I want to follow the scriptural admonition to walk by faith. Before I could do that I had to learn how to see and hear by faith. I first learned about the eyes and ears of faith in 1979. I was at North Central Bible College getting my degree. The president of my alma matter was named Dr. Don Argue. Every day we had to go to chapel and hear a message and Dr. Argue was in the midst of raising money and believing God for the expansion of the campus of my college. The college had a vision for a new gymnasium to be added.
I can remember Dr. Argue saying that we must walk by faith and then he was putting his hand up to his ear. If he did it once he must have done it 100 times. And he would ask all of students, “Can you hear it? Can you hear the sound of basketballs being bounced in the gymnasium? Can you hear the roar of the crowd in the games that will take place?” He said, “I can hear it with my ears of faith.”
Then he would point to his eyes and say, “Can you see that building going up?” He would then say, “I can see it with my eyes of faith.” And most of all, he would say, “I believe it in my heart.” By the time I was a senior, that gym was built.
But what Dr. Argue was showing those ministerial students is how to walk by faith and that they possessed eyes and ears that are spiritual eyes and ears. I learned those simple lessons during my time at college. I didn’t realize then how many times I would have to use my eyes and ears of faith. In the tests of life you need eyes and ears of faith. And as you believe God for advancement for yourself, your life, and your ministry you will need eyes and ears of faith.
Because if you are a believer, you cannot live with only using your natural eyes. Natural eyes don’t see everything. You will get discouraged if the only thing you see is what is around you in the natural. You need to see beyond the temporal things. If you are a believer and you never use your spiritual ears. You are going to be wandering around, tossed about by every circumstance of life.
In order to live a life that honors God we need to be willing to move and act and speak in faith as a result of what our spiritual eyes and ears see.
The Old Testament is our example of how to walk by faith. I want to say that I love all of the Word of God. I love to read in New Testament. I am a New Testament believer underneath the New Covenant. But I have discovered that as I study the Old Testament, the New Testament takes on deeper meaning for me. God does not change, his ways are unchangeable. In fact, he is immutable. It is impossible that he could change.
Paul writes to the Corinthians and he is using the Old Testament as a means to encourage and to exhort the believers to live right and follow God. And he gives us a powerful principle that touches all of the Old Testament. This is what he says in 1 Corinthians 10:11 “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Whose encouragement and admonition are they written for? Ours! Yours and mine. They are our examples. The Old Testament has value for us today. Because it gives us further explanation by providing examples of spiritual things. I want to know how to use my spiritual eyes and ears.
I am going to show you in just a minute that the New Testaments speaks of the eyes and ears of faith, and the Old Testament Illustrates those concepts. So let’s first look at what the New Testament teaches and then jump into these powerful two stories from the Old Testament, knowing these things were written for our encouragement and faith.
In order to walk by faith we must…
- SEE WITH THE EYES OF FAITH
There are many Christians today in our world that the only eyes that they ever use are their natural eyes. Whenever something negative happens, they only see the bad. They focus on temporary circumstances. They focus on feelings. They focus on the ups and especially the downs of life. Can I just say that life is discouraging if you only view it through natural eyes? Someone observing life itself, even life in a blessed country like America, can grow very discouraged by simply looking and observing the world around you. Let me illustrate this from kind of a super obvious observation about life all across the planet. Here it is:
Just looking with your natural eyes, you would be discouraged because the death rate among humans is 100 percent. Now I am illustrating in a kind of silly way. Everyone grows old and dies. Isn’t that wonderful? Not from a natural viewpoint! Natural eyes see things like hospitals, old folks homes, cemeteries, obituaries, grieving families, loss, sorrow and heartache. If all you see is with your natural eyes, you begin to think, that is what I have to look forward to. I am going to die.
But natural eyes alone, don’t tell you the whole picture. Especially if you are believer. I lost a friend this week. The week when I was writing this a man from my home-town church passed away. His name is Sidney Eckerson. I loved this guy. I knew him for 45 years. He was a good friend of mine, the father of three of my best friends in high school. But if all you see is his death through natural eyes. You would feel terrible. We cannot look at life through natural eyes! We have to view things spiritually.
I see Sidney’s death through the eyes of faith! According to the Word of God
Sidney will never have another day of pain.
Sidney will one day have a glorified body.
Sidney is in the presence of the Lord.
Sidney is in the very presence of God.
The Word says that it is far better to depart and be with Christ than to be on the earth. So, once I see this through eyes of faith, it affects me in a positive way. I am actually happy for Sidney!
a. In the New Testament – Paul teaches us to see with faith
That is why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Paul is talking about natural sight. We don’t walk by what we see in the natural, but we take our steps by what we see in faith. Using that simple illustration of Sidney’s home going, what happened in my mind? I can explain it to you. I want to use New Testament terminology to get this. The eyes of faith caused my understanding to be enlightened. Suddenly, I had hope, not just for Sidney, but that hope is for me. Yeah for me, because one day, I am not going to be here. I suddenly realized what riches I have as an inheritance. I suddenly realized the greatness of God’s power to us who believe.
It is exactly what Paul said in Ephesians. Ephesians 1:18-19 “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”
This tells us when we see with the eyes of faith our life will show the following three things:
Hope (the hope of his calling)
An Understanding of His promises. (the riches of the glory of His promises.)
A Belief that God has all the power I need (the exceeding greatness of his power toward us)
Whatever the situation you are in, if you see with the eyes of faith. Now that we see it from a New Testament perspective, let’s take a look at an old testament example.
b. In The Old Testament – Elisha
I have always loved this story. The king of Syria was at war with Israel. The king of Syria is trying to kill the king of Israel. And God was using Elisha the prophet to tell the king of Israel where to go and where not to go in order to avoid conflict. And the king of Syria tells his folks, “Who is telling the king of Israel all our plans? It seems like someone is on his side.” I mean this king is frustrated.
His men tell him, “It is not the king of Israel. He is like any other guy. It is not anyone of us. It is this no good for nothing prophet of God named Elisha who is warning him over and over again what our plans are.” So the king decides to go after Elisha probably to kill and to destroy him. By the way, in the natural, that should have been easy. All of Syria and its armies, against a simple prophet of God, probably without any weapons of war at all, and his servant Gahazi. Let’s pick up the story. Now Elisha was in the city of Dothan. It’s a little town, its unprotected.
2 Kings 6:14-17 “Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” If all you see is the natural, it is easy to push the panic button. If all you see is with your natural eyes, often times it will seem like the circumstance of life have overcome you and you are dead in the water.
This servant had a lot of stress just by viewing what his natural eye could see. He knew what Elisha had been up to…telling the king where to hide from the Syrian army. He knew what an army with swords and spears could do. He knew they were outnumbered. And he pushed the panic button. When he says. Alas my master. He is filled with fear, confusion, and worry. There is panic in his voice. Have you ever looked at the circumstances of your life just with the natural eyes and cried up to the Lord? What are we going to do now?
The bills are greater than the income.
The ministry seems to be struggling
You feel surrounded.
You feel outnumbered.
And in the natural, all signs say, nothing can turn this around. What you need is to walk by faith and see with the eyes of faith. I love what happened next. “ So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Can you imagine Gehazi? He is thinking to himself. What have you been smoking? There is me and you, and maybe a couple hundred people in this little town. Did you not rub the sleep out of your eyes and look around, There and thousands and thousands of Syrian troops. And they are after us! 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.”
Yeah, the valley may have been filled with soldiers. But the mountains were filled with the horses and the chariots of fire! I am here to declare to you that you and God make a majority. God has all the power you need. Your circumstance, your situation is not impossible. Just tell yourself this truth: Those who are with us are more than those who are against us.
If you read the rest of the story, God struck the whole army with blindness. And they led them all away. It is fascinating what God can do. Can I just say that sometimes I just feel sorry for the devil? (not really) I mean he started out a loser. He could only take one third of the Angels. He has already been defeated. Jesus Christ already triumphed over Satan on the cross, making a spectacle of him. Jesus Christ leads us in triumphant procession. When will we realize who we are and walk by faith? You are a part of the kingdom of God. You sit with Christ in heavenly places. If you are a believer…you are never ever alone. May God open up your eyes! You are not alone. You have God who will never leave you or forsake you.
Let me just give you a couple of verses. 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Do you realize who is on your side? You have Christ in you, the hope of Glory. You are immersed in the third person of the Trinity with all his creative power. You have standing behind you God the Father, the owner of heaven and earth. You are in good hands.
Well, I see this situation…it doesn’t look good
It doesn’t look good.
I have some questions. Do you love God? Are you called according to His purpose? Listen, it doesn’t even matter if negative circumstances surround you. Start seeing with the eyes of faith because God’s can do all things. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” God’s got this. We win anyway! See with the eyes of faith. No matter what your situation…see with faith!
2. HEAR WITH EARS OF FAITH
a. In the New Testament we are taught to listen with spiritual ears
When Jesus taught the people about the things of God, and the kingdom of God, he said these words in Matthew 11:15 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” When Jesus wrote seven letters to seven churches in the book of Revelation. He ended all of those letters by challenging the church to have ears to hear. Revelation 2:7 says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Apparently, Jesus thinks that having our spiritual ears on is very important. He taught that in his day on the planet. He wrote that to seven different churches.
Here is why: Listening and hearing what God has to say is important. God has something to say. God has a way that he wants to move. God has wisdom he wants to give. God has encouragement he wants to outpour. But if our ears are closed. If our ears are dull and slow to hear, we will miss what God is doing. Spiritual hearing doesn’t come automatically. Just because you say, Hey, I believe in Jesus…that doesn’t mean you will hear Him perfectly. In order to hear you have to get close to God. In the natural, I can’t hear what the people across the street are saying. They are too far away. But if I get close I can hear them. The same is true with God, I can’t hear from God if I am far away. You have to draw near to Him.
I think it is interesting that the way God’s voice is described in scripture as not as a loud pealing thunder. It is described by Elijah in 1 Kings 19:12 “…still small voice…”. That tells me that I have to get quiet sometimes to hear his voice. That tells me that I have to learn how to listen. The scripture says in John 10:27 “My sheep know my voice…” If you constantly have the radio on, your air buds in, the tv on from morning to night. You won’t be able to hear. God speaks in whispers. God speaks in promptings. But we have to want to hear.
b. In the Old Testament – David
In the Old Testament in 2 Samuel 5:22-25 there is a great story about David. David has become king, not just of Judah where he reigned for seven years. But he has made a covenant at Hebron with all Israel. He is now reigning over a unified Israel. He would ultimately reign there for 33 more years. But his reign is now established. They have dealt with the Jebusites who occupied Jerusalem. He is now fortifying the city of David in Jerusalem. He is marrying new wives and having children. Other kings are sending him things to help him build. He is building his palace and all seems well. And when it seems like everything is going good for David, that’s when he hears that trouble has come.
Is there anyone who ever felt like that? You just are getting established, things go to normal, and bam here comes trouble. And the word tells us that the Philistines came against David and they set themselves up in the valley of Rephaim. You have to get your thinking right. There are a lot of people in our world that when things don’t go right in their life, they automatically believe that it must be their fault. They must have done something wrong. God must be angry at them somehow. Can I just say that many times the attacks of life come because you are doing something right? This was an attack against all Israel. Why? They had recognized David as king! God had given Israel peace.
The same thing happens to us. There are moments when you and I have recognized the son of David as the king in our life.I am talking about Jesus as king. Jesus is establishing his reign and rule in your life. Peace has come to you and yours. And I want to tell you that the enemy is not happy about that. So when you see things coming against you, don’t always assume that this is somehow Gods judgment. It could be you are doing something right.
But what did David do? He inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up against them?” He asked God about it. He prayed about it. We don’t know what to do because we don’t pray. We tell ourselves, “I know exactly what to do. I can figure this out on my own. I can handle it.” No, we need God. Ask him for wisdom!
God told David what to do. And he went up against them and defeated them. And that is what happened. And David thinks there will be peace now. Let’s pick up the story. 2 Samuel 5:22-25 “Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. I hate those two words…once again. Is there anyone who feels like, this again? Really? Is there anyone who feels like you are fighting the same battle? You may be thinking: I thought I already passed this test. I thought I already won this victory. I thought I already vanquished the enemy again, and here it is again. You know, sometimes, problems persist. I can say one thing for the devil and life’s problems, they are persistent.
Just because you prayed once, doesn’t mean you can’t pray again. So David enquired of the Lord. Actually, you need Gods direction on a daily basis. This is what the Lord said, “and He said, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.
I love this story, because it tells me one thing. God doesn’t do everything in the same way, every time at every moment. This time he had them circle around behind them and they were to wait. Now can you imagine David telling his men. “Okay we are going around to a stand of Mulberry trees. And I have a great plan. When we hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then we will advance quickly.” They are thinking, “Who is going to be marching in the tops of the trees” That would be the army of the Lord.
Let me give you some advice from this passage.
- David was willing to do exactly what God told him to do.
Let me tell you, if you want to live a life of faith, you have to be willing to step out and follow the Lords leading and the Lords direction.
- David had to wait for God to move.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to wait. But waiting is a part of the life of faith. Because God knew the exact moment when they needed to attack. Our timing isn’t Gods timing. Sometimes we give up because it seems too slow. But I can assure you one thing, that if you hear, and if you wait. There will a sound of a moving, a marching in the trees. Now we aren’t fighting a physical army. We are fighting, the flesh, the devil, and the world. We are fighting the good fight of faith.
Here is what happened. There is a moment when heaven invaded earth. Had you been standing in that bunch of mulberry trees, you would have looked up. The trees would have swaying. The leaves would have been hitting each other. In other words, the natural world was feeling the force of the God of heaven and his hosts.
When you wait…you will see Gods hand. God is willing to move on your behalf. ” And David did so, as the Lord commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.”
The eyes and ears of faith.