May 10 – Where Is My Focus?

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” (John 6:25-27)

Read:1 Samuel 8:1-9:27, John 6:22-42, Psalm 106:32-48, Proverbs 14:34-35

 Relate: Do you remember seeing this?

Victoria Olsteen says, “I just want to encourage every one of us to realize, when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God. I mean, that’s one way to look at it. We’re doing it for ourselves because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning. So I want you to know this morning, just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

I think both the following responses are completely appropriate to such nonsense.

React: Now to be fair, it is easy to take a short portion, a small clip like this out of context. Before we jump all over the heresy of these few sentences it would be good to hear it within the larger context of what is being said. It is quite possible that they aren’t as dumb/heretical/misguided as it seems in the thirty-something seconds we have here. The problem I have is that the reason such an out-of -context statement could even be recorded and go viral is because the focus of the entire ministry is wrong.

Like the crowds who followed Jesus, the crowds who are hearing and reading Joel Osteen are all coming for the wrong reasons. They have the wrong motivations. Joel Osteen writes a book, Your Best Life Now, that encourages believers to begin to see themselves through the eyes of the Creator. The problem is, what most people read, Christians and non-Christians alike, is, “If we can only think more positively about ourselves we can accomplish anything.” There is a disconnect. Jesus saw the hungry crowd and in compassion, He fed them. They turned around and started saying, “Hey, we’ve found ourselves a free meal ticket.” There is a disconnect. Jesus immediately, and consistently, corrected this problem. Have the Olsteens? If so, then how could such a quote as the one above be possible?

The truth is, reasons matter. Motivations matter. if we keep chasing after God for what He can do for us, we will find that He keeps “slipping away”. God isn’t consummately concerned with our happiness. He is more concerned that we have love, peace, kindness, faithfulness, joy and self-control. If it takes us getting unhappy to grow some of these then He will let us be unhappy. As long as we are living for ourselves and not Him, we will never find “our best life now”.

Respond: 

Dear God,
My heart is Yours. If it takes physical hunger for me to learn a spiritual hunger for You, then keep the food away. If it takes godly sorrow for me to have the joy of knowing You, then bring on the tears. Let my motivation be You. Let my desires be on eternal things. Don’t ever let the blessings from Your hand take my gaze off the beauty of Your face or my pursuit from the beating of Your heart.

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27 thoughts on “May 10 – Where Is My Focus?

  1. Personal testimony about this misguided notion. Long story short: after 13 years of marriage, I sought counseling from a pastor. My complaint? I wasn’t happy in my marriage. My husband had decided we didn’t need “church.” Pastor said God Wants us to be happy. So he gave me approval to divorce. I did, but God got the last laugh! He worked a miracle and got us BOTH on our knees at the cross….we reconciled, remarried and got back in church, in His Word and tithing…..It angers me when I see such shallow “teaching.” Focus on JESUS JESUS JESUS!

  2. Spot on. I try to be careful in my comments about other servants. We can only suspect motivation and intent, but words and actions are measurable. The message delivered in her words are self-focused. The Scriptures teach use to be totally God-focused and others-focused. Your observations are timely.

  3. Amen!
    Don’t ever let the blessings from Your hand take my gaze off the beauty of Your face or my pursuit from the beating of Your heart.

    You said it BJ, let´s pray that He increasingly comes into focus and we increasingly less!

  4. So appreciate this! In an age of entitlement, for Christians and non-Christians alike, we act like we’re owed something from God if we follow Him. How’d we get so far afield? Thanks for the reminder of focus. And of our desperate need for the grace and mercy of our Savior. He’s done amazing things for us–and doesn’t owe us a life of happiness.

  5. Yes! All our focus should be on God, Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and developing the Fruit of the Spirit within us, which in turn is where we find our inner peace and happiness! I have been trying to explain to my small group girls why they should be careful when listening to speakers such as the Olsteens, and you have hit it right on – thank you, thank you!!

  6. When I read that quote from Osteen, I was like, “Oh no.” But I read on through and was glad for it. I get your posts in my email and I enjoy them immensely. Thank you for sharing God’s Word the way you do.

  7. Not just because I am in Houston, and have attended various events at Lakewood- I believe that many times they have been mischaracterized- of course they also have misspoke- numerous times – but how many in a moment have not fully conveyed what they were actually meaning. I don’t know them personally but do know many things they do for their community and others and all the people they help. Some are not ready for deeper- I just continue to pray for others to not be spoon fed by anyone and instead to seek and search out the things of God in His word. I would rather people get a little Jesus than none at all. We are all on a journey getting our testimonies written and being sanctified and changed from Glory to Glory- I don’t think the Osteens are any different. I pray for them as well to not try and water down or sugar coat the Gospel and to preach truth.

  8. “Don’t ever let the blessings from Your hand take my gaze off the beauty of Your face or my pursuit from the beating of Your heart.” How often we thank Him for the blessing of good things and despise the blessing of difficulties … it is in times of trouble that we grow and recognize our dependence on Him for all things. The “prosperity gospel” is such a travesty of the truth. Every time I hear of it I wonder what the 1st Century Christians would say … theirs certainly was not a “happiness for me” situation as they faced persecution and torture leading to death for their faith!

  9. Reblogged this on Using God's Word in Everyday Life and commented:
    God has not called us to pursue treasures that are in heaven. Such things fade away and never satisfy us. Instead, He has called us to seek His Kingdom and the treasures that come with it. Now some of those treasures are seen but most are found within our soul, and such treasures have a far better shelf life than any earthly possession. Search your motivation for pursuing Christ. If it is to get something out of Him, then you will always become disappointed.

  10. God, through Christ, has provided us with a manual for life.
    It is like a manual we receive when we buy a new car. If we follow the manual we can get the longest and maximum performance from the car. If we choose to do otherwise, we will find the car is in the repair shop more often than not, and eventually in the scrap yard.
    God’s manual for life, likewise, if followed(obey His will for us) will result in a life that will well lived and one day be worthy to return to Him. That is God’s loving purpose for us. That is why Christ is a savior, not a friend.
    -Alan

      • I have friends but would not change my life for them, for they as men are fallible. Yet for Christ, who is my Divine Savior and infallible, I offer my heart, soul and mind.
        As Jesus said: “Many say to Me, Lord!, Lord! Yet they don’t do what I say.”
        He is my savior and in that is my friend. But, if I call Him friend and do not do as He says, then I have no savior. And that is most important; for He came into the world for the sole purpose to save souls.
        -Alan

  11. Something, somewhere is those lines got me bothered. I do get the message but I must say: there’s something in there that’s not meant to be. I don’t know what but I perceive it.

  12. The Bible lets us know that God seeks true worshipers{John 4:23} and it also let’s us know that God wants us to come unto him with our problems{Mt 11:28, Mal 3:10}. Ultimately, I believe, as you said, we shouldn’t go to God because we have a seen a free ‘meal ticket’ but going to God because he can lift our burdens is not a thing to write against.
    – Conqueror.

  13. “…Don’t ever let the blessings from your hand take my gaze off the beauty of Your face or my pursuit from the beating of Your heart.”
    So beautifully said! I agree. For me, God is my closest, most beautiful, enduring friend. He’s given me such wonderful heart gifts, that now I can honestly say, He is the greatest gift in my life.

  14. You are so right, we need to have the right focus, and that right focus is on God and Jesus. It is never about what we want but about what God wants. But it is also more than that, offten it is the case that what God wants, while it may not be what we want is what we need.

    • Yes, we always get what we need, Life isn’t all sunshine and kittens and rainbows, lol! But the closer I stay to God, the more light shines within, so my “inner” eye can find rainbows in a storm, where my human eyes see only pain, loss and destruction.

  15. Well said! The so called “prosperity gospel” that televangelists like the Osteens promote is at best a distortion of the Gospel of Christ, at worst a money-making scheme which greatly damages the Christian witness.

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