Fix Your Eyes

Fix Your Eyes

Just as Peter began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus, so can we. When we allow ourselves to be distracted by situations, we will find ourselves in trouble.

Peter began to sink as he looked at the waves around him. He could only walk on water if he kept his eyes on Jesus, the very Author of that miracle.  It doesn’t have to be something terrifying that gets us distracted. I’ve been experiencing a time of spiritual testing. I have been distracted by many small mosquito-like circumstances. They’ve been biting at my arms and legs, irritating my spiritual skin.

In a time of prayer, I was reminded today of my life’s verse: “(We are)…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our 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.” The phrase “fixing our eyes” in the English language suggests a picture of “gluing our eyes on Jesus.”  The original Greek, however,  translates this as “looking in expectation.” Keeping our eyes on Jesus gives us hope. He is the founder of our faith. He is the creator of peace. And if we are going to follow Him, we have to learn not to turn our eyes to the left or to the right, as it says in Proverbs.

What’s distracting you today? It could be something big. It could be a bunch of small things that, together, become the equivalent of something large. I encourage you to fix your eyes on Jesus with expectation. Without Him, there is no hope.

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You for loving me so much that You test me. Forgive me for not keeping my focus on You. I choose to endure in obedience to You so that You can make me more like Your precious Son.
Amen

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We Can See With God’s Eyes

“…the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” Ruth 2:12b

Do you ever feel like events happen in your life for no good reason? I want you to know today that God’s hand is on your life and He can use all of your experiences for your good and the good of others.

Ruth knew to a certain extent that she was leaving behind the gods of her family and country when she decided to follow Naomi back to her homeland.  Back in Ruth 1:16, she told Naomi, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” What she didn’t seem to know was that this God of Israel had also chosen her. Ruth’s choice to walk away from her old life brought her to the very One Who gives new life.

As she worked in Boaz’s field, she was about to find out what it meant to serve the God Who is not made by man. He’s not wood or stone. He made the very materials that the Moabites used to make their own silent gods. As Boaz put it in Ruth 2:12, “May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” While Ruth knew she was leaving her old gods for the God of Israel, I’m not sure she understood that she would be blessed. And it took a man such as Boaz to see her as God saw her. God, in His sovereignty, chose Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, to be Boaz’s mother. His own personal experience helped him see what others could not.

Sometimes God puts us in the path of others because He knows we will see what others are blind to. We will recognize things only because we’ve seen it before from our own painful experiences.

Dear Heavenly Father, Some of the situations that I have been through have been painful and only You have the power to bring any good out of them. I give all of my story to you and ask that you would help me see others with the eyes of someone who has experienced Your redemption. May I never miss anyone that You want me to see. In Jesus Name, Amen

Frustration and Disappointment

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

Lately I’ve been plagued by disappointment after disappointment.  Sometimes, life doesn’t go as planned.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve also had some unexpected blessings and I am also focusing on those.  Some things are going better than planned.  But before I go there, I need to deal with my sadness.  Close this door before I open a new one.

Bad news, even when it’s expected, is still bad news; we just have more time to anticipate it.  Don’t you find that some things are just hard to wrap your mind around?  So where does this leave us?  Our help comes from God.  Just as the Psalmist said.  He has a plan for us and our loved ones and He uses our circumstances to get us where He wants us to go even if Satan does his best to get us off of it.  Since we are His children, God only lets us stray so far.  Remember that the next time you worry about your children.

Sometimes the terrain is rough when we try to get back on track.  Disappointment, if left to its own devices, can turn to bitterness, jealousy, and many other dead ends.  Disappointment is no small emotion.  So, Jesus, Lover of our souls, what do you have to teach us in this?  How are our circumstances leading us to a different, and better, place?  We know You will be there with us, wherever that may lead us.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for making emotions.  Help them not to consume me.  I put them under Your direction.  Be where I am and where I am going. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen

Journal

Listen to Lead Me On by Amy Grant.

What emotions or situations get you off track?

Look up some examples from Proverbs about walking and paths.

What do they say?

Knowing Better

KNOWING BETTER

And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” Mark 14:30

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself, “If only I’d known what the consequences of that action or word would be, I would do something different.” Have you been there?  I have kicked myself so many times thinking that I would have chosen differently if I’d only known what the repercussions of my actions would be. But after reading a passage in Mark 14, I’m wondering how much foreknowledge would have helped me.

Jesus told Peter that he would betray Him three times. You see, Jesus always knows us better than we know ourselves. Peter could not believe that he would do anything so terrible, but Jesus knew better. Fear would get the best of Peter, as it does all of us from time to time. Not only would Peter deny Jesus. He would do it three times. Even though he was told what he was going to do beforehand, he did it anyway. Sometimes a warning does prevent a bad situation, but not always. I can think of quite a few examples from my own life when I chose to sin knowing that I would reap unwelcome results.

The bottom line is this: We are all born with a sin nature. It’s so natural for us to sin. That’s why we need Jesus. It takes something supernatural to rescue us from the fast track to Hell. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death.” We need to choose here and now, if we haven’t, where we will spend eternity. This is the biggest choice that we make. Please choose Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, I am so sorry for my sin, both intentional and unintentional. You forgave me, even after I sinned on purpose. You are Love, Truth, and Holiness. I bask today in what Your Son did for me. In Jesus precious name, Amen

What We Leave Behind

What We Must Leave Behind

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 and 2 (NASB)

Just as we cannot drive forward by looking in our rear view mirror, we cannot live meaningfully if we are consumed by the past.

I knew at age 11 that God called me to the ministry but I got distracted. It took me years to get focused. While they were not wasted years, I let people and situations hold me back. I let fear of hurting others’ feelings keep me from walking out on the stage God set for me.

Time is fleeting.  Life coaches encourage us to add things to our lives; exercise, healthy food, new hobbies, etc. But what do we need to leave behind?  That’s often omitted in the discussion.  Is God tugging at your heart? What has He been leading you to give up? Dead weight can come in all sorts of forms; a house that’s too big, a bad attitude, other people’s expectations, friendships that discourage you from obeying God…the list can get lengthy.

Jesus left behind Heaven for us. His love led Him to the cross. Right now, you and I can embrace resurrection power, the same kind that brought Jesus back life, to empower us to let go of the baggage that is keeping us from running the race.

Heavenly Father, Show me what I need to leave behind. Empower me to release these things with grace, faith, and love. Help me to walk forward into what You have called me to do. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen

Two Gardens

TWO GARDENS

And they went to a place called Gesthemene… Mark 14:32a

Jesus came to earth to die for our sins so that we could be reconciled to the Father. He became the bridge for us.

There are two very important gardens that are mentioned in scripture. The Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gesthemene. In the Garden of Eden, everything was perfect. Well, perfect until man’s sin caused separation from our Heavenly Father. Adam and Eve who walked intimately with God, betrayed Him in the biggest way possible. They didn’t trust that God had their best interests at heart when He made the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil off limits. They decided to trust a stranger who they didn’t know at all and now we are all guilty. Our sin nature makes us that way. Continue reading “Two Gardens”

The Great Sacrifice

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:14-17 (ESV)

Ruth is possibly the most gospel-centric book in the Old Testament. If I was discipling a young believer, I would have them read this book second only to the book of John. It is a true story that God included in the Bible to help explain how He intended to save us. Since He created us, He knows how we learn best. Jesus used stories and parables so that His crowds of listeners could understand His message.

Have you ever made a sacrifice that caused you great pain? How about having to give something up, something precious, with no strings attached?  The book of Ruth ends with a huge sacrifice. Earlier in the story, Boaz agreed to marry Ruth to help redeem her first husband’s bloodline. Now, we see Ruth give birth to Obed and give him to Naomi to raise up.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would be able to make such a sacrifice.  I remember how I felt after both of my boys were born and it puts me in absolute awe at what Ruth was able to do. Obed would take Mahlon’s place in the family inheritance. Ruth would have to have another son to claim Boaz’s inheritance. Scripture does not tell us if she gave birth to any more children. What we do know is that Ruth, Boaz, and their son Obed are listed as the direct ancestors of King David and Jesus. This is another redemption of sorts. While Obed would be considered a descendant of Elimelech for inheritance sake, he is included as a child of Boaz and Ruth in the Bible instead of Naomi. Everyone is redeemed.

These gifts of love benefited the givers, even though they did not know it at the time. May we all have giving hearts like that of Ruth and experience the same healing as Naomi. The future of our descendants may be counting on it.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for giving us Ruth and Naomi. What you did in their lives gives us great hope. We are never so far gone that You cannot reach us. Show us the sacrifices that You have called us to make and give us the courage to face them. We do this because Jesus, both the Lamb and our High Priest, gave up everything up for us. And if that sacrifice is to offer forgiveness, help us to remember that we were forgiven by You. We have no right to withhold and through stones. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen

Journal:
What is the greatest sacrifice that you have made in your life?
Do you feel that it was worth it?
Is God calling you to give up anything?
What would it take to be obedient?