Friday, November 30, 2012

It’s All In Perspective

During WWII General Creighton Abrams found himself and his troops surrounded on all sides. With characteristic optimism, he told his officers, "For the first time in the history of this campaign, we are now in a position to attack the enemy in any direction."

Perspective is everything. It will keep you from giving up in the midst of overwhelming obstacles. Are you in some discouraging circumstances? No light at the end of your tunnel? Here is a verse for your circumstances. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Praise God and be thankful continually? Does that mean in all circumstances, even the horribly bleak ones? Especially the bleak ones.
Paul and Silas faced a very terrible situation more than once in their lives. On one occasion, they were arrested for preaching the Gospel. They were beaten, thrown into a hole in the ground. Prison today is the Hilton compared to their dungeon. Most had no windows, no light, and no restrooms. There were no regular meals and the ones they got were sometimes rotten or extremely small in portion. Most prisoners were chained directly to the ground with minimal or no clothing. There were no protective laws, prisoner’s rights, or fair trials. You certainly couldn’t have any visitors and privileges were breathing and sleeping. Acts 16:24 tells us their feet were fastened in stocks, which were excruciatingly painful.

So how would you respond? When you read Acts 16:25 you will see something extremely remarkable and surprising. They were praying and singing hymns. I probably would have been praying (mostly selfishly and likely not for the Lord to use me in the situation) but probably not singing. This really shows us their perspective and resolve. This shows us the true definition of sacrificial praise. When you have absolutely nothing to be excited about and your situation looks hopeless, praise the Lord anyway. If it had been Stephen (me) in this situation and prison, you may have heard moaning and groaning, whining and complaining more than praying and praising (although I would like to think better of myself). Some may even have cursed the jailers for what they had done and God for what He had allowed.

Now listen, Jesus knows all about your pain. The crucifixion was excruciating (we get that word from crucifixion). He knows what it means to be in agony, pain, torment, and torture. He came to earth and was fully human, born to die our death for our sin (Romans 5:8). He hungered, thirst, bled, grew weary, cried, and experienced every human emotion – but never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21). “Yeah, but He was Jesus”, you say. Being fully God yet fully human at the same time showed us we have options in how we respond to our circumstances. Jesus chose not to sin as a human. He was tempted, but overcame temptation in the worst of situations. We too can choose not to sin in our circumstances and temptations. 1 John 2:1 says, “I write these things to you so that you will not sin.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Perspective is everything. Here’s one to leave you on. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31). Still need another? “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.”

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