★ Thought for the Day – What Are You Focused On? ★

Life has a way of knocking you down but there is a way to navigate the storms that come our way and that is in trusting in Jesus!  In Matthew 14:27-33 (NLT) it shows what happened to Peter when he took his eyes of Jesus…

37 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 14-27-33 - Fix Eyes on Jesus“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”  

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”  

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  

But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  “You have so little faith,”Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”  When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.  Then the disciples worshiped him.  

“You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.”

Are you despairing today?  Feeling hopeless?  Do you feel like you are stuck?  Just like Peter, when you focus on the wrong things, you will start to sink and will remain trapped.  To further the point, look at what David, a man well acquainted with persecution and adversity said in Psalm 40:2…

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

The New Living Translation states it this way:

“He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

That is exactly what Jesus can do for you today!  All you need to do is change your perspective and look up to our Heavenly Father…God is just waiting to come to your rescue!  He sent Jesus as part of that rescue plan and He is willing and able to pull you out of any mess you find yourself in.  So the answer to our question today is to…Keep Your Focus on Jesus!

I will close with this foundation truth from Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB) that I pray will bring you great comfort! 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

If you would like to read more on this subject, check out 2 posts:

★ Thought for the Day – Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming ★

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★ Thought for the Day – Opposition Will Come ★

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines opposition as: action that is done to stop or defeat someone or something.”  Have you experienced opposition in your life?  Better question would probably be, has anyone not experience some amount in their life.  Whether that was from a neighborhood bully or student in school or a boss at our job, everyone at some point or another has faced it.  But what I want to talk about is the defiance that comes as a result of being a Christian.  Being associated with Jesus is going to cost you.  If you look at the book of John there are numerous occasions that people were persecuted just for their association with him…

  • The Pharisees expelled a man who was cured of blindness from the synagogue just because Jesus was the one who cured him. (See John 9:1-34)
  • Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”  (See John 11:16 NLT)
  • The Leading Priests decided to kill Lazarus just because Jesus raised him from the dead and they were losing followers.  (See John 12:10-11)

This opposition did not stop in the time of Jesus life…Though it is not widely broadcasted in the nightly news, Christian are being persecuted all over the world today.

“According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population live in areas with severe religious restrictions.  Many of these people are Christians.  Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in the person of Jesus Christ.” (Source www.opendoorsusa.org/persecution/about-persecution)

Following Jesus has great rewards, but hardship will come.  We wonder why we get ridiculed and face animosity for being a Christian, but John 15:18-20 (NLT) is very clear the reason for the World’s Hatred:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 

Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.  And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.”

Mark Driscoll said something that really stuck out for me…

"The Christian life is the best life, but it’s not the easiest life, and sometimes the closer you are to Jesus, the more resistance you receive, just as Jesus did."
“The Christian life is the best life, but it’s not the easiest life, and sometimes the closer you are to Jesus, the more resistance you receive, just as Jesus did.”

Whenever you start serving God in a new way, you are breaking into territory that the enemy wants to keep.  The Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 16:9 (NKJV) that:

“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there  are many adversaries.” 

Opposition will always come when we try to do the Lord’s work, just expect it because the enemy does not want you to take away his territory!  Press on through and trust that God is Sovereign!  And most importantly pray!  Prayer changes circumstances and people.  In the book, Draw the Circle, Mark Batterson gives this profound statement that will revolutionize our lives if we can grasp this:

30 - Daily Dependence - Mark Batterson - Power of Prayer

Opposition is inevitable but the enemy is ineffectual when counteract the attacks with prayer!  I will close with the truth from 1 John 4:4 (NASB)

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He [Jesus] who is in you than he [Satan – our enemy] who is in the world.”