Guard Your Focus – Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

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Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. —Hebrews 12:2

“That’s my disciple,” I once heard a woman say about someone she was helping. As followers of Christ we are all tasked with making disciples—sharing the good news of Christ with people and helping them grow spiritually. But it can be easy to focus on ourselves instead of Jesus.

The apostle Paul was concerned that the Corinthian church was losing its focus on Christ. The two best-known preachers in those days were Paul and Apollos. The church was divided: “I follow Paul.” “Well, I follow Apollos!” They had begun focusing on the wrong person, following the teachers rather than the Savior. But Paul corrected them. We are “God’s fellow workers.” It doesn’t matter who plants and who waters, for only God can give the growth. Christians are “God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:6-9). The Corinthian believers didn’t belong to Paul nor to Apollos.

Apollos first appears on the pages of the New Testament in the book of Acts, where it says he was “born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures” (18:24). Though he spoke of Jesus boldly in the synagogue, his understanding of the Scriptures was incomplete, so he received training from Aquila and Priscilla (v. 26). Apollos is discussed in today’s text as someone who had developed a strong following among believers in Christ (1 Cor. 3:4). He is mentioned favorably by Paul in Titus 3:13 when he urged Titus to help Apollos on his journey.

Jesus tells us to go and make disciples and to teach them about Him (Matt. 28:20). And the author of the book of Hebrews reminds us to focus on the Author and Finisher of our faith (12:2). Christ will be honored when we focus on Him; He is superior to any human being and He will meet our needs.

Father, I confess that it is easy to shift my focus from You to less important things. Thank You for putting people in my life that help point me to You. Help me point others to You in a way that makes You more and me less.

Put Jesus first.

By C. P. Hia


Taking Possession of Our Own Soul

By your patience possess your souls. —Luke 21:19

When a person is born again, there is a period of time when he does not have the same vitality in his thinking or reasoning that he previously had. We must learn to express this new life within us, which comes by forming the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5). Luke 21:19 means that we take possession of our souls through patience. But many of us prefer to stay at the entrance to the Christian life, instead of going on to create and build our soul in accordance with the new life God has placed within us. We fail because we are ignorant of the way God has made us, and we blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures. Just think what we could be when we are awakened to the truth!

There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.

By Oswald Chambers

Understanding Anxiety

2 Timothy 1:7

Throughout scripture, the lord gives us evidence that many people deal with anxiety—even those considered pillars of faith. For example, we can deduce that the apostle Paul must have felt fear, since God instructed Him not to be afraid “any longer” (Acts 18:9).

The fact that fear is common, however, does not mean it is from the Lord (2 Timothy 1:7). Of course, certain situations—like hearing a loud noise when we are alone—will trigger a frightened response. But God doesn’t want us to live with ongoing anxiety.

Common worries include the fear of death, poverty, illness, old age, criticism, and the loss of a loved one or something cherished. Why do we find it so hard to let go of our concerns, even when God clearly states, “Do not fear” (Luke 12:7)? The reason is that worry can become deeply ingrained in the way we think. Sometimes we have unhealthy thought patterns that stem from feelings of inadequacy, a sense of guilt, or a mistaken view of the Lord. It’s not uncommon for insecurity in childhood to develop into a lack of confidence later on. Life experiences can be another factor. For instance, a person who has lost a parent suddenly in a car accident is likely to struggle with worry.

Regardless of the cause, anxiety will take our eyes off our omnipotent, loving heavenly Father and focus our attention on our circumstances. No wonder God repeatedly reminds us not to fear—He wants His children to feel secure in His capability and trustworthiness.

The Righteous Man

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7)

There is an old spiritual song that has the phrase “ev’ry body talkin’ ‘bout heav’n ain’t goin’ there.” That’s a good summary statement of biblical truth—and worth repeating. As our text puts it, the righteous man does righteousness. But there is more to this principle.

A Righteous Man Knows He Is Righteous: As a young man, King David was very conscious of his righteousness. David knew that he had “clean hands,” that he “kept the ways of the LORD,” and that he had neither “done wickedly” nor “departed” from God. David was also careful to put the “judgments” and the “statutes” of God out in front of his thoughts. “Therefore,” he said, “hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness” (Psalm 18:20-24).

A Righteous Man Loves Righteousness: The opening stanza of the majestic Psalm 119 makes this statement: “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways” (Psalm 119:2-3). The apostle John is even more succinct: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).

A Righteous Man Resolves to Live Righteously: “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way . . . . I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person” (Psalm 101:2-4).

Those who long to be with God long to be like God. HMM III

Too Timid to Tell the Truth

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. —Acts 4:13

The contemporary moral climate does not favor a faith as tough and fibrous as that taught by our Lord and His apostles. The delicate, brittle saints being produced in our religious hothouses today are hardly to be compared with the committed, expendable believers who once gave their witness among men. And the fault lies with our leaders. They are too timid to tell the people all the truth. They are now asking men to give to God that which costs them nothing.

Our churches these days are filled (or one-quarter filled) with a soft breed of Christian that must be fed on a diet of harmless fun to keep them interested. About theology they know little. Scarcely any of them have read even one of the great Christian classics, but most of them are familiar with religious fiction and spine-tingling films. No wonder their moral and spiritual constitution is so frail. Such can only be called weak adherents of a faith they never really understood.

Lord, send the Holy Spirit to renew within us a depth and seriousness in our pulpits. Give us boldness in our preaching. Amen.

God Would Impart Himself with His Gifts

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Have you had any part in the modern cheapening of the Christian gospel by making God your servant? Have you allowed leanness to come to your soul because you have been expecting that God would come around with a basket, giving away presents?

I feel that we must repudiate this great modern wave of seeking God for His benefits. Anyone can write a best-selling book now—just give it a title like “Seventeen Ways to Get Things from God!”

I would say there are millions who do not seem to know or understand that God wants to give Himself! He wants to impart Himself with His gifts. Any gift that He would give us would be incomplete if it were separated from the knowledge of God Himself.

If I should pray for all of the spiritual gifts listed in Paul’s epistles and the Spirit of God should see fit to give them, it would be extremely dangerous for me if, in the giving, God did not give Himself as well.

It is a fact that God has created an environment for all of His creatures. Because God made man in His image and redeemed him, the heart of God Himself is the true environment for the Christian. If there is grief in heaven, I think it must come because we want God’s gifts but we do not want God Himself as our environment!

The Promise of the Spirit

This Jesus… being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost. ACTS 2:32-33

The miraculous events wrought in Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost indicated to the disciples that Jesus Christ, the Messiah Savior, had indeed taken His place at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

With Jewish critics all around, Peter lifted his voice and said that all who were in Jerusalem on that day were seeing the fulfillment of prophecy—the words of Jesus that He would send the Holy Spirit after His death and resurrection and exaltation.

“Therefore,” Peter cried, “let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

Many, many have failed to note Peter’s Pentecostal emphasis: The important thing in God’s plan was the fact that Jesus had been exalted in heaven, and that His glorification there had been the signal for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. What a lesson! The Spirit does not have to be begged—He comes when the Savior is honored and exalted!

Father, Your Spirit dwells in all those who receive Your gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. What a power source we possess! Lord, awaken Your Church to this reality today, I earnestly pray!