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Jesus Prays for Your Focus – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
January 15, 2023 3:00 pm

Jesus Prays for Your Focus – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Here's Anne Graham Lotz. Your relationship with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit is permanent. So Jesus is praying that you'll stay focused.

You're listening to Living in the Light with Anne Graham Lotz. Jesus is praying for you. He's praying for your focus. With all that you have swirling around in your life, He wants you to stay focused on your relationship with God. And that is exactly the title of today's message.

So let's join Anne Graham Lotz now from John chapter 17 with Jesus Prays for Your Focus. George Bergen was a Navy man who worked for my mother and daddy. My sister Gigi would remember him, but he mowed the grass, he kept up the yard, and when it snowed he would be at 2 o'clock in the morning, he'd be plowing the driveway so mother wouldn't get snowed in. And he did lots of things for mother, but one of the things he did on the side, he was a deputy sheriff in Buncombe County right here. And so every year he had to requalify to be a deputy sheriff. So the year that he requalified, one of the things you had to do, and I can't remember exactly how many shots he had to fire and how many seconds, but it was like three shots within 10 seconds. And he had to shoot that fast and he had to be so accurate that he would hit the bullseye every time.

So this particular year he went to requalify for his deputy's license or his deputy's badge, and he came back and he told my mother about it. And he said, Ms. Graham, he said, I went and he said I was there and I had to go to the firing range and shoot the pistol and aim at the target, but he said I'd just gotten new bifocals. And he said, I wasn't used to the way you looked through them, and he said I began to get nervous and I was uptight and I began to sweat and my bifocals steamed up and then they slid down my nose. And he said I just closed my eyes and he said I pulled the trigger three times and then when I opened my eyes they went and checked the target and it hit the bullseye every time. And the mother said, George, how in the world did you do that? And he said, well, Ms. Graham, when I lost sight of the target I just remembered my position. And today, with all the craziness going on, the fog, the darkness that's coming on our land, the confusion, the fear, when your glasses fog up, remember your position.

You're a child of the king. Jesus is seated on the throne and he's praying for you. I took the theme for this series from John chapter 17 verse 9. I'm praying for them, he said. Jesus is praying for you. And I've divided chapter 17 into three sections and we're going to take one at a time, but it's just the first five verses. He's praying for your focus, that you would stay focused on your relationship with God. And when there's so much confusion, so much fear, so much noise, so much chaos, this has been his word to me.

And stay focused on your relationship with me. And then he describes the relationship, verse 1, it's a personal relationship. He begins his prayer saying, father.

And sometimes that's hard for us, isn't it? Because we don't want to think of God as father because of the way our father was. And I don't think he's meaning that God is like your father or like my father. And if I can just say this, my father was absent about 60% of my growing up years. And my father never tucked me in bed. He never helped me with my homework.

I can't remember playing a game with him, maybe ping pong a couple of times. We did hike to the ridge and it wasn't until I got married, had children, saw the way my husband fathered my children that I realized, oh my goodness, that's what I missed. And so my daddy would be the first one to tell you, in fact he's written it in his book, that he wasn't a good father. Not the way we think of his fathers, okay? He was an absentee father. So what about your father?

Let me say this before I move on. I'd rather have Billy Graham for a father than anybody else I know, okay? And one reason, amen. And one reason is because he modeled godliness, genuine Christ-likeness inside the home and outside the home, okay? But maybe your father didn't do that. Maybe he was abusive. Maybe he was an alcoholic. Maybe he was an adulterer. Maybe he abandoned you.

I don't know. But Jesus is not saying God is like your father or my father. I think he's just underscoring the fact that you can have a personal relationship with God.

There's no more personal relationship than that between a parent and a child. And in the Old Testament, God was the God of creation. He spoke a word and things came into being and he parted the Red Sea with his breath and he was on Mount Sinai with lightning and thunder and, you know, all sorts of crashing. He was almighty. He was majestic.

He was glorious. Nobody would think of calling him father. So this was a revolutionary thought that you could know God in a personal relationship, as personal as a parent with a child. He says, Father, the time has come. He knew what time it was in his life. And I think it's very important that you and I know what time it is, not only in our lives but in human history.

I believe we're living at the end of the end of human history. What we're seeing going on in the world is a setup for the rule of the Antichrist and that's going to be a setup for the glorious return of Jesus Christ to reign and rule in this world. So Jesus knew what time it was and what time it was in his life, it was time for the cross. It was time for his betrayal. It was time for his arrest. It was a time for his trials, his torture, his crucifixion, his death.

The time has come, he says. And then he said, glorify your son. So he's saying, the time has come for the cross and I'm asking you to glorify your son at the cross. And to glorify means to reveal God's character in such a way that you're drawn to God, that you see God is revealed and he makes himself attractive to you. You want to know him, you want to love him, you want to draw near to him because that's his glory that's revealed. And Jesus is saying, God, I want you to glorify your son at the cross. How did the cross glorify Jesus in such a unique way that his character was revealed and would cause us to love him and draw near to him?

You know how? The cross glorifies Jesus in that the cross proves that he's the only savior there is. There's no other savior. No other way you can have your sins forgiven. No other way you can go to heaven when you die. No other way you can have eternal life. No other way you can come into a personal relationship with God. It's only through the cross of Jesus Christ.

And listen to me. If there had been any other way, God would have found it. He never would have sent his son to die on the cross if there had been any other savior. But there's not another savior. Jesus is the only one. And so he's glorified at the cross. Lifted up as the only savior. He is the way, the truth, the life.

No one will come to the Father except they come through Jesus. And then Jesus said, glorify your son that your son may glorify you. So how did Jesus glorify his father at the cross? How was God uniquely revealed at the cross in such a way that we love him and want to draw near to him?

And it's in this. The cross reveals the love of God. That God so loved you, nobody else needed a savior.

He would have sent Jesus for you. That God so loved you that he sent Jesus to the cross. And so the cross reveals the depth and the height and the breadth and the length to which God will go to take away your sin and bring you into a personal relationship with himself. Oh the deep, deep love of God for you. And at the cross, God is glorified. So Jesus says stay focused on your relationship with God, the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. It's a personal relationship.

And I want to underscore this just for somebody maybe who's watching online, somebody here, and you've never claimed that personal relationship for yourself. Because you don't get it by osmosis, you don't get it from coming to the cove, you don't get it from going to church, you don't get it from calling yourself a Christian. I was a little girl, I can't remember, I was eight or nine years of age. I remember it was a Good Friday, I was across the valley in my parents' home, and I watched a picture about Jesus on television. And when it came to the scene of the cross, I knew that he had died for me. And I felt very convicted of my sin and I told God I was sorry. And I asked him to forgive me, got down on my knees, asked him to forgive me, to cleanse me with his blood, come into my heart. And I believe as a young girl, I was born again into God's family. I put my faith in Jesus as my personal Savior, and God doesn't have any grandchildren, right?

So just because I'm Billy Graham's daughter didn't mean I was a child of God. I had to make that intentional decision for myself, which I did. And so I want to know, when have you made that intentional decision? Can you remember a point in time when you confessed your sin, told God you were sorry, asked him to come into your heart and surrendered your life to him as Lord? Because you must be born again. You come to the cross, confess your sin, tell God you're sorry, you're willing to stop all those wrong things you've been doing, ask him to give you eternal life, come into your heart in the person of the Holy Spirit, and he will. A personal relationship with God is established at the cross of Jesus Christ when you put your faith in him as your Savior and Lord.

Have you done that? Don't leave this mountain until you're sure that you're sure. Praise God that the relationship we have with him is a personal relationship.

And secondly, it's a permanent relationship. He says in verse 2, For you granted him authority over all people, that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. And when you ask Jesus to come into your heart and your sins are forgiven and cleansed, he gives you eternal life, and eternal life is life that will never end. And for those of you who think you can lose your salvation, for those of you who think you put your faith in Jesus and then you do something wrong, you do something out of line or whatever and you can lose your salvation, let me tell you something. If you could lose your salvation, it wouldn't be eternal, would it?

It would be temporary. When you receive Jesus by faith as your Savior and Lord, he comes into you and he will never leave you. He will never forsake you.

And that's a permanent relationship. It won't even be interrupted by death. Did you know that? And people today with this COVID seem so afraid. And everybody's scared to death. And I think probably they're afraid they're going to get COVID and then they're probably afraid they're going to die from COVID.

But you know something? Can I just tell you I'm not afraid. I faced death three times in the last five years, my husband's death, my father's death, and then the diagnosis of cancer that I've received and I'm not afraid of death.

I'm going to be afraid of the pain, the suffering, going to the hospital, all that kind of stuff. Nobody enjoys that. But the moment of death I'm not afraid of because the Bible says a believer will not see death.

Did you know that? You and I want to experience death the way a non-believer experiences death. We don't see death. When we close our eyes to this life we open them to the face of Jesus. Death is just that moment when we pass from faith to sight. So don't be afraid.

And remember the first time I went to India I'd been invited to hold meetings over there and so I accepted and got halfway around the world and I thought, Ann, what are you doing? You've got to be crazy. You don't know who's going to meet you. You don't know what to expect. You don't know where you're going to be staying.

You don't know the meetings exactly. And just I was almost paralyzed with fear. And somehow I got on the plane. I made the next half of the journey and got to India and was met by wonderful people.

They took good care of me. The meetings were blessed. Came back and I've gone to India four times since then and each time I've looked forward to it I was expecting it because I knew something of who would meet me, something of what I would expect when I got there. It took the fear away. So when you know Jesus is going to meet you at Heaven's door, it takes the fear away, doesn't it? You're just going to see Jesus whom you've loved and you've lived for and you've known him by faith and now you're going to open your eyes to his face and it's going to be wonderful.

There's no reason to be afraid of death. And besides, when you walk through that valley of the shadow, the Lord is going to be with you before, at the moment, and he'll take you home the moment after. I was trying to explain this to my mother several months before she did die and she had pneumonia and we thought she was going to die so I was sitting up beside her in the bed and I told her that I had recently been to London, England, and I had been to Westminster Abbey. And it's not true now but then it was true, there's just a small door that went into Westminster Abbey and you'd go through the door and then there was sort of a small narthex or foyer.

By the way, Westminster Abbey is where, I know you know that, right, where the kings and queens are married and crowned and Prince Andrew and Prince William and the different ones, so glorious cathedral in downtown London. And so you go in this narthex and in the narthex it's sort of small and dark and cramped but that's where you buy your ticket that will take you through the next door that will actually go into the sanctuary but you get a guidebook also and the guidebook tells you something of what you're going to see on the other side of that next door. So then you go to the next door, you turn in your ticket, the door is flung open, you go into the sanctuary, this glorious sanctuary, and the guidebook tells you something of what you're going to see. And I told my mother I never saw anybody getting their ticket and their guidebook running out in the street and say, oh, look, I've got a ticket to Westminster Abbey and I have a guidebook and the whole purpose of the narthex was to provide that transition from outside to inside the sanctuary.

The purpose of the narthex was the place where you got your ticket and your guidebook and that got you through the next door. And I told my mother this life is like the narthex and you and I in this life we get our ticket to heaven when we put our faith in Jesus and our sins are forgiven and we're given eternal life. And we have a guidebook which is our Bible and it tells us something of what we're going to see on the other side and when that moment of death comes and we step into eternity, we turn in our ticket, so to speak, and the door is flung open and Jesus is right there to welcome us into the glorious sanctuary of his Father's house. So there's nothing to be afraid of, everything to look forward to, your relationship with God that you established at the cross that you've grown in, that you've developed, that relationship is not interrupted by your death.

Do you understand that? That relationship just goes from faith to sight. On June 14th, 2007, my mother left the narthex.

One of the hardest days of my life, one of the best days of hers. The only thing that mattered at that moment, no matter all the things that she'd accomplished or her reputation or all that mattered was that she had her ticket. And as a little girl in China, she'd put her faith in Jesus and I know he was right there to welcome her into the place that he'd prepared for her. So your relationship with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit is permanent. So Jesus is praying that you'll stay focused. In the midst of all this COVID, in the midst of all these threats and chaos, we want to stay focused on the relationship with him that's personal and it's permanent.

Thirdly, it's privileged. And he says in verse 3, Now this is eternal life, that they may know you. And that word that he uses for know is a word for a very intimate relationship between a husband and wife. So when Adam knew Eve and she conceived, that knew, that word know, that's the same word. So it's talking about having an intimate, personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. I remember talking with a great Bible teacher once and the person could quote scripture, knew it backwards and forwards, sort of a biblical encyclopedia, but with tears streaming down their face, they said, Anne, how is it that I've missed the main thing? And while they had all the knowledge, they didn't have that vibrant, intimate relationship with God.

That's the privilege. I remember when I was young, I loved Jesus, was in love with him, got married, had my children, just the business of being a bride and a young mother, I just neglected him, I couldn't keep up my Bible reading, Bible study, prayer time and all that, and I sort of drifted from him. I got so homesick for him and wanted to be back in his word, didn't know how to go about it, somebody told me about Bible study fellowship and I'll leave out all the details, but nobody would start it, I wanted to be in it, so I started it so I could be in it. And taught it for 12 years, but the first year I taught, we taught Genesis. And when it came to chapter 12 and Abraham, Abraham walked off the pages of my Bible into my life.

And I'd known about him all my life, but I didn't really know him. And what occurred to me is that he was a very ordinary person that became extraordinary because when God called him to follow him in a life of obedient faith, Abraham followed him. One step at a time, one day at a time, a week at a time, a year at a time, didn't mean he didn't fail, he made mistakes, he sinned, but he never quit.

He just picked himself back up and he kept on going. So at the end of Abraham's life, God calls Abraham in Scripture three times, my friend. So if I told you the Queen of England was my friend, you could sort of smirk and you'd be right, you know. But if the Queen of England walked in here and she said, Anne Lotz is my friend, that makes a difference, that's impressive. And Abraham didn't say God is my friend, God said Abraham is my friend.

And so way back then, 30-some years ago, I set that as my life's goal. I want to know God in a relationship that one day he will describe as a friendship. I want to know him better today than I did yesterday, better tomorrow than I do today.

And this was my thought process. If Abraham could know God as his friend, if Noah could know God as his refuge from the storm, if Moses could know him as the bondage breaker, if David could know him as a shepherd, if Isaiah could know him in his glory, if Elijah could know him in his power, if Paul could know him in his grace, and Peter knew him in his forgiveness, and Mary knew him in his humanity, and John knew him in his glory as a King of Kings and Lord of Lords, then why can't I know him like that? The Bible says that God hasn't changed.

He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. So if I don't know God like the Old Testament and the New Testament people knew him, there's nothing wrong with God, there's something wrong with me. And so I began my journey to know God, to embrace knowing him, the fullness of that relationship. And can I tell you something? That's a privilege.

And I think there are many people within the church, within the body of Christ, who have a personal relationship with God and a permanent relationship with God, but for whatever reason, they stop short of the privilege. And I want to challenge you. Don't stop short. Ask God to reveal himself to you. He'll speak to you, quicken his word, illuminate it for you, put it in your heart, whisper in your ear, and you come to know God as one who loves you and wants you to know him in an intimate way. He knows you. You'll never embarrass him. You'll never disappoint him.

You'll never shock him. He knows you inside and out. He understands you, and he loves you. So Jesus said, you've given me the authority to give them eternal life, and eternal life is knowing you. And the one whom you sent, who is Jesus, through the person of the Holy Spirit, is knowing the triune God. And lastly, the relationship that we're to focus on is not only personal and permanent and privileged, but it's purposeful.

There's a reason for it. In verse four, he says, I brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. So when Jesus came to earth, he had a job. He had an assignment. He had a work to do. And in order to finish it, to complete it, he had to be very intentional about the way he spent his time, who he was with, what he said, what he did. He wasn't whimsical.

He didn't guess his way through life. He was absolutely devoted to his Father's will. And God has given you and me a purpose. We also have a purpose to live for. And the overarching purpose is the same for all of us. We're to live for the praise of his glory. We're to live our lives in such a way that people look at me and they want to know Jesus and love Jesus and draw near to Jesus because of what they see in their lives.

We want to make Jesus desirable, attractive to the people around us. And I'll tell you what, this is a good time to do that because people are afraid. They don't have hope. They don't have peace.

They don't have joy. And we do, or we should. So Jesus said, I finished the work that you gave me to do. And the work was the work of redemption. It was coming to earth, certainly to reveal God the Father to us so that we look at Jesus and we can see God, we can hear God, know God. But it was also to die on the cross as the Lamb of God who would take away our sin, redeem us from an empty way of life, save us from the penalty and power of sin. So Jesus said, I finished the work that you gave me to do. So you and I have the purpose of living for the glory of God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-15 16:16:58 / 2023-01-15 16:27:03 / 10

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