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Monday, January 31, 2011

Focus, Attitude, and Action

 6 "Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you."
(Deuteronomy 31:6)

As a new week is starting, a month comes to an end and the issues we are facing worldwide continue to mount in severity, I encourage us to embrace these words as our standard for the various personal, national, and international challenges that are ahead of each of us.  It is quite easy to be intimidated by that which we don't understand - war, unrest, falling stock market values, crashing home sales, troubles in our homes or work environment, etc.  We can look at the challenges of our very own life and become discouraged by what seems to be mounting pressure to perform, crushing demands on our time/energy, and emotional highs/lows that keep us as unbalanced as a ride on a roller coaster.  Or...we can embrace the words of Moses to "be strong...take courage".

Moses is 120 years old at the time he is speaking these words.  They are spoken to Joshua, the one who would be taking his place in leading the nation of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan.  He is speaking as much to Joshua as he is to the entire nation.  That is often how God works - he speaks to one man or woman first, and in turn, the entire community begins to benefit by the words as they are embraced.  Several thoughts are contained in this one verse - they describe our focus, our attitude, and our actions.

Our Focus:

God is right there with you!  In the midst of the things you are facing today - regardless of what they are - he marches ahead of you.  Look at his place in your life - it is in the "lead" of your steps.  He goes ahead - and he is marching on.  If our focus remains on him, the way will be evident.  We may not understand all we feel we need to know, but we can trust the leadership of our God to take us into victory in grand style!

Our Attitude:

Don't be intimidated!  Don't give those scare tactics of the enemy one single thought!  Stop giving the things that distract our focus a second to inhabit our minds, emotions, or our spirit!  In other words, don't get your minds caught in the trap of entertaining the impossibilities of the present circumstances, but begin to ask God to open your mind's eye to see the possibilities in it.  We get lower than low when we focus on the impossibilities, but we can be escalated to the heights of joy, overflowing with peace when we are maintaining our focus on God and allowing him to direct the stability of our emotions.  Intimidation is nothing more than a scare tactic - it lacks a true threat to us - is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.  That is the best that the enemy of our souls can do to us - intimidate.  Remember that when you are beginning to listen to his lies!

Our Actions:

March on!  Be strong!  Be courageous!  Strength is an outcome of both attitude and focus - what we focus on most bring strength, what we commit to becomes the means by which we develop our strength.  Courage is an outcome of strength - when we are strong in our faith (not focused on the impossibilities), committed in our focus (mind and spirit set on God alone), it is easy to be courageous.  When we have our focus on the wrong things (things that distract us from our worship, study, or mission), we interpret things through a mind and emotional basis that produces fear and chaos.  Focus determines attitude. Attitude directs our actions.  Our actions are coming from a place of strength when both of these are correct.  

Look at what Moses tells Joshua - march on!  If God marches ahead, we have the best leader we could ever hope for - no matter what the territory is that we are marching through.  To march, one must be set into motion - there is action required of us - it is not a passive observance of life.  The fears we entertain are often what will paralyze us and make us passively inactive in times of challenge.  The faith we allow to be built by a right focus will allow us to receive our "marching orders" and will call us into action that is steadfast and committed.

We will face challenges - that we can be assured of.  What we do with those challenges (in our mind, emotions, and spirit) determines how they will affect us.  Stand strong, don't get distracted, and don't listen to the intimidating chaos of your enemy.  Determine to maintain your focus on God - the rest is at his leading!