Tag Archives: Brandon Heath

Keeping Our Focus

So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.
1 Peter 1:14, NLT*

Peter reminds his readers that they’ve been chosen, made holy, and cleansed by God (v. 1, 2). They’ve been given new life (v. 3), great expectation (v. 3), and a future inheritance (v. 4).

This is what matters, the true perspective “even though you have to endure many trials for a little while” (v. 6). These people love and trust Jesus (v. 8), and their reward will make all the struggle worthwhile.

The pain is part of the purification process (v. 7), not to disqualify them but to grow, train and strengthen them. Their focus isn’t to be on their present trouble, but on what’s to come.

With this in mind, Peter tells them to “think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world (v. 13).” And to be obedient to God instead of slipping back into their old ways (v. 14).

It’s so easy to get caught up in the cares of the day and to forget the big picture. Heads down, burdened, we’re slogging through deep mud and our focus shrinks to taking the next step. Can we keep Heaven in our hopes, and take that next, heavy step, trusting that Jesus is with us and that He will bring all those future promises to pass in His perfect time? Can we hold on, and trust that He’s holding us? That by His grace, we will make it?

“Think clearly and exercise self-control” (v. 13). This battle is won in the mind. “Live as God’s obedient children” (v. 14). Again, a deliberate choice. “Don’t slip back into your old ways” (v. 14). Vigilance, and ongoing choice. This isn’t just a warning to stay out of past overt sin like drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, theft, lies etc.

We need to be on guard against the small things, too. Attitudes, grumbling, petty thoughts… even daydreaming about perfectly good things at a time when we’re supposed to be focusing on something else.

Keeping focus long-term may be impossible for us, but that doesn’t mean that practice won’t improve it with God’s help. He wants us to draw nearer to Him, so we know He’ll help. In retraining our minds, we need to “take every thought captive to Christ” and remember:

  • God
  • His love for us
  • we’re chosen
  • our future hope
  • all He’s given us
  • eternity… let it affect our choices today

Father, forgive us for those times we’ve slipped back into our old ways, and those times we’ve stalled instead of growing. Give us hearts to know You better and to live to please you, and help us focus on living as Your obedient children, with Your help.

This week’s song is “No Turning Back,” by Brandon Heath.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Lord, I Want to See

If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.
Proverbs 29:18, MSG*

One thing I brought home from Write Canada this year was the challenge to see. As I shared recently (Bubbles in Bratislava), that message needed reinforcing within a few short weeks.

We see so much with our natural eyes, and we “see” our perspectives and interpretations, and all of this gets in the way of our discerning what God is doing—and what God sees.

In ourselves: “Search me, oh God, and know my heart…” (Ps. 139:23a, NIV) is a key prayer. God already knows us. Do we know ourselves? I love it that we can ask Him this in trust. He won’t overwhelm us by showing us everything He wants to fix, but He’ll let us see what He wants to work on now. And it’s never to diminish us, but always as an invitation to let Him work.

In others: It’s so easy to justify why we do the things we do, yet to make assumptions about the motivations of others—especially when they irritate us. Unless we take time to know them, we have no idea what’s happening under the surface of their lives.

In the world: We hear bits and pieces, often slanted by the media or by individual opinion. Again, even if we get the unbiased truth it’s still surface information. God knows the details, and He knows His plans.

Seeing what God is doing helps us to pray. It also helps us live confidently in Him despite the circumstances. It’s true: when we attend to what He reveals—when we see, hear, pay attention and adjust our actions accordingly—we are most blessed. Because then we’re closest to His heart.

In the words of a blind man who met Jesus, “Lord, I want to see.” (Luke 18:41, MSG) And when we can’t see, God help us to trust Him in the dark.

God our great Shepherd, our King and Sustainer, open our eyes to the many ways You touch our lives. Forgive us when we get discouraged by what we see in the natural, and help us see what You see and what You’re doing. Forgive us also for not looking past the surface of the people we meet and the events we watch. Your Spirit is always in us. Give us Your vision, so we can better serve and reflect You in our lives.

Our song this week is Brandon Heath’s “Give Me Your Eyes.”

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Seeing… and Responding

Then [Jesus] turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.”
Luke 7:45, NIV*

Simon the Pharisee certainly does see the woman, and he’s offended that someone “of that sort” would invade his righteous household. But he doesn’t see her at all: drawn to Jesus, hoping, trusting, desperately needing a miracle.

I remember Mark Buchanan reading this story a few years ago at Write! Canada. “Do you see this woman?” He challenged us with this: do we see an individual’s heart, or just skim over the surface?

Do we see?

Are we free to make a difference, or do we hold back in fear? What if we’re rebuffed? What would the onlookers say?

The Gospel of Luke also tells how Jesus interrupts a mission to heal a dying child. Someone in the crowd has sneaked a healing by touching His robe. As the desperate father is nearing wits’ end, Jesus looks around and asks “Who touched Me?

He knows full well which of the many bumps and jostles made the difference, and He knows the woman’s story: the 12 years’ incurable bleeding, the physicians’ helplessness, the woman’s despair. Under the Jewish law, she would have been considered unclean for all this time, outcast, feeling defeated and unworthy.

Jesus could let her slip away, healed and filled with wondrous hope. But He stops the whole progression and singles her out. Not to chastise her as she might fear, but to acknowledge her worth. He’s not about to let her go whole in body but wounded in soul.

Who will we meet today who needs some kindness?

Lord, grant us to really see the people you bring our way.

We’ve had this song before, but I don’t think there’s a better one for this topic than Brandon Heath’s “Give me Your Eyes”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV*

Sometimes I need a balance adjustment. While I’ve been spending time in prayer and God’s word, learning to love Him better, and growing in relationship with Him, that’s only part of the goal.

He wants to equip me for good work. St. Paul makes this even clearer when he says we must turn away from wickedness and ignoble purposes and become “instrument[s] for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21, NIV)

Christians are intended to show Jesus’ love to the world. We have the Great Commission and the promise of His presence. Loving Him, expressing our love to Him, isn’t complete if we’re not looking around with His perspective, seeing what He sees, and acting as He wants to act through us.

If I want to know how to pray for people and events – if I want to know how God wants to use me in people’s lives – I need to pay attention to what’s going on. Ask Him about it, think about it, and not be so quick to drop it in pursuit of other tasks or diversions.

Instead of waiting to get close enough for God to reveal His perspective, I need to be doing my part – be faithful in the little things – if I hope to see progress.

Father, thank You for loving us. Please help me pay attention as You show me how You want to love those around me.

We can all make today’s song our prayer: “Give Me Your Eyes,” by Brandon Heath.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.