Focus on God

Why is it so hard to focus totally and completely on God? How do we shut out the clutter and the chatter of our overly busy lives?

Reading, knowing, and studying God’s Word is one of the most important things I do in the course of my day. I love the early morning hours I can spend with Him. I grab my coffee, my bibles, my notebooks, my pens and marking pencils and walk out to the gazebo (if it’s warm enough) or back to my reading chair in my home office and spend quality time reading and talking with my Abba. (Yes, I really do call Him that.)

Since many of you know me, you may be asking how she can possibly have enough time to do that. She must get up before the sun rises. Some days, yes. Usually, though, when I wake up, I am so focused on getting into the Word that there is little else that can persuade me to follow a different path. I’m not even going to pretend this is easy. Some days I’m bombarded with the million things I must get done. Some days I’m super tired when I wake up. I know that you’re the same. You have a schedule that makes the Amazon delivery plan look like child’s play, right? Your family is coming, and everything must be in the right place, on time, with no glitches, right? You have a major test or paper due in your degree program or a blog post to write  and you simply cannot focus only anything or anyone else until that’s finished, right?

Jeremiah 29.11

We have wonderful, beautiful minds but they’re like butterflies. They flit and fly from place to place and make it nearly impossible to focus on anything let alone focus on God and His Word.  It can be done. I use a very simple technique called breath counting. Yep, the very same thing we’ve been told by teachers and counselors when we need to clear our minds and start over. It’s really not hard. Breathe in. Breathe out. Do that 10 times in a row. Bet you can’t do it without thoughts that distract you. Close your eyes. Try it. Try to remember which number you stopped on because you thought about needing milk for breakfast, want to walk over to the neighbors just to chat, the lawn needs mowed, I’ve got to find the time to practice the offertory… Oh, dear, I need to start again. I have to smile at that because it happened to me this morning.

I am determined to focus on God, to turn my attention to God and keep it there. I’ve had to tweek this process a bit to make it work for me. Here’s what I do. I use several verses I have committed to memory to keep me focused in the Word. Proverbs 3:5 – Breath in on “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”. Breathe out on “And lean not on your own understanding”. Psalm 23:1 – Breathe in on “The Lord is my Shepherd”. Breathe out on “I shall not want”. Psalm 20:7 – Breathe in on “Some trust in chariots and some in horses”. Breathe out on “But I trust in the name of the Lord, my God”. It works for me and it could/would for you.

I’d love it if you would take a moment at the end and share a verse you think would work for this. That would be such a blessing.

There are other ways to focus completely on God. Take a look at the monks of the Dark Ages and Medieval times. Since, all books of these times had to be copied by hand the

lossy-page1-176px-Attavante_degli_Attavanti_-_Leaf_from_a_Gradual-_Initial_P_with_the_Nativity_-_2003.173_-_Cleveland_Museum_of_Art.tif

Leaf from a Gradual: Initial P with the Nativity; 1495; ink, tempera and gold on vellum; each leaf: 59.8 x 4.1 cm; Cleveland Museum of Art

monks were usually the ones who did it. Imagine with me a young man, dressed in a brown robe, sitting down at his desk to begin his daily work. The days work would require him to begin preparing the page, the vellum, he would soon be writing on. This was no easy task. Usually it was calves skin that would be stretched on a frame, scraped and rubbed over and over until it was usable to write on. Then, tiny holes were pricked into the sides of the vellum and feint lines were traced between them to create an even line of site for the calligrapher. That was probably all that could be done on Day 1.  On day 2 the copying would start. If the page was the beginning of a book or chapter the first letter was artistically illuminated. These would have bright colors, bold lines, and sometimes gold leaf to enhance the art work. When a letter needed to be illuminated it could take several days. Then the words around it could be copied.

Now here’s the thing. It took hours of concentration and focus for these men to tediously copy every word exactly. Their determination to perfectly copy the text brought them a closeness to the Word that is not often found in today’s culture. Bibles, large and small, with any text size you want, are available just about everywhere. Verses can be called up on the internet just by asking Google to find them. We don’t even have to know all the words. What would have taken a medieval monk monthis to copy is only a click away for us.

Where does that leave us? We want to know the Word but often we don’t want to take the time out of our busy schedules to do just that. Know the Word. We have to get rid of that attitude. It’s not about us. It’s about God and what He wants. Now if I stepped on some toes I’m not really sorry. This is far to important!! god told His peoaple, after He gave them the commandments and the law to be sure to tell their children so they could tell their children, and so on (Deuteronomy 4:1-2,9). He really wants us to know His word, to abide in it, to think on it, to really live it. So how do we do that? Try these steps and see if they work for you.

  • Find a quiet time and place.
  • Do your Butterfly Breathing exercise.
  • Open your Bible and choose the verse you want to meditate on. Read the chapter around it. It’s important that we know what was happening so we don’t “lean on our own understanding“. We can not, must not, make verses mean anything we want.
  • During your reading make a note of anything that stands out. Read it again. Write it out. Ask why, what, where…
  • If understanding is not happening note the verse and research it later. Move on.
  • Now go back to the verse(s) you chose to meditate on. Reread it with this thought in mind: if this were about me how would I pray about it. Then do it. Pray about it.

Here’s an example of one of my own. I chose 1 Kings 3:3-9. It says:

Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.

The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”   

Here are my prayer notes for this passage.

3-4 Help me, show me, what, where how to worship You!

5-Thank You for walking with me. I know You are always with me.

6-Let me serve You in all I do.

7-I don’t always (ever) know what I should do. Guide me. show me.

8-Give me discernment where those around me are concerned.

9-Give me an understanding heart.

Friends, knowing, living, praying, and understanding God’s Word is just too important. However you chose to do it. Just do it! (Nike!)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Do You Know God?

How well do you know God? Do you know Him to be in control, always just, wanting what is best for His children (us)? Do you know His Word, His ways, His desires? Do you know His promises?

Are you absolutely sure He is who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can, and that He will?  He does not lie!  He can do more and be more than we can begin to imagine.

Do you believe in His incredible love? That He wants what is best for you? The question then becomes why or why not?

There is absolutely nothing like knowing He cares about our puny lives.  We are rooted and established in His love (Eph. 3:17). He is not preoccupied, neglectful, or in any way self-centered. We are more value to Him than we think (Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 10:29-31, Romans 5:8). He specifically chose us (1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 2:10). We are His children (1 John 3:1).

He gave His best, His most loved Son for us so that in the belief of that alone, we could become His most valued possession. (John 3:16)

What will it take? Are you convinced of His love? If so then tell Him. Like this:

Oh, How He Loves You and Me

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Life Interupted

Jonah and the Whale in the Jami' al-tawarikh (c. 1400), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jonah and the Whale in the Jami’ al-tawarikh (c. 1400), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Have you noticed that when life is going smoothly something happens to interrupt?  It can be something small like the phone ringing when you’re trying to finish a project.  It can be something much larger like a life-threatening disease or accident, severe weather (blizzard, tornado, earthquake), birth, death, loss of a job…  When you start getting a case of the ‘why me’ syndrome give some thought to these lives that were interrupted by God Himself.

Moses             2 forty year visits to the desert

Noah               Stop, drop and build a boat on dry land

Abraham         Leave everything and travel to an unknown location

Sarah              Baby at 90

Joseph            Dropped into a pit and sold as a slave

Mary                Suddenly pregnant

Dramatic and sudden interruptions happen all the time.  Case in point…Jonah.  He was living a great life but God wanted more for him.  So God told him to go to Ninevah.  Jonah wasn’t having any of that.  That city was known as the ‘Sin City’ of that era.  So, Jonah decided to run to another place.  Really!?  Did he really think he could hide from God?  Yes, he did.  While on that journey, in the opposite direction, the ship he was on was hit with a threatening storm.  Those on board determined it was Jonah who was causing the problem, so they threw him overboard.  We know the rest of the story…

Let’s look at this from a different angle.   This is a story of many miracles.  The first two are in verse one.

Jonah 11

First – God spoke!

Second – God allowed a person to hear His voice!

When He allows one of His creation to hear His voice it’s a huge privilege.  We often hear His voice and don’t recognize it.  The difference with us and Jonah is he knew exactly Who was speaking and choose not to obey.

Then, how do we know we’re hearing God?  How do we know He’s interrupting us?  Have you ever been listening to a speaker and the words seem just for you?  Have you been reading the Word and it’s speaking to your heart?  Henry Blackaby says we hear God through His Word, prayer, other Christians, worship, and life circumstances.  God talks to us often through the Holy Spirit living in us and He expects us to listen.

When we hear God what are we to do?  Easy answer, yet hard to follow through.  We’re to drop everything and listen.  He is saying I have a plan and I want you to be part of it.

The interrupted life is not always the big events I mentioned earlier.  It can be a crying child, a husband or wife’s attention, a new friendship, an unexpected phone call, a knock on the door….  God wants us open to His voice!  Anytime!  Anywhere!

He is calling.  Are you listening?

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Where Are You?

Oh, Jesus, where are you…

z1…when the violence in this world is creating fear and chaos all around?

 

z2…when my heart is aching from yet another stab in the back?

 

z3…when I recognize my sin is more than I can bear?

 

 

z4…when a child is so sick?

 

z5…when the love of my life is losing strength?

 

 

z6…when loneliness is pressing in like the darkness of night?

 

z7…when leadership is not showing faith in You?

 

 

z8…when resources are running low?

 

z9…when there’s no joy or delight in the day?

 

 

 

And He answered…

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:16

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

If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.  John 14:14 

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.  People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works.  Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don’t worry.  Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes, without missing out.  You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Matthew 6:31-34  MSG

Heavenly Father, let your Word be constantly on my mind.  Draw me closer and closer to You.  Give me strength, courage and wisdom for all that happens.  Make it so in Jesus name.

Follow Me

fisherman

Peter was with Jesus from the beginning to the end…yes, we know that.  Did you know that his beginning started with “Follow Me” and ended with the same words?

When I was a child we often sang a delightful song with the words,”I Will Make You Fishers of Men”.   Even today, so many years past childhood, I can still sing the words and hear the melody in my mind.

Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee when he saw Simon Peter and his brother Andrew fishing in the lake.  He said to them, “Follow Me and we’ll fish for people.”  And so they did.  Further on down the road he came upon James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were in the boat with their father.  Jesus said the same thing to them,  “Follow Me” and they did.  That little story, in my own words, is found in Matthew 4:18-22.

Let’s travel three years into the future.  The four have followed Jesus faithfully, fully immersed in His journey.  They have watched Him closely, learned from Him, shared His words with others, been at the Cross with Him and He is about to return to the Father.  In this scene we find them once again by the side of a lake.  Jesus has cooked them breakfast and when they done eating He says to Peter, “Do you love me?”  Peter answers, “You know I love You!”  This went on two more times, each time Peter answered positively and Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep (or lambs)”.  It was very important for Peter to understand what his future was to be about, but something even more important is said at the end of this conversation.  Jesus tells him what his death will be like and then He says, “Follow Me!”  (John 12:15-19)

Why did Jesus say these words again?  He knew Peter so well and knew that he needed reminded that it’s not about him, that to follow Him, Peter would have to take himself out of the picture.  It’s the same message for us.  We are are to follow Him and forget ourselves.  From the beginning to the end of our relationship with Him it has to be all about HIM.

Heavenly Father, teach us to make this life all about You.  Teach us to put others first.  Teach us to serve those around us.  Oh, LORD, teach us!