Have you ever felt like your life is distracted or scattered? That your best laid plans for the day are often routed by some type of distraction, mishap, unplanned visit, problem, or even catastrophe. Life is busy with many responsibilities and then even more challenges come our way. Add to those, our greatest responsibility in life is our relationship with God and service to Him. How do we do it all? Are we able to keep in focus as we should? It can be daunting.
Paul shows us that it can be done. In Acts 16:16 - 17:10 we see how that even in his life, he was able to keep God first while dealing with a great number of problems and unforeseen challenges. In verse 16 we see a demon is cast out of a woman. Paul and Silas have a great day, right? But then, in verses 22 and 23, they are beaten and whipped and in verses 24-25 they are thrust deep into a prison and locked in the stocks. I guess it wasn’t as great a day as we thought.
But wait, God blesses and they are released from the prion miraculously and then they even win the jail keeper and his whole family to the Lord - great day. Then they travel to Thessalonica, preach for three weeks and a lot of people get saved. Things seem to be on track and God is working, right? But then in Acts 17:5 we see lewd fellows enter in, and the end of it results in Paul and Silas leaving in the middle of night, running for their lives.
You know, life is going to have ups and downs - life is going to back and forth - but our focus on God must remain no matter if it is a "mountain top" or even a "valley." If we expect to do a work for God, raise a family for Him and bring the Lord honor and glory – and meet the challenges that often come – God must be the focus and center of it all for us as well.
Learn to love Him above all. Love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – and the way we show that love – the way this world can see this relationship I have with God – is by investing ourselves in the lives of others by showing them God’s love for them as well (Mark 12:29-31). That is how Paul and Silas did it and that is how they showed that wonderful love of God through their lives even though they were often confounded, distracted, and sidetracked with problems. He made the statement in Acts 20:24:
24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul and Silas were able to bring glory to God and not allow their busy and often side-tracked lives get them off focus that God's business was always their first business. God remained the first love of their lives.
May God help and use us to do the same!
- Pastor Mark Sage