KEEPING THE FOCUS
By Rayola Kelley
We are entering 2021 after surviving the year 2020, which would be considered by many a very dark year. I am wondering how many will be making new enthusiastic resolutions as we each face the grim times that seem to be upon us. Some are hoping life goes back to what was, but I dare say that it probably will not. I am not trying to rain on people’s parade but we are living in prophetic times that have been identified as a period leading up to a time of great tribulation for the whole world. It is not my goal to start any debate about whether we are in the time of great sorrows or whether we are at the door of tribulation or, as some might believe, we could be in it. We can debate about this issue without changing minds, but in light of the present challenges I think it is a moot point that will not profit anyone.
No one can debate that within the first three months of 2020 lives were turned upside down and inside out by some unseen virus that not only threatened certain parts of the population but created fear, tyrannical responses from small-minded wicked leaders, unnecessary lockdowns, shutting down our economy, and bringing utter despair to many. According to reliable information, this was a planned pandemic that became a useful tool in the hands of despotic leaders to bring about their wicked agendas of “resetting” America to make it communist, subject to Red China.
Not only did we experience a plannedemic, but our election was blatantly stolen by these same treacherous people who couldn’t care less about our Constitution, our rights, and what made this country stand distinct on the world stage. America is an exceptional country because of its Constitution, and preferred by many other countries who have been oppressed, but everything that made this nation unique has been targeted, misused, abused, and discarded by these ingrates who benefitted by playing the system and robbing the coffers for self-serving reasons and personal power, while plotting to deprive Americans of the same benefits and opportunities.
However, the light has come on to reveal the corruption and it has shocked many, astonished others, and caused some to go into complete despair, realizing how close we are to losing everything we hold dear in this nation. Some are wondering where are the politicians and judges that love justice, but it appears that this terrible root has corrupted many. However, the real question is where were the people who voted these wicked individuals into office? How many voted according to pocketbooks, disregarding whether the person had integrity and kept their promises? Granted, there are more than a few that are probably in office due to election fraud, but how many of us have lived according to the assumption that we will always have this country? How many have asked ourselves, why get involved because our one vote does not matter, and yet the people’s vote mattered in 2016 and also in 2020 when the tidal wave of votes caused the computers to crash, exposing the fraud and the extent of it taking place. Many have thought, if something is about to take this country down, we will certainly recognize it and push it back. Hence enters Covid 19. How has your life been since it has stepped on the scene? How many people are taking sides based on a mask, and some would have no problem betraying family, friends, and neighbors if they failed to comply to unconstitutional mandates and edicts.
The next question is where was the church? In some cases, certain leaders have told us not to get involved politically, but how has that worked for us? There is also the other extreme where people with heretical beliefs have tried to usher in the Kingdom of God by electing Christians leaders, but we know only the King of kings will usher in His own kingdom.
The closing of our churches has definitely caused some who maintained the non-committal philosophy to stand up and fight. Did you ever imagine that religious freedom would come under such attack to the point that in one case the Supreme Court agreed with a state that gambling was far more important than churches? What made America great, casinos and mammon or the reality of God?
The result is that Americans are now awake and this country is on the precipice of a revolution that the politicians, their pundits and wicked judges never expected. After all, most Americans are law-abiding and peaceful even after being abused, put down, and slandered for the last two decades by the Democrats, the media and their many minions for standing in the way of their globalist agenda by holding to the right to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property).
I have to admit I knew there was such wickedness operating in our government, but I had no idea that it reached deep into the very throes of hell. I learned a long time ago there are only two sources that stop the extent evil reaches: God’s grace and death.
The wicked end up going through a series of judgments before they end up in hell. Those who choose the ways of wickedness and evil, are eventually turned over to their first judgment: that of a reprobate mind, where they no longer retain any real knowledge of God. Their conscience has been seared so it can’t be reached by conviction of the Holy Spirit and their mind has become so perverted they can’t tell the difference between truth and delusion. They have been so seduced by their own narrative that they are blinded by what is going on around them, and they end up calling good evil and evil good. They can’t see the wrath coming at them or the broad path that will lead them into utter destruction (Isaiah 5:20; Romans 1:18, 28; 1 Timothy 4:1-2 Titus 1:15-16).
It is clear that there are great separations going on as many are forced to choose sides. Some believe they can remain neutral, but not in this type of environment. In this environment the subdued color of gray is turning into grave darkness while the light has become more defined, forcing many to choose sides. It is important to point out any indecision is a decision and any inaction is action.
When I was in the Navy, the color they used on the ships was mostly gray or occasionally green because these colors do not arouse emotions. For Christians, gray represents compromise, complacency, and indifference to spiritual matters. They are either in a state of comatose due to being exposed to that which is lifeless in religion, asleep because there is no stirring or challenge to come higher in their Christian life, or they have lost any real spark to shine. At such a time the Christian needs to be awakened but to what and for what?
Sleeping Christians need to be awakened to their sin. We can talk about what that sin is but it all starts from the same place. It comes down to the Christian leaving their first love, Jesus. How many times did Jesus state we must foremost love the Lord our God and love our neighbor as ourselves? He even gave us a third commandment to love each other as He loved the disciples, and He gave His life for each of us (Mark 11:29-31; John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:16-19; Revelation 2:2-7).
The reason we leave our first love is because we do not continually direct our affections heavenward. We get caught up with daily activities to such a point that our focus is more on the world than Jesus. The problem with affections is that they will naturally swing in the direction of our focus (Colossians 2:3).
Since the world is designed to attract our appetites, it knows how to take hold of our affections without us even realizing it. The more our affections are taken captive, the more we lose sight of the eternal, becoming apathetic towards the Lord and spiritual matters. Even though this focus creates a leanness in our spirit towards spiritual matters, we have no real initiative to rise up and call out to God to have mercy on us and deliver us from such a state. Some of the reluctance has to do with pride that can’t accept that we allowed ourselves to come to this state, and fear that often translates as uncertainty and suspicion towards God, as we find ourselves throwing defiled scraps at God to keep up a religious appearance for others and our religious conscience at bay (2 Timothy 3:5).
Once a Christian begins to slide down into the cesspool of worldly muck, they become vulnerable to some form of idolatry. We are made to worship God, and when we fail to do so it leaves us with a vacuum that must be filled with something, and many times it is with idolatrous pursuits that leave us feeling empty and unsatisfied.
From the base of idolatrous pursuits, we will swing into a complacent attitude where God’s holiness is redefined so we can live somewhat comfortably in our complacency. When the decisiveness of God’s holy attitude is brought to the forefront as a challenge to our indifferent attitudes, we can easily take offense, while hiding behind some fleshly idea of God’s love. At this point God’s love is used almost like an eraser where it smudges over the seriousness of sin. Hence enters the platitude, “God loves the sinner but hates the sin.” However, the reality is that all sin was judged at the cross, while the sinner is yet to be judged. Jesus’ blood has washed away sins of the believer and continues to do so upon confession of them, while an unrepentant sinner remains in his sins, doomed to hell.
Idolatry is the springboard where heresy gains a foothold. Since there is a spiritual vacuum, it is easy to be stirred up by deviation that is dressed up in spiritual terminology that feeds the pride. This deviation from the truth will give a person a false sense that he or she is okay or they can reach some mark with the latest insight, revelation, or knowledge. Many of these heretical beliefs will be backed up by some demonic experience that could be easily discerned, but at this point the person has been seduced into this false reality believing that it is a truth that is beyond the understanding of religious peons of the age who would dare to question it.
Whether it is indifference, idolatry or heresy, the spark of life will become dim as it is being buried by that which is contrary to all that is true, right, and holy. This is where religion will be deemed as lifeless. This individual may go through religious motions, but the smoldering flint of devotion that could be set ablaze by the simple touch of heaven is hidden by the wrong influences and agreements.
At this stage, complacency becomes quite obvious. The Lord’s response is to try to awaken such an individual. He knocks on the door of the person’s heart to let Him in again. The only thing that can cause that flame to once again rise up to consume everything that buries, hides, or hinders it is revival.
True revival begins with true repentance that causes the person to turn and face God so He can reveal the real state of their condition, breaking them to establish them once again as His vessel. The process is never easy but it is meant to bring the backslider back to a place of restoration where they can experience sweet communion with the Lord and worship Him in Spirit and truth.
The question brings us to how can we control our focus to ensure that we do not let the things of the flesh and world to oppress us or take us captive. The key has to do with keeping our eyes on the right master. There are only two real masters in this world, the Lord Jesus Christ and Satan. Jesus calls and we are to follow while Satan must seduce us in order to take us captive.
Jesus clearly stated that you can’t serve two masters at the same time. Eventually, you will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). Masters either demand that you do as they command or they require you to follow their leadership and example. Needless to say, masters also go in different directions and you can’t follow both at the same time.
The reality is if you are not serving Christ, then you are serving Satan. The fruit of your life will reveal who your master is. When Christ is the master there is liberty in the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, and satisfaction. If Satan is involved in your life there is bondage, conflict, and dissatisfaction in the soul. With Christ there is clarity, but with Satan there is mainly confusion. With Christ there is faith, and with Satan there is fear. We could go on and on as to the difference between the two, but sometimes the people are so used to their master and present environment, that even improvement can be frightening because they are about to enter into the unknown.
As we approach this new year, it would be a good time to consider what master we are preferring, following and obeying. With Jesus’ leadership, there is only one Lord over His household. As Lord, He has given us everything we have need of to carry out our responsibilities. We have the Holy Spirit who enables us, His Word of truth which instructs, and gifts which can be used to effectively carry out our duties.
The other master has to be crafty to take us captive in order to make us slaves. He has to gain access through one of the avenues of our soul to begin to oppress us. The avenues are described by 1 John 2:15-17. They are the lust of the flesh, the pride of life and the lust of the eyes. There is the lust of the flesh where our desires and our emotions can be taken captive, the pride of life where our intellect can be manipulated by the attitudes and that which are base, heretical teachings and philosophies of the world, and the lust of the eyes where the attractions of the world can entice our affections to pursue the various proverbial carrots of its many illusive promises of happiness and success.
It is easy to fall into these traps, and the only way we can avoid them is by examining our heart motives in relationship to our pursuits, emphasis, priorities, and agendas. After all, our flesh can convince us that our emphases are normal, but only the Spirit and God’s Word show us whether they are honorable. Our intellect can tell us our priorities are understandable, but only God can reveal if they are acceptable and in line with His will. Our eyes can convince us that our pursuits are innocent enough, but only the Lord can show us if they will take us by way of that which ultimately profanes our calling and witness.
Since these three avenues represent what is natural to us, we are not always aware of the inroads Satan makes into our lives through them. He is subtle and is not easily discerned. What starts out as natural can turn into obsession, produce great insecurities, and grave oppression in the soul area.
This brings us back to our focus. We must discipline our focus. The key is becoming steadfast. To be steadfast in our focus, we must first fix our heart on the Lord. King David stated in Psalm 57:7, “My heart is fixed, O God, my hearts is fixed; I will sing and give praise.”
Once the heart is fixed, the focus can become steadfast. Without our heart fixed on Christ, our focus will be fickle, causing our spirit to be unsettled before the Lord. Psalms 78:8 talks about a stubborn and rebellious generation because their heart was not right and their spirit was not steadfast with God. Psalm 78:37 goes on to add they were not steadfast in the covenant.
When we come to the New Testament, we find this word “steadfast” in relationship to Jesus setting His face towards Jerusalem where He would become the sacrificial Lamb of God (Luke 9:51). You can’t finish the course unless you keep your eyes on the destination.
We are to be steadfast in our doctrine, works, our faith, and our hope to maintain our confidence in the Lord. We need to be steadfast in the pure doctrine of Christ to maintain purity in what we do. We are to abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that it is not in vain. Faith enables us to endure to the end where we can possess the promises, but we are also reminded in 1 Peter 5:8-9 that we are to steadfastly resist the devil in the faith. Our hope becomes an anchor of the soul that is both sure and steadfast because of what Jesus did on our behalf. Hebrews 3:14 summarizes this subject the best when it reminds us that we are made partakers of Christ, that is if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 6:12).
As we enter 2021, let us examine our focus and see where it lands. If it does not land on the eternal Rock of everlasting life and hope, we must ask the Lord to give us a seeking heart that will be fixed on Him, and if we can’t see Him in front of us, we will not be content until we realign our eyes of faith until we once again see God’s presence and glory in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.