Changing Focus

Did you ever stand in front of an orange tree or your garden and yell, grow? Then why do believers judge and condemn other believers because they have not grown in the Lord as fast? Or when a believer makes the wrong choice and falls, other believers are quick to condemn and point out their sins and write them off.

Jesus gave us examples of people who fall when he spoke of the shepherd who has 100 sheep and 99 stayed but one wondered off. The “good” shepherd leaves the 99 to go get the 1. And when Jesus taught about the prodigal son. In this case, the father did not go get him but he watched for his son to come home. In neither example did the Lord write them off. But today, Christians call people names and write them off. How is that Christ like?

Just as God created all of us uniquely and different, we have to understand believers grow differently too. Just as a squash plant grows differently that a tomato plant. Sure, water, sunlight and fertilizer may influence the growth of plants, humans are different. Humans have a free will. That free will does not come from one’s head, their mind, but it comes from their heart. An example?

Our parents. God has called each of us to use the gifts he has given us to further the gospel and to help one another. But what about your interaction with your parents and your children during these times of using your gifts for God. I am not talking about those who leave their families to follow Christ. I am talking about those who go back to their family to share Christ in hopes of winning their family members to Christ.

And when we win our family members we need to understand each one will grow at a different rate. What determines how fast they grow? Water (the word and the Holy Spirit teaching).
But there is one more ingredient specific to humans, free will. Another words, their heart’s desire. Even as we grow and are saved for 5, 10, 20 years and more, we still learn and grow. Some trees are 30, 50 and a 100 years old and they each have their own glory.

If we know that Jesus rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit before he returned to heaven, then we know that God works through believers since Jesus went to heaven, through the Holy Spirit. And if you have pre-conceived thoughts, ideas or convictions about the Holy Spirit, how can God the Holy Spirit work with and through you? He can’t because you have set your heart like flint on your beliefs and your understanding.

As we pointed out last time, the Holy Spirit strengthens our inner man and our flesh fights what the Holy Spirit wants to do. Not only does our flesh fight the Holy Spirit but our soul ( mind, will and emotions) also fights because our soul tries to reason things. To understand things. And God’s word clearly teaches us God’s ways are not man’s ways.

So our flesh experiences things in this world through our senses. And our soul experiences things in our memory, reasoning, our imagination, affections and our conscience. The natural man, the unsaved person, lives in this realm. And sadly, many believers live in this realm too. God did not put verses about the spirit realm in his word to fill up copy in a book.

2 Corinthians 4:18 KJV  “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

John 6:63 KJV  “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

All those verses in Ephesians stating we wrestle not against flesh and blood but principalities, powers, rulers of darkness were put in scripture to teach us who we fight and how to fight our enemy, how we can succeed and win. And Jesus himself not only tells us but shows us how to fight and what to focus on, when he was tempted in Matthew 4.

None of the temptations had to do with things in this earthly realm from Jesus’ point of view. Remember,  Jesus was 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness without food and water. Matthew 4:1-3 KJV  “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
[2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
[3] And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”

What was Satan’s focus? Turning rocks into bread to prove Jesus was the Son of God. So Satan was focusing on the rocks, the stones. Where were the stones? Laying on the ground. Satan and Jesus could see the stones, touch the stones. The stones were in this physical realm. In this world.

We would say, stones are turned into homes, walls, counter tops, walkways but not bread. But Jesus did not look at the stones from this world. Jesus did not focus on the stones in this earthly realm. How did Jesus respond? Yes he quoted scripture but did he ever mention the stones? No. Matthew 4:4 KJV  “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Jesus focused on what was not seen, the bread. Satan was focused on something in this physical earthly realm and Jesus focused on something not seen, the bread.

So when Satan tries to tempt, he will tempt in areas in the physical realm you can see. But there is more to this and we will look at it a little deeper next time. In the meantime, do you need a clue? Okay, Esau and Jacob.  Sometimes I think of Esau selling his birthright for pottage to his brother Jacob. Genesis 25:28-34. Until next time.

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