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Focusing Our Lives

Philippians 3:10-15

Jim Davis

Have you ever wondered why a pigeon walks so funny? According to an interesting article in the Detroit Free Press, a pigeon walks the way it does so it can see where it's going. It can't adjust its focus as it moves, the pigeon actually has to bring its head to a complete stop between steps in order to refocus. This is the way it walks: head forward, stop; head back, stop. Don't laugh--that's how it goes!

We often have the same problem with focus as the pigeon. We live life on the move, or should we say on the run, and it makes it hard to focus our lives. Occasionally we need to stop and refocus our lives.

A focused life has to do with what the mind’s eye is set on. There is a saying: "Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve." I believe there is much truth in this statement. It says much about human potential; but it says much more about the focus of our lives. What we conceive has to do with focusing our minds. The sharper your focus---the greater your chances of reaching your potential.

Faith is believing in what we conceive. A willingness to believe in what our minds conceive is an essential element in achieving. There can be no focus without faith. For what we place our faith in becomes the focus of our lives. Faith has to do with what we strive for. Belief implies a strong-minded pursuit of what our heart is set on.

Achievement is realized when we set our hearts on what we conceive. "Whatever your mind can conceives and believes, you can achieve." The only shortcoming of this statement is that it doesn’t give us anything to focus our lives on beyond human potential. It only speaks of conceiving and believing as a means to achieving our potential.

This statement doesn’t stress the importance of the object of our faith. It doesn’t stress the importance of what is achieved. However, it is what we believe in that matters most of all. The important question is: "Is my mind focused and what is my mind focused on?"

Your life deserves to be focused on the highest possible goal time and eternity affords. Why settle for any less, when the best is within your reach.

The greatest vision you can have for your life is to see your life through the lens of God's eyes, seeing situations as he sees them. Too often we see things not as they are, but as we are. Isaiah writes, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

There is a richness God offers that no human ingenuity or effort can provide. We may be able to learn from the mistakes or successes of the past, but there is no power in the past that will lift us above the circumstances of the present. Only God can provide this kind of enabling power.

Focusing on God's Grace

The apostle Peter writes, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:13 NIV)

The greatest concept one can focus one's heart and mind on is God. Peter writes to troubled Christians encouraging them to keep their minds focused on God's grace. When we focus on God's grace we are forced to focus on God's enabling power for living in the present. We have a choice to focus our lives trusting human potential or to focus our lives on Almighty God. There is no comparison between human potential and God's power. Granted, a person can accomplish unbelievable things while believing in what he or she conceives. But God is the one who set life in motion from the beginning. Our greatest potential lies in conceiving and believing in the plan of God. Let us focus our lives on God's grace. Only God deserves the focus your life demands.

Paul wrote, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (Philippians 3:10-15 NIV)

Paul had a central focal point for his life. Paul focused his life on God's power revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Focusing our lives on the power of God is more than merely hoping in our future resurrection from the dead. It is a hope revealing God's power for the present. It has to do with becoming like him in his death while living for him in the present.

Forgetting What Is Behind

Paul chose to forget what was behind. We spend so much time brooding over what might have been. It doesn't really matter about the accomplishments or failures of the past, or the circumstances of the present.

Paul saw beyond the momentary. Paul said, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it."

We can become so engrossed in what we have accomplished in the present that we lose sight of the future. Many are only living for the present. They may think the present is all-important. The present prevents them from seeing their future.

Paul focused on the future. Paul forgets what is behind, looks beyond the moment and "straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." I wish I could convince individuals that their greatest potential lays in their future not in their past or present. The remainder of our lives will be lived in the future. That is where our focus must be as we live in the present.

The world's criterion for success seems to be an illusive dream for the majority. Our world has a way of limiting the potential of the majority. We believe our past and present put limitations on our future. Our world leaves us thinking everything has to do with ability or ingenuity. When we focus on God our future is yet to be realized. It is not dependent upon the past or the present, and it is not dependent on our ability or ingenuity, but on God’s enabling power.

Where Do We Begin?

Have you thought about focusing your life? Have you thought about focusing your life on something that will help you reach your greatest potential?

We focus our lives on God by focusing our lives on Jesus Christ through obedience to his word. Jesus said, "’I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?’" (John 14:5-9 NIV)

The greatest achievement this life has to offer is through conceiving of God’s potential for your life. We must believe in the powerful new life God offers through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." (Romans 6:1-7 NIV)

 

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