Tag Archives: Perspective

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 47 (Easter)

47. Perspective, Perspective, Perspective

Finish Race

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 12:1-3)

Perspective, perspective, perspective. Before we understand Christ’s perspective, we must understand ours. Fixing our eyes upon Jesus.

The Greek word for fixing is defined: to look away from other things and look only on one thing. There is an aspect of turning one’s back and to look away as part of the process.

There is a multitude of verses which speak to this exclusivity. It’s not just a simple matter of making Jesus first, with a panoply of other options, interests, needs, wants and preferences crowding in behind Him. Yes, He is in front, but there are all those distractions insinuating themselves behind Him; many seeking to supplant and usurp Him. And since we essentially have no will power, we need to clear the deck, turn away from all else and fix our eyes only on Jesus.

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. ( James 4:4)

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. ( John 15:19)

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:14-18)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:24)

Country Asphalt road in strong flare

The last two verses demand our attention in regard to our perspective. Jesus is not just a choice—not even a first choice. Nor is He our last choice. He is our only choice. He is our only master, our only God. There cannot be another. So when we fix our eyes upon Jesus, there are no distractions, no colorful backdrop, not even a context. There is only Jesus. And when He is all you see, then you will have the appropriate perspective for everything else.

Who for the joy set before Him.

Before we ponder the joy, we should consider what was set before Him, that which was the source of the joy. The Greek word for set before has an interesting application. It could be restated as lie before, which can refer to a dead body laying in state. Now I’m not sensing a whole lot of joy coming out of that particular app, but is speaks accurately to our condition. Without Christ, we are dead in our sins and trespasses. We are a corpse. He saw our condition, knew what was to be done, and did it. Thus He saw the joy for His obedience, and saw the joy for the glory it brought His Father, and He saw the joy in raising us from the dead.

Set before can also apply to an infant, which also speaks to our state after we have been saved by Him: we are—in the words of Peter—newborn babes (1 Pet 2:2;1 Cor 3:1).

There is also an exposed sense to the word; as a prize that is set before all who would see it. We should consider this exposure. When God looks upon us, there is nothing hidden. All our private thoughts, concealed attitudes, secret sins—and what ever else we would seek to disguise—all lay open and  bare to His omniscient gaze. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? It should, unless you have been hidden in Christ, so when God turns His omniscient gaze upon you, all He sees is Christ.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. ( Ephesians 5:6-13)

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. ( John 3:20-21)

So we’ve seen examples of what may have been set before Him; and since God the Son is omniscient, then surely there were more things which He saw set before Him. The defeat of sin, Satan, death and the grave. Accomplishing the work given to Him by His Father. We must not forget that He saw you and me specifically and individually. The was not a general redemption. He died and rose again for you. All the other things that were set before Him—and they are myriad—should pale in comparison, when you know the Holy Son of God, Jesus the Christ, died for you. You were on His heart and mind. You were set before Him.

There’s the joy. And if Christ could push through, look past all the yuck, there is the key for us to do the same.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ( Jas 1:2-4)

James tells us why we are going through trials, and the end result. But Jesus show us how. So we can consider it all joy when we look not to the trials, or the situation. Or even the results. We must look to Jesus. Again, not our first choice, nor our last choice, but our only choice.

Tomorrow a recap of What God Gave Up for Lent

 

Singing with the King (72) – Understanding

When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. (Psalm 73:25)

waiting3This Psalm was written by Asaph, who was a Levite in the service of King David. He was also a drummer, and spent a lot of time serving before the ark of the LORD.

So the singers, Heman, Asaph and Ethan were appointed to sound aloud cymbals of bronze. (1 Chronicles 15:19

So he [King David] left Asaph and his relatives there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required. (1 Chronicles 16:37)

Let’s face it, life is filled with things we don’t understand. No,  I’m not talking about formulae, or equations, or theorems. I’m talking life problems— the kind that cause you anguish, misery, and as Asaph said, trouble.

Now the fact that he was a singer AND a drummer pretty much explains his confusion (oops—sorry). And what he was confused about was that he, as a righteous person, was constantly being punished and under affliction, which he thought, was from the Lord. The other side of this problem was that wicked people flourished, and they never seemed to have any problems. He had wrestled with this long enough to where he wanted to throw up his hands, declare “I don’t care”, and give up. But rather than giving up, he did something important. He entered the sanctuary of God.

Another way I would put it, is that he put himself, his life, and his world, within God’s context. So what’s God’s perspective like?

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.   For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”(Isaiah 55:8-9)

Sounds pretty out of reach and inscrutable. Until you read what Paul has to say about it.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned… “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14,16) You have the mind of Christ!

If you’re facing an unfathomable or agonizing problem, go into the sanctuary of God, and get His perspective.

Singing with the King (62) – Every Bone

Then I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be glad because he rescues me. With every bone in my body I will praise him: “Lord, who can compare with you? (Psalm 35:9-10)

Woman healedWith every bone in my body. When I looked up the word for bone in the Hebrew, it meant…bone. But it also means (as secondary translations) body, limbs, self and strength. That’s a pretty significant commitment for praise. And when you add the word every, which is also translated as whole, all, completely, anything, whatever and whenever, the praise become totally consuming.

When’s the last time you praised the LORD with every bone in your body? With all that you are? David did so after the Lord delivered him. That’s a good reason to be “all in.” Being saved is another. And thinking about how God saved us, is there ever a time when praise for that gets old? I hope not.

Another question is: is that kind of depth and commitment of praise beyond you? Well it’s not that the Lord isn’t deserving of such praise, whether it is a result of what He has done for us, or just because He is who He is. So when it comes to praising God with every bone in my body, the problem lies completely within us. What can we do?

The Apostle Paul has some counsel which should help: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Did you catch those sweeping generalities? Always… never…all circumstances. In order to do that requires we spend serious time in His presence. Did I say serious? I meant ALL time. Now that’s no big deal for God. He is, after all, omnipresent and omniscient. But imagine how your life would change if you lived your life always in His proximity, always in His Presence, and always with His perspective. You’d certainly be more practiced with your praise. But showing up once a week ain’t gonna do it. However, the more you praise, will help you to praise with more—even with every bone.

Keeping your life within God’s context will help you to praise Him even in the unexpected, and the overwhelming. And being thankful in all things may even get all you bones involved.

Singing with the King (40) – The Right Perspective

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Psalm 131:1

Daddy and daughter40 years ago I was in a Bible study with the pianist from the Christian band Glad, Bob Kauflin, and occasionally he’d teach us some new songs. One that he taught us was the above Psalm. I can still sing and play it, but I don’t know who wrote the music.

This is another of the “Song of Ascents”, and it is only three verses long:

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters,
or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child
rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Understand, this is King David, a reasonably (if not wildly) successful king, and of whom it was said that he was a man after God’s own heart. And he’s saying, his heart is not proud, his eyes are not haughty. And he doesn’t get involved in great matters or difficult things.

Now we could consider his battles and victories; his plans for building God a house; and how he set up all the care and maintenance for the temple and its ministries. Great matters? Difficult things? Hmm.

But it really is a matter of having the right perspective–God’s Perspective. Where did David’s skill, strength, and victories come from? The LORD. What about his art and creativity? From the LORD. What about his legacy of worship? From the LORD. And his greatness? Compared to God’s he had none.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.  Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.  Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. (1 Chronicles 29:11-14)

David knew all that he had and all that he was had come from God, and without Him, he was nothing. In this Psalm, David saw himself as a child leaning up against his Heavenly Father. And for all the things he did, and all the victories he had gained, this was where he wanted to be.

May you find that same comfort, leaning up against your Heavenly Father.

 

Singing with the King (37) – Context (1)

Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:5)

sunrise earth2

Context is critical when it comes to discerning the actual meaning of the Scriptural passage, and how we are to apply it to our lives. I love getting wrapped up in individual words with their meanings, definitions, and nuances; and sometimes, if I lose sight of the context, then I have committed a grave error as described in the idiom: “Can’t see the forest for the trees”, which reminds us that we need perspective, we need context.

So here is David crying out a reality about God’s existence, His presence and His glory. He IS exalted above the heavens; and His glory IS above all the earth. That is His nature, and David is sharing with us, that he gets it. But what is interesting about this Psalm, is what this verse is sandwiched in between.

My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; They dug a pit before me.

David is a dangerous place, surrounded by lions and dragons; and men whose teeth are like spears and arrows, and their tongues like sharp swords. And in the midst of this dangerous and even deadly place, David exalts the Lord. So an obvious question here would be, is there ever a time when it is NOT appropriate to worship the Lord? Oh by the way, David is weighed down, bent down, making it difficult to navigate around nets and pits, as well as lions, dragons and scary men.

Are you surrounded by enemies, by sickness, by loss, by sin? In the midst of all that, take David’s example to heart, and exalt the LORD.

Next time, we go a little further.

Singing with the King (34) – My God (2)

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1,2)

Alone at sunrise

Last time we talked about the seagulls from Finding Nemo, and how we could identify with them. Like them, we can be very selfish creatures. But then I asked you consider the “my’s” of King David. Here are the remainder.

My Rock— this is a different word from the previous one, and has a whole different range of meanings: to confine, secure, to shut in, besiege, to shut up, and to enclose. God does indeed do those things for us, for our good, and for our protection.

My Shield—The word shield means to cover, surround, or defend.

The horn of My salvation—horn has to do with power and might. So when David speaks of the Lord as being his horn of salvation, it is a powerful salvation, a mighty salvation.

My Stronghold— Another place of security, safety, and refuge. The stronghold by definition is a high place; indeed one of its translations is a high tower. It is a place of defense.

David gave us the right perspective.

So when you think about the Lord, how many “my’s” can you come up with? How many ways can you relate to Him? How many roles does He play in your life? How many needs does He fulfill? I know David could have gone on much more than eight. Can you?

What is it like to live you live in God’s context? To have His perspective? Well, the LORD should be not only all you need, but all you got.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. (Psalm 73:25)

 

Singing with the King (26) – One Thing: (2) Perspective

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD. (Psalm 27:4)

Fish Eye Central ParkOne thing. This is a very unifying approach to life, to faith—to whatever. The Hebrew text could actually say: One one I have asked. It may sound redundant, but think about it. Life is filled with one things that we must do, that need our attention. But what is the one One? Or should I say, Who is the only One. Four areas of your life will be changed forever by making the Lord, The One: Priority, Perspective, Purpose, and Practice.

Perspective:

New Heart, New Eyes, New Perspective

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ (John 16:13-15)

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

For too long we’ve adopted an incorrect perspective; looking at life from the underside with earthly eyes, rather than from the topside with spiritual eyes. We have been given the mind of Christ, and we need to see us as He sees us. And we need to see the world as He sees the world. Unfortunately, our thinking dwells upon too much on the wrong things and not enough on the One Thing. Follow David’s lead. Change your your perspective. You’re seated with Him in the heavenly places–right now.

Singing with the King (12) – Your Journey

You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. (Psalm 139:2)

Walk with Jesus

Following vs.1, David lists three more aspects of his life—indeed, our lives—that God knows.

The path and ways of which David speaks, have more to do with our entire life, rather than something as simple as a direction. It’s as much about how we go, and why we go, as where we go; it’s all about the journey—the whole journey.

We are so goal oriented, but how often do we think about the One Who walks with us? Should not our greatest joy be that we are walking side by side, hand in hand, with the King of kings?

Here is another principle of Living Life in Context. As we go along our way, the MOST overwhelming reality is that we are walking along His Way, with Him. And as we are walking with Him, we then have His perspective on our life, and our journey.

Detour

When we look at our path, when we see the scenery, the environment, the backdrop, we see it through His eyes. Then when there is a divine detour, we make it, and we can accomplish what He has called us to do. If we do not have His perspective, we miss the opportunity to minister, to touch a life, and to make a difference; or we missed the opportunity to be touched or be changed ourselves. But we did not miss it, because we are walking with Him.

The problem is, it’s way too easy to be distracted and detoured, and because of our sinful nature, we choose to go our own way. But it is essential (and eternal) that we walk with Him; and as we are walking with Him, we then have His view on our life, and our journey.