"Then some Jews came...and won the crowd over and they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead....But after the disciples gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. THE NEXT DAY, he and Barnabus left for Derbe...continuing to preach the gospel." Acts 14:20
How did Paul keep going? He was stoned and people actually believed he was dead. This story almost sounds impossible.
I have been reading the If:EQUIP daily bible devotions and listening to the commentaries. Today's verses convicted me greatly. The last question on the devotion was : "What keeps us from persevering like Paul?" I instantly knew my answer to this question. It's called the 3 d's. I think I heard them from Beth Moore a long time ago but I cannot remember honestly. I thought about these in Ohio often when life and ministry was just plain hard. The 3 D's are distraction, discouragement, and despair. I would find myself bouncing around from one to the other, partly due to my flesh and the fact that I am melancholy by nature and partly because this is the enemy's scheme for the believer's life. If the enemy of my soul can keep me distracted with something that's fun or worthless, can keep me discouraged by discontentment or negative circumstances, or keep me in despair about a situation, I am worthless for the kingdom of God.
This morning I was thinking about the opposite of those three words. The opposite of distraction is focus. May I focus today "on the prize." May I "set my mind on things above and not on things of this earth." The opposite of discouragement is encouragement which can be found by me spending time with the Lord, purposefully in prayer and in His word. And the opposite of despair is joy. The amazing part of the christian life is that Joy is always possible. Joy may not always look like happiness because it is not happiness; it is gladness knowing that no matter what happens in life, God is with me and is working for my good.
Paul definitely was not living distracted, or in discouragement or despair. This scripture is an amazing example of this truth. Paul, though thought to be stoned to death, got up and went back into the city and the next day continued on in his work for the Lord. May I not let distraction, discouragement or despair have their place in my life but may I stay focused, encouraged, and joyful as life out the good works God has planned for me long before I was born. Only by His grace....