What's Your Perspective?
First Aid on the Lamb
Let's review for a moment what we covered in the previous chapter. I believe that in John 14, 15 and 16, the Lord has given us a brief, concise summary of what we need to do in a crisis situation to win.
In John 16:1, Jesus said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended." In other words, He spoke these things so that the Word of God would continue to work. This correlates with Mark 4:17, where the Lord told His disciples that if they became offended, the Word would stop working for them.
The Lord told His disciples what to do in their crisis situation, and it also applies to ours. We started with John 14. The first part of verse 1 says, "Let not your heart be troubled." The second part says, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me." We talked about taking control of your emotions, how not to panic. The first step is to grab a hold of yourself, to make the decision, "I am not going to be troubled by this thing." You do that by believing in God, by exerting your faith.
What we'll deal with in this chapter, John 14:2-3, is what I believe to be the next step in the process. It is what allows your faith to operate.
It says, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
"Whence My Teaching?"
First, let me reiterate that the Lord gave me this teaching because I'd been dealing with people in crisis situations. I found that John 14, 15 and 16 was exactly what I had been telling them. The Lord had condensed everything that we need to do in these trying times and put it into these verses of Scripture.
I was excited about these scriptures, but frankly, I had to skip verses 2 and 3 at first because they didn't "click." I didn't know what the Lord was saying. I could relate to the first verse, "Don't let your heart be troubled. You have the authority, so believe in God."
Then, in verse 6, it says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life in our crisis situation. That means you have to put emphasis on the Word of God, on a personal relationship with Him. After that, it talks about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, how to abide in Him, and so forth.
Everything fit except verses 2 and 3. Did they mean that the Lord was preparing the disciples for defeat, talking about heaven, "pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by" and "Further along, we'll know all about it."? That didn't seem consistent with all the other things that the Lord was sharing with them. I didn't understand.
One Day, Brawtha, One Day...
Part of the reason I felt that way was because the church I was brought up in had prejudiced me on the subject. They didn't believe in victory in this present life. All the victory, they said, was going to be in the future when we went to be with the Lord. But in this life, they were sick, they were poor, they were defeated. They suffered the same things the world did and believed that all the Lord did was to comfort them in it. There was no victory.
So we sang songs like "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing it will be." We talked about the "sweet by and by," but the "nasty here and now" had no victory at all!
Because of that, I reached the point that when we talked about heaven, I felt it was a kind of escape. It was in effect saying, "Well, we aren't going to make it down here, but someday, it'll all be worth it." I came to resent that kind of thing, and I rebelled against it. (Eventually, the Lord helped me realize that even though that message was abused, there was still a truth in it. In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, for example, Paul talks about the resurrection and our gathering together unto the Lord in the air. He says, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." It can be a comfort.)
So as I read John 14:2-3, it looked like, instead of preparing them for battle and overcoming the devil, the Lord was preparing them for defeat by talking about heaven. I couldn't grasp it until I saw that what the Lord was really talking about here was perspective.
Let's read it again. John 14:2 says, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." Verse 3 says, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Remember that in John 14:1, Jesus told them, when they enter into a crisis situation, they must make a decision: Do not let your heart be troubled. Take the authority you've got and control your emotions, instead of letting them control you. Believe in God. Operate in faith. That's the victory that overcomes the world.
It All Depends on Your Perspective
But right in the midst of that, He refers them back to heaven. The Lord showed me that the purpose of that was so that if they couldn't see anything positive in their circumstances now, they could turn their attention to something that was positive.
He was encouraging them to look to the promises of the future. He wanted them to have hope so that regardless of what they encountered now, they would not lose their perspective.
In other words, "What if I fail? What if my faith doesn't work? What if I'm not healed?" In a crisis situation, Satan will always hit you with that kind of "what if?" thinking.
The average person trying to operate in faith will not confront these thoughts. They'll try to ignore them. They'll say, "No, I'm not going to think about defeat."
But the Bible doesn't teach us to ignore the devil; it teaches us to resist the devil, and then he'll flee from us (James 4:7). I've found, in dealing with some people, that it actually does them good to sit down and say, "All right, what if?"
"What if I don't receive my healing? What if I lose all my money? What if I die?" I clearly say to them, "It is God's will to heal you, but what if you don't respond properly? What if your faith isn't at the place it should be?"
It shocks people at first. But the truth is, if you die, you win. If you live, you win. You can't lose for winning. When you look at it that way, it takes the bite out of the fear Satan is tormenting you with. I believe that's what the Lord was telling the disciples in this crisis.
They were plagued with thoughts like, "What's going on? What do all these things mean? What's going to happen to us?" Jesus said, "Look, just take your attention off of that, and think that if worse comes to worse, even if you're totally defeated in this life, you've got a place assured in heaven."
This will cause the peace of God to settle in. It will cause what the Lord instructed us to do in John 14:1 to come to pass — not let our hearts be troubled. You'll think, "This isn't such a big deal. If worse comes to worse, even if the devil kills me, I've still got salvation. I'm still going to miss hell. I'm still going to heaven." That's not bad.
If you could stop and think about that — that it doesn't matter what you go through in this life, you've already been delivered from the worst thing — it would settle your heart.
You could rejoice in that. You could take comfort in it. It could help still your heart and let the peace of God return to you. In other words, what you're doing is putting things into perspective.
Satan loves to blow things out of perspective. He loves to make you think that yours is the worst problem anyone has ever faced in this life. He loves to make you sing that old song "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen."
It's So Bad Here (I Love It)
Somehow, Christians take pride in thinking their problems are worse than anyone else's. When I go to some cities, people tell me, "This place is bad. It's hard to minister the Gospel here." They'll tell me things like, "This is the occult capital of the United States. There's more witchcraft and demonic stuff going on here than anywhere else." The amusing thing is that every place I go, the Christians tell me that!
Christians seem to rejoice in thinking that their town is the worst place on earth. We don't consciously think this, but I believe it's because it gives us an excuse for being ineffective! Of course, Satan loves it. He loves to make you think that you're in a hard situation. He loves to make you think your town is unreachable. He loves to make you think that your financial crisis is the worst since the dawn of history. He loves to make you think that your cancer is so bad that no one has ever been healed of it.
This is the reason testimonies can be so encouraging and build your faith. They show you that there's another person who had the same thing you do (or worse) and yet lived through it. You start to think, "If it will work for them, maybe it will work for me." It changes your perspective.
Instead of becoming so "tunnel-visioned" that every time you see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel you're convinced it's another train, you begin to have hope of a better day. You begin to consider other things.
What If I Fail? Great!
One of those other things is: If worse comes to worse, even if you fail, you really haven't failed if you're standing on the Word and believing God. There is no disgrace in going down fighting. I've had to consider this in my own ministry.
The Lord called me to the ministry, and I've been sharing His Word since 1968. I've been traveling and on the radio since 1976 and on television since 2000. We've had some great things happen, but we've also had a lot of attacks. I've had a lot of financial problems, which I'd like to say didn't exist. I wish I had a different testimony, but the truth is that we've been on the verge of closing down several times.
There was a time I had so many problems in my ministry that I turned it over to several businessmen. One was my pastor, who had a net worth of over $1,500,000 before he was 30. I just turned it over to them. They came in, set up some sound business procedures, and began to find out what was wrong.
After a few months, they reported to me, "It's all over. You can't make it. It's even beyond God's help." They told me I was going to have to shut the ministry down. It just failed.
I couldn't handle that. I didn't want to consider that possibility. I had fears and doubts about failure, but I didn't want to face them. Yet it was finally presented to me in a way that I couldn't avoid. I had to make a decision. I had to consider my options.
The most important thing to me was my relationship to God, then my relationship with my wife and family, then after that, the ministry. I realized that the ministry really wasn't the most important thing in my life. I had been happy before I was in ministry, and I could be happy without it if I had to face that.
This set me free. I discovered that there could be life after ministry. I could be happy. I could still lead people to the Lord. It really didn't matter. I wasn't tunnel-visioned, thinking only about the ministry, I had a relationship with God. I had a good relationship with my wife and family.
I began to consider what life would be without the ministry, and I actually got excited. I began to think, "This would be great. I wouldn't have to deal with all of these people's problems. I wouldn't have to deal with financial crises. I wouldn't have to travel and be gone so much. I wouldn't have to go through all the pressures. I could just be loving God."
I realized that my relationship with God and my family would have skyrocketed without the ministry! I actually got excited.
Of course, the Lord told me that wasn't what He had called me to do and that we were going to make it. So I stood and believed God. That was around 1985, and I'm still in the ministry. We are prospering now. We are growing. We still have challenges, but we're meeting them.
What I'm saying is that it helped me to confront the question "What if?" I began to put it all into perspective. I've touched more people in the last 10 or 15 years than I ever thought I would. I've made an impact. Even if I were to fail, I wouldn't have failed because I was doing what God told me to do. It ministered peace to me.
Don't Worry...Be Happy?
I believe this is what the Lord was saying to His disciples in John 14. He's giving them commands that seem so unreasonable. How could you keep your heart from being troubled in a crisis situation? How could you have faith in God when everything is caving in around you, and your world is falling apart?
Well, if all else fails and you can't see anything positive in your situation, just sit back and start thinking about the promises God has given you about heaven. Start thinking, "Devil, if you kill me, praise God, I'm going to be with the Lord."
When the Salvation Army lists obituaries in their newsletter, they say that people like Colonel so and so and General so and so were "promoted to glory." That changes the whole perspective. It makes it a positive statement like, "Hey, they got to go be with the Lord — that's what it's all about."
Paul had this perspective in Philippians 1:23-24: "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."
If the devil had come to him and said "Paul, I'm going to kill you," he could have replied "So what? Big deal." As a matter of fact, he even said one time, "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves" (2 Cor. 1:9).
In other words, he had already died to himself. He was so alive to the Lord, so ready to meet Him, that if you said "Renounce your faith or I'll kill you," that would have been no pressure to him at all. He had things in perspective. He recognized that to die and go to be with the Lord was better.
Let's say you're fighting a terminal disease, and Satan says, "I'm going to destroy you, I'm going to defeat you." First of all, that is not so. You've got promises that can overcome that. John 14, 15 and 16 will help you overcome, but you also need to sit down and consider those fears Satan is fighting you with.
Instead of ignoring your fears and denying that they exist, just sit down and say, "All right, so what if I do die? I've got promises that God is going to receive me." If you fail financially, so what? If your ministry collapses, so what? If you lose your home, so what? You believe that God is going to transcend all those things and bring you to heaven.
God looks at things differently than men do. We're so carnal at times that we don't even take into account a person's heart. God is not like that. I believe the Lord looks at some of things we consider failure and, from heaven, cheers us on.
He would be clapping and praising some people just because they tried. It's better to try and to fail than to aim at nothing and hit it. I'd rather shoot for the stars and, if I miss, make the moon. I'd accomplish more than someone who says "I don't want to do anything because I might fail" and never gets off the ground. I believe that God views things that way.
When we begin to put things in God's perspective, suddenly everything changes. It begins to dissipate fear.
Fear and Faith Don't Mix
Fear, of course, is the opposite of faith. Fear opposes faith. Just a tiny amount of faith is enough to supply any need you have. It doesn't take big faith to receive miracles from God, but it has to be pure. It cannot be mixed with anything else.
Many people have to build up huge amounts of faith because they have so much unbelief, fear, and doubt warring against them. If you allow those levels of unbelief in your life, then it will take a huge amount of faith to overcome. An easier way is to simply pull the plug on unbelief! When you do that, you'll find out that a little mustard seed of faith is enough for anything that you need. It doesn't take great faith, it takes pure faith, with nothing counterbalancing it.
For example, if the doctor suddenly tells you you're going to die, and those words generate fear in you, you have to deal with that fear, or your faith won't operate. It's not that it doesn't work, but it's counterbalanced. That's the reason that when Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead, He told Jairus, "Fear not: believe only" (Luke 8:50).
In other words, "Get rid of your fear and just believe."
Many of you have released your faith and yet nothing happened. It's perplexing when you know that you really have faith. You know that God heals, and yet you don't see your faith work. One reason that happens is that other things neutralize your faith and keep it from producing.
Very seldom do people deal with unbelief. They just try to build faith. You have to work on both angles. You can't allow fear to run rampant in your life and expect faith to overcome it. That's not the way that God intended you to function.
When a crisis hits, the first thing Satan does is try to put fear on you. Fear comes up and says, "You're going to die. Did you hear what the doctor said?" You've got to be able to deal with that fear before your faith will operate.
Get Fear in (under) Perspective
One way of dealing with it is to do what Jesus told His disciples to do — think about heaven. If you do that enough, you'll say, "So what? What if I do die? Big deal." When you look at it from God's standpoint, life on earth is very short.
What's really important? The most important thing is your soul. Jesus said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).
What does it matter if you have all of this world's goods, excellent physical health, lots of friends and everything else, if you die and go to hell? Those things really don't matter in the end.
If you look at the flip side of that coin — the positive side — you can ask, "What does it matter if for some reason I don't get healed and I do die? I'll go to be with the Lord. I'll be better off."
If you think about heaven, you can actually reach a place where, like Paul, you'll say, "I really want to depart and be with Christ, but I guess I'll stay around for your sake" (Phil. 1:23-24).
How many of us have ever reached a point where we long to be with the Lord so much that we have to use faith just to stay here? Not many. Why is that? Because not many of us have gotten God's perspective.
When you're really walking with the Lord, the thought of having no more inadequacies, of knowing all things as you are known, of being totally in the presence of God. All of that should be more appealing to us than living on this earth.
Now I'm not minimizing living here or reverting to the old mentality that "I'm just suffering for Jesus, and it's all going to be worth it someday." I believe that we're to live a victorious life now. I live in victory now. I'm having a great time now. But living now, as good as it gets, isn't as good as it will be in heaven. When you put things in that perspective, it will take fear away.
Dying to Be with the Lord
I was dealing with a man once who was afraid he was going to die. I told him, "You aren't going to die. God's Word says you'll live. By His stripes you're healed." But his fear still remained.
Finally I said, "All right, what if you do die? You get to be with the Lord. What's wrong with that? Why are you afraid of going to be with the Lord?" We started talking about heaven and about what it would be like. All of a sudden, that fear was gone.
That didn't mean he stopped believing. You're still supposed to believe, but fear leaves when you consider the options. It's not as bad as Satan makes you think.
If you're dealing with financial problems, Satan will try to tell you that you'll be a failure the rest of your life.
Nearly every millionaire I've read about had more than one bankruptcy. They failed. But it was only temporary.
People who really succeed big also fail big. Babe Ruth, the home run king, was tremendous in hitting home runs. But he also had more strikeouts than anyone else. He didn't bunt or go for singles. It was either a home run, or he would fall flat on his face. That's one reason he made so many home runs — he wasn't afraid to fail.
Peter "Failed" Jesus
Luke 22 is a powerful lesson about failure. This one involves Peter. In verse 31, Jesus says, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat" (That's the New Testament counterpart of Job). Verse 32 says, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren."
Notice that Satan had desired to sift Peter like wheat, but Jesus prayed for him. Do you think Jesus' prayers were answered? Do you think Jesus ever prayed for something that didn't come to pass? I believe His prayers were answered.
But Peter denied the Lord three times. So, was Jesus' prayer unanswered?
No, I believe Peter failed by our standards, but not by God's. I don't believe God measures failure in the same way we do. Peter failed, but his faith didn't fail. His actions failed, but his faith didn't fail. He still retained his faith in the Lord.
Many times, Satan will tell you that you're going to fail. But what is failure? Is it defeat?
In the military, you can lose a battle without losing the war.
We've become totally success-oriented, but the world measures success opposite the way God does. The world measures it by what you can see, what you can put in the bank, what you can drive down the street. But God doesn't measure success that way. I believe God looked at Peter's heart, and even though Peter failed outwardly, God didn't consider him a failure.
The Acid Test
When you're facing a crisis, that's the acid test. You need to put things in God's perspective and say, "So what if I fail? I haven't really failed in God's eyes."
When I considered having to shut the ministry down, I sat down and thought, "Well, the ministry isn't everything God has for me. I could quit this. I could go back to pouring cement and lead people to the Lord doing that. I'd still be blessed."
That was a tremendous victory in my life. I didn't tie success to things. My success was in having the Lord. I began to look at the broader picture. I still had the Lord, I still had love, I still had joy.
I enjoyed the Lord when I was just pouring cement. We led many people to the Lord. It was just a tremendous time. I could go back to doing that right now. I don't have to be a preacher to minister. That's powerful, because it defines success as it really is.
What is success? Success is knowing the Lord.
If you're born again, if you have the hope of eternal redemption, if you know you're going to be with the Lord, if you know all your sorrows and tears will be wiped away, Satan can't defeat you. He can't dangle that fear of failure over you.
Regardless of what he does, you're going to win. It's important to put things in the perspective of eternity.
I've seen people who had miraculous conversions. They were alcoholics or drug addicts, their spouses had left them, they'd lost their jobs, their lives were falling apart. Yet God did a great miracle and brought them completely out of it.
Then two to three years later, they get caught up in some problem, say, a $100 bill they can't pay. Now they're ready to renounce their faith. Their whole world is coming to an end. They can't stand it.
That's not rational. Someone like that shouldn't fall apart after God has done such great miracles in their life. Their present problem shouldn't taint everything else. They've lost their perspective.
In my denominational church, we used to sing a song: "Count your many blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done." Its purpose was to put things into perspective.
Sometimes we get so zeroed in on one negative fact that we forget all the great miracles God has done. Satan gets us to thinking that this is the greatest problem that ever existed.
Yet, if you'll draw back from it and look at it in perspective, it's nothing compared to what God has already done in your life. If God has already healed you of cancer, a cold should not defeat you.
If God has delivered you from hell, you should not struggle with doubt that He won't deliver you from the problems of this life.
Failure to put problems into perspective will give you tunnel vision. You can't afford that. One way of overcoming it is by thinking about eternity and recognizing that our big problems really aren't that important. A thousand years from now in eternity, everything will look different.
It's like adolescence. Do you remember when you first had puppy love? It was earth-shattering. It was a huge thing. You'd just die if it didn't work out. Yet when it was all over, you found out that it wasn't really big or important at all. That's one of the problems of adolescents — they blow things out of proportion. They don't see things the way that they really are. It's the same with adolescent Christians.
One thing you can do to counter that is to keep things in the perspective of eternity. When you do, it will take care of fear.
What Were You When I Found You?
Again, take the crisis in our ministry. When I considered it, one of the fears I had was that I was going to be labeled a "failure."
I didn't want to be a failure. I certainly didn't want other people to perceive me as a failure. This was a real pressure on me.
Then the Lord asked me, "What were you when I got a hold of you?"
Boy, I was a failure. I was a college dropout, I was going nowhere, I had nothing. Any good thing that's happened in my life, I can attribute directly to God. I haven't earned anything. I don't deserve it. I'm not trained. It's all been what God has done in my life.
Then God said to me, "So what have you got to lose? By yourself, you're already a failure." That set me free!
I'd allowed myself to think I'd attained something, but in reality, I was a failure. It was God in me who made any success of my life whatsoever. He had done it before, and He could do it again if that was His will. When I saw that, it took all the pressure off.
I didn't have to fear being a failure — I already was. That put things into perspective.
A young woman, who was a friend of mine, had been told by the doctors that she was going to die of cancer. When she first told me about it, I began to laugh. I said, "Cancer's no problem with God! It's no harder to heal cancer than it is to heal a cold."
She knew all of that, but she was so "zeroed in" on her problem that things had gotten out of proportion. She had forgotten that God already had done great miracles of healing in her life. This cancer had become so big, it looked bigger than God.
By my laughing about it and comparing it to a cold, it put things into perspective for her. It shrunk the problem down to where she could handle it. All of a sudden, the fear was gone. Her faith worked, and she was healed of it completely.
The doctors had told her she would be dead in just a few weeks without surgery, and even with surgery, they only gave her a 50 percent chance of living. That has been ten years and three children ago, and she is doing fine.
In a crisis situation, you've got to put things into perspective.
Many of you are facing a crisis right now. If you'd look back, you'd see the great things God has done in your life already. Maybe you've been healed of a terminal disease. Maybe you've been delivered out of a terrible financial crisis. Maybe your marriage was on the rocks and God resurrected it.
If you'd think about what God has already done, it would make your current crisis seem small in comparison. I've experienced that in my own life. I have doctors' reports to prove that I was healed of incurable diseases. I've seen God heal others. I've seen Him open blind eyes. I've seen Him raise the dead.
Little Big Problem
Yet there are times when, somehow or other, I'm caught off guard. Satan or someone else will hit me with a problem, and all of sudden it looks big. It blows itself out of proportion. So I'll go back and remember how God handled things bigger than this, and soon it shrinks that problem down to size. It puts it in perspective. All of a sudden I see that this is nothing for God.
It's ridiculous for someone who has been healed of an incurable disease to despair of being healed of the flu or a cold. If you compare the two, it just doesn't make sense. Yet it happens. I know people who've seen miraculous interventions of God suddenly stumble over something insignificant because they don't put it into proper perspective.
In 2 Peter 3:1, Peter says, "I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance."
Putting yourself in remembrance is a way of keeping perspective on things. Few days go by that I don't think back to 1968 when God supernaturally intervened in my life. I could spend weeks telling you the miracles that I've seen. I think on those things, and it gives me a better perspective on current situations. I think, "This is nothing! It's a piece of cake compared to what I've been through."
Several years ago, a good friend of mine came to be the general manager of our ministry. He had managed several banks, so he was well-acquainted with financial problems. Then he came and saw all the bills that we had.
Our income can fluctuate as much as $40,000 a month! We don't sell our materials — we give them away. Our finances depend solely on people's giving, and that can vary greatly. It's totally beyond our control.
When he saw the situation, he was overwhelmed and nearly lost his faith! He was bothered. He would tell me about the situation, and I'd say, "Well, God is going to supply." He didn't feel like I was getting the picture. If I really understood the situation, I'd be more disturbed about it. Finally, I had to sit him down and say, "Look, I understand your concern, and I understand this is something new to you. It looks like a gigantic figure to you." (At the time we needed about $12-15,000 — immediately.)
Try to Remember...
"It looks impossible," I told him, "but I can remember when we had a board meeting, and there was nothing to discuss! It was all over. We'd have to turn out the lights if God didn't provide a miracle. So we didn't discuss anything, we just asked God for a miracle.
"Right then, my mother called and told me that a church of 300 people had sent us an offering of $60,000! It didn't solve all of our indebtedness, but it took the pressure off. It was a miracle from God."
I said to him, "I remember that. I've seen God come through many times. I'm not saying that we don't have a crisis, but I know it'll be taken care of."
The reason I remained calm was because of my perspective. I'd already been through this. He didn't have that track record. He didn't have the same reference point I had. But after several years in the ministry, he was able to handle things better.
Again, the first two steps are found in John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." But to exercise those areas, you must put things into perspective.
One way to do that is to look back and see the many miraculous things God has done in your life. If you take your focus off the problem and think about what God has done and how blessed you are, it will make the current crisis seem like a piece of cake. You'll know that God is well able to handle it.
But what if you're in a crisis that supersedes anything you've ever dealt with, and you can find nothing to draw on? You can always go to God's Word. It will show you people who've been through much worse things than you're going through now. You can draw on the Word. That's another way of changing your perspective. If you look at the lives of these people in the Word of God, it will help.
And if you don't have either past experience or knowledge of the Word to draw on, just do what John 14:2-3 says — think about heaven. Think, "It doesn't matter what I'm going through. If worse comes to worse, I still win because I'll go straight to be with the Lord."
Start looking at scriptures about heaven and the reward.
Moses used this in his life. Hebrews 11:26 says, "For he had respect unto the recompense of the reward."
That is the reason he was able to suffer affliction and identify with Hebrew slaves rather than cling to a position of royalty in the household of Pharaoh.
The word "recompense" means to pay back. In other words, whatever you suffer down here, even if your faith fails, there will be a time when you're going to stand before God and be rewarded.
I believe God will reward you even if your effort wasn't 100 percent, even if it didn't get you the success you were promised in this life.
It is no disgrace to die believing God. It is no disgrace to have financial failure or be sick or have your life fall apart — as long as you're standing and believing God.
None of us is perfect, and I believe God judges things differently than we do. So have respect unto the recompense of the reward. Put things into perspective.
It will seem like all the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to even be compared to the glory that is going to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). When you do that, it's impossible for your heart to be troubled.
You need to do that in a crisis. You need to look beyond your current situation.
When you're using a camera with a manual focus, you could be looking at a flower or another object. You can focus on it, or you can point your camera in the same direction and focus beyond the flower, or this side of the flower.
You can watch that flower blur and fade out so that even when you're pointed directly at it, you can see other things. You can see the background or foreground. Using this same technique, you can actually take a picture through a wire fence and cause the wire to disappear by focusing on the object in the background.
In the same way, there's a right way to look at your problem, and there's a wrong way. You can focus on that problem so much that you lose sight of everything else. You can forget that God is alive, that God can intervene in your situation.
You can become so zeroed in on that problem that it brings doubt and unbelief upon you. Or you can look at the same situation, put it into perspective, change your focus, and see God, who is able to handle that situation.
There's an example of this in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Here Paul gives us tremendous insight into his own relationship with the Lord and how he was able to respond to crises. He says, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Paul said a mouthful here. In verse 17, he says "our light affliction." Why did he say his affliction was light? Is it because he didn't have problems?
Some people think that. They think that if you're really walking with the Lord, you won't have problems. Actually, it's the opposite.
Look at Paul. He said the Apostles were set forth to be the least of everyone. They were set forth unto death (1 Cor. 4:9). They had more problems, more afflictions, and more persecutions than anyone else.
In this same letter, Paul talks about the problems he was having. In 2 Corinthians 11:21-23, he says, "I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more."
Paul's 'Lite' Afflictions
In other words, he is talking like a lost man would talk. Since they weren't listening to the Spirit, he'd reason with them in the flesh.
In effect he's saying, "I'm talking like a lost man would. Since you want a list of my qualifications, I'll give them to you." And how did he verify his qualifications? He began to list the things he had suffered for the cause of Christ.
He says in verse 23, "In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure."
Now remember, this is some of his "light affliction" he was writing about in this same book. He had stripes above measure. That means beyond his ability to count.
Have you ever been beaten so many times you couldn't count them?
He goes on to say, "In prisons more frequent."
How many times have you been thrown into prison?
In Acts 16, Paul was beaten mercilessly in Philippi, cast into prison, and put in stocks like a common criminal. When did that last happen to you?
Then he says, "In deaths oft."
He doesn't expound on that, but I believe this is in reference to Acts 14, where he was in Lystra and Derbe. Paul was stoned and left for dead. The scripture doesn't say that he was dead, but he was so close that those who were trying to kill him were satisfied that he was dead (verse 19).
The disciples stood around him and prayed that God would raise him up — and God didn't take six months to do it! The next day he walked something like twenty-two miles to the next town and began to preach the Gospel. That was miraculous.
In verse 24, he says, "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one." In other words, he'd received thirty-nine lashes five different times.
"Thrice was I beaten with rods," he says in verse 25.
They took rods and beat the bottom of his feet and legs, often to the point that bones were broken. If God hadn't supernaturally healed him, it could have maimed him for life.
Then he says, "Once I was stoned." (This was talking about Lystra or Derbe, which I just cited.)
Verse 25 continues, "Thrice I suffered shipwreck."
He was a prisoner onboard a ship when he suffered shipwreck. He knew it wasn't God who did it, yet because of his stand for the Gospel, he was forced into it anyway.
Next he says, "A night and a day I have been in the deep."
In other words, he literally had to float out on the open ocean for one-and-a-half days.
In verses 26-28, he says, "In journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." He didn't even explain the emotional stress of being responsible for the churches!
Whatever you and I have suffered, Paul had it worse. Yet, in 2 Corinthians 4:17, this man says, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment."
How could the man say it was a light affliction? Again, it's his perspective.
It is not because he didn't have problems. Paul was more justified in being discouraged, depressed, upset, and angry than you and I have ever thought of being.
How Are You? (Don't Tell Me)
We all know people who, when you ask then how they are, they just dump on you. It seems like they always have such a heavy burden, such a rough time in life, such a terrible ordeal. It seems like they never have anything go their way. They are negative, negative, negative.
Perhaps you're like that, and you say, "But it's the truth. I just can't help it. That's the way it is."
Paul had circumstances that were worse than yours, and yet he said his afflictions were "light." How can we scripturally justify talking about our heavy burdens, our great loads, our huge problems, when they're actually less?
There is no justification. You may find justification in the eyes of man, but not from God's perspective.
If you say that you have anything but a light affliction, your perspective is wrong. Your faith is wrong. Your focus is wrong. You're looking at the problem instead of the answer.
Paul sets the example to show you how the Lord can deliver you. God can become real in your life. You can put things into perspective and start realizing that nothing is impossible with God.
Vietnam — Before, During, and After
I had an experience with the Lord on March 23, 1968, when I was eighteen years old. It revolutionized my life, and I fell so in love with the Lord. The Lord became so important to me. It was like focusing on that flower — I just zeroed in on the Lord, and He was all I could see. Everything else was blurred. My focus was on Jesus.
Jesus was the totality of my life. He still is today, but emotionally this was such a dramatic experience it just overwhelmed me.
It was just a short period of time later that I got drafted and sent to Vietnam. I had some hard times there and suffered a great deal of loneliness. I had a great desire to be used of God, but I saw so much ungodliness that I felt like I just wasn't effective. I had to deal with that, but as a whole, I came out of Vietnam unscathed. I came out a thousand times stronger in my relationship with the Lord. I came out without any of the psychological problems that other people had.
Over 58,000 U.S. soldiers died in Vietnam. Since that time, over 79,000 Vietnam vets have committed suicide! This is the largest suicide rate of any segment in our society. Vietnam vets have over a 95 percent divorce rate. And the statistics go on and on.
Yet I had no negative effects at all. I actually grew in the Lord tremendously during the time I was in Vietnam. I knew I was blessed, but I didn't realize just how blessed I really was until nearly twenty years later.
In about 1988, a man in Chicago gave me a copy of a book about Vietnam. I had never read anything about the Vietnam war. I just wasn't interested. This book had twelve testimonies about people who went through horrible, horrible experiences there but found complete freedom through the Lord when they got home.
The man who gave me the book had his story in there, and he autographed the book for me. So I read it.
I really became interested in the book because three of the soldiers mentioned in the book were in the same division I was in! They were talking about places that I had been. I was actually on one of the landing zones (LZ's) just a few days before the experience that one of these men was relating in the book. This hill was overrun by the Viet Cong, and this man related the horrifying details very vividly.
Although I missed the worst of the experience, the day I was there, we took something like twenty mortar rounds in an area no bigger than eighty feet long and twenty feet wide. I was in the thick of this fighting, yet it didn't even register with me.
Do you know what I was thinking about during that time? I praying for those men. I was trying to share the Gospel with them, thinking about them instead of myself.
I remember another situation where we were on red alert when it looked like our hill was about to be overrun by the Viet Cong. We could see muzzle fire from the enemy weapons coming up the hill. I briefly thought about being killed, but my thoughts immediately went to the North Vietnamese soldiers.
I began to think, "God, I know where I'm going, but in all probability, the Vietnamese who were fighting us would go directly to hell if they were killed."
I had no fear of death whatsoever. I found myself praying for the Viet Cong who were coming against us. "God, somehow reveal yourself to them," I asked. I knew they were experiencing fear just like the U.S. troops were, and I was praying for them.
That kind of attitude won't make you a very good soldier, but it certainly did keep me from dwelling on my own problems.
Because of my perspective — because I was so zeroed in on the Lord — I felt as if I were in a bubble. I didn't experience the same emotions, the same terror, and fear, yet I was in the thick of the fighting. I wasn't in it as much as some of the "grunts," the "ground pounders" who were always out on patrol, but there were a lot of times I could have been killed in the fighting.
I saw in the book the perspective of a man who was in the same location I was, at the same time, recounting the same circumstances, yet he was an unbeliever at that time. The terror, the fear, the anguish that he felt came across in that book. I only felt it twenty years after I'd been there — reading this book! I was overcome with emotion. I suddenly knew what others must have gone through. It began to dawn on me how supernaturally God had protected me.
I just wasn't conscious of things the other people were. Do you know why? It was the fact that I was completely focused on Jesus. I was thinking of Him so much that I honestly didn't think about myself. I didn't think about the situation. I was thinking of other people.
It was my perspective.
If I had sat down and thought about being on the opposite side of the world, uprooted from the people I love, facing death, I would have been as depressed and terrified as anyone. But because I was focused on Jesus, my thoughts didn't run in that direction.
That is what Paul is saying. Paul went through adversity that you or I can't imagine, yet he was able to say it was a "light affliction."
I am not saying this to condemn anyone. Please understand that. But if you feel that your situation is terrible, if you are overwhelmed with a feeling of tragedy in your life, you have lost perspective. You aren't looking at things properly.
From God's perspective, there is no problem. He doesn't even have to lift His hand to solve your problem. God can move one little finger and deal with your situation!
Why Doesn't God ________ (fill in)?
Someone might be saying, "Then why doesn't He do it?" It's because He's going to flow through you.
Ephesians 3:20 says "According to the power that worketh in us."
That doesn't mean that the burden of producing victory is on you, but you do have to believe. When you're operating in fear, you're really thinking that your problem is bigger than God. How do you avoid that? By not letting your heart be troubled. You can recognize that God gave you a choice. You have authority. You can exercise it. You can believe God and put things into perspective. You can think, "This no big deal."
One of the scriptures found throughout the Bible is "And it came to pass." This isn't a true application of that scripture, yet it ministers to me. I just say, "Satan, it's going to come to pass."
In other words, the reason it came was so it could pass! It's just temporary. It's not going to last. That helps me put whatever it is, into perspective. I think about all the other times it looked like there was no way out, yet I came through, and it helps me.
That's what Paul was doing. He says in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that it was a light affliction. Then he gives us two reasons why it was a light affliction. In verse 17, he says it is "but for a moment."
This is exactly what John 14:2-3 says. Paul is thinking about eternity, about heaven, about forever. The life we live down here is so short compared to eternity. Yet because of the pressure, because of the afflictions, some people are willing to renounce their faith in God and go in a different direction because they just can't stand it. It's dragged on too long, they say.
A person who says something like that has lost their perspective.
One of the things you need to do is remember that it doesn't matter if Satan fights you from now until the day you go to be with the Lord. No problem — it's just a moment in the light of eternity.
Get that perspective. Begin to reference things from God's viewpoint.
I've talked to some people about getting into the Word of God and building their faith up.
"That's going to take a year!" they say. "That's unacceptable".
So what do they do? They don't get into God's word. They don't build themselves up, and two, three, or four years from then, they've still got the same problems, if not worse.
If they'd put things into perspective, they would have said, "So what if it takes a year? It's worth it." And in a year's time, they would have been there. They would have been experiencing victory. You can't get there any faster than by starting right now!
One reason that Paul could say his affliction was light was because he recognized that it was but for a moment. It just was a brief period of time compared to the eternity he'd be spending with God.
Turn Your Problem Inside Out
Many times our problem is bigger on the inside of us than the outside. It's the way we view it that's the real problem, not the physical thing itself.
I've talked to many people who were in a crisis and could see no way out. It was because they were held captive in their own thoughts, that is, in their fears, in their imaginations. Once I shared these truths with them, they got free on the inside. Then handling the problem became almost incidental.
But until we see it as an easy problem, it is big. It's a stronghold. But it's a stronghold first on the inside of our minds before it's a stronghold in the physical realm.
If you can deal with that inner image, if you can gain victory there, then victory in the natural is assured.
The second thing that Paul used to put his afflictions into perspective is found in verse 18: "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
He didn't focus — or look — upon the problem. Paul makes it very clear that anything you can see — a tumor on your body, what's in your checkbook, or your child in trouble &mdash is temporal, that is, temporary or subject to change.
That means that all of your problems are subject to change. But the things that you can't see — things in the spiritual world — are eternal and not subject to change.
Jesus is eternal. Truth is eternal. The Word of God is eternal. Paul chose to focus on these things instead of physical things. You can look at a situation in a positive way if you can see the promises of God concerning that situation.
For example, let's say you're faced with a divorce. Instead of focusing on the problem until it becomes bigger than God, you need to see God's promises that He will comfort you, that you can intercede to sanctify your mate, that you can believe for reconciliation. All of those things can be found in the Word. And they are eternal.
Elisha Looks Down on His Problem
You need to look beyond your problem and see the eternal spiritual truth. This is what gave Elisha peace in the midst of his crisis (2 Kin. 6).
The king of Syria had come to kill him. He woke up one morning, and he and his servant went out on the walls of the city (Dothan). The king of Syria had massed his army around the city. Thousands and thousands of soldiers surrounded them, and here were Elisha and his servant just staring down at them.
It looked impossible. They knew why the armies were there. Elisha, by prophecy, had been giving the king of Israel secret battle plans of the king of Syria, and he'd been found out.
So there they were, on the wall of the city. Elisha's servant Gehazi looked at the things that could be seen, the army with all its horses and chariots, and his reaction was one of panic: "Alas, my master! how shall we do?"(verse 15), or "What in the world are we going to do?" He threw up his hands. It was hopeless.
Do you know what Elisha did? He was in the same situation. He saw the same armies, the same horses, the same chariots, and yet he saw something that Gehazi didn't see. He saw the spiritual world, and he said, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (verse 16).
Someone who operates only in physical truth, in temporal things, would say, "That's a lie." You could count the Syrian army out there by the tens of thousands. Then Elisha counted himself his servant and said, "One, two."
Most people would say "You're crazy, Elisha. You're not dealing with a full deck."
Chariots of Fire...See?
That's the reason that when you confess that you're healed, yet everyone sees that your nose is running, your sinuses are stopped up, and you're coughing and wheezing, they'll say "You're just fooling yourself. This positive confession stuff is nothing but a lie."
In fact, it is a lie if you see only the things that are temporal! But the truth is that there is a whole other world of spiritual reality out there.
True, some people have misused confession and thought, "If I will just say that it's so when it really isn't so, then it'll become so." Now that is wrong thinking. That's denial.
However, if you don't deny that you have physical problems but speak the greater spiritual truth, then the physical problem will have to bow to the spiritual reality.
If you're using it that way, positive confession is not a lie. It's the truth.
In the face of this hopeless situation, Elisha said, "They that be with us are more than they that be with them." Gehazi had a major problem understanding this, so Elisha said, "LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see" (verse 17). The Lord opened up his eyes so that he could see into the spiritual world.
The armies of Syria were still there (the problem hadn't disappeared), but there were also chariots and horses of fire surrounding them on the mountains! In other words, the angels of God were encamped around them.
Now when did those angels arrive? When the young man opened his eyes and saw them? No, they were there before, but he didn't have the ability to perceive it. Elisha hadn't seen the angels either, but he believed the promises of God and knew that they were there.
That's why Elisha could say, "Fear not." In other words, "This is no big problem, Gehazi. It's just a light affliction. Having a hundred thousand men come to kill you is no big deal."
He was looking at things that couldn't be seen. He was standing on the promise of God that the angel of the Lord encamps around about those who fear Him and He delivers them. David had already written that in Psalm 34:7. He was standing on the Word of God. Because of that, it didn't matter if the mightiest nation on the face of the earth came and tried to kill him. They couldn't do a thing.
Elisha walked out, raised his hand up and prayed to the Lord, "Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness." (verse 18) The Lord blinded the entire army of Syria.
Then Elisha told them to take each other by the hand and walk into captivity. Thus, a single prophet captured one of the most powerful armies on earth — all because of his perspective. He was able to see things that weren't in the natural, but in the spiritual.
That's what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 4:17. One of the reasons he could say that he had a "light affliction" was because he didn't look at what everyone else was looking at. He didn't acknowledge only the physical world, but he looked at the unseen, spiritual world, recognizing that it was eternal. Everything you see here is just temporary.
If you have a physical problem, it's just temporary, it's subject to change. But the truth that "By whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24) cannot change. It is the Word of God. It is settled forever (Ps. 119:89). Heaven and earth will pass away, but God's Word will not pass away(Mark 13:31).
When you begin to get that perspective, you're on your way to a miracle. You will see the power of God manifest in your life.
Faith is more than attitude, but it begins with an attitude. If your attitude is one of fear, you're not going to see the power of God manifest in your life.
You've got to deal with your attitude. It begins by putting things into perspective.
Stop looking at things and saying, "Oh, this is terrible. My whole life is ruined. What will I do?" Recognize that it's just for a moment.
Look at what God has already done in your life. Look at the Bible's positive examples. If all else fails, look at heaven, and think about how God is going to bless you for all eternity. Look not at the physical things but at the unseen things, the promises of God.
Find a promise in the Word of God that counters the negative circumstances you're in and dwell upon it. Focus on it. Remember that "as he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7).
What you focus your attention on is what you will be dominated by. If you look at natural truth alone, you may intellectually acknowledge the power of God, but if you aren't focusing on it, your problem is going to dominate you.
You can't focus on something without it having an inroad into your life! If you aren't thinking on God's promises, it's impossible for you to operate in faith. You are going to be the way you think.
Think on the negative, the problem, and you're going to be full of the problem. Think on the answer, and you'll be full of hope, full of faith, full of love and joy and peace. You'll be able to say with Paul that it is a light affliction. Get your attention off the problem and onto the answer.
What You Pray Is What You Get
We call a lot of things prayer that aren't really prayer.
Sometimes when people come into a crisis, they've been conditioned to tell God every rotten thing that's happening to them. I've heard people pray like this in churches: "O God, I need help — the doctor said says I'm sick and that I'm going to die." They go on and on about how bad their situations are.
Or they say, "O God, what's going to happen to my children? They'll be on drugs soon. God, what's going to happen to my mate? He's so bad. O Lord, we don't have any insurance. They can't even bury me. I'm so poor."And on and on and on.
They recount every negative thing in their lives. They spend forty-five minutes talking about the problem, then end up by saying, "O Lord, help me in Jesus' name, Amen."
In other words, they spend forty-five minutes on the negative, five seconds on the positive, and then they wonder why prayer isn't working. That's not prayer. That's complaining.
Charles Capps was praying once, and the Lord spoke to him, "What are you doing?" He said, "I'm praying." God said, "No, you're not. You're complaining." It really set him straight on what prayer is and what it isn't.
Prayer is not an opportunity to tell poor, misinformed God about your terrible situation. You don't have to tell God what the doctor says. You don't have to tell God what your bank account is. You don't have to tell God how your kids are rebelling. You don't have to recount every negative thing in your life.
God knows what's going on with you more than you do.
Prayer is an opportunity to ask for help. You should spend five seconds stating the problem and forty-five minutes praising God for the answer.
God has a provision for your problem before you even had the problem. Jesus already died to produce your healing. By His stripes you were healed — that's past tense (1 Pet. 2:24). God already made the provision, whatever your need is, before you ever had the need.
Whatever You Do, Don't Pray!
Some of us would be better off to stop praying the way we pray.
Prayer is not wrong. But what we often call prayer is wrong because it makes us focus on the negative and gives the devil more opportunity in our lives.
Prayer should be an opportunity to commune with God in faith, talking about what He can do instead of the negative circumstance.
That's what the Lord was telling His disciples in John 14:2-3. Perspective is critically important. If you continue to think about the problem, meditate on the problem, talk about the problem, pray the problem, you're going to have the problem — because as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov 23:7)!
You'll have that principle work in your life whether you want it to or not. Even though you've made the decision to not let your heart be troubled and to believe in God (John 14:1), you are going to be what you think on.
If you continue to think on the problem, it will negate the power of your faith. You will be unable to fulfill John 14:1 unless you get your attention off the problem. You've got to focus on the Lord.
Again, I'm not saying to ignore the situation, I'm saying exactly the opposite. If the devil tells you that you're a total failure, that you're going to die, that it's all over, just say, "So what?"
Think about it for a moment, and if worse comes to worse, you'll have a mansion in heaven. The Lord Jesus has promised to make one special for you. Whatever you have to endure down here, whatever the devil fights you with, you'll win anyway.
Get that kind of attitude. Then whatever problem Satan is fighting you with, you'll overcome.
Rom 8:6 says, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
What I'm talking about here — focusing on the Word of God instead of your problem — is being spiritually minded. If you do that, the Bible says it will be life and peace to you.
You can't die thinking positively, praising God for His provision. To die, to have Satan defeat you, you have to be stayed on the negative circumstances. If you look beyond the problem and focus on your answer, it will produce victory in you.
When I reach a place where all my care is cast over on the Lord (1 Pet. 5:7), it really won't matter. If I win, that's great, that's what I expected. But even if the devil beats me, it's no big deal because there is life after my problem. I'm going to make it. Even if it means physical death, I'm going to be with the Lord.
If your perspective is right, 1 Peter 5:7 will show it. Is all your care cast on the Lord? Or is it heavy, oppressive and burdensome and resting on you? If it is — and I'm not saying this to condemn you — you have not yet gotten a hold of this message. You don't have it in perspective.
If you are fretful about it, worried about it, anxious about it, if you are telling people how bad it is, you haven't put it into perspective.
Begin now to move from a position of defeat, focusing on your problem, to a position of victory where you recognize that in Christ Jesus, you are more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37).