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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

God's Faithfulness

Today I am in Springfield, Missouri visiting my daughter, her husband and our sweet granddaughter for Thanksgiving. A couple of nights before thanksgiving we were told by our son Ryan and his wife that we were going to be grandparents for the sixth time and that they were having their third child and then we found out its going to be a boy. We are so excited, and this has been a great thanksgiving.

God is so good!

But as I think about Gods goodness my mind goes directly to His greatness and faithfulness. God is Faithful! The bedrock of faith is the reality that God keeps all His promises according to His truthful and faithful character. Gods faithfulness is not some minor or secondary part of Gods character. To say that God is faithful goes to the core of who God really is.

There is no question we live a world of broken promises. People break their promises all the time. Wife to husband, husband to wife, parents to children, employer to employee, friend to friend. People break their promises, but God is true, faithful, dependable and loyal. And because God is truth, everything he says and does is certain. He is 100% reliable, 100% or the time. He does not fail, forget, falter, change or disappoint.

How many people do you know who no matter what the circumstances and no matter how they feel, always do exactly what they say they will do every single time and do it with the same thoroughness and perfection that you never have to worry about anything they say or do, because you know if they say it, they will definitely do it without fail, without change and without excuse? And, they will always do it on time? Well if you are like me, not too many people. But I do know of one and it’s the Lord.

Psalm 89:1 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reasons to be Thankful

This week is Thanksgiving..if there is any doubt of what we can be thankful for here is a list of reasons from Psalm 111

1 Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.

3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.

4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.

5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.

7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;

8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

Friday, November 18, 2011

How to make a new day a good day

It’s a new day, and with it comes new opportunities and possibilities. Yet like new weeks our days are often reminders of yesterday and the chance to repeat the same mistakes. I feel the same stress, same burdens, have the same decisions to make, that problem area or person is still there, that bill is still waiting to be paid and the check book is still in the red. What? My account didn’t automatically increase overnight while I was sleeping? We climb out of bed and our loved one says ‘good morning” and we respond with a grunt and before we can ever pour our coffee this new day has already started off wrong. We go to work and the first question we hear is “ how is your day going?" You respond with "Don’t even ask!"

So what can I do? Because how we start our day is up to us. I can choose to be very intentional about how I begin each day. The Bible says in Heb 12:2 ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” The NIV says “Fix our eyes on Jesus..” I like that because it refers to a concentrated gaze on Jesus..our eyes are fixed, set on Him, just as a mariner or pilot has their eyes fixed on their equipment in the middle of the storm so that they stay on course.

So, it’s a new day and a new day of ministry. This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it....the question then is - ‘what can I choose to do that will make it good’?

He is a suggested list of ideas that I came across that we might start off with. I share them with my added comments.

1. Today, I will begin my day by focusing on God. He is greater than my frustrations, my disappointments, and my worries. As a result, I choose to begin my day reading my Bible and praying before I go to work. Start off with your focus on Jesus (eyes fixed on Him) rather than the mounting problems. It is very difficult to see Jesus when we are focused on the circumstances of life.

2. Today, I will begin the day with the "end in mind." I need to keep the big eternal picture in front of me. Life is so much more than whatever frustration I am experiencing at the moment. We need to live with eternity in view, not just for the temporal things of this world. Remember God has a purpose for your life and there is a life to live that is bigger than ourselves and bigger than our problems.

3. Today, I will choose to make someone else’s day just a little brighter. Smile at a person. Remember and use that person’s name. Show interest in another person’s life. I will choose to focus on someone besides myself and what is happening to me.

4. Today, I will contribute to building a more positive environment wherever I am. I will be very slow about being critical or saying something that is negative. I will be quick to point out what is good and right. We have a tendency to focus on the negative far more than the positive things in life. Make Thanksgiving day an everyday experience.

5. Today, I will say "thank you" to people who contribute in some way to my day. I will especially look for opportunities to express appreciation to people who don’t expect to hear it.

6. Today, I will choose to have an attitude that reflects the goodness of God. I will not allow circumstances or other people to change my attitude. After all, my attitude reflects who I am as God’s child and not the circumstances around me. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude in every aspect of life.

7. Today, I will in some way communicate to those who are nearest to me, my family and my friends, that I love them. Perhaps it might be in person, by sending a card, or making that phone call.

What we focus on makes a huge difference in our life.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's a new what

It is Monday morning a beautiful cool fall day on the northern coast of California. The shades to my office window are open, I am sitting here with my Mocha and thinking about the goodness of yesterday when we were able to be in Gods house with Gods people. But that was yesterday and here we are now at the start of a new day and a new week. However, have you asked yourself, “why do they call them new days and weeks?”. I mean really, doesn’t each day and week give us the opportunity to simply repeat the day and week before, (complete with all the previous mistakes and hardships)? We get out of bed and basically say. “here we go again” - same job, chores, homework, laundry, lawn to be mowed, bills paid, on and on, over and over. Then for some there is the house cleaning and we say, “didn’t I just clean that room last week?” And, for the person who worked the night shift or the one who lost sleep tending a sick child, the new day presents another whole list of difficult things to be tackled with a tired mind and body.

Well when we allow ourselves to focus on the weekly problems we have a tendency to lose sight of God.  We face the same difficult circumstances over and over, day after day, week after week. Then what happens is, we begin to let those difficulties become our focal point. And as a result, we find it ever more difficult to see God and realize He is present.  But God’s presence prevails everywhere and in everything. God inhabits the ordinary and transforms its character into extraordinary. Whatever our crises or celebration, our boredom or adventure, God is present. To find God sometimes requires a change in attitude of heart. Choosing not to concentrate on our problems but instead choosing and realizing God is ever present is the key.

Perhaps you are looking at this new week with a bit of pessimism. Perhaps you are expecting once again as you found out last week that every bump in the road seems to steer you off course. If so, realize God is with you, He is faithful, His mercies truly are new every morning. Woodrow Wilson said, “Without God the world would be a maze without a clue.” How true that is.

This is the day that the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it.

Stay focused on Him

Friday, November 4, 2011

Secret to Winning in Life

Often times when watching a sporting event between two teams emotion can play a huge roll at the beginning of a game. The underdog is playing at home, emotion and excitement is running high and the team not expected to win is in fact winning. But then it happens, the tide turns, the emotion plays out, and the more experienced team begins to take over and eventually wins the game. And the question becomes of the losing team, what could we have done to sustain our edge and win? What would have been the secret to winning?

I think the same could be said of us as Christians at times in our life. What can I do to sustain my heart for God? What is the secret to Christian living and victory? Well, perhaps there is no greater verse in the Bible that actually contains the secret to Christian living than Psalm 16:8 “I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved”

The Psalmist describes a practice and a result of that practice.. The practice is “setting the Lord always before me”… the result is…”I shall not be moved or shaken”. The whole point in this simple logic is we can not have this blessing of steadfastness and strength apart from the discipline of setting the Lord continually before us.

The message of this verse is that as we go down the road of life as a Christian we continually set the Lord before us in our daily walk. You see, the trends and circumstances of life constantly flow and change do they not? But the key of all spiritual life is to keep the Lord in His proper place. And something I must continually remember is that this is not something the Lord did, it is something the Psalmist did and I must do. I must constantly set the Lord before me in my heart and mind.

Now you might say, “well Steve, isn’t the Lord always around me? Isn’t He omnipresent?” Yes He is, there is no escaping God. But that is not what David is talking about in this verse. The idea is setting the Lord continually before me so that, it’s His will and His desires that are out front and not my own.

But I also see something else that is very important to daily Christian living. David said that he “always” set the Lord before him. That does not mean a one time event. It means continually – daily – repeatedly I set the Lord before me. David knew that his heart must never lead his thoughts, feet or hands in any other direction until God is established as the controlling reference point of his life – the Focal Point if you wll. And neither can I.

When out in the woods and not knowing which way to go, there is one thing I should not do: I shouldn’t go right or left until I know exactly what is north. When the compass is set to the north then I can make a proper decision. And, It’s only when the Lord is in His proper place in my life that I can then make the proper life decisions.