God Gives Us Perspective

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

The American Dream has been dramatized and glamorized by the most creative of people. We all love to hear the stories of immigrants who came to our great nation and found unlimited opportunities for growth. Then there is the person who was born into poverty but worked hard and prospered greatly. I like to hear about people who had the courage and strength to take a risk and do something that most would say could never be done.

Oh, how we need Christians to pursue a dream much greater than the American Dream! The American Dream has become tarnished, and that is largely due to the perspective of the ones pursuing it. One dream will never tarnish and never disappoint anyone. In Ephesians 3 Paul is praying from a prison cell, and yet his spirit is free.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (vv. 14-19)

The next two verses reveal why Paul could pray for the saints at Ephesus the way he did:

 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. (vv. 20-21)

That is what I call perspective!

We cannot expect God to provide for us abundantly unless we are willing to bow before Him in believing, confident, dependent prayer. Paul’s prayer reveals his perspective clearly. Paul had been transformed by the grace of God, and his prayer is filled with wonder, love, and praise. We have unlimited possibilities when we realize whom it is we serve.

A STEADFAST FOCUS

It concerns me when I read articles in Christian magazines describing the future of the church in which churchgoers are defined as the “consumer.” The surveys taken identify what the “consumer” wants or needs. We must get a different perspective on what the church is all about. We are not consumers; we exist for the pleasure and the glory of God. When we live for Him, we are promised His power. The word power that Paul uses means energy – dynamic, life-giving energy. Do your friends know that this incomparable power is at work in you?

The power that works in the believer is the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The same power that exalted Jesus above the heavens and the earth and subjected everything under His feet – all principalities, good and bad – that is the power that lives in us.

Mankind has two great enemies: death and evil. By the power of His resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome death, and by the power of His exaltation, He has overcome evil. And one day He will banish evil from the face of the universe. Can you keep that in perspective when you face the death of a dream?

So many Christians today are just enduring the Christian life rather than enjoying the Christian life in power and victory. So many Christians’ lives are characterized by frustration and failure, defeat and disillusionment. They may know their sins are forgiven and they may be certain they’re going to heaven one day, but life in the here and now is spiritually neutral.

When we live a truly Christ-centered life, we will not live focused on what we need or what we want to do. We do not need to be victims of sin and temptation. We do not need to live self -absorbed, egocentric lives but lives that are full and release the very Spirit and the power of God. Our perspective of God is just too limit­ ed. Keep your focus on Him and His power.

A STRONG FAITH

In his prayer, Paul proclaims that God is able to do more than we could ask or think – and not only is He able to do all that we ask or think, He is able to do all that we dare not ask. More! Much more… far more… exceedingly more. We cannot expect too much from God. Ephesians 3:20 puts it this way: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us . . .” (NIV).

Paul was not giving us a false hope. He knew the source of his faith. Remember, Paul had witnessed the grace of God transform the pagans at Ephesus. Ephesus was dominated by false religion. It was intellectually sophisticated. The cultural elite of the ancient world lived in Ephesus, and certainly if someone was strategizing where to grow a church, he would not have gone to Ephesus. Paul didn’t organize a political campaign, he didn’t picket, and he didn’t get everybody to protest. He took to the pulpit and began proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ.

We know how important it is to affect and influence our culture for Christ, but our primary vision, our primary purpose, goal, and mission, must be to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to change the culture by changing lives one at a time. Let your faith be stretched. Revival will take place in America and we will impact the social structures of our culture when God’s people pray and when God’s people proclaim the Word of God. You must believe that God can change lives… that He is able to save those who come to Him… that He is able to transform lives.

Our faith must be stretched to look forward with hope. Our world can be frightening. So many things are out of our control. But God is able, and if we confess, “I am not able, Lord, but You are able,” that will stretch our faith.

A SECURE FAITH

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
“Amazing Grace,” stanza 4 (author unknown)

 We, the people of God, are destined for the throne. We are investing in that which is forever. The church is important to God, and if there’s ever going to be spiritual renewal or awakening in America and in the world, it will be because it happened in His church. The future of America is in the hands of His church because we possess the message of Christ. We possess the power of Christ, and we are in the heart of God forever.

This article was originally published in “A Hope And A Future” by Dr. Jack Graham. If you are interested in receiving a free copy of “A Hope And A Future,” please contact Matt Crawford.