Change Your Perpective
Change Your Perspective
February 27, 2011
by Rev. William “Buck” Day
We have the opportunity now to turn to Scripture, and we are finishing up the end of Chapter 14 of Exodus. So we have four verses, I believe, today. Exodus 14:30-15:2
Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
”I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my might,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
God’s word for us today.
Once again, let’s be joined together in prayer.
Lord God, thank you. Thank you that you are the God who stays with us, who works on our behalf. So Lord we ask that your Holy Spirit would be fully present here to quicken our hearts and to speak to our hearts and our minds what you have for each one of us today. We ask that because of Jesus and it is in his name we pray. Amen.
Well it was July 23rd, 1987. I know that was probably before some of you were born back there, but… bear with me here. I was working at the Best Buy store in Minnetonka and I was installing radios in cars. I was closing that day and the forecast called for thunderstorms. Boy, did it rain that night. I was working and late afternoon it started raining and raining and raining and it just didn’t stop. It was just raining buckets. At one point I had to go into the store to get something. Now, there was a door between where I worked and the store but we didn’t have a key to it; a manager did. So we had to go around. So I had to run around the building to go into the front of the store in the middle of a rain storm. So I started and I started running down this grass pathway. I get about half way around the building and all of a sudden a bolt of lightning hit a hundred, two hundred feet, away from me. Just BOOM! It was one of those, you know the Mario Brothers, sorry, another old reference; hang with me. I know that; but that was what I thought of. It is one of those where he jumps up and his legs are still moving….that was kind of me, O.K. So I hit it; I get around the store; and my heart was beating about a thousand beats a minute. It was just like, Whoa! I made it. Now that night, if you remember, some people dubbed that night the night of the super storm, where we had over ten inches of rain that night. That night I never got home from work. Just by way of information, I just couldn’t find a way home. Every way I went was flooded, so I ended up spending the night in my car right behind the building. At that point, you are all supposed to say, “Ahhh.” (Everyone says, “Ahhhh.”) Thank you. Thank you.
Thunderstorms, when we are in the midst of them, can be a pretty frightening experience, can’t they? But, have you ever seen a thunderstorm from about 30 or 40,000 feet? I know you have Jim. Seen from an airplane, you just see the lightning dancing between the clouds. It is a magnificent thing to watch a thunderstorm when you are above it. So being in the middle of it or being above it, changes you perspective of how you look at the storm. A violent storm can be very different depending on how you look at it, what your perspective is towards it. I want to show you a picture and I want to ask you: What do you see? What do you see? Do you see an old woman or do you see a young lady? It depends on your perspective, doesn’t it? How you look at the picture. Here is another one. Which line is longer? That’s right, they are the same. Trick question, but they look like they should be different lengths, don’t they? One more for you, what do you see here? Faces or a vase? Yes, yes.
What you see depends on your perspective, doesn’t it? And our perspective can go a long way toward helping us in how we react to different situations and that particularly applies when we are in difficult situations or if we are in situations of uncertainty. I think that is the message of our text today. What we are doing is we are finishing up our look of the Red Sea trials for the Israelites. The Israelites had been chased and cornered by Pharaoh and his army. They followed the Israelites into the Red Sea and they saw the Israelites get to the other side, and the Israelites saw the water close over the Egyptians. So the picture of our text is that the Israelites are on one side of the Red Sea and they are looking over the water and all they can see are the dead bodies floating on the water on the other side of the Red Sea.
The Israelites have seen God’s hand at work first hand. They saw him move on their behalf. They saw the water parted; they saw it move back together to return back to its normal spot. They realized that God was working on their behalf. The text that we read said, “They feared the LORD and believed in him and Moses.” …For God had made a way for them where there had been no way before. And that is kind of the thing that is going to be running through our whole time together in this text. God demonstrated that he would be with them; and you would think at that point then the Israelites would just go: “O.K. whatever God, whatever Moses, want, O.K. We are following them. We are tracking one hundred percent.” But we know that is not the case, don’t we? So a change of perspective is sometimes important and having that change of perspective can go a long way towards making the most of a difficult situation, when we are in one of those, or we are in a time of uncertainty.
So one of the things I think we want to think about when we are in a time of difficulty, to change our perspective sometimes requires that we don’t waste a crisis. Don’t waste a crisis. God uses the difficult times in our lives to grow us up, to grow us up, as well as, to strengthen us for difficulties that will come in the future. If you think you have gotten through all the difficulties in your life, I’ve got news for you folks. They are going to continue to come at us. That is kind of the nature of life. God uses those hard times to grow our faith so that we would more fully rely upon God. Do you remember those bracelets; I mean, they were the WWJD bracelets, originally, but then there were some F.R.O.G. bracelets. Anybody remember those? Fully Rely On God. That is what God wants us to do in the midst of crisis—to more fully rely upon him. So he wants us to grow our faith. Faith you can think of like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it gets. Difficult times are those places where that faith gets exercised, where it gets strengthened over time. A tested faith is a strong faith. Another way to think about that as Warren Wiersbe said, “A faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.”
So really what we are talking about here is this idea of the cumulative nature of faith that, as we walk through a difficult situation, we build our faith. It prepares us for the next difficult situation so that we can exercise and get our faith a little bit stronger; and the next difficulty makes our faith a little bit stronger after that, as well.
I know that in my own life. I know that in my own life because I know that God will always take care of me regarding where he wants me to work. I have complete trust in him around that, without any problem at all. Now how did I get to that point? It didn’t just happen all of a sudden but rather it was a series of small steps where my faith got tested time and time again; where I had to put my trust in him so that now I can say, “O.K. I know God will take care of me no matter what the situation.” I knew that God wanted me back in ministry after I worked fifteen years at Best Buy. But the only thing that was available was a part time job. So right out of the gate God said, “Trust me. Trust me with it.” I did. And not long after that, that became a full time job as I took on more responsibilities beyond just student ministry at that point. Then after that God moved me into another situation where I was walking into a ministry that had gone through a difficult time and they wanted some stability. So I was brought in to help that happen. At that church just a little while later, I had more church wide responsibilities as that church walked through a difficult time as a whole. As those difficulties were worked through, I was informed that I would be no longer needed. Once again uncertainty entered. Another step, do you trust him? And God opened the door to provide me a place to help another church walk through a time of transition between pastors and that led me here, eventually, to Faith. So I know that God will take care of me and that God is going to make a way for me to be able to continue to minister here. That is my hope; that is my desire; that is my trust.
Every time we are tested in our faith, it is an opportunity to take another step deeper into our faith and trust God a little bit more. So our faith grows over a cumulative test over a period of time. But, I think our faith also grows as we stand on God’s promises. The Bible is full of promises for God’s people. It is about taking those promises and applying them to whatever the difficulty is that we are experiencing in our situation in your life, or in our corporate life, and that grows our faith to be able to face tomorrow’s challenges. It is like storing up our faith for a time when we need it and we will be tested. Let me give you a couple quotes that reinforce that. One is from 1662 from a man by the name of Thomas Watson, he was a puritan, and he says this. He says “Faith lives in a promise as a fish lives in the water.” Let me say that again:
Faith lives in a promise as a fish lives in the water. The promises are both comforting and quickening. They give strength and revive. They keep us from sinking when we come to the waters of affliction. Oh, trade much in promises. There is no condition that you can be in but to have a promise.
In other words there is a promise for us in Scripture for no matter what our situation is. That is what he is telling us.
Listen to the words of the theologian J. I. Packer. He says:
In the days when the Bible was universally acknowledged in the churches as God’s written Word, it clearly understood that the promises recorded in Scripture were the proper God-given basis for all our life of faith and that the way to strengthen one’s faith was to focus it upon a particular promise that spoke to a person’s condition.
In other words, claim the promises that are there for you in Scripture for they will help you; they will grow you; they will strengthen you as you walk through a time of uncertainty or difficulty. Faith is about finding and claiming the promises of God in every situation; and, based on those promises, act in a way that seems to make sense knowing that God has the power to do what he has promised.
That is changing perspective. That is taking a difficult situation and making the most out of it. Another way we can change perspective is by giving God praise when he acts on our behalf. That is what the first two verses of Chapter 15 are about. Praise is a function of gratitude. Gratitude is our response to God’s acting in our lives. The song that we saw in the first two verses of that is that what Moses and the Israelites sang was a song of praise. It was a song of praise because God acted on their behalf. God acted to deliver them from Pharaoh. God acted to save them. God acted, and they were saying “thank you” back to God. “Thank you. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for your protection. Thank you for acting on our behalf.”
As I think about that common phrase, thank you, I think it doesn’t get much run any more in our world. We don’t say “thank you” enough in our world. Because it is missing, I think we miss each other in our relationships because we don’t have that kind of connection, that kind of mutual gratitude towards each other. If we are missing it in our relationships with one another, not saying “thank you,” how much more, as Paul says, how much more do we miss by not thanking God for the things that he brings into our lives.
We have a God who wants nothing but the best for us and says that “all things work for good for those who love him.” So I wonder, do we need to thank God for something right now? I want to do something. Every now and then I want to create a space for you to interact with God. So much comes from here. I want you to kind of come here to God. I am going to give you just a couple moments of silence to take some time to just thank God for whatever it is that you need to thank God for. Maybe it is something that you have forgotten about. Maybe it is something you have ignored. Whatever it might be, I will give you just about a minute. Just spend some time between you and God just thanking him. Just thank him right now. Will you do that?
(Take a moment of silence and take time to thank God.)
A heart of gratitude is a heart that God welcomes. God welcomes that kind of heart because that is the kind of heart that reflects Christ, reflects Jesus; because it is a heart that is dependent upon God and leans on God for all the things in its life. That is the heart that God wants for each us and it is a heart that is filled with praise.
Perspective is a really important thing as we walk through difficult times and how we approach them. I want to bring it to a close by giving you two different perspectives on an event that Revelation 18 talks about. It is the destruction of the city of Babylon. The first perspective from Revelation 18 is the perspective of the kings of the earth who are seeing Babylon being destroyed. Listen to what they say. The say:
And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her (her being the city of Babylon), will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
“Alas, alas, the great city,
Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgment has come.”
That is one perspective. At the same time in the beginning of Chapter 19 it gives you another perspective—the perspective from heaven of the same thing going on. And this is what it says. It says:
“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
for his judgments are true and just;
he has judged the great whore
who corrupted the earth with her fornication,
and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
Once more they said,
Two perspectives of the same event. When we enter into a difficult time, what is our attitude? What is our perspective? Is it one of “Oh, Lord, not again.” Or is it we say “O.K. God, I am not excited about it but I am really willing to walk with you so that I can praise you when I get to the end of it.”
Someone said that wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. And praise, I think, is the natural reaction to that viewpoint.
Difficult times require a different perspective, one that has a chance to build our faith and an opportunity to give praise to the one who acts on our behalf. So the next time you walk through a time of uncertainty or difficulty, know you are not alone, will you?
Would you pray with me please?
Lord God, thank you that you meet us in times of trial and times of difficulty and times of uncertainty. You are never far away. So Lord, I ask that in those times we would have the courage to trust you; we would have the courage to stand on your promise; and we would look to you and give you praise. For you are the one who works on our behalf and we will give you glory forever and ever. Amen.