This morning, we’re continuing our message series entitled, “Elevate – Rise Above.” This world, fallen due to sin, is full of challenges for us. Daily we face opposition of many different kinds and severities. However, we never face them alone. Jesus invites us to rise up above them. He invites us to be seated with Him in Heavenly places.
Last week, we were challenged to rise up above the mud and mire of worldly things. Especially in this election season, we were encouraged not to engage in the mudslinging going on, but to remember that nothing and no one can ever stop us from becoming who God calls us to be and to do what God calls us to do. We are unstoppable no matter who our governing leaders are!
This week, we’re going to learn how to see beyond our circumstances to what God is doing through them. We touched on this a bit last week about how we sort of exist as hybrids. We’re here on the earth, but we’re also seated with Christ in Heaven. We are both dying to self, but we’re raising to life in our spirit.
We live upside-down, topsy-turvy, and a bit backwards from the way that we lived before we were saved. We give that we might receive. We bless when we are cursed. We die that we might live. We forgive even when vengeance is ours to give with justification to pour it out. We love and honor even when we are given no reason to do so.
Why? Because though we live in this world and face the same challenges of this world, we are able to rise above them. We have something that those not yet saved does not – a living hope! We are able to see beyond the here and we are equipped with the power to bring about change and to overcome our opposition. There is no one like our God and nothing is too difficult nor impossible for Him!
2 Corinthians 4:8-18
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
We’re pressed, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, not abandoned, struck down, not destroyed. Sure things are rough in this life and it seems that we’re always facing challenges and opposition, however, we’re living for so much more than the things of this world! No matter what comes our way, we WIN! We have the ultimate victory no matter what comes our way through Jesus!
This is an awesome quote that Paul wrote from David found in Psalm 116:10, “I believed, therefore I have spoken.” Especially for any Mandalorian fans out there. 🙂
What helps us to persevere in life is to be equipped to live by faith and not by sight alone. We believe in the promises of God, therefore, we do not give up or lose heart. We believe them so firmly that we can see them coming to pass! We know that at just the right time, God will raise us up and fulfill His promises in our life. Our mouths should be confessing that reality, too! We believe, therefore we speak.
Jesus said that what comes from our mouth comes from our hearts. We are called to fix our eyes on Christ and to set our hearts on things above, not the things of this world. When challenges and oppositions of this world arise, do we just complain about them or do we also remind ourselves of what God has promised to do through them?
Sure, this is painful, BUT GOD!
Sure, this looks impossible, BUT GOD!
Sure, I’m a mess, BUT GOD!
Sure, I’m falling apart, BUT GOD!
No, this is not how I thought things would go, BUT GOD!
No, there is no way out of this that I can see, BUT GOD!
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Abraham faced the facts, but also believed the truth of God’s promise. Things didn’t change for him overnight, either. That’s all that Abraham had for decades, the facts and a promise that appeared to be in conflict.
Instead of wrecking and destroying his faith, this delay between when the promise was made and when it was fulfilled strengthened his faith. It wasn’t actually until it was absolutely and entirely impossible for Abraham to fulfill this promise on his own that God stepped in and did it.
It was impossible, BUT GOD!
This is precisely why:
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we live by faith, not by sight.
We choose not to live by what we see in this world alone, but choose to live and be guided by our trust in God’s word and the Spirit to take us where we cannot see. This is walking by faith and keeping in step with the Spirit.
Where our own vision ends due to the unknowns of our future or the fogginess of challenging situations, our faith steps in and shows us the way beyond like a GPS. This prophetic insight gives us hope and confidence and assurance. It gives us an inward peace, though we may be outwardly wasting away.
Although we face the same challenges as everyone else does in this world, we are inwardly renewed despite them. We have a living hope within us that anchors our souls through life’s storms. When we speak, we speak not only of the facts of the difficulties that we are going through, but we also speak God’s truth awaiting us on the other side of them. We believe, therefore we speak.
We have more than just a spirit of faith, we have the Holy Spirit, the very person of God, the same One who rose Jesus from the grave dwelling within us! The same One who spoke and created everything! If we were created in His image, then how powerful are the words that we also choose to speak?
The tongue has the power of life and death…
James 3 teaches us that our tongue is like a bit in the mouth of a horse or the rudder on a ship. It’s not all that big physically, yet it sets the course of our lives! If we speak, let’s speak words of hope and life. Let’s speak of God’s promises so that they may be our guide.
Let’s not complain about our current reality, let’s speak God’s promises into them and see it change!
When we change the direction of our speech, we will become elevated. We will rise above our current circumstances as God honors His word and transforms our reality to get into alignment and agreement with it. Like Abraham, we acknowledge our impossible facts, but we strengthen our faith as we believe God’s truth over them. At the right time, the impossible will become our reality!
Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
Setting our sights on the realities of heaven. Some translations say: to give your attention to the things of heaven or to look to the things above or to seek or pursue the things above. Where we look or where we aim is where our lives will go. If we continue to wallow around looking at the opposition and challenges around us, that’s where we will always be.
When we lift our eyes up to the hills to Jesus where our help comes from, things will begin to change for us! Initially, it will simply be our perspective and attitude that will change. When this occurs, though nothing changes around us, everything changes within us! Following that shift, however, our circumstances often begin to change as well.
So here it is. The key to seeing what God is doing through life’s challenges is less about seeing the future of where you are heading and more about just seeing God. When our eyes are on Him, we are sure to be heading the right direction. When we set our aim and are seeking after His Presence, everything around us changes as well.
We now turn to a familiar testimony about Jesus recorded in three of the four gospels.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Talk about opposition! Jesus apparently got pretty caught up in prayer and day quickly turned to night. Then, when He decides to go meet up with the disciples, being all alone, he walks up onto this scene. The wind brought about waves that carried Jesus’ boat a considerable distance out into the lake.
Can you imagine yourself standing there alone at night on the shore looking at your boat far out into the lake, your only way across? It would be a little scary, discouraging, and frustrating, right? Jesus, being fully man probably felt that way as well.
However, Jesus saw Heavenly opportunity because of His dire worldly circumstances.
What did Jesus choose to do in response? The impossible! At night, with high wind and waves, Jesus walks out onto the water. I imagine Him walking up to His boat, smiling, and walking right on past it. Why not take a midnight stroll? In fact, according to John’s account of this, the disciples had paddled about four miles ahead of Jesus!
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
We’ve probably all heard it hundreds of times. However, it still rings true in our lives! When Peter kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, he believed and did the impossible. He literally was elevated and rose above the stormy waters walking on top of them. When he started to look at his impossible circumstances instead of Jesus, he began to sink.
Jesus still caught him and elevated him above the waters when he began to doubt. However, with his focus on Jesus, when his aim was to leave his comfort to meet Jesus, when his desire was to seek after Jesus, his impossible circumstances were nothing to him in comparison.
When his focus was on the wind, when his aim was to sink, when his fear was to drown, his circumstances were everything to him and overwhelmed him.
Jesus is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is the beginner, the author, the perfecter, and the finisher of your faith. He is eternal; He knew us before we were born, He is with us now, and He is calling us from on the other side of this challenge.
Whatever our challenge and opposition is right now, it is not our final destiny. Our dire worldly circumstances are Heaven’s current opportunity. Our circumstances are not a surprise to Him and He is the solution to our problems. He’s calling out to us right now like He did to Peter to “Come.”
Will we leave our comfort zone and meet with Him? Will we shake off our worldly mindset that our circumstances are impossible and there is no hope for us, our destiny is just to drown? Jesus is calling us to rise up. Jesus is ready to save us and to elevate us above our problems. Our destiny is a miraculous ending to an impossible problem. Our destiny is here on earth even as it is in Heaven!
To see with eyes of faith is to simply see Him! To see what God is doing through our circumstances is simply to look up to Jesus. When we start to waver and doubt, our answer is to reach out to Jesus and take hold of Him. His is with us and for us, let us set our aim and fix our sight on Him through it all.