Table of Contents
SPECIAL SUNDAY SERVICE WITH PASTOR (DR) MENSA OTABIL (GENERAL OVERSEER, INTERNATIONAL CENTRAL GOSPEL CHURCH (ICGC) CHRIST TEMPLE, ACCRA GHANA)
TOPIC: LIVING IN EXPECTANCY – PART 5 (STAYING FOCUSED)
DATE: 18TH JUNE 2023
BIBLE TEXT: HEBREWS 12:1-2
Let us rise up together as we make our “DECLARATION OF GATHERING” in this “YEAR OF GATHERING”.
Are you ready? Say with me:
I Proclaim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. The Lord is the Shepherd of my Soul, my Shelter by Day, my Light by Night.
In His Name, we Plough our fields, by His Spirit we gather the Harvest, in His Light we seek and find.
In this Year of Gathering, the Lord of the Harvest has commanded: Launch Out into the Deep. At His Words, we cast our Nets, we gather in Souls and Substance for God’s Kingdom.
The Lord is our Reward; in this Season I received God’s Portion set aside for me: Full Measure, Pressed down, Shaking together and running over.
Nothing is Lost and Nothing is wasted in Jesus Name – Amen!
I am going to try to conclude my Teachings on “Living in Expectancy” because from next week we are in a different Season, and I have to Change Gear.
So, Living in Expectancy – Part 5; and my Sub-Title is “Staying Focused.”
If you are going to see your Expectations come to Pass, you have to learn to stay focused because there will be many Temptations along the way for us to Change direction, to lose focused, and to lose the Promise of what God wants to do to us – So, Stay Focused!
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV);
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Focus is one of the most important Disciplines for achieving anything in Life.
It’s very difficult, because so much of Life is designed to take us off our focus.
So when you read the Bible you find out that most of the Biblical Figures were People who maintained focus:
I. Noah maintained focus on building an Ark – For a hundred and twenty (120) years he focused on one thing.
II. Abraham focused on traveling to see the Land that God has Promised him and delivering the son that God has Promised him. And it took him many years – Decades of focus.
III. Joseph was given a Dream as a very Young boy that he would be Great. And for the rest of his Life he had to go through a lot of suffering, a lot of difficulty. But he focused on becoming the man that he saw he would be when he was a child.
IV. And when we Study about Moses, he kept his focus to become the Deliverer for Israel.
V. David was a Man of focus who focused on Worshipping God and building the House of the Lord.
VI. Esther focused on delivering God’s People from Destruction.
VI. John the Baptist focused on Preparing the way of the Lord.
VII. The Great Apostle Paul focused on taking the Gospel where Christ has never been Preached.
All these People were People of Focus!
And if we are going to achieve anything with our lives, we have to be People of Focus – If you focus, you have to pay attention!
So, the Passage we read (Hebrews 12:1-2) talks about Three (3) Things we should focus on:
1. FIRST, WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON CHRIST:
Keep your eyes on Jesus – He is our Example, and He is the Author and the Finisher of our Faith.
The Lord begins and finishes with us – And that’s why keep our eyes on Him.
If He starts with you, He’s going to finish with you. If God is in it, He will end it. If what you are going through is of God then He Who is Faithful; Who has begun with you, would Perfect what He has told you.
You know many times in Life, we focus on People: we focus on a friend who has Promised us. We focus on somebody who said they would do something for you.
And if we know anything about Human Beings, once in a while they disappoint each one of us. All of us disappointed somebody. But there’s One Who never disappoints – His Name is Jesus.
And so for everything you expect in Life – Whilst trying to work hard for it, whilst you are trying to do the right thing, whilst it get somebody to fulfil his or her word; never take your eyes off the Lord.
Don’t let any Human Being be your focus; don’t even let your job be your focus – Keep your eyes on Jesus, He is the One Who began with you, and He is going to end with you.
And I believe that some of you are going through some situations and you are wondering; “when will I see the Vision come to pass?”
The One Who started with you, would take you to the end. Keep your eyes on Jesus: He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith!
2. SECONDLY, THE PASSAGE TELLS US TO FOCUS ON OUR JOURNEY.
Focus on the race that is set before us – “Run with Endurance the race that is set before us”.
We must give Concentration to the race that God has Placed before us.
My race is not your race; and your race is not my race.
You know many times in Life, one of the reasons why People are not able to maintain focus is because we look at other People’s lives.
We look at what is happening in somebody’s Life – We look at the Progress they are making; and then we begin to look down on ourselves and destroy our own Confidence.
But we are not supposed to run somebody’s race; we are supposed to run our own race – So, focus on your race!
In the race, we don’t compete with People because you don’t know what God wants them to achieve.
David started his Mission in Life at the age of seventeen (17); Moses started at eighty (80) – Both were used by God!
So, your race is not somebody else’s race.
Somebody may start very early, we don’t know where he is going. Somebody may start very late, we don’t know where he is going.
The Important thing is – The race which God has designed with your name on it, Nobody can run it. Only you can run it – Keep your eyes on it!
Focus on your journey, keep your eyes on the race God is taking you through.
I have said this many times – You know I became a very Young Parent. And you never know how to Parent until you are a Parent. A child is born and you wonder, “so how do I raise this child?”
Now I remembered so well, our firstborn was very slow (according to us) in Learning the Alphabets. And I will never forget one day I was in this Church, and I saw somebody – Two (2) years old; and the Mom came to me and, “Oh show Pastor what you have learned.”
And this two (2) years old started writing A, B, C, D … on the sand. And my daughter was two (2) years old, she doesn’t even know what “A” is. I went home and I was so frustrated – What is wrong with you this girl, can’t you learn?
And I tried that one Night for her to learn the Alphabets, she was looking at my face, clueless! Because somehow I felt, “if she doesn’t catch up she will be late.” But throughout her Life, she was never late. And she has grown to become a very Significant Person.
Because your race is not the same as everybody’s race!
And you see other People’s children going ahead of your children – Somebody’s child is first, your child is last. Just take comfort: Jesus is the First and the Last! He is the Alpha and Omega. He takes care of those who are First, He takes care of those who are Last. They may be Last in Class, but they are not Last in Life!
Don’t get frustrated; by all means, do the best for your children. But the race is different. And we run the race that is set before us.
Some People get married, in nine (9) Months their baby pop up! Actually some of them before nine (9) Months. And then somebody get Married, two (2) years, ten (10) years, twenty (20) years and there’s no baby. All of a sudden a baby comes!
Do you think because somebody had her child twenty (20) years ago, and you had your child this year, that your child is going to be Late?
Never! Focus on your race, focus on your Journey. God has a Purpose for you, God is working something for you.
3. AND THE THIRD TO FOCUS ON IS THE REWARD.
When everything gets tough, focus on the Reward.
The Passage says Jesus, “for the Joy that was set before Him endured the Cross,”
Students Learning, must keep their focus on the Opportunity that Education Presents to them.
Because sometimes when you are in School, you are Learning – Especially Mathematics or Physics or Chemistry; and you can’t make headway with it.
You have to always think about the Opportunity ahead of you. Because if you stop looking at the Opportunity, the Labour would be very intense.
.. Look at the Reward!
– The Marriage is hard, but look at the Reward.
– The Business is going through Struggle, but look at the Reward.
Look at the things that God has Promised you – The Vision of what you see of the Future, and Labour in Hope. Because there is a Reward and your eye must always be on the Reward.
And the reason why we must stay focus is because in Life, we get distracted.
I am going to talk about Three 3 Things that distract us in Life while trying to keep our Focus:
1. The first one is Warfare – Fight, continuous battle.
In this one, you look at your Life and everything about your Life is fight.
Because some of us look at our lives and we think, “my whole Life is a battle: nothing is easy for me.”
You would be surprised to know that is the Story of most People. That for all of us, Nothing is easy for us. Each one of us is fighting a battle.
At every Point in time, somebody is fighting a battle you have no idea of.
And sometimes the battles can be incessant; they can be continuous – So one day this, the other day that. And there are Seasons in our lives, the battles increase!
But when the battles increase, don’t get tired. Because if you allow the battles to weary you and get you tired, you lose your focus.
And many times People lose focus in Life because they say, “I am tired! What at all do I want in Life? I am tired.”
Welcome to the Planet Earth – Warfare is Natural to us.
Don’t get tired fighting. And don’t lose your focus, because after the battles and the Warfare, He will give you the enemy. Keep your eyes on the Reward, He will reward you. Stay in the battle!
… Don’t let Warfare distract you!
2. The Second Thing that distracts People is Wounds – Pains, Hurts.
Sooner or later, whether you like it or not, you will be wounded in Life – Someone or something would hurt you.
Wounds would create scars – Mark that reminds you of your Pains.
Somebody is going to betray you – A dear friend is going to do something terrible.
If you’ve lived on this Earth long enough, you’ve experienced Betrayal. You’ve given it and you’ve experienced it.
Because for all of us there’s somebody who thinks we’ve betrayed them. And for all of us, there’s somebody we think have betrayed us – It goes in and out.
You are going to be hurt. You are going to be wounded. Somebody is going to target you for attack, and hit you so badly. And sometimes when you have so many wounds in Life, you like to hide.
And there are People hiding in Life because of the Pains of Life – They’ve been hurt so much, they don’t want to go out again. They don’t want anybody to hurt them. They don’t want anybody to hear of them.
And when that happens? You lose your focus, you lose your Expectation.
Don’t allow the Pains and the Hurts of Life to make you hide in a Cave.
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Yes you can go to a Cave for a moment like Elijah. But you have to come out from the Cave! You have to face Life. Because Life is not going to spare you because you got wounded. In fact, if you get wounded that’s when Life gets worse.
Anytime you watch all these Movies and things about animals: it’s amazing how the Lions, Hyenas, Leopards or any of the animals attack their Prey – They don’t go for those animals that are Strong and Healthy.
A Lion can stay in one Place for eight (8) hours watching. What is it looking for? It is looking for someone who is wounded; an animal that cannot run fast. They are at the battle, they have not recovered and that’s what it is looking for.
You think it wants to heal the animal? It’s going to eat it!
So listen to me – You are wounded, your wound attracts Predators. Your wound is what would attract People to destroy you. Your Weakness invites People to destroy you.
Be strong in the Lord!
Be Strong! Don’t show your wounds, don’t show your Pain, don’t advertise your Difficulties. Because People will attack you when you advertise your Weakness.
That’s why our eyes must be on the Lord.
So when we are going through difficulty we look to the Lord. We cry to the Lord, we show the Lord our Pains.
But for Human Beings, especially People you can’t Predict, never show them your Pain. Because some of them are Lions and they would Pounce on you at your Weakest Point.
Wounds distract People from their Focus!
3. The Third thing that distracts People is Wandering.
When People lose direction; when they keep pursuing – They keep going and going and going and they don’t know where they are going.
You know sometimes in Life, we all lose direction – We lose direction!
Sometimes you make a bad Decision.
Maybe you are working somewhere, something enters you and you say, “I am leaving! I am going to make it.” And then you go, and you don’t make it (laughter).
So now you don’t know what to do next – Should I go back or should I stay?
Your whole Life is messed up; now you are moving in Circles and you’ve lost direction, you’ve lost energy, you don’t know where you are going any longer.
You are wandering! And there is no focus in your Life – You touch this you leave it; touch that, you leave it!
If you are wandering and you don’t know your way again, go to the Way Maker. Go to the Master of the Universe and say Lord, show me Your New Direction. Show me what to do, direct my Path, order my Steps Lord!
And He would guide you back to a focused Life – Amen!
Because there is Nothing more Painful than a Wandering Life – When you just keep going and going and going – and never arriving.
4. And the Fourth Thing that keeps People away from their focus is Waiting – Delayed Expectation.
When you wait and wait and wait and Nothing happens.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,”
And when you’ve waited for so long, sometimes you just feel like, “it doesn’t matter again. After all, man came to do some but he didn’t come to do everything.”
You know what? Be very Watchful of these African Proverbs (Laughter).
Many of the Proverbs were developed by People who failed – Life hit them they couldn’t continue. They say, “man came to do some.” They comforted themselves!
But that’s not your Comfort. You didn’t just came to do some, you came to do it; and you will accomplish it – Amen!
And it will be done in your Life; and your Expectations would be realised – Amen.
Like Joseph – For years it looked like his Expectations was not going to be realised. He was moving from Place to Place: Betrayed, Denied, Imprisoned, and all of that! But just one day, out of God’s Plan, He brings him into the full Expectation.
So your wait is not in vain – Amen!
I say your wait is not in vain – Amen.
There is a Waiting Period for everybody; but the wait is not in vain – Amen.
There would be a time when you don’t see things as you want them to be; but the Wait is not in vain – Amen.
Scripture Proves it; through the Scripture we see it: waiting is not in vain.
I. Moses, after a big mistake of his Life, he waited for forty (40) years to recalibrate his Life. But the wait was not in vain – Because:
A. It was in that period of Wait that he met his wife.
B. It was in that Period of Wait that he met the Most Significant Person who would counsel him for the rest of his Life.
C. It was in that Period of Wait that he encountered the Burning Bush and saw the GREAT I AM.
Nothing was happening; No Deliverance was taking Place. But he had a wife, he had a Counsellor and he had God. The Wait is not in vain!
And when all the things came together; in ninety (90) days God took Moses from forty (40) years of Wait to go and deliver Israel from Captivity.
All the Plagues you read about happened in ninety (90) days and the People were out! But the Wait was forty (40) years. The Wait is not in vain!
I said: The Wait is not in Vain – Amen!
II. Joseph waited for somewhere around seventeen (17) years. From the time he was sold to the time his Breakthrough came – Seventeen (17) years. But overnight, the Wait was not in vain.
And he was brought before Pharaoh: Everything he had seen his Life he would became that!
So, if you are here or reading now, Waiting, I tell you: The Wait is not in vain – Amen.
Final Scripture and then we will Close – Psalms 84:5-7 (NKJV) – Blessed is the man whose Strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on Pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a Spring; The rain also covers it with Pools. They go from Strength to Strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.
A man whose Heart is set on a Pilgrimage is a man with a focused heart.
A Person whose Heart is set on a Journey and says, “I am not going to turn to the left or to the right; I am not going to be distracted. I am just going where God wants me to go.” The heart is set on a Pilgrimage.
For most of you, your Heart is set on a Pilgrimage! You are going somewhere with your Life. You are determined to do something with your Life.
And what happens to the Person whose Heart is set on a Pilgrimage?
… Two (2) Things the Passage (Psalms 84:5-7) says happens:
1. That they are able to transform Negative circumstances: “they make the Valley a Spring.”
And the Bible talks about the Valley of Baca.
Baca in Hebrew is tears.
So the Valley of Baca talks about the Valley of tears.
The Person is going through the Valley of tears.
But the Bible says, as they go through the Valley of tears, they transform it into a Spring.
You go through Pain, but you transform the Pain when your Heart is set and focused on God. Even the negative is turned around to favour you.
I don’t know which Valley you are in – Maybe tears have been your Companion. But God says, don’t just go through tears and cry. He says, start focusing on me and turn this Valley into a Singing Valley; into a Happy Place – Amen!
– You are going through a Dark Place, but you can make it Light!
– You are going through a Place of sorrow, but you can make it a Place of Laughter.
Because when your Heart is set on a Pilgrimage, you Change the environment you are in.
Everybody is crying, but you are the only one who Pools of rain on your Life, because God is turning the Negative into the Positive, because of how your heart is set – The Focused Heart.
2. And then it says, the Focused Heart Increases in Power.
… Goes from Strength to Strength.
Have you noticed how – When People are focused in any area of their lives they become Stronger?
People who do body build-up, they are focused when they are doing Muscle Training.
Some People focus on their Bicep, they do all those Biceps Training with a free weight. And they increase the weight.
And before they realised it, their shoulders are big, their biceps are huge, their arms are huge. Other Places may be very small, but the areas they focus on are big!
Some People focus on their legs – Though they have Strong Thighs and Strong Calves; but their arms are weak because they didn’t focus on it.
Some focus on the Chest – They build the Chest. But others have not been focused on.
Whatever you focus on will make you grow from Strength to Strength!
So the Bible says, when you are going through the Valley of Baca and your heart is set of a Pilgrimage; you are focused, you are going to get Stronger.
Because sometimes in Life, we focus on the wrong thing. And this applies Negatively to you.
If you are always focusing on things going wrong, they would go wrong.
You are focusing on all kinds of bad things happening, they would happen.
You should feed the things you focus on!
But if you focus on the Lord, on your Pilgrimage, on the race that is set before you, the Passage says, you grow from Strength to Strength.
In this Season, as we expect God to make our Expectations come through: I Pray that you will be one of those who grows from Strength to Strength.
Focus on the Lord, spend time to Pray, spend time Fasting – Put your stomach down. Don’t be lazy, don’t let somebody deceive you, don’t let somebody tell you, you can’t Fast. You can fast!
And when you do, your Heart is set on Pilgrimage, and you will get Stronger and Stronger.
The battles you are faced with in Life you can’t joke your way through them and you can’t overcome them by just been haphazard – You will overcome them if your Heart is focused on the Lord.
And may the Lord God, Who is our Beginning and the Ending; may He take us through “Unprecedented Encounters”.
May our Hearts be set on Him as we go on a Pilgrimage and may we Experience God’s Power in Supernatural way.
May we get Stronger and Stronger and may move beyond every Limitations of our lives.
May every Delay in our lives bow; may they be Subjected to the Purposes of God;
Because we are coming into our home, we are coming into Divine Promises, Divine Fulfilment Assignments been fulfilled; Purposes been fulfilled, in the Name of Jesus.
Father, I Pray for every one here with an Expectation, You would Plant the Seed of Expectation in our Hearts. You will also bring to Pass the Fruits of our Expectations.
And as we start our Spiritual Journey of Pilgrimage towards You, may our Hearts be focused on You.
May we encounter You Supernaturally.
May every Valley of tears become a Place of Joy.
May the Lord turn our Negative into Positive.
May the Lord answer us, may the Lord give us Miracles. Do Supernatural works in our lives.
May we experience Divine Expectations!
And may each one of us grow Stronger and Stronger, in Jesus’ Name – Amen.
Thank you so much for staying all through to read.