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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

The Gain

Series: Renewal

I John 2:15 ESV

I John 2:15-17 MSG

Philippians 3:7-11 ESV

When I was a teenager my dad did a series of object lessonsthat I thought were a little strange at the time. I loved my dad but in true teenage form, I didn’t always pay much attention to what he was saying. If I had a Time Machine I would go back and I would tape each one, I would play them over and over again.

I do remember one lesson he did because I thought it was a little different.

Quite frankly, I was trying to figure out why he was making such a big deal of it.

For the lesson he told me to close my eyes and not to open them until he told me to. I heard paper rustling and he put something on my face over my eyes. He held it next to my eyes and he told me to open my eyes.

When I opened them I could see a little but mostly I could see a gray or green pattern.

He asked me what it was.

I told him I didn’t know.

He pulled it away and he asked me again what was over my eyes.

It was a one dollar bill. Okay…

He asked me when it was tight over my eyes if I could see anything else?

No. I could only see the paper.

Then he said, whatever you hold close to you, if you hold it really close you will only see that thing and you will miss everything else around you.

In other words, you will only see the money. You won’t see God. You won’t see people. You will only see money.

Money will become your driving force. You will eat, sleep, and live for money.

When I read today’s scripture, I remembered my dad’s object lesson.

In I John 2:15 we are told,  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

In other words, loving the things of the world is all we will see.

We will miss that which cannot be seen.

The Message version clarifies this passage. I John 2:15-17 says, “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”

The problem is that it’s really hard to not notice everything in the world! I mean, seriously it’s everywhere.

Plus, I meet people everyday who want their own way. Truly, it seems like if you don’t stand up for yourself you will be run over.

What we want is a problem as well. We are taught to decide who we are and what our goals are and to make a plan of action to achieve those goals.

That’s the way of life.

It’s what we see.

So, how do we focus on that which is unseen?

When the world we see is all around us every place we look, how do we ignore that and focus on the unseen.

Those are all questions I used to wrestle with twenty years ago. One day I had a great life that I’d worked hard to build and the next day it was gone. Almost everything I knew was different.

I was so devastated that I didn’t know where to turn, and I looked to God.

I focused on God.

I’d lost almost everything else and so I would cry and sit in silence with God. I found myself asking God to show me the way to peace and contentment.

That very bad thing that happened turned out to be the absolute best thing that could have happen. Because I lost everything God was all I had left.

Now…I’m not saying you have to lose everything in order to find God, but you do have to step away from the “stuff” of the world. The easiest way to do that is to turn off the Telly, the radio, and the noise of the world.

That will make it so you can sit in silence with God. In the silence, you can listen for God.

You can hear the breath of God.

You can feel the heart of God.

Once I sat with God and understood the work of the Spirit of God in me, I listened. I really listened and I wanted to listen. I really really wanted to hear God.

Now, I live in the world but I seek not to be of the world.

I don’t try to live for the world.

I want to hear God. I desire the breath of God. I long to feel the heart of God.

Ultimately, losing everything meant I gained everything.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians about the life he had worked so hard for…I mean he was a Pharisee and that’s no easy road. Then one day his life changed forever and he said in Philippians 3:7-11, “whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Many many years later I do believe my da was right. That which you focus on is what you will SEE.

Spiritual Practice: Your Focus

What do you focus on?

In God, Deborah


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