Open Our Eyes That We May See
         Ephesians 1:15-23; and thanks to J. J. Turner
By Paul Robison

Have you ever heard any of these expressions: "If you'd just open your eyes, you could see it;" "He sure went into that with his eyes closed;" "She is so blinded that she'll never see it"?  Keeping our eyes open is an important action.  In business, open eyes usually spot the opportunity.  In driving, open eyes usually avoid the accident.  In research, open eyes often find the answer.  In education, open eyes notice where the difficulties are in learning.  Someone made this observation: "The great need of the hour in the Lord's church is this: for Christians to open their eyes and really see" (Turner).  Here痴 a challenge for you: take your bulletin, and then pray for two of these concepts per day during this next week.
On Sunday, pray that we値l see our true hope and power and our divine help.  The apostles Paul 1:18-21 prayed this prayer: "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come."  Paul wants these brethren at Ephesus to see clearly their hope, their reward, and their power.  The hope is based on God's calling through the Gospel.  By obedience to the Gospel, all people can be freed from their past sinful lives in order to live a new life!  The reward will be that holy inheritance known as heaven.  Christians have a living hope right here and spiritual riches awaiting them in the hereafter.  But then notice how Paul bears down very heavily seeing God's power.  Notice how he describes that power as being mighty and exceedingly great!  It is the power that not only brought Jesus back to life but also exalted Him above all spiritual forces and all human names!  Our superior God has superior power, and nothing is impossible for Him!  We need to see our true hope and power!
We need to see our divine help.  Remember once when Elisha was surrounded by an army, and Elisha's servant was about to panic.  Now listen to what happened: "So he [Elisha] answered: 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, and said: 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then 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 6:16-17).  We too have been promised divine help.  Jesus said that He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20), and angels are sent to serve us (Hebrews 1:14).  So why should we be fearful of anything with those kind of teammates assisting us?  "For He Himself has said: 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'  So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me'" (Hebrews 13:5-6). Abraham Lincoln once said: "I believe the will of God prevails; without Him, all human reliance is vain; without the assistance of that Divine Being, I cannot succeed; with that assistance, I cannot fail" (in Rowell). We need to see our divine help.
On Monday, pray that we値l see our final objective (or Jesus coming again) and our final reward (or heaven).  In Acts 1:10-11, some angels declare: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus who was taken from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven," and Revelation 1:7 affirms: "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him."  When Jesus comes again, it's not going to be in some secretive way.  He is going to be extremely visible.  "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God [that sure doesn't sound secretive].  And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we will always be with the Lord [this is the greatest homecoming that you don't want to miss].  Therefore comfort one another with these words."  We need to see our final objective葉hat great reunion when Jesus returns!
We need to see our final reward.  John the apostle writes in Revelation 22:3-4: "And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  They shall see His face, and His name shall be written on their foreheads."  In heaven, God's curse that we read about in Genesis 3 will no longer be in effect. God and Jesus will be ruling, and we'll be serving them.  Now I can't tell you exactly what that service will be, but I can tell that it will be satisfying.  The old hymn has it right: "Face to face! O blissful moment! Face to face葉o see and know.  Face to face with our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who loves us so!  Face to face will we behold Him, far beyond the starry sky.  Face to face in all His glory, we shall see Him by and by" (Breck).  We need to see our final reward!
On Tuesday, pray that we値l see our adversary and our faults.  "Be sober. Be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9).  Satan would just as soon we not think about him.  He likes working undercover and not getting the rap for so much evil that takes place in the world.  How often do we ever think that the devil is behind some of the natural disasters, and great tragedies, and accidents that occur? Remember the havoc and heartbreak that He caused in the book of Job? Someone made this correct observation: "The devil takes no holiday; he never rests.  If beaten, he rises again.  If he cannot enter in front, he steals in the back.  If he cannot enter at the back, he breaks through the roof and digs a tunnel underneath.  He labors hard until he is in.  He uses great cunning and many a plan.  When one miscarries, he uses another and continues his attempts [to bring about destruction]" (Plass in Swindoll).  We need to see our adversary and be on constant guard!
We need to see our faults.  "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye.  Or how can you say to your brother: 'Let me remove the plank from your eye'; and look a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank in your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5).  Self-judgment is our first duty, isn't it?  Let's quit being so nitpicking!  Let's pray that we can clearly see our own faults!
On Wednesday, pray that we値l see our obstacles and our short-comings.  Look now at Numbers 22:28-34: "Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?'  And Balaam said to the donkey: 'Because you have abused me.  I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!' So the donkey said to Balaam: 'Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day?  Was I ever disposed to do this to you?'  And he said, 'No.'  Then the Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.  And the Angel of the Lord said to Him: 'Why have you struck your donkey these three times?  Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse to Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times.  If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would have killed you by now, and let her live.'  And Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord: 'I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me.  Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back."  Isn't it amazing that the donkey actually saw the danger before Balaam?  Obstacles can be overcome, but we have to see them.  We need to see our obstacles!
We need to see our short-comings.  "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see" (Revelation 3:18). The church in Laodicea had an unrealistic view of itself.  They were so disillusioned thinking that they were all fine and dandy.  But Jesus said they needed some eye salve so that they could truly see how sinful they were.  If we don't see our own short-comings, how can we ever improve? We need to see our short-comings!
On Thursday, pray that we値l see our resources and our strengths.  "Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip: 'Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?'  But this He said to test him, for He knew what He would do.  Philip answered Him, 'Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.'  One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him: 'There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many" (John 6:5-9)?  And with those few loaves and fishes, what a miracle Jesus performed?  How many baskets of leftovers were there?  Yes, it was 12! What an abundance Jesus provided from those few resources!  Jesus can multiple our resources as well, but it might be good for us to take an inventory like Andrew did.  Did you know that we know have four resources for teaching the Gospel that were all produced by brethren within about the last three years?  We have some current materials that you can use to teach others the truth!  These are great resources.  Why not take advantage of them?  We need to see our resources!
We need to see our strengths.  In Revelation chapters 2-3, Jesus compliments all the churches, with the exception of one.  He says that they had done things like the following: they had kept the faith; they had persevered under persecution; they had rejected false teaching, they had done more works recently than they had done in the past.  He was showing them their strengths.  Aren't we often prone to look at the negative and talk about our weaknesses and short-comings?  Yes, we all have them, but also we have our strengths.  There are some things that we really do well.  Prayer, generous fifth Sunday contributions, showing concern in a crisis or disaster, and operating in the black are four that immediately came to my mind.  Our strengths glorify God because they show others how He has shaped us and developed us towards showing excellence in those areas.  Jesus wanted these congregations to know their strengths.  We need to see our strengths as a congregation as well!
On Friday, pray that we値l see our direction and our goals.  "Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'In truth I perceive [or see] that God shows no partiality.  But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:34-35).  It took the Spirit awhile to get Peter to see that all men could be in Jesus' kingdom. Allowing the Gentiles to become members in the church was a whole new direction for Peter.  He finally understood that obedience to Jesus was what God wanted all people to practice, and they no longer needed to be bound to keeping the law of Moses (Acts 15:7-11).  Do we know the direction that our congregation is going or are we like a ship without a rudder going around in circles?  Direction provides focus, and focus helps to give us momentum towards achievement.  We need to see our direction!
We need to see our goals.  "Jesus answered and said unto him: 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed [or shown] this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it'" (Matthew 16:17-18).  Jesus' goal was to build His church.  He knew that steps to accomplish this would be painful, brutal, and shameful.  He was determined, however, to make universal brotherhood come into existence, even if He had to pour out His own blood to make it happen.  He knew that He had to make that trip to a Roman cross in order that the church might be born.  Without His blood, there could be no brotherhood.  Despite marching into a rattlesnakes' den, He kept His eye on the goal and endured all the suffering in order to get that goal achieved!  What are our specific and measurable goals for 2012?  One member said: "I think that our goal is just to keep the doors open each week."  Brethren, is that really all that we're trying to do this next year?  We need to see our goals.
On Saturday, pray that we値l see our limited time and our opportunities. Jesus said in John 4:35: "Do you not say: 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest?'  Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!"  Brethren, our time is limited; we are going to die soon!  We need to live with a sense of urgency.  The old hymn has it right: "Swiftly we're turning life's daily pages, swiftly the hours are changing to years.  How are we using God's precious moments?  Shall we reap glory or shall we reap tears?  Into our hands the gospel is given, into our hands is given the light.  Haste, let us carry God's precious message, guiding the erring back to the right" (Carruth).  We need to see our time as limited and live with a sense of urgency!
We need to see our opportunities.  Let's look at two passages.  The first is Luke 10:33: "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion" (Luke 10:33).  The next is Acts 11:28-30: "Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.  Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.  This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 11:28-30).  The Samaritan and the disciples both saw situations in which others needed help, and then they got involved personally.  How many opportunities did God send us in 2011 that we just failed to see and to take advantage of?  Brethren, let's work smarter in 2012.  Pray daily that God will help us to see and to take advantage of those opportunities that He places before us.  We need to see our opportunities!
"The great need of the hour in the Lord's church is this: for Christians to open their eyes and really see" (Turner).  You have a great opportunity right now.  Jesus extends His invitation once again.  Won't you confess your blindness or disillusion if you've failed to see clearly?  Or won't you become Jesus' disciple and stop living in fear?  Lord, open our eyes that we may see!