It's all about focus. Three of my readings this morning seemed to relate to 'focus'. Do you think God is trying to tell me something?? So you are getting all three (in the order I read them). You might want to read in installments :)
From Our Daily Bread devotional...
In Focus - read Acts 3:2-8, 16
Author Mark Twain suggested that whatever we look at in life - and how we see it - can influence our next steps, even our destiny. As Twain said, "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
Peter too spoke of vision when he replied to a lame beggar, a man whom he and John encountered at the busy temple gate called Beautiful (Acts 3:2). As the man asked them for money, Peter and John looked directly at the man. "Then Peter said, 'Look at us!'" (v4).
Why did he say that? As Christ's ambassador, Peter likely wanted the beggar to stop looking at his own limitations - yes, even to stop looking at his need for money. As he looked at the apostles, he would see the reality of having faith in God.
As Peter told him, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk" (v6). Then Peter "helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk" and give praise (vv7-8).
What happened? The man had faith in God (v16). As evangelist Charles Spurgeon urged, "Keep your eye simply on Him." When we do, we don't see obstacles. We see God, the One who makes our way clear.
- Patricia Raybon
What are you focused on instead of God? With refocused faith, what could you see in Him for your life?
Heavenly Father, when my eyes wander from You, focus my gaze on Your unlimited power.
From Hearing from God Each Morning devotional - Joyce Meyer
Spirit Led Persistence
What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit (by the Holy Spirit that is within me), but I will also pray (intelligently) with my mind and understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15)
I really want to encourage you to pray persistent, persevering prayers by the leading of the Holy Spirit - not mere repetitious prayers that do not come from your heart, but prayers that refuse to give up. It is possible to use your mouth to speak words of prayer that have no meaning behind them at all, and those prayers are nothing but dead works. I could quote the entire Lord's Prayer while I am thinking about something else, and that would not bless God or do me any good, but if I am sincere and pray from my heart, God hears and works in my behalf.
Lip service doesn't do anything for God or accomplish anything in our lives, so even when we pray about the same thing over and over again, we need to be careful not to fall into meaningless repetition. Instead, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in a fresh way, even when we are addressing a subject about which we have prayed for a long time. Sometimes He will lead us to be diligent and persistent about a matter, but there is a difference between repetition and Spirit-led persitence.
Words spoken in prayer that are not connected to our hearts are words without power. When we pray we should focus and concentrate on what we are saying. We should never merely verbalize things we have memorized while our hearts are far from God. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available (see James 5:16).
Your heartfelt prayers to God have power and He hears them.
Prisoners of Hope
Return to your fortress, O prisoner of hope; come back to the place of safety - Zechariah 9:12
Paul was in prison but he was never a prisoner. It is not difficult situations that trap us, it is our reactions to them that form the prison bars. Psalm 107:10-11 and 13 talks about prisoners like that who are chained in the deepest gloom, 'for they had rebelled against the words of God... then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness...and broke away their chains' (v14). Our spirits can be imprisoned when we 'rebel' against God by shaking an angry fist at the circumstances He has allowed. Fortunately He is always ready to save us when we call to Him for help!
An Old Testament scholar such as Paul would have known Zechariah's phrase 'prisoners of hope' (9;12). Whenever I read it, I think of the day I went to tea with my friends Jo and Susie. Their cat had presented them with 5 kittens, which had rapidly turned into teenagers with attitude! In the centre of the sitting room stood a huge wire cage in which lived a family of gerbils. The kittens swarmed incessantly all over the cage, spitting, hissing and clawing savagely at the bars. Far from being traumatised, the gerbils took no notice at all, but happily went on eating, sleeping and playing chase. A prison holds you on all sides and contains you, so being a prisoner of hope means being surrounded and protected by our unshakeable trust in God's promises and goodness.
You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me... Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:5,7)
See what I mean? It's all about where our focus is :)
All the Spring flower photos were taken on my walks this past week
Song of Solomon 2:12