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Staying Focused

There's a scripture verse that haunts me every time I read it, and even on days like today when it pops in to my mind: "For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica" (2 Timothy 4:10a). Demas was someone who was a help to Paul in his ministries, and is mentioned in several letters. Demas, though, when Paul needed him most, deserted Paul for the love of the world. Was it the cares of the world? Was it pressure from the government (Paul was, after all, waiting to be executed)? What caused Demas, who was with Paul through so much to desert Paul, and very likely, the Lord? One of my favorite choruses to sing is from the hymn "Turn your eyes upon Jesus"

" Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,   In the light of His glory and grace. " What a wonderful, scriptural response to the things we go through from day to day! All too often, Like Demas, we get distracted. The cares of the world take our focus off of Christ, and on to our selves. What keeps us from God's peace on a daily basis is what got us kicked out of the Garden: the desire to fulfill our self. Selfishness is the opposite of God's nature. God desires to bless His creation, self desires to take for one's self. Godliness (or being like God) desires God and the welfare of others before self, selfishness focuses on what the individual has or does not have. In my lifetime, I've seen many fall away from Jesus Christ who were, at one point, on fire for Him. Some will say that it is because "God is not real" and use expletives, and other not so nice ways of saying it. I respect their choice to walk away, but I do not accept the reasons. I walked away years ago because I wanted what I wanted. I used every excuse about God, church, and everything surrounding Him, but when it came down to it, it was my own desires that caused my downfall. And when I thought I was disqualified, He picked me back up, He made me renewed, and He put me on a path! All these years, I have not walked perfectly. I fall, often. But, I fix my eyes on the one who renews me. I stay focused, fixing my eyes on Jesus. I understand that He is the author and perfecter of my faith, and when my faith is broken, I need to return it to the one who can fix it, and knows it intimately. Everything else is incidental. What happens around me is the world in its brokenness. I do need to pray for that world, but I do not need to let its cares effect or haunt me. I need to stay focused on Christ alone. I pray you will too. Hebrews 12 English Standard Version 

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary

3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken

18For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assemblya of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29for our God is a consuming fire.

Footnotes: a 23 Or church

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