Getting Unstuck: Part 2- Focus
In December I was asking God for direction or theme or scripture for the New year. Nothing seem to come to mind. I asked for one word and one word came to my mind. It was the word
FOCUS – to direct your attention to someone or something. To adjust something to see more clearly.
Ever feel stuck in your life? Your job, your situation, a problem that is unresolved, an addiction you can’t break?
We can get stuck for all kinds of reasons, but rarely is there a way out when we put logic and reason above God’s wisdom.
We have to unlearn our dependence upon our own logic and reason because God’s thoughts and wisdom are not always logical or reasonable. Instead of logic and reason we are to grow in faith and trust in Him.
Ill. If your devotional time consists of reading some Bible verses, or little devotional book and say a little prayer and then rush off into your day. You are missing the point! This is not what God wants from you.
Your way of learning is the world’s way. Academic, reading, systematic, something you can check off on your to do list.
God’s way of learning is through relationship with Him: trust, vision, imagination, creativity, faith, meditation, waiting, prayer conversation.
Your devotional life is all about bettering your relationship with God.
The reason you make time to spend with God reading His Bible and prayer is to turn your heart and align your life with His. Enjoy being with Him and learning to think like Him. Everything God is doing in our lives is intentionally relational.
Feeling stuck is a symptom of an un-renewed mind. Your mind is stuck focusing on yourself or your overwhelming problems. You can’t see any solution. You can’t see how things can get any better. You are earth bound in your thinking, you can’t see what God wants you to see from His POV. Your focused on the wrong thing or not focusing on the right thing. Life is a blur, out of focus.
Not everything that is true is truth. You may know something is true but if it does not set you free then it is not truth.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
Ill. Pilot had Jesus standing before him. Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were of this world then my servants would fight that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not form here.” Pilot said, “Then You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this reason, was I born and came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilot responds, “What is truth?”
Pilot is standing in front of truth and does not recognize it. Truth is a person – Jesus is the way, truth, the Life. Truth is staring him in the face.
Ill. Last year when I was stuck in a time of depression and wondering why God was not helping – the HS spoke to my heart and said to me
“You don’t know me very well.”
This did not bring me shame or condemnation, rather it fueled a desire to seek His face. “Lord, I know I don’t know you very well even after 40 years of following You. But I want to know You more than any other thing in my life I want in my life. More than success in life and ministry, more than money, more than anything! You are the main thing and I want to keep the main thing the main thing.
I thought about what the Lord spoke to me a lot. I began to see that I am not recognizing the Lord or His workings in my life.
This is not uncommon: Many times the Lord appeared in a form that people did not recognize.
- Moses did not recognize God in the burning bush at first. There was no voice of God at first but just that the bush was burning but not being consumed.
So when Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see why this bush is not burnt.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called him from out of the midst of the bush. Ex. 3:3-4
God revealed Himself in an unrecognizable form to Moses. You are going to have to focus on Me to walk with ME. Don’t assume you know Me and My ways.
Joshua had history with God. He was with Moses when the glory of God was manifested. He saw the glory of God on Moses face. He knew the presence of God. Yet the night before entering the promise land God Himself shows up in a form Joshua does not recognize. A man in armor with sword drawn. Joshua asks “Are you for us or for our enemies?” Neither, I am the captain of the Lord’s host and I am here to take over.
We know this is God in a different form because of Joshua’s response.
“Then Joshua fell to his face to the ground and worshipped. What do You wish to say?”
Remove your sandals for the place you are standing is holy ground. = surrender your walk under My command. I am taking over and You will get your orders from Me from now on. “Don’t assume you know Me. Focus on Me and stay with Me and I will show you My ways of doing things.
Next day they face Jericho – walled city. God says to Joshua, “See I have given Jericho into your hands.” God sees different from us. But He shares His view so we can change our view of the circumstance to see it from His POV.
Then God gave Joshua a strategy totally unconventional. This is totally against all the war manuals on how to take a city. This is against logic and reason! What is God doing?
He is building trust and confidence in Joshua. He is intentionally arranging all this drama to build a greater relationship with Joshua.
- The Jews were looking for the Messiah and did not recognize Jesus when He was standing in front of them. They did not know Him very well!
- The disciples spent 3 years with Jesus and after He was crucified were so discouraged they went fishing all night. Next morning hear a voice on beach “Have you caught anything children?” No. It was Jesus but they did not recognize Him!
- “Cast your nets on the other side and you will.” They did and had abundance and finally John said, “It’s the Lord!”
Why is it we do not recognize God initially?
Maybe He comes in a form we are not expecting.
He works in a way we are not seeing or expecting.
The truth is we still do not know Him very well!
If you will come to Bible study on Wednesday nights you will learn what God’s number one goal for us is. It is to make us like Him.
“We know when He (Jesus) appears, we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” I John 3:2
The more we become like Him, the faster we recognize Him when He manifests Himself in a way we have never known before, or when He works in a way that seems strange to us.
Could it be why you are feeling stuck in life is because you don’t know Him very well and cannot recognize the ways He is working in your life at the moment?
It is possible the Lord is right in front of you and you don’t recognize Him. It is possible that God is doing a great work in your life but you can’t see it because Satan has blinded you and focused on the storm rather than the Lord?
If you feel stuck in life or are depressed and can’t seem to move forward it could be a stronghold of the enemy in your mind. Satan is out to get you to think the wrong thoughts, especially about God. “Has God really said? Doesn’t He care? All these thoughts are satanic attacks against your mind.
Ill. In garden of Eden Satan talked Eve and then she talked Adam into questioning the integrity of God. The result was sin and a curse for violating God’s Word.
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat food.” Gen. 3:9
In garden of Gethsemane the 2nd Adam – Jesus
“In great agony Jesus sweat great drops of blood.” Luke 22:44
He took on Himself all Emotional stress that causes mental illness.
The earth was cursed after the sin of man. As a result thorns and thistles grew from the ground.
Jesus wore a crown of thorns on His head – taking the curse and all the emotional pain of guilt, regret, shame, condemnation of past on Him.
Crown thorns PIC
HE was crucified on skull hill.
He knew Satan would try to conquer man through his mind even though Jesus conquered Satan. Satan still tries to access your mind even as a Christian and convince you there is no hope. He still tries to convince you that God is not with you, He does not care and is not going to help you. He distracts you from seeing Jesus. He wants you to think you are all alone.
He attempts to build strongholds into your mind if he can get you to start to hate yourself, believing lies about yourself = you’re a loser, you are hopeless, there is no help for you. Things will never get any better.
Someone is trying to take over your mind!
Ill. Maybe you do have issues like diagnosed bi-polar, depression, paranoia, is all very real. But it can be healed.
Don’t be ashamed if you need RX. You are not the only one.
- William Cowper – writer “Rock of Ages”
- Spurgeon, Elijah, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, John Quincy Adams, Queen Victoria, Robin Williams, Jim Carey.
Jesus became a “man of sorrows and is acquainted with the deepest grief” according to Isa. 53:3.
He knows your grief. He knows they way you think.
“For since He Himself suffered while being tempted, He is able to HELP those who are being tempted.” Heb. 2:18
“The Lord is near to the broken hearted and those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“He heals the broken heart and binds up the wounds.” Psalm 147:3-4
Isaiah 64:1-4 He gives beauty for ashes, AFTER you give Him your ashes.
He gives oil of joy AFTER you give Him your mourning and grief,
He gives garment of praise AFTER you give Him spirit of heaviness, this depression in your mind.
You play a huge role in getting unstuck in your mind. You make the first move.
HE sees your struggle and comes to you.
Picture of Jesus walking in storm
Ill. Mark 6:48 – straining at oars in storm.
They saw Him in the storm! They saw Him in their trouble. They saw Him in their agony. You are not alone in this storm! Jesus walking sea and would have passed them by. Why is this in your Bible? Not just to read and say wow. See yourself in story.
HE sees your struggle, your failures and all the bad that has happened to you. You have to see you are not alone in your present storm. You need to see He is with you. His Presence is enough. Note He does not tell them how He will solve this problem. All He says is, “BE of good cheer. It is I. Do not be afraid.”
- First He spoke His word to them. “I am with you in this!”
What changed? Their focus was no longer on the storm but Him.
- Second He got into their boat and the wind ceased.
Once all their focus was on Jesus – the storm ceased.
Ill. Are you saying if I just focus on Jesus all my troubles will go away? No. But this is where you start .
I know it sounds weird. It is totally unconventional. It does not make any logical sense or reason. No doctor is going to tell you this.
The more you focus on yourself, your pain, your problems the deeper you sink in despair. You must get your focus back on the Lord.
You may feel worse like you have already sunk under the water. There is still help and hope.
Pic Jesus reaching down to you:
Peter walked on water as long as He focused on Jesus and not the storm.
If you feel like you are sinking back into depression, somewhere you have believed God is not helping you. You are listening to the enemy. God is coming to you even now while I am preaching this to you!
You must focus! Stop allowing depression to cloud your thoughts. You have control over your thoughts.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace (shalom, shalom), whose mind is stayed on Thee.” Isaiah 26:3
God’s ways of healing go contrary to our way of thinking.
You have got to become more aware of your invisible God than your visible problems.
Some will scoff at what I am preaching today. How is just thinking about Jesus and looking for Him going to change anything? It sounds foolish.
Ill. Numbers 21 children of Israel in wilderness bitten by fiery serpents. Many died. They prayed God take away the serpents! Maybe you prayed same thing – God take away this pain in my body, take away this debt crushing me. Look at God’s strange solution. He said,
“Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole; and it shall be everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” Numbers 21:8
It was made out of bronze. Bronze in the Bible speaks of judgment.
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” John 3:14
This is a picture of Jesus. He was judged and punished on the cross for our sins and taking the consequence of sin which is sickness, death, curses, poverty, all the curse.
God’s instructions were “look at the bronze serpent and be healed.”
Hebrew word for “look” means to “look intently of focus”.
God’s answer was to focus on the serpent on the pole. Stop focusing on the snakes around you, the wounds you suffered.
Ill. Maybe a good exercise for you today would be at altar call get in a spot alone and just stare at this cross behind me and pray Lord, open my eyes and help me to see like You see. Sit there and wait.
Whatever you are struggling with – ask for a fresh revelation of Jesus coming to you in your storms. HE is there waiting to help you now.
You may not have recognized Him because you don’t know Him very well. Maybe all this mess in your life can be used for you to begin to know Him very well and then be able to help others?
“Lord, don’t You care what I am going through? Don’t you care my child is suffering?”
Like Jesus said to Martha the Lord says, “Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things,
But one thing is needful,
And Mary has chosen that good part.
What did Mary her sister choose? She sat at Jesus feet to hear His word to her. She was focused. One word form God is all you need.
Maybe God is telling you to today one word – focus.
The enemy knows how powerful the Word of God is. He knows if you arm yourself with just one Word from God the you will overcome him.
Beloved there is hope for you. The Bible calls God the God of hope.
Hope is the confident expectation of good. It is called a helmet in I thes 5:8
Don’t lose hope. You are not stuck. All you need is one word from God and then focus on Him. Even in your valley of trouble He can open a door of opportunity you don’t know yet. Focus!
The scriptures were written to give you hope. If you don’t know where to begin I’ve written some scriptures for you to read and meditate on this week. Counselors have them at the altar. Arm yourself with the Word. Use these words to help you get unstuck and focus.