Perspective

I want to talk this morning about perspective.  We’re coming to the end of the year – only 10 more days of 2013 left.  Time goes quicker as you get older.  When I was a kid an hour seemed like such a long time.  Now a year feels like an hour!  
As we come into the end of the year – People often looking back and forming conclusions on how their year went.  365 days= 8760 hours, but we’ll make a conclusion on it – and it will all come down to one phrase.
  • It was a GREAT year, or
  • It was an OK year, or
  • It was a TERRIBLE year.
It’s funny how we stamp an entire year based on our final evaluation of it.  1997 was a good year for me – it was the year Annika & I got married.  But there was a bunch of bad stuff that happened that year too.  I have other years that I have labelled ‘terrible’ but  actually there were good things that happened in the year as well.
Check Your Speakers
When I worked doing music production, I spent a lot of time mixing music tracks.  When you do that it’s really important what speakers you use to mix on.  They need to be accurate.  If those speakers are too bassy, then you won’t put enough bass in your mix, and it will come out sounding thin.  If they don’t have enough treble/top end, then you’ll put more in your mix, and it will hurt the ears of everyone listening to it later on.  If you don’t mix on the right kind of speakers – then you end up with something that sounds great in the studio, but sounds terrible everywhere else.
We’ve got to make sure that we’re listening to the ‘right kind of speakers’ when it comes to ‘mixing our lives’ as well.  Before you make your FINAL MIX for the year – and decide whether or not 2013 has been great, ok, or terrible, can I encourage you to have a listen to your life through a particuar set of speakers that I have with me this morning….

Perspective
PERSPECTIVE is everything.  Perspective – “a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something”.   Perspective is less about the facts and more about how we interpret the facts, and what we do with the facts.  It’s really important that we interpret what happens to us and around us in the right way.  Otherwise we can totally get the wrong end of the stick.

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha and his servant are surrounded by armies.  The servant is freaking out, but Elisha prays that his servants eyes would be opened.  With this new perspective, he realises that the armies of heaven who are with them are greater than the armies that surround them.  

The facts don’t change – 

but the servant moves from a place of fear into a place of encouragement because his eyes get opened.

So here’s three things to before you make your FINAL MIX for 2013!!

1) Turn Up The Testimonies

King Saul said to the young David – you can’t fight the giant Goliath.  But the power of what God had done in the past gave David the faith to face whatever would come next.  He’d faced the lion and bear and had triumphed, Goliath would become like them.  When it felt like defeat could be imminent – David turned up the testimonies.  In the book of Revelation it says they overcame the devil by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.
About Testimonies
A testimony is a God story of what God did in your life.   Testimonies are really powerful.  They’re not just little warm fuzzies or feelgoods – they are designed to remind you:
  • of the faithfulness of God in the past,
  • to release the power of God in the present, and
  • to give you hope and encouragement that God will continue to come through for you in the future.
 But when we turn down the testimonies or mute the testimony track – all the life and hope goes out of our life mix.
Testimonies – the stories of everyday people – are really important!  If you ever watch the informercials on television – they don’t just show you the features of the product, or how much you’ll save if you call in the next 10 minutes… they will also line up a bunch of people who supposedly have had their lives changed by the Ab-Grinder 2000 Deluxe.  Because they know that testimonies have the power to change your perspective.  
Keeping Track
We can start to doubt God’s reality or His power – because of whatever experience we may have had recently.   But you line up the testimonies again and you start to believe.  I keep a regular testimony list – every time God does something I try to write it down.  We’ve got to get good at keeping record of that which God has done for us because we’re so prone to forgetting and when we forget what God has done for us – it opens the doorway to doubt.   But when we start remembering – it lifts us up again.  We start to believe again.  When I read through my testimony list it gives me perspective again.  I remember that God hasn’t forgotten me – He hasn’t forsaken me.  He’s been faithful to me right across this last year.
Psalm 103:2  Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits
I want to encourage you – as you look back over this year, to remember what God has done.  To not forget his goodness to you!  Because it will change your perspective.  Before you do your FINAL MIX for this year… make sure your testimony track is up nice and loud!!

2) Reframe The Losses

We’re probably familar with the story of Joseph.  Sometimes as parents we can worry about how we’re doing.  You know you’ve got problems when all your older kids gang up on the youngest, sell him off to be a slave and then fake his death to cover their tracks!
God Meant It For Good 
In Genesis 50, Joseph’s brothers come to him full of worry and concern for how they’d treated him and begging him for mercy.  But Joseph had reframed what had happened to him over all those years.  Instead of looking back on it all and seeing everything that had gone wrong for him, he now looked back and realised how what had happened had been part of God’s plan for his life.
Romans 8:28 – ALL THINGS work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.  It’s almost Christian cliche – but hear it again this morning…
Even In The Fire
Just because we’re walking and trusting God doesn’t mean that we suddenly receive a ‘get out of fire free’ card.  In fact there’s times when following Jesus means you’ll follow him right into the firing line.
In the book of Daniel – 3 young Jewish men are thrown into a raging fire by the king, because they won’t bow down to a Babylonian idol – they will only worship the true God.  The fire is so hot it kills the guards throwing them in.  But then the king leaps to his feet – how many men did I throw in?  “3 men”, his advisors reply.  “Well I now see 4, and one looks the son of a God!”.  JESUS was in the fire with them.
So he calls them out… and get this….
  • Not a hair of their head was singed
  • None of their clothes were damaged
  • Their chains had all fallen off (the fire times in our lives can bring us the greatest freedom)
  • And they DIDN’T EVEN SMELL OF SMOKE!!
No Smell Of Smoke
When you meet people in life – it doesn’t take long to get a sense of what they smell like.  I’m not talking about cologne or perfume – or lack of deodorant… I’m talking about the scent that comes off their life.
All of us go through fire – but there’s people that you meet who went through the fire 20 years ago – and they still smell of the smoke today.  It only takes 10 minutes of talking to them – and they’re leading you back to the pain that they went through.  It becomes their defining point.  Not only that but they then take everyone else through that same fire by continuing to repeat the story again and again of their pain and loss.  They continue to keep that smoke alive.
 I don’t want to be DEFINED BY THE FIRE… I want to be DEFINED BY THE JESUS THAT I MET IN THE FIRE!
ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD.  Not just the good things but the bad things too.  As you’re looking back on your year – don’t allow it to be defined by your fire – but find the JESUS in your fire.  Not only will there be testimonies of God’s goodness this year – but there will also be moments of pain.  But REFRAME THE PAIN.  Find JESUS in the midst of that pain.
A Heavenly Vision
In Isaiah 6 – the prophet Isaiah gets a vision of heaven.  He sees these living creatures which worship God
     Day and night they never stop staying
          “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty
          The whole earth is filled with His glory”
These are the closest created creatures to the throne of God and continually – day and night – they never stop staying ‘the whole earth is filled with His glory’.  They have the perfect perspective of heaven.  Some would look and say – well there’s plenty of pain and suffering going on right now… how on earth can they say the whole earth is filled with his glory?  But these creatures are seeing something that we sometimes don’t.  They see what God has done, and what He is doing… and also what He is about to do.  They have a different perspective.
The closer you get to God – the more you begin to see Him in everything.  Both the good and the bad.  You begin to get a God-perspective on your suffering and pain.  The smoke around your life evaporates.
In Revelation 4 we meet these creatures again – although this time they’re singing the second verse:
     ‘Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty – who WAS, and who IS and who IS TO COME’
This leads me to my final point this morning…
3) Remind Yourself The Best Is Yet To Come
This isn’t just a nice phrase… this is actually, totally, 100% Biblical truth.  God is always the God who ‘IS TO COME’.  Which means that for ages upon ages to come – we’ll never get to the end of how good He is.  Becuase he will always remain the one who is to come.
When it comes to summing up your year this year – remember this truth:
     No matter how great this year may have been
     No matter how difficult this year may have been
     The BEST IS YET COME.
It’s easier as we get older to start thinking that maybe our best days are behind us – that our greatest achievements have been made.  That all the good stuff lies behind, rather than in front.  You know you’re getting older when all the songs that you love are on classic radio or played on Throwback Thursday 🙂
But God is all about TODAY.  In the words of the prophet TelstraClear… Now’s good!  He says ‘TODAY’ is the day of salvation.  LOOK, I’m doing a NEW THING… do you not see it?  Sometimes we can’t see the new things that God is wanting to do in our lives because we’re so busy focussing on what He used to be doing or crying about what we feel like He didn’t do.
It doesn’t matter if your 8 or 88 – God has NEW THINGS for you!  The BEST IS YET TO COME!!
     My best messages are still yet to be preached
     My best songs are still yet to be written
     The best days of this church are still yet to come!
The best days of your life are still yet to come!  Because you’re walking with one who ‘IS TO COME’ and He’s working all things together for your good ALL THE TIME!!  You cannot lose!
And even if you die… you win!
But sometimes we need that perspective change.  In Judges 6 – we meet Gideon.  The angel rocks up  and says “Greetings Mighty Warrior”.  Gideon was not a mighty warrior.  He was a yellow-bellyed coward.  He’s hiding in a winepress.  Then he gets talking to the angel and tells the angel about how God has forgotten Israel and they’re getting beat in battle and everything that’s going wrong.  He’s MISSING the fact that there’s an angel right there saying ‘Greetings Mighty Warrior!!’
GOD WANTED TO DO SOMETHING WITH GIDEON… TODAY!
But he’s so focussed on the yesterday that he can’t see what God wants to do RIGHT NOW.  You may have had a whole lot of bad things happen to you this year.  But the truth is that GOD’S BEST is yet to come.  You may have had the best year of your life so far.  The Truth is that GOD’S BEST is still yet to come.
Don’t let the losses of yesterday rob you of what God wants to do in your life RIGHT NOW!  The Bible says – the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus said I have come – that you may have LIFE and life abundantly.

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