All devotionals have been edited by Sarah Stiles.
Read 2 Cor. 6:6-10; Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:1-3
I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike (Acts 26:22-23).
What comes to mind when someone says the name, “Apostle Paul”? Maybe the image of an older boisterous man gallivanting around the outskirts of the Mediterranean? Or perhaps you think more along the lines of his accomplishments, such as authoring thirteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books?
Examining his life, we can conclude that Paul was not an easily-distracted person. He endured betrayal, beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, snake bites, imprisonments, and consistent harassments. Yet nothing could throw him off course (see 2 Cor. 11:23-28). He was determined to reach the known world with the Gospel.
Take, for example, the final minute of Paul’s appeal to King Agrippa. In this appeal for his release from prison, he turns to make an appeal for belief in Christ! Though he had been asked to give a defense for himself, he argues more for the Messiah. Could nothing deter him from speaking about the Christ? In true Pauline fashion, he seizes the opportunity to witness to the influential king and those listening: “But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike” (Acts 26:22-23 NLT). At this point in the appeal, Festus yells that Paul is insane. Paul denies this and then Agrippa chimes in: “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?” Agrippa felt the push Paul was making—not one towards his own personal freedom, but one towards Christ. Interrupted and slanderously accused, Paul doesn’t miss a beat: “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains” (v. 29). How different would our world look if people focused on the goal that matters: to know Christ and to make Him known?
Where is your focus? When life and lies from the enemy knock you off the course of following the Messiah, do you remain off track, or do you find that Christ is soon back at the forefront of your decisions? Like a car whose steering wheel pulls to the right due to faulty wheel alignment, so is the distracted believer whose thoughts pull towards self. Where does your mind veer? Distraction is a modern-day tool of the enemy. People, problems, and expectations will consume our thoughts, but we must make sure we filter all through the lens of the resurrected Christ. Paul did.
Is your time being spent for the cause of the resurrected Christ or for the cause of having an empty email inbox, a couple thousands Instagram followers, a polished car, a polished family? Track this currency of time for a week and see when and where the resurrected Christ appears.
Neither distraction nor bitterness nor disappointed expectations dragged Paul from his goal to “teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead” (Acts 26:22-23).
Let’s focus on reaching the end of each day with peace and the knowledge that today we made Him known and got to know Him a little better ourselves. The author of Hebrews says it well: “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2 NLT).
Others need to hear what you already know—that there is hope and life in this messy world, and it’s found in the resurrected Christ. Stand on your platform and rid it of unnecessary distractions with fixed eyes on Jesus.
Are your eyes fixed on the resurrected Jesus?