In April’s Devotional, we looked at the principles found in Hebrews We can lay aside every weight and sin that will hinder us. We can run this race of life with patience and trust in our Lord to give us strength. This month, I would like to focus on the first part of Verse 2 “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.” The Amplified Translation states it as ,”Looking away from all that will distract us to Jesus.”
Distractions are a challenge we face every day. They can happen anywhere at any time. How many of us have had a long day and we get home and just sit down to enjoy a nice quiet meal and as the first bite of food is placed on our fork, the phone rings. We quickly throw the morsel of food in our mouth and while chewing, we go to the phone and discover it is a telemarketer. Distractions. They can take place on the job. At school. While driving. In relationships such as marriage. Any place. Any time.
Distractions can be dangerous. My youngest son was on his first riding lawn mower excursion and ran the mower squarely into a tree. Why? Distraction. My grandson was enjoying one of the first driving experiences in his battery- powered truck. Wham! Into the concrete septic tank cover he goes. Why? Distraction. Okay, yes. It could be hereditary and no, I am not sharing my distraction experience with you. But I will say a mini-bike barely survived the crash.
Or maybe it is just being a young boy ? Pastor Mike’s son Justin was a young man when riding a 3 wheeler on our property. As he was joyfully riding along the next thing I know we hear a crash and as we looked his direction somehow the 3 wheeler was standing straight up on its back wheels and now a prop under a rabbit pen with Justin still making a valiant attempt to sit on the seat. Distraction? To this day I still don’t know.
One of the most serious concerns on our roads today are distractions. A high percentage of drivers today of all ages are choosing to distract themselves with a small technological instrument while operating a weighty mechanical vehicle. We often hear of casualties that result from this distraction. Yet as we drive on the roads today, we continue to witness texting and driving. Distractions are dangerous.
I am sure you have suspected by now that I am going to look at the spiritual aspect of distractions. Today, it is tempting for all of us to look away from Jesus and allow distractions to hinder our focus on Him. The connection between Hebrews 12:1 and Hebrews 12:2 reveals this truth. The only way we will lay aside the weight of worries in this life is by looking unto Jesus. The only way to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us is to look unto Jesus. The only way we can run this race of life with patience is, yes, you guessed it, to look unto Jesus. There is no one and nothing else that we can focus upon that will accomplish these things.
Some of you reading this are saying, “Amen!” because you have tried other ways and methods and they did not work. “We are complete in Christ” – Colossians 2:10. So if we know we are complete in Christ and He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, then what would be a good strategy for the enemy against us? Distraction. That was his first tool against Eve.
Serpent: “Look at that apple! Doesn’t that look good?!”
Eve : “But I am not supposed to eat it.”
Serpent:” It’s okay. Look at it! Doesn’t it look delicious?! ” Distraction.
Newton’s third law is “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I have discovered there is a spiritual law that we will face as well. “For every distraction there is an equal and opposite attraction.” Whenever I have been distracted from Jesus, much of the time it was due to the enemy placing a worldly attraction in front of me.
I suppose we could give the Accuser of the Brethren the title of The Distractor as well.
The Distractor : “Look at that apple, Wes! Doesn’t that look delicious?!”
Wes : “But I am not suppose to eat that apple.’
The Disfractor : “Yeah, but look at it! Doesn’t hurt anything to look at it. Doesn’t it look delicious ?! Distraction.
James describes the process of spiritual distraction in James 1:14, 15 (KJV). “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin. And sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.”
Where does death, spiritual death, begin? By distraction. A tempting and an enticement. The temptation and enticement is not sin, but if allowed to remain as our focus, it will quickly lead to sin and death. So what are we to do when distraction comes? James answers that in James 4:7,8. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.” Submit daily your focus upon God and resist any and all distractions from him.
In 1st Timothy 6:3-5 (KJV), Paul mentions some serious consequences that can result from being distracted from Christ. “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” If we allow ourselves to be distracted from the Truth and from Christ Who is The Truth then it will result in confusion , strife and ungodliness.
So what is Paul’s answer? Verse 5 above first instructs us to withdraw ourselves from anything that would distract us from Christ. Then Paul gives us more wisdom in Verses 11,12 – “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Flee the distractions and focus on Christ. Fight the good fight of faith. We must fight off distractions. Our spiritual health and well-being depend on the resistance toward anything that distracts us from Christ and the Kingdom.
Have there been moments you decided you were going to stop everything and sit down and meditate on God, His Word, prayer and worship, when a distraction arises? An unidentified bug crawls across the floor? You will hear a dripping sound? Your dog will bark uncontrollably? It never fails. Whenever we decide to focus on Christ, distractions will come. Kill the bug. Put a bucket under the drip. And put a muzzle on the dog. (I love dogs so don’t get angry at me.) Do what you can to focus on Christ even if it is just for a few moments.
As we close this Devotional, let’s look at David. David had experienced the tragedy of being distracted. He allowed Bathsheba to be a distraction which led to heartbreak and dire consequences. But David knew, that even after allowing distractions to take place, how to repent and run back to God. Psalms Chapter 51 is an excellent example of true repentance before God. David’s heart was broken before God due to his sin. David was grieving as he experienced that very process of distraction we saw in James Chapter 4. He was enticed. He sinned. He knew his sin would lead to death. But David knew the greatness of Gods grace and the power of Gods forgiveness. If distraction has brought you to sin, know that Gods grace is great for you and there is no challenge too big for the blood of Jesus Christ.
Look with me at another one of Davids Psalms that reveal distractions that he faced.
Psalm 57:4-6 (KJV): “My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.”
What were the distractions? In Verse 4, we see he is surrounded by lions that desire to devour him. In this case, it was people speaking evil of him and toward him. In Verse 6, we see nets that have been placed to capture him and entangle him. In Verse 6 as well, we see there are hidden pits dug for him to fall into. All distractions as he fights the good fight of faith.
So what does he do? Psalm 57:7-11 (KJV) – “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.”
He fixes his heart on God. He remains focused on God’s strength and mercy to take him past every distraction. He gets the instruments out and praises his God. He sings. He exalts. He focuses on God in worship. Do not allow anything or anyone to disfract you from praise and worship of your God, but instead use praise and worship to take you through every distraction. Fix your heart on God. Look away from all that will distract you to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.
So do you have any disfractions in your life hindering your relationship with Christ? Fix your heart on Him. Let’s focus on Christ together and see what He has in store for us.
With a fixed heart on Christ, Pastor Wes