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News for Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Bible Studies for Life
July 13: Focused Faith
By Gene Nelson
pastor, Russellville Baptist, Russellville


Focal Passage: I Peter 1:3-9, 13


On Friday, May 30, an event took place that shook an entire community, and at the same time gave a clear picture of the faith Peter speaks of in our text. A train hit a car which contained four young adults. The passengers were children of three pastors who serve God faithfully. Despite the horrific events of the time, as well as the days and weeks which follow, there is a focused faith on display for all to see.

These verses do not speak of an optimistic attitude, or some kind of worldly hope. Rather, it is a call to absolute assurance in the triumph of Jesus Christ over sin and death. It is a firm understanding that victory in the Christian life comes through the glorious resurrection of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is why Peter can call the Christian life a “lively hope.” The word literally means “a lifetime.” When one lives a life focused on Jesus, there is an abundance of mercy, an assurance of salvation, and an expectation of glory for a lifetime and beyond!

This kind of faith and trust is the greatest source of hope when trials and storms come. There will be heaviness, a certain distress in the midst of crisis. I cannot imagine the weight that came upon the families of the crash victims when they knew their children were involved. However, the focused life longs to see what God is doing in the midst of it all. It is a faith which longs to be strengthened through the fire of trials. See, while fire can destroy, it also refines and purifies. It is in the fire that God proves us, refines us, and purifies us for His Glory. As one of the fathers said in the days following the crash, “It is in the time of crisis, you are going to run to what you trust.”

Peter says that focused faith does not go unnoticed by God. He tells us that those who practice this kind of trust are “kept.” It is a military term that means “guarded or shielded.” What a wonderful truth! In the midst of crisis and storm; when the winds of this world surround us, God’s power guards us. The eyes of the focused are not upon the storm, but upon the Master of the Storm. There is a calmness which assures us that we shall safely arrive home! It is the certainty of God’s grace (v. 13) which the focused believer is leaning on. In the hospital, when the only prayers you can utter are “Oh, God, please; Oh God, I trust you,” that is focused faith! It is the confidence that when the only thing you have is faith, it is all you need!

Focused faith is a faith where attitude determines actions. When you center your life and your thoughts upon the reality that this is not your final home, God’s mercy and grace will overcome the spiritual hindrances of the world.

Two of the young adults are in the midst of making what can only be described as a miraculous recovery. However, the results of the collision were not all positive from an earthly perspective. Two of the four lost their lives. When the reality of losing a child is made known, it truly tests the genuineness of faith. And it was in this situation, during a heartbreaking embrace, that the words of Job 13:15 were spoken by the father who lost his child, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him….” Could I do that? Could you do that? May we all strive for that kind of focused faith!

— Nelson is pastor of Russellville Baptist Church, Russellville.

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