Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

focus on God Archive

Saturday

21

August 2021

Where’s your focus?

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"If we cannot see God, at least we will look towards Him." Read more about the importance of focus on hopereflected.com

Focusing on Christ rather than the miracles He performed

Throughout Jesus’s ministry, there are many times Jesus performs a miracle and specifically tells the healed not to tell anyone about their healing. The leper (Matt. 8), the blind men (Matt. 9), the “great multitudes” (Matt. 12), the twelve year old girl (Mark 5), the man with the speech impediment (Mark 7), as well as several others.

Wouldn’t Christ have wanted these incredible healings to be broadcast to bring more people to Him? In Mark 7:36, we read that “the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;”. More than the miracles themselves, it seems that Christ wanted to keep the focus on the Saviour rather than on the miracles.

Christ wanted to keep the focus on the Saviour rather than on the miracles.

Hope Reflected

We get so focused on what’s going on around us, on our circumstances, on other people, on their problems, that we have a hard time keeping our eyes on God. We’re faster to find fault than we are to offer forgiveness. We’re more quick to question than we are to quietly wait on the Lord’s will. We are troubled over trivial matters instead of maintaining a triumphant attitude at all that the Lord has done for us.

“Set your affection on things above”

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:2) Read more about focus on hopereflected.com

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth,” Paul wrote to the church at Colossae in Colossians 3:2. This is not to suggest that we be so heavenly minded that we’re of no earthly good, however as Matthew Henry wrote, “affection to the one will weaken and abate affection to the other.” Where we put our focus is of utmost importance. When we focus on the things of this world, they become the most important. Paul wrote the book of Colossians while he was in prison. His focus was on providing encouragement to Christian believers. Throughout his letter, we don’t read about the prison conditions or how discouraged he was. The only reference we read about Paul’s imprisonment is at the closing of his letter when he asks for the believers to “Remember my bonds.” (Col. 4:18). Paul’s focus was in the right place.

"To guide something or someone with the eye requires our focus to be in the right place." Read more about focus on hopereflected.com

David is another Biblical figure who understood the importance of where we focus. After his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, he wrote several Psalms, including Psalm 32. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (v. 8). In Hebrew, this means to fix one’s eye, to focus. To guide something or someone with the eye requires our focus to be in the right place. Similarly, in Psalms 121 and 123, the psalmist writes, “I will lift up mine eyes,” to focus on the Lord (Ps. 121:1, 123:1).

Where we choose to focus directly impacts our lives. Charles Spurgeon wrote that “we must use our eyes with resolution, for they will not go upward to the Lord of themselves, but they incline to look downward, or inward, or anywhere but to the Lord: let it be our firm resolve that the heavenward glance shall not be lacking. If we cannot see God, at least we will look towards him.”

Originally published as “Focus.” Independent Plus. March 11, 2021: 5. Print. Web.

Friday

23

March 2018

Encouragement | Easter Meditation on Isaiah 53:6

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

"All we like sheep have gone astray." (Isaiah 53:6) | See more at hopereflected.com

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Sheep need a Shepherd. For Christians, that Shepherd is Jesus Christ.

The role of the Shepherd is to protect the flock. The Shepherd guards the flock with his life. In Jesus’s case, rather than let us suffer the consequences of our sins, He went to the cross for us. The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Because Jesus went to the cross and rose the third day, we have the peace and promise of eternal salvation, when we have a relationship with Him.

Consider Christ as our Shepherd. He is our protector. He is our salvation. He is our buckler. He is our high tower. Christ is our Saviour.

This idea of Christ carrying our sins to the cross also translates into Christ carrying us. As the shepherd carries the sheep, so Christ carries us always. “Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” (Psalm 28:9)

As humans, it can be hard to keep our eyes on the Lord. And it can be easy to stray, even when we have a relationship with Christ. “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.” (Psalm 119:176)

And while we all have a habit of turning to our own ways, thankfully the Lord, as our Shepherd, has a habit of keeping His hand on us. “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered: so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Click here to read more from this series on Isaiah 53.

Monday

16

October 2017

Encouragement | Colossians 3:2

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Encouragement

Set your affection on things above. Colossians 3:2 | Read more at hopereflected.com

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

In the midst of life, where our focus so often is set on the day-to-day grind of life, our careers, our families, our friends, and our own dreams and goals, it can be hard to retrain our thoughts to the heavens and to the One who created us.

We’re told in Colossians 3:2 to set our affection on things above, not on things on earth. Our affection — that feeling of fondness or love — is to be set on things above. So what does that really mean? Does it mean that we’re wrong for pursuing success here on earth? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it means we are to live with eternity in mind.

How often are each one of us guilty of concentrating on the here and now, and what’s best for us in this lifetime? It’s like when Jesus said to Peter, “you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)  I don’t know about you, but quite often in the hustle of the everyday, I’m guilty of not having the things of God in my mind.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing well for ourselves here on earth, ultimately we need to remember that we brought nothing into this world, and we’re not taking anything with us when we leave! As Christians, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The empire you build for yourself here on earth won’t matter in light of eternity.

Matthew 6:19-21 puts it like this: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasures is, there your heart will be also.”

We tend to focus where we spend the most time. That’s why it’s so important to get into God’s Word, to memorize scripture, to spend time in prayer everyday. Multiple times a day if we’re able. Ask God to centre your focus on Him. Purposefully recite your favourite verses from the Bible. Actively praise the Lord for His goodness to us — after all, His mercies are new every morning so there’s always something for which to worship Him!

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

Thursday

20

July 2017

Hope Reflected | Resentment

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

In the face of resentment, focus on God | Hope Reflected See more at hopereflected.com

Resentment

The best navigation tool for our daily lives, the Bible is filled with several accounts that deal with resentment. As early as Eve, resentment has weaseled its way into many hearts throughout the years, including Job, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Saul… I could go.

The story of Joseph is a classic tale of resentment. Favoured by his father Jacob, all Joseph’s brothers resented him. It wasn’t anything Joseph did that caused these hard feelings, rather a reaction to their circumstances that caused Joseph’s brothers to have ill will against him. They were so bitter and resentful towards Joseph that they sold him, and told their father that he was dead. It’s a great example of how harbouring resentment can quickly get out of control if we don’t put ourselves in check.

Joseph’s brothers thought that by hurting him, they would cause Joseph to change his ways, and they also that hurting Joseph would somehow make themselves feel better and validated in their actions. And what happened? The exact opposite!

What I love about the account of Joseph is that no matter the difficulty or challenging circumstance (and he had several), Joseph refused to let resentment take root in his heart, and he continued to seek the Lord and to put Him first, no matter what. Joseph didn’t get angry or bitter with his brothers and he didn’t try to get revenge. In fact, he did quite the opposite.

While the Lord brought Joseph along a challenging – and ultimately an incredibly blessed – path, Joseph’s bitter brothers endured hardship after hardship, including a famine that brought them face to face with their younger brother once more.

When they were reunited and Joseph realized that it was his long lost brothers standing in front of him, do you know what he did? Rather than seek revenge, he showed his brothers love. He demonstrated the love of Christ by forgiving his brothers for every hurt they had caused them. And in turn, God brought them back together.

When someone wrongs you, or intentionally hurts you, rather than breed resentment by focusing on what they’ve done or how you feel, look above and put your focus on the Lord. God is in control, and He is well aware of every circumstance and challenge you’ll face in life.

In the face of resentment, when you choose God, there are many blessings.

God restores. “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10) It could be that someone’s hurt your heart, or maybe done something deliberately to get under your skin. Rather than resent them, pray for them as a first reaction. God hears our prayers, and nothing is impossible for Him! Sometimes the situation we think is impossible to fix is a none-issue in God’s eyes. Only God can heal the heart that’s broken and restore relationships – and He does, often exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think! (Eph. 3:20)

God renews. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:31) Even in our weakest moments, even in the times when we say to ourselves (and sometimes others) “I can’t believe he did that!” and we let bitterness or resentment creep into our hearts, the moment we turn those feelings over to God, He will renew our spirit. David said in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” To put it in perspective, David wrote Psalm 51 after he slept with Bathsheba. Nathan had just called him out for his sin, and David was feeling convicted. See what he did there? Rather than getting defensive or caught up, he confessed and asked the Lord to renew his spirit. And God did. He’ll do the same for you and me.

God reveals. “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises those who are bowed down.” (Psalm 146:8) When you find yourself challenged with feelings of resentment, ask the Lord to reveal any wrongdoing in your heart and also in the heart of whomever you may be feeling resentful towards. God has a way of revealing our wrongdoings and convicting our spirits; we just need to have a tender heart to hear His voice. God will bless a teachable spirit. (Proverbs 13:18)

C.S. Lewis said that “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Praise the Lord for His forgiveness! Wherever you’re at, and whatever you’re going through, we serve a God Who is bigger than any problem or any resentment you may have.

Originally published as “Resentment.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. June 29, 2017: 7. Print. Web.