“Focus Shift”

"It's all in how you look at it!"

“It’s all in how you look at it!”

“It’s all in how you look at it.”  At least, that’s what I hear some say.  Perspective, if you will, changes one’s outlook on a lot of things in life.

How do you view the position you are in now?  Is everything going okay for you or are you finding yourself fighting through, just trying to make it to the other side of adversity?

Perspective.

It’s rather hard to see the glass as half full when you feel half empty.  To imagine a silver lining when in all honesty all I see is dark clouds.  And, somebody must have put a rock at the end of my tunnel blocking out all light because I just don’t see it.

Perspective.

How we feel matters, but then again, it doesn’t matter.

When we feel positive and optimistic it is easy for us to shower others with attention and be pressed into service for their needs.  But, when we are in the midst of trials and travail, the negative and pessimistic seems to take up residence in our being, hindering us from bothering with anyone else other than ourselves and our own needs.

As I was pondering this I thought about Jesus on the cross.  It dawned on me, in the midst of the worse thing He would ever have to endure, how much He had a focus shift.  How much He paid attention to the needs of others despite what He was going through.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).

Focus shift.  Instead of ranting and raving, Jesus, in His agony and pain sought for the betterment of the very ones who were killing Him.  He knew He would die.  He knew the pain would not ease until He did.  This plan was going to go forth.  Yet, He focused on the needs of others rather than Himself.

How awesome is that?  Often, we hear these words during a Seven Last Words service on Good Friday, but can we even begin to imagine the strength and willpower it took for Jesus not to focus on Himself during that time?  For Him to look beyond what He was currently going through to care for and about others?  I don’t think we have a clue.  He immediately pleaded with the Father for their forgiveness.

“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’   And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home,” (John 19:26-27, NKJV).

This is a blessed Son indeed.  Women in biblical times had no authority or protection if it were not for certain members of the family establishing care for them.  This is what we see Jesus doing here.  What did His mother have to endure?  Any mother out there knows and can sympathize with the sheer agony of heartbreak that Mary must have been going through.

He had to go.  He had to die.  But that didn’t make it any easier for her to comprehend.  It didn’t soothe the heartbreak at all!  A mother’s love doesn’t work like that.  It’s a special connection of heart that starts at the time of conception and never leaves her.  Jesus knew she needed special care.  This woman who had raised Him and loved Him through it all needed to be looked after in a special way.

In His time of desperation it is a blessing that He shifted the focus and thought about Momma!

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” (Luke 23:43, NKJV).

Sinner.  Thief.  Criminal.  Yet, on the cross he got the attention of Jesus.  How?  He had a repentant heart.  No matter what Jesus was going through He could never turn a blind eye to the one who wants to get right with God.  To the one who bears true, sincere, godly sorrow for all that he has done.

At that point of time, Jesus had been on the cross for a while.  How hard would it have even been for Him to push the air out of His lungs to form the words, “You . . . will . . . be . . . with . . . Me . . . in . . . Paradise?”  His body was fighting against Him in the battle between death and life, yet it was as if He couldn’t be bothered with the demands of His personal pain.  Somebody was seeking salvation, even in this late hour, Jesus stepped up the plate to care for the other man’s needs.  Focus shift.

Jesus knew what He was going through.  He wasn’t blind to the fact that He was in pain.  It’s what He CHOSE to do in spite of it all.  He CHOSE to focus on others!

You know what you are going through.  And, I’m sure you are not blind to the trouble you may face today.  But, what about others?  I observe people very closely.  Sometimes I wonder why does that man have sad eyes?  What thoughts are going through the one sitting on the steps over there?  That lady wrestling with a stroller, shopping bags and kids on the bus stop, what does she have to face when she gets home?  I try to think about the “behind the scenes” of a person’s life.

Am I always successful?  No, but I do try very hard to be compassionate toward the people I come across.  We never know what someone is going through.  We never know when someone needs us to pay a little attention to the them.  Jesus showed us that we can do that even in the hardest of times.

A tall order to fill?  Yes!  But one that will make a great impact in the lives we come across today.  You can even start right in your own home.  How can we pay more attention to the needs of those around us?

“It’s all in how you look at it.”

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” . . . BUT GOD!”

Word For Life Says...

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“BUT GOD” really says it all, doesn’t it? 
Somehow or another when life gets turned upside and you can’t see your way clearly, . . . BUT GOD!  Hurts, troubles and turmoil knock on your door and you didn’t think that you would make it, . …. . BUT GOD!  Love, loss and disappointment with people left your heart broken and in shattered pieces, . . . BUT GOD!
God is our answer for everything that life can throw at us.  God is our solution for every attack of the enemy.  God is our peace when chaos seems to invade every crevice of our being.
No matter what you face today, trust God to compassionately love and care for you and see you through to the other side because life can look a little crazy sometimes,  . . . BUT GOD!

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“Walk In Grace!”

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“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not that of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9

 

“I don’t deserve it, but Lord I thank You!  I didn’t do anything to earn it, but again, Lord I thank You!”  That’s the feeling the word grace evokes in me.  It’s like walking on the clouds of heaven while here on earth; experiencing release and freedom in all that Christ has secured for me.

Grace is personal.  Though Christ died for all, it has to touch one on a more intimate level.  It takes hold of and absorbs in the spirit of man, this wonderful gift of God.  It allows the one who follows after it to get a glimpse of what it truly may be like in heaven when all the shackles of this earthly bondage are removed.  It is ours, personally and individually, to experience for them that are found in Him.

Isn’t it wonderful – this gift of His?  Isn’t it magnificent that no matter our status in life or how hard we work it can never be earned?  It can never be put in our repertoire of attainments to salvation.  It is a gift!

Gifts are meant to be received.  On a number of occasions my husband and even my daughters have tried to give me something out of the blue.  I’m an at home mom and often these gifts come in the form of money.  While I am very grateful for the consideration that they want to give me something, I wind up doing a lot of questioning to try to ascertain the reason for them wanting to give it in the first place.  I want to know what I did to deserve it.  “Oh, you don’t have to go through such lengths. And, yada, yada, yada . . .”   In turn, what was a thoughtful expression is now tainted by frustration in the giver.  They become frustrated with me for doing so much questioning instead of just receiving; for implying the only reason I am worthy is become of some work I must have done for them.

Human perception of this kind of outpouring of love has been marred by this sinful world.  In it dwells the attitude of “if you do for me, then I’ll do for you.”  “If you scratch my back, then I’ll scratch yours.”  It is hard for one to believe in a motivation of pure love; to believe that one would give just because they love.

Paul laid the truth out for us.  “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespass and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” (Ephesians 2:1-3).  We were “by nature children of wrath.”  In other words, we were no good, no goods who deserved absolutely nothing.

Verse 4 steps in and shows the love of God at work.  “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”  He didn’t do it for us because of some great checklist we marked off as job complete, now I deserve this.  His love gave us the gift to receive, “Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (vs. 9).  “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus,” (vs. 7).

This is one of those lessons that you really have to let the Word speak for itself, lest mankind try to put their own spin on it.  God loves us!  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).  When we accept that love and are saved through Christ, then we have an opened door to accept the gift of grace along with it.  I depend on His grace daily!  I choose to “WALK IN GRACE” today.  It’s a choice.  Read the entire chapter 2 of Ephesians.  See what you were and what He has made you now.  See where you were, and now where He wants to take you.  Compare what you did to what He has done for you.  Now, CELEBRATE! AND, WALK IN THE GRACE HE GIVES!

 

“Unload My Burdens on the Lord”

Today is Sunday! We are also in our weekend where we celebrate and remember those who worked and sacrificed all that we might be free. It’s also a great time where we can take a quick self-examination to see if we are spiritually and emotionally free. It all starts by getting rid of the things that try to bind you and letting God be God as your Burden Bearer. Start today: UNLOAD MY BURDENS ON THE LORD! Be Free!!!

Word For Life Says...

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“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles,” Psalm 34:6

“Cast all your care upon Him; for He careth for you,” 1 Peter 5:7

 

“Relax.  Relate.  Release.”  If you grew up during the time when the sitcom: A Different World  (IMBd) was running you will immediately recognize this phrase.  When the character Whitley, played by Jasmine Guy, was at a point of being super stressed out in life she went to see a therapist.  The therapist offered this three word phrase to her in order to help her speak calm into her own life.  Using funny hand and body movements, Whitley went through her hard times quoting, “Relax.  Relate.  Release,” over and over again to herself.  The funny thing is people who have seen that episode or catch it on reruns now, never seem to…

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“Today, I Walk!”

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“I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living,” Psalm 116:9, KJV

The way one walks says a lot about them.  When I’m grocery shopping I’m a beast.  My walk is hard for my family to keep up with (which is why I shop alone, for the most part).  I can hit five or six different stores in one day of grocery shopping (I know prices by heart and refuse to pay more for it or I want a certain store brand – pray for me :)).  The way I walk shows everyone in my path, “I don’t play!”

You are identified by how you walk.  You can tell if someone is tired by the way they walk.  They may seem just a little slower and less focused due to exhaustion.  If someone walks with a limp they can be identified as being sore or perhaps injured.  A straight, persistent gait can imply confidence.  Someone with pep in their step can give the impression of happiness.  People pay attention to the way you walk.

People are not the only ones who pay attention to our walk.  God is watching each life that goes before Him.  That’s what the word walk means in the Bible.  It speaks of one’s life or conversation.  Their daily day-to-day affairs.  Colossians 1:10 exhorts us, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.” (KJV).  Your walk matters.

The psalmist knew to whom he was living.  He did not possess his own life.  He did not own  his own steps.  While he strode across the face of this earth, “in the land of the living,” he was walking “before the Lord.”

How many days do we waste living our days for other people?  How much stress do we put on ourselves to please other people?  It’s okay to work in cooperation  with others, but we don’t live or walk for them!

Choose today to live and walk before the Lord.  Being a people pleaser will mess up your stride.  If you really want to advance spiritually and in this world, live your life “before the Lord.”  His opinion is the only one that matters.

Free yourself from the chains and shackles of people approval.  If you are straight with God – then, you are straight!  He’s the one that loves you!  He’s the one that saved you!  He’s the one that brought you to this new day.  Use it to walk “before the Lord!”

Today, I walk before the Lord!

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“Totally Free!”

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“God Notices You Today!”

Are there times in your life where you feel absolutely invisible, as if no one is paying attention to you. The good news is God sees you. His love compels Him to stand up and take notice of you today. Be blessed and encouraged in this great truth today!!!

Word For Life Says...

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There are times in life when you feel absolutely invisible.  If you’ve ever seen the movie “Princess Diaries” you know exactly what I mean.  Mia, played by Anne Hathaway, was a young girl who did not really fit in with the popular crowd.  She went virtually unnoticed by most and at one point was sat on by another due to her “invisibility” problem.  When it was found out that she was a princess suddenly everybody stood up and took notice.

I would venture to say that most of us do not have a long-lost relative that is going to show up one day and declare we are of royal lineage causing people to stand up and take notice of us.  But what I like about God is He doesn’t care if we are royal or not, He loves us enough to stand up and take notice regardless. …

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“FLY!”

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“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest,” Psalm 55:6

 

REST!  Is it really a lost commodity among our culture?  In our hurried, never-sitting-still-society-for-fear-of-being-run-over-by-society, you would think it is.  That speaks of physical rest, but what of the rest of one’s soul?  A time where one can enjoy some peace and quiet on the inside instead of always feeling like their world is in turmoil.

I think many of us can really relate to that need of rest.  Sometimes, we wish we could do like Jesus and stand before the storm and say, “Peace, be still,” and literally make every wave of adversity shut its mouth!  I know you want to.  I do, too!  It just becomes too much to deal with at times and the need for space, to breathe, to come…

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“Accept God’s Forgiveness!”

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“. . . Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” John 8:11

 

Guilty or not guilty, that is the question?  Early one morning Jesus was in the temple teaching His followers a lesson or two.  Suddenly, there arose a commotion in the crowds.  Religious leaders began to furiously push their way to the front of those assembled there that day.  As they broke through the crowd, they pushed in the midst of all a woman.

This woman was no ordinary woman.  She was not considered like everyone else.  She was a woman of ill-repute.  She was an adulterous woman.  And, there she stood, broken in spirit.  Her eyes were down knowing that if she looked up she would see her shame in the angry faces glaring back at her.  So, there she stands, in the midst of her mess…

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“Remain Strong in God!”

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This morning as I was making a cup of coffee I ran out of creamer and had to open a new container.  I unscrewed the top and picked and picked at the protective seal underneath to no avail.  I couldn’t get it to rip off for anything.  Finally, out of frustration, I reached into the dishwasher and grabbed a knife and punctured a small hole in the top of the seal.  After that it was easy for me to put my finger in the hole and manipulate the seal for its ultimate removal.  Coffee time!

This had me thinking on how the enemy works in our lives.  As long as we stay sealed up in Christ the enemy can pick and pick but our packaging in Him remains strong.  No wonder Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1-3) felt such a compelling urge to get the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt to their full strength once again.  Where ever there is a hole or a breach in any structure it allows opportunity to an enemy to poke his nose into and gaining access to manipulate the circumstances of life.  It makes his job easier.

Paul admonishes us, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord,” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  Our diligence will pay off after a while.  We must be like a wall without breach.  We must take our cue from Nehemiah to patch up any deficiencies in our spiritual walls.  We are the ones who have to be “steadfast and unmovable” to have our work count in the end.  If we stop building and maintaining our walls then they will fall to utter ruin and we will have nothing to show for our work.

We must work at the upkeep of all that God has given us.  “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not,” (Galatians 6:9).  Our press matters.  Our work matters.  Our walls matter.  We must continue forth with the mentality of Nehemiah when he stated, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down . . .,” (Nehemiah 6:3).  The enemy wants to thwart your work so that holes and weaknesses can be left for him to poke and manipulate.  But, if we want to “reap” then we must not “faint.”  We must push forth in doing good and leave the benefits to God.

Obtaining coffee creamer this morning was a struggle until I broke the seal.  Don’t let the enemy break your seal.  Stay covered in Christ and push forth until the end for your reward is coming.  Now is not the time to give in or give up.  If necessary, ask God to help you repair what is broken that you may be whole once again.  Remain strong in God!

Be blessed.