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

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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

Constructive Criticism, Ugh

Have you ever thought about these over-used words in Biblical terms? Don’t get me wrong. All of us need people in our lives who are willing to tell us the things we’re doing may not be the way we should go. Take a look at these timeless truths from the Word. I hope you find them helpful.

Accepting criticism of any kind is difficult but if it’s presented in such a way that it helps me grow and become more of the woman He wants then let it happen. (Please, be kind!)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Waiting

5.19Have you ever waited for days or years for something you’ve really wanted? You already know it’s in God’s plan but it’s just not happening? It could be anything from getting married, having a baby, financial issues, buying a new car, moving to a new house, getting the right job… Of course you have. We all have.

The people of our time and culture are impatient waiters. We want it now. We want it our way, now.  Yet, if patience is the fruit of the spirit within us, why are we so impatient? Why are we so unwilling to ‘wait upon the Lord‘?

When I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education I expected to have an immediate teaching job offered to me. Well, that didn’t happen! (At that point, there were more teachers than jobs, especially in specialized area’s like music.) God had decided I needed to grow more first. So for 10 years I substitute taught, opened my own piano studio, and learned more about being His child and being a teacher.

But, I knew only a part of His plan for my life. My Spiritual Gift was teaching. I knew that. I prayed about that. Yet, it seemed I was being blocked for some reason. What was going on? Why was my life not moving forward in the way I thought it should?

I still don’t know the why’s but I do know these things about the wait. First, I was not ready. I had much to learn. God wanted me to be the best teacher I could be. Not just in the public school elementary classroom. His plan was so much bigger than that! Second, He wanted me to teach His Word. He wanted me to be prepared to help others as they searched for meaning in their own lives.

He wanted me to depend completely on Him in both areas. He was determined not to move me forward until I was ready. He can be stubborn. (Have you discovered that, too?) When I finally gave up and gave in (To His plan.) He started opening doors.

How did I learn to know what He wanted for me? He showed me through:

  • His Word – As I read there would be a sudden answer in a specific verse.
  • Those He put in my life.  Many friends and colleagues who supported and prayed.
  • Remembering that His creation took 6 days. He showed me that even though He could have created the earth and the heavens at a snap of the fingers, He took the time to do it right. Through His Word He was showing me a picture of patiently waiting.

His plan made all the difference and He wasn’t about to let me do it my way.  I have spent many years teaching His Word and will continue until He opens the door to Heaven. I spent 30 years in the public education system as an elementary teacher and principal. Even now, I’m still teaching! God opened the doors after I retired from public school education to a new career as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher/tutor to people from all over the world. I’m still teaching His Word in my church, in a private home Bible Study, through this Blog and other Social Media.

He cared so much that he made me wait!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

This post is in response to Week 12 of Deb Wolf’s 52-week Devotional Journal for Women.

Never Miss – Book Review

If you’re looking for a good book to read, this just might be the one you want. The mixture of science and intrigue makes for an interesting story from beginning to end. It’s the perfect book to grab a glass of iced tea, find a partly sunny, partly shady spot to put your lawn chair in, and spend a lazy summer afternoon reading through Never Miss by Melissa Koslin.

The main characters are perfectly thought out. A young woman CIA sniper and her cat. A handsome, genius doctor who is trying to save the world, both complement and antagonize one another.

You will find family secrets that complicate the story, an anti-government group that wants to change the world, a cross-country trip to save the House, Senate, and President, and the beginning of a loving relationship.

My favorite part of this book is the cat. His name is Mac and he really holds the story together. However, it’s not about him.

My least favorite part of the book is the violence. I totally recognize that it helps to make the story believeable.

All-in-all it’s a very good read and I give it a high five!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

A Good Work

It’s interesting to think about what God intends and has purposed for this life. What does He want me to do? to say? How does He want me to live. Can I even live up to what He wants for and from me?

There’s an old children’s Sunday School song that says ‘He’s Still Working On Me’. His work isn’t finished until it is finished. Better yet, He loves working on me. He wants the absolute best for me.

He created me in His image. What does that really mean? First of all what is an image? According to Webster it is a visual representation, a mental or moral impression of something. Well, OK. I look like Him? I have an understanding (Incomplete, though it is!) of Him. Here’s the thing: I don’t act like Him, I don’t think like Him, I’m pretty sure I don’t look like Him. Why? Because of that darn apple. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s direction and took a bite the whole creation changed. Sin entered the picture.

Did that change me in God’s eyes? God is El Roi-the God who sees me. Does he want to see the imperfection, the sin in me. No! He does not. But He sent Jesus to the cross with my sin. He has forgiven and continues to forgive every part of me that doesn’t measure up so that I can reflect His image. WOW! Yes! He’s still working on me!

He's still working on me
To make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make
The moon and stars.
The sun and the earth
and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient
He must be.
He's still working on me.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

This post is in response to Week 10 of Deb Wolf’s 52-week Devotional Journal for Women.