Ridiculous Faith 3 – Eyes Open

“Hostile Natives Surrounded His Missions” …This story was contributed to Sermon Central by Bruce Montgomery on Apr 17, 2008

John G. Paton and his family were missionaries in the New Hebrides Islands in theSo. Pacific. Hostile natives surrounded his missions headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see that, unaccountably, the attackers had left.  A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard – hundreds of men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent his angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation.  The eyes of the natives were open to spiritual realities, and many turned to Christ.  Our prayer is that everyone here would be open to spiritual realities today.

INTRODUCTION

So we’ve been talking about ridiculous faith and during the past two Sundays,  we’ve discussed the life of Elisha, the successor of the famous Old Testament prophet Elijah. God worked through Elisha to heal the Syrian general Naaman of leprosy in chapter 5. Here in Chapter 6 of Second Kings, Israel is still at war with Syria on its northern border.  Now we will see what’s still going on the front lines…

2 Kings 6:8-12 (NLT) 8 When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.”9 But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” 10 So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king so that he would be on the alert there.  11 The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?”12 “It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”

We see that Elisha was given supernatural knowledge of the location of the Aramean (Syrian) army.  There was no gimmick or trick involved, Elisha was simply a man of faith, and a man of prayer and fasting.  There are all kinds of testimonies about people who felt a sudden urge to pray for someone else:  [ILLUSTRATION from CBN.com] Brian Fleming had something extraordinary happen to him on September 11, 2001. He enlisted in the Army after high school and was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan. In April of 2006, Brian got his first taste of guerilla warfare.“It was about 7:00 in the morning, and my vehicle ran over a double stack of anti-tank mines that were buried in the road. It threw our 15,000-pound vehicle about ten feet to the side of the road. I remember as the vehicle landed, I was sitting there. I could see the gray and black smoke and the dust. I sat there and thought to myself, ‘I think we just got blown up.’”Incredibly, Brian was unharmed in the attack.  “I opened my door, stepped out and I walked away without a scratch on me. We had two men injured that day, but nobody died.” A few days later, Brian received an email from his mother.  “Basically what she said was, ‘Brian, a couple of days ago, I had this strange, intense feeling to pray for your protection.’ I thought that kind of cool, because I had just gotten blown up two days ago. It turned out it was within just an hour or two of that explosive going off.’”[END OF ILLUSTRATION]

So this is a modern example of supernatural knowledge given to Brian Fleming’s mother and also to Elisha by the Holy Spirit, and described in 1 Corinthians 12.  In fact, all of the gifts that the Spirit of God gives to His followers are present in the Old Testament, except speaking in an unknown or unlearned language and interpreting that unknown or unlearned language; those gifts are exclusive the time of the New Testament, and to our time.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NLT) 4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.  7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

The Syrian king had to rely on his intel. However, all Elisha had to do was pray! So what do we take away?

 God can give us supernatural insight into every situation

The Bible says that Elisha was able to understand the words of the king in his very bedroom.

      The Holy Spirit gifted Elisha with specific knowledge for a specific situation. So once the king of Syria found out that Elisha was the spy giving all of his secrets to the king of Israel, he decided to take action.

2 Kings 6:13-15 New Living Translation (NLT) 13 “Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” 14 So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

So the king of Syria sent his spies, assassins and ninjas out into Israel.  They came back and reported where Elisha was.  Then Elisha’s servant woke to find the city of Dothan surrounded.

I thought it was interesting that the king of Syria sent an entire army after one man!  He sent soldiers outfitted with chariots into Dothan for one guy. It’s the same way for us.  The enemy of our souls, the accuser of the brethren, will send all of hell against us.  Now here’s what’s happening spiritually…either Satan is fighting you, or he has you:

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

And just like the king of Syria, the devil is furious with us because our very presence in our on base and off-base communities frustrates the plans of the enemy, who wants everybody in hell with him.  So you can be sure he has unleashed his armies! But God has already laid out for us what we are to do.  We just need to ask!

 Be attentive to God’s guidance in all things

 This is absolutely crucial, because God has intended for us to know what’s going on when it comes to the “whys” of certain things in our lives.  And just like Elisha’s servant went directly to the man of God and asked what to do, we should do the same:

When we really decide to get serious, to turn our phone and TVs and PlayStations and iPads off, and get on our knees God begins to move.   He says that in every situation to present our requests before God.  Then, and only then, will our peace be complete!  So how did Elisha respond to his servant? We’ll see…

2 Kings 6:16-17 (NLT) 16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him  see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

     The servant of Elisha thought that the city was surrounded, and that there was no hope for him and Elisha.  But Elisha knew better.  Then Elisha prayed, and God opened up the eyes of Elisha’s servant, and he saw horses and chariots made entirely of fire.

     This was not a vision or a dream; these real angelic beings.  We would lose our minds if we saw the battles that are waging around us at this very moment in the spiritual realm.  Remember that our fight is spiritual.

 Our battle is not with people 

we are engaged in a spiritual war; don’t make it a war with your spouse, or with your co-workers or with your children.  There is no war of the sexes; there is simply our war with sin.

(Eph. 6:12).  The Bible says in God definitely sends his angelic armies to our aid when we call upon the Lord. If you look at angels like an army, then look at prayers like orders. Don’t you need your orders for everything you do in the military? Well, our prayers and intercession can be thought of as orders.   Prayer keeps the supply lines open; That’s why we should pray continually, without ceasing.

      And just because he loves us, God will respond to our needs.  Take a look at this passage from Revelation…

Revelation 8:2-5 (NLT) 2 I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets.3 Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. 5 Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth, and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake.

This is what will happen in heaven with the prayers of the saints in the end times.  The angel hurled the prayers of the saints back to the earth! I believe powerful things like this are happening even now!  Elisha could remain calm in every circumstance because his eyes were open to spiritual things.     You don’t have to be a missionary on a foreign field in order for angels to guard your life.  You don’t have to be Elisha or to have lived during biblical times for God to move powerfully in your life.  All you need to be is a willing vessel.  And he will show himself to you.  Remember to look to the hills where your help comes from, and know that chariots of fire surround you on every side.