A Proper Focus – Week 1:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24

The new year is already upon us, and it’s time to prepare for the rest of 2015.

We ended this past year discussing Advent and how it prepared us to focus on the coming of Christ during the Christmas season. And this focus allowed for growth in our relationship with Him and with each other in our marriages. Prayerfully, Advent helped you have a more meaningful Christmas season and helped you grow closer together in Christ as a couple.

A Determined Focus

As Sabra shared in her last post, we spent some time praying about this new year and discussing plans we believe God is leading us toward in 2015. Included in those plans was to choose one word that would serve as a theme for the year. And we chose the word FOCUS. We want our lives and our marriage to be more focused on the Lord in every area and to grow closer to Him through what He will teach us.

Sabra explains more about the one word concept and has included “9 Ways to Make the Most of Your One Word for the Year”– a free printable—in this post. This tool can be helpful, especially if you’ve never chosen a word before and are not sure what to do with it. The one word concept is merely one way to stay open to what the Lord has to teach us. What’s important is to focus on God’s Word and learn to apply it to our lives.

Light focus
We have no control over what circumstances and situations we will face in the next twelve months. But whether we experience the highest highs or lowest lows or something in-between, what we focus on in the midst of those situations can build us up or break us apart.

Focusing on the Rock

My Couple’s Bible Study teachings this month will cover this concept of focus. And I think the Lord has given me a wonderful way to discuss the importance of focus in our lives. Since we just finished our study of the birth of Jesus, why not continue a study of His life and teachings and how they apply to our marriages?

In our Advent study, one of the key passages we covered was from the book of Matthew. So this month we will continue in this book, looking past the story of Jesus’ birth and the earliest events of His life.

At the end of Matthew 3 and into chapter 4, we see the beginning of Jesus’ adult life and public ministry. We are told there about His baptism by John, His temptation by Satan, His calling the first of the twelve disciples, and the beginning of His healing and teaching ministry.

The first specific teaching of Jesus is found in Matthew 5-7. This is typically called “The Sermon on the Mount,” because Matthew introduced this teaching in 5:1-2 with these words: “Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them…”

The rest of this month, we will look at some of the key ideas Jesus gave to His followers as He begins His ministry and as His followers also begin theirs.These are key commands He gives to us, His followers today, as well. They are intended to teach us how to live the Christ-like life as we obey His words…as believers, and as husbands and wives.

Jesus concludes His initial teaching with this story in Matthew 7:24-27:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Jesus’ meaning here is clear. The foundation on the rock is found when we listen to, learn from, and obey these teachings–when we focus all of our lives on the Lord and His ways. This solid foundation will lead us to be more Christ-like men and women. Our lives will be more meaningful, and we will have stronger marriages. Marriages that show the world the love of Christ. Marriages that demonstrate the relationship Christ wants to have with us, His Church (see Ephesians 5:21-33). Marriages that are full of love and joy. Marriages that glorify God.

focus on rock
The other foundation—the sandy one—is where we build our house when we ignore these teachings of Jesus. When we don’t take time to learn His ways and put them into practice, cracks start forming in our lives and in our marriages. Things may go along okay for a while, but when the rain comes—the challenges of this life—the house starts falling apart. The foundation is too weak, and soon the house is destroyed.

When our focus is on the things of this world, we build our lives and marriages upon a weak foundation. Only when we place our focus on the Rock—Jesus Christ—can we have the strong foundation that will hold a marriage together through the worst of storms.

So this year, let’s protect our marriages by keeping a proper focus. As we keep our eyes on Christ, He will keep our marriages from falling apart. A focus on Him will bring us closer to His likeness and closer to each other. And wouldn’t that be an amazing year?

Questions to Ask Yourself

      • Looking at your marriage, how strong would you say the foundation is–more like a solid rock or like shifting sand?
      • Do you most often focus on the things of this world or the things of God?
      • If you determined to place your focus more on God this year, how do you think it would affect your life and marriage?
      • What specifically has held your focus during the past year? What do you think about and spend most of your time on?

Suggestions for Applying This to Your Life

      • Pray, asking God to show you where you are focusing on the wrong things.
      • Choose to spend more time in God’s Word, seeking to know Him better and learn His ways.
      • When you see a command of God, follow it. Don’t make excuses. Just do it.
      • Consider choosing one word to focus on this year. Think of areas you struggle with or some quality of God you need to grow in. Pray about it and ask God to guide you. Follow some of the suggestions in “9 Ways to Make the Most of Your One Word for the Year.”
      • Spend a weekly time together (see Couple Connect) to study and discuss God’s Word and talk about ways you can apply what you are learning.

Join us in these Christ-focused teachings during January as we learn what Jesus has to say about how to build a marriage that is strong and lasting. A marriage that honors and glorifies God and is filled with love and joy and peace.

May God bless you in all His wonderful ways,


Other posts in A PROPER FOCUS series:
Part 2–The Better Way to a Better Marriage
Part 3–How to Have Peace and Contentment
Part 4–The Best Way to Deal with Problems in Marriage

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Header photo by Hans via pixabay (CC0), cropped, text added.
Cross photo by STVIOD via pixabay (CC0), text added.

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.