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About the Author
Bishop Travis G. Roberson is an ordained minister who was born a slave in Deadwood, Texas in 1946. He served 23 years 10 months in the U. S. Air Force. Bishop Roberson loves God and His people; he ministers a prison outreach and was chosen by God to pastor the Holy Temple of God International Church Organization and to establish its Principles of Life, Meaningful Employment, and Housing Program.
Read an Excerpt
Focus is the condition of being distinct, comprehensible, or clearly defined.
Focus is a distinct and clearly defined condition that one has, like a heart attack, virus or any other condition. However, unlike these common conditions, focus will not harm you at all; in fact, it is quite good for both your mental and spiritual health. The consequences of not having it, however, are very dangerous. In fact, if you don't have this condition, it will be difficult for you to stay on track with just about anything in your life.
The condition of being focused is all about our ability to properly understand the world around us, as well as our inner lives. For example, consider your body. When you eat nourishing foods and exercise, your body will have the best chance to function with optimum performance and to be and to remain healthy. Likewise, if we nourish our minds and hearts with positive studies and spiritual nourishments, we'll have good, pleasant, and refreshing attitudes. By contrast, if we don't eat properly and instead eat (or overeat!) a lot of junk food and / or smoke or engage in other bad habits such as alcohol or drugs, we are in effect sabotaging our health. Not only do we risk becoming obese and far more susceptible to all kinds of preventable and potentially fatal diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, but we also can't concentrate well because we become weak and nauseated, and our minds are just not right.
Now think how different that scenario would be if you were instead disciplined — and focused — enough to eat a healthy diet and sleep eight hours daily. The results would likely be amazing: you would almost certainly achieve better grades in school and perform more proficiently on the job. Add exercise to your routine and the improvements will soon soar off the chart. You don't have to become a "health nut" or a bodybuilder, just a highly focused individual who knows the importance of setting goals with a dogged determination not to veer away from them. Don't worry, this new frame of mind gets easier with practice. You learned to focus on things that were bad for you and dragging you down, so now it's time to focus on the many things that are good for you and will lift you up.
Moreover, make no mistake about it: this principle applies every bit as much to your spiritual life. Just as these eating and lifestyle regimens improve your physical condition, studying and obeying the Word of God can work wonders on your focus, too. It will help you to develop a positive attitude even though people around you are doing you wrong. Think about that for a minute. Imagine how different your outlook on just about everything would be if you focused your mind and your attention on the things of God, rather than solely on the things of the world. As Holy Scripture tells us, we are to live in this world while at the same time not becoming part of it. We should live as ambassadors for Christ passing through this world to spread the Good News, but our real and permanent citizenship is in the eternal Kingdom of God. This is a very important point, because the Bible clearly spells out a sharply distinct contrast between the "carnal" man and a Spirit-filled Christian.
Getting to heaven is not about how others treat you, but getting there is about loving God and His people. He says in His word, "How you can say you love me if you don't obey Me" John 14:15 (KJV). It's a profound question. Many people claim to love God, but then go and live a life that is completely dishonoring to Him and antithetical to everything He has taught us. If we are foolish enough to live that way, we are doing tremendous damage to our own souls, because disobeying God is, to say the least, not a very good way of showing how much we love Him. In fact, it makes our claims to "love" God seem like nothing but a bunch of hot air.
Now, I realize that only God truly knows what is in a man's (or woman's) heart, and He knows we are all sinners who stumble from time to time. But that is where focus comes in! Try making obeying God's commands the centerpiece and focus of your life, and His Word your moral compass. That will keep you safely on the hallowed "narrow path" that the Bible promises us leads to eternal life.
Another scripture puts it this way: "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us" I John 4:12 (NIV). Wow, this is God confronting us with a reality that we simply cannot deny. Sure while living on this earth we don't see God face to face. No, but we sure do see plenty of other people every day, don't we? And remember you, me, and every person who ever lived was created by God, and in the image of God. That is why God equates loving other people with loving God Himself. No wonder Jesus said that whatever we do (for either good or bad) to the least of His brethren, we have done it to Him. The next time you interact with another human being, try to keep in mind, how you would treat Almighty God in that situation ... and then be sure to treat that fellow human being accordingly.
Therefore, it is not about how others treat you that enables you to get to heaven, but it is about how you treat others that gets you there. So, how are you going to know how to treat others unless you are taught what it is that you must do? This is why studying is so important, more especially the Word of God. He says in His Word to study to "show yourself approved by God, a workman that might not be ashamed, but rightly divide the word of truth" 2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV). Talk about focused! What is being described here is a person who knows how to concentrate (focus) his or her attention in the right direction, which is on the spiritual aspects of life as taught to us in the Bible. And once you know the Word, you must then follow through and live out its precepts to the best of your abilities in your daily life. As the saying goes: "They will know we are Christians by how they see us love one another." That's right, an important facet of witnessing for the Lord and spreading His Gospel is to let the world see that your love is genuine — for God, for your neighbors, and even for your enemies. The more focused you are, the more others will come to appreciate the power of true "agape" love as consistently practiced by a dedicated Christian. This will help open the gates of heaven not only for yourself, but also for others too. Remember, more than once Jesus described the Kingdom of God as a great banquet feast, and our Father's will is for all to attend.
When God gives you visions, missions, and instructions, don't focus on the nouns that make it seem impossible to achieve, but focus on the distinct, clearly defined actions He wants you to perform. Allow the Spirit of God to lead, guide, and help achieve His visions and missions. Don't depend on self or anyone else to define God's distinct, comprehensible, or clearly defined plans that He has given you. We lose focus by allowing our minds and hearts to be led away from what is distinct, comprehensible, or clearly defined. For example, if we know that two plus two is four, why try another answer? If we know that exercise and a healthy diet sustain a healthy body, why do something contrary? And if we know that studying the Bible and earning degrees will improve our ability to serve others and God, we should focus our time and abilities on that goal.
Yes, God wants men and women who are "on fire" for Him and ready to change the world. The apostles and the disciples of the early Church lived out their faith with boundless passion, zeal and commitment, and God bestowed great power upon them on the day of Pentecost. And He will do the same for us! Why? Because when we focus on God, He comes to us and moves in our lives in miraculous and often unexpected ways. No wonder the Bible says that He is "in our midst" when two or more gather "in His Name." What does it mean to "gather in His Name?" It means that people are joining their hearts and minds for the single — i.e., focused — purpose of worshipping the Lord. God really loves it when we do that. He knows that it unifies us in common purpose. It cements a community of faith that loves God, loves one another, and then reaches out beyond their own church community to be "salt and light" to the world at large. There is no limit to what one highly focused Christian can accomplish, so just think how much God-given power there is when they join forces, and focus their energy on being a powerful force in the world.
When it comes to focus, it is one of the simplest of the principles that we will be learning about, but also one of the most profound. We can rest assured that if we study the Word of God and allow Him to guide us, He will allow us to be with Him forever. This thought alone should keep us focused on both His warnings and on His promises.CHAPTER 2
Humility is an honest expression of meekness and submission to God. Anything else is counterfeit. Scripture tells us that only the things we do for God will last. So we must be sure we're humbling ourselves before God. All our blessings flow from positioning ourselves in humility.
This makes so much sense when you prayerfully think about it. How can we not feel humility when we contemplate the might, majesty, and holy perfection of God? Oftentimes, especially these days, people approach God far too casually, without giving the due reverence that is due to Him as Creator and sovereign Ruler of the entire universe.
Of course, it was not always this way. Back in the Old Testament, for example, when Moses encountered God's presence upon seeing the burning bush, he immediately removed his shoes, for he was now standing on "holy ground." This was indeed an act of great humility for Moses, as it signified that he was accepting God as His Lord and Savior, and he, Moses, was humbly at His service.
An even more powerful depiction of God's holiness comes to us from the prophet Isaiah. At the inception of his prophetic career, Isaiah received a stunning vision from God:
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged
Isaiah 6: 1–7 (KJV).
What was God's purpose in unveiling this dramatic scene? These verses are so rich with profound lessons. The Lord wanted to show the prophet — and through him all the people, including us — just who exactly they (we) are dealing with when calling upon God. He is called "Holy" by the heavenly creatures around His throne three times, a sign of perfection (and a reflection of the Trinity as well) that lets us know that when we come to Him in prayer, humility is absolutely the only acceptable attitude. If we give deference and loyalty to earthly rulers, how much more do we owe our most ultimate humility to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
In fact, Isaiah's humility upon seeing, firsthand, God's unequalled majesty and holiness, is so intense that he is overcome with feelings of sinfulness and inadequacy. But God immediately makes it clear that He rewards the prophet for his proper understanding of his position before God. He provides a way for Isaiah to be cleansed of his sins and made worthy of proclaiming God's messages to the people. From that point on, he became one of the most respected prophets in all the land of Israel.
Submission and humility extends to how we interact with our fellow human beings as well. It means being subject to or accountable to another person, and meekness is patience and submission. Consider this: without humility, there is no accountability or patience. Humility is much more important than most people realize. It is one of the first and foremost elements that God requires of you in order to make you whole. What's so wonderful about God's Word is that it's true and beneficial whether you believe it or not. As you seek His will through His Word, He will build your faith and your priorities will change because you will want to please Him in all that you do.
Of course, even the simple act of seeking God's will through His Word requires humility. It means accepting that whatever God tells us is correct — it is the best way. If it contradicts something that we ourselves believe, then we have a choice: either believe our own thoughts or believe what God is clearly telling us. Choosing God means choosing the path of humility. That is the path of holy obedience, regardless of how difficult that road may be.
Let me share with you a little bit of my own experience with this topic.
God blessed me with a degree of humility from an early age. But I would allow people to take advantage of my kindness when they mistook it for weakness. There always seemed to be some folks who would borrow things and wouldn't return them. Others would assign me their responsibilities and take credit for my work. Some would lie and misrepresent what I said and did. Many would come in the name of the Lord, but would say things that simply weren't true. And still others would steal vital resources from me that were painfully needed elsewhere.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you find yourself in similar circumstances, do not react with anger. Being humble and following Christ does mean holding your tongue sometimes, and having great patience. However, it does not mean you have to allow yourself to be treated like a doormat. All human beings, humble or not, deserve respect and to be treated with courtesy, so you also need to know when to stand up for yourself, and for others who are not being treated fairly. Remember we are all made in the image of God, therefore from our very conception we are due human dignity and human rights. This is a rule with no exceptions.
Getting back to my own story: although I endured these trials with feelings of hurt, grief, and pain, it was while incarcerated that I most keenly learned the power of meekness and submission. God sat me down and gave me a good understanding of His Word and will for me. After studying the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation with pen and paper in hand, He gave me an understanding and a vision for what I must do for the rest of my life here on earth.
And, yes, all of this happened while in the harsh environment of living behind the bleak walls of a prison. Godly power gave me peace in the middle of my troubles. If you want peace, ask God — then expect to receive what you ask. Cast all doubt from your heart and mind, and pray with great expectations. Do not be presumptuous about the answers — it is up to God to do as He see fits — but your duty is to know with one hundred percent certainty that whatever God decides to do, ultimately it is in your best interest and will bring great Glory to God. As we read in Romans ...
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose
Romans 8:28 (KJV).
Pray in faith for the power of the Holy Ghost. Peace is only one element of the power of the Holy Spirit that He will give you. Keep asking until you get it! Persistence is of paramount importance. Now mind you, I'm not talking about "things" but about Godly blessings. Remember to thank God for His blessings. The Bible tells us that we are to show thanksgiving in everything we do. Moreover, we show Him love when we obey Him. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments"
John 14:15 (KJV).
I exercised meekness and submission when I went about everything that I did with great patience, and with a humble attitude toward those appointed over me and, especially, toward God. I was told when I could go to the commissary, when I could go to church, when I could go to Bible study, when to bathe, brush my teeth, eat, and change my underwear, as just a few examples of how humble God enabled me to become. It was, to be sure, not always easy and not always pleasant. But because of my humility, our merciful God has blessed me even more. I learned a life-changing lesson while in prison. The message was if I could be this humble to God's creation, then I must be even more humble to God's Word. Humbling yourself to your fellow human beings, as Jesus taught through His own example, builds you up so that you are spiritually strong enough to take God's Word into your heart and know how to put yourself second, with God always out in front of you leading the way.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Principles of Life"
Copyright © 2018 Bishop Travis Roberson.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Seek God, 25,
Trust and Obey God, 51,
Holy Temple of God's Principles of Life Outreach Program, 55,