"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eyes on the Prize

Perseverance: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

  "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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
 - Hebrews 12:1-3

In 1988, a year after graduating Wittenberg University, I had the privilege to read one of the best books ever written on the Civil Rights movement. The book was entitled "Eyes on the Prize" and it was written by Juan Williams in 1987. When I reflect upon Hebrews 12:1-3 I often have images of the people that were so focused on gaining equality in this country. For many their single minded focus caused them their life.
The Latin word for "fix" is aphorao. 

Aphorao (af-o-ra'mah) literally means "to look away from all else unto a certain object." From aphorao we gain the medical term Aphorama which simply means "projection or prominence of the eyes; to have in view."

As believers what we focus upon and feed on fuels our faith.

And as non-believers what we decide to focus upon and feed on will fuel our fears

The choice is ours what we decide to focus upon and feed on.

The question that we all must ask ourselves is; "What do I focus upon and feed on each day?"

God's word direst us to focus, and fix our eyes, upon Him and Him alone. We are not to focus on ourselves, our problems or our circumstances.

We are to focus on Him.

Like all of God's commandment Hebrews 12:2 and its direction is placed there to protect us. God understands how easy, and dangerous, it is for us to become sidetracked and lose sight of what really is important.

Remember, become focused and stay focused.

The best way I know how to become focused is to read God's word and pray daily, and to be part of a small group of believers that meet weekly that will aid me in my growth spiritually and keep me accountable for my actions. 

Stay focused...

If Hebrews 12:1-3 were a coin and one side of the coin is focus then the other side of the coin is perseverance.

In Greek the term for perseverance is hupomone ( hupo = under + meno = stay, remain, abide) which literally means abiding under. We are able to paint a mental picture for perseverance with words like steadfastness, constancy and endurance. A man that embodies this trait is not easily swayed from his deliberate purpose and he loyal to his faith in midst of the greatest of trials and sufferings.

In the end, perseverance in one's life demands that we become consistently committed to the cause.

The cause of serving Jesus Christ.

I will leave you with three principles that I believe that can aid anyone wanting to persevere in fixing their eyes on Jesus.
  • Vision is vital to success. Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Those are some pretty high stakes for not having a vision. The best way I know to create a vision is to pray for God's direction in forming goals in every area of your life and then consistently pursue them with dogged determination. Remember, you won't do it until you write it down and you can't do it until you visualize yourself doing it.
  •  Develop a picture of the future that prompts action. Matthew 7:24 states; "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." Fixing our eyes on Jesus is not a passive activity; it takes action on our part... daily action.
  •  Discover and develop God's plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 gives me great pleasure just to read it: "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.'" Now if that doesn't get you excited nothing worth any value will. God has destined to give you a future and a hope... all we have to do is invite him in to our hearts and into our lives. It's that simple.

Run the race that is put in front of you with endurance 
...with perseverance.

In closing, this past month it was revealed to me that if I were to continue to spend countless hours on the computer and to spend many hours reading books that I would have to get something to "aid" my eyes.

I needed to get glasses.

My first thought once I ordered my new frame and lenses is that this "ain't no" cheap venture.

My wife explained to me that it will be far more costly if you can't read, if you can't read what you write and if you can't see while you're driving.

I must say that this is the "first" time my wife made such solid points, even if they were quite obvious.

Thank you Captain Obvious.

Anyway, as I think back to my need to strengthen my eyes to see it reminded that we often need something to aid our spiritual eyes too.

And what I was reminded of is that all important "aid" is Faith.

More specifically, our faith in God.

Remember, what we focus upon and what feed on will fuel our faith.

And without faith it is impossible to keep our eyes on the prize.

sbb  22.2.11

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