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Episode #92 – All About Focus

September 21, 2008

with Martha Kilpatrick and hosted by John Enslow

(M) Well it’s a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and it’s crucial to this. I spoke from Heb. 12 where it says, ‘Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance of sin that entangles us.’ And the sin is believing in the power of the problem. That’s the sin.  It’s believing in any power other than God.
(J) Read the scripture again.
(M) Ok. “Therefore since we’re surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance and that sin which so readily, deftly, and cleverly clings to and entangles us. And let us run with endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race… Looking away from all that will distract…” Looking away from the problem.
(J) Umhmm.
(M) “to Jesus, who is the leader and source of our faith, giving the first incentive for our faith, and is also its finisher, bringing it to maturity and perfection.” And those terms are carpentry terms.
(J) Well I know you’re not taking about a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ blink it out and don’t look at it, don’t focus on it and just pretend like it’s not there. I know you’re not talking about that. And it’s not a blind faith thing; oh you know, ah, let it be, here we go.
(M) No, it’s not. And this is real. And let’s go back to Phil. 4, because after you ‘rejoice in the Lord’, and you live in the perspective ‘the Lord is coming’, verse 6 says, “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything.” So we…  You know, John, the problem comes and we believe the anxiety is justified and it’s inevitable. And I don’t think we can do that, but the life of Christ can. Somehow the life of Christ in me is, it detached from…  It detached from any situation so far that is rather critical. I’m rather detached; it has no reality. And while it’s taken me many years to get here…
(J) It’s a very enviable place.
(M) Well may it be the incentive for us to surrender, and to surrender our thinking. See when you surrender, but especially when you surrender your thinking, you come into the view of God which is totally shocking.  It says, “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.”  Wants, wants…  ‘do you want to be healed’ Jesus once said to the crippled man. But we have permission.  In surrender we have permission to pray what we want. But the issue is the anxiety is sin, Fear is sin, and to fear the problem and the circumstance hinders you and it hinders the Lord, because your faith is there.
(J) Right.
(M) Your faith is that the problem is real. And our listeners will know.   You and I don’t… we’re not in some ‘la-la’ faith. I don’t want to go there.   That’s not real and doesn’t have fruit.
(J) Right, sure.
(M) But this is the solid faith of who God is, and delighting in Him because of who He is; and then being free of anxiety first, before, but in every circumstance giving thanksgiving, and then making your petitions known to God with thanksgiving. “And God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of the soul assured of its salvation through Christ”, see you didn’t know I was going to use this scripture, but you spoke of the peace.
(J) Umhmm.
(M) “and fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” So then he goes on to say, ‘whatever is true and worthy and honorable and seemly, whatever is just and lovely and loveable, winsome and gracious, think on these things’. Well John, those are the realities, and those are the attributes of Christ. So we are to keep our eyes on Him. And you know I see the real warfare. The real warfare would like to take my body out and kill me.
(J) Umhmm.
(M) The real warfare would like to steal from me, whatever, reputation, money, etc., etc. But I tell you the goal, John, is to get us to take our eyes off Jesus and put them on the problem.
(J) It’s all about focus?
(M) It’s all about focus. “If your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light.” It’s a single eye. And that is possible at any stage of the Christian life. I did it when I when I was thirty years old.
(J) It’s a work though.
(M) It is a work, it is. But to catch the enemy in his real agenda to take the focus off Jesus, and really put it on himself, that is the warfare. So I have to remember only one thing, keep my eyes on Him, to learn to turn away from everything and look at Him. Turn away from the sin, the problem, the situation, the chaos, the elections, the ‘everything’. I’m subscribing to this health thing, and I’m about to cancel it, because it gives you natural remedies, but I want to write and say all you’re doing is making me afraid that    if I don’t take everything you’ve got then I won’t make it. And I’m not gonna be made afraid.  Help me, don’t make me afraid. Don’t tell me, oh my goodness, food coloring is gonna kill you.
(J) Umhmm.
(M) I don’t want to know that, I don’t care about that. Just tell me about umm, the natural things of the earth that God has put in here to help us. But don’t manipulate me through fear to buy your supplement or your ideas. I’m done with it, no, no, no; you’re making me look at the problem.
(J) Right, sure.
(M) It’s that practical you see. The whole world wants you to look at the problem, or the potential of the problem.
(J) Well its just antichrist, it’s pull your eyes off of Christ and look at the problem.
(M)Well John, what you and I are learning is that how deadly anxiety is to the body. And you know, I was thinking earlier, OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorders are rampant. What it is, is fear, the lack of control. We have to accept that we have no control. And that’s a frightening place to go to, if you really go there, it’s terribly frightening. You have to pass through that into faith. And God does that, He lets you pass through; He will take you through. But the coming through that narrow gate to the other side, on the other side is such vibrant life and existence. It’s a life that transcends everything on this earth. It transcends problems. Paul could say ‘I was in the sea for three days, starving and naked and beaten’ and etc., etc. But those problems were insignificant to him. And at the end of this he says, the end of this very chapter, “I have learned to be abased and live humbly, I also know how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I’ve learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well fed or hungry, having sufficiency and enough to spare or going without. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.” You know, John, the problem is there to drive you away from the problem. The problem is there to take you to the God Who alone can solve the problem or make the problem tolerable. The problem is really the vehicle, well it’s just the catalyst that changes. The problem is perfectly, sovereignly orchestrated.  No matter how bad it is, it’s sovereignly orchestrated to push you to God, to defeat you and to prove that you are not God and you cannot solve it on any ground. Even your prayers and anxiety cannot solve the problem about which you’re anxious. But the problem is, is the gift of God to bring you to Himself, and on that ground you can say ‘thank-you’. And I know a woman, the woman we visited in New York, she has faithfully exercised this in very trying situations; ‘thank You God, thank You, I thank you for this loss, this difficulty, this awful situation.’ I can say she even suffered the loss of a baby. And she is seeing the goodness of God, and she is going to see the Kingdom, because it tares down all your suspicions about God to thank Him.
(J) Umhmm.
(M) To receive the problem as from God, or the failure, or the collapse or the loss as from God, no matter how grievous it is. Grief is something else, now you can grieve and still be thankful. But you tare down your unbelief when you thank Him in every circumstance. So the problem comes to evoke from you your beliefs and your responses. Because He’s God you can thank Him for it. And He’s good. And her testimony now is, ‘oh He is so good’. I think we could overcome enormous problems and obstacles and difficulties if we sincerely said thank you; or just chose to say thank you. You know John, the problem and the world and our flesh all believes fully in complexity, in difficulty, but in the Kingdom and in Gods thoughts He has made it so extremely simple.
(J) It’s so simple that it’s difficult.
(M) Exactly. I believe in complexity.
(J) Umhmm.
(M) I read something when I began to try to write. I read a little book about writing and it said the truly intelligent writer seeks to make it simple. The unintelligent writer tries to make it complex.
(J) So it says that we are unintelligent.
(M) Yes, exactly. We’re ignorant, basically ignorant. The Lord said something to me recently and I’m going to have to go bind myself to it. But He said ‘just abide and memorize’, that’s all I need to do. And to abide is to look at Him. How can you abide in Him without being conscious of Him.
(J) And focused.
(M) And focused on Him. So that is so simple. Like you said, I can’t do it. But I’m gonna challenge you and me to memorize Phil. 4, beginning with verse 4, all the way to Paul’s statement that ‘he can do anything’, he can handle any problem. What he’s talking about is problems. I can live with any problem, because Christ enables me and empowers me to do so. But there is no anxiety in this life, John. There’s to be no anxiety in the Kingdom, no worry, no fret, no fear. And it’s also in the Old Testament in Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. But do not fret over the wicked man, it leads only to evil.”
(J) It’s enthroning something other than God. (Martha laughs)
(M) You are so throne conscious. Yeah. It’s exactly what it is. It’s worship, and what you focus on is what you worship; and what you fear is what you worship. It’s just so beautifully perfect and simple. I love it, I love His plan, because He… It’s ease, His way is ease; our way is wrangle, stumble, struggle and fail.
(J) And fail.
(M) And fail. But He’s going to see us through to resurrection life, if we will just surrender. And the problem is coming to specifically kill something; and in every problem, if you could see what He’s after to kill.
(J) Because it is a fire of death.
(M) It is a fire of death, yeah.
(J) You cannot get to the resurrection life without the fire of death.
(M) You cannot. You cannot. We possess the resurrection life, we have it;  It is ours, but we won’t want it, access it and experience it apart from the grave. It has to be preceded by the grave, because resurrection life is its own power, it is its own life, it is its own energy. It’s not an energy that we can produce.
(J) I’m grateful that He slays us, because if we had to choose the death, like jumping off the high dive in a pool, we may never go up. We may never even go off the diving board. But because He slays us… but then some of us don’t access the resurrection life on the other side of it. We’re slayed anyway; we’re paying the price, why not do it?
(M) Well you read to me a long time ago, Saint Andrew, as he was being taken to be crucified, “Oh cross, how long I have loved thee.” And he, I’m sure his death was ecstasy; I know it was. And you come to the place where you love the cross. Ok, what are You after now in me? And it’s usually to kill every faith in what is not God; faith in the power of evil or the power of the problem, or the power of the enemy, or the power of ‘me’. So, halleluiah. It would be tragic to live this life and not surrender, John. It would be a loss unspeakable to fail to come under God’s ‘God-ness’. I want, if anything, I want this podcast to speak of the glory of surrender, and the reward of His pleasure in the death of His saints. I’m not saying it well. But I want this to stand, this little tiny voice going out, I want it to stand for the goodness of God, and the worth of laying down your life for Him. It’s glory on the other side, glory.
 

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