I have a bright LED flashlight that can light up a tree a hundred meters or more down the road, or illuminate a space all around me. The difference is focus. My flashlight has a focus ring I use to produce a broad beam that covers a large area, or a tightly focused beam that bypasses closer objects to show something farther away. The amount of light we produce, and how much it illuminates those in our lives, is a product of our focus. Some people light up a room when they enter, and some darken it with their presence. Again, the difference in our impact on people flows out of our ability to focus. And not just focus in the general sense, but knowing what to focus on, and deliberately choosing to focus for maximum results.
How focused are you? Are you aware of your impact on people around you? What could you do today to improve your focus? Are you focused on the right things? How do you know?
There was a woman who lived about 3000 years ago whose story is a great example of how what you focus on can change your life. This idea of focus, of concentrating your efforts on a limited range of activity, may even save your life, and the lives of your family members.
2 Kings 4:1 (NKJV) A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.”
This woman is believed by many to be the wife of Obadiah, Ahab’s steward. Obadiah rescued and provided food for 100 prophets of the Lord when Jezebel tried to kill them all (see 1 Kings 1 18:1-16). If so, Obadiah may have borrowed money to feed the prophets he hid in caves from Jezebel. When Obadiah died still owing money, the creditor came to enslave the two sons of Obadiah to pay off his debt.
Notice the woman’s point of focus. She cried out to Elisha, the senior and most well-known prophet of his day. She was not thinking about her dead husband, even though she may have been grieving deeply for him. She was not focused on the debt she could not pay. She was not even looking at the possible loss of her children, as painful and fearful as that would have been having just lost her husband. She was looking at the source of her solution without knowing what the solution was. Her focus was on the answer not the problem.
Elisha represented God to the people. He carried the Word of the Lord. God spoke to His prophets who then instructed kings. This woman knew that her answer must come from God. Her husband had feared the Lord greatly (1 Kings 3:3,12) so she at least knew about the Lord and most likely loved and obeyed Him like her husband had. I believe it may have been the Lord who directed her to contact Elisha about her situation. If so, her focus on the Lord in the midst of a gut-wrenching trial of her faith opened a door for her deliverance. Can you see how your focus affects your results?
Having lost her husband, faced with enslavement of her children, overwhelmed by the burden of her husband’s debt, this woman concentrated her efforts on deliverance. She is not recorded as whining or complaining. She is not noted as being depressed or blaming God or blaming her husband. She is not said to be angry or bitter toward her husband or toward God, even though it looks like she very well could have been all of these.
2 Kings 4:2 (NKJV) So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”
Faith needs a focal point to work. Her cry to Elisha got his attention but did not include anything he could attach his faith to. I believe she knew by the Lord she needed to contact Elisha, but that the Lord did not tell her what Elisha was going to do for her. She focused on what the Lord told her to do. This focus brought her into the focus of one of the most effective prophets who ever lived. His focus on her plight drew the power of God out of heaven into her kitchen and produced supernatural provision and deliverance from bondage.
Can you see how your focus on the right thing positions you for greater things? Even while experiencing pain and loss and rejection we must remain focused on the Word of the Lord. When we do not have a specific revealed Word from God, focus on the other Words He has already said to all of us (the Bible). When we choose to focus on the right things, we are in position to become the focus of someone who can catapult us out of our current predicament into abundance and freedom. When we do not focus strategically, we are not ready for the better state the Lord is trying to get us to believe Him for.
Elisha needed something to use to produce a miracle. God may have told him a certain woman was going to contact him, and when she did he needed to ask her about her situation. It is vital to learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit! This woman was impoverished to the point of having no food left in her home. She had no stocks or bonds, no savings, no income. She had some cooking oil, and her faith. Her focus leveraged her tiny assets into freedom for her entire family.
2 Kings 4:3 (NKJV) Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few.
This is a pivotal point in our story. The woman’s focus attracted the attention of the prophet. His faith (we could say-his focus on the Lord in response to her cry) attracted the Word of the Lord to him, which he shared with the woman. This is the crux of the matter. If the woman hears and obeys the Word of the Lord, she is set on the path of righteousness which leads to life (Prov 12:28, 11:19, John 14:6). If she ignores this Word from God, she is consigned to bondage and debt indefinitely. It is important to remain focused on the right things and to shift our focus according to the Word of the Lord whenever He reveals it to us.
Elisha told this woman to borrow “not just a few” vessels. He was stretching her vision to see something much bigger than she thought possible. He was encouraging her to press through the limitations of her faith. It is wonderful to have faith and to live by faith, but what if your faith is not big enough to accomplish God’s plan for you? I can assure you we are all lacking enough faith to believe God for everything He wants to give us! I think Elisha knew by the Holy Spirit that this woman could not see enough of God’s provision. That’s why he instructed her to borrow more vessels than she would have if he had not told her to borrow many. Thank God she believed the Word from God!
2 Kings 4:4 (NKJV) And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.”
Having received the Word of the Lord and acted on what you know to do, there is still a need to focus. Hearing and obeying are key steps, but if we wander in our hearts we may not see the manifestation of the magnificent supernatural blessing God has reserved for us. God told her to gather as many vessels as she could, then to come into her home, shut the door, and begin pouring oil into all those empty vessels. Some of us hear the Word, then fail to “come in”. This could mean we keep looking for more vessels when it is now time to pour. Some of us endlessly take training, start courses without completing them, instead of closing the books and starting the work we are called to do. There is a time to stop gathering vessels (which is right and appropriate in response to the Word in this story) and to start working!
After “coming in” she was told to “shut the door”. That sounds strange doesn’t it? When was the last time you came home from work or school and came into your apartment or home, and left the door open? Who does that? Yet, that was what she was told to do. I think it is another way of saying “Stay focused!” There is a point in our “working out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12) where we need to “shut the door” to all distractions and focus entirely on obeying the Lord. I believe the woman’s faith may have been wavering (I know my faith certainly does!) and she needed to stay focused on the instructions. It also shows us all how important it is to prevent other things from interfering with our obedience. We must choose to “shut the door”. We must say no to opportunities which conflict with our obedience to the Word of God. We must refuse to commit to things that take up our time and resources and leave us tired and no longer focused on the Word of our deliverance.
2 Kings 4:5 (NKJV) So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.
Shut the door then pour. Shut the door, then pour. Do not pour until you have shut all the doors! Again, this speaks to an intense focus on the specific steps we must follow to bring about the blessing God yearns to give us. So far, this woman’s focus has shifted from God to Elisha to borrowing vessels to pouring. She could not have got this close to her freedom if she had lost her focus at any moment. How many Christians missed their blessing and deliverance simply because they allowed their focus to move?
Shut the door then pour is the specific step we must get to produce our miracle. Selling the oil is easy when your house is full of brimming vessels of oil. All the pain and loss and heartbreak fades away as you do the exact thing God has been trying to get you to do. He has always known what we must do, and the prophets of our lives (our parents, our teacher, our boss, our spouse, our spiritual leaders) may know what we must do. The trouble is, we usually don’t know what to do! May I suggest, again, the reason we don’t know what to do at any given moment could be traced back to a loss of focus on the right things. Being focused brings you into position for greater things. Those greater things are usually not apparent until we get to the point of shutting the door and pouring. And we cannot get there if we are focused on inappropriate things earlier on.
2 Kings 4:6 (NKJV) Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased.
The amount of grace (insert whatever you need-power-blessing-money-healing-salvation-wisdom-forgiveness-mercy) you can receive from the Lord in response to your faith is limited by how many empty vessels you have gathered. The supernatural flow of oil is not restricted by God’s supply. It is restricted by how much you can believe Him for. Your focus on the right things during those dark dreary times is preparing empty vessels for the Lord to fill whenever you can see it and believe Him for it. When her faith for vessels ran out, she couldn’t find any more vessels to borrow. When her faith for oil ran out, the flow of oil stopped. In other words, God is always able to supply infinitely but the manifestation is always framed by our faith. God stops pouring into us whenever our faith stops working for more. This is another example of how important focus is in walking by faith.
2 Kings 4:7 (NKJV) Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”
I am impressed by how she kept in touch with the prophet after he told her what to do. She did not set up her Ebay store to sell the oil until she consulted with the spiritual authority figure God had placed in her life. Staying connected to authority and staying submitted to authority are critical elements to seeing the plan of God come to pass in your life. I have seen many people receive a word from God but never bring it into being. My friends, God does not ever give a word He will not bring to pass! The reason those people did not bring the word to pass is they were not submitted to authority. They were focused on other things. Even if they knew what to do, they did not focus on it. This woman reporting back to Elisha that his word had been realized shows she is connected to him and submitted to him. This is another way of saying she was connected to the Lord, and remained submitted to Him even after the blessing started to materialize.
Her focus on the instructions meant she still didn’t know what to do after she filled her kitchen with filled vessels of oil. Elisha’s last word to her was to “set aside the full ones” in verse 4. She understood that her obedience had produced a spectacular miracle, but she still had to remain focused on the right things. Once she completed the known instructions, she reported the results to the prophet. That is when we see the happy ending God always offers to anyone who will dare to trust Him and obey him. It was only by staying focused on the right thing at the right time that she arrived at the place of having enough resources to “pay all debts and live on the balance”.
Obadiah’s legacy may have been lost if his sons had been enslaved by debt. His wife could not support herself in the patriarchal culture of her day. Yet, simply focusing consistently on the right things brought about divine intervention and freedom.
I encourage you to focus on God’s Word. Focus so intently you have no time for anything else. As you focus and search for answers, I promise you He will reveal Himself to you. For those of you who have been blessed already by a word from the Lord, are you still focused on it? If it has not manifested it is because you have shifted your focus to something else. If you are still focused on that promise be patient and wait on the Lord. He is preparing room in your spirit for you to believe Him for something much bigger than what you see as you read this article. Your decision to focus on the right things will yield amazing stories of blessing. I believe those stories will be recorded in the God’s ongoing Book of the Acts of His people. Go write your story!
Prayer for Repentance and Salvation.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Saviour, I invite you to ask Him into your heart. If you knew the Lord but have not been hungering for Him I invite you to consider your ways and repent. He is faithful and righteous to wipe your slate clean when you confess your sin to Him! (1 John 1:9)
1 John 1:9 (NASB95) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
He gave His life for you, and you honour Him when you give your life for Him. It is the right thing to do!
1 Corinthians 6:20 (AV) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
You must give yourself to God for Him to come into your life and help you change. He will not force you! Ever. But oh! The joy and peace and hope He gives you!
Romans 12:1–2 (NKJV) 1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 10:9 (NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
You must acknowledge Jesus Christ is Lord, and you must believe He was resurrected from the dead by the Father.
Say this prayer out loud.
Heavenly Father I turn to you and acknowledge You as the Almighty God, eternal and sovereign over all. I have been rebellious, selfish, and deceived trying to live without you. I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross to redeem me from death and sin, and that He rose from the dead, alive forever with You. I ask you to forgive me of all my sin, known and unknown. Please come into my life as my Lord and my Saviour. Thank you for forgiving me, and redeeming me from sin. I choose to trust You and put You first in every area of my life. I will love You and serve You with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my resources, for the rest of my life, beginning right now. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!
If you prayed this to the Lord, please let me know! I have some resources to share with you, and will help you on your journey with the Lord.