Are You Keeping Focus?

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I started a book a couple weeks ago called The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer. I’m a little embarrassed it has taken me so long to read it, since it is only 70 pages long! But I started it back up yesterday (after having had to take a break from reading since I’m so busy). The chapter I read yesterday was entitled “The Gaze of the Soul”. In it, Tozer is making the argument for what faith is. We can read in Hebrews 11, what faith does.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” –Hebrews 11:1-6, NASB

Tozer isn’t satisfied with this being what faith is. Instead he states that faith is the soul looking towards God. I feel that this is very important in our lives and our worship. We must keep our gaze upon God and none others. But how can we do this? It is by placing our eyes on the prize every day.

Paul often refers to his life as running a race. He says, “do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” (1 Corinthians 9:24, NASB). I used to run Cross Country in high school, and if there is one thing I learned it is that distance running is difficult! The thing that helps you get through that, and keep up a pace that you may win with is keeping your eyes on the prize and setting goals. Paul did this in his own life as well, “I press on toward the goal for the prize for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, NASB).

In light of my post yesterday, I realized that my eyes had started to drift way from the prize. My focus had started to fail, and I need to refocus. So I began to wonder how can I regain my focus on God. And yet again I was led to Hebrews.

“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

So what is the author saying? He is calling us to come out of everything that holds us back from God. It’s the things that push us down, rather than lifting us up; which is something God wants to do (i.e. Philippians 3:14). I’ll finish this post by first encouraging you to keep looking towards God. He is how we gain our focus, and what draws us in for a better life. And secondly, by quoting from Tozer’s book:

“When the habit of inwardly gazing Godward become fixed within us we shall be ushered onto a new level of spiritual life more in keeping with the promises of God and the mood of the New Testament.” –A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

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Everything Else Is Worthless

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So yesterday, I had a Scripture on my mind all day. I woke up early and read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. There is a statement he makes, that just floored me.

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become on with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” — Philippans 3:8-9, NLT

It took me awhile to wrap my head around such a statement. So I dug around Scripture for some time, really trying to understand this issue. To me, my family is a rather large priority. At times I can get my priorities messed up, and place them before God. So I started to question how they could be worthless in comparison to Christ, and God lead me to another passage from Paul.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body to be burned; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” — 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NLT

But I do love others. I honestly could do a better job loving you, if you aren’t my wife or children. So I didn’t quite understand yet what God was trying to piece together for me. So He lead me yet to one final place.

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” — 1 John 3:16, NLT

There it was! The only reason I know how to love my family is because of Jesus! There are so many other things that come from a relationship with Christ, like salvation from my sins. But yesterday, I discovered that it is only because of my relationship with Christ, that I have the life I do, and I am so thankful for it. I can now see that it is worthless when standing next to Jesus. He is my God and my Savior. There is no higher relation to me! This doesn’t mean my family is no longer important. It just means that I have a higher priority than them.

The way Paul says it in Philippians shows us that we must keep Christ at the center of our lives. He must have the highest place in our hearts for worship. Everything must pale in comparison to Christ! If this isn’t true for you, I encourage you to seek Scripture and pray for God to show you how you have given Him a lower priority than He deserves, and how to change that. Our lives are meant to be Christ-centeric, not anything else.