Week Three: Influences and Focus

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Have you seen the classic Disney Pixar movie Up? In Up there is a character named Doug, who happens to be a talking dog. Every time he begins talking to the other characters about how he can talk, Doug turns his head, mid-sentence, and yells, “SQUIRREL!” and points at a squirrel.

How often have you been driving in the car to work, praying, and before you know it, you are thinking of a time that you had not thought about in years...like the time when you were eight and broke a window? If you are anything like me, random moments pop into your head when you try to connect with God. Or, maybe urgent needs like feeding your children, paying bills, or deadlines at the office flood your mind in a moment of prayer. Our “squirrels,” or distractions, are numerous.

In fact, distractions might even be affecting our decisions, big and small. We are naturally influenced by what is around us, especially when those things are unfiltered. We can make decisions through our day without ever considering that our Father might want to do something in us or through us.

I invite you to come alongside me as we choose to seek God first, to learn to be anchored in the Word of God, to identify those things that influence our decisions through the day, and to choose what is important over what is urgent. This week let’s strive to bring ourselves to a laser-like focus on God because we believe He is important and worthy of our time.

Jonah Grisham

 

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Weekly Prayer

Gracious God, with all the distractions and influences that affect my decisions, help me focus on You. I ask for the gift of discernment, so that I will continually choose the way that leads to life in You! Amen.


DAILY — PRAYING SCRIPTURE:

Day One: 

The Spirit of God is both the way to see the heart of God and the agent by which we become more like God Himself. Connection with the Spirit of God is essential for spiritual success.

1 Corinthians 2:10-16:  Lord, I know You revealed things by your Spirit. Your Spirit searches out everything and shows me your deep secrets. I know I cannot know your thoughts except through your own Spirit, so as I have received your Spirit (not the world’s spirit), I can know the wonderful things You have freely given me.

And, Lord, I know You do not use words that come from human wisdom, so help me also to speak words given to me by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. And while people who aren’t believes can’t receive or understand these truths from your Spirit, I thank you that those of us who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.  As easy as it is to think, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” — believers can actually understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. Lord, I have the mind of Christ! Help me to trust the leading of your Spirit. Amen.

Ask yourself: What can I do today to engage the Spirit of God? Are there thoughts that God has that I need to act upon?

Prayer:  Gracious God, with all the distractions and influences that affect my decisions, help me focus on You. I ask for the gift of discernment, so that I will continually choose the way that leads to life in You! Amen.


Day Two:

Excuses can be a distraction from doing what God has called us to do. He has given us everything we need for the task He has called us to do. Resist the temptation to succumb to making excuses. His power is perfect!

Jeremiah 1:1-10:  Father God, the words of Jeremiah were given when the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives. To Jeremiah you spoke, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” You called him to the huge task of speaking your truth to your people, and he didn’t want to, offering the excuse, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” Of course, You responded, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.  And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” Then You reached out and touched his mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up and plant.” Father, just as your words encouraged and bolstered Jeremiah, help me overcome my fears and doubts...and to let go of my excuses...so I can follow where you lead me. Amen.

Ask Yourself: What excuses do I make to try to get out of what God is calling me to do? What has God given me that encourage and bolster me?

Prayer: Gracious God, with all the distractions and influences that affect my decisions, help me focus on You. I ask for the gift of discernment, so that I will continually choose the way that leads to life in You! Amen.


Day Three:

As a vine is to its branch, and as a tree is to its roots, so our spiritual vitality is to God. We cannot sustain the life and sacrificial love of Christ without being connected. When we are connected, we flourish.

John 15:1-8:  Lord Jesus, You are the true grapevine, and your Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You tell me that I have already been pruned and purified by the message of truth and love that You have given me. Help me to remain in You so that You will remain in me. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and I cannot be fruitful unless I remain in You.

Lord, You are the vine; I am a branch. Those who remain in You, and You in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from You, I can do nothing. In fact, anyone who does not remain in You is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  Help me remember the good news — that if I remain in You and your words remain in me, I may ask for anything I want, and it will be granted!  When I produce much fruit, truly I am one of your disciples, and this brings great glory to God the Father. Amen.

Ask Yourself: What do I need to do to connect with God today? What distraction or circumstance stands in between me and my connection with God?

Prayer: Gracious God, with all the distractions and influences that affect my decisions, help me focus on You. I ask for the gift of discernment, so that I will continually choose the way that leads to life in You! Amen.


Day Four: 

Are you living in the old covenant or the new? Jesus is the mediator for our sins. No longer do they separate us from God. We have access to God today, right now, no matter what we have done. Working to make God pleased with us has been rendered obsolete. 

Hebrews 8:6-13:  Dear Jesus, You are our High Priest, and You have been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for You are the One who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.  If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said, “The day is coming when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt.
They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day. I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. ...For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already.
And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” So, Lord, when God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means He has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. Teach me, Lord, to love you more fully and to live faithfully in this new covenant. Amen.

Ask Yourself: Are there areas of your life you are living in the old covenant, trying to work in order to please God? Are there people in your life who need to know this new covenant and new promise of God’s grace?

Prayer: Gracious God, with all the distractions and influences that affect my decisions, help me focus on You. I ask for the gift of discernment, so that I will continually choose the way that leads to life in You! Amen.


Day Five: 

We can trust God. We can trust that He is good. We can trust that He is about His Father’s work today in us and in the world.

John 10:37-38:  Jesus, you told us not to believe You unless You carry out your Father’s work. But if You do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works You have done, even if I don’t believe You. Then I will know and understand that the Father is in You, and You are in the Father. I want to believe You! Show me the evidence of your work in the world around me. Amen.

Ask Yourself: Do I trust His goodness? How can I participate in the Father’s work today with Jesus?

Prayer: Gracious God, with all the distractions and influences that affect my decisions, help me focus on You. I ask for the gift of discernment, so that I will continually choose the way that leads to life in You! Amen.


Day Six: 

It is God who gives wisdom and discernment. Despite our best efforts and extensive knowledge and even king-like positions, we will never grow beyond needing God.

1 Kings 3:9-10: Father God, King Solomon once asked You, “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” I know it pleased You that Solomon asked for wisdom. I want to please You too, so I ask for the same kind of wisdom to govern my life and all that You have given me responsibility for. Grant me wisdom to know right from wrong! Amen.

Ask Yourself: Do you feel like you have grown beyond needing God’s wisdom? What areas of your life do you need to ask for wisdom?

Prayer: Gracious God, with all the distractions and influences that affect my decisions, help me focus on You. I ask for the gift of discernment, so that I will continually choose the way that leads to life in You! Amen.


Day Seven:

Prayer: Gracious God, with all the distractions and influences that affect my decisions, help me focus on You. I ask for the gift of discernment, so that I will continually choose the way that leads to life in You! Amen.

Day Seven:  Look over your notes/prayers from the past week. What seems meaningful to you? Did you receive any insight, inspiration, or challenge? Does something require more prayer? Does something require you to take action? Whatever your experience was this week, stay committed. God is!

Catherine HortonComment