Today’s Theme – Keep your eyes on Jesus; focus on the prize!
When most people look at this image, they see only the runners – and most especially, Usain Bolt as he wins the 100m.
Look again – look at the crowd in the background. Can you hear them cheering the athletes on to do their very best and keep going to the end of the race? A couple of verses in Hebrews use the image of a cheering crowd to encourage persecuted Christians not to give up.
Look at this literal translation by Estella Horning, laid out artistically to emphasise the poetic structure. Read it a couple of times and then meditate on it, allowing its meaning to sink into your heart. Let this be your prophetic focus for today:
When I was younger, I used to think that the picture was of witnesses for the prosecution – called to point out my mistakes and show me where I was going wrong, so that I might do better next time. But that’s not the image that the writer has in mind. This great cloud of witnesses – those Christians who have gone before us – are cheering us on; willing us to succeed, because they know how hard it is. Can you hear them shouting their encouragement? – “If we could, you can”.
Can you see where the poetic centre of the poem is in verse 2 – “keeping your eyes on Jesus”? That’s the key to persevering and succeeding. Can you think of someone who didn’t do this and sank? (hint: read Matt. 14:22-33)
Prayer Focus – 1
Make this new version of an old song, your morning prayer.
Jesus to you we lift our eyes!
Jesus our glory and our prize!
We adore you, behold you, our Saviour ever true!
Jesus, we turn our eyes to you.
Prayer Focus – 2
Read Luke 14:26-33.
Spend time with God asking him to show you what you are actually focussed on. Let him search your heart (Ps. 139:23-24).
- Is family more important to you than Jesus and spending time with him?
- Are material possessions more precious to you than they should be? (Mark 10:17-27) Whose money is it anyway?
- Is your appearance and the way you dress taking up too much of your time?
- Do you look down upon those with “less” education than you?
- Are the opinions of others having too great an effect on you, and/or influencing your decisions too much?
Ask Jesus how he sees you and what he thinks about you?
Prayer Focus – 3
Joh 16:33 NIV “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Whatever you are going through at the moment and whatever you are facing, know that others have been that way before you. Take heart – Jesus is with you and will enable you to win through to the end.
End the day praising God and thanking him for his provision and strength.
You can, through him who gives you strength (Phil. 4:13). Fix your gaze on the prize (Phil. 3:14; 1 Pet. 5:4; 2 Tim. 4:7-8).