I came across this principle, “What you focus on grows” this got me thinking about a Christian’s focus. In the attention economy, what are we paying attention to? Everything around is trying to get our attention. Social media and technology today have made it possible for everyone to connect with almost anyone.
As of 2019, 500 hours of video content was uploaded every minute onto YouTube. This single piece of statistic gives you an idea of the amount of content that is being created and shared with the world every day. In the content-rich world that we live in, where our focus is and on what should be our focus.
I will share with you 5 areas of focus from examples in the Bible.
All these examples did face challenges like all of us. They were not immune from them, nor were they immune to the reality that existed due to the problem. It is interesting to see what they chose to focus on, determined in the way they acted and reacted to the situation, and this made them stand out from everyone else and hence became lighthouses in history.
In each of the examples, you will see that the characters around these lighthouses focused on things you and I would typically focus on. Logical things that one should think about and find answers too or so the world does teach us. Let us dive in and meet these lighthouses in their situation.
Focus on the presence of God
To see this kind of focus in action, let us join Elisha in 2 Kings 6:8 – 17. The King of Aram has sent an army to capture Elisha, and they had the city surrounded. In verse 15 we read, “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my Lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.”
What shall we do? is a fair question by Elisha’s servant, an expected question in the face of a problem. Any sensible person would think the same way. The instinct is to find a solution to a problem that threatens to change our regular life, the bubbles that we have carefully created for ourselves.
Elisha chooses not to focus on the soldiers sent by the Kind of Aram but on the presence of the Living God who watches over each one of us. In verse 17, “And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
Elisha focuses on our Lord, who is our refuge and our fortress and our strength in the time of our need. In verse 16, he says, “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha chose to focus on the God whose presence is beside us all the time.
Since Elisha focused on God’s mighty presence, he was able to shine for God at this point in history. Elisha asks God to strike the army with blindness, and God does what Elisha asks. See verse 18; As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So, he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
God does what Elisha asks; think about that for a moment. It blows my mind that our Omnipotent God does what a man just like you and me asks Him to do. The servant focused on his ability and what he could do to overcome the challenge, but Elisha concentrates on God’s glorious presence.
Focus on the deliverance of God
We need to catch up with Abraham and Isaac as they hike up the mountain to offer a sacrifice to see this in action.
Abraham asks his servants to hang back while he and Isaac will hike further up to worship. As they start this portion of the journey, Isaac speaks up. We see this in Genesis 22:7; Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Isaac notices the problem. It is a problem of provision. The instinct for survival plays a significant role in each of our lives. We need a guarantee for how we will meet our food and safety needs every day. When one is not sure of the source from which those needs will be met, they cannot think about anything else but that. Survival instinct kicks in, and they focus their attention only on those things.
In verse 8, Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. Abraham’s focus was not on his ability to provide but instead on the deliverance of God. Abraham’s focus is on the Provider who has been faithful to him in the past. Abraham can keep his emotions in check because he chooses not to focus his attention on them.
Abraham had longed to see the promise of a child to be filled in his life for 25 years. Isaac was the fulfillment of that promise, but now the command is to sacrifice him for God. Sacrificing their children was something that people at that time and place did to please their gods, so this requirement would not have been outrageous in Abraham’s eyes. Even then, emotions would have been high. Anguish, heartbreak, sorrow, to name a few, would have flooded his heart, but we see that Abraham looks to God to provide.
In verse 13, we see that Abraham was right in choosing to focus on God. Abraham looked up, and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. God provides, Amen! Do you have a need today? Will you choose to focus on the deliverance of God? He has shown himself to be true in the past; why not determine to focus your attention on Him this time as well?
Focus on the Power of God
We now travel to join Job in his conversation with God to learn about what God says about focus.
Job has been conversing with his friends, defending his righteousness. Job has completed a soul searching of his life to find a reason for his current situation. Job acknowledges that things that happen in the world are not in his control. Job’s focus throughout the conversation with his friends has been on his actions, if any, that could have caused this ill upon him and his family.
In chapter 38, God speaks to Job. We read that God spoke to Job out of a storm. Storms demonstrate from time to time the sheer power they carry with them. A storm has no regard for what lies in its path. Now, God chooses to speak to Job from a storm, and God asks Job some questions.
Questions that Job cannot answer, no one can. God is directing Job’s attention to His power and majesty. In Job 40:3,4, Job says, Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. Job is overwhelmed by the majesty of God. God continues to speak of His creation and the mysteries that exist in the world.
In chapter 42, we get to hear Job speak again; Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. Again, Job confesses his ignorance and acknowledges the exclusive opportunity he has to see God.
“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” The conclusion of the matter is much better than in the beginning. God calls for Job to focus on His majesty rather than Job’s righteousness. Are you facing a problem like Job? Will you be willing to focus on the magnificence of God instead of your current overwhelming situation?
God is ready to bless your latter part of your life more than your former part. Just as Job says in 42:6, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Focus on God to deliver you from your situation and give Him the glory he deserves. Allow God to speak to your life and listen to Him.
Focus on Praising God
To see how one could find deliverance by praising God, we travel to meet King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles chapter 20.
The king is informed of an army approaching to attack the people of Israel. The army comprises not one but 3 kingdoms: the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites. We are not told the exact number of the enemy’s army except that it is vast. One can imagine if three kingdoms came together to attack another kingdom, the number of men in that army would be more than the people of Judah can handle.
Verse 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
As soon as the king heard about the problem, we need to note that he goes to the presence of God. Jehoshaphat does not call on the king of Israel or any of his other allies. Nor did the king think about a way to broker peace. He goes straight to God. What are your first instincts when you face a problem? Who do you turn to in your time of need?
How wonderful it is to see the Bible records human emotions. Jehoshaphat was alarmed. Who wouldn’t be? When one faces an immense challenge, it is natural to show worry but what is crucial is to whom do we go to for providing you with the relief that you need. Who you go to first shows who you trust? Do you trust yourself? Your connections? Or Your God?
Jehoshaphat proclaims a fast and calls on God, and He answers. The answer is cryptic.
Verse 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”
The people of Judah are given a location to get to the next day and see for themselves the deliverance of God. Early in the morning, the people and the king start their journey to the place God had instructed to see His redemption. To help the people stay focused, Jehoshaphat does something unique.
After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever.”22 As they began to sing and praise.
The people focus on praising God rather than thinking about the enemy who is approaching to destroy them. Would you choose to focus on praising God? Would you think about the omnipresence and the omnipotence of God?
While they are on the way to the place that God had given them, God was already taking care of the deliverance that He had promised. The people who focused on praising God did not have to do a thing to deliver themselves. All they had to do was to collect the reward that God had in store for them. The rewards were overflowing. It took 3 days to collect the loot.
When God provides, He gives more than what you thought or imagined. He enjoys pouring out abundant blessings on His children, who choose to focus on Him. What are you waiting for?
Focus on the promise
To learn about focusing on the promise, we travel to join the nation of Israel on the border of the promised land. Moses has sent out spies to go and view the land. Let’s join them as they return to the camp to report their assessment of the land that God had promised to the Israelites.
Moses chooses 12 men to survey the land at the Lord’s command and gives them clear instructions on what to look for when they go to the land.
Numbers 13: 18 – 20
18 See what the land is like and whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 Is the land they live in good or bad? Do their cities have walls around them or not? 20 Is the soil rich or poor? Does the land have trees or not? Do your best to bring back some fruit from the land.”
The men took time to access the land that God had promised them. They spent 40 days exploring the land passing through the way that Moses had instructed them to go. They also bring fruits from that land; grapes, pomegranate, and Figs. I am amazed at the fact that 2 people had to carry one bunch of grapes.
All the spies reported the facts that they had seen with their own eyes. Still, there is a distinct difference on how they interpret the facts. 10 spies focused on the problems that lie ahead. At the same time, Caleb and Joshua demonstrate belief as they see the situation through the promise that God had given them, and therefore could reach a different conclusion.
In verse 30, Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.”
In Number chapter 14, Caleb and Joshua share their reasons to go and conquer the promised land.
7 They said to the whole community of Israel, “The land we explored is very good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us. This is a land flowing with milk and honey! 9 Don’t rebel against the Lord and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. We will devour them like bread. They have no protection, and the Lord is with us. So, don’t be afraid of them.”
When you look at the obstacle that lies ahead of you on your way to your goal, choose to look at the promise that God has given you. In Jeremiah 33:3, God says, “Call to me, and I will answer you” In Isaiah 40:31, the prophet says, “but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles;”
Trust in the promise of God, and He will give you all that you need to cross the Red sea that is in front of you. All you need to do is take the first step, place it on the water, and see what our God is waiting to do for you.
In Num 14:24, you can see what God had to say about Caleb.
“But because my servant Caleb has a different attitude and has wholeheartedly followed me, I’ll bring him to the land he already explored. His descendants will possess it. 30 But none of you will enter it except Caleb (son of Jephunneh) and Joshua (son of Nun)”
The reward for believing the promise of God is the fulfillment of the promise of God. Which of God’s promises do you want to see fulfilled in your life? What is your attitude towards the words of God? Would you like to focus on the promise like Caleb and Joshua?
In each of the five examples, I can see myself thinking and reacting the way like Isaac, the servant of Elisha, the 10 spies did. We have been trained to analyze and come to similar conclusions regarding the situations in our lives. Still, Elisha, Abraham, Caleb, and Joshua demonstrate child-like faith in the way they thought and acted. They actively chose to focus on the presence, deliverance, power, praise, and promise of God.
When we choose to focus our faith on God rather than faith in ourselves, we are destined to witness and experience remarkable things in our lives. Joyce Meyer rightly asserts, “No matter what has happened to you in the past or what is going on in your life right now, it has no power to keep you from having an amazingly good future if you will walk by faith in God. God loves you! He wants you to live with victory over sin so you can possess His promises for your life today!”
You want to know what God has in store for you? Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God’s plans for you are for you to prosper, i.e., to be wealthy and successful. Plans to give you a future – one that you have not imagined for yourself yet. So, what do you want to focus on? The plan that God has for you? Your faith in His word? Join me in experiencing what God will do in our lives when we choose to focus on Him.