Thursday, September 16, 2010

I've Got my eye on you . . .well, I don't, but somebody probably does.

Today I have two separate things to share.  The first is from another part of what I am currently doing with my daily devotions.  It also comes in the form of a daily email.  It is called 'a deeper walk' and it is from the Christian magazine 'Relevant'.  Each day there is a scripture verse or verses and a short devotional (and I mean short, you can read the entire email in about 2 minutes) from one of their contributers.  Today's was written by Margaret Feinberg, who is without a doubt one of my favorite authors - lots of reasons for that, but mostly because she has a simple, readable style that highlights the working and wonder of God in our lives and world.  Go. Get. Something of hers as soon as you can.  
Anyway, the email today was about 'primary focus'.  Here is the Scripture passage:
"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."  Hebrews 12:1-2 TNIV
And here is what Margaret had to say about it:
A STORY IS TOLD about a young boy who lived in a quiet village. On the edge of the village was a grassy knoll where the boy would go to sit, relax and look at a rock formation in the distance which strangely resembled an old man—complete with oversized nostrils and deep wrinkles around the eyes and lips. As the boy grew into a man, he often returned to sit and gaze at the rock carving. One day, while passing through the village, a tourist stopped and asked him, "Did anyone ever tell you that you look like the face on the side of the mountain?"

Whatever we love the most will eventually shape our lives. We become what we focus on. 

If our primary concern is money, accomplishment, power or ourselves, then selfishness and self-absorption are natural affects. Eventually, like the rock formation on the outskirts of the village, we will take on the likeness of the object of our desire. 

If we gaze on Him, look at His beauty, meditate on His Word, find a grassy knoll in our daily routine on which to escape the demands of our lives and learn to gaze on Him, then we cannot help but begin to reflect His image.
I would strongly recommend anything she writes to you, I would also suggest that you subscribe to the 'Deeper walk' daily email.  Which you can do by going here:
After filling in the form, simply check the 'deeper walk' box.  
The point she makes with here story is such a critical truth for us.  I think most of us know or realize the importance of what we focus on, but I think we all to often simply don't ask the question of ourselves.  So, today ask yourself, 'what are my eyes fixed on?'  and if the answer isn't Jesus Christ, its is time for a change of scenery!
Now, if you haven't got enough already, I also had a quick thought from today's daily lectionary reading, which can be found here:
So, the part that was particularly interesting to me today was from Acts 16.  It is a fairly well known story.  Paul and Silas are in jail, literally in chains for the gospel, having been beaten and imprisoned in an attempt to keep them from spreading the good news about Jesus Christ.   There is an earthquake and all the doors of the prison, and Paul and Silas' chains open.  Upon realizing this the guard is about to kill himself, rather than face the punishment of his superiors.  Paul yells out to stop him, assuring him that the prisoners are all still there.  
The guard immediately takes them outside and asks, 'what must I do to be saved.'  
It occurred to me that there is an important lesson here.  It would have been common sense for Paul and Silas to assume that God had caused the earthquake for them to escape, so they should get up and get out of there as soon as possible.  
But that is not what they did.  Now there are some things not in the text that I think it is safe to infer.  First, Paul and Silas were (as is shown numerous times in the Scriptures) deeply prayerful people, open to and in touch with the leading of the Holy Spirit.  When God spoke to Paul, he generally listened.  Second, again as demonstrated in the Scriptures, they dedicated their whole lives to sharing and spreading the Word of God and the good news of Jesus Christ to all that would hear it.  
With these two things in mind, it begins to make sense why they didn't flee when they had the chance.  They likely knew exactly what their absence would have meant to the life of the guard and were not lead to do so by the Holy Spirit, so even though they were unjustly imprisoned, they stayed right where they were.  And we know from the rest of the story that because of that, the guard became a believer that very night.  
So what's the point for us?  That it matters how we act, all time.  That people are not just watching and inferring things about Jesus Christ and the God we claim to serve when we are actively doing 'mission' or service, but people are watching us and forming an opinion about who Christ is by how we act when we are in difficult or unfair situations.  
When we are treated badly in a restaurant, it is an opportunity to bear witness to Christ
When we are in the middle of 'grey areas' in our work and job situations, people are watching and we are representing Christ.
How we respond - especially in situations like these, can be an invitation to others to a relationship with Christ.  Or it can be a witness to the lie that Jesus doesn't make a difference in the way we live our lives.  
What we are focusing on matters!  Know that people are watching and from how we act - in good and bad, fair and unfair situations - they will judge the power and importance of the God we serve.  

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