The Cross, Empty Tomb or Life Focused – Pt. 3

You become what you focus on and what you focus on only gets bigger.

Can Jesus do what He promised? Our words and actions reveal whether or not we believe He can.

Once Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the King of Israel, Jesus started talking about His own future. He would suffer, be killed and then rise from the grave after three days.

Peter actually rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing! He didn’t or couldn’t believe what Jesus said was even remotely true. Peter’s current thinking as to what the Messiah should do was being challenged by Jesus, which was be king in Jerusalem then.

And yet, no matter how many times Jesus said this to His disciples, men and women alike, they simply didn’t believe Him even after seeing an empty tomb! Their old way of thinking/focus was getting in the way of the bright future He promised them.

Is that you and me? Has the Spirit been asking to transform an area of our life; and yet, we are stuck looking at an empty tomb in disbelief, “It can’t happen to me, can it?”

Yes it can. Jesus promised not only to give us eternal life, but life today as well. He wants to take our worn out and useless character and replace it with an eternal and victorious one, His.

Where is your focus – your past mistakes (the cross), your disbelief (the empty tomb) or on the life giving words of truth about His outcome for your life? Whatever you choose will sink deeper into your brain, which only makes change come that much sooner or take that much longer.

Choose to focus/meditate on the life giving truths the Spirit gives, the ones that will set you free/change your life. And then, take a leap of faith by putting that truth into action when it’s decision time.

Change will come one focused choice at a time. And oh yeah, Jesus is alive!!

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The Cross, Empty Tomb or Life Focused – Pt 2

You become what you focus on and what you focus on only gets bigger.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24; Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23).

Notice the word “if”. Check yourself, do you want to experience victory or defeat while walking this journey called life? The context of the above saying is Peter wanting defeat – living His own agenda, which was Jesus to be King in Jerusalem in his lifetime.

However, Jesus was sent to do something far bigger that time around: Bring all humanity into a relationship with the Father. The cross was simply the process to achieve that goal, not the end result.

Peter had to die to his way of thinking, which is where the cross comes into play, death. And, science proves that the thought we focus on grows and those we don’t die. So, if we want the old way of living to die, we must exchange it with the character trait/truth/thought the Spirit is trying to implement into our life.

Outside a miracle, the only determinate to how long that process will take is our daily choices for Luke adds the word daily. If we want something new to grow, we must make a daily choice to focus and follow/act on the new thought!

This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Follow Me.” Make the choice to focus on the end goal He has for us; and then, make daily choices toward it. As we do, the old thoughts/way of thinking will die off and new life will take place.

If we don’t, we’ll be stuck in the sin-confession cycle (cross focused) rather than experiencing a transformed life (life focused). Yes, we might fail. But if we only focus on the process (cross), we will never experience what Jesus came to bring (life).

Stay focused on the thoughts/truth the Spirit is putting into your life. Let those thoughts sink deeper into your brain and grow to the sky and then life change will occur (Rom. 12:2).

Oh what a Jesus story you will have to tell when people notice this change!

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The Cross, Empty Tomb or Life Focused Pt. 1

You become what you focus on and what you focus on only gets bigger.

Your focus is crucial in the process of experiencing the Spirit change your life.

Are you focusing on the fact that you keep failing, which keeps you at the cross asking for forgiveness? On an empty tomb expecting to find death? Or, on the life the Spirit is calling you to? Your mind will reinforce whatever you focus on – failure, death or life.

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Notice His focus. It was not on the challenges, but the answer – Himself.

If you want to overcome your challenges or failures, you must then choose your focus, Jesus and life. The cross and the tomb are part of the change process; but, they are not the end result. Life is.

Your brain (Rom. 12:2) needs to hear, see, smell, taste and touch the outcome of whatever area the Lord wants to change in your life. Let those roots grow deeper into your brain. When you do, a changed life is being produced!

In the coming weeks, we’ll talk about the process the cross and the empty tomb play in producing a changed life. But, never forget that they are not what you should be focusing on. Life is.

Take a second to picture yourself sitting on the bench throwing your challenge into the vastness of the sky. Are you searching for that challenge or focusing on the stars? Hopefully, you’re enjoying stargazing.

Once you determine that Jesus is much bigger than you, your past or your challenges, the sooner you can change your focus to Him, the One behind the stars, the giver of life.

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The Highest

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” Jesus

When we are in Mammoth, our beloved vacation spot, my wife and I love to take our reclining chairs and a mug of hot coffee into an open area, put on some worship music and then simply watch the stars.

The entire time, we are reminded of how small we are and how BIG our God is. There is no authority or being higher or bigger than our God.

Nehemiah knew this truth. He repeatedly used the phrase the LORD God of heaven in his book. He was faced with a humongous task and was given an even bigger vision to accomplish that task.

Yet, he had to get the highest authority on earth at the time, the Persian King, to not only let him return to Jerusalem, but to also give him the necessary resources and authority to get it done when he got there.

So what did Nehemiah do? He went up the chain of command! He appealed to the King of kings – the LORD God of heaven.

When God puts a vision on your heart, it’s usually much bigger than you can do on your own. Why? He wants you to trust in His ability not yours to get it done. So, when that vision becomes reality, there is only One Person who can take the credit, Him.

Are you facing a humongous challenge in doing what God asked you to do (victory in your marriage, over your drugs of choice, etc.)? If you are, let me ask you one extremely important question: Are you staying plugged into the highest authority – the LORD God of heaven – or trying to get it done in your own power?

As you read Nehemiah’s story, you’ll find him constantly calling upon the King of kings for his strength and provision. The God we love and serve is above all – our doubts, our insecurities, even our opposition.

Remember and rely on this truth: Our God is The Highest. He is the LORD God of heaven and no one can stop Him from doing what He wants done with and for Him.

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Present with Jesus

Momentary pleasure can lead to long-term pain. Momentary pain can lead to long-term gain.

The following got me thinking about how I live in relation to what we call today. Our answer has implications for all areas of our lives.

“We human beings have a natural inclination to fantasize and worry about the future and to replay the past in our heads, over and over.

“Our minds are like monkeys, vaulting from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree. And what is the end result? We spend a significant portion of our lives engaged, not fully in the moment, but in thoughts of the past or future. We constantly sacrifice the now, the actual, living present, for fleeting thoughts of what was or what will be.”

Hmm. Will we miss today’s moments for yesterday’s hours or tomorrow’s months? This is our choice. When you are with your kids, spouse and/or friends, are you fully engaged in the moment or elsewhere? Are you open to the new ways of victory the Lord wants to show you or stuck in the old ways of failure?

Our past is over and forgiven, why live there? Yes, we plan for tomorrow, but it is still all in the Lord’s hands; so, why sacrifice today in the service of tomorrow?

Enjoy the moments of today with Jesus. You can’t get them back tomorrow. Follow Him as long as it is called now.

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