Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This concept of fixing my eyes on Jesus will not let go of me.
The KJV puts it this way: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;"
The Greek word is aphorao and means to consider attentively. Attentively (with fixed attention.)
To be honest, I have a problem with this concept of looking, because it implies distance, and distance, to me, implies a God that I can never get close to (Much like some churches I have attended, with their superstar pastors). I have already had more of that than I can stand. I have never known of anyone to never leave me nor forsake, and yet that is exactly what God says he will do. Although, I sometimes wonder how embarrassed God is at how I talk or act, I have never felt any distancing on God's part toward me. Do not get me wrong; I have felt greatly distanced at times, but I can assure you that that was totally because of my selfishness/indulgence in sin.
The NET version says: "keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,.."
This version has pulled in both concepts; keeping our eyes upon Jesus and the idea of fixation upon.
Why would you fix your eyes upon something?
A detective would do it because they are on the hunt for something; an artist studies or fixes his eyes upon a subject so that they can attempt to capture the essence of that subject while painting; We are told to fix our attention, our vision, our thoughts and emotions upon Jesus, because I truly believe that God wants us to live in a state of peace that passes understanding. To have a peace about me, at a time when it is illogical, passes my understanding. And yet having read this, and desired it, I find it easier to know that it was only God in that situation.
Hebrews is a faith book. It is meant to train us, and establish us with a solid background of information and witnesses. If it were a trial the evidence for conviction is overwhelming and beyond reasonable doubt. So that peace I just spoke of takes faith, and is wrapped up in my faith.
Is it my faith or God's?
I suppose both. I have to exhibit some faith to merely accept my position within the family of God; I have to act in faith upon God's promises to me in order to live in this world; And God, clearly places a faith within me, at times, for the occasion. Example: There was a brief time in my life that I was keenly aware of a tremendous faith for healing. How would I know that? I am basically a shy person and for the longest time very timid. Speaking out boldly, placing my hands upon someone for healing, and expecting God to move would have been way out of character for me, but in several circumstances I saw God's hand at work in extraordinary ways. Pretty darn cool, and yes I sort of wish that could happen more often. (A word of caution. People began to look at me and not God. Not Good! It is just the nature of people.)
Here is where the faith aspect comes in. God's word tells us to lay our hands upon the sick and they will recover. There is no emotion needed in that, merely obedience. The faith part is acting and letting God do what he said he would.
"Not with bodily eyes, for at present he is not to be looked upon in this manner, but with the eye of the understanding, or with the eye of faith; for faith is a seeing of the Son;"
( John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)
Having read several commentaries on the passage I tend to agree with Gill. I believe that the intent is to focus on Jesus at all times and in every circumstance, but that seems so impossible to do. When I am at work I am barraged by customers, to the point that I barely have time for a thought of my own.
Where and how do I squeeze God into this hectic scene?
I know I am not alone in this struggle, primarily because it is a human struggle, and it does not take a great investigator to realize that few people invest quality time with God to the degree that He becomes predominant in their thinking.
To say that I am looking at Jesus with the eye of my faith makes it sound like I am very spiritual, but in reality it seems to imply an act of our inward man that operates on a different plane than the rest of the body, and that may well be true. In reality what we are talking about here could be nothing more than the ability to reason, that would have to include the mind, would it not?
It would seem that the spirit, which wars against the flesh, has the ability to function independently of the body. If that is the case then potentially I can have a conversation with you and the Father at the same time.
In truth, I am not that good. If I have too many conversations going on at the same time then someone is going to lose in the battle for my attention. I believe that Jude was speaking to this distinction between the spirit and the flesh, when he wrote: "For if I pray in an unknown language, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful." (1 Corinthians 14:14 ).
Perhaps I am missing the point. It may be that Jude is saying that the spirit bypasses human reasoning. I have never been able to pray in the spirit without involving my mind, as far as I can tell. That does not mean that if I am praying in the spirit (that means praying in tongues to me), that I am always keenly aware of what I am praying about. Do not despair at the apparent futility of this exercise of the tongue for James tells us that God gives wisdom to those that ask. Is he talking about understanding everything that you might say in tongues? Probably not, but at least a we have the opportunity to understand a great deal of what we say in tongues. This will require some faith on your part, and you will never separate your humanity from your spirit life.
I have experienced, at least, a degree of understanding about what is being said when praying in the spirit. I do not often worry about what I am speaking toward when I am praying in tongues for I have come to trust that the Holy Spirit knows precisely what He wants to convey to the Father. I suppose in computer thinking I am just an available networked server that can be used for the Father's function. What I am putting out is his responsibility and not mine. (There's a can worms for you.)
I suppose that while I am on the subject of tongues, there have been many of God's faithful that got brave enough to fling their tongue gifting upon the church body. Hopefully someone within the body, attune to the spirit of God, would be able to interpret what they are saying (if it is a God thing, and they then share that interpretation with the church body.) and so the tongue given without an interpretation is unfruitful and at the least embarrassing. But here is my take. You do not throw something as peculiar as tongues out at an audience without having a clue as to the heart of God on the matter, and if you have a clue then give it in English, at least people can understand your words then. (Correct grammar may be another issue.)
As to judging what was being said: Did it magnify Jesus Christ, and did it align with God's word.
Some would tell us that God only speaks through his word anymore, and that is not true, but all that God deemed necessary for life has already been spoken through His Word and therefore prophetic words should always align with His Word. I cannot remember a time that I have given a word to someone where they could not have picked those words from scripture, had they looked for themselves. I suppose that is why God puts prophets on this earth, to uplift those who will not, or cannot do it for themselves.
Back to my struggles with fixing my eyes on Jesus (A funny thing happened as I wrote this. I said ears instead of eyes. Why that might be funny is because if we could hear what God is saying, and respond, then maybe we would be walking as Enoch did. We have no evidence that Enoch saw God, so any seeing would definitely have been in faith, but hearing is a different story altogether. I do not see how they can be disassociated.)
So as I try to deal with all the people at work, I can at the same time be praying in the spirit on the inside. If I can pray in the spirit, then I can have communication with the Father at the same time too. I think at this point it would be primarily Him talking to me. The trick in this is to fine tune your listening skills. You are aware that there are too few of us that have any clue as to how to listen, even on a personal level with others. Speaking from personal experience, I have tried to share my heart with people only to have them interrupt so that they could be heard. Trust me, I understand this concept and will be more than happy to give you the time to speak.
In your keenness you picked up on something, I can tell. How would one fine tune their listening skills so that God becomes the focus? Prayer and spending time in His word. The words He uses are no different from the ones he has already spoken, but trust me on this, God can speak your language. How many translations of the bible are there? Many, and yet He has brought innumerable lives into the family by speaking their language or slang.
There is always the skeptic who does not believe that God speaks all the time. God is not rambling just to hear His head rattle, as we often do, but there is a purpose in everything He says.
Keep this in mind as you read your bible; everything in that book has a purpose. For example, why does the Gospel of John emphasize things like the cloth that was folded in the tomb (there was a reason); why is the trip to Samaria a three day journey?; Why did Jesus go to the Samaritans, they were effectively gentiles, and going there was contrary to his stated mission? There are things that all throughout the bible that seem like nothing and yet the Jewish leadership believes that when the Messiah returns (he already did) that he will explain even the spaces between the letters; they are that serious about this.
A wee bit of scripture about God speaking.
Proverbs tells us that wisdom (that would be God/the holy spirit of God) cries out in the streets. Proverbs 1:20
Eph 1:8 In which he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
Paul prays in Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the well-spring of wisdom as a flowing brook.
Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom:
Proverbs 14:33 Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding:
Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without
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