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He was a rookie, not just any rookie but one who immediately made an impact on the NBA in general and his upstart team in particular. The other guy was a seasoned veteran with a couple rings on his finger. He was tough, well-known and confident.

Maybe that’s why he fouled the rookie late in a game in which the upstart team was within seconds of an upset. After a brief time-out for strategy the veteran approached the rookie as he took his place on the lane. The TV cameras caught the exchange. The most novice lip-reader could see the ‘advice’ the veteran gave the rookie: “Don’t be short.”

All eyes were on the rookie who had made several of these shots earlier in the game. This was for the win. This would make the highlight reels. It would have that is unless the ball bounced off the front of the rim. The opposition grabbed the ball, moved it down the floor and shot the winning shot. The problem wasn’t that the rookie missed the shot, the real problem was that he lost his focus. Rather than thinking about the ball going through the hoop, he thought about the ball being short, which of course, it was.

Our focus determines how we respond to life’s circumstances. If our focus is on the negative, or on the problem itself we live defeated. If our focus is on the positive, on working towards or seeking solutions our chances of making it through the crisis are multiplied.

Jesus knew about focus. When he first appeared on the scene that night in Bethlehem his focus was on growing up in faith and maturity. Our only glimpse of him as a child was in the temple where his focus was obviously on learning. Luke tells us he returned home to grow physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.

Life changed dramatically when he was anointed by the Holy Spirit and his focus changed from being Jesus, son of Mary to being Jesus, Son of God and he began a ministry of spiritual and physical healing in the Judean countryside.

However, perhaps the biggest change comes as Luke records it in Luke 9:51 when Jesus turned his face towards Jerusalem. Then his focus changed from Jesus Son of God to Jesus, Savior of the world!

While Jesus remained focused on the task at hand, the same can’t be said for his disciples. While he was healing and teaching their focus seemed to be on their position on the ‘discipleship ladder’ and how they could improve it. Countless times it seems Jesus would take his band of brothers aside to remind them that this wasn’t about their position it was about service.

Not only does focus determine how we respond to life circumstances, focus determines the direction of our motivation. If our motivation is on self-preservation our motivation is on defending what we have (or think we have). If our motivation is based on service then our focus is inevitably on others.

Jesus death wasn’t the result of an angry mob. His death didn’t happen by accident. His death wasn’t unplanned. When Jesus set his heart and mind towards Jerusalem and the cross he did it for one reason and one reason alone – his love for you and me. As someone once said, it wasn’t the nails that held Jesus to the cross; it wasn’t my sin that held him to the cross. It was his love for me that held him to the cross.

John 10:18 says,No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

What an amazing statement! Jesus loves me so much that he willingly suffered on the cross for my sin and for yours as well. There is nothing we can do to earn this love. There is nothing more to give, no sacrifice asked for. All that’s required is acceptance of his grace and mercy behalf. What a savior. What a Lord.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I’m in awe as I remember the motivation for your trip to Jerusalem. You knew what lay ahead of you, yet you bore the pain of the cross for me because of your great love for me. Empower me with your Spirit so that I can focus my life on serving you by loving others. In your name I pray, Amen.



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March 2023
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