Have you ever thought “I just never get anything out of the Bible. When I read it it’s just boring. It seems dry. I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make sense. It seems like a closed book to me.” I’m going to explain why the Bible is a closed book to you and how God wants to open it up and how you can start seeing what God wants you to see. The Bible is a difficult book if you don’t understand the principle of illumination. Week 1 – inspiration -you can trust God’s Word. Week 2 – foundation - reasons God gave his Word and how it makes a difference.
What is illumination? - Letting the Holy Spirit show me the meaning of God’s Word and how it applies to my life. Before Jesus went back to heaven he said, I’m going to send my Spirit to live with you and live in you – the Holy Spirit. John 14: 26 “Jesus said, ‘The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’”John 14: 17 “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” The Holy Spirit leads you to understand what the truth is in the Word of God. John 16: 15 “…The Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”Ephesians 1: 17 “I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you his Spirit. The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God.” The Holy Spirit will make you wise and understand what it means to know God.
This book is supernatural, not only is it God’s Word, but you can talk to the author while you’re reading it. Illumination - “Lord, Holy Spirit, what does this mean? How can it make a difference in my life?” The Holy Spirit whispers in my ear, he puts thoughts and impressions in my mind, he opens my eyes. The light goes on.
How does illumination work? Ephesians 1: 18, 19 “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”I’m going to teach you how to make this a part of your daily Bible reading so that when you read the Bible, it’s going to come alive. “I never saw that before. I needed that. It’s God speaking directly to me.” When that happens your spiritual eyes are opened - illumination. What actually happens when God opens my spiritual eyes?
1. I see the solution to my problem.
Story of Sarah, Abraham, Hagar and their sons, Isaac and Ishmael. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. God would give him a son to be the heir to this great nation. At 90 years of age Abraham still doesn’t have a son. Sarah says to Abraham, I’m too old to have a baby. Take my handmaiden, Hagar and you have a baby through her. So Hagar gets pregnant with Abraham’s child. This is not God’s plan. This is Sarah’s plan. The little baby is born and they name him Ishmael. God says “That’s not my plan - Sarah’s plan. I love Ishmael and he’s a good kid and I’m going to make him a great nation too, but he’s not the promised miracle boy!” Later by a miracle, Sarah does get pregnant and she has a boy named Isaac - father of the Jewish nation. Ishmael becomes the father of the Arab nations. Sarah gets upset and she kicks Hagar and her young baby son out into the desert. They’re starving to death and dying of thirst in the desert. God heard Hagar’s cry for help -“Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and she filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” They survived and Ishmael became the father of all the Arabs.
She had the solution right in front of her, but she couldn’t see it until God opened her eyes - illuminated her mind.
I don’t know what problem you’re going through right now – “There’s no answer to it.” You need the Holy Spirit to enlighten your mind so you can see the solution in God’s Word. You need to see it from God’s point of view.
2. I see the barrier to my progress.
You have some things you’ve been wanting to do - start a business, start a family, get out of debt, or some goal or dream. But you just keep bumping up against a wall – “I’m not making any progress.” You need to have your eyes opened. Story of Balaam - prophet of God – but he decided and agreed to help the bad guys. God puts an angel in his pathway and blocks his progress - Balaam can’t see the angel - doesn’t know what’s going on. Balaam can’t see what’s going on but his donkey can. The donkey goes off into a ditch. Balaam gets angry and beats the donkey. Second time Balaam says to the donkey: “Why did you do that? Why did you run against the wall and break my leg?” Third time the donkey just collapsed and gives up. “Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.” He worships God.
Strange story - here’s the point - you have plans in your life that aren’t working out. You try to go this way and you get blocked. You try to go that way and you get blocked. You’re getting mad at everybody else because you can’t see what the real problem is.
God is blocking - trying to keep you from making a serious mistake. When your progress is being blocked - 1 of 2 choices - beat the donkey or let God open your eyes. The problem is you can’t see the problem. But when God opens my eyes, I can see the solution to my problems and I can see the barrier to my progress.
3. I see the defense for what’s attacking me.
Everybody feels under attack at different points in their life - attack by germs and you’re getting sick, attack by the economy - lost your job, your income or your retirement benefits, attack by former friends or by your own family. You think you’re all alone and you don’t know what God is going to do about it.
Story of Elisha and the Arameans. The nation of Aram was always at war with Israel. But every time they would attack Israel God would tell Elisha what the king of Aram’s plans were. So Elisha would go tell the king of Israel, and each time of Israel would beat Aram up. He’s winning time after time.
The king of Aram goes after Elisha. Elisha is at Dothan with his servant Gehazi - has a panic attack. “There’s like several thousand soldiers out there and there’s you and me. What are you talking about there’s more on our side than on theirs? It’s just us two against this army.”
Pick up the story – v. 17 “Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked out and he saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha!”This is the angel army that he did not see from a physical standpoint. He sees it. Now, he’s not afraid any more. You lose your fear when God is near.
Here’s the point: You’ve got things that are attacking you and you’re going to panic about it. You’re going to feel overwhelmed. God needs to open your eyes and see all the resources on your side that he has commanded to take care of you. There are angels around you. God’s forces are there to protect you. When I see from his viewpoint I can see the defense and all of a sudden my fear goes down dramatically.
4. I see how God is walking with me.
What are you going through right now? Feel like you’re fighting this battle on your own. You don’t think that God is with you - million miles way. You’re dead wrong! He’s been with you all along, you just can’t see it until your mind is illuminated. Easter Sunday - rumour starts spreading all over that Jesus is risen. Later that day a couple of Jesus’ disciples are walking on the road to Emmaus - in fear for their life - grieving and they’re sorrowing. All of a sudden Jesus starts walking with them - because they’re in so much grief they don’t even recognise him - eyes are closed.
“They were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus would have gone on, but they begged him to stay the night with them, since it was getting late. So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, Jesus took a small loaf of bread, asked God’s blessing on it, broke it, then gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” That was illumination - in their grief they could not see that Jesus was with them. I don’t know what you’ve lost this last year - loved one, health, job, important relationship or a big deal - you are grieving. You cannot see that every step of the way Jesus has been walking with you - never been alone. God is walking with you, but your eyes are blinded. You can’t see it.
But when God opens your eyes, Bam! I see the solution to my problems. Bam! I see the barrier to my progress. Bam! I see the protection that God has from all the things that are attacking me. Bam! I see he’s with me all the time.
How do I get that kind of illumination?
1. I must begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you don’t have this one you are spiritually blind and you don’t have any hope of seeing things from God’s point of view. You can’t just know about Jesus. You’ve got to know him. 1 Corinthians 2: 14 “The man without the Spirit [not born again] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” It is nonsense to expect unbelievers to act like believers until they are. My eyes are blinded until I have the connection with God.
2 Corinthians 4: 4 “The devil who rules this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe. They cannot see the light of the Good News…”None of us saw it until we stepped across the line. John 3: 3 “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God until he is born again.”
2. I must ask God in faith to open my eyes.
Psalm 119: 18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your laws.” You should pray it every day when you open your Bible. There are wonderful things in this book - when you don’t see them, it’s not the Bible’s fault. It takes more than revelation. It takes illumination.
James 1: 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt.” I ask God in faith. Matthew 7: 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you.” Ask, seek and knock.
What is God’s promise? Psalm 32: 8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” But I’ve got to ask in faith for God to open my eyes.
3. I must come with a humble attitude.
Psalm 25: 9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Proverbs 3: 5, 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. He’ll point you on the path to success.
4. I must cleanse my heart of sin and conflict.
I cannot get my eyes open if my body and mind is full of junk. Matthew 5: 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”That doesn’t mean perfect. If only God illuminated the minds of people who are perfect, nothing would happen. None of us are perfect. Pure doesn’t mean perfect. Pure in heart means I’m caught up today on my confession. There’s nothing between me and God. Yeah God I agree that was wrong and you’re right. I just confess. I don’t allow the garbage to pile up in my life. “Blessed are the pure in heart, they will see God.” If I’m filling my mind with bitterness, lust, resentment, guilt, anger, jealousy and envy - I’m not going to see it. I must have a clear conscience. I must cleanse my heart of sin - not just sin but conflict.
1 John 2:11 “Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and he walks around in the darkness. He does not know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded him.” The Bible says you cannot be right with God and wrong with others.
5. I commit in advance to do what God says.
This is unqualified, unconditional obedience. “God, I need you to teach me what I need to do this week with my family/my business. I’m going to do what you want me to do even when it doesn’t make sense, even if I don’t understand it or agree, even when it isn’t easy. I’m saying yes, even before you tell me what to do.”
Psalm 119: 33, 34 “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.” God’s not going to give you step two until you act on step one.
Prayer: “God, I ask you to open my eyes to see the solutions to the problems that are right in front of me. Open my eyes to see the barriers that are holding back my progress. Open my eyes to see the people that are attacking me. I don’t have to defend myself. You’ll defend me. I can trust you. Lord, in all of my loss, my grief and confusion, open my eyes to see that there has never been a second you weren’t walking with me. In faith I ask you to open my eyes, that I may see wonderful things in your law. I want to come to you every day with a humble attitude. I don’t want to trust in my way or my own understanding. I want to acknowledge you in every area of my life. I don’t want to merely listen to the Word and so deceive myself. I want to do what it says. In your name I pray. Amen.”
James 1: 22 “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”