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What the Bible says about Focus
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 6:4

God's mind is absolutely undivided. In practical application, this means that His sovereignty can never be separated from His love; His grace cannot be separated from His omniscience; His judgment cannot be separated from either His mercy or His wrath. God is absolutely constant because His faithful providence cannot be separated from any other of His attributes. God is whole and complete. Under every circumstance, He is never confused or uncertain about what to do. He is always headed in the same direction, which is to complete His purpose.

It is absolutely impossible for Him to do anything that is not wise and at the same time loving. It is He who tells us how to live and how to be like Him. What God is has awesome ramifications for us because we are so different, and He wants us to be like Him, to be one with Him, to be whole, to be complete, to be undivided in mind like Him.

There are problems here because becoming this way requires a measure of cooperation from us. Compared to God, our mind is all over the place, and thus we are so easily distracted from our focus.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Knowing God

Ecclesiastes 6:9

The problem with a divided, unfocused mind is that it is, as we would say today, all over the place, seeking fulfillment in a host of things, pursuing a wide variety of goals, but rarely, if ever, coming to grips with the pursuit of revealed truth.

Many of us have television to thank for having a mind like this as it has played a major role in destroying peoples' attention span. The attention span of Americans is now getting down into the neighborhood of seven minutes: the length of time between advertising on television. We have a hard time focusing for any period of time, and television is constantly pushing its mind-numbing banalities into our minds, making it difficult for us to do what is absolutely necessary for us to do, that is, to spend time in heartfelt prayer and study, seeking God. The chances are very great that we sit down to read the Bible, and our eyes get heavy, and we struggle to fight off sleep. It happens because we have no passion for Jesus Christ.

God is teaching us what defragments our mind: seeking Him with a passionate desire to be like Him. This works to make our minds one with His.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Knowing God

Matthew 6:19-21

There is an over-arching subject that Jesus never directly mentions in the context of Matthew 6:19-21, but He was undoubtedly concerned about it. No one ever had a clearer understanding of human realities than Jesus. This subject concerns two levels of diversion from what is proper within achieving a desire, the first being minor compared to the second.

First, then, is that, humanly, we can become so deeply involved in achieving an especially desired goal that we become inattentive to virtually everything else, including God. Some refer to it as “losing oneself in the moment.” We can be thankful that these kinds of diversions generally do not last long. We usually “catch” ourselves within them and redirect our efforts accordingly. How many serious accidents have been caused by this type of distraction is beyond knowing.

The second concern is far more damaging to our calling: We allow our human nature to re-enslave us to this world. This return to carnality happens when we fail to discipline ourselves daily. We fail to maintain our focus on the absolute fact that what really matters in our lives are glorifying God and attaining spiritual value in our character. We must put everything else in second, third, or fourth place in order of importance. No one can do this for us; we must do it ourselves.

Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” His counsel, valuable within its context, applies in spades to our calling. The context does not delve into the fact that not all things a person desires and works for are of equal value. Herein lies another reality that we must resolve because heavenly treasure and earthly treasure are not equally important, especially after God calls us.

The proper balance of the time and effort we give to seeking treasure must be an important companion to determining our priorities in what treasures we seek. Once God calls a person is called, a new effort with far greater, more important goals has entered his life. The called-out individual must never allow himself to forget that the Creator God personally and specifically called him; he is not among the elect by accident or stroke of luck.

We must add to this astounding truth what Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 to those God calls: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This burning dedication to the same goals that God has called us to must accompany the called-out person's efforts to be a profitable servant. Without this characteristic, we can be quite busy accomplishing, but unless we are also deeply committed to what God is focused on for us to achieve, we will merely burn time without achieving much of value in terms of God's spiritual purpose.

God wants us to give our time and life purposefully over to attaining His Kingdom. Merely being busy and productive are not the only issues. Being focused on what God assigns works hand in glove with what one's treasure is. Matthew 6:24, just a few verses later, gives us a significant reason why: “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The reason may escape the reasoning of many, but Jesus clearly warns that giving our lives over to the achievement of the things of this world is blatant idolatry for a Christian! Do we truly want to place ourselves in the position of hating God—or even loving Him less than something else? The things of this world are those things God has not assigned to the Christian life.

Unlike those in the world, few called-out ones fall into such calamity, but some do and find themselves re-enslaved to the world by it. Such a person will be so preoccupied with gathering his worldly treasure that his skewed focus will confuse his values. His achievement in that area of life will obscure the goal God has established for our spiritual existence. The human heart will follow the carnal influence rather than the godly one. We must make diligent efforts to avoid this trap because the world acts like a magnet, always trying to recapture what has been pulled from it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Five)

Matthew 6:22-24

Jesus urges single-mindedness! The teaching here involves simplicity of intention in living one's life. In light of verse Matthew 6:33, verse 24 shows we must focus our attention on our highest priority. When that is done, it indicates devotion to purpose and undivided loyalty to the object of that purpose.

In geometry, it is impossible to draw more than one straight line between two points. Though other lines may start at the same point, only one will reach the second point. All others end up somewhere else. Likewise, a person who tries to focus on several goals at once has no clear orientation, and he will wind up elsewhere.

Some commentaries note that the ancients believed that light entered a person through the eyes, the "windows" of the body. If the eyes were in good condition, the whole body benefited from the unimpeded light. If the eye were not sound or "single," the whole body's effectiveness was diminished. Thus a person who single-mindedly pursues God's Kingdom and His righteousness will have moral healthiness and simple, unaffected goodness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Simplify Your Life!

Matthew 6:22-23

In verse 22, the word single means "whole," "undivided," implying seeing things in their reality since the eye is not diseased in any way. In verse 23, Jesus says, "if your eye be evil." Here the word evil means "divided" or "unhealthy." He is using this illustration to indicate that, if the eye is in good health and is able to see clearly, a person has a good chance of being able to see at least the physical reality clearly.

But if a person's eye is diseased—if there is macular degeneration or cataracts forming, or if the muscles of an old person's eye are not working properly so that he loses maybe his close-up or distant vision—we know that he will not have clear sight unless those conditions are corrected in some way.

The real subject of Jesus' saying is the importance of being able to focus in order to fulfill one's purpose in life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Knowing God

Luke 21:34-36

This chapter gives us an overview of the hair-raising, terrifying events leading to Christ's return. Despite all the evidence that will be available for us to witness and thus motivate us, He feels it is necessary to warn us to be alert.

It seems almost redundant. Why should we of all people need to be warned? Well, the general answer is because the Laodicean has trouble keeping his attention, his mind, focused. His mind is all over the place. At least in terms of spiritual things, the Laodicean, has a short attention span. He can go at it for spurts—maybe on the Sabbath for a couple of hours—but what happens during the week? Has his love of beauty—the beauty that this world is fully capable of producing to distract the senses—kept him occupied? Is he drawn to those things? If he is, what relationship will be abused? The answer to that is very clear: his relationship with God.

When we consider Revelation 3:14-18 carefully, we see that this is the problem. The Laodicean has compromised with his life in the use of his time. It is not that he is sinning all the time, but that he is not paying attention to the Bridegroom!

Ladies, how would you feel if the man you are to marry pays attention to everything but you? What would happen to the relationship? That is the problem with the Laodicean: His mind is drifting to take in all kinds of things except the One that he is going to marry—until the Sabbath comes along. He will appear in church, and everything looks fairly good, but all during the week he has been paying attention to everything except Christ.

Prayer becomes ineffective. He does not allow God to communicate with him through Bible study in the way that he should. There is very little meditation. He is not doing a great deal of thinking about the One to whom he is betrothed. We can begin to see that his love of beauty is taking him in the wrong direction, and the abuse falls on the relationship that he most needs to build and to protect.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Laodiceanism

1 Peter 3:15

Sanctify means "set apart." It means, in this case, "make God the focus of one's thoughts, of one's approach to life, of the circumstance that one finds himself in."

Is this not what Peter forgot to do in Matthew 16? Satan's disinformation was the focus of Peter's response to Jesus—not God's thoughts. If God's thoughts or words had really been sanctified in Peter's heart at that time, he never would have said what he did. He would have said something like, "Yes, Jesus, I understand. That's what the scripture says." But instead, he disagreed with God. When one sanctifies God in his heart, then the Word of God becomes the focus, not the word of the spirit of this world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 




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