2 Corinthians 1:19-21 (NKJV)
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us--by me, Silvanus, and Timothy--was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.
It’s always encouraging to share something that is burning in your heart and it is reciprocated with an “Amen” to what you are saying. The preacher in me loves to hear “amens" from the crowd while I am preaching. It’s a great affirmation from the group of people I am sharing with, but it is also a hearty confirmation that they get what I am saying. The word amen is an ultimate declaration of agreement. In technology, a digital amen could be likened to the like button or a thumbs up! (There is even a suggested emoji for Amen! 🙏 )
In English, the word amen means “verily” or “truly.” In Hebrew, it is a firm interjection that means “so be it.” We often end our prayers with the declarative exclamation of amen. As to say “Yes! So be it!”
I wanted to encourage you today that God has an Amen. There is an exclamation point from heaven over our lives, a great big “So be it” from heaven! Jesus is heaven’s amen over us.
There are several things that God says amen to in our lives! The only thing we have to do to get the amen of God active in our lives is to trust the amen that he has already spoken in Jesus.
1-The Love of God!
We cannot get out of the love of God! God cannot do anything greater than He did 2000 years ago when He sent Jesus! He can’t undo what was accomplished that day, it is the very proof of God’s love. No greater demonstration could have been made for him to send Jesus to come and die for us. (Romans 5:8) God so loved the world that he sent Jesus! (John 3:16)
2-Our Right Standing
You may think God is done with you because you blew it, because you sinned … again. I mean you did the thing that you vowed to never do … again. However, our right standing, or our righteousness, is not determined by us performing well. It was decided by God when He sent Jesus for us. Beloved, you did nothing to earn your righteousness and you can do nothing to maintain it. The only thing that secures your righteousness is trusting God that Jesus was enough.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
3. Our Identity
You weren’t just made right enough to live in the house, but to be part of the family. You are a son. You are a daughter. You are royalty. You are His prized possession. The end. My kids sometimes don’t act the way I want them to, but they are still my kids. That wont change.
James 1:18 (NLT) He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
4. His Promises
His provision and His promises have already been said yes and amen to. Provision, freedom, peace, joy, physical and emotional healing. God doesn’t say no to any of these things. Either He has promised them or He has not. Either they are promises for all of us, or none of us. God will not undo what He has already done. He already paid a very high price for our healing and freedom. He already sent His Holy Spirit to fill us and lead us with joy and peace. God is not a man, that he should lie.(Numbers 23:19) It is time that we start believing God that He is good for His word and His promises!
One of the deep cries in our culture is the need for authentic, real, genuine relationships. I love that social media allows me to be able to see how—and what—my friends are doing. I like to see what has transpired in their lives since the last time I saw them in person. However, the human need for authentic relationships is not met by how many social media friends I have, or by how many likes or comments I can generate on my latest post. Social media is a great supplement for human connection, but it cannot replace physical interaction. We are all designed for and want human connection, a connection with skin on, and you can’t fulfill that desire on a screen.
One thing you don’t normally see on the highlight reel of a social media timeline is vulnerability. Just a few moments ago I took 4 pictures of my coffee and spent probably 3 minutes working on the staging of that pic. Why? Perhaps I think that if I get the perfect angle or add the perfect filter, I can generate more likes and enjoy the 30 seconds of delight that it gives me. My life is not enhanced by that at all.
Last weekend I shared at a men’s breakfast with about 10 men. I shared a short message, then got really vulnerable and real with them about my journey. My heart was stirred, theirs was as well. There is something about sitting across them sharing the ups and downs of my walk. The equity I get from my post fails in comparison to the conversations at the breakfast. Vulnerability opens the door to the heart.
Here are a few thoughts on vulnerability:
1. Vulnerability is not emotional vomit.
Gossiping, complaining, and griping is not vulnerability. They are sins. There is a grave difference between describing another persons behaviors and talking about your feelings and the tensions you are dealing with. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people justify gossip under the banner of “I’m just being real.” Maybe what you need to do is deal with the bitterness in your heart and be more self-controlled? Being vulnerable is about “you” not somebody else.
2. Transparency is sacred.
We all have issues. I don’t tell everybody everything, nor should you. There are things my wife knows about me that nobody else does. She is the only one who should know those things. If I tell everybody everything, then there is nothing sacred about my trust or my transparency. You need to develop trust before you share the deepest parts of your life. The more we trust, the more we share. As a rule, I only share deep things with people that can help me with deep things. We must have these people in our life. We were never meant to carry the weight alone.
3. Be real, and let them be too.
I’ve found that when I am authentic with people, it reciprocates.
When we are wrestling with an issue and we go to somebody about it, we are going for help. Sometimes believers are quick to impose the standard and not offer a hand to help. This is one of the issues we see with Jesus and the religious leaders. In most cases, Jesus had the same standard as the religious. The difference was that Jesus helped the person through the issue. Jesus didn’t point to the standard and tell the hurting to reach it, he lifted them to it. (See John 8:1-11)
When we don’t let people be real we force them to be fake.
Being vulnerable is important. Knowing the difference in when and whom to share with is vital. When we are able to open up in areas that we are hiding due to shame, we will start to get freedom in that area. Be prepared: to be vulnerable where you need to be, and gracious when someone deems you the person they see fit to be vulnerable with.
[if you have this time this is a powerful video a Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown]
As long as I can remember, I have had a difficult time focusing. In grade school, I had to go to a special class with other kids that had a hard time focusing. I remember having to take Ritalin, then they doubled the dosage. I can't remember if it helped or not. I do remember how I felt though—stupid and below “normal students.” Then out of nowhere when I was in junior high, the classes stopped and so did the Ritalin. The experts told me my brain simply woke up…? I guess I had ADD before they had a name for it. Personally, I think in a lot of ADD cases people don’t really have “disorders,” they focus differently.
You see, I discovered something later on in life: I have an incredible ability to get in the zone and be highly productive. What’s crazy is a lot of leaders I talk to are the exact same way! A lot of highly productive people have a hard time focusing. One of the secrets, for me at least, was less clutter.
In an age of instant news, live feeds and push notifications, it is more difficult than ever to get focused. I can’t tell you how many times I have zoned out of a conversation because my phone when off. When I finally check back into the moment, I have to say something like, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” Don’t fool yourself, successful multi-tasking is a myth. You may think you handle several things at the same time in order to save time, but you are actually wasting time switching between task.
Everyday, hundreds of things are begging for our attention. It’s just noise distracting us from the things that are really important. Clutter! It’s keeping us from being present in the moment with loved ones, and it also keeps us from being productive.
Here are several ways to help clear the mental clutter and focus on productivity:
1. Turn off push-notifications- (except for your Overflow app 😂) Even if it is setting the Do Not Disturb feature on for a couple of hours a day. I have done this for all of my social media platforms. (There are some seasons where I will delete the apps off my phone altogether if I feel like it has too much of a hold on me.)
2. Limit your access- If you work from a desktop, use an app that will help you. I use an app called “Self-control” often when I work. (https://selfcontrolapp.com) It keeps me from going to social media websites (or Amazon-which I frequent, #onlineshoper) when I am working so that I can remain focused.
3. Set timers to focus on one thing- I have a number, 105, written on the chalk board in my office. When it is time to study I set a timer, turn on “Self-control,” and work on one thing for 105 minutes. This has been incredibly helpful for my capacity to focus. I seem to get done in less than two hours what used to take me four to five. I more than double my efficiency. I would recommend that if you are putting your time into a project, never spend less than 40 minutes of total focus on the task. You will get more done if you work harder longer, rather than coming back to it multiple times for shorter amounts of time.
4. Leave your phone in the other room- Some of my favorite times at the house are when I forget that I have a cell phone. I am sure it’s some of my family’s favorite time as well. I need to do it more often.
5. Environment- This is huge for me. In my office, I always have a candle and a blend of essential oils to help get me relaxed and settled. I also try make sure to keep my office and my desk tidy and organized. Nothing distracts me more than a lot of reminders laying around telling me something else I need to do.
6. Go old-school- Every once in a while, I have to pull out paper & pencil and start writing. I’ve noticed that I don’t have the temptation to check email or waste 10 minutes scrolling through my Instagram feed when a pencil is in my hand. For my devotionals as well, I have quit reading the Bible on a device because I am able to focus on the word so much better that way.
I hope these ideas will also help you to have a more focused and present time. If there is anything you do to help you focus, leave them in the comments below!