Tag Archives: purpose

The Practice of Focus

MY sweet husband, in pain, says, “This is the worst day yet,” as he struggles to move. Then he begins thanking me for my care for him. That’s my husband: realize the struggle, but focus on the blessings in the midst of it.

The Apostle Paul of the Holy Bible encourages us to realize the importance of contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4). One of the greatest aids to contentment when trouble screams for our attention is the practice of focusing on the blessings all around us, being grateful for the good that trouble seeks to rob from us. Learning to see the beauty in life and taking time to smell the roses helps us walk a life of contentment in the midst of pain.

Oh, Those Bath Days!

Today is Missy’s bath day. She is too big to bathe in the sink, and too heavy for me, getting her out of the tub: plus, my knees don’t handle that well any more, so off she goes to the vet for a spa day every 2 weeks.

Getting her ready to go is not a problem. She hears her leash come off it’s hook, and the excitement is on. She loves a good road trip and pulls me readily to the car. Seated happily in Johnny’s lap, she eyes every site and takes in all the smells.

This morning, as I pull into a parking spot, she starts sniffing the air vent like crazy. Obvious recognition in her eyes, her happy face drooping with every breath, she glares at me, “I don’t like where you parked!” I know that’s what she said.

Getting her reluctant body out of the car, I sit her down and the battle is on. She wants back in the car immediately! When that doesn’t happen, her goal becomes that of getting me to change course. Fighting her over the threshold, she wearily follows me to the desk. While I take care of business, she stands like a pointer, leash taught, making sure I know where the door is and begging, “Please! Help me.” Little does she know that she stinks, and my nose keeps me pointed toward her bath.

This morning, as our ritual dance at the desk plays out, she suddenly grabs my attention with some extra exuberant tugs on the line. Looking back, she points intently at the door. A woman, just stepping to the door, reaches the handle and pulls. Missy’s excited eyes and joyful tug scream, “Hurry! The door is open. Now’s our chance.” 😂

Missy is a lot of laughs for us. She is so expressive and so smart. But there are times when we know what is best for her, so we fight to get her where she needs to be. It is the same with God and us mere mortals. We so often tug against something God is leading us to, not liking the discomfort of getting there. I wonder if He laughs at us like we do Missy.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'”

I don’t know if you have ever read Jeremiah. It is worth the read, if not. In it, God calls His people to willingly go into captivity, promising those who do will find His faithful presence and provision while going through a designated timeout from their destiny because of corporate sin. Many, the prophet Daniel being one, went willingly and found God’s faithfulness. Others, like the King of the day, refused to willingly follow God’s path. Most of them lost their lives  the King lost his eyes, his freedom, and his throne. Kicking against goads God sets in our path only hurts our feet. And, as Missy will tell you, fighting the Master’s pull only chokes us down. Better we go willingly into the Father’s plan.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

That’s a promise. God is faithful to His Word. Question is, do we believe and trust Him, even when the road gets rough? If we choose faith and a willingness to walk His way, we will find ourselves shining like gold and smelling like a rose on the other side of the difficulty we dread.

For Joy, Endure

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB.
 
Reading this passage, the fact the Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” grabs my attention, as it has grabbed me many times before. Jesus took up a cross that truly belongs to such a wretch as I, for the joy it would lead to. As I read this today, three questions come to heart for me to ponder:
 
1. What “joys” might have been on the heart of Jesus as He took up that cross?
2. What life challenge or sin that so easily entangles am I in that requires me to take a stand of endurance against it?
3. What joys lie before me that, fixing my eyes on them, will strengthen my endurance?
 
In this passage alone, I see hint of several things that may form some of the joys Jesus looked to.
 
1. Joy in the cloud of witnesses that would come forth because of His endurance.
2. Joy in the victory His endurance would produce in us as we overcome the cumbersome trouble this life too often holds.
3. Joy in the deliverance from sin His endurance would provide us.
4. Joy in the endurance we would possess as we set our eyes on His example to us.
5. Joy in the relationship with each of us that would come to Him and the Father because of His endurance.
6. Joy in the gift of grace available to us because He despised the shame and bore the cross in our place.
7. Joy in the fulfilling of the Father’s purpose, leading to His privileged position at God’s side.
 
There is much more we can add to this list of joys that had the focus of Jesus, strengthening His endurance. I don’t know about you, but there are many troubling situations and temptations to sin that I need this walk of endurance for, if I am to overcome and press through them in fulfilling God’s purpose and accomplishing His desire for me. Today, following Christ’s example, I set my sights on the joy before me that will strengthen my endurance, to the glory of His Name and the fulfilling of His purpose.
 
Assignment: Reading through Proverbs this month, I turn to chapter 3 and find there the call to persevere in several areas, followed by promised joy for successful endurance. Read Proverbs 3 and note there the call to stand firm. What “joy” do you see as a focus to aid endurance in the successful practice for each area of instruction? Now do this with your own life: List areas where your endurance is challenged. Next, list benefits of endurance that you can look forward to attaining as the joy set before you.

Necessary Fires

Read 1 Peter 1:1-9.

“…In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” ~ verses 6-9.

The thing that stands out to me as I read this is the word “necessary”. It says the trials God allows are only allowed IF NECESSARY, and that necessity has a glorious purpose: that some greatly needed “revelation of Jesus” come out of the fire with us.

The trials and tribulations God allows to touch the lives of His people He only allows out of necessity, in order to reveal Christ to and through us. For that to happen, does that not mean that Jesus is in the fire with us, even though we can’t see Him for the smoke and heat burning our proverbial eyes, and the flames blocking our view?

Take courage, Beloved of God. You, who are the “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” are not alone. God will bring Glory’s good out of the flames of adversity.

Look at what this says and be filled with the confidence of Christ.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” ~ Romans 8:28.