KEEP YOUR FOCUS
A. Introduction: John 14:27—God offers His people peace, but to experience this peace we must learn to let
not (not allow) our hearts (mind and emotions) be troubled (agitated, distressed, disturbed).
1. The Greek word that is translated peace in this passage means peace of mind. Peace of mind is a state of
tranquility and quiet. Peace of mind is freedom from disquieting (troubling) or anxious thoughts and
emotions (Webster’s Dictionary).
a. Peace of mind does not mean that you never have another troubling thought. Peace of mind comes
from knowing how to answer troubling thoughts—according to what God says. The Bible helps us
learn how keep our hearts from being troubled by giving us answers for troubling thoughts.
b. For the past few weeks we’ve been discussing the fact that we have an enemy (the devil) who uses
mental strategies to undermine our faith and confidence in God. He presents us with lies about
God, ourselves, and our circumstances in an attempt to influence our behavior.
c. These lies come through the culture, other people, unhealthy and ungodly thinking patterns built up
in our mind, and random thoughts that we did not initiate. Our protection against these lies is the
truth—the Word of God. Eph 6:11-17
1. To experience peace in this difficult life you must win the battle for your mind. That’s one
reason why the Bible has so much to say about your mind and where you focus your attention.
2. Rom 12:1-2—Christians are instructed to renew their minds. Renewing the mind is more than
simply memorizing a few Bible verses. It’s about changing your perspective, your view of
reality. You begin to see everything in terms of what God says about it and it gives you peace.
2. Last week’s lesson emphasized the fact that we must get control of our mind. Gaining control of your
mind involves become aware of what’s in your mind. This means learning to recognize ungodly and
unhealthy thought patterns that are inconsistent with God’s Word.
a. This does not mean that you pretend you have no problems or that everything is wonderful when it
isn’t. It means that you learn to assess and discuss life’s challenges in term of what the Bible says.
1. Matt 6:25-34—Jesus told His followers not to worry (be anxious or mentally agitated) about
where life’s necessities will come from. He didn’t mean “deny lack or pretend that you have
everything you need in hand when you don’t”.
2. Jesus meant: Remember that you have a heavenly Father who takes care of birds and flowers
and you matter more to Him than birds and flowers. He will take care of you. That is reality.
A. We have a tendency to go over and over problems in our mind and allow them to dominate
our thoughts. We obsess over them. Obsess means to occupy intensely or abnormally.
B. We speculate about things we cannot possibly know—the future, other peoples motives.
We go over and over circumstances we can do nothing about. The result is that we’re
filled with anxiety and have no peace of mind.
b. Jesus’ answer to this tendency to obsess was and is to put our focus back on the way things really
really are according to God. He told His followers to behold the birds and consider the flowers.
1. Behold comes from a word that means to observe fixedly and discern clearly. Consider means
to learn thoroughly and note carefully. In other words, Jesus said: Focus.
2. When you focus, you make adjustments so as to see more clearly. When you focus on, you
make something the center of your attention or activity (Webster’s Dictionary). In this lesson
we’re going to talk about the importance of learning to focus.
B. Matt 13:3-23—Jesus told His disciples that in this present age the kingdom of God will spread through the
preaching of the Word of God. In His teaching Jesus made a number of important points.
1. Jesus further said that there is an enemy (the devil) who comes to steal the Word of God when it is
preached. His goal in challenging the Word is to pressure people into giving up faith in Christ.
If he can’t do that, the devil works to make people as ineffective (or unfruitful) as possible because of
inaccurate beliefs and character issues that make you a poor representative of the Lord Jesus.
a. Matt 13:19-21; Mark 4:15-17—Satan and his fellow fallen angels use life’s hardships (tribulation,
affliction, persecution) to their advantage. We’re more vulnerable to his lies when facing hardship.
b. Paul the apostle (who was personally taught the message that he preached by Jesus, Gal 1:11-12)
wrote that we must be clothed in God’s Word so that we can stand: Eph 6:13—Therefore put on
God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of
danger], and having done all [the crisis demands] to stand [firmly in your place] (Amp).
1. We need to be prepared for the evil day or the day of trouble because we are more susceptible to
the devil’s mental attacks in the time of trouble.
2. Therefore, when troubles come our way, we need to pay attention to what is going on in our
mind that we can recognize and counter the devil’s mental attacks with the Word of God.
c. We get insight into these potential attacks and our vulnerability from some other things Paul wrote
in letters (epistles) to believers who were experiencing various challenges and trials. Remember,
Paul wrote to real people to communicate important information about how to live in this world.
2. On one of his missionary journeys, Paul established a community of believers in the Greek city of
Thessalonica (AD 50). Large numbers of people responded with Paul preached the gospel. When
persecution broke out Paul was forced to leave the city about three weeks after he arrived. Acts 17:1-15
a. I Thess 3:1-5—Paul moved on to Athens, Greece, but was concerned about these new believers so
he sent his co-worker to Thessalonica to check on the people.
1. Paul “was afraid that the Tempter had gotten the best of you and that all our work had been
useless” (v5, NLT).
2. What would the devil tempt them to do? Stop believing the gospel because of their
circumstances. How would he tempt them? Like he tempts everyone—with words, with
thoughts. This is what you get when you serve Jesus. It’s not worth it. Life was better when
you served idols. Don’t tell anyone else about Jesus.
b. Note v2-3—Paul sent Timothy to establish them (establish means to set fast or resolutely turn in a
direction) and comfort them (comfort means to call to the side of to aid, help, comfort, encourage).
1. I Thess 3:3—Paul and Timothy’s desire for these persecuted believers is that they would not be
moved by their circumstances, moved from their faith in Christ. The Greek word that is
translated moved means to shake or disturb. It literally means to way (like a dog’s tail).
2. Remember, Paul is the one who wrote that we wrestle with unseen beings (Eph 6:12). The
Greek word that is translated wrestle means to vibrate or sway. They try to move us from faith.
3. Faith, comfort, encouragement, strength and hope all come from the Word of God (Rom 10:17;
Rom 15:4; Ps 94:19; I John 2:14; etc.). Paul sent Timothy to the Thessalonians to help them
keep their focus by reminding them of the truth, God’s Word—so they could keep standing.
3. Paul also established a community of believers in the Greek city of Corinth in AD 50. He stayed with
them for a year and a half before he moved on to Ephesus (a city in modern Turkey). Acts 8:1-18
a. While Paul was in Ephesus word was brought to him that serious issues had developed at Corinth,
one of which was an unrepentant man blatantly sleeping with his father’s wife. I Cor 5:1-13
b. Paul instructed them to put the man out of the church for his good and their good (lessons for another
day). When the man came to his senses and repented Paul instructed the church to forgive and
restore him. Note the point that Paul made
1. II Cor 2:7-11—Now is the time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become
so discouraged that he won’t be able to recover. Now show him that you still love him…so
that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes (NLT).
2. Paul realized that Satan was poised to take advantage of the entire situation. This man was no
doubt struggling with guilt, shame, and discouragement over his huge moral failure.
A. And, think about the emotional effect on the church from having to throw someone out and
now turn around and forgive and interact with him again. Everyone would have had an
opinion. No doubt there were those who didn’t want to welcome him back.
B. What thoughts would you have in a similar situation? What would people be saying to
each other behind closed doors? Added to all this that an unseen being working behind
the scenes to influence people’s behavior and drive them away from God or make them as
ineffective as possible.
c. It’s natural to have thoughts and feelings in circumstances like the Thessalonians and Corinthians
faced. But we must be wise to the schemes of the devil and be sure that our thoughts are consistent
with God’s Word so that our emotions and actions are expressed in a godly way.
1. Remember, Paul is also the one who wrote that we must put on God’s armor (His Word) so that
we can recognize and resist the mental strategies of the devil. Eph 6:11
2. But Paul also wrote, not only about the importance of recognizing the lies of the devil, but the
importance of keeping our focus on Jesus as part of winning the battle for our mind.
C. Sexual sin was not the only problem in the church at Corinth. They were also being influenced by false
apostles (lessons for another day). In that same letter to the Corinthians, Paul made another statement
relevant to our topic.
1. II Cor 11:3—But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may
somehow be led astray from your pure and sincere devotion to Christ (NIV).
a. Paul makes a number of points that we’ve already covered—the devil’s strategies are mental; he
presents us with lies through thoughts; he wants to influence our beliefs and behavior. But notice
that Paul also feared that their focus would be taken off of Jesus.
1. The Greek word that is translated pure and sincere devotion comes from a word that means
single. This same word is used in Matt 6:22 where Jesus talked about having a single eye.
(His topic was priorities or storing up treasure in Heaven; many lessons for another day).
2. Note this translation. Matt 6:22—The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye be in
single focus, pure, sound, your whole body will be lighted (Wuest).
b. Light comes from God’s Word. If your eye is single (your focus is on His Word) you will be full of
light. God’s Word is referred to as a lamp and a light because it shows us the way things really are.
It is the Truth. We keep our focus on Jesus through the Bible. The Living Word of God, the Lord
Jesus, is revealed in and through the written Word of God. Ps 119:105; John 17:17; John 5:39; John
c. Paul wrote these words in his epistle to Hebrew Christians who were being pressured to abandon
Jesus and return to the old system of blood sacrifices and worship under the Law of Moses.
1. Heb 12:1-2—Let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed
course of the race that is set before us. Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who
is the Leader and the Source of our faith (Amp).
2. Paul urged them to patiently endure by looking unto Jesus. The Greek word used means to
consider attentively has the idea of looking away from one thing to another. In other words,
Paul urged them to focus. When you focus, you make adjustments so as to see more clearly.
When you focus on, you make something the center of your attention or activity.
2. Matt 13:22-23—Paul learned this from Jesus. When Jesus talked about how God’s kingdom spreads
through the preaching of the Word He told His followers that, not only does the devil try to steal the
Word, the cares of this world can choke it and can also choke it and prevent it from producing results.
a. Matthew 13:22—The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all
too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life…so no crop is produced (NLT).
b. We could teach several lessons on the cares of this world, but notice one point in connection with
our discussion. The Greek word that is translated care means to draw in different directions, or that
which causes you to be distracted.
1. To distract means to divert or draw the attention or mind to a different object. It means to stir
up or confuse with conflicting emotions or motives (Webster’s Dictionary)
2. Matt 6:25; Phil 4:6—Both Jesus and Paul used a form of this word when they urged Christians
not to worry. Worry arises when our attention is drawn away from the Word of God.
A. In the last lesson we discussed how Jesus said when you see lack, don’t let it distract you
from the fact you have a heavenly Father will take care of you. Put your focus on the fact
that birds eat and flowers are dressed, and you matter to Him more than a bird or flower.
B. In a previous lesson we discussed how Paul wrote that when you have a need, don’t let it
distract you. Put your focus on what is true, pure, lovely (God’s Word). Think on these
things (Phil 4:8). The Greek word translated think literally means to take an inventory.
3. There are all kinds of distractions in this world—things that pull our attention away from the Lord and
His Word. They aren’t necessarily sinful. And some of them must be attended to.
a. But we have to be aware of the danger of losing our focus—especially in this particular time in
human history. Because of our electronic devices and social media we get constant input from the
culture. Bells, dings, and chimes go off continually, alerting us that we have new messages.
b. Changes in media productions and our own viewing habits have greatly shortened our attention span
and robbed us of our ability to concentrate and focus (vital skills for controlling our minds).
1. How many screens do you look at each day that have three or four stories or headlines going on
at the same time? How many pop-ups appear on every screen you look at?
2. How many find it difficult to read more than a few words of anything? We’ve become used to
reading abbreviated texts and sending little signal and cartoons instead of sending words.
3. We have constant noise coming into our ears, if not from ear buds, from speakers blaring in
almost every building we enter, making it impossible to quietly contemplate.
c. I’m not pointing these things out to make people feel bad. I want us to be aware of the many
distractions we have in our lives that have become normal. Therefore, we make no effort to
counteract them. And, and when trouble strikes and we need to put our focus on God and what He
says, we’re unable to do it.
D. Conclusion: To experience the peace of mind that Jesus offers, the peace that passes understanding we must
win the battle for our mind.
1. This involves getting control of our thoughts and learning how to keep our focus. It isn’t easy and it
takes effort. We’re used to instant results in our culture, but there are no instant fixes here. But we
must make the effort.
2. Remember where we started out at the beginning of this year—talking about the importance of becoming
a regular Bible reader—especially the New Testament. Regular reading changes your view of reality
and exposes thinking patterns that are contrary to the word of God. It helps you recognize thoughts
that are contrary to God’s Word. And it also helps you develop the ability to keep your focus. Ps 94:19
3. We have much more to say about this next week!!