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Even those who have followed Christ for a long time can find it difficult to stay focused on Christ. What teachings does the Bible offer to help us stay focused?
In Matthew 13, Jesus gives the parable of the sower that includes insight in this area. In explaining the parable, He shares, “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (v. 22). The “cares of this world” and desire for wealth can cause people to no longer be focused on Christ.
The cares of this world can include a wide variety of competing activities. Many of these activities are even good, but when given the wrong level of priority can take away from focusing on Christ. For example, it is important to work to take care of family needs, but being consumed with work can take the place of serving God.
The same is true with the pursuit of wealth. Money is necessary for many of life’s activities, but Paul clearly states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10). It is the love of money, not money itself, that is sinful and distracts our focus from Christ.
To stay focused, we can learn much from the example of Scripture. First, Luke 9:23 teaches, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Each day we are to deny our personal desires and follow God’s way. Christians are not given a day off or a vacation from following God. It is a daily pursuit. In a culture of “Sunday only” Christianity or where faith is seen as only one of many areas of our life, the challenge is to live surrendered to Christ each day.
Second, realize we will endure suffering. Many people stop following Jesus when times are tough; this comes from wrong thinking that we are not supposed to suffer as Christians. Yet Scripture is clear, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Certainly Jesus suffered greatly. All of the apostles faced great suffering on behalf of their faith. We should expect that life will sometimes be difficult when we live for Christ.
Third, we can stay focused by regularly learning from God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” When we are weak, it is often due to not spending adequate time focused on God’s Word. This may require time alone with God, time meditating in prayer, or other forms, but the overall focus is that time in God’s truth lights our path and keeps us focused.
Fourth, we can stay focused on Christ by spending time with other believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 shares, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Time with other believers allows us to be encouraged and grow in good works, while also allowing us to encourage others.
Staying focused on Christ is difficult, but is an essential part of the Christian faith. When we seek to daily grow, anticipate suffering, spend time reflecting in God’s Word, and spend time with other believers, we can better focus on Christ and a life committed to Him.
Related Truth: Seeking God – Why is it important?How can I come to really know God?Are the spiritual disciplines in the Bible? What benefit are the spiritual disciplines?How can I seek first the kingdom of God?How are Christians not of this world?
Truth about the Christian Life
Bible verses about focusing on God
Are you focusing in your prayer life? Is focusing on the Lord a struggle for you? Is there something holding you back from the Lord? Do you remember the times when you used to be on fire for God?
Do you remember the days when you looked forward to worshiping the Lord? Are you easily distracted in worship?
Are you losing the fight that you once had and if so are you willing to fight for God? If you don’t fight for more of Him you’re going to lose Him.
Once you start losing the presence of God you have to fight. It’s time to make war!
- “What consumes your mind controls your life.”
- “Don’t focus on your adversaries. Focus on God’s possibilities.”
- “True faith is keeping your eyes on God when the world around you is falling apart.”
- “Instead of thinking about how hard the test is, we can instead focus on asking the Lord to enlarge our understanding.” Crystal McDowell
- “The more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path. The more you know Him and commune with Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. The more you are like Him, the better you will understand His utter sufficiency for all of life’s difficulties. And that is the only way to know real satisfaction.” John MacArthur
Are you focusing in worship?
You can yell like a lion and not say one thing to God. You can scream and pray boldly, but your prayer still won’t touch Heaven. Examine yourself! Are you just throwing words around or are you focusing? God looks at the heart. There are people who can ramble and say repetitive things and not think about God once. Does your heart align with the words that come out of your mouth?
Are you looking to God or are you praying to Him while your mind is on other things? You have to fight this. This doesn’t only apply to worship, but this also applies to all religious activities. We can serve at church while our hearts are away from the Lord. I’ve struggled with this. Sometimes you have to sit in prayer for an hour until your heart is aligned with Him. You have to wait for His presence. God I just want you. God I need you!
God help me focus I can’t live like this! We have to be desperate for God and if we are not desperate for Him that is a problem. Fight for more focus on Him! Not fiances, not family, not the ministry, but Him. Understand what I am saying. There is a time that we pray for these things, but worship is not about blessings. Worship is about God alone. It’s all about Him.
We have to get to a point where we can’t breath until we are so focused on Him and His presence. Do you want God? The one thing that you want in your life that you can’t live without, is it God? We must learn to treasure Him.
1. Matthew 15:8 “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
2. Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
3. Jeremiah 24:7 “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.”
4. Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
5. John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
When you’re focused on God you will not focus on anything else.
Many of us struggle with so many things and many of us are being weighed down by the trials of life. If you would just focus on God you would understand that these things are just so little compared to Him. Why do you think God tells us to be still? When we are not still our mind is going to be filled with so much noise from the trials around us. Sometimes you have to run and be alone with the Lord and be still before Him. Allow Him to calm your fears and worries.
God is who He says He is. He is our shelter, our provider, our healer, our strength, etc. When you’re so focused on God in the midst of trials that shows a heart that trusts in the Lord. Nothing in Hell can scare a heart that trusts in the Lord, but you must focus on God. There are many times in your life when you sit and worry, but instead why aren’t you praying? I believe this is one of the main reasons why people struggle with depression. We dwell on the negative and we let these thoughts simmer into our soul instead of seeking our God. The best antidote for worry is worship.
There are many Christians who died for their faith. Many martyrs were burned at the stake. They died while singing hymns to the Lord. Most people would scream in pain and forsake God. Take a moment to imagine them burning, but instead of worrying they worshiped the Lord.
6. Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.”
7. Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
8. Psalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.”
9. Psalm 57:7 “My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!”
10. Psalm 91:14-15 “Because he has focused his love on me, I will deliver him. I will protect him because he knows my name. When he calls out to me, I will answer him. I will be with him in his distress. I will deliver him, and I will honor him.”
In this life and in America especially there are so many things that seek to distract you.
There are distractions everywhere. I believe one of the reasons that men are not being men and women are not acting like women is because of these distractions. Everything seeks to slow us down and keep us preoccupied. This world turns our heart away from God. That is why when many people worship their words don’t align with their heart.
We are so worried about video games that they take up a good majority of our life. Many are so trapped by their phones that they have no time to worship. The first thing people do is wake up and they go immediately to their phones and they check their text messages and their social media accounts and they don’t think about God once. We are so distracted by everything else and we forget God. We forget what is in front of us.
Jesus said it is hard for the rich to enter into Heaven. In America we’re rich. In some countries we are millionaires. All these lights, electronics, and luxuries are meant to distract us. I barely watch TV because I know how dangerous it is. It makes my love for the Lord grow cold because it can be so addicting. When you’re driving you’re not going to be focused on what is behind you because that is extremely dangerous. In the same way it is extremely dangerous to focus on the things of the world.
You will be hindered. You will not seek the Lord with all your heart because you have to keep on looking back. I encourage you to forget the past, sign off on your social media accounts, turn off the TV, and stop hanging around those that are hindering you. Fix your eyes on Christ. Allow Him to lead you more and more to Him. You can’t do God’s will while you are continually looking back.
11. Psalm 123:2 “We keep looking to the LORD our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.”
12. Colossians 3:1 “Therefore, if you have been raised with the Messiah, keep focusing on the things that are above, where the Messiah is seated at the right hand of God.”
13. Philippians 3:13-14 “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
Think about Christ.
What are your thoughts being filled with? Is it Christ? We have to make war with our thoughts. Our mind loves to dwell on everything, but God and remain there. When my mind dwells on something besides the Lord for a long period of time I can become weary. Let’s pray for help with keeping our mind focused on Christ.
Let’s pray that God helps us to notice when our mind drifts off to something else. Let’s fight with our thoughts. I learned that preaching the gospel to yourself is a great way to keep your mind on Christ. Sometimes we have to take a moment to just praise Him and give Him thanks. A moment of genuine worship lasts a lifetime. It gets your focusing straight.
I also love listening to worship music throughout the day. I want my heart to beat for the Lord. I want to enjoy Him. If you struggle with this cry out for help. Help my thoughts to be filled with you and give me advice to help me my Lord.
14. Hebrews 12:1-2 “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.”
15. Hebrews 3:1 “Therefore, holy brothers, partners in a heavenly calling, keep your focus on Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.”
When you’re not focused on God you will make mistakes.
God constantly tells His people to remember my words because our hearts are bent on going our own way. When you’re focused on the Lord you will be focused on His Word.
When you start to lose focus you stop making war with sin, your discernment will be off, you’re slow to do God’s will, you become impatient, etc.
Many times we see Christians start dating ungodly people because they take their focus off of God. Satan will seek to tempt you. Just do it one time, God doesn’t care, God is taking too long, etc.
We must be on guard and be strong in the Lord, but how can we be strong in the Lord if we are not focused on the Lord? Get into the Word daily and be a doer not a hearer. How can you know God’s instructions if you are not in His Word?
16. Proverbs 5:1-2 “My son, stay focused; listen to the wisdom I have gained; give attention to what I have learned about life So you may be able to make sensible judgments and speak with knowledge.”
17. Proverbs 4:25-27 “Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.”
18. 1 Peter 5:8 “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
19. Psalm 119:6 “Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.”
Don’t give up!
Stop trusting your circumstances. In my life I watched how God used pain to glorify His name and to answer other prayers. Just trust in Him. He will not forsake you. Never! Be still and wait on Him. God is always faithful. Put your focus back on Him.
20. Jonah 2:7 “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord. And my earnest prayer went to you in your holy Temple.”
21. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Pray for more focus on the Lord. I also encourage you to take extra steps to help you focus such as eat healthy, get more sleep, and refrain from alcohol. Sometimes fasting is needed. We hate the thought of fasting, but fasting has been such a blessing in my life.
Starving the flesh gets your focusing straight. Some people don’t know the Lord so never neglect Him. Cherish Him. Cherish every moment because every second in His presence is a blessing.
The Armor of God
Did you know that even now as you read these words you are in a battle? Think about this for a moment. I am sure that it may not feel that way, but God tells us we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces and darkness. We as Christians are constantly at war with Satan and His Army. But do not become fearful, because God does not send us out without his Protective Armor! God has equipped us very well, so that we can handle anything Satan throws our way!
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
These verses give us God’s Description of Spiritual Armor. We can Stand Firm with The Belt of Truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and by praying in the Spirit. But how do these Pieces of Armor represent Spiritual Warfare? To start we are able to combat the lies Satan speaks with Truth! Jesus dying on the cross became our sacrifice, and we are declared righteous! When we face resistance we can rely on Gods word, The Bible to guide us through any battle! We are able to use God’s word to speak truth, the ultimate power against Satan! Through the Blood of Jesus we are promised salvation, and no one can ever take that away! But we must also remember that Prayer is needed as well to guide us through to Victories!!
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
Satan can at any time and with ease gain a foothold in a Christian’s life. It really does not take much at all for Satan to attack us. Satan is always looking to attack believers and can weasel through any size crack! Satan knows our weaknesses and will try anything and everything to separate us from Christ.
1 Peter 5:8-9
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Peter tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion not just looking for a bite to eat, he wants to destroy and devour us. He finds ways to trap us, and in ways that can cause us much heartache and pain. Satan will stop at nothing, he is hungry and will fight until he is satisfied. However, do not become fearful!! Satan can be resisted through the strength and power of God
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms
It seems as though we are always at war in some way or another. But this battle is not a battle of this world. We are at war with the dark world (Satan) who seeks to destroy everything that is Good. These forces of evil want nothing more then to destroy all believers. Do not take this war lightly, stand strong and Cover yourself with the Armor of God!
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Jesus is such a great example to us when it comes to Spiritual Warfare! Look how Jesus handles Satan’s attacks while he is being tempted in the Wilderness. Every time temptation was thrown at Jesus, he always responded to Satan in the same way. He spoke “it is written.” Our Lord Jesus knows how powerful the Word of God is against any temptations Satan has for us. Think about this for a second…… Jesus himself used the Word of God to overcome temptation, why should we use anything else!?
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God can use all things both Good and Bad. God will grab hold of evil intentions and transform them into Good! God will use the Bad situations to help us grow spiritually, he is preparing us for future Glory. God does allow us to make choices. God will also bring all humanity and creation to the end he desires. God’s plan for us is to become like Jesus. We need to balance physical reality with spiritual reality. When Jesus was on the cross it may have looked as though he was overcome. But really Jesus himself was the overcomer!! When Jesus Died, he took away Satan’s Power, he no longer held the power of death! Christ promises us that even when we become defeated, through Jesus Christ will win!
May God guide you through all life battles!
Focusing on Christ Sentence
A. Sporting events are great
B. To be there and to hear the crowed totally get it to it
C. Maybe someone from the home team made a great dunk and the next thing you know you have 30,000 people screaming with Joy
D. Maybe the ref makes a horrible call and 30,000 people begin to boo
E. It is amazing on how many people will follow what other start
F. Some will start yelling here we go Steelers Here we go and next thing that you know 60,000 people are saying it
G. We as humans tend to do whatever everyone else is doing
H. However, that might be the worst mistake we could make
I. We often throw truth right out the window
J. Today we are going to see what happens when we
a. Avoid Truth
b. Reject Truth
c. Forget Truth
I. Truth Avoided (28-32)
1. After everything had transpired last night, early in the morning the Jews led their mob to Pilate
2. They wake Pilate up, Got Pilate to come to where they were, rather then coming to Pilate’s home
a) This is for a reason. It was during Passover and they did not want to be unclean
b) If you were to step foot in a Gentile house, you were unclean
c) The Passover you were not allowed to have any leaven. Leaven, was a common household item, therefore Pilate probably had some in his house, hence that would make them unclean
3. Keep in mind that the Jews were under Roman control
a) Being under Roman control meant that they could not order someone to death. Therefore they had to have Pilate sentence Christ to death
b) This is very interesting to note, Jewish form of capital punishment was stoning
c) However, the Romans used the crucifixion. Why is that important?
d) Jesus Himself predicated that he would be lifted up. (Read John 12:32)
4. Notice what Pilate says in verse 31. (Read 31) He does not want anything to do with this
5. There is a reason for that. Pilate did not have the greatest track record. He had been given some severe discipline for his stupid actions.
a) Let me give you a for instance. In Jerusalem there was an inadequate water supply. So Pilate decided to do something about it, he was going to build a better aqueduct to carry enough water. Here is the problem though; in order to fund this project he stole the money out of the Jewish Temple. The Jews opposed the aqueduct and would openly demonstrate the discontentment on the open street. Pilate got scared and dressed his soldiers up as citizens and ordered them to kill the Jews as soon as they got out of hand. Well Pilate was reported to the Emperor and the Emperor was not pleased
6. Because of all this Pilate did not want to get involved, However, the Jews basically blackmailed him, telling him that if he didn’t step in this matter that they would report him for one thing or another
1. Fascinating story Pastor Dan, but who cared what does that have to do with me
2. Pilate had a chance to do the correct thing
3. This was not a matter of Roman Law, this was Jewish Religion
4. Pilate could have dismissed the charges and it would have been over
5. There are times in our lives were we have the opportunity to stand up for the truth
6. However we do not take it. WE become afraid
7. We worry that we might loose our job, our friend, our respect in the community
8. We need to be willing to stand up for the truth
9. We need to be willing to choose truth over popularity
10. We need to choose Christ over Friends
1. Some story about someone taking the less popular Choice and Choosing God
II. Truth Rejected (33-37)
1. Pilate was curious in religion, I would not say that he is a religious person, but fascinated by it
2. So Pilate ask the question “Are you the King of Jews”
3. Seems like an easy enough question, however, Jesus is all knowing he understood the motives behind the question
4. Jesus responds with the “Is that your own idea, or did you let others come up with it”
5. Jesus knowing that Pilate was a wimp and just did what people wanted him to do shocked Pilate with his response
6. So of course Pilate was too proud for his own good, and he responded with the silly Am I a Jew
7. He did this to try and claim that he was too good to know the Jewish customs and culture