Are you distracted and disrupted by the problems around you? Do they capture your attention and divert your focus? Where should our gaze be fixed instead?
Every entrance into a new year comes with some understandable concerns about what we may encounter. Regarding the current tumult in the world around us, we face the prospect that instead of calming down, it may increase in intensity. As unsettling as that may be, there is a solution for us. We find our stability by looking only at Jesus.
All Eyes Up Here
My father-in-law, Don Basham, had a great sense of humor—even in unexpected situations like group deliverance sessions. I attended many of those gatherings, which he routinely conducted when he ministered to God’s people. At the start, there was always a degree of nervousness among the people who had assembled in the room to seek freedom from demonic torment—looking around, wondering what was to happen next.
Don would begin the time of ministry with these words: “Now, you’re probably going to see some reactions and behavior that may be unfamiliar and upsetting to you. I have seen just about every possible reaction. This is all a normal part of deliverance. So, just keep your eyes on me during this entire session. If you look up here and I’m not nervous or worried, you don’t need to be nervous or worried either.”
Then, to lighten the mood in the room, Don would add: “But, if you look up here and see me getting nervous or worried, then we’ll shut the meeting down and all of us will go home.” The laughter that inevitably followed was always a tension breaker. But Don’s point of staying focused was spot on. For us, it means looking only at Jesus…the only One who is never worried or nervous about any situation you and I may face in life.
Fixing Our Gaze on Him
The writer of the first two verses in Hebrews 12 reminds us of the only way we can strip away all the distractions of normal life to effectively “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Verse 2 tells us: “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Just as our Lord and Savior maintained His focus to be victorious, you and I must be looking only at Jesus.
One of the clearest New Testament examples of what happens when we take our eyes off of Jesus is the experience Peter had in Matthew 14:27–31 when he walked on the water toward the Master. For a moment, Peter was doing so well—until he wasn’t.
While the other disciples had been cowering in fear at what they thought was a ghost walking by them on the sea, Peter—with great boldness—had said: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So, Jesus did—and Peter did.
But then, Peter made a mistake. Instead of looking only at Jesus, he shifted his focus to the wind whipping around him. In some versions, the word describing the wind is “boisterous,” which means strong and violent. Can you relate? Have you been in those kinds of situations? The option for us—instead of distraction—is looking only at Jesus.
Looking at the Eternal
While Derek Prince was alive, he often urged us to keep our focus on the eternal. (For twenty years now, Derek has been viewing eternity from a totally new perspective.) In Part Two of his radio series, “If You Want God’s Best,” Derek prefaced the quote we are using by citing Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 4:17–18. It tells us how to endure our “momentary, light affliction”—by looking at the eternal rather than the temporal realm.
Paul says there are two categories of “things.” There is the eternal and there is the temporary. He says the temporary things are the things that we can see—the things of this world which we contact with our senses. But the eternal things, Paul says, are unseen. They belong to the other world—an invisible, eternal world.
Paul then brings out a tremendously important principle. He says our light affliction works for us an eternal weight of glory while we are looking, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.
Most of us are going to go through affliction. Let’s face that fact. Sooner or later in life, we are going to face trouble, hardship, difficulty. But facing it will do for us something of eternal value—on one basic condition: while we continue looking at the things which are not seen. But if we take our eyes off the eternal and begin to look only at the temporary things—at the things of this world which we contact with our natural senses—then our affliction is no longer working for us that eternal glory which it is God’s purpose for us to have.
When we come into trouble or affliction, it is very, very important that we learn to respond the right way—which is not to be distracted from the eternal by the problems and by the trouble, but to keep our eyes steadfastly fixed on the eternal, on the unseen.
Distraction is a normal human malady. So, when you and I fall prey to it, that is totally understandable. In the days ahead, throughout the year that is upon us, we will need to live on a different level—a supernatural level. Can you and I train ourselves to look first to Jesus? That probably won’t happen without His help. So, let’s ask for it!
Lord Jesus, I am asking now for Your help. I tend to be distracted by the issues I face, not only shifting my focus away from You, but also trying to find solutions in my own strength. I want that trend to end!
With this prayer, I ask Your forgiveness for allowing distraction to shift my attention away from You. In this new year, I want to maintain focus on You. To ask You first; to look first for Your answer in Your Word; to keep myself in a vigilant, prayerful posture of focus upon You in every situation.
To do that, Lord, I will need Your help. I’m asking for it now. Amen.
The Miracle of Changed Lives
What you and I have just asked for is equivalent to Peter’s request to walk toward Jesus on the water. We have asked the Lord for miraculous help to overcome our natural tendencies. Everything in us is geared toward giving in to distraction. Even so, you and I can be sure that the Lord has heard our cry, and He will give us the help we need.
Changed lives are miracles of God. Here at DPM, we have the privilege of hearing testimonies about such changes every day. It is our greatest desire to provide teaching from the Word of God to help bring resolve and strength to your relationship with Jesus.
The message from which we took Derek Prince’s quote, “If You Want God’s Best, Part 2,” will undoubtedly be a source of strength to you. Please feel free to take us up on our free offer for this message (there is a download link below). Providing this kind of resource is just one simple way for all of us at DPM to thank you for your prayers and gifts for this work.
Seeking Him First
Like you, I usually look for a key to beginning a new year that will set the tone for the entire year. What we have underscored in this letter—looking only at Jesus—is a solid building block for everything we will face in the coming months.
This issue of single focus is wonderfully affirmed by the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Jesus maintained that kind of focus throughout His life on earth, and I have had the privilege of knowing many wonderful saints who have done the same.
Are you struggling with some areas of life that are unsettled and worrisome to you as you step into 2024? They have the potential to be utterly distracting, don’t they?
Let’s believe fully that the Lord is answering the prayer you and I offered earlier in this letter. He will be faithful to help us. Our part in the process? Looking only at Jesus.
All the best,
If You Want God’s Best, Part 2
Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.
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A free copy of this Teaching Letter is available to download and share for personal use.