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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Need for Focus)

Why do we need FOCUS? There are many reasons, of course, but our text here in 2 Peter 1 makes it quite clear that FOCUS in the Christian life is critical! If I am not focused on adding to my faith certain virtues, there are specific conclusions that can be drawn.

In this series of blog posts I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

In our passage this morning, the Apostle Peter does not mince his words when he talks about spiritual growth in the believer’s life. Peter lists seven virtues which we may choose to add or not add to our faith. The Christian life is the furthest thing from merely coasting down the highway. It is a struggle against on-coming traffic, with enticing exits everywhere, requiring us to peddle with all of our might so that we move on in our faith. The believer is to “make every effort” (v. 1) to add these seven virtues — goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love — to his foundational faith in Christ.

And these seven virtues are not added in one fell swoop. They are to be possessed “in increasing measure.” No one will ever be told by the Lord in this life, “Hey, stop working on that self-control thing. You’re good!” No one will ever hear a voice from heaven saying, “Child! Slow down! You’ve got enough godliness!” These virtues are to grow in us. If they don’t, there are certain dire, inevitable consequences.

But let’s use the positive tone which Peter uses. Possessing these qualities will keep us “from being ineffective and unproductive” in knowing the Lord Jesus. However, we must not miss the catastrophic conclusions for the one who doesn’t “make every effort” to add these virtues. And the two conclusions have to do with FOCUS and FORGETTING.

The first conclusion has to do with eyesight. The one who does not have these virtues “is nearsighted and blind.” Which is it? Is he nearsighted or blind? Can he be both? Perhaps the idea is that he only sees what’s right in front of him. And he is blind to everything else! This Christian’s FOCUS is ruined. He is unable to see the future person he should be. He only sees what’s nearby. And his vision is gone. He is “blind.” Perhaps the meaning is he is blind to what Jesus wants to do in his life. He just can’t see it.

The second conclusion has to do with memory. This one who does not have these virtues — and is not working on them — has forgotten that they have been forgiven! The saving work of Jesus Christ is no longer a memory or a reality for which they praise God. It’s as if the hard drive of their brain has been wiped clean.

Today’s Challenge: Are your spiritual eyes open to these seven virtues and the absolute necessity of your working on them? Don’t be nearsighted or blind. Roll up your sleeves, open your eyes, and remember what Christ has done for you.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (Introduction)

Introduction:  In high school, for some inexplicable reason, I memorized the lines on the eye chart! I don’t know why. And I passed each year’s eye exam with flying colors. I actually sabotaged my own eyesight.

How’s your vision? Would you say that your eyes are focused on the Lord Jesus and all that He has planned for you? Or, like me, would you admit you get distracted and turn your gaze away from Him? Would you say that the things of this world are pretty and shiny and tend to draw away your attention like small metal beads to a powerful magnet?

In this series of blog posts I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

For this morning let’s think about our primary text for a few moments: “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.” (Heb. 12:2). The author is quite candid about his need to have his eyes “fixed.” The term “fixing” here is ἀφορῶντες from the verb ἀφοράω (aphoraō). It means “to view with undivided attention, by looking away from every other object; to regard fixedly and earnestly.”

It is used only twice in the New Testament, here in Hebrews 12:2 and also in Philippians 2:23 where Paul is talking about sending Timothy to help those believers. (“Therefore I hope to send him just as soon as I see how things will turn out for me”). The verb is composed of a prepostion (apó) which means “away from” and a regular verb meaning to see (horáō). The implication is properly, “looking away from all else, to fix one’s gaze upon” (Abbott-Smith).

Today’s Challenge:  Someone has said that the devil’s primary tools are destruction and distraction. What seems to distract you from focusing upon the Lord Jesus and all He has done — and plans to do — in your life? Some repair work is needed, don’t you think? Today ask the Lord to “fix” your attention on His Son — and fix your distractedness.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2021 in focus

 

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FOCUS! Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted World (Part 1)

When I was in elementary school, I remember getting an eye exam once a year. For some inexplicable reason, I decided to memorize the eye-chart! So I passed the eye test with flying colors and didn’t find out until high school that I really needed glasses!

In this series of posts we are working on the topic of focusing our eyes on the Lord Jesus. And, yes, these posts are the rough beginning of a new book. We want to think through the issue of consciously directing our attention to the Savior in a world that is blind, or near-sighted, or deliberately closing its eyes to the gospel.

The Word of God has much to say about sight and vision and blindness. For example, we read in Hebrews 12 —

“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.”

“Fix” in this passage comes from a word meaning “to look away from one thing and at another,” “to look away from one thing so as to see another,” or “to concentrate one’s gaze upon.” The same verb is used in Philippians 2 where Paul writes: “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.”

In the South we use the word “fix” in a strange way. We might say, “I’m fixing to go to town” Or, “I’m fixing to fix the fix I’m in” (just kidding about that second example). “Fix” in Southern English means “about to.” That’s not the meaning here in Hebrews 12.

Usually the word “fix” means to repair something. Our vision, our spiritual eyesight, certainly stands in need of repair, does it not? But that’s also not the meaning of “fix” in Hebrews 12.

The meaning in Hebrews 12 is FOCUS. We take account of that “great cloud of witnesses” that has come before us, we recognize everything that hinders us in wholeheartedly following Christ, and we are start running in the race He has set out for us!

In our next post we will unpack a bit more of what Hebrews 12 calls us to. But for today, may I ask you, are you FOCUSING on the Lord Jesus, longing to see Him as He really is, and to obey Him in the race of life? (to be continued).

 


 


 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in focus

 

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