How do you handle potential distractions? Are you able to keep your attention focused on the task at hand? Do you stay alert to opportunities God places before you?
The beginning of a new year (in fact, the start of a new decade) is a good time to address issues of attention and intention in our lives. Surely The LORD has great plans for us in the coming year.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out due to a lack of focus?
I saw an amusing but alarming news segment recently. The video clips in the report showed people overly focused on their smart phones as they walked along.
Person after person walked into light poles, other pedestrians, trash cans. (One guy stepped off a walkway right into a pond.)
Why? Because their eyes were glued to their smart phones instead of paying attention to the path ahead of them.
Around the same time, I witnessed a scene in a restaurant that really saddened me. A father and his young daughter, who looked to be about 12, were sitting across from one another.
If their outing was meant to be a father/ daughter time together, it certainly didn’t work out that way — at least for the young girl.
I watched her — perched on the edge of her chair, gazing at her dad sitting across from her, so eager to talk with him.
But the dad never stopped texting and reading the messages on his smart phone. (Not so smart after all.)
He never said a word to her — a sad, missed opportunity to connect with his lovely, receptive daughter. If only he had turned his focus to the one right across from him!
Be All There
It reminds me of a favorite quote from a great hero of the Christian faith, Jim Elliot, who was martyred with four other missionaries in Ecuador in 1956. Jim said, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
It is so easy to be distracted from the priorities God has given us. One of the chief aims of the enemy of our souls is to disrupt or distract our focus from the things of God.
We see this strategy so clearly in the case of Nehemiah’s work to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. What did his enemies do? Disrupt and distract at every opportunity.
Nehemiah 4:8 spells out their intent: “And all of them [the enemies] conspired together to…create confusion.”
Being Ruthless with Distractions
What was Nehemiah’s response? He set his face like flint to accomplish the task The LORD had given him.
When the enemy tried to pull him away from what he was doing, this is how he handled that attempt:
“So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’” (Nehemiah 6:3).
A great example to you and me in the matter of staying focused.
How about you? Are there lots of distractions pulling at you?
Are there God-given tasks going untouched because of disruptions or a lack of focus?
Is the enemy constantly diverting your attention and siphoning off your energies to activities that conflict with The LORD’s priorities for your life?
This is a situation we can correct — once we are aware of it.
Maybe it is time for you and me to set our faces like Nehemiah did. Can we focus on finding and fulfilling the purpose of God for our lives, especially as we begin a new year?
Setting Our Faces
In a message called, “Objective for Living: To Do God’s Will,” Derek Prince talked about this principle of “setting our faces,” sharing how Jesus Himself kept His attention on the task at hand. Here is some helpful inspiration for us as we also seek to stay focused.
I pointed out in my talk yesterday that there was this continual emphasis in the mind of Jesus — not merely on doing God’s work but on finishing it.
Not leaving it incomplete but going right through to the very end with it. The nearer He came to the end of His earthly ministry, the stronger this emphasis was in the life of Jesus.
Luke chapter 9, verse 51 (NASB) says, “And it came about, when the days were approaching for His ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem.”
Notice that key phrase: “He resolutely set His face.” Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him. He had already told His disciples, although they refused to believe it. But as it came nearer, He resolutely set His face — He was determined to finish it.
This reminds us of the portrait of the Messiah from the Old Testament (Isaiah 50:4–7, NIV) where Isaiah prophetically foreshowed the culmination of the life of Jesus on earth.
“The Sovereign Lord has given Me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.”
The passage continues with verse 7:
“Because the Sovereign Lord helps Me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set My face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”
Luke says, “He resolutely set His face.”
Isaiah, writing prophetically 700 years earlier, predicted that the Messiah would say, “I have set My face like flint.”
Isaiah knew that in spite of what Jesus was going to endure, He would still say, “I have set My face like flint. No matter what lies ahead, I’m going to go through with it — because My purpose is to do the work God has assigned to Me and to finish it.”
Focused on Him
In view of what we have discussed so far, along with the confirmation Derek has provided in his teaching, would you like to take this opportunity to ask The LORD for His help in fighting off distractions and staying focused on His plan?
Let’s do so together now.
I have to admit that distractions — even messages received on my phone — are interrupting the flow of Your work in my life.
My goals and my hopes are to be fruitful for You in the year and the decade ahead.
Help me to “lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin that so easily entangles me” so that I can stay focused on Your purposes for my life.
I yield myself to You now, and I commit myself — as You give me strength and help by Your great grace, to keep my attention and energies fixed on Your priorities for me.
Help me to stay focused on You, O Lord. Amen.
Let’s Be Intentional
You and I know that the commitment we just made to The LORD is going to be a continuing battle. Life is full of distractions — some which are even good and worthwhile.
But The LORD can help us to be discerning and disciplined in our obedience to Him. It will take all the strength we can muster — and additional help besides.
That’s where we come in. Please feel free to call upon us for prayer support, and for encouraging teaching resources from Derek Prince to help you stand strong.
A good place to start would be to download the free MP3 of “Objective for Living: To Do God’s Will,” the message from which we took Derek’s quote. It is yours for the asking, or listen online here:
One of our greatest joys here at DPM is to stay in contact with you.
We always hope to strengthen you in your relationship with Jesus Christ. You are a priority to us, and we want to stay focused on helping you.
Thank you for connecting with us. We are so grateful for your ongoing prayers and your faithful gifts to the ministry.
A New Decade
It is always exciting to begin a new year — not to mention a whole new decade. At the same time, it is somewhat alarming to see how quickly time passes!
There is much for us to do, and these are significant times in which to live and serve The LORD.
That’s why you and I need to be like Jesus and Nehemiah in our perspective.
We have work to do, and we can’t allow ourselves to be distracted by the allurements of the enemy.
Let’s stay fixed and intent upon our God-given tasks, with one chief aim — staying focused.
All the best,
P.S. Once again, we send you our love and thanks for your partnership with us. We deeply appreciate your prayers and your gifts. Please don’t forget to download week one of “How to Be Led by the Holy Spirit.” We know it will encourage you.
Materials used by kind permission of Derek Prince Ministries.