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Refining Our Focus

I am, unfortunately, a very slow learner (my wife appears as if out of nowhere as I type that statement with a very hearty AMEN).

During my two decades+ in ministry I have come to learn, appreciate & look for lessons and themes the Lord is providing that are continuously present no matter what the situation, the circumstance, the lesson, or what the sermon title might be.

Over the past year and a half, that theme has been revolving around my focus. Keeping Him at the center. The importance of always looking to Jesus. My gaze remaining fixed on the Father. My hearts true-north being aligned with that of Holy Spirit is directing.

As I sit in the quiet of a still, crisp morning on my front porch, cup of coffee by my side as the birds come to life; my mind is taken back to a lesson I learned on focus from a friend while I lived in North Carolina:

Look ahead to remain focused:

My friend: "Years ago, I took a motorcycle course. As a new rider, I was hesitant to go around corners because of fear—I wanted to look down. The instructor repeatedly told me, “do not look down at the ground on corners or you wipe out, focus on where you want to go and your bike will follow.” 

My friend stated with a lot of practice, he broke the habit, learning how to take corners with ease.

Fear was motivating him to look at the ground, but focus was how he fixed the problem. Fear was trying to create a painful reality, but focus was how he moved in the right direction.

At first, he said, it didn’t feel natural to focus on the destination while tackling a corner. Attempting to break the habit, he had to trust his instructor and focus on creating a new habit that didn’t feel natural at first.

This challenge gets easier as we focus.

Over my time living for Christ, I've had to refine my focus, vigorously. 

Peter knew this timeless battle when Jesus called him to walk towards Him on the water by saying, “Come.” 

He stepped on the water to go to Jesus but when he transferred his focus from Jesus to the wind, he got distracted and waves of fear swallowed his faith; he began sinking, and cried out “Lord, save me!

Distractions kill faith. 

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased and they worshiped Him, saying "truly You are the Son of God". 

Jesus wasn't panicking — He was confident. The wind was a distraction that created waves to swallow Peter but the Lord was never afraid.

Let's not lose sight here... Peter had faith! He stepped out of the boat but lost his focus when he saw the wind. Fear is a distraction - our faith grows as we focus on Him.

We’ve all been distracted by wind, but we don’t have to flounder in the waves it creates. We can focus on the author and perfecter of our faith and receive His confidence in the middle of the wind and waves.

Faith becomes the result of focus. Whatever we focus on is what we move towards. If I focus on my faith, I’ll usually fall short, but if I focus on God who is for me, I’ll receive strength I didn’t have.

"Fear is a distraction - our faith grows as we focus on Him."

These encounters didn’t reveal their failure but set them up to face future storms.

This story ended in worship when they said, “You are the son of God.” When we worship first, our focus gets refined to see Him as He is, and the wind and waves find their proper place beneath our feet. 

Worship is the best way to refine our focus.

You can’t worship and be distracted at the same time. You have to choose one or the other.

Join the Psalmist!

Psalm 34:1-6

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

We find everything we need in the nature of God. Whenever we find lack, it’s an opportunity to draw near to God and receive more of Him.

As a Father—I focus on Father God who is Fathering me.

As a Husband—I focus on the covenant I have with the Lord and His faithfulness.

As a Leader—I focus on Heaven’s Leadership.

As a Sinner—I focus on His provision for my soul.

As a Saint—I focus on His Presence in my life to empower me.

As a Writer—I focus on what He is saying and write.

As a Beggar—I focus on His feast.

As a Fearful one—I focus on His eyes of love.

As a Worshiper—I focus on the one who fascinates my heart.

My Hope For You.

Is that you would recognize that fear is a distraction and you might have more faith than you think, it’s just time to refine your focus. 

-Pastor Ben

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