Category Archives: Developing Faith

Risk:Living by Faith-2

In the previous “blog study” we looked at David as an example of a person who had faith in God and lived out that faith in his everyday life. At times David took great risks of faith with God. The key is “with God” and from his “relationship” with God.
Keys that characterize David’s faith:

  • David knew God through the scriptures. David discerned God’s character and heart for men as he read the word of God. David believed what he read about God and took that into his heart and mind. David spoke these truths to himself and integrated these truths into his life. It is knowing and believing truths about God that made David able to take risks of faith.
  • David valued and esteemed God. David was in absolute awe of God. David’s heart was set to honor God. Read Psalms 63:1-3 and 27:4 to get a glimpse of David’s genuine heart for God.
  • David had an acute awareness of God’s presence in his life. David was able to discern God helping him, supporting him, training him and protecting him in various situations in his life. David took these things to heart, remembered them and connected them to his present circumstances. These experiences fueled David’s faith.
    An example of this is in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, David tells Saul that God helped him to kill a lion and a bear when they went after the sheep. He connects that experience with facing Goliath and believes God will do the same with Goliath.

Risks – Living Faith
David had a deep relationship with God. He valued God. He esteemed God. He feared God and was devoted to “do life with God.” Because of the strength of David’s heart for God, he lived out of his faith in God and took risks that honored God and helped others.

A Personal Reflection: I have to stop here and think about my life and my relationship with God. Is my relationship with God really a “relationship?” Or am I going through a series of “spiritual activities” that give me a false sense of a relationship with God?  Do I know truths about God’s character? Do I believe those truths and bring them into my daily consciousness and use those truths to uphold me in difficult situations?

Risking Life – Come from Personal Connection
In 1 Samuel 17, we read of the encounter between David and Philistine giant, Goliath.

1 Samuel 17: 10, Goliath brazenly, with no fear, states that he “defies” the armies of Israel. It seems he postured and railed thus for 40 days (v.16).  David’s heart picked up on the fact that this man was railing against God, as well as His people. David personally felt the insult and disrespect of Goliath for God and God’s people.

  • A Personal Reflection: I have to ask myself: Do I personally connect with God, am I insulted on behalf of God by the “railing” of the world against God and truth? Or is my faith more just in my head, but not my heart?

Goliath defied God and Israel. In this context the word “defy” means: to hold in contempt, to scorn, to belittle, to denigrate, to shame and to blaspheme.

David was insulted on behalf of God. He took a stand and asked, “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway that he should be allowed to defy the armies of the living God,” 1 Sam. 17:26

To David, Goliath was not a giant, but a man without faith or fear of God. David steps forward in faith, without armor or supporting troops. Looking at David in that moment, he is mismatched, vulnerable, outnumbered, alone, and exposed.

Fighting Words – Faith Words
David knows God. He has truths embedded in his heart that he learned from the scriptures and from his experience with God. David spoke these truths about God to himself, to all the people watching from a distance, and to Goliath as he stepped forward to encounter him.

“…I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)

David was not alone, God was with him. David’s armor and shield was God. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we see so many references in David’s psalms to God as his Shield, his Champion, his Rock, his Strong Tower, and so on.

A Relatable Faith
I read this account of the faith of David and I am in awe. I am enamored and star struck by David’s faith.

Then I think: I can’t relate to this. David is a super spiritual hero in the scriptures. I cannot have this faith. I have struggles and serious flaws in my character. I have made many mistakes in my life.

As I read further in the life of David, I see he was not a perfect man. He did not do everything right. God described him as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), yet David was flawed; he sinned. One might say that David made a royal mess of things. He lusted. He committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-5). He arranged for the death of a man who was loyal to him, and then tried to cover up both the adultery and the murder (2 Sam. 11:6-17).

David’s track record with parenting his children was not the best. His son Amnon forced himself on his sister (2 Sam. 13:1-15).  His other son Absalom killed Amnon. (2 Sam. 13:20-32).  Absalom then rose up in insurrection against King David his father and attempted to take the throne. (2 Sam. 15:1-14).

God Sees Something I Don’t
Even many years after the truth of David’s life is known, God continued to describe David in the scriptures as a “man after God’s heart,” Acts 13:22.

  • After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

While I am impressed with the stand David took for God with Goliath, I am honestly more drawn to the type of intimate relationship that David had with God. This relationship was born of God’s love for David as well as David’s love for God. It is a mutual relationship.

As I read further in 1 and 2 Samuel and the Psalms, I see that I can have a relationship with God like David had. It is a matter of the heart, not of perfect performance. I don’t have to be perfect, just faithful.

I can, like David, make my heart’s home in God and let my life flow from that. The Message version states this in an impressive way.

  • “God, the one and only—I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him,  so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet,    breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life. My help and glory are in God  —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—so trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.” Psalm 62:5-8

Jesus – Makes It Reality
Jesus, the ultimate hero in the story of God has made it possible for me and you to have a deep personal relationship with God. In fact, such an intimate relationship has always been God’s heart and will for us and Him.

“In Christ, he chose us before the world was made. In his love he chose us to be his holy people—people without blame before him.  And before the world was made, God decided to make us his own children (relationship) through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him.” Ephesians 1:4-5 (NCV)

Risk – Another Word for Faith

Within the spiritual community that I am a part of we have been talking about God’s dream that is that everyone would have a deep personal relationship with God. That this is God’s desire; it is his will, his design.

  • “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Eph. 1:4-5 NLT
  • “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:2-3

Partners in God’s Dream
We have been reflecting on how God has invited us into being a part of his dream and working with him to complete this. The term “risk” came up, as in thinking about what risks can we take in order to be fellow workers with God to advance his dream by sharing God’s invitation to a relationship with him through Jesus.

Risk can be an intimidating term to some people, because in some way it means that we are doing something that has an element of stretching our limits. Risk involves going above what we normally would do, and it has the potential to result in a negative consequence of some type.

Risk involves vulnerability and possible exposure, or a pushing beyond our comfort zone. It involves a certain factor of the unknown. There is not a specific guaranteed structure or outcome. Sounds like faith to me.  

Risk – Another Word for Faith
As I pondered the term risk I thought, God has been talking about risks since day 1 of creation. When we assert faith, we do not physically see the outcome or sometimes even the process. The scriptures in Hebrews 11: 1 say that; “Faith if the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen.”  Therefore, faith involves risk.

Faith and Risk are inherent in many scriptures, such as: Romans 8:28 and Psalms 46:1-3.

  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

We may not see “the good” at the time, but we trust – we take the risk to believe that God is moving and working on our behalf.

Psalm 46:1-3 implies a risk to trust God in the midst of trouble, doubt, and when it seems our world is coming apart. These verses are a poetic and symbolic rendering of God’s unchanging heart and faithful character.

  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”Ps. 46:1-3

Risk Takers- Faith Walkers
If you are still unconvinced that you can become a risk taker read Hebrews 11 and become inspired by ordinary men and women who took risks of faith and deepened their knowledge and experience with God.

  • “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead…” Heb. 11:32-35

Relationship – Heart- Risk
Faith and risks flow from a deep relationship with God that is characterized by:

  • knowing and believing truths about God,
  • valuing God, and
  • cultivating a heart that cannot live without God.

King David, a risk taker, was described by the Spirit of God in the scriptures as being just such a man. The Spirit says David was a man after the heart of God. We read this characterization in Acts 13:22  

  • “And when He (God) had removed him (Saul), He raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” Acts 13: 22

David was known to have a relationship with God even before he became famous for his mighty deed of slaying the giant.

  • “One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:18

I have to stop here and reflect: What am I known for: my education; my titles; my appearance; my various skills and talents or even for my vices? Or, am I known for loving God and my fellow man; for walking humbly with God and man?  What are you known for?

Develop a Heart for God
Having a heart for God involves: seeking to know God personally; trusting in God and developing righteous character as you do what pleases God.

The words of David in the Psalms he wrote, reveal his heart for God.

David valued God and actively sought after knowing God and relating to God.

  • One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple…My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Ps. 27 4, 8

David sought to know and to do God’s will:

  • Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11
  • “Show me your ways, Lord,teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

It is through developing this knowledge of God and heart for Him that David could take risks for God.

It is the same for us. We can only live out our relationship with God, rise to challenges and difficulties, and do His will, if we are seeking daily to know Him and to do His will.

More to Come
This study has caused me to think more deeply about cultivating my heart for God and relationship with God. My faith is only as strong as the truths I know about God and choose to believe.  

In the next blog we will look closer at the various risks that David took to do great things that honored God, helped other people and caused David to grow in faith and love for God.

A Call to God From the Pit

There are times in our life when we feel like we are going down for the third time; when we feel like we are in a slippery bog, or sinking in a muddy pit. There are times we feel despaired and don’t even know what to think. We don’t feel inspired, motivated or particularly spiritual. We feel overwhelmed with our life circumstances or disappointed in ourselves.  We may be in direct conscious rebellion against God, or we may have been subtly drawn into a pit of self, of discouragement, or of worldliness.

You may think this can’t be me! I have a relationship with God. I am not supposed to feel this way. You are not alone. Prophets of God, kings and even His Son have felt this way!

Voices from the Pit
Jonah was outright rebellious to God. He refused to obey God’s command to call the Ninevites to repentance. He found himself in the pit of a big fish’s belly. He says in Jonah 2:1: “From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

Elijah, a prophet of God fell into despair and depression. This took place after he was a part of witnessing God bring fire from the sky to light a sacrifice in a spiritual contest with the worshipers of Baal. After this event Elijah collapsed in fear and depression. He literally asked God to take his life.

We read of his despair in 1 Kings 19:3-5, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”

King David felt this way numerous times in his life. Many of the psalms attest to David’s times of deep discouragement.

In Psalm 13, David was so discouraged he charged God with forgetting him. He cried out: “How long O Lord, will you forget about me…”.

In Psalm 42, David recognizes and admits that his soul is troubled and downcast within him. He feels forgotten by God, and as if he is mourning all the time. He is depressed, discouraged and overwhelmed by life.

“I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? … Why are you cast down O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. “Psalm 42:9-10

Again in Psalm 55, we see David feeling full of anguish, fear and feeling like he just wants to run away from it all.

“My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.  I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest… Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.  He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me…” Psalm 55: 4-6, 17-18

Even Jesus!
In the Garden of Gethsemane we see a very touching picture of Jesus wrestling with facing the burden of carrying the sins of the world and dying for them. The scriptures describe what he was feeling as anguish, distress, feeling like he was dying, and even so stressed he sweat drops of blood.  Jesus cried out to God in His time in the garden and on the cross as he bled out and died.

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.”  Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:36-39 HCSB

“Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44

And in the final moments of Jesus’ life we hear the depth of the pain He felt from being separated from God.
“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni? that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Matthew 27:45-46

A Common Thread
We are all in the depths, the pit or the “slough of despond” at one time or numerous times in our lives. During those times it is important to be aware of two things: where you are and that God is near.  Self – awareness is important in our life. We may not figure it all out but to be in touch with what we are feeling is good. We, like the people in these passages of scripture, need to realize when we are in trouble, regardless of the cause, and speak out to God.

The common thread in these accounts is the believer’s innate movement toward God. Whether out of anguish, frustration, despair, or hope they cried out to God. And – He responded to them with power, mercy and love.

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But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6

Forget God!?

Forget God? “Impossible! Preposterous!” you say, especially about anyone who is actively involved in “walking with God.” Yet forgetting God is s very real phenomenon. I believe we forget God in ways that seem small to us and are barely noticeable on a daily basis. Think about it.

Forgetting God Is Real
In fact, the phenomenon of forgetting God is so real that we read passages in the scriptures in which God predicts that His people will forget Him, and passages in which God charges them with forgetting Him.

In Deuteronomy 6:10-12, before Israel entered the “promised land” God encourages the people to remember Him and not forget Him after they become settled into their new land and new way of life.

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied,  be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

And we see a similar warning again in Deuteronomy 8:12-14:
“… Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

As Israel progressed in life, we clearly see that it is not only possible for a people in a covenant relationship to forget God but it is a reality. Listen to this very heart breaking statement from God in Jeremiah 2:32.
“Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten Me, days without number.”

The book of Judges documents the truth of a people in a covenant relationship with God who continually “forgot” God. Throughout the Old Testament we read of such warnings, statements of reality of them forgetting God, as well as ways that God encourages His people to remember Him. Some of these ways included: writing His command on their door posts; walking in the way with their children and telling of God’s great deeds; erecting stones of remembrance; celebrating feasts such as the Passover, and so on.

The Root of Forgetting God
There are many ways we forget God and many causes for our ungodly memory dysfunction. The psalmist in Psalms 78 reveals a major truth about this memory problem.
“That the generation to come might know…That they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God.” Psalm 78:6-8 (NASB)

So what is at the root of the problem? We see some clues in verses 6 to 8, such as, the statement that they should put their confidence in God, which implies the generation before did not put their confidence in God but in something or someone else. We know Israel put their confidence in idols, in worldly practices of the nations around them, in pacts with other nations to protect them, and in their own wisdom.

Also, we see that they forgot the “works of God,” the great ways He delivered them and the mighty deeds He did on their behalf. It is further revealed that they forgot God’s law and how to obey it from the heart. They set their will up against God’s and so they are called a stubborn and rebellious generation.

The most revealing clue is in the phrase “a generations that did not prepare its heart.”

Prepare Your Heart
What does this phrase mean? It comes from a Hebrew term that means: to establish; to make provisions for; to make preparation for; to plan. In other words these people did not make provision to be faithful to God. They did not establish themselves in their relationship with God by planning to remain faithful to God.

Most of us have plans for our future. We make plans for our children. We plan to save money. We plan for our education,our vacation, our careers, our homes, our families, etc. We plan to be faithful to our spouse – even to the point of saying vows of love and faithfulness before others regarding our marriage relationship. Yet what about our relationship with God? What is my plan to remain faithful to God? What is your plan?

Note well: There is much to learn on this topic of “forgetting God.” Future blogs will add more to these thoughts. For now it is good to reflect on your memory of God, of His goodness and mighty deeds in His Word, as well as in your life.

What is your plan to remember God every day?
Think beyond your usual prayer and Bible reading!

My Father’s Eyes: What Is Your Spiritual Eyesight?

When I was young I had a crossed eye which seriously affected my vision. I wore an eye patch on my right eye to straighten and strengthen the left eye. It straightened the eye to the point of looking normal so I no longer was like Clarence the cross eyed lion; but the vision never was restored to the left eye.

The eye patch I wore was a black cloth patch that tied around my head, like a real pirate patch! Of course wearing such a patch to school became a cause of ridicule and teasing. Besides being teased, wearing the patch was frustrating because I was forced to see, read and write with one, not so “good” eye. I confess I cheated, often. I would lift up the corner of the patch with the tip of my pencil or fingers and read with the good eye.

Since I have been diagnosed with macular degeneration in both eyes, I have become more focused on saving what sight remains. I have been studying about the eyes and sight in the Bible.

In a previous blog I wrote about having “My Father’s Eyes,” which involves learning to see people and circumstance with the eyes of God, not my worldly eyes. The scriptures have much more to say about our “spiritual eyesight.”

What You See Is What You ARE!
The Bible has much to say about how we see things. Luke 11:34-35 states, “Your eye is the lamp of your body, when your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”

In the context of this passage, Jesus is speaking about greed and selfishness, and is basically using an expression that is associated with a generous eye towards others. However the thought that our spiritual eyes or our perspective is the light that directs our inner self is true.

Our focus, our spiritual sight, is the center or lamp from which we interpret and act upon life. If my vision is clear, that is, if I am seeing things through God’s truth, then my motives and deeds are righteous; but, if my vision is darkened by self, greed or worldliness then darkness and confusion reign in my life.

Pray for Right Sight
The apostle Paul understood the importance of spiritual sight. It is so important that we see God and ourselves in relationship to Him correctly that Paul spent time praying for the disciples to see it right. Ephesians 1:18 records his prayer for the spiritual vision of the disciples to be increased that they will know God and His love more deeply.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”  Ephesians 1:18-19 (NASB)

I have to ask myself, “Am I seeing God for who He really is, or is my sight dimmed and blurred by my ideas or the world’s ideas of God?” 
I think it is a good idea to pray daily that the eyes of our hearts will be opened that we may see the truth and wonders of God.

God Invests in Our Eyesight
What we see spiritually is important to God. He wants us to know about Him and the good news of Jesus. God specifically set Paul aside to go and “open the eyes “of people that they might see their lost state and God’s salvation. See what God says to Paul.

“ I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Acts 26:17-18

I love the fact that God is actually helping us learn the truth about Him so that we will know Him and come into a relationship with Him. It is refreshing to know that God cares about my growth and is directing my learning.

In Revelation 3:18, the Lord warns and encourages the church in Laodicea to buy salve for their eyes that they might see themselves and the world with right spiritual sight.

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

God is so invested in how we see Him, ourselves and the world that He sent His Son and appointed Him to gives us true spiritual sight. This message is made clear by Jesus in Luke 4:18.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…”

I have to ask myself, “What am I willing to do to get this spiritual sight from God?”

God Gives Us a Focus
In 2 Corinthians 4:18 we read that God directs us to focus on the spiritual; not the worldly.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Again in Hebrew 12:2, God encourages us to “look at” the person and life of Jesus. When I look at my problems I can be overwhelmed. When I look at my sin I can be despaired. When I look to myself and my wisdom I lose my way. When I focus on Jesus, I am re-directed and strengthened. Like Peter in Matthew 14:22-33 when he fixed his eyes on Jesus he walked on the water, we too will be able to walk on the waves of life if we keep our eyes on Jesus.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

My Father’s Eyes

I am a visual freak, so to speak. I am not an artist, photographer or designer, but I love looking at color and light and how they play off one another, especially outside in nature. I can look out my window at the same scene in our yard anytime during the day, and I will see something different and uniquely beautiful depending on the angle of the sun light. The same leaves on a tree can appear golden at one point in the morning, while shimmery silver at another time, even the shadows create beauty.

I am on a journey of losing my eyesight through macular degeneration. This has caused me to focus more on what I see around me, and what I see spiritually.

My Eyesight Affects My Life
I strive for clarity in my physical eyesight as well as in the eyes of my heart. I need clear vision in my spiritual life, to find my way with God and man. The eyes through which I see other people, my relationships, events, trials/difficulties, achievements, etc., in my life will make a significant difference in my faith and how I live out that faith in my life.

When I am hurt by another person, do I see them as someone to avoid, and complain about; or, do I see them through God’s eyes of forgiveness and patient endurance?

When my children behave in ways that embarrass me, do I see them with eyes of condemnation, shame and despair; or, do I see them through God’s eyes of grace and persevering love?

When I am passed over for some position, promotion or honor, do I look at those who made the decision with bitterness and anger; or do I see it as God working out what is best for me, and do I look for His will and His timing?

When I struggle with physical illness or limitations, such as my weakening eyesight, do I look at God with accusing eyes, and charge Him with not loving me; or do I look to Him with faith and seek to surrender my will?

In 1979, Amy Grant released a song entitled, “My Father’s Eyes.” In the song, Amy Grant sings of how she wants to see people and life through the eyes of God so much so that when she dies, she will be recognized in eternity by the fact that she has “her Father’s eyes.”

Eyes of the Father: Compassion
Jesus reveals to us the eyes of the Father. In Mark 1:40-45 Jesus meets a leper on the road. Jesus looked at the leper through eyes of compassion and healed him. The scripture says; “Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, v.31.

Leprosy was not pleasant to look at, smell or touch, but it moved Jesus to compassion and action.

Sin is like leprosy, it rots our heart. It distorts our character and disposition. It is not pleasant to be around a person ruled by a sin, such as anger, bitterness, addictions, pride, and so on. The question for me is: How do I look at someone who is struggling with sin? Do I have compassion and reach out or do I draw back?

Take it a step further, how do I look at someone who is different from me, or from societies “nice” norms? Someone who is homeless or very poor? How do I view someone who is uneducated; someone who dresses on a weird style; or someone who has a disability?  Do I avoid them or reach out to them?

Eyes of the Father: Grace
In John 8:1-11 Jesus meets an adulterous woman. She was, so to speak, thrown at Jesus’ feet. The men who brought her to Jesus expected Him to look on her with condemnation.

According to the Law, she was to be stoned, but Jesus looked at her through the Father’s eyes of mercy. In mercy He released her. He moved the men from condemnation to grace. Each man dropped his stone and turned away.

When someone has sinned, most especially when someone has personally sinned against me, am I willing to drop my stones; the stone of judgement; the stone of accusation; the stone of blame; the stone of condemnation or revenge?

Eyes of the Father: Love
In Mark 10:17-27, a young ruler talks to Jesus about eternal life. This young man seems to have it all: wealth, status, power and a relationship with God. Yet, when Jesus asked him to give up the one thing that he loved more than God, he couldn’t do it. He struggled and walked away sad.

Even though Jesus knew this man would reject Him, the scripture states, “Jesus looked at him and loved him,” verse 21.

God looks at us in love even when we struggle to do what is right. When we fail, there is love. When we turn away from God, He watches for our return with eyes of love, Luke 15:11-32.

God does not overlook sin, but rather He chooses to look at us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

What do I choose to see? Do I look at people who are struggling with eyes of love or frustration? Do I look at those who fail me with eyes of love or accusation? Do I look at people who turn away from God with mercy and perseverance, or do I write them off as lost causes?

Do You Have the Father’s Eyes?
As a disciple of Jesus, I would like to think I have my Father’s eyes, but after reviewing these passages I have had to examine my vision more deeply. So, today when I pray for my physical eyesight, I will more urgently pray for my spiritual eyesight, to have my Father’s eyes.
What about you dear Reader? Maybe, it is time for an eye exam?