Fixed And Focused

July 10, 2020

“It has been apportioned to us to glorify God in the midst of the darkness.”

– Mark Sawtelle

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I will lift up my eyes to the hills… From whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved:  He Who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The LORD is your keeper:  the LORD is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield].  The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all evil:  He will keep your life.  The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.  (Psalm 121)

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There is darkness rising – an evil agenda, but God’s Word reveals how this was set into motion long ago.  Now we find ourselves here in this place, sensing the rising tide.  Many of us are being filled with a more desperate drive to seek God, to ensure we are right with Him, and to receive His specific marching orders for such a time as this.

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O LORD, how long shall I cry for help….?  Why do You cause me to see perverseness and trouble?  For destruction and violence are before me; and there is strife and contention arises.  Therefore the law is slackened and justice and a righteous sentence never go forth, for the [hostility of the] wicked surrounds the [uncomprimisingly] righteous; therefore justice goes forth perverted. 

“Look around [you, Habakkuk,” replied the LORD], “around the nations and see!  And be astonished!  Astounded!  For I am putting into effect a work in your days [such] that you would not believe it if it were told you.  For behold, I am rousing up the Chaldeans, that bitter, impetuous nation who march through the breadth of the earth to take possession of dwelling places that do not belong to them.  (They’re) terrible and dreadful; their justice and dignity proceed [only] from themselves.  Their horses also are swifter than leopards and are fiercer than the evening wolves, and their horsemen spread themselves and press on proudly; yes, their horsemen came from afar; they fly like an eagle that hastens to devour.  They all come for violence; their faces turn eagerly forward, and they gather prisoners together like sand.  They scoff at kings, and rulers are a derision to them; they ridicule every stronghold, for they heap up dust [for earth mounds] and take it.  Then they sweep by like a wind and pass on, and they load themselves with guilt, [as do all men] whose own power is their god.” 

“Are not You from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One?  We shall not die, O LORD, You have appointed [the Chaldean] to execute [Your] judgment, and You, O Rock, have established him for chastisement and correction.  You are of purer eyes than to behold evil and can not look [inactively] upon injustice….

…. I will [in my thinking] stand upon my post of observation and station myself on the tower or fortress, and will watch to see what He will say within me….”

And the LORD answered me and said, “Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint.  Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”  (Habakkuk 1:2-13a, 2:1-3)

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There are only two things out there to focus on. On which are we focused?

1.) The world with its chaos and constant accusations/attacks of the enemy…. OR….

2.) JESUS CHRIST.

I’m reminded of Peter walking on the waves towards Jesus in response to His call to come to Him…. As long as Peter kept his eyes on the LORD, he stayed above the waves.  When he took his eyes off of Jesus, he started to sink.  This is an excellent reminder to KEEP OUR EYES ON THE LORD AT ALL TIMES!!  We cannot get sidetracked with the chaos around us.  We MUST keep our gaze fixed on Jesus Christ.

We have a very real enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, constantly seeking whom he may devour.  His goal is to steal, kill and destroy all he possibly can before his time runs out.  In contrast, God’s Word tells us clearly how our Heavenly Father made a way to pull us up out of this darkness, and redeem us out of self and all the evil, sin, and death we see all around.  We must stand as the soldiers of Christ He created us to be, awake and aware of the enemy’s tactics, doing all we can to rise up and march above his waves of destruction.

Our focus MUST be on the ONE TRUE GOD of the Bible, and the victory He’s already obtained through Jesus Christ…..

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The LORD is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear or dread?  The LORD is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.  Though an host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, [even then] in this will I be confident. 

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the LORD and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple. 

For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me high upon a rock.  And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me; in His tent I will offer sacrifices and shouting of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. 

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, have mercy and be gracious to me and answer me!  You have said, “Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need].”  My heart says to You, “Your face (Your presence), LORD will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word].” 

Hide not Your face from me; turn not Your servant away in anger, You Who have been my help!  Cast me not off, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation!  Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the LORD will take me up [adopt me as His child]. 

Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain and even path because of my enemies [those who lie in wait for me].  Give me not up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me; they breathe out cruelty and violence. 

[What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the LORD’s goodness in the land of the living!  Wait and hope for and expect the LORD; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring.  Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the LORD.  (Psalm 27) 

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…. For I know (perceive, have knowledge of, and am acquainted with) Him Whom I have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on), and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him] until that day.  (II Timothy 1:12)

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You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.  (Psalm 16:11)

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For David says in regard to Him, “I saw the LORD constantly before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken or overthrown or cast down [from my secure and happy state].  Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tongue exulted exceedingly; moreover, my flesh also will dwell in hope [will encamp, pitch its tent, and dwell in hope in anticipation of the resurrection].  For You will not abandon my soul, leaving it helpless in Hades (the state of departed spirits), nor let Your Holy One know decay or see destruction [of the body after death].  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will enrapture me [diffusing my soul with joy] with and in Your presence.”  (Acts 2:25-28)

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I was cast upon You from my very birth; from my mother’s womb You have been my God.  Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help.  Many [foes like] bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have hedged me in.  Against me they opened their mouths wide, like a ravening and roaring lion….

  …. You who fear (revere and worship) the LORD, praise Him!  All you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him.  Fear (revere and worship) Him, all you offspring of Israel.  For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hidden His face from him, but when he cried to Him, He heard.  My praise shall be of You in the great congregation.  I will pay to Him my vows [made in the time of trouble] before them who fear (revere and worship) Him.  The poor and afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; they shall praise the LORD – they who [diligently] seek for, inquire of and for Him, and require Him [as their greatest need].  May your hearts be quickened now and forever!  (Psalm 22:10-13, 23-26)

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I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.  O LORD my God, I cried to You and You have healed me.  O LORD, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the place of the dead); You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (the grave).  Sing to the LORD, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.  For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life.  Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning….. 

By Your favor, O LORD, You have established me as a strong mountain; You hid Your face, and I was troubled.  I cried to You, O LORD, and to the LORD I made supplication….  Hear, O LORD, have mercy and be gracious to me!  O LORD, be my helper!  You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.  To the end that my tongue and my heart and everything glorious within me may sing praise to You and not be silent.  O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.  (Psalm 30:1-5,7-8,10-12)

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I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not hide.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD [continually unfolding the past till all is told]” – then You [instantly] forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin.  Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!  (Psalm 32:5)

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Let all the earth fear the LORD [revere and worship Him]; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.  For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.  (Psalm 33:8-9)

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Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you to revere and worshipfully fear the LORD.  What man is he who desires life and longs for many days, that he may see good?  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.  Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!  The eyes of the LORD are toward the [uncomprimisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry.  The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.  When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. 

The LORD is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.  May evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.  Evil shall cause the death of the wicked; and they who hate the just and righteous shall be held guilty and shall be condemned.  The LORD redeems the lives of His servants, and none of those who take refuge and trust in Him shall be condemned or held guilty.  (Psalm 34:11-22)

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To be in right standing with God, He bids us to come and die. It’s a call to absolute death to self, and thorough surrender of everything to Himself, through His provision of Jesus Christ as our Savior and LORD.  In this death and surrender, He restores us to Himself, makes us a totally new creation, and gives us a totally new life, filled with peace and promise.

Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to God.

Therefore let the whole house of Israel recognize beyond all doubt and acknowledge assuredly that God has made Him both LORD and Christ (the Messiah) – this Jesus Whom you crucified.  Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles (special messengers), “Brethren, what shall we do?”

And Peter answered them, “Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, [even] to and for as many as the LORD our God invites and bids to come to Himself.”  And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed (testified) and admonished (exhorted) with much more continuous speaking and warned (reproved, advised, encouraged) them, saying, “Be saved from this crooked (perverse, wicked, unjust) generation.”  Therefore those who accepted and welcomed his message were baptized….  (Acts 2:36-41a)

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