Dec. 19, 2020

The God Side

Ever since there have been people there have been varying opinions. With the increase in technology, we are, more than ever before, bombarded with people’s opinions: on social media platforms…which seem endless, on the news streams, on tv and radio talk shows, in-person conversations, magazines and newspapers. It just goes on and on. Many of those offering their view of things are doing so in an attempt to persuade others to see things the same way they do. Their objective is to sway public opinion. In this country we have recently been through this with all the political ads used to slam the reputations of the opponents. For most people, this excessive expression of opinion gets to be too much. Unless a person is prone to studying each issue for themselves, it is also confusing. We don’t know who to believe or who to trust.

We all have the opportunity every day to form opinions, to choose sides. Every day, multiple times a day, different industries are trying to get us to choose. Charmin wants to be chosen over Angel Soft. Spectrum wants to be chosen over Direct TV. T-Mobil wants to be chosen over Cricket. Birdseye wants to be chosen over Swanson, Banquet, Healthy Choice and Sara Lee.

We have many, many choices. We choose every day. Whose coffee do I want this morning? McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Horton, Speedway, Keurig, Folgers, Maxwell House? The possibilities are endless. Many of the choices we make don’t have lasting consequences. But some do!

In our choosing, one choice has eternal consequences. We either choose the God Side or not. Just like our consumption choices are made multiple times not only in a day, but in a lifetime…our opportunities to choose the Lord are also made many, many times in a lifetime. We choose to please Him or not. We choose to obey Him or not. We choose to speak His heart or not. We choose to avoid ungodly environments and activities or not.

Every time we choose Him, our perspective is affected. Each time we choose to do things His way, without compromise, He reveals more of His perspective. His way of viewing things gives us a broader, deeper and wiser insight.

These are three biblical examples of the view from the God Side of a situation versus the other side.

Genesis 14:13-20 AMP

13 Then Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid! Take your stand [be firm and confident and undismayed] and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for those Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.”

15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to move forward [toward the sea]. 16 As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, so that the sons of Israel may go through the middle of the sea on dry land. 17 As for Me, hear this: I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will go in [the sea] after them; and I will be glorified and honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and his war-chariots and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know [without any doubt] and acknowledge that I am the Lord, when I am glorified and honored through Pharaoh, through his war-chariots and his charioteers.”

19 The [c]angel of God, who had been going in front of the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. The pillar of the cloud moved from in front and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. It was a cloud along with darkness [even by day to the Egyptians], but it gave light by night [to the Israelites]; so one [army] did not come near the other all night.

One observation about this event is that all the participants were in the same geographical location. They were all in the same area, the same land. One group wasn’t high up on a hill or mountain while the other was in a deep ravine or valley. The land was the same. The weather was the same. It wasn’t snowing over one group and bright sunshine with 80-degree temperatures over the other group. Same weather, same land but very different perspectives because one group was on the God Side and the other group wasn’t. The same cloud stood between the two groups. For the Hebrews that cloud was the Presence and protection of God. The cloud gave them light, help and hope. But on the other side, on the Egyptian side, that cloud was a barrier. It was a cloud of darkness to the Egyptians which prevented them from moving forward. The Egyptians couldn’t see. There weren’t any streetlights, no flashlights, no illuminations from cell phones, no cigarette lighters. They couldn’t see! Therefore, they couldn’t function. They couldn’t pursue and they couldn’t attack. All they could do was be still. The cloud prevented the Egyptians but it protected the Hebrews. Same cloud but a totally different perspective. It is always a blessing to be on the God Side.

The second biblical example is another very familiar occurrence in Jewish history.

Numbers 13: 1-2, 17-20, 23-33 This is what the unbelievers saw and said.

Joshua and Caleb believed God. This is what those who trusted God said. Numbers 14:7-9

Most of us know this story very well. All 12 scouts saw the same things. But two of them had vastly different perspectives than the 10. They all agreed that the land was luscious and bountiful and would be a wonderful place to live. But 10 of them looked at the challenges and had more confidence in the obstacles than in God, the One who sent them! But two of them, Joshua and Caleb perceived the entire scene very differently. Whose report will you believe? We will believe the report of the Lord! His report says that we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us! All 12 scouts were given the same assignment (Num. 13:17-20). All 12 traversed the same land. All 12 had the same 40 days to form an opinion. Forty in the bible is a time of testing. They all had the opportunity to exercise their faith, to build and strengthen it. They could have said, “WOW!! The Lord God has given ALL THIS to us!!!!!” But instead 10 of them said, “We are too weak to claim what God promised. It looks good over there. The land flows with milk and honey. But we are too small to possess it.”

Joshua and Caleb adopted God’s perspective. The others let the challenges influence their view even more than the produce and the fruitfulness they were holding in their hands. The evidence of God’s faithfulness was in their hands. They were holding the grapes, the figs and the pomegranates. God allowed them to actually taste the evidence of His goodness. They were eating and ingesting the good of the land the whole time they were there. They were taking in all of the abundance through all of their five senses. But 10 of them listened to fear. They believed fear. They trusted fear. They let one tactic of the enemy, fear, speak to them and crush the godly view. And because of their unbelief, they all died not receiving the promise. Only the believers, the ones who stayed on God’s Side in their thoughts, beliefs and actions experienced God’s promise.

The third biblical example is the cross of Christ. Those who observed Jesus on the cross counted it as a dismal and utter failure. But Jesus, the only One who had the Father’s perspective knew and saw the cross as the ultimate victory over sin and satan.

Mark 8:27 – 33 

This exchange reveals that Peter does not have the Lord’s perspective. Peter and all the other disciples only have a partial view of the truth. These followers have some understanding. Peter just expressed that he knows who Jesus really is. He just stated in Mark 8:29, “You are the Christ!” Peter’s declaration insists that he knows for certain, without any doubt, that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus is the Anointed One that they have been expecting.

But just a few verses later it is shown that even though Peter knows who Jesus is, Peter does not know the plan of God. God’s plan to redeem humanity from the power and penalty of sin through the precious blood of Jesus is not known to Peter yet. These disciples were on the God Side as long as it looked like the God Side agreed with what they expected to happen. They expected a different kind of victory. A different kind of bloodshed. Peter whipped out his sword when the soldiers approached Jesus in the garden and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. (John 18:10) But that kind of bloodshed was not reflective of the plan of the Father.

Just as in the other examples we have discussed, all the disciples shared the same experiences with Jesus. But Judas, the betrayer had a totally different mindset than the rest of the disciples. At some point he decided not to be on the God Side. He went completely to the dark side. Peter and the others thought they were on the God Side until the cross loomed large before them. They all saw the cross as a place of despair and defeat.

 Before going to the cross Jesus shared many truths with them. He is wanting to change their perspective. He wants to help them to see as He sees but He knows they won’t really understand until they are all on the other side of the cross. They won’t perceive what it really means to be on the God Side until some time after the resurrection.

John 14:1 Jesus says to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”. He has just told them some things that sound like the complete opposite of victory and they are distressed and disturbed. They may be wondering if they chose the right side.

John 14:27 Jesus said again, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled].

These are their thoughts and feelings on the ‘before’ side of the cross. Jesus knew they were confused and afraid and ready to hightail it out of there. Jesus challenges their fears and doubts and directly addresses their narrow perspective.

John 14:28-29 AMP You heard Me tell you, I am going away and I am coming [back] to you. If you [really] loved me, you would have been glad, because I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater and mightier than I am.

And now I have told you [this] before it occurs, so that when it does take place you may believe and have faith in and rely on Me.

Jesus knows exactly where they are. Similar to the Egyptians, the disciples are on the dark side of the cross. They are confused and afraid. But He, Jesus, is sharing all the information and truth of the Spirit of God to completely change their perspective. If they would and could believe all that He was saying, they would adopt His perspective, get a fuller view of what was happening and why. And they would move from fear and faithlessness to the God Side of the cross. If they could understand what was being shared with them, they would be moved from the dark side of doubt and depression to the glorious, victorious side of light and everlasting life!

Jesus keeps addressing their emotions and rattling their mindsets.

John 16: 5-7 AMP

But now I am going to Him who sent Me, yet none of you asks Me, Where are You going?

But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts [taken complete possession of them].

However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

Jesus knew the joy that was on the other side of the cross. Even though His disciples could not imagine how all that He was saying could bring them peace and happiness if Jesus had to die for it all to happen. How could it be?

In the previous examples when the Hebrews faced the Red Sea with the Egyptians hot behind them they could not see (s-e-e) that God rules the sea (s-e-a) and the wind and everything else in the universe! He can keep the enemy off of your heels.

In the case of Joshua and Caleb, the 10 scouts or spies could not see how God could give them the victory in the promised land. They were too focused on the challenges and obstacles instead of believing, trusting and relying on God.

What we reviewed in John, concerning the cross, shows that the disciples were too focused on what they were losing: the physical presence of Jesus. They wouldn’t or couldn’t or just didn’t absorb the fact that the next phase of their journey would be a far richer experience. The presence of God would not just be with them physically but He would dwell in them, taking up residence in them permanently!

God wants us to have, to possess His perspective. When we do, at least five things will happen. 1) Your expectations will change. You will expect more because you will see that God can and will and does do more for those who look for Him to move on their behalf. 2) Gaining the Lord’s perspective will put you at odds with others. Even other professing believers will not see the Lord and His ways the same way that you do. 3)You will remain calm in a crisis. While other people are running around shouting, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” you will not be shaken because you know that God has you and He is in total control. 4) Your faith will grow (get bigger), develop (become more defined and all encompassing) and your faith will become super strong (able to leap over large resisters in a single bound)! 5) You will be separated from others in thought, word and deed. The way you think, speak and act will change. Those changes will set you apart from other people…even believers.

Our charge is to be on the God Side and stay there. It is the absolute best place to be!