Focus

March 22 – Devotional

Earlier this week I made a point of calling my Grampa in BC. Neither he or I are great phone people so the conversations are not typically more than about 5 minutes and usually a good amount of those minutes are spent talking about sports. With no sports to talk about, I expected a very brief call in the works for us, but none the less knew I needed to call him. Wouldn’t you know it, we spoke for 20 minutes! Grampa shared with me 3 times about the meal schedule, how he can walk a good km just going to and from those meals, how his new walker helps him walk without pain in his back and hip, and how he loves that he still has his privacy in the suite he has.

This is his world, it is what he has to talk about and so we did. This is what his life is focused on each and every day. It is his experience, his knowledge, so he talks about it.

As Christians, the focus of our lives is not to be on the situations going on around us, the moments, the experiences, the trials and challenges, or the victories and joys. Our whole world is meant to be focused around Jesus.

Colossians 1:15-23 says this about Jesus…

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

The supremacy of Christ should shine in our lives, he is our world. The fullness of God is in Jesus, he has authority and rules over all things, and it is through him that we are reconciled to God. This does not mean that all those other things going on in our lives and in our world are unimportant, but rather it means we need to see them through the lens of Jesus. By that, I mean that our hope in Jesus allows us to process emotions, navigate challenges, and live through uncertainty with a confidence that He is still supreme in our lives and world

Honest Question Time:

  • What are the things that are taking your gaze off of Jesus today?

Prayer:

  • Ask God to help you see these in light of him (who he is, his relationship with you, etc.)

As we continue, take time to watch/sing along with this YouTube video. (Sorry for any ad pop ups you may get.)

https://youtu.be/cEbQswNB6Wc

Let’s continue to look at this idea of Jesus deserving to be our focus by reading Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Part 1 – A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Even when we are unable to gather together physically, this reminder is so re-assuring as it reminds us that we are not alone. There are Christians that have journeyed before us and there are Christians around us right now. We need to remember that we live in an era where a phone call, email, text message, or video chat is all within our world to stay connected. Realizing that there are people around us who we can reach out to for prayer and encouragement is our privilege.

Take Time:

  • To consider who are the people around you that are part of the “great cloud of witnesses”? Be specific, list them out, thank God for them.

Further to this, we need to realize WE are part of this great cloud of witnesses as well. We can be that needed support for people even without them asking for it! This is especially true as we find our world navigating this virus. There are people we don’t necessarily know by name, but they are fully involved in our communities.

Take Time:

  • To think about those whom you can support. Think about health professionals, first responders, politicians (whether you would vote for them or not), funeral home workers, grocery store workers, shut ins, the homeless, etc.
  • To pray for them now as God brings them to mind for you.

Part 2 – The Pioneer/Author and Perfecter of our Faith

For the last couple of weeks, I have been fighting a cold (common cold, nothing out of the ordinary) and in an attempt to not spread that cold to others, I have been washing my hands a LOT. So much so that I was sent the following…

That is about how raw my hands have felt recently, but the point is in trying to stop the spread of my cold I continue to go back to the wonderful cleanser known as soap and water.

In regards to throwing off the things that hinder and the sin that so easily entangles, we are told to go to Jesus for he is the pioneer/author and perfecter of our faith. We go to him knowing that it is through him that we are declared righteous, his life has brought us freedom, and he is our sanctifier who will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Just as the soap and water are always there for me to go to in order to wash my hands, Jesus is always there to turn to as the one who has made it possible for us to throw off the things that hinder and the sin that so easily entangles. There is a difference in knowing he is there and actually turning to him. He is to be our focus, but we must choose to focus on him, to turn to him, to receive from him, and to be sanctified by him.

Response/Invitation:

One of my favourite hymns is the 8th Century Irish hymn Be Thou My Vision. I want us to listen/sing it now as a form of response, inviting Jesus to his rightful place as the one we are focused on in our lives. If you are unfamiliar with this hymn, you may want to play it through twice; once to hear the words and the second time to allow them to be your declaration of fixing your eyes on Jesus.

https://youtu.be/LY54pCBs-1o

Part 3 – Do Not Grow Weary and Lose Heart

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we are realizing all that he has endured at the hands of sinners for us. We the incarnation of God and his willingness to suffer on the cross for us. We see how this has carried and grown the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, men and women who have suffered and struggled through persecutions, illnesses, wars, etc.

If our gaze is focused on COVID-19 apart from Jesus we will lose heart and grow weary, but when our focus is first on him, he will strengthen us for all we will face. The question that people often ask at this point is, “how do we focus on Jesus?” I don’t think this is as complicated as we often make it.

Consider how we “focus” on other things.

We…

  • Talk about them
  • Think about them
  • Read about them
  • Share them
  • Play with them

Much like my Grampa recounted his day, we need to be recounting Jesus. What he has done, what the scriptures say about him, what he means to us, etc. In doing this our eyes will be lifted up off of the momentary troubles that cause us to grow weary and lose heart and onto the eternal hope we have.

Take Time:

  • To start focusing on Jesus. Pick one of the bullet points above and use that right now to focus on Jesus.

Church, everything in our world is yelling at us to be focused on COVID-19. News, sports, social media, it is all telling us this it everything. It is certainly something that we must take seriously and respond to with wisdom, but it is not our everything. Jesus is!

Before the benediction, I just want to share a few announcements:

  1. Tuesday Prayer Meeting – We are working on setting up a virtual prayer meeting using ZOOM to bring us together online. More details will follow
  2. Although regular office hours are suspended we continue to work. If you need anything please contact myself (dbrown@bayridgealliance.org) or Pastor Greg (groberts@bayridgealliance.org).
  3. Feel free to share this and other email communications with others. Some from the church are not on the email list and we have had a few that have not received it even though they are on the list. Please help us make sure that people are keeping connected.

Offering:

A reminder that even though we are not able to meet, we continue to have financial responsibilities both for our local ministries and our global ministries. Our giving is meant to be part of our worship and so while it may seem different we want to give you the opportunity to do this now through Canada Helps. Follow this link https://bayridgealliance.ca/give-with-canada-helps/ and click on the donate button to give. With the office being closed, we are not able to receive donations at the church at this time. If this is the only way you are comfortable in giving, please let us know and we will try and find a way to accommodate. Thank you for honouring God by supporting the Church.

Now, let’s close with one final song and our benediction…

https://youtu.be/EVE-xXFDOwg

Benediction:

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’