Our perceptions are simply the way we interpret or understand our environment. We look at things around us and use our previous knowledge, experiences and senses to determine meaning behind occurrences, actions, words and situations. The problem with each of us and our perceptions is that our perceptions are just that … our perceptions. Someone else can see the exact same situation and come away with completely different scenarios of what just happened.
In our situations, with our perceptions, we need to continually go back to the source of God’s Word. It doesn’t matter what I think, what the politicians think or what the talking heads of the media think. The only thing that matters is what God thinks.
Beyond the Natural
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is setting aside our perceptions and having confidence in what God has promised and what God has shown us to be true. Let’s face it, our perceptions in some of our current circumstances would say that there is no hope, and we just can’t see a way of escape. However, we have to look past our perceptions and past what our natural eyes are seeing.
Elisha was a great example of this. He was able to see past what was in his natural environment to what God had already prepared for him. Elisha was causing problems for the king of Syria. Every time the king got close to attacking and defeating Israel, God told Elisha his plans, and then Elisha told the king of Israel, keeping Israel continually a step ahead of the Syrians. The king of Syria was very frustrated when he discovered that the source of all his problems could be traced back to the prophet Elisha. Just one man was causing him all these problems, and he decided to take care of the situation once and for all. He sent horses, chariots and a great host, and they surrounded Elisha on every side. It was a whole host, or army, against one man and his servant. That should give us another perspective in situations that we face. It should give us insight as to how the enemy views us. Many times we feel like the enemy is throwing everything at us that he possibly can and sometimes he is; however, let’s change our perception of that when it happens. Look at Elisha. He was so important to the kingdom that the king of Syria thought, “I’m sending everybody. He continues to foil my plans, and I’m not taking any chances. I don’t want him to be able to keep doing what he is doing.”
Here’s your perception change — you are important in the kingdom. God has a purpose just for you. You are made for more! When you are constantly attacking the enemy and praying kingdom prayers, the enemy wants to do whatever he can to stop you. If he can get your attention on other things going on in your life and stop your prayers, it is to his advantage.
The enemy realizes our potential and what God can do through us. He sees firsthand the damage your prayers do to his kingdom. Because all we are seeing is the physical, we don’t always realize the effect our walk with God, our daily prayer, and our warfare is having on the enemy. The enemy can form all kinds of weapons against us, but they will not prosper. God takes all the enemy’s plans and turns them to our good … so just keep praying, keep pushing and refuse to allow distractions to keep you from your purpose.
No Fear No Limits No Excuses
Sometimes what we think is our worst-case scenario is actually God working on our behalf. Just like Elisha, in the world we live in, we are surrounded by darkness and evil. Many times our circumstances seem to build up around us. Nothing seems to be working out, and it is all overwhelming. Our minds cannot even fathom how things can get better. Elisha was seeing a very physical form of this. His issues were literally right outside his window, but he was not worried. He knew that the presence of trouble did not prove the absence of God. How often when we are facing hardships do we begin to feel that God is not on the scene? This is simply not true; it is a lie from the enemy to reduce our faith and hope in a situation. In fact, difficult circumstances offer an opportunity for God to show up and show out. Elisha wasn’t worried, but his servant was. He hadn’t seen everything that Elisha had seen. Notice that before Elisha tells him what to do, he has to tell him what NOT to do: “Do not be afraid.” We hear it in many different ways in the Bible — don’t be afraid, fear not, don’t be anxious, don’t be worried and upset, fear no evil. But the meaning is the same – do not be afraid. When God says something repeatedly in His Word, He isn’t just trying to fill up space … He is trying to get a point across. He does not want us to be fearful, because He knows that fear can paralyze us and stop us from accomplishing our purpose. It can stop us from taking that step of faith and hoping for the unseen. Faith feeds hope and hope feeds faith. It is a circuit of unbelievable power God has given us. As faith grows, hope grows, which in turn causes our faith to grow. However, when fear enters the cycle, it becomes a wedge in that circuit of power. The enemy knows that if he can get us to break that circuit, he can rule our perceptions. It causes us to only see our problem on the surface instead of what God is doing, and we become unable to see the big picture. Don’t allow the enemy that control over you.
Living the Focused Life
Next, Elisha prays. Prayer changes our perspective of the situation. Prayer and the Word help us to have the mind of God. Elisha prayed for the servant to see what he saw. What the servant saw out the window was still there, but when Elisha prayed for the servant’s eyes to be opened, his perspective was changed. God opened his eyes, and he saw past the surface of the situation. He saw that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
You cannot get through a situation if you can’t see it correctly. If we allow the enemy to cloud our vision, we miss out on so much. A.W. Tozer states, “A low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils, but a high view of God is the solution to 10,000 temporal problems.” If this is true, then our biggest problem isn’t the circumstance that we are currently in, but it’s our small view of God and our perception of Him.
I am not minimizing circumstances in your life or issues in your home, family, finances or your job; however, maybe if our perceptions change, those circumstances will no longer be overwhelming, and we will no longer feel a hopelessness in our situation. We have to ask ourselves, “Are my problems bigger than my God, or is my God bigger than my problems?” Moses had one of those moments. He was perplexed by God’s promise to him. These people were brought out into the wilderness, now how in the world were they going to be fed? Moses had to ask the question, “Is there a limit to God’s power?” The size of our prayers depends on the size of our God, and if our God has no limits, then neither should our prayers.
God exists outside our world, outside of what we can see, hear or touch, and we should pray that way. With God, there is no big or small, easy or difficult, possible or impossible. Every issue we can bring to Him is the same; it is simply, “I can.” This is difficult for us to understand because all we know is a life of limits … a life governed by time, physical health, finances, talents, etc. However, none of this has any control on God. Even our hardest prayers are easy for Him to answer, because there is no degree of difficulty for Him.
Once you experience a miracle, there is no turning back. When you have seen the miraculous, it can never be unseen. It becomes very difficult to doubt God. When we keep that circuit of faith and hope going through prayer and the Word, we become bold and can ask for the things that seem impossible.
The Finger of God
While I am sure that Moses had those moments of fear and uncertainty, he could go back to what God had already done. He had already seen God send the manna, he had already seen Him part the Red Sea, he had already seen the 10 plagues God had performed and used to bring them out of Egypt, so how could he doubt when God had proven Himself time and time again?
Let’s think about that question asked of Moses, “Is there a limit to My power?” That question is posed in many different ways throughout the Bible. One says, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? And is the Lord’s hand too short?” In both of these instances, the Lord’s hand or arm is a metaphor for God’s power. So, with this backdrop, let’s reconsider those 10 miracles performed to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, because those miracles aren’t attributed to the hand or arm of God. In Exodus 8, all of those miracles are attributed to the FINGER of God. If one finger is capable of all of that, what can His arm accomplish in your life?
The Year of Increase
I know it is the will of God for revival. I know it is the will of God for the backslider to come home. I know it is the will of God for our altars to be filled in every service with people receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. What will 2019 bring for you? What God-sized hopes and dreams can you pursue? How can you change your perspective to see 2019 the way God wants you to see it? You can see an increase in your family, in your ministry and in your finances. You can see an increase in your personal walk with God and an increase in God enlarging your territory.
It all begins with changing our perspective, with having faith and hope that God is going to give us the increase He has promised and with believing that we do have a purpose in the Kingdom. Reach beyond your comfort zone and see how God will use you.
Let hope and faith grow in your life, kick fear to the curb and don’t be afraid. Step out in faith. Let your hope rise. See what God will do through you and for you in 2019.
Sis. Amy Stanley
First Pentecostal Church Pensacola, Florida firstname.lastname@example.org