May 05, 2024 • Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross


During the Oscars, one actor was giving his acceptance speech and said he needs three things that every single day 1. Something to look up 2. Something to look forward to and 3 something to chase. While he doesn't use the same language, I think each of these individually and collective give him focus. I want to argue today, it's not just helpful for the actor, but focusing is an essential element to our faith. It is vital to how we experience and grow in our faith. Can I prove it? (Bring me out of focus). Did you notice anything? Doesn’t really matter what I say does it? Because it’s hard for you to follow without focus. You know that something is off because I’m out of focus. You are wondering when Im coming come back into focus? (Bring me back). Its a question many people are asking. Because somewhere along they way they lost it.

We go in and out of focus. Busy, but not focused. Lost sight of who it is we are looking up to, don't know what it is we are looking forward to and can't really say what it is we are really chasing.

Think of how often the Bible alludes to our need to focus.

• The first commandment was about where we place our focus "You shall have no other gods before Me.”

• Someone asked Jesus later on what was the greatest law and Jesus said. Love the Lord with all of your heart. Soul, and mind. That’s about focus.

• Jesus said in the Gospel of John, If I be lifted up, ill draw all men and women unto me.

• Even Paul talks about forgetting those things which are behind him and pressing on toward the mark which is in Christ Jesus.

We especially see this in our text as we meet on the The Mountain of Temptation. If you go to Israel today, it’s where they believed Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days. Here’s a picture my wife took last year when she went to Israel. (Slide).

So how did we get here?

Well it’s safe to say we didn’t get here by accident. In Matthew chapter 3, Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan River. And God proclaims at that moment, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” There is the verbal affirmation of who he is and what he is called to do. In that moment he's given something to look up to, something to look forward to and something to chase. It provided clarity. It brought his life into focus. But rest assured, there will always be things that test and challenge our focus. Sometimes the temptation is not a loss faith, but a loss of focus.

It's here that Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit and is tempted three times. Each time was an attempt to not rob him of his faith, but to rob him of his focus. He gets this moment of clarity and then their is an attempt to discredit and bring all of what he heard out of focus. “If you really are the Son of God, turn this bread into stone.” Then he was taken to the highest point of the temple. It was a very public place and again was tempted, If you are the son of God throw yourself down, because you know the angels will save you. If you do this, He could have all the fame he would ever want! Then he was taken to the mountain and he could see for miles, all of that would be his if you just turned the focus of your worship away from. Wasn't about faith but focus. Each temptation was invitation for him to shift his focus. It was an opportunity for him to take his attention off of what God had already revealed to him and already told him. And sometimes we learn this the hard way, because whatever keeps our attention eventually holds our devotion. This world is filled with things fighting for your attention. Let me ask this, What are your major distractions? What's holding your attention? Are their things in your life that are causing you to shift your focus away from things that are important to your faith? So let’s take a closer look at this link between faith and focus.

Start with this question. How do we lose focus?

Listen to how subtle the conversation is. It's almost seems informal. Friendly. Persuasive. Couched in casual conversation. No fan fare. No overtly destructive requests. Turn stone into bread. Let’s angels care for you. Just bow down while no is is looking. These don’t even seem like major shifts! Things Jesus could easily done with no problem! And that’s the point!!! That’s how we lose focus. That's how it happens. No one wakes up with the intention of no longer focusing on God. No one says, I am no longer going to focus on my family! I am officially shifting my focus away from the promises of God to the temporary pleasures of this world. No one! That’s not how it happens.

A book called mission drift explains this regression really well. It talks about how organizations get distraction from their purpose but listen to the language and pay attention for the diverse ways this can be applied.

“Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission. Slow, silently, with little fanfare, organizations routinely drift from their original purpose, and most will never return to their original intent…..Mission Drift unfolds slowly. Like a current, it carries organizations away from their core purpose and identity. The natural course-the unfortunate natural evolution of many originally Christ -centered missions-is to drift.”

This doesn't just apply to organizations. It applies to people. It applies to relationships. It applies to friendships. It applies to our faith journeys. Their is this subtle current or drift that happens to our focus. It happens slowly, silently with little fan fare. Turn these stones into bread just this once. Bow down while no one is looking. Slowly, our focus shifts. We move further away from the calling and expectations God has on our lives. It’s not just a Mission drift. But its purpose drift. Integrity drift. Meaning drift. Love drift. Calling drift. It’s so subtle that by the time we realize it,

we are far from where God desires us to be. Every so often we have ask ourselves, "Where could I be drifting?"

But look at Jesus’ responses. With every invitation to shift his focus, Jesus just moves the focus back to what's important and zooms in on what he knows to be true.

With every temptation, Jesus pulls out a tool that every believer must have! (Pull out magnifying glass). This is just something that helps makes things larger. Helps us zoom in. Jesus chooses to magnify countering perspectives stemming from Gods word. Remember he’s been in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. And if Jesus is truly fully divine and human, hunger and thirst have already set it. Maybe the need to validate who he was to people that would doubt him is starting to creep into his mind. He could zoom in on his hunger. Or zoom in on the people that will never believe. Or zoom in on the people that will never buy in. Or he could zoom in on what what he doesn’t have. He can chose what’s get magnified and made larger. Hunger or Gods word? Fame or God's word? Power or Gods word? Isn’t that what we do when we magnify things in our lives. We get to chose what what we magnify (slide) we get to choose where we zoom.

Let's be honest, when we are hungry, without, when we start to question or doubt, we magnify all the wrong things. Think about if 30 people gave you a compliment, we hold magnify or zoom in on the one negative comment we received. If someone has a gift or opportunity that we don't, we zoom on everything we don't have as opposed to ways we've been blessed. Something doesn't work out, so we zoom in on that one failure or that one mistake instead all the things that flourishing. What’s getting magnified?

Here’s the good news. You get to chose. You get to chose what you magnify? You get to choose the narrative that is magnified in our lives. We get choose what gets our attention.


I learned a hard lesson as father. When we first came here our kids were little. Well they are not so little any more. Now they opinions. Now they expectations. But, when my kids were little they would do things and say,"dad watch me." And they would do these simple dances or acrobatic moves and my job was to watch them do it 100 times and act impressed. I thought they had grown out of this until I was watching one them at soccer practice one day. Remember this is practice, not a game. This is practice! Not a game. So I slowly drifted to doing emails while I was on was on the sidelines Thought I could at least make good use of my time. Until this young soccer player came over during her water break and asked was I going to watch practice or stay on my phone the whole time. The audacity! I got defensive. These emails make sure we can afford all these activities. But then it just hit me.. all she was asking me to was focus on her for the next hour and 15 min. What or who is desperate need of your attention today?

There's one person many of us never focus on. Remember he’s been here 40 days and 40 night….duly human. Fully divine. And we learn that after Jesus was tempted something happens. It says the angels came and ministered to him. In fact some translation say that the angels came and cared for him. This is going to make a lot of us uncomfortable.

Throughout Jesus life, we have countless examples of him ministering and caring for other people. Jesus cared for the sick. Jesus cared for the outcast. Jesus cared for people that no one else cared about. Jesus for tax collectors. Jesus cared for sinners. Jesus cared for the Samaritans, Jesus

cared for for people that everyone else had given up on. People would call out his name by the side of the road and he would care for them. They brought to Jesus a woman they were about stone but he cares and ministers to her.

Mathew gives us an interesting view of Jesus' life. Before he cares for them he allows others to care for him. (Here) This is the hardest thing for many of us to focus on. You focus on everybody else but you…. You focus on the church, you focus on the job, you focus on the kids, you focus on the needs of your community, parents, spouse, you focus on everybody else. But who cares for you? Who do allow to care for you (Slides). Sometimes you have to zoom in on your own care and allow others to minister to you. Do u let people focus on you?

End this sermon as angels today. As Pastor Rob and Susan begin their assent at the base camp of my Everest, we are going to take a moment to call on the angels to care and minister to them. We hope that while they scale their own mountains that this would be a time for them to focus on 1. Who is it they are looking up to. 2. Focus on what they have to look forward to. 3 And what you might be calling them to chase in this next season. So we are going to invite Gus up to lead us in a word of prayer.