Tonight we wish to honor the seniors in our Church who will soon be graduating from High Schools within our communities and bring recognition to their accomplishments thus far. Completing High School and earning a degree is a milestone in life coveted by everyone. We are blessed in the United States of America to have a system of free and equal education for each student regardless of race, color, gender, economic status, religious persuasion or political affiliation. This is not so in much of the world but in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave it has been established as a basic human right and protected by the Constitution of this great nation.
These are the benefits of living in a country that believes in the freedom and liberty of its citizens and stands ready to defend those freedoms at all costs. The American dream of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is still alive and well. Thank God for the opportunities we and our children have to chase the dream. It was for these whom we honor tonight that many of our bravest, brightest and best have stood the ground, lifted the flag and given their all. Thanks be to God our Father and to His Son Jesus of Nazareth. God bless America.
In these next few moments I hope to instill in you a truth which will serve to strengthen and secure you for the journey ahead. You are about to embark on the greatest adventure of your life thus far. And, as you launch out into the world to find your path and conquer your mountain, you will need an advantage in life which I will give you here tonight. Allow me to begin by reading a passage from the Bible and sharing how you can apply the life changing message it reveals to the new journey on which you are about embark.
This story begins in about the year 800BC in the area which is now governed by the Palestinian people in northern Israel. The location was the ancient city of Dothan. A prophet named Elisha lived there it seemed that Elisha had made the king of a neighboring country angry. Every time the King of Syria wanted to ambush or attack the King of Israel Elisha the prophet would warn the King of Israel and of course the King of Israel would escape unharmed.
It became such a frustration that the King of Syria decided he would simply get rid of the prophet Elisha. The Syrian army was dispatched and succeeded in surrounding Elisha’s house in Dothan. When Elisha’s servant woke up that morning, all he could see was the enemy. The servant was so afraid and felt all was lost but yet Elisha the prophet remained remarkably calm and secure. This puzzled the servant.
Why was there such a difference in the way these two men reacted? Why was one scared to death and the other completely at peace? They were both standing right in the middle of an ambush and were both surrounded and were both aware of the Syrian Army’s intent. The difference in these two men however was their perspective.
Each of these two men, the prophet and his servant, were focused on different truths. They each saw the same enemy but only one of them saw the help that was standing ready to intervene. The servant was completely focused on those who wanted to do them harm while Elisha was focused on the One who wanted to protect them and deliver them and save them.
I submit to you this evening that trouble, tests and trials will come to challenge each person at some point in life … When it does, our perspective can and will make the defining difference.
2 Kings 6
15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"
16 So Elisha answered his servant, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, "LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
The prophet Elisha was facing the same trouble as was his servant however, Elisha had a different focus, he saw the potential greater than the problem, Elisha had a different perspective – He saw his situation from God’s point of view. All of the sudden, impossibilities became possible.
When the servant, who had been so afraid, began to see God’s willingness and ability standing ready to intervene, all of his fear went away. Our confidence is often determined by our perspective. The Bible tells another story of 12 spies who went into the promise land and brought back a report to Moses. They were all exposed to the same things but 10 of the spies returned with a negative perspective while only 2 maintained a positive perspective. The Ten only saw the power of the enemies they would face but the 2, Joshua and Caleb, kept their focus on God’s willingness and ability to intervene in their battles. One group had no confidence and the other had great confidence … Perspective!
I can well understand this because without including God in our lives and problems I too would have a less than confident feeling about the future. However, when we do face a problem, a test, trial or trouble, turning to God and turning that problem over to Him will always result in His willingness to get involved. This is the story of the Bible and the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.
God is so willing to help fix the problems we face and to destroy the plans of our enemies that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to give each one of us a personal chance to invite and include Him in our lives. In situations where we once had no hope, we now have great hope. In circumstances where there seemed to be no peaceful answer, we now have access to the Prince of Peace. For those times when we feel alone or don’t know what to do, Jesus said that He will never leave us or forsake us. What will you choose to focus on in the trying times of life? Your perspective will make a difference. Turning to Jesus in times of trouble and turning that trouble over to Him will help you to focus on God’s potential instead of your problem.
Turn to Jesus and turn your life over to Him in every situation. Begin to see things from His perspective. Instead of living in fear, step into faith. There is a blessing in everything – only sometimes you can’t see it when looking at it only from earth’s perspective. Give God a chance … 1.) Pray – Talk to God; 2.) Listen for Instructions; and 3.) Obey – Just do what He says.