Focal Point

Focal Point
Focal Point is more than a blog. It's purpose is to help us stay focused on Christ through Gods Word as we navigate through life and today's culture.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Jesus is the answer to your searching


John 1:14 announces, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." The phrase "became flesh and dwelt among us" literally means that He tabernacled among us, or, He pitched His tent among us.  All the glory that is God became a human being.  There is no greater truth in all the universe than the fact that we stand in the presence of both the full humanity and the full deity of Jesus.  He is the God-man.  He shows us what God is like.  He is the One who heals, loves, serves, waits, blesses, dies, and rises again-- this is the ultimate human being, and this is God.

Near the end of the gospel of John, John writes in chapter 20:31 "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."  Jesus is the key to life.  We all want to live -- old and young alike.  We all seek the key to life.  We seek fulfillment.  These are the deepest yearnings in peoples lives.  And when we come to the end of our search (as Solomon did), we find Jesus waiting for us with open arms.  He is the goal of all our searching, all our desiring.  He makes us to be all we were designed to be.

How can you stand in the presence of this divine mystery, in the shadow of the God-man who made the universe, then died upon a lonely hill, and not feel your heart drawn to worship Him?  The great hymn of the faith says:

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in my Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love, how can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
That is true worship--a recognition that Jesus is God, and that God has submitted Himself to death on our behalf!  And true worship leads us to action, to service, to obedience. As in the words of the hymn, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

Monday, January 11, 2016

When the stuggles come, seek the Lord first

We all have struggles and battles in life.  Some are small and some are big, but no matter what the size or shape there is a course that we need to take.  In 2 Chronicles 20 there is a story about King Jehoshaphat and a battle he is about the face.  In fact the battle that Jehoshaphat faces will determine the possibility of his future existence. 
We read in 2 Chronicles 20:1-4 these words: It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord
The text emphasizes the sheer size of opposition Jehoshaphat faces.  The Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites have banned together against Judah.  Any one of these would have been a sizeable opponent.  But together they represent an impossible obstacle to remove.  So this is the nature of Judahs dilemma.  Judah faces this possibility: 'you may not be here tomorrow.' 'the enemy means busness'.   You know some problems we have are in a class of their own.  There are problems and then there are problems.  There are problems that leave you reeling and in disbelief and you don’t know what to do.  It might be a marriage that’s falling apart, perhaps a great financial difficulty, a personal relationship problem, illness, job or continual attacks from Satan on your spiritual life. 
Now think of this.  Jehoshaphat is a King, a military leader, a soldier from the ground up.  His first natural instinct, his trained instinct would be the organizational and administrative response.  The enemy is coming, so sound the alarm, round up the troops, hide the women and children, put the sandbags at the gate, get the horses and chariots ready, prepare for battle.  But that is not what he does.  He pushes back the natural and human instincts and instead seeks the Lord in prayer.  And not just seeking the Lord in prayer himself, but he calls all the people to come together and seek and pray to the Lord for help.  That's so hard for us to do isn't it?  We want to make plan A, B and C and then ask God to bless it.  What we need to do is go to Him first, seek Him and ask Him for help and direction.
The first response of Jehoshaphat should be our response as well.  Nothing shows how a life is oriented, or what it’s basically all about like what we do first when confronted by a crises, battle or problem, no matter what the size. 
There is a great old Hymn that has these words
I must tell Jesus, all of my trials,
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me
He ever loves and cares for His own.
I must tell Jesus
I must tell Jesus
I cannot bear these burdens alone
I must tell Jesus
I must tell Jesus
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone

Friday, January 8, 2016

Focal Point is more than a blog. It's purpose is to help us stay focused on Christ through Gods Word as we navigate through life and today's culture.

Almost six years ago I added the title 'Focal Point' and picture to my blog. In fact, I had set up this blog for my thoughts and comments, on various topics that related to the Christian life.  At the same time I created a separate 'Focal Point' Facebook page to post encouraging devotional insights.  I realized there were other ministries that were called focal point at that time and others have started up since.  But, I really like the title because we all need that point of focus in our life to keep us on the right track, and Jesus is just that.   Now I don't consider myself a great or even good blogger, my gift is more teaching, preaching and sharing devotional insights.  So, I decided to combine my blog and devotional thoughts into one.  Thus, my blog is more than just a blog.  It's purpose as stated above is to help us stay focused on Christ through Gods Word as we navigate through life and today's culture. With this purpose more defined for me I believe I will be posting more often and I trust the words you read will be a help and encouragement to you as we stay focused on Christ.  So welcome to my re-focused Focal Point devotional 'blog'. I hope you will visit it often and if you get something out of it pass it on to a friend, or send them to my link.  May the Lord encourage us as we travel this road of life together.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

What's in a name?

I have seven grandchildren. For the months that lead up to their birth, my wife and I wondered what their name would be. My children and their spouse went through a variety of names for a variety of reasons until they settled on a name they both liked. For some parents they search through a baby book trying to find a name that has a good meaning to it.

But what is it about the name ‘Jesus’ that is so significant? What is it about His Name that is so profound and so inspiring that even today, 2,000 years removed from the events of Bethlehem that we are singing, preaching and praising His name? 

When God sent His messenger to Mary declaring that she had found favor in the eyes of the Lord and she would give birth to the Son of God, God also gave instructions as to what name He was to be given. "You are to give Him the name Jesus."

Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, Jeshua or Jehoshua. Each means "God (Yahweh) will save" or "God is salvation." Now that's some name. If that didn't convey to Mary the overarching purpose and fundamental reason for Jesus to be born, her husband-to-be had no doubts. As Joseph wrestled with what to do after finding out Mary was with child, and we are told in scripture that a angel appeared to him in a dream. Joseph was instructed to take Mary as his wife. Then, almost as if to insure both understood the importance of naming Him Jesus, the angel tells Joseph, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

The entire purpose of His coming was that He might save His people from their sins. Separated from God, mankind needed a Savior. We needed someone able to remove our sin once and for all. Jesus Christ was on a mission to save all of humanity by offering Himself on the cross for our sin. The manger may seem sweet and innocent, but the cross was in clear view from that barn on that first Christmas night. He came to us and for us. He loved us so much He gave Himself. He is the most expensive gift and the perfect gift. He's the gift for all people. You might buy me a crossbow for Christmas and that wouldn't quite fit me. For someone else it would be perfect. But Jesus is perfect for all because He died for all. And His name carries that message. He is called Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.

Christmas is a celebration of Jesus. His name is wonderful. His name is great. His name is matchless. His name is above every human philosophy. His name is good. His name is great. His name is majestic. His name is glorious. His name is holy. His name is near. His name is Jesus. "God will save" because God sent His Son Jesus to save us. He was born, lived a perfect life, died for our sin and rose again. And all who "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" will know the salvation and peace of God. 

What should be our response to His name? We should praise His name, honor His name, proclaim his name, trust His name and love His name.

There truly is something about that name. His Name shall be called 'Jesus' for Hwe will save His people from their sins.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What is below the waterline of your life?


When building a ship it is very important as to what goes below the waterline.  A ship builder that has put a lot of time, money and design into what can be seen will probably get a lot of praise from those looking at it.  They might want to have their picture taken by it, throw parties on it and enjoy an afternoon boat ride around the harbor.  But if the builder has not put much importance on what is below the waterline, what can’t be seen, then it might mean possible disaster for the passengers.  As long as the sun is shining, there is a light breeze, and the waters are calm, the ride can be enjoyable and carry with it a measure of security and safety.  But when the waves pick up, the winds begin to blow and the storm rages, look out.  That ship that looked so good above the water when all is calm, is not looking so safe now in those stormy seas.  It is at this point that the owner is wishing he would have spent more time, money and design on what really matters for a ships safety and that is on what is below the waterline.
So it is in our life.  So many times we spend the major amount of emphasis on what is above the waterline of our life.  Our looks, image, clothing, house and car, how people view us and what they think of us.  And while the sun is shining, and the seas of our life are calm, all is good.  But when we begin to go through the storms of life, when Satan comes at us (and he will) like a roaring lion, when life struggles begin to surface it is very important what is below the waterline of our life.  What we built into our life that is not easily seen or even praised by onlookers becomes very important.  The discipline of being in God’s Word, faithful church attendance, prayer, worship, character, integrity, and the discipline to do what is right regardless of the situation is what builds strength for the storms of life, no matter where they come from.
So, on what part of your life are you spending most of your time and energy?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Growing into spiritual maturity

Have you ever went to bed at night and wished you could wake up mature? Wouldn't it be great to wake up in the morning not as a new infant believer but as a spiritually mature adult?  That in the morning everything would be different about your life?  I think any Christian who is really walking in the Spirit would say to themself:  "I want to be spiritually mature" "I want to be spiritually effective" "I want to be all that God wants me to be."  And that is fine to have that wish and to have that kind of desire but it only comes to pass when you build your life on certain fundamentals and basics. 
If you study sports you will find that the best coaches will drill their athletes on certain basic fundamentals. There are certain athletic type events that demand proper foundational principles.  Any good team and any good athlete have either mastered or will at least continue to focus on the fundamentals of their sport.
Well that is true also in the spiritual dimension.  No one is going to wake up profound, wake up skilled in ministry, spiritually acute, wise, or able to apply all spiritual truth to all dimensions of ones life.  How great would that be if it could happen? Well it doesn't.  But we can put ourself on the road to where we see that take place more and more in our Christian life.  We must learn at some point in our Christian experience that we must apply ourself to certain spiritual fundaments.  To the basics of Christian living if we are going to be mature, if we are going to be effective, if we are going to be all that God wants us to be.
Some might say that the basics/fundamentals are prayer and bible study. But I would say that having an attitude of submission is the foundation and basic to all.  Not only living with an attitude of submission to one another as Paul points out in Ephesians, and to the Christian and church leadership in your life as is pointed out in I Peter and Hebrews.  But also having an attitude of submission to the Lord in regards to prayer and bible study.  Because if you dont have the fundamental attitude of submission when you read Gods Word then you are going to question it, fight against, and rebel against it rather than submit to what God is telling you.  If you do not have an attitude of submission when it comes to prayer then you will not pray as Jesus did, "not my will but Thine be done" and then be willing to obey and do it.
Yes, no one wants to stay a baby or even act like a new born believer all their life.  We all want to grow and become what God wants us to be.  The way to do that is build into our lives the basics of Christian living and it all begins with the fundamental attitude of submission

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

There is Freedom in Jesus

Unfortunately many are bound by past failures, and as a result feel that they can never succeed.  There are those today bound by sin and think their situation is hopeless - so why try?  I am reminded of the experiment done with the Great Northern  Pike where the fish was placed into a tank with its favorite food..minnows.  The problem was that a glass divider was inserted into the tank between the Pike and the minnows.  Every time the Pike went for the minnows he bumped his nose into the glass divider.  Finally, convinced that the minnows were beyond his reach, he gave up.  When the divider was removed, the Pike did not go for even one minnow.  Sometimes, we are like that Pike.  We've been convinced that we could never break free from the patterns of defeat and failure that have bound us.  But that is not true! There is freedom and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to break the chains of sin that bind us, to set us free and give us new life in Him.