focus

Where We Should Fix Our Eyes

In the many years that I have studied the Bible, I have loved reading the letters of Paul because he ministers to my mind. He provides me with truth.

In the many years that I have studied the Bible, I have loved reading the letters of Paul because he ministers to my mind. He provides me with truth.

Did you know that the only New Testament writer that uses the term “anti-Christ” is the Apostle John? As I have meditated on that, I have come to the conclusion that is as it should be. John was the one known as the beloved Apostle. John was the one who laid his head on Jesus' breast at the Last Supper. John was the only one at the cross. John was the one Jesus entrusted his earthly mother too when he was about to die.

In the many years that I have studied the Bible, I have loved reading the letters of Paul because he ministers to my mind. He provides me with truth. But I have loved reading the letters of John because he ministers to my heart. So I find it fitting that the one who was so in love with Jesus, should be the one who recognizes that which is not of Jesus, that which is “against” Jesus, which is what the word “anti” means. 

I believe this speaks volumes to where we should fix our eyes. Ours is not to be concerned with identifying or searching out what is wrong, but rather to so be devoted to Jesus that anything contrary to Him will be readily identifiable. The one whom Jesus loved, he is the one who saw that which was not of Jesus. Let it be so with us, may we see Jesus so intensely, that all that is anti-Jesus will be readily identifiable in our hearts and minds.

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Don't Drive Too Quickly

If you race through the book of Philippians, you will see this wonderful truth in c. 4:19 that our God will supply all our need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus

If you race through the book of Philippians, you will see this wonderful truth in c. 4:19 that our God will supply all our need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus

It is a good thing to read through the Bible. It is a better thing to work slowly through the Bible. If I could illustrate it. You could drive the Yellowstone Park and be amazed. But if you hiked through Yellowstone you would be overwhelmed. When you race through the park you miss so much, but when you journey slowly you have the potential to discover so much more. 

If you race through the book of Philippians, you will see this wonderful truth in c. 4:19 that our God will supply all our need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. But you might not “see” how INCREDIBLY  WONDERFUL this declaration really is! Do not drive your car through this verse, walk very slowly through it with me.

Did you see it?

He said that He would meet our needs “according to His riches” – OH MY GOODNESS! The awe and wonder of his choice of words in that statement is overwhelming! 

Note that he did NOT say that God is going to provide for us “out of” His riches. As an illustration, if a millionaire decided to give you a gift “out of” his riches, he could give you a dollar, or even just a nickel and that would be giving “out of” his riches. That, however, is NOT what Paul said. He said God gives us “according to” His riches. So if a millionaire gave a gift to us “according to” His riches, he would be giving us a million dollars.

Do you see the difference?

What an incredible statement of how much the Father wants to do on our behalf as we journey through this world with our faith in Him. He wants to provide for us “according to” the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. He wants to give us Himself. Oh the wonder of all that He longs to be to us, but we could have missed the wonder if we drove too quickly through this verse. Never read the Bible casually my friend, read it intently and stand in awe of the God Who loves and cares for you so very much that He would provide for you “according to” all that He Himself is. 

WOW!

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Maintain A Spirit Of Quietness

Paul appears to say that we are going to have to stay focused and work hard to maintain a spirit of quietness.

Paul appears to say that we are going to have to stay focused and work hard to maintain a spirit of quietness.

I have had a verse from the Thessalonian letters heavy on my mind of late.

"Make it your AMBITION to lead a quiet life..."

That is a very hard thing to do in a complex world that places so much demand on us from all directions! Paul appears to say that we are going to have to stay focused and work hard to maintain a spirit of quietness.

Interestingly, Hebrews says much the same thing. "Labor to enter into rest." When all our lives have been lived under the law and performing to achieve, it is going to be hard work indeed to change the direction of our lives toward quietness.

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Christ In Y'all

If you are truly walking in grace and love, in turn, it will become ALL about others, for that is what God is all about - you and others.

If you are truly walking in grace and love, in turn, it will become ALL about others, for that is what God is all about - you and others.

It is NOT about you,
it is ALL about God,
but because it is ALL about God it is all about you

If you are truly walking in grace and love, in turn, it will become ALL about others, for that is what God is all about - you and others.

So, it is all about you, but if that is where it stops, you are falling short of the New Covenant. It is a plural you in Col. 1:27. It is NOT "Christ in you" -but it is "Christ in y'all"

Getting Serious About Jesus

... the key to walking out the truth is in   setting the mind  .

... the key to walking out the truth is in setting the mind.

Proverbs 23:7 is perhaps the most transformational verse in the Bible in terms of our living the Christ- Life! It says, “As a man thinks within himself, so shall he be.” In other words, the key to walking out the truth is in setting the mind. That is why all over both the Old and New Testaments we are exhorted to set our mind and be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Well then, what should our mind be set on? Well, SIN of course! At least that is what far too many in the church think. We have got to stop sinning! Put sin to death! Avoid sin! And I trust you know, that when you say the word “sin” – you have to do so in a high pitched, nasal twang and drag the word out like this, “s-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-n!” It really helps as well, to put a glare on your face with wrinkled up nose like your’re smelling something foul!

Now, I understand the pre-occupation with sin in the Old Testament. Sin is what separated us from God and there was no way to permanently remove it.  So man had to always be aware of their sin and offer sacrifices for them! But with the coming of the New Covenant and Jesus removing our sin from us, taking them away completely and forever, sin is no longer to be the dominating thing we set our mind on. When the writer of Hebrews finished his theological treatise in chapters 1 – 11, how did he begin his application? Did he say, “Therefore, fix your eyes on sin?” NO! A resounding NO! He said to lay aside sin and fix our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith! Our mind is no longer to be set on sin, but on Jesus.

As we fix our eyes on Him and live in dependence upon Him,
let me say it simply, “The Christ-Life in us does not sin!”

Well then, why do we sin? Because we make a choice to live contrary to who we are, and live as independent creatures from God, we in the moment of unbelief choose to sin. If we are really serious about sin, the thing we need to do is become even more serious about Jesus. Remember, He did not just come to be our Lord and our Savior! He came to be our very LIFE! (Col. 3:3-4) Oh the glory of this reality!  He enables us as indwelt men and women to experience and express His own abundant LIFE!

The Race of Faith is About Jesus - Not Law, Creed, or Principle.

In the Corinthian letters, Paul warned them NOT to ever leave the simplicity that is in Christ. We have one supreme responsibility as a believer, and that is to abide in Him. In John 15, Jesus used the analogy of a vine and branches. A branch is absolutely useless, unless it is connected to the vine. Separated from the vine, the branch is dead, unable to produce "anything".

That is why in Hebrews 12, as we run the race of faith, the call is to fix our eyes... NOT on the law, NOT on principles, NOT on a creed, but on Him alone, for He is not only the Author of our salvation, but the Perfecter of our salvation as well. 

Anytime, we fix our eyes on anything other than Him, we will forfeit the simplicity of Christ for complexity. Anytime, we fix our eyes on anything other than Him, the emphasis of our lives will be on that "other thing", and ultimately on how we are doing pursuing that "other thing"... and we will end up with a man-centered Gospel instead of a Jesus-centered Gospel...

... and that will be no Gospel at all.

Get Off the Treadmill of Having to Be Like God!

I once had a young minister in my office that I was seeking to lead into the LIFE that Jesus wants us all to experience... I asked him to turn to a particular passage, and he could not find it. As he searched frantically, he blamed the Bible I had handed him, saying he was not used to that Bible. Hmmmm.... What was the issue here? He was embarrassed that he as a pastor could not find the passage quick enough.

Naturally, I sought to lead him into an understanding that God was trying to reveal to Him in that moment how "blitzed" he was by the fall of man into rebellion against God. His thought process was that he should be able to find it quicker --- HE SHOULD KNOW WHERE THAT PASSAGE WAS!!!

Remember what the lie was that we were all birthed under? "You shall be as God!" Oh, what a horrid thing... I have to be strong! I have to be in control! I have to know all things! Oh my goodness, do you realize the burden that is on us because of that lie? We have to be like God, when we lack the resources to be God!

NO! That is a lie! We were never created to be strong, we were created to be dependent on the One Who is strong! We were not designed to be in control, we were designed to be dependent on the One Who is in control. And we were never supposed to know everything, we were supposed to be dependent on the One Who knows all things. We were designed to be children, who have a really great Father!

Take yourself off the treadmill of having to be like God, that is way too much pressure for anyone to live under. Decide to be what you were created to be... a weak human being, who doesn't know very much at all, but oh what a God you have... He offers to be all that He is, to all that you need at the moment of faith... 

In other words, relax! Do not take yourself too seriously. God has built His church just fine without you for 2,000 years. I have a feeling He will continue to build it just fine long after we are gone.