Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Into Focus

Early summer approached, but none of the happy, carefree days of summer's past. There was a dense fog all around me and I couldn't seem to find my way out. My heartfelt shattered in a million pieces and hope was quickly escaping through the open wounds. As I got ready for church nothing was helping, not worship music, scripture or encouragement. Knowing I would be in North Carolina I had planned to visit Elevation Church, I have loved listening to their sermons online, so there should have been anticipation, at least a little excitement, but there was none to be found.

The Elevation Church experience starts in the parking lot. I pulled up to the school, followed signs and hand motions to the visitor’s parking area, got out of my car and averted my eyes. At any moment the dam that restrained my tears could burst. I made my way inside without a single tear falling and was hopeful I could get a seat unnoticed. The doors opened and they ushered me onto the second row.

I watched the countdown as if my life depended on it, I whispered to God, “I don’t see you.” I was also asking, “Where are you? Are you still with me?”

Worship started and the lights dimmed, so I let the tears fall. They fell hard, fast and steady. I needed this release. The Lord spoke gently to me, “It’s not what you see, it’s what you focus on.” My heart steadied and I could feel hope rise. “That’s faith,” I thought to myself.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Jonathan Josephs, a campus pastor, was preaching and he said, “I believe that I am on assignment today to release a word from God that will catapult someone into their God-given destiny and purpose.” “My sermon title for today is this ‘Stay Focused’,” he added.

“Really, God?,” I asked.

Then whispered, “Thank you!”

Josephs asked the question, “How is it that two people can be looking at the same thing and come to two different conclusions?” (Numbers 13:28,29 & Numbers 30) He was referring to Caleb and the men who went with him to spy out the land of Canaan. They had two opposing opinions after seeing the same thing. Caleb was ready to take possession of the land and the men who went with him were spreading fear by reporting what they saw, "Strong people, fortified cities and besides Anak's descendants were there." God sent them into the land so they would bring back a report to encourage the Israelites, but instead, they were creating widespread panic. He went on to say, “I’ve come to believe in my life that what I believe is not a product of what I see, it’s a product of my focus.”
Always remember your focus determines your reality. - George Lucas
Three areas we need to bring into focus:

Our thinking

Moses had asked them for specifics when exploring the land (Numbers 13:17-20), specifics that God had never asked them to look for. When they came back that is exactly what they reported and what they were focused on.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
What I have realized in my own life is that so often my self-consciousness is a product of my failure to be God consciousness. Jonathan Josephs
Our hearing

When we give more weight to what others say then what God is saying to us it’s idolatry. Scripture tells us, "The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:24)
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 
Our speaking

Their fear was increasing about what they saw by what they were saying. No matter what is coming at us from ourselves or others we must cling to what God has said and speak it out of our mouths.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest light to all the world. - Ann Voskamp
In one sermon's time everything came into focus - my gaze on Him, I heard His still small voice and my mouth was ready to proclaim His promises. Historically, circumstances have shaken me, thrown me for a loop and literally derailed me, but not today. Today I focused, maybe for the first time, not on what was happening around me, but Who was happening inside me. He spoke, I responded and everything came into focus.

Ann Voskamp says, "When the heart and mind focus on things unseen - that's when there's a visible change in us." That was my experience that day, glory to God!
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

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