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Have you ever been called upon to explain your misbehavior? I remember being in grade school and Sister Susie (changed to protect her identity) poked me in the head to turn around and pay attention. I was humiliated by her actions, but I have no recollection of what distracted me in the back of the room. My lack of attention to her teaching upset her.
One common thread in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is to give God the greatest respect and obey Him by keeping His commandments.
The writer of Ecclesiastes said it this way,
The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you. And that’s it. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 MSG).
From the beginning of time, people have gotten off course from following God’s commandments and paying attention to what He says is important. In Galatians 1, the Apostle Paul admonishes believers for getting distracted from the true teachings of Christ and believing a distorted version of the Gospel:
“I can’t believe how you waver—how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing an alternative message!” (Galatians 1:6).
In his passion for them to understand the seriousness of their ways and why he cares so much about the true Gospel message, Paul says,
“Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or court favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:10-12).
Pleasing the Lord made all the difference for Paul and he wanted the same for the Galatians. He poked them on the back of their heads with his strong words to get them to pay attention to the true Gospel message. We can all benefit from the reminder to focus on Christ regardless of life's challenges.
Let us pray:
Father God, touch our hearts so that our desire is to please You alone. Give us all the fortitude needed to run our races in a manner that honors you. Teach us to hide Your Word in our hearts like David, and not sin against you. May the truth of the Gospel burn within us. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen!
Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
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