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.

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.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Are you wearing a mask?

There are alot of deep needs that we have, but to be loved hits at a very basic human need.  Your greatest need is not money, success, fame or to get another job.  Your greatest need is to be loved.  Not with sentimental love, not sexual love, but Gods love.  And because we so desperately want to be loved we are willing to do desperate things to get love.  Infact, many put on what I call 'love masks'. What love masks are, are things we put on to disguise our real need for love.  I grant you when we wear these we do get a little bit of love but nothing that really lasts.
Recently my wife and I went to San Francisco and attended the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera. What a fantastic production. One of my favorite songs in the musical is the song 'Masquerade'. The lyrics are:
Paper faces on parade . . .
Hide your face,
so the world will
never find you!
Every face a different shade . . .
Look around -
there's another
mask behind you!
How true are those words. So many people today wearing a mask, hiding who they really are and never letting the world see the real person. But not only do we wear masks to hide behind, but we also hide behind the ‘love masks’ so desperately trying to find something to fulfill the love we seek and need.  ‘Look around, there’s another mask behind you’ yes look around and you will see another person seeking real love but hiding behind a mask that doesn’t satisfy.
Some of the Masks we hide behind might be:
The mask of performance: When we achieve and perform there are some people in our lives that will say, "look at what they achieved and we get a little bit of love and value from that.
The mask of people: Oftentimes we get love, affirmation and value from people. It might be from our own children when they accomplish good grades and we proudly display the bumper sticker that says, 'proud parent of a student at __name of school _____'
The mask of pity: Sometimes people will put themselves down only to have another pat them on the back and say, "poor you"...we get a little bit of love and affirmation that way.
The mask of position: Some feel that if they can just get to the next position on the job that will give them the value and love they need.
The mask of physical attention: A lot of times we equat physical contact with real love.
The mask of pleasure: If I could just have that next vacation, that next high, that experience.
The mask of Possesions: If I could live in that house, in that neighborhood, drive that car.
The problem with these masks is that they are temporary forms of love, pleasure, value, acceptance and appreciation. The problem also is that when we wear them, it creates a thirst for more love. But there is a love far deeper than any human love and what any of the ‘love masks’ can produce.  It is God’s amazing love.  So take off those paper masks of various shades, that fade away and don’t satisfy.  Take off the masks you are hiding behind that pretend to fulfill you.  And find real love that is found in the Love of God through Jesus Christ.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

God knows your name and He cares

Does God really care? Does he really care about the small things going on in my life? In fact does he really know my name? Well, yes he cares and not only does he care, he even knows your name. As it says in Isaiah he even has your name written on the palm of his hands. Think of that, God knows your name and cares about you and wants you to pray.

The Lord has been teaching me and convicting me so much in the matter of prayer and to pray in faith. Recently we concluded  a prayer series in our small group and will preach on it at church soon.  Through this I hope our church will grow to a greater level of prayer.  It is my prayer that we will see the vast importance and blessing that comes through prayer.

Now, sometimes God wants us to pray and go, to act and cooperate with His plan. But that takes the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives to realize exactly what it is He wants us to do as we pray. Then there are other times we are to simply pray and wait on the Lord. This too takes prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit if that is what we are to simply do.

But most importantly God wants us to remember that He cares about every aspect of our life. That we can put all our troubles and cares into His Almighty Hand knowing that He has the power to help us. I love what 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” why? Because through prayer God can and will help.

I think about Moses as he was leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. In Exodus 14:13 he instructs them to “do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” Are you kidding? Stand still? Moses, the enemy is approaching, they are behind us and there is a body of water we can’t cross in front of us. It was an impossible situation from man’s point of view, but not for God. May I remind you that nothing is impossible with God.

As Moses spoke to the people to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. I am also reminded of the Psalmist words in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God” And that is exactly what God wants us to do when we go through difficulties, trials and valleys. He wants us to pray and turn to Him. He wants us to cast all our cares at His feet. He wants us to be still and know He is God.

I came across this writing from the ‘Angels were Silent’

He’s waiting for you. God is standing on the porch of heaven, expectantly hoping, searching the horizon for a glimpse of his child. You’re the one God is seeking. God is the waiting Father, the caring Shepherd in search of his lamb. His legs are scratched, his feet are sore, and his eyes are burning. He scales the cliffs and traverses the fields. He explores the caves. He cups his hands to his mouth and calls into the canyons. And the name he calls is yours. The message is simple; God gave up His Son in order to rescue all his sons and daughters. To bring his children home. He’s listening for your answer.”

God wants us to pray to Him and trust Him