Shifting Our Focus-7

Have you ever considered that most, if not all, people consciously or sub-consciously take God's blessings for granted? We assume that we have certain rights but do we? If we do, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, "…we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights…" In other words the only legitimate rights that we have are those that God grants to us. Technically, God doesn't owe us anything! When mankind (in Adam and Eve) rebelled against God, we lost our rights. We deserve nothing. God would be just to reject us utterly. He would be just to withhold all good things from us and leave us to suffer the consequences of our indifference to Him.  However, He loves us and desires our restoration to fellowship with Himself. (We must be born again to be restored to a relationship with God). He has infinitely demonstrated that love, in sacrificing His only begotten Son on the Cross for us. He blesses us in countless ways each day. Amazingly, He even blesses those who refuse His unspeakable Gift. He owes us nothing but He grants us multiple blessings. Let's develop the "gratitude attitude." Selah! Why do people desire His help with their problems and ignore Him when things are going well?    Ron

"Blessed be the LORD, Who daily loadeth us with benefits…." (From Psalm 68:19).

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Shifting Our Focus-6

Imagine that each day has an average of two "bad" things that happen or that in some way trouble us; cause us to worry and/or fear. In one year that would add up to 730 stressing or difficult things. In ten years that would be 7,300 things; in forty years 29,200 things. Now these are probably conservative figures. Nevertheless, you have survived all that has happened up to this minute. It hasn't been without pain or heartache, necessarily, but you have survived. Have you ever thanked God that He didn't allow it to happen all at once? He has seen you through all that's touched your life. Now we have to decide if we are going to focus on our "hard things" or on how God has gotten us through them. Human nature is such that we think intensely about our problems but do not much notice our blessings. This is a result of "the fall." For the truly saved person, he or she can relate to the hymnwriter's thought: "Our trials only come to make us strong." This strength comes from God, when we seek His help and trust Him. Selah! If we focus on the problems, they may overwhelm us. If we shift our focus to His blessings and His help with our problems, we will know peace and victory over depression and discouragement.  Ron

'….Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (From Matthew 6:34).

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes (i.e; In this case, God's laws of trusting and coping)" (Psalm 119:71).

Shifting Our Focus-5

What if we had been born in a country under Communist or Nazi control? If we came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, we might have been beaten and/or killed. (If this happened, there would be a great reward in Heaven waiting for us. Remember that what we think of as "great" doesn't hold a candle to what God calls "great"). Nevertheless, for those of us who were born in the United States, have we ever truly thanked God for that? Some might respond that our country has serious problems causing many folks to grieve. While that is true it is, for now at least, still the best nation on earth. Have we thanked God that we have the means to help right the wrongs in our government? Have we used our God given rights to try to stem the tide of evil that threatens to bring down God's wrath on America? We can be overwhelmed and depressed by circumstances. Are we doing our part to change the circumstances? Are we thankful that we can petition, we can vote, we can run for office, we can write, we can make phone calls, we can encourage others to take action? All of this and more can and surprisingly does, many times, alter circumstances. Shame on anyone who doesn't vote and vote for those who champion Spiritual, moral, and conservative values. Do we thank God that after we have done what we can do, no matter what happens, He is still in control? He will write the last chapter! We can take much comfort in knowing that God will be there for us, even if things do not work out the way we pray and hope that they will. We can rest in His sovereign provision for those who are His. Have we thanked Him for that blessed assurance?  Selah! Count your many blessings and may you experience "thanksliving."   Ron

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" ( I Thessalonians 5:18). Are we in "the will of God?'

 

Shifting Our Focus-4

Yesterday we considered some who might be house bound or even bed bound and yet could use their minds, in several possible ways, to minister to others. Today, let's think about someone who might be house bound or be able to be out and about but whose mental capacity might be limited to a greater or lesser degree. First, a person like this is often capable of giving much love and affection. Secondly, he or she can give family members an opportunity to think about and care for someone other than themselves. Many brothers and sisters have become caring individuals through caring for a family member who is handicapped. Third, I think of a young man who couldn't read or write and yet had a friend underline John 3:16 in his Bible. He would explain to some person that he was illiterate and ask him or her to read the underlined verse. He would then discuss with the reader what that verse meant. I wonder how many of us, with the full use of our faculties, would exercise ourselves to reach out in any way. May these thoughts motivate us to express our gratitude for what we have to work with and dedicate all of our abilities to God's use. Selah! God may accomplish much through folks with limitations who are available to Him. He may get little from folks who use their abilities for their own ends rather than His.  Ron

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29). "For the fruit of the (Holy) Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and Truth; proving what is acceptable unto the Lord" (Ephesians 5:9-10).

Shifting Our Focus-3

A person might lose his/her ability to be out and about. That would be hard to bear. It is not, however, the "end of the world." Without in any way minimizing the tragedy of a situation like that, consider the use of the mind. If the mind is functional, there are many productive things that can be accomplished by having the right perspective. Letters can be written or dictated. These letters can extend encouragement, sometimes offer good counsel, express gratitude and love, etc. Books could be authored, articles could be submitted to magazines. Visitors could be encouraged. Children could be mentored. If the person is born again, that opens the door to a ministry of prayer. This person could minister to missionaries in intercessory prayers, helpful letters, spreading information to others who might be able to help, etc. Another possibility is a Bible study for people right in this person's home. The point is that, whatever limitations that God allows, there is something else that he can use for blessing others and one's self. Selah! When we maintain our confidence in God's purposes, He can and does bring "beauty out of ashes." Fashioning beauty from ashes may take time but be patient, it will be worth the wait and your trust.   Ron

"And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand….?" (From Exodus 4:2). What is in yours? Let God use it! 

Shifting Our Focus-2

I have a friend who is blind. His attitude is a testimony. He has a sense of humor. He is a Pastor. He gets around. When riding as a passenger, he sometimes will say something like: "Turn right at the next intersection," and then joke about the blind leading the blind. He once went to a gathering of blind folk. His comment: "I never went again; they were too gloomy about their blindness." How can he be so upbeat? Certainly he has moments and probably days when he intensely hurts over not having sight. Nevertheless, he works with what he has. He can hear, smell, enjoy good food, travel, play music, he has a good family, etc. His focus is on God and being grateful to Him for being able to do what he can and having what he has. Fanny Crosby, blind from a young age, became an instrument for God's use, and He has blessed the church for years and years with the wonderful hymns that He placed in her heart and mind. For one who has been blind from birth and who will never see in this life, if he or she comes to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, the first person seen will be Him. Our response to life's burdens and problems is what determines if we are to be crushed with sorrow or filled with joy. Selah! We can wallow in the swamp of depression or take hold of His outstretched hand and rise to walk in His resurrection life. The choice is ours!  Ron

Read carefully about what Paul suffered in II Corinthians 11:23-28 and then hear his response: "….I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (From Philippians 4:11).

Shifting Our Focus-1

As fallen human beings, our natural focus is negative. "Why do these bad things happen to me?" "Why can't I have all the nice things that others enjoy?" "Why don't people accept me?" "How come I never get a break?" On and on, the liturgy of lament goes. Hard things and problems are part and parcel of the lives of all exiles from Eden. How then are we to cope? If we allow our focus to remain on these painful realities, we only intensify our burdens. We can shift our focus! Remember, God is not as concerned about our problems as He is about our response to those problems. If we are not to be damaged by life's difficulties, we must measure the immediate against the eternal. "….the things which are seen are temporal (earthly; passing); but the things which are not seen are eternal." (From II Corinthians 4:18). However, while developing an eternal perspective, we must also shift our focus away from present troubles and fix our focus on present blessings. Certainly we are going to be conscious of our suffering but, at the same time, let's major on appreciating our blessings. Examples of that abound. Lord willing, we shall call to mind some of these blessings over the next few days. Selah! Are you viewing your life through cloudy lenses or clear lenses?   Ron

"Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly and you will be singing as the days go by." (Johnson Oatman, Jr.).