13 thoughts on “Stay Focused!

  1. Love this Psalm in its entirety. So encouraging and takes away the stings,bruises and much pain when I place my confidence in God alone. Not easy when you hear all negative and very few encouragers. I need to be a better encourager and find a few more myself!

  2. Sara. your comments on how “encouraging” this psalm is “ENCOURAGED” me to stop and read the whole Psalm. And you are right. It is so very encouraging…to know my Lord neither slumbers nor sleeps; that the Lord is my Keeper…[and I DO need one] and that He keeps me from evil. The Psalmist was prophetic in this, as millennia later Jesus Christ the Messiah spoke very similar words when He taught His own disciples and those of us down through the centuries the ‘encouraging’ and comforting “The Lord’s Prayer.”

  3. ” I will lift up my eyes unto the mountains” (or hills as some translations write) brought to remembrance a devotional book written by Dr. Billy Graham, “Unto The Hills” based on Psalm 121. I had placed this on a shelf some time ago as I have been using other daily devotionals. But since I left my usual devotional at my office where I usually read it early am before work (and I haven’t made it there today yet because of all the snow here where I live), I decided to read today’s devotional from “Unto the Hills” entitled , ‘Is God Your Pilot’.
    Dr Graham states, “God does not want to share the controls over our lives. He wants us to relinquish them and let Him have control of our lives.” This speaks to me. Who or what am I looking to for help? Where is my trust placed? What controls me?
    Dr Graham goes on to tell a story of a little girl whose father is a pilot. They are on a stormy flight crossing the Atlantic when the attendant wakes the girl up and tells her to fasten her seat belt because of the turbulent conditions. She wakes up and asks if her father is at the controls? When the attendant says yes he is, she smiles, closes her eyes and goes back to sleep.
    That story sure spoke of the trust and comfort of allowing God to be in control and speaks to vs 2 in Psalm 121, “He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.” (Message)
    Dr Graham said, “If we will only relinquish controls to Him, He will see us safely home.”

    1. Thank you, Debi and Dr. Graham! Almost humorous, relinquish control! Just for a little help in this life lesson, ‘when, often, how, whom,’ does such a thing as relinquish control until ‘The Force’ has taken control?

      I am a lover of stories as told by the life in the story. Would love to read some stories here about how each one relinquished control. I have heard some great stories from the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia, even as I write. It’s the stories of hard work, faith, and passion that came from within the soul.

      Gold, silver, bronze or no platform at all. Relinquish Control?

  4. I was encouraged recently, by a person who had just visited their spouse, in a nursing home, due to “MS”.The words spoken from God’s Word, gospel songs sung, and poems recited from memory, all brought glory to God. It was evident, that their help came from the Lord. Yes, we must…………..”Stay Focused!”, on Him.

  5. “Relinquish control.” I believe there is an attempt of it in my own life that I can share.
    Growing up as a rebellious teen, living a sinful life in a dysfunctional family was a recipe for trouble. I loved the challenge of training horses by controlling them through a variety of techniques. Good for horses, perhaps, but not for people. Apparently, this tendency to control was a part of who I was. Becoming a Christian in my late teens didn’t change this tendency. My actions spoke loud and clear that I was holding the reins and not allowing God to break and control me. I brought my behaviors and controlling ways into a marriage, and the family suffered for it. In a few years I ended up with fears and anxieties much greater than in my drug and defiant teen years and finally sunk into breakdown and great depression by age 30.
    God, in His great love and compassion, never left me during this time. He extended His special hand of mercy to me a few years later through Sara. Gratefully, it was Sara’s biblical teachings, mentoring and wisdom that guided and enabled me to face and make some personal changes that involved relinquishing control.
    Change did not come easy for me or my family members as I attempted to let go of much of my stifling control over their lives. Changing many of my controlling behaviors and habits sparked anger over this change. But change gave them freedom to assume responsibility in more areas, grow personally and pursue their unique interests. It also deepened my trust and dependency on the Lord.
    Today, many years later, I need and ask the Holy Spirit to continue to work in me, revealing other ways I must give Him the full ‘rein’ of control as I journey on in life.

    1. Debi, as I prayed this prayer this am and Valentine’s Day, I thought of you and your prayer in asking the’Holy Spirit” to work in you, revealing other ways to give God full rein of control as you journey on in life…’ Maybe some prayer points as prayed by Mary Lou Redding might be of help to you and others. It was for me.

      “LOVING GOD,
      we love others because you first loved us.
      And it’s hard when our loved ones are far from us.
      When the people we love are far from us physically,
      help us make the extra effort to stay close across the miles.
      When the people we love are far from us emotionally,
      help us find words to say the right thing at the right time.
      When the people we love are far from us spiritually,
      help us express our faith and our love for you.
      Thank you for loving us so that we can love others.
      In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.”
      – Mary Lou Redding

      1. Thank you Sara for sharing these prayer points. They are helpful because they are specific, well-expressed, understandable and lead right back to the title of this blog to encourage: “Stay Focused”.

  6. Amazing woman…But, not sure anything about her can be found today in the American Women’s church. Well, sorry, ladies, I am speaking for myself. Just this part alone; “Her diet consisted of a one-inch cube of meat and a little rice.” Makes me cry while I sit at a table bursting with menus that supplies about anything my imagination could order. Pills from Dr’s and vitamins from a bottle goes into my diet each and everyday. And, my conversation more about self than her interest in life. Good story of yester-year…Her motto: “Suddenly, she remembered Jeremiah 45:5. “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.” OOOPS! This is a story that speaks about Psalm 121 to me.

    “Audrey Wetherell Johnson (1907-1984) is the founder of BSF International (formerly called Bible Study Fellowship). She was raised by a believing Christian family in Leicester, England. The Bible was critical to her conversion, and she was committed to its authority and taught it with power. She enjoyed an intimate relationship with God, and she allowed Him—not self—lead her life.

    Even in the worst possible conditions, Miss Johnson’s primary memory was of “God’s daily provisions and loving kindnesses.” While in China in 1942, she was interned in a prison camp during the Japanese invasion. She was forced to live with other prisoners in a former horse stable. Eighty-nine cots, six open toilets, and two wash-basins filled the crowded hut. Her diet consisted of a one-inch cube of meat and a little rice.

    Even in the worst possible conditions, Miss Johnson’s primary memory was of “God’s daily provisions and loving kindnesses.”

    After a brief furlough in England, Miss Johnson returned to China to teach in the Bible Seminary in Shanghai. Although she had every intention of staying there to train teachers for China’s unreached millions, the communists put her under house arrest for eighteen months. She was finally forced to leave China permanently in 1950.

    Miss Johnson found herself in the U.S., and she poured out her heart in prayer about the invitation to teach these five women. Suddenly, she remembered Jeremiah 45:5. “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.”

  7. She did not seek great things for herself but due to her faithfulness of training these women a World Wide Ministry – Bible Study Fellowship which reaches people everywhere was birthed and continues. Many have enjoyed the indepth study of the Bible, including me. I have only done two studies, Genesis and now Matthew and many in the circle of leadership have been engaged in teaching or sitting at the feet of a group/teacher leader for multiple years. Her sacrifice of LOVE and devotion to God is continuing to pour out to others and transform lives causing them too to have a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s a true Valentine Story.

  8. What a glorious story of Self-LESS-ness! I wonder how many times I have ‘gently’ ignored the nudge of the Holy Spirit just to relinquish a certain habit or trait? Like it would be such a sacrifice!! Whetherell not only suffered for the Gospel’s sake but followed the direction of the Lord and returned to a dangerous situation only to suffer a similar outcome to be able to reach people for Christ.
    As in Through Gates of Splendor what is so very compelling concerning this story is that after her husband and the Gospel team were martyred Elizabeth Elliot went back to Ecuador to continue to preach and teach the natives about the love of Jesus Christ.
    The lives of women like Wetherell, Elizabeth Elliott and others convict and inspire us to seek the Lord outside our own…well for myself… selfish ways. To avoid what the Book of Revelation says…living deliciously while people are, even around us, are dying without Jesus Christ.
    Yes, we are most blessed among peoples only because of the grace of God and His great abundance and provision. But through of the stories of God’s heroines I am getting to see that this is to strengthen us and provide for us to do the work of the Kingdom. Thank you Lord!

  9. One message I came away with from this morning’s church service at CCI was ‘change’ (and my own need for that). This afternoon, I felt to read today’s devotional from Dr Billy Graham’s “Unto the Hills” titled “Revival” and I would like to share it. I saw myself in this mirror.
    “O Lord…revive thy work in the midst of the years. Habakkuk 3:2
    Have you ever seen someone unconscious? Such a person will usually have vital signs but is not aware of anything that is occurring. There is also a lack of perception of reality.
    There is a difference between revival and resuscitation. Resuscitation is used on a person who is dead and whom the doctors are trying to bring back to life. Revival is for a person who is alive but unconscious. Spiritually, we can be unconscious and completely out of touch with the Spirit of God. We may be unaware of the God who made us and what He wants to do in and through us.
    When one comes to Christ in faith and is born again, he or she is brought back from the dead into life. But when revival occurs, a person who is already a Christian is brought back from the brink of apathy, of taking God for granted, of ignoring God and trying to live under one’s own power and strength. This can be deadly for others, because the Christian in need of revival is not producing any fruit for God. “I’ve got mine and that’s all that matters” is not an attitude that is pleasing to God.
    We have not seen a revival in America since shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. But, as the hymn says, “Lord, send a revival and let it begin with me. “ If we are to see a revival in our nation, it must begin in the hearts of individual believers. What are you doing in your daily walk with God that will bring revival to your life?”

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