What you focus on, you empower
Note from Pastor Kristi Graner
I have been thinking about this reality. It can be challenging, especially lately, to keep my mind and my heart focused on God’s goodness. John Paul Jackson used to frequently remind us, “What you focus on, you empower.” It is an important truth! I have heard similar things from most Christian leaders who I respect and follow.
Even the Apostle Paul encouraged believers to be careful what we focus on. Here is what he said to the believers in Philippi.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
This can be easier said than done.
In this season filled with turmoil, loss, fear, stress, fighting and killing, it is SO important for us to remember to slow down and refocus our attention on what God IS doing.
I have been thinking a lot about the widow who we read about in 2 Kings 4:1-7. Let’s look at her story:
The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her, and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
This is a fascinating story. The woman’s husband was part of Elisha’s company of prophets, so we know they were God-loving people. Yet she found herself in a horrible situation.
With her husband gone, she wasn’t able to pay their debts. She was experiencing great loss and fear. Whoever she owed money to now had the right to come and take her children as payment, forcing them to live as slaves. She already lived through the nightmare of losing her spouse; now she faced the reality of losing her sons to forced slavery.
She could have lost all hope. Yet, she reached out to the man of God. And she didn’t just reach out – she cried out. The word used in the Greek tells us that her “out-cry” was one of grief and distress.
This is a season where most of us find ourselves in a place where we are stunned with circumstances around us and in us. Life is challenging. This seems like an understatement. Challenges seem to be growing.
Much like this widow, we are overwhelmed with what we see, and we need help knowing what to do next.
Now is the time to do like the widow did.
Cry out to God. Cry out to godly men and women in your life. Ask for help. Cry out for help.
At times like this, we realize just how much we need the body of Christ around us.
Elisha asked her, “What do you have in your house?” In the Message translation, this verse reads, “I wonder how I can help, tell me what do you have in your house?”
Elisha was unsure how to help her, but he did know how God works. All he needed to know is what she had available to her.
Her response was a common response for someone who feels hopeless – she said that she had nothing at all, except a jar with oil in it. At first, she was only able to focus on her empty house, her empty heart and her dire circumstances. But then she remembered the one thing that she still had: her jar of oil. That was all the prophet needed.
I think about how I feel when I focus on the loss I’m experiencing and the fear and anger of those around me. I am very tempted to agree with the feeling of hopelessness. Yet, when I cry out to the Lord, I am always able to focus on what I have. And God is always faithful to bring increase: more hope, more joy, more wisdom, more protection, more provision. He is always faithful.
Many times, when we are doing prayer ministry at Dare to Believe, people come in crying out for help. We work with them to find the things in their life that they have, so they can focus on what God IS doing. They need our help to stop focusing on what they don’t have. It is a challenge, and it is a choice. Most people are able to find the hope they need and watch God bring relief and increase.
God will always provide a solution and a way out.
It seems that God’s solution always requires action on my part.
Once the widow was able to see what she DID have, Elisha gave her instructions. “Go get as many jars as you can and pour your oil into them.”
This is a strange thing, but she trusted the prophet and she trusted God.
So many times, we want to know exactly how things are going to work before we trust God. But He is waiting for us to trust Him first, knowing that it will work out. That is how we define faith.
I think it is interesting that she closed her door and poured her oil. After we get our instructions from God, after we get our glimpse of hope, it is up to us to “shut the door” on distractions and diversions. Once we have “shut out” the things in our life that steal our faith, peace, hope and joy, that is when we are ready to see God bring His increase into our lives.
She poured and poured her oil until she ran out of jars. Then the oil stopped.
She still didn’t know what to do next, so she opened her door again, went and asked Elisha. As she followed his instructions, she was able to pay off all of her debts and her family was able to live off what remained. Wow, God! She just had to focus on what she had, follow His instructions, and watch God move.
In this time in history, I encourage you to focus on what you have.
What are you thankful for?
What are your giftings?
What are you good at?
What do you own?
What do you have in your hand?
Many of us have experienced great loss, tragedy and grief in the past two years. When we focus on what we don’t have, we find ourselves stuck, hopeless and fearful.
Yet, God is asking you, “What do you have?” He is not asking you to list all the things you don’t have.
We do have a spiritual enemy who encourages us to focus only on what we do not have – this allows him to continue to steal, kill and destroy.
But the Lord asks us what we do have. When we focus on Him and what we do have, He will breathe on it and bring blessing through it.
I believe we are in a season when a fresh outpouring of oil from heaven is available to us. When we are focused on God and His goodness, we can be like vessels that are filled, refreshed, refocused and restored.
What you focus on, you empower. Together, let’s focus on God’s goodness and faithfulness.