There is a story in the bible of a young prophet who was instructed by God to go on a journey to deliver the word of The Lord. Part of God’s instruction to the young prophet was that he couldn’t eat, drink, sleep, or even go the same way that he had been. The prophet was told to focus, concentrate on the task at hand without getting distracted. The definition of concentrate is: to move directly toward one point. In order to move forward towards just one point you and I must set our focus and standards in order to reach that specified objective.
The young prophet was on his way to Bethel when an older prophet heard about the young prophet and invited him to return back to his home and be refreshed. The young prophet remembered the direction of The Lord and refused to return to the old prophet’s house. The older prophet then speaks the following statement:
1 Kings 13
18 And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.'” But he lied to him.
19 So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.
Both prophets were at the dinner table eating when the word of The Lord came to the older prophet saying,
1 Kings 13
21 And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you,
22 but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'”
23 And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body.
I have always been completely stumped by the story. You would think that the older prophet would be the one who was eaten up by lions because he lied about an angel of The Lord giving him the word of The Lord. No, it was the young prophet who knew without a shadow of a doubt God’s instruction and standard but lost his focus and concentration. The young prophet had only one thing to focus on and got distracted by the sensibility of someone else’s standards.
The greatest challenges in life come from the enemy trying to distract your concentration. You and I are not a threat until we gain our focus and concentration. The devil will even send an angel of light to claim that they are sent by God to comfort or help, while they challenge you to lower your standards.
Concentration is very important to God. In the garden God told Adam and Eve what they were to focus on and what they should not focus on. They had one destination in mind. Blessing! When the enemy came with a different focus such as, God hasn’t told you everything, they should have recognized that it was God’s set concentration for them. The concentration of the blessed is not what they are missing or what they have been told, but the blessed concentrate on good and not evil. They have one destination to move towards; good things are ahead as long as I stay focused on the one thing that God told me. God doesn’t have Attention Deficit Disorder, but the enemy would want us all to think so.
God gave Israel the Torah and Tanakh and He gave us, as Christians, the Bible including the New Covenant to help us concentrate on the way of success. Read Joshua 1:6-9.
6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.
7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Concentration is not a gift as much as it is a discipline. The bible tells us to set our minds. If we don’t purposefully set our minds, we maintain with ease our default mindset. God told the children of Israel how to keep their concentration in the midst of a undisciplined and distracted world. This post modern society has spent the last 20 years labeling a generation as ADHD or ADD, when we should instead teach God’s ways of concentration. Lets take a look at the hidden keys of success through concentration found in Joshua.
Be Strong and Courageous.
I must make a special note on the profession of the statement be strong and courageous. It was said three times, each with even more feeling and requires from us more determination. Be “strong and courageous” in vs. 6 moves to “be strong and very courageous” in vs. 7. This shows us that it doesn’t get easier, but gets more and more challenging to stay focused as you begin to lock into the rhythm. We have seen this pattern at the beginning of the year, as we set new focus and standards in the form of a New Years resolution. We say that we have resolved to do something, but instead we have simply wished that something would change. The final “be strong and courageous” is strict and commanded. At first it seems like a good idea, then it’s a tough choice that must be made and then it’s the commandment of The Lord. The concentration is on being strong and courageous only, but in order to do that you must add a few other ingredients, such as the following list.
Be careful to do the word.
This be careful is not as in be afraid, but as in carrying something fragile, important, and valuable. Of course the word is not breakable, but the covenant that it speaks of is. It’s cause and effect, you pay attention to the word and its covenant will pay attention to you. As we carefully search the word, things jump out at us that we have never seen before. Why? It’s because we have awakened the gift of awareness and observation factor within our brain. Science calls this part of your brain Reticular Activating System (RAS). This system kicks in once a goal or focus is set. It’s design is to remove from your attention any information that is not useful to the goal or focus. God set His people’s goal to focus on being strong and courageous through carefully searching the scriptures for anything that pertained to life and Godliness. This would give the children of Israel the upper hand on the snake for generations to come. If they kept their nose in the word, the word would isolate the use of the RAS to things that were pertinent to the covenant. If it didn’t benefit the covenant blessing, then it should be easily resisted because of the strength and courage possessed.
Don’t turn to the right or the left that you may have good success wherever.
Once you have a clearly defined direction you must not turn off at the right road. Success is a predetermined destination or state. This is only accomplished through keeping the destination or state of mind in focus. The moment the focus is blurry something is wrong and focus must be regained, otherwise a different destination will override the previous determined level of success. Look at the same thing day and night. Keeping looking at the same focal point even if distractions arise. Even thought a prophet says that an angel has a shown up telling him a new route, if that route is not in accordance with your first destination then you shouldn’t change your course until the commander and chief has given new instruction Himself.
The key to never turning to the left or the right is to consistently reflect. I like looking up the definition of words. The definition of reflection is the act of casting back an image, as with a mirror, or the state of being so reflected. We must cast back to look at the original objective and intent in order to stay the course. When you forget what you are doing and why you are doing it, then you will lose heart for what you’re called to do. In success coaching a person is encouraged to chart their course the night before. Set your to-do list and goals the night before. Another strong course of action would be to spend time reflecting on how you managed the current day and make sure that you have kept the agenda. If not, each day will simply be another opportunity for variance. Don’t neglect the gift of reflection. The more you look at the image, the more you will become that image.
Keep the word in your mouth by meditating on it day and night so that you are careful to do, make your way prosperous and have good success.
That objective is a mouth full of goodness. Let’s be very clear here. God said, “keep my words in your mouth”. Why? Why not just read them and keep them in your mind? Why in your mouth? I guess the key is found in the word “meditate” which in the Hebrew vocabulary means to murmur and to ponder. Speak and think on God’s words. The way that God has chosen to apply his blessing and goodness is through words. There is nothing that has ever been made which didn’t come through God’s words. By writing His words down and allowing us to muse on them, God has granted us the power of created speech. He gave us the ability to speak in the garden, but now we also have His ways. We can now create the future that we have always wanted. We can and will make our way prosperous and experience good success through speaking and meditating on God’s words. In our post modern society words are simply to share information, but in the kingdom of God words are for impartation and shaping your world and destiny.
Paul encouraged Timothy to meditate on the prophetic words so that everyone could see how he profited in life.
Don’t be afraid nor be dismayed, God is with you wherever.
The last part of keeping your original consideration is to never allow fear to get a place. After God commanded Israel to be strong, He told them not to be afraid or dismayed. These are two different levels of fear. To be afraid is to have the feeling of fear. To be dismayed means to break down courage completely. Now I can see the pattern of the enemy’s attack. God has given the key to overcoming the enemy, to making a prosperous way, and having good success wherever you go. It’s to focus on being strong and very courageous through musing on and meditation in the word. This will keep you and me from being afraid and becoming dismayed. The devil’s strategy will always be fear and breakdown of your courage. As you decide to stay strong you will stop the enemy’s tactic of making you afraid. As you decide to stay very courageous you will destroy any chance of becoming dismayed. Isn’t this what The Lord has commanded us in Joshua 1? Lets protect our strength and courage as if it’s a commandment. Then we will make our way prosperous and experience good success.