Tag Archives: focus

A Much Needed Christmas Sign

This morning as I tried to get my heart in shape for Christmas… which isn’t always easy… I kept hearing the song “Jesus is the Rock of my salvation and His banner over me is love, Jesus is the Rock of my salvation and His banner over me is love, Jesus is the Rock of my Salvation and His banner over me is love… His banner… over me… is love. If you know that tune, it is likely stuck in your head too! You’re welcome! But that’s okay, we need to remember that what ties the cradle to the cross is a love that has been there since the creation of time.

I’m not sure if the scripture came first or the song this morning but none the less it’s been a good study.

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious. ~Isaiah 11:10

From that one scripture, so many others began to run through my mind like the banner song.

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner (ensign) over me is love. ~ Song of Solomon 2:4

Here’s your sign…

and mine too. While the world is so focused on the physical things of life that bring temporal joy (which I can be so guilty of) the very evidence of our salvation which is the love of God, often takes a back seat. It’s why there can be so much stress around the holidays. Our focus is not on the main thing. The reason Christ came was to prove His love for us. And somehow or another the focus seems to get off Him and on to us.

Here’s your star…

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root of the offspring of David (root of David), and the bright and morning star. ~ Revelation 22:16

Long before the star was in the heavens proclaiming the birth of our Savior, the Bright and Morning Star had His place in the Heavens. He knew there needed to be a plan to saved fallen man, and as the lineage of Adam to Christ, with David in the midst became filled with countless characters of less than perfect reputations, the plan stayed perfect. Amazing.

Here’s Your Savior…

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ~ Isaiah 7:14

Emmanuel. God with us. Is He? Or has He been shoved to the side like the wrapping paper that was only important when it concealed the goodness. Then once the goodness of the gift was discovered the paper wasn’t important.

Do we not treat the Word of God, “God with us”, in that same manner? Once we’ve discovered His salvation we no longer find the paper important. And while the wrapping paper certainly isn’t the important part of Christmas, The Word of God, which is how He delivered our salvation to us is important for our relationship to continue. Without it, He is no longer central focus.

Here’s What You Seek…

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (His rest) ~ Matthew 11:28

I don’t know what you need this morning, but I needed to hear words of encouragement from God that would draw my mind back into the central focus of the season. Jesus. I needed that banner waving before me, draped between the two trees; one signifying life, the other death. Together they symbolize the gift of eternal life and peace through Jesus Christ. The latter of which I cast to the side in exchange for the chaos and mayhem of the season. Praise God I can’t lose eternal life or I’d misplace that in all the wrapping too!

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Just Focus on the Moment

Somewhere over the earth between Washington, DC and Minneapolis St. Paul, I  looked out the window of my very peaceful flight and this was my view. Prior to that it had been from the ground looking at the gray skies and drizzling rain. But at this point God clearly spoke the words from Isaiah 55:9 to my heart. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  So I typed them onto the picture in my phone, wanting to capture that moment.

I heard Him ask, “Why do you always think you have it figured out? You’re not looking from My vantage point. What looks sad, and depressing and causes you to feel vulnerable and question my plans isn’t reality. It’s a cloudy view of a much bigger plan. I see the whole picture. Focus on each moment, capture it in your mind, but understand it’s only a moment in time. The view changes as I move you on to another place. My ways are not your ways, so don’t look at them through your eyes. You are seated in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6)

Once we took off from DC, there was a little turbulance (very little) and then the plane rested into the clouds and it was as smooth as silk. God reminded me, turbulances come in life… but His view is far above anything I could imagine… “Focus on the moment Shari.”

Maybe that’s a word for you too today.

Will the plan change if I ask God first

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:10

When the Apostle Paul addressed the church of Corinth in this Epistle it was during a time that one could liken to the state of America. Corinth was overflowing with denominational politics and doctrinal differences and they were living in one of the most prosperous cities of that time. They prided themselves on lavish living and tolerance of new ideas… hmmmm, sounds oddly familiar doesn’t it. They were surrounded by multiple pagan religions and their faith was being challenged.

Paul was teaching spiritually immature Christians who were apt to go with whatever way the wind blew.

I can understand why it was so hard to stay focused. I have a bit of a problem with that myself in my Attention Deficit Disordered world. The world around is screaming continuously for us to look at it. And it seems, if you take your eyes off of God for a second, Satan has you for a day. There is way too much truth in that statement for me not to feel convicted.

So how does one stay focused in this haphazard world?

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

1 Corinthians 2:10

Verse 9 preceding our journaling verse reads:  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

I love the Lord. I can place a period at the end of that sentence with confidence, only because I know that He loves me more, and knows that I am flawed. I believe that God has amazing things in store for me and yet the concept is still hard for me to grasp because I lose focus and do not allow the Spirit to linger in the caverns of my soul.

19th Century Evangelist D.L. Moody has often been credited with the quote: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

In fact, Moody did not originate that quote. Henry Varley, a British revivalist did. Varley recalled that in 1873 Moody asked him to recount words they had spoken in private conversation a year earlier, just before Moody’s return to the United States. Varley provides this account (as recorded in Paul Gericke’s Crucial Experiences in the Life of D.L. Moody).

***
During the afternoon of the day of conference Mr. Moody asked me to join him in the vestry of the Baptist Church. We were alone, and he recalled the night’s meeting at 0Willow Park and our converse the following morning.

“Do you remember your words?” he said.

I replied, “I well remember our interview, but I do not recall any special utterance.”

“Don’t you remember saying, ‘Moody, the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him?’ ”

“Not the actual sentence,” I replied.

“Ah,” said Mr. Moody, “those were the words sent to my soul, through you, from the Living God. As I crossed the wide Atlantic, the boards of the deck of the vessel were engraved with them, and when I reached Chicago, the very paving stones seemed marked with ‘Moody, the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.’ Under the power of those words I have come back to England, and I felt that I must not let more time pass until I let you know how God had used your words to my inmost soul.”

***

Those words also pierce my soul. Although more out of guilt than that of the convictions of D.L. Moody. Those words directed Moody’s ministry and encouraged him into the depths of his soul. Two men committed to Christ in such a way that the Spirit showed them the “deep things of God.”

I have to ask myself, what are the deep things of God that He desires to show me? and my answer is “the future.” There’s a chosen path, and then there are the detours that occur when I get my sights off of him and onto the world. We, like the Corinthians are surrounded by distractions.

A social media post that I read yesterday bothered me all day. It was one posted by a person of entitlement who had “gotten above their raisin” as the old adage goes. They were glad to leave our rural area and get back to what they thought was civilization. My thought this morning is “the civilized world is not our friend.” The educated rhetoric seldom focuses on the cause of Christ, unless of course it prospers their way or makes them appear righteous.

We’ve changed very little, likely worsened since the days of Paul’s address to Corinth. So I asked myself again, “How does one stay focused?” If when I look, read, buy, or do, I allow the Spirit to search the intent of the heart where God dwells, and I ask myself, how does this action or purpose serve God? Will my course of action and direction change from my choice if I allow God to control the outcome? Good question…

A Few Words to Help Me Focus

PROVERBS 16:3

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

The depth of the word of God blows my mind away sometimes. He desires so much for us to know and understand Him and yet it’s overwhelming when I even delve into one verse alone. What must it have been like to have been Adam and Eve who were created in the image of God and walked with God face to face? They did not have the internet to search out wisdom, nor did they need it. They walked with Wisdom. It causes me wonder how directionally challenged I am in life because I depend upon man made gimmicks and gadgets to study, when, if I just walked a little closer to God the well would be far deeper.

After multiple attempts and failures to define who “The Jesus Chick” is I determined to leave that to God. Wouldn’t that have been a novel idea from the beginning? So over the weekend when the word “focus” kept being implanted into my brain it was if God was taking my sweet little cheeks into His hands and drawing my eyes toward Him saying … “focus on Me, Shari… not the world. It has nothing for you. You’re not of the world.”

This weekend I began a new process of communication with God called “Two way journaling” and those conversations have been pretty intense. But always with the word “focus” coming into my mind.

It’s hard to focus when the world is calling. It takes an intentional mindset of shutting it out and the use of a soothing YouTube video of meditation music didn’t hurt. Two days of hearing that word… and today was the third. So I took the verse Proverbs 16:3 and dissected it using the Strong’s Concordance and a Matthew Henry Commentary for clarification of its meaning. Just a dozen words, but they lead me to focus on the journey of Shari. Insert your name instead of mine and see if they lead you to a journey of [___________].

com·mit /kəˈmit/

When I first looked at the word commit in the Strong’s concordance it was defined as “roll.” To which my first, second and third thoughts were, “that ain’t right, this concordance is defining the wrong word, how would commit = roll?” And of course, I was wrong. After following that word through in the Matthew Henry Commentary I discovered that commit meant “to roll our burdens”, the great concerns of our soul upon the Lord and depend upon Him rather than self.

My word “focus” made much more sense in that context. The works of life that I have desired to do have not been rolled upon the Lord, but rather carried upon my shoulders, taking my focus off of the Lord. It turns out when you’re walking bent over from being worn out… it’s hard to look up to Jesus.

Works/wərks/

Another great discovery I made was that the word “works” in the Strong’s concordance is translated to “art” in some of its contexts. My art is a gift I’ve struggled with understanding God’s purpose in since salvation. So to see it used in this manner brought joy and hope to my soul. Although I thought that I had committed my art “unto the Lord, I really committed it to the purpose of others. I refused to see the purpose God had in it for me as an income or career because art is subjective and a matter of preference. Self-appointed critics or a lack of appreciation of my time invested can suck the enjoyment out of a piece of work pretty quickly. So rather than listening to the Lord, I listened to self… which always gets me into trouble.

Thought /THôt/

That’s where the creativity begins, but certainly not where it ends. In my mind there is a contrivance, a fabrication that begins there but ends with the hands of creativity. Strong’s defined it as a “cunning work,” or a work with “purpose.” My hearts to desire is to have purpose in the Lord.

es·tab·lish /əˈstabliSH/

Not only is that the conclusion of the verse, but the end product to the creative works placed in the Lord’s hands. Defined as “to stand” as a pillar would stand. Those things that will stand and make an eternal difference. How can art do that? It will for certain burn up in the end times. But not if it is established in the heart of man and inspires others to seek Christ. That is my “FOCUS.”

I Traded Jesus for Amazon?

Baby Jesus for free 2

It all began yesterday as I prepared a devotion for the teen Christmas Party and ended this morning as I prepared to write my blog. I told the teens about a woman who stepped out of her car and noticed that her Baby Jesus had been stolen from the Nativity set on her lawn. At first she was angry, and then she began wondering who it was that would have done such a thing? She first thought it was surely menacing teens, then her thoughts went much darker about certain religions that would take it symbolically. So the teens and I discussed who they thought would have taken that Baby Jesus and they basically came to same conclusions that the owner did. But for the rest of the story…

The woman was angry for a little while and then decided for the sake of Christmas she really needed to get past this, so she created a sign and placed it in the manger where the Baby Jesus once lay; it read “You may have stolen the Baby, but you can’t steal Christ! He was crucified, but is risen again and He is alive and well in my heart.”

Well played! And how true!

Nobody can take Christ from us. Romans 8:38-39 reads:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And yet, my computer gave me a wake-up call this morning I hadn’t anticipated this Christmas. When I open up Google Chrome, there are about 8 pages that I can click on in the order of my most visited sites. Forever and a day, possibly less, my number one visited page is one that I use for my blog and bible studies, www.biblegateway.com. It’s where you’ll find the scripture links I use and it has very useful commentaries and such that are handy when studying the Word.

But today that was not my number one site, it was (I’m ashamed to say) www.amazon.com.

What! How did that get there?

I’ll tell you how it got there. That’s where my Christmas focus has been. Rather than running like a mad woman all over the country to Christmas shop I’ve been on Amazon.com ordering, ordering, ordering, and then checking the status every day. And in all my shopping and checking, I’d traded Baby Jesus on amazon.com, or at least that’s what it felt like when Google Chrome ratted me out this morning.

I haven’t been blogging for the past few weeks because of multiple responsibilities elsewhere, all of which allowed me to let my own immune system to get run down and allow a virus to attach itself to me, to the point I actually considered going to the doctor! But that was way too radical an idea, so I toughed it out, getting to the point of death or so I thought one day. But today I’m on the mend and sick of myself. I had not allowed the Baby Jesus to be stolen from my manger, I had given Him away on Amazon. I’ve not only been physically low I’ve been spiritually low for about two or three weeks with no one to blame but myself. I have allowed the temporary frustrations to take a permanent hold on me. Sad truth from the Jesus Chick.

So today I’ve set myself back on the Jesus journey. The one that puts the Bible back on the front row of Google Chrome and my life and puts my focus back on the whole meaning of Christmas which is Easter! Ha! Bring on the Holidays!

What a Verse!

Hebrews 12:2 

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2… What a verse!

I was looking for something to reign my mind in today. Yesterday was scattered, today began much the same. Technology glitches, a “to do” list a mile long, a desire to be a better child of God, wife, mother, servant… and my mind was reeling. The days seem shorter and shorter, I know there’s still 24 hours in them, but deed I don’t know where it goes. I’ve set in my heart to be a better steward of time, money, resources, etc…. Ha! Well you know who that torqued off. And he and I both know it’s no small feat; discouragement should be no problem. And it wasn’t. A few minor snafus and I went to bed with a headache and awoke with one. So I knew that I needed to gather my thoughts and refocus them on the Lord. Thus… Hebrews 12:2

What a verse! I know I said that but just think about the goodness packed in there. Let’s unpack it…

He Started it – He’s the Author of my soul

Looking unto Jesus the author

Wow! Before I was in the womb He knew me. That in itself can cause me to ponder for hours on what I was doing before I was born. Jeremiah 1:5 says – Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. He wrote my story and nothing that happens in my day catches Him off guard or happens without His approval and for His glory. That’s good to know!

He Finished it – He has the final Word

finisher of our faith

When Christ said those words on the cross “It is finished” in John 19:30, what exactly was “it”? It was the ceremonial law that was finished. No more would man be accountable for his own salvation and Hallelujah, Glory to God for that! Man couldn’t keep the 10 laws from the days of Moses, how on earth were we going to keep the 613 man had added with it. It was now by faith alone that man could have access to the throne.

He Paid it – and was happy to!

Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,

For the joy!!! He paid the price on the cross that we can’t even imagine to restore man’s relationship with God… and yet man treats God like a nosey neighbor interfering in their life. It’s hard to imagine why He tolerates us at all.

He Protects it

…and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

That plan that He began, He oversees every second of it. That good to know. That means when I get my sights off Him, His is never off of me.