Focus; January 17, 2023

Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Paul and Barnabas and those who received their message had just experienced good things and bad things. Many people had believed the Gospel and been saved, and jealous opposition had kicked up to the point that Paul and Barnabas left town. At this point, both Paul and Barnabas and those who had believed had a choice: rejoice at God’s blessings, or be down because of the opposition. They chose to rejoice! We are all faced with the same sort of choices all the time. There is no life without problems, and there is no one to whom God is not gracious. At issue is our focus, where we choose to fix our attention. This past Sunday I spoke on how no one could take away the apostles’ joy once they had seen their risen Lord and understood that since He had conquered death, everything else was less than that and they had absolutely nothing to worry about. Of the people in this immediate story, only Paul had seen Jesus, and that was in a vision. Like us, they had to accept God’s plan of salvation by faith. They did that, and they were filled not only with joy but with the Holy Spirit. We sometimes desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit and forget to be joyful. That shows our focus is off! When our spiritual gaze is fixed on the King of kings, the Lord of lords who loves us, then all the ”slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” don’t matter a hill of beans! And that awareness opens us up to be filled and used by the Holy Spirit. That’s not to say that we are to be naïve or stupid, but it is to say that we aren’t to despair and think that God doesn’t have a way out of whatever mess we find ourselves in.

I think I am further along in this than many people I encounter, but that doesn’t mean I’m fully there yet. I get down too! I too need to be reminded to lift my eyes to my loving Lord, recognizing and rejoicing in His gracious love and responding with the obedience that comes from my loving Him. (John 14:15) The devil tries to trick me into focusing on things of this world, either my flesh or negative things in general, and he never lets up. I am indeed to submit to God and resist the devil, just as James told us. (James 4:7) I’m not to be a Pollyanna, always smiles and ignoring evil, but I am also never to forget that in Christ I have already overcome anything and everything the devil can throw at me. (Romans 8:37) Joy and the Holy Spirit are always available to me, and I am to choose to receive them.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the various ways You are growing me. Help me use every moment of today to do Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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