Tag Archives: focus on God

Two Lions

Since my travel route has changed a few months ago, I needed a new shortcut. I tried out this shortcut many people are probably familiar with; however, I’m not good with shortcuts. A few times I missed the right turn and my shortcut turned into a longcut. After a few misses, I focused on my surroundings to find something that would help me remember where to turn. It was then I saw the two lions.

When I saw the two lions, I was in the middle of a worship session, singing along with the radio to “Lion and the Lamb” by Big Daddy Weave as I navigated the route. I considered the Lion as I saw the lions. Then I thought of a series we were doing about chasing a lion—meaning chasing the dream God has placed in our hearts, just as Benaiah chased a lion into a pit. Two lions. The Lion of Judah and the dream He has for you.

Nearly every day this week, I have passed those two lions at least twice a day. I continued to think about the Lion and the path He placed before me, the dream He placed in my heart. I considered the intensity I chase Jesus and the intensity I chase where He leads. We are called to be fierce. We are called to jump into pits. We are called to chase after God. He’s not running from us. He’s not hiding. The chase is all about the heart. It’s all about wanting nothing more than Him. It’s about God being your everything. If He’s your everything, you run toward Him will intensity. You run with full force. You run uninhibited. You run focused. You run, not looking back. Today, consider what or who you are chasing. If you are pursing God, are you doing so with passion, with intensity?

“It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.” – Hebrews 11:27 [NLT]

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [NIV]

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Distractions

I have a hard time focusing—my attention has always been a battle. I’ve taken medicine to try to keep my focus, as I was diagnosed long ago with AdHd. Nothing seemed to keep me “me,” but yet a more focused me. Over the years, I have learned some habits to prevent me from adding to my lack of attention and to help me to stay focused. Even so, there are distractions all around for each one of us and we have to be intentional so we are not distracted from the “great work” God has called us to live out on our spiritual journey.

In Nehemiah 6, we read one of my favorite phrases: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” I love this! People were trying to thwart the progress of Nehemiah’s “great work.” The wall he was called to build was nearly finished. The gates simply needed to be put in place. As he was near the finish line, the distractions didn’t stop. They never do. There will always be people trying to stop you from doing what God has placed in your heart. The devil has been defeated by Jesus, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to stop any progress God’s children have in growing God’s Kingdom and on doing something that glorifies God. But boldly we can exclaim: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”

Today, examine your life. Distractions can come from any area of your life. Are you living a life fully for God? Is God first in your life? Have you been facing a distraction that is keeping you from living out what God has for your life? Are your eyes focusing elsewhere? Fix your eyes on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He will see you through.

“And I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?’” – Nehemiah 6:3 [ESV]

Bag in the Wind

During one of our evening walks, Marci started to bark like crazy. She saw something dark moving at a nearby house. She went into barking dog mode and it was hard to get her to calm down. Funny enough, she was barking at a black plastic trash bag that was blowing because of the great winds passing through the area. It did not matter how many times I tried to tell her it was fine, she continued fixated on what she thought was an attack.

I see a lot of “little dogs” going crazy at things observed—many times misconceptions, many times judgmentally rooted. The “little dogs” are those people in a church who point out what everyone is doing wrong. A big spoon of legalism is dished out. Oftentimes this is seen between people who have grown up in the church. A person from one denomination, raised with certain traditions, barks at someone else who has been taught that other traditions were more important, or that their traditions are the “right way to do things.” Possibly the barking dog syndrome is a result of someone becoming puffed up.

The Bible talks a lot about unity of the Body. The reason so much time is spent on this topic is because the devil will use anything to try to plant and promote division. The church can often get off course when Jesus is not the most important focus. Whether we are at church, at home, at work, at school—wherever we are at—Jesus should be the main thing. As well, if Jesus is the main thing, we should do whatever we can to promote the unity of the Body. This means the little dog syndrome should stop. Instead, let us love God and love others. May we build up instead of tearing down. The bag in the wind is not something on which to fixate.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 [NIV]

 

All About God

When there was a rebellion against Moses, the response was that the Lord would show them who belonged to Him. Moses didn’t brag about the position God had given him. He didn’t take any personal jabs at Korah. His response was all about God. He told them it was “against the Lord” that they gathered, and reminded them that God separated them for His service. He kept it all about God.

Too often we take things too personal. When we allow things to be about ourselves instead of the focus being on God, we can get ourselves caught in a personal trap, a trap that focuses on self. It is easy for pride to take up residence. It is important to remember that each of us is valuable to God and each of us has a different role in the Kingdom. Everyone is important but everyone is to shine for God—everyone is to bring glory to Him. The problem is when the focus is taken from God and placed on a person.

Let us remember that it is a blessing to have the opportunity to serve the Lord. It is a blessing that He allows us to be used for His Kingdom. May we respond with humility and with gratitude. May we keep it all about God.

“Then he said to Korah and his followers, ‘Tomorrow morning the LORD will show us who belongs to him and who is holy. The LORD will allow only those whom he selects to enter his own presence.’” – Numbers 16:5 [NLT]

The War Cry

We had a great time at the Joyce Meyer Conference but good things much eventually end. We went into the parking lot and we were stuck. It took an hour to just leave the parking lot. With all that time to fill, my sister and were singing some worship songs. But we also decided to remove her worn steering wheel cover. I tried to pull it and it would not budge. My sister helped. With the two of us, it still would not pop off of the steering wheel. Finally I let out a war cry, which I’ll admit sounded like a sad dog growl. Just at that moment there was a group of people passing by and a fellow heard my sad sound. He said, “Don’t worry. I haven’t seen a thing. No one has seen it happen” and kept walking.

I’ll admit I got a bit flushed with embarrassment but then I was reminded of the need for transparency and realness in this world. We spend so much time trying to pretend we don’t make certain noises, we don’t do particular things, we don’t watch “those shows,” we don’t listen to “that music.” We spend a lot of time trying to pretend we are “good Christians” or “good people” or “happy” or that we have it all together.

Guess what?!? I make weird screaming sounds as I remove steering wheel covers. Sometimes I think bad things. Sometimes I don’t make the best choice because I don’t listen and I want what I want. Sometimes I get angry at other drivers. Sometimes I spill coffee on my shirt and don’t change my shirt because it blends in. Stop trying to appear perfect. Stop trying to appear that you have everything together. God sees you when no one else can see you and God can see your heart. Don’t worry about what others think about you or how you appear—ask God to give you eyes for Him. Ask God to help you focus on Him and not on the world. Through your transparency and your desire to please God and God alone, there will be a testimony to others. It will be a much better story than anything you could pretend to tell. It will be the truth and it will point to the Truth.

“Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.” – Luke 16:15 [NLT]

 

Be Present

Be alert.

Be present.

God promises to do something brand new in our lives—in each of our lives if we let Him. In this passage He says that “it’s bursting out.” Other translations ask, “Do you not see it?” or “Will you not be aware of it?” And these are valid questions for us all.

In life today it is so easy to be alert to so many different things all at once. We love to multi-task. We cannot keep focus on only one thing. We find ourselves thinking about our past and thinking about our future. We find ourselves overwhelmed; too busy to pay attention to what is right in front of us. We find ourselves with our noses in our smartphones or buried in work, too occupied to look up.

This passage says to be alert, to be present—to pay attention because God’s doing something new for His people. Guess what? He’s doing something right now in your life. Yes, YOUR LIFE. You can be present. You can be alert. You can take heed and be a part of this great thing or you could miss it all. Don’t you see it? Will you not be aware of it? Today, I pray you are alert. Today, I pray that you pay attention. Look. Watch. See.

“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.”

-Isaiah 43:19 [MSG]

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Paid Them No Mind

Many people will speak poorly about you. You cannot get through life with everyone liking you and with everyone treating you well. When someone is saying things about you, there are moments when it is best to pay them no mind. There are instances when the devil is trying to get to you through their hurtful words. There are moments when the words distract you from moving forward.
When people saw Saul after he was chosen to be the king they so desperately wanted, they began to speak poorly about him. They would not congratulate him for his success. They were laughing at him. They did not show support. The group practically laughed at him. But the Bible says that “Saul paid them no mind.”
God had work for Saul to do—Saul was soon to be crowned the king of Israel, God’s chosen people. If his attention would have been diverted, he would never have been able to lead the nation the way God directed. Unfortunately there was a time when his attention was diverted and God took the kingdom from him. Today, remember that not everyone will be in your corner. Not everyone has your best intentions in mind. Not everyone will be encouraging and supportive. I have found it is best to pay them no mind and focus on what God says about me.

 

“Saul also went home to Gibeah, and with him some true and brave men whom GOD moved to join him. But the riffraff went off muttering, ‘Deliverer? Don’t make me laugh!’ They held him in contempt and refused to congratulate him. But Saul paid them no mind.”
-1 Samuel 10:26-27 [MSG]

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A Huge Danger

When a danger is called “huge” it should not be taken lightly. In this case, the people were being warned of the danger of associating with a country that worshiped false gods. The concern was that by living closely with these people, the people of Israel would begin to accept some of the practices and culture that was against the Word of God.

Jesus ate with sinners. He spent time with many people who were not pure. However as we read the Gospel, it is clear that Jesus did not spend all of His time with these people. He spent a lot of time with His Father in prayer. He spent a lot of time teaching and preaching as He traveled along with His disciples. He was so engrossed with His mission and He spent much time with the Word as was demonstrated during His time in the wilderness and while teaching. He often recited Scripture. It was written on His heart. It was at the core of His being.

If we do not go out in the world to share the Gospel, then the Gospel won’t get shared. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world to stay safe from temptation. Even in isolation, you will be tempted. Temptation is everywhere. But you can be cautious and keep yourself from spending too much time around “huge danger.” Paul wrote about focusing on what is worthy of praise. You can opt to take in a lot of negative and find out that what you take in will eventually come out. Or you can opt to focus on Him and the right, the pure, the lovely and find that it begins to pour from you.

“Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”

– Exodus 23:32-33 [MSG]

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A New Grip

When you are trying to grip something for a long period of time, you start to lose your grip and need to take a new grip. With my problematic hands, I often need to re-grip items. In Hebrews, the author writes to “take a new grip with your tired hands.” The word “tired” actually can be translated to “paralyzed.”

Why would your hands be paralyzed? Why would your knees be weak? Earlier in the passage, the author speaks of how God disciplines His children. Discipline seems horrible at the moment, but it produces righteousness (v. 11). We do not simply undergo the discipline, but we submit to it and as a result we share in God’s holiness. God disciplines us because He loves us.

The hands were tired and the knees were weak because there was no endurance in faith. They were tired from the burden of sin. They were focused on the world rather than God. They were not looking to the Holy Spirit for help, not being intentional with their faith. When you do not have an active prayer life, you are paralyzed. When you are not reading and hearing the Word (reading your Bible and attending church), you are paralyzed. You cannot do life alone. Today take a new grip. Strengthen those hands and knees.

“So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.” – Hebrews 12:12 [NLT]

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A Special Utensil

I love to cook. When I have the time, I will search for new recipes and walk in uncharted territory. I love to pull out old recipes that are favorites to enjoy again. Sometimes I will pull from my Pennsylvania Dutch roots. Whenever I am cooking, utensils are needed—and for some things I have a special utensil used for a particular usage. I will look deep in the utensil drawer to grab that one, no matter how long it takes to find it. To me, it is the only one that can do the particular job.

In 2 Timothy we read about keeping ourselves pure. Today’s verse speaks of a “special utensil for honorable use.” We might think about the special utensils we have in our kitchens; however, we also are special utensils. Each one of us was created by God and chosen for honorable use. He has a great plan and purpose for YOUR life.

You will be a special utensil for God. You need only “keep yourself pure.” Focus on Him. Focus on His Word. Focus on what is good, pure, holy—and watch how God uses you for His glory. This is a great promise. YOU will be a SPECIAL UTENSIL for HONORABLE USE. Yes, you!

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 2:21 [NLT]

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