE OF THE WORD
- God is, indeed, still on His throne and through His Son Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit; He is ready and willing to guide your life, if you call on him for direction.—Grace and Wendell Robley.3
God speaks to us through His word. When He speaks, He demands obedience; and our level of obedience will determine how often we will hear from Him. When God speaks, He gives directions or instructions; He always requires that His directions and instructions are followed just as He gave them.
- And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering…And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it (Exodus 25:1-9).
Everything we need to know about what He has prepared for us is in the Bible. All the information and instructions needed to access what God has prepared for them that love him can be found in the word.
- Thy word is a Lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).
- All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrines, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Regular, quality time spent with God by the reading of His word gives us insight into what God wants to do and He speaks into our lives and into our situations.
When you read the Bible, you are listening to Jesus speaking. When Jesus speaks, He speaks life into our lives: “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:6), “…I am come that they might have life and … have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), “…I am the way, the truth and the life…” (John 14:6), “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
Living in a time where there is so much hopelessness around us, we cannot afford not to hear from God. When God was taking the Israelites from Egypt to the promise land, He“…went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21). We don’t have to walk in darkness trying to figure out what God has prepared for us.
There is enough revelation in His word about His intentions, plans and thought but these revelations are not openly displayed in the pages of the Bible. They have to be searched for like precious minerals. Nothing precious comes on a silver platter: the precious minerals of the world do not come easily. Gold and Diamond, the most precious minerals all go through a thorough process right from the mining stage till they come out refined as precious metal. In the same way, we have to diligently seek out the purposes of God for our lives through a constant, well planned and quality study of the word of God. I am not talking about a once in a while study of the Bible—I am talking about a constant regular study.
The regular study of the Bible is what separates a victorious Christian from a struggling Christian. There is so much contained in the word of God that if we dedicate to it, we can unearth all God has for us.
- It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the honour of Kings is to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2).
- I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right (Isaiah 45:19).
- The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).
- Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find… (Matthew 7:7).
God as the Almighty holds the right to conceal and hide things from us. It is to His glory not to show us everything. I believe if God should reveal all things to us we cannot handle it. Some things are held back in secret, but there are other things He shows those who love Him if they seek Him.
However, in our seeking for the things He has prepared for us, we should be careful not to replace seeking Him with seeking for His revelations. God values relationship, and in our coming to Him we should seek to build a relationship with Him and get to know Him more than the things He has prepared for us. It is actually in relationship that God reveals His will and plans for us. Many of us Christians have replaced seeking God for a deep relationship, with an obsession for blessings. God’s word has not change, He still gives us an admonition to seek him first (Matthew 6:33).
We have reduced Christianity to formulas and taken away the most important component—Relationship. We almost have steps and principles for everything; the word of God has become a signpost to things than to God himself. God is calling us back to a fulfilling relationship (Revelation 2:4-6, Luke 10:38-42). We cannot replace relationship with God with any formula. The Apostle Paul wrote.
- But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:7-10).
Did you read that, Apostle Paul still desiring to know God? Revealed to this man was abundance of revelations (2 Corinthians 12:7), he was caught up in the third heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) and he wrote half of the New Testament, yet he still desires to know Christ. Can that be our heart desire, do we yearn to know and love Christ?
Let us get back to the Bible, diligently study it and desire to know God more even as we seek the things He has prepared for us. God really values relationship and it is in relationship that He reveals His plans and purposes for our lives.
- And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.(Genesis 18:17-19).