Fix Your Eye On The Goal

“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, 2 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.– Hebrews 12:1-2.

There is no way to quantify this fact, but the Hebrews 12 passage of scripture may be preached on more than all others (although there are hundreds of candidates). One reason is the comparison between the Christian journey and a race. The other is because it applies to every believer.  Every believer could testify that there are things in our life that distract, hinders, or tangles us from heeding the call of God.  

But this passage will also help us refocus our attention on Christ. Taking our eyes off Jesus is one of the easiest things we do while keeping our eyes on Jesus is rarely an easy thing. Culture and the enemy are constantly conspiring against our efforts to remain faithful to the Savior. We can allow the cares of this world to push us away from the Lord instead of looking to Him in the midst of our trials and circumstances of life. This was the danger faced by the original audience of Hebrews. Their trials and circumstances were seen as reasons to abandon the race.  

That is why the author of Hebrews reminds us to look to Jesus. As we remember our Savior and His endurance for the sake of the prize, we will be enabled to press on and finish the race. Looking to Jesus, however, does not mean we do nothing ourselves. The remainder of the book of Hebrews focuses on those things that can be done to prepare us for the race ahead. As we follow the commands given by the author, the Holy Spirit will work through us and cause us to cling to Jesus.

When you are running a long distance, it is easy to get discouraged and frustrated that you are nowhere near the finish line. Often you cannot even see the finish line from where you are. But as a runner, you need to keep your eyes on the road ahead. When you start to get discouraged and look elsewhere, you slow down, you begin to doubt you can finish, and you begin to struggle.

But when you keep looking forward to the finish, you remain focused. So whenever you get discouraged or frustrated—feeling like you want to quit—fix your eyes on Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him, and He will keep you right on track to where you need to go.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In what area of your life are you successful at looking forward and being faithful? What are some practical ways you can apply your approach to an area of life in which you’re tempted to look backward and be fearful? 
  2. What is one thing you can do to fix your eyes on Jesus instead of safety, security, and comfort? How can this group support you?

 

Refocus On God When You Are Drifting

“The Christian life is first and foremost a life of contemplation – listening to Jesus, considering Jesus, fixing the eyes of the heart on Jesus. Everything else in the Christian life grows out of this. Without this, the Christian life is simply unlivable.” ― John Piper.

Every day you can read articles on the problem of people drifting away from their life’s purpose or dreams. Those articles remind us that not only can we drift away from our life plans–work, family, creative endeavors, for example, we can also drift greatly from God. What does it look like when we drift from God and how do we stop the drift? One way to prevent drifting is to refocus on God.

The issue of focus is central to our walk with Christ. The Book of Hebrews emphasizes the importance of fixing and focusing our eyes on Jesus. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) Hebrews 3:1 says, “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.”  

The concept of drifting is certainly not unfamiliar to us. How many times have you reached the bottom of a page only to realize that you weren’t paying close enough attention to recall what you just read? And how many times have you driven for miles without realizing that you missed your turn-off? Life’s purpose and dreams require focus and refocus: especially for spiritual priorities. 

I know it sounds simple enough, but is it?  If you or I am going to stay focused on God, we have got to include the things of God in our daily lives. God will restore you: Deuteronomy 30:1-5, 8-9, (MSG) explains this point very well: “Here’s what will happen. While you’re out among the nations where God has dispersed you and the blessings and curses come in just the way I have set them before you, and you and your children take them seriously and come back to God, your God, and obey him with your whole heart and soul according to everything that I command you today, God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors… And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I’m commanding you today. God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you’ll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors”

Read that passage when circumstances bring you down when you are drifting or have the inclination to not stay the course.  

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Is focusing or refocusing harder in your mind? Why? 
  2. What can we do this week to refocus the areas we may be drifting?  

The Attributes Of God – God Is Always With You

What are God’s attributes? When we talk about the attributes of God, we are trying to answer questions like, who is God, what is God like, and what kind of God is He? An attribute of God is something true about Him. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God is always with you.   

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” –  Joshua 1:9. 

You are not alone. You are never alone. You may feel like the only person in the room, but God’s presence is always with you. God is present everywhere … so He is always with you. Because He is an infinite Spirit, He is not restricted to being in one location at a time. God is not limited to time and space; He exists everywhere at the same time. No matter where you go or how fast you get there, God is already there. You simply cannot escape the presence of God. If it was possible for you to travel from east to west at the speed of light, you will find God is already there, waiting for you. 

Jesus Christ promises to be with us always and everywhere: “… And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20). In Acts 17:28 we are told, “For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.”We live in His presence every second of our lives. When we are alone, God watches what we do. When we do something good that nobody else knows about, God sees it.  He also sees the bad things we do in secret. Hebrews 4:13 states, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable”

We actually have the presence of Almighty God living inside us. The apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)  God wants us to “consciously” live in His presence each day.  Because He is always present, it is possible for us to be in constant communication with Him and to depend on Him in every situation. But too often we ignore His presence because we are so preoccupied with our lives.

The bottom line is that no person or circumstance can ever remove us from the presence of our loving God. He is always with us, hearing our cries for help. He is always with us, protecting us from danger. He is always with us, watching what we do. He is our ever-present Lord and Savior.  

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:20. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. It isn’t a matter of achieving God’s presence, but surrendering to God’s presence that is already within the Christian. Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
  2. Is anything making it difficult for you to see God’s presence in your life? Is there something you need to stop or start?

Having An Encounter With God

“When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.” – Jeremiah 15:16. 

Have you ever had a personal encounter with God? Do you know what it means or even that it is possible today in our everyday lives?

Scripture tells us how to have a perfect and direct avenue to powerful and transformational encounters with God. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.” In Scripture, we find both our weakness and God’s unfailing love portrayed through countless stories. All we need to both understand and pursue a wholehearted unveiled relationship with God is found in scripture.

Do you desire to have a personal encounter with God?  One thing we need to understand is that as we try to find God, He is trying to find us. If you can’t find God, start to worship and He will find you. Hebrews 11:6 says “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

People are changed when they have a real encounter with Jesus. When Jesus was here on earth no one who needed help could come into His presence and remain the same. Sick people were healed. Dead people came back to life. Broken people became whole. It’s no different now. The reason people are changed is when people encounter God. If the presence of God is present, people are changed. Some of the most impactful times in the presence of God can be just you and Him. You’re alone in your prayer closet or in God’s great outdoors in silence and stillness. He will show up.

When you experience such an encounter, what makes it so wonderful, is the realization that you matter to God. Whether in a crowd or by yourself, an encounter with God is not Him raining down something “on” you; it’s Him being with you. Your heart is open and still, and the living God of the universe “…will share a meal together as friends.”  (Revelation 3:20) When we seek God with passion, desire, and excitement, He shows up, and everything changes.

The key is to keep showing up alone with God. Invest in your relationship with your Creator. Something special can happen if you are focused on Him. And you will find yourself being transformed.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe yourself when you have been the most “connected” to Jesus. The most “disconnected.” 
  2. What can you add or delete from your life today to be more connected this week?