Monthly Archives: December 2017

Where Is Your Focus?

“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” – Romans 12:2

When we are in Christ and have yielded our thoughts to Him, our focus subjects change. We think less about ourselves and our own interests and think more about what interests God and what interests others. We become more intentional, less about “me” and more about “we” or “you.”

Change of thinking also changed the focus of the subject matter of our minds. We dwell more on the eternal rather than the temporal, and on what is pure and good rather than what is dirty and evil.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worth of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8

When we are others-focused, our actions are thoughtful.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12

We set an example of righteous living.

“Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

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Not Alone in Your Struggle

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you.” – Psalm 55:22

From time to time, and for some all the time, the struggles of life come at us at once, and it’s easy to internalize all that’s happening, put on a brave face, and move through life the best we can, alone.

We must remember that God is faithful during (and especially!) our times of our most adversity, our greatest sufferings. He is no stranger to the human condition – Jesus came to earth both as fully God and fully human. He wasn’t always the picture of joy or the life of the party, either.

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” – Isaiah 53:3

He did this to give us hope by taking our pain on Himself and still conquering death and evil and sorrow.

“Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows.” – Isaiah 53:4a

God promises to take care of us as a mother bird does for her fledglings –

“He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” – Psalm 91:4

Even in the darkest times of our lives, the love and presence of Jesus Christ sustain us; we are not alone.

Created For His Glory

“He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” – Psalm 100:3

God specifically created His people for the purpose of living to please Him and bring Him glory. From the moment He made us, God designed us for a relationship with Him. As the Westminster Confession of Faith so aptly phrases this concept:

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

We aren’t just an accident, a blunder of random space dust or prehistoric goo. We were designed with a life purpose in mind. We are here for a reason.

It’s easy as humans to doubt our purpose, to wonder why we are here, and to feel insignificant. Reminders like this verse should help us to realize how truly empowering it is to have our hope sustained by the work of Christ, and God’s plan from before time began.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20, we are exhorted to honor God in all we do with our human bodies:

“…Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God…You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

When we remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our redemption from our sins, it should cause us to want to do rightly.

Strong And Courageous

“Be strong and courageous! For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

What exactly are we to embody as strong and courageous people?

Some of the definitions of “strong” include: having the ability to perform a specific action powerfully, likely to succeed because of sound reason and convincing evidence, possessing skills and qualities that create a likelihood of success, and the ability to withstand great force or pressure. A person who is strong is not easily upset, shows determination, self-control, and good judgment. They are established, intense, resonant, passionate, and eager.

Some of the definitions of “courageous” are: not deterred by danger or pain; brave. A courageous person is plucky, valiant, bold, daring, “lionhearted,” venturesome, spunky, audacious, and indomitable.

As we look at these qualities, some of them (such as spunky, audacious, intense, and eager) are often viewed by our society as a negative – something to be dampened, quelled, or quenched altogether. However, as a believer, we are reminded that if we are keeping the Lord as our focus, these qualities are actually very desirable, and are given to us by God, that we may be passionate for Him and for what He cares about. Don’t quench and suppress God’s gifts to you.

Rebels {Both Historical & Present}

In Numbers 14:1-4, we see that truly “misery loves company.”

– The People Rebel –

Numbers 14:1-4

“Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

(4) And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.””

Rather than encouraging one another and giving one another reminders of God’s faithfulness and their hope in Him to guide their future, the Israelites griped together.

Complaining often leads to disobedience and entertaining prideful thoughts that man’s wisdom is better than God’s. – In verse 4, the people came up with what they thought was a superior Plan 2.0, instead of showing trust and obedience to God’s original Plan 1.0 that He had given them through Moses.

As we move into Numbers 14:13-19, Moses is speaking to the Lord on behalf of the people of Israel, after Joshua and Caleb had returned from the Promised Land spy mission and told the people to trust in God’s promise that they would overtake the land if they acted in obedience.

13 But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O Lord, are in the midst of this people. For you, O Lord, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, 16 ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ 17 And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.'”

We see in both verse 19 and 20 that God listens when we sincerely admit our faults and ask Him to pardon our sins. There are, however, still consequences for complaining against God and showing a lack of gratitude for His provision, as we see in the following verses, and time and time again throughout the Israelites’ journey.

In more modern times, we aren’t unlike the people of Israel once were. Too often, we pride ourselves on being rebels with our own will, sticking to our own plans, rather than the ones God has directed for us.

Hebrews 3:7-19

” 7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,

on the day of testing in the wilderness,

where your fathers put me to the test

and saw my works for forty years.

10 

Therefore I was provoked with that generation,

and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;

they have not known my ways.’

11 

As I swore in my wrath,

‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”

Let us not be the generation that does not enter the Lord’s rest. Let us not harden our hearts to truth, or be ashamed to stand for morality and righteousness. Let us not provoke the Lord’s anger through rebellion against His commands. Let our hearts not go astray, or ignore the knowledge of the ways of the Lord. In 1 Samuel 12:23a, God clearly states that:

“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as worshiping idols.”

Rebellion brings us closer to the demonic rather than the Divine. Hearing truth doesn’t lead to positive results when couple with a rebellious heart. A rebellious heart and unbelief go hand-in-hand, and restrict the person who embodies them from entering eternity with Christ. We must gently, but firmly, impress upon us there the urgency for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.