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“Focus! Pay attention! What are you thinking?” Do these words sound familiar to you? Youngsters are often bombarded with these words! And rightly so because in the prime of life youngsters are often led astray because of this very reason which further makes them take wrong decisions in their lives and eventually makes the rest of their lives miserable!
That is why in this article,I would like to draw your attention to a young man who, though he was a promising young man, focused on the wrong thing! My dear ones please read carefully because by the end of this article, one thing will be clear. It is the fact that we too, many-a-times are just like him and need to ‘re-focus’ our attention to that which is right.
We find him, that is Philip, the Lord’s disciple, in John 6:5-7, standing by the Lord, facing a great multitude of people that had been following the Lord for quite sometime. The Lord saw the crowd and ascertained that there was a need that was to be fulfilled. He was about to do one of the greatest miracles ever seen but for some reason, before that, his focus went to Philip!
You see, Philip was also seeing the same crowd and he also understood the need that was there but his mind was somewhere else! He was busy calculating the enormity of the situation and the lack of the resources that they had! And that was when the Lord decided to ‘prove’ him. It was the perfect situation for the Lord to teach a simple yet vital practical truth regarding christian life!
For the purpose of understanding, let us divide our observation and study into three parts
- Philip’s background and thoughts
- The Lord’s mind and His love
- The Lesson for us believers
- Philip’s background and thoughts
- It is important for us to understand that Philip was an average young man. When we read John 1:45 we read that he, along with his friend Nathaniel were ardent students of the scriptures. The verse implies that they ‘ searched’ the scriptures by which we can infer that they used to spend a considerable amount of time with the word of God!
- It is also noteworthy that he had a pure heart. No sooner he was called by the Messiah, he immediately went to his friend, Nathaniel and led him to the Lord!
- BUT, all these things considered he was also like an average youngster in terms of how he saw things. He focused on the problem ahead and the paucity of funds that they had instead of focusing on the person standing right next to him!
- He was a man who, sadly did not focus on the supernatural power of the Lord and instead focused on what he would do within the limited scope of his understanding. Everything had to be calculated and if he thought it is not possible, he would consider it not possible
- The Lord’s mind and His love
Now that we know Philip’s background and mindset, it is important to understand the Lord’s perspective as well.
- The Lord was filled with compassion for the crowd. Does it draws our attention to the big picture. The fact that the Lord Jesus was filled with love and compassion for humankind as a whole and his great work of redemption applies to the whole world. ‘Whosoever’ believeth shall have eternal life!
- But here’s the interesting picture. While our loving Lord focused on the whole crowd in general , his focus and attention first went towards his dear disciple standing right next to Him. While there was a big need in the form of a multitude in front of them, our Lord’s attention went to one single disciple standing right next to Him just because he wanted to teach him to focus on the right thing! Isn’t it wonderful my dear ones, that the Lord was concerned about one single fallacy/inadequacy in His disciple’s life that he devoted that moment just for him! This is one of the places where we see the Lord training, making and moulding one of His disciples with love and care !
- The Lord wanted to make Philip understand that He was standing right next to him! Who was he? He was the same Lord about whom Philip had searched the old testament scriptures! The Lord may just have wanted to refresh his (Philip’s) memory and remind him of: how he was the Lord who fed manna to his forefathers in the wilderness, the same Lord who gave them water out of a rock!
- Just a while ago, while the Lord and His disciples had been to the wedding in Cana
(John 2 ), it was He who turned water into wine! Philip forgot all that!
It was through the scriptures and through the past experiences with the Lord, that the Lord intended to train Philip to focus his eyes and thoughts in the right direction.
- The Lessons for us believers
- First of all let us compare ourselves to Philip
- We may be tempted to think negatively about Philip when we look into his character and thoughts. But my dear ones, do we not think similarly when we face issues in our christian life. Looking at someone’s negative aspects is easy but when we compare ourselves to him we are no better if not worse. One problem comes into our lives and we start questioning the Lord! We say to ourselves, there is no way we can get out of this! It is impossible. We forget the fact that the Holy Spirit indwells in us, the Lord Jesus is with us and the eyes and ears of the Father are focused on us if we are born-again believers. Let us remind ourselves of that very time we face a seemingly difficult issue in our lives.
- Many of us may be good students of the word but when it comes to applying it to our practical life we fall short! Yes, we may have good theoretical knowledge of the scripture and maybe even have followed it to a certain extent but when problems arise our mind, our focus and our attention gets diverted to the problem! It is at such times we should remember the old adage, Never say “God I have a big problem!” but instead say “Hey problem, I have a big God!” It is very important that the God of the Bible becomes the God of our lives!
- Secondly let us consider our Lord and his work in our lives
- When we talk about God’s will and his plans , we see two aspects of it. Firstly, His sovereign will for the whole whole and the wonderful plan that he has chalked out for it. But that does not mean that he sees us all as one big multitude. That brings us to His specific will for each and every one of us! Every single one of us is very important for Him. Each sheep has a special place in our shepherd’s heart! How comforting is it to know that not only do each and every one of us fit into God’s sovereign will and plan but also the fact that he pays specific attention to each and every one of us knowing where we lack, so as to fill the gaps and use us as useful vessels for His glory.
- The Lord Jesus Christ is not just the great maker (creator) of the universe, the messiah of the world and the mediator for believers but also our loving master and faithful friend who is there to lead us through every situation of life. He not only uses the scriptures to remind us of His goodness, greatness, grace and guidance but he also helps us by remind us of past experiences in our lives where we have seen His strong arm work for us. We see both these things in Philip’s case as well!
- He is a patient teacher as well. Imagine all our attitudes and our way of thinking. His way of dealing with this young individual makes us understand one thing. As long as we have a teachable spirit and a heart ready to listen, the Lord patiently works like a potter crafting a vessel to be of great use for God’s glory in the days to come.Thirdly a few additional, positive thoughts from Philip’s life for our learning
- Philip had a confusion in John 12 regards a few greeks who wanted to meet the Lord and approached him to led them to him. He was not sure what to do, for which he approached Andrew, who further led him all to meet the Lord! HE had a humble teachable spirit and was not afraid to ask a fellow brother, clarification of some doubts. It is very important that it be true in our lives. It is easy for us to become heavy-headed once we have a little knowledge of the scriptures but is is important that we understand that we should have a soft, malleable, teachable heart.
- He also had some doubts for the Lord in the upper room as well (John 14:8) but we we see the Lord patiently yet strongly using the figurative fingers of the potter to make and mould this young, confused disciple! And he does the same in our lives as well. BUT it is very important for us to understand that we have a responsibility towards him. Philip never left the Lord and never went against him. He was just a young man with questions, doubts and a lack of focus but he stayed on with the Lord always ready to learn. Oh how important it is for us to know that the omniscient God is the one who can clear all our doubts. All we need is ask! He will not chide or be angry at us but instead he will patiently clear it if we are true to him and hold on to him instead of resorting to worldly means.
- History says that Philip was mightily used in the work of evangelism and his de-focused disciple, when he understood the what to focus on, became an apostle who relentlessly worked for the Lord and was eventually martyred for the sake of the gospel. Tradition (history) also states that he was instrumental in bringing royal families to the Lord and that he preached even until the time he was martyred. Even though we may not be sure of that we know one thing for sure. HE NEVER LOST HIS FOCUS!
Now that we know all this,, let us focus not on the Problem but the Provider as well. ‘Jehovah Jireh’ is not just limited to providing material things as we all wrongfully think but the greatest provision that He has made for us is Himself! The Lord Jesus Christ wants us to focus on Him. And after that come every single spiritual blessings that are mentioned in the new testament! Do we not realise that the provider is the greatest provision himself! HE can do great things in our lives, all we have to do is believe! Once we do that, we understand that no problem in life is too difficult for the Lord to fix. We often have our own reasoning, our own calculations, our way of thinking and with our even asking the Lord, we come to a conclusion that things are going to be impossible. Oh, let us focus on Him who is with us, for it is he who will make us and mould us and use us as vessels for God’s glory!