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eye on the prize

By Danielle Nason
June 25, 2020

Passages of the day: Click HERE ​to read today’s passages.

2 Kings 8:1-9:13
Acts 16:16-40
Psalm 143:1-12
Proverbs 17:26

If you’re any good at poker, you know that the key to winning the game is really by playing the people, not the cards. Confession: I’m no good at poker, BUT, one of my most favorite things to watch….is late night poker. #guilty. It’s just so juicy! When you watch a game of high stakes professional poker on TV, you, the audience, get to see all cards held by the players and then you get to watch…..everything! Facial and hand ticks, expressions, tells, puffed up bids, deceit- it’s all there and leading up to a quick win or loss with sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake with every hand!!

What’s my point? Poker players understand that the key to winning is avoiding being distracted by what’s directly in front of them (the cards), but rather, keeping their focus intense and burning on what’s important to win- the people sitting at the table, in this case.

The volume setting on worldly voices has been growing increasingly louder since shelter in place with no relief in sight as deaths, looting and rioting have flooded our news and media channels. Provocative rhetoric and demands have caused many leaders to resign their posts under the pressure of the collective. Now, more than ever, we need to seek and stay laser-focused on God and His voice.

We can take comfort that this scene is not new! In Acts 16, we see Paul and Silas are brought to the magistrates (governing leadership of the time) and the people accuse them saying in verse 20: “these men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city.” Their ethnicity becomes part of the rhetoric used to stir up the leadership against them. Jews were uncommon in this region and weren’t well-liked because of their differences in lifestyle and insistence on following one true God. In verse 22, the mob gets louder and more violent until finally the magistrates were so overwhelmed that they tore their clothes and commanded a rod-beating on Paul and Silas to appease the people.

So how did Paul and Silas react? After being thrown into the inner prison (the most secure part), at midnight they could be found worshipping the Lord, singing songs of praise! The rest of the chapter explains a great earthquake shook all of the prison doors open and loosened all of the prisoner’s shackles. A prison guard and his family were baptized and saved for God’s kingdom and our apostle protagonists are released peacefully.

What’s important to note, is that Paul and Silas didn’t give into the crowd as they grew ever-louder around them and used ethnic slang to provoke them. They didn’t lash out pridefully against leadership or others trying to prove their point. No. They saw what was physically in front of them, their hands in shackles for example, and they looked UP to a God who was still very much in control and desiring to give them the win.

Brothers and sisters, let me encourage you to not live in fear of the voices growing louder. In worship, praise and prayer, we can fight these battles. And when we keep our eyes on Jehovah, we can trust that a faithful God who loves us, wants to deliver us a win. Continue to submit and release everything to Him. Keep your eyes on the prize.

To memorize:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

— Psalm 143:8

Prayer to start with: Lord, you are the Master Craftsman, the Lover of my soul. You know all my worries and concerns. Forgive me Father for holding those from You and for getting distracted by voices that are not Yours. Help me hear you and stay focused on You only. Help me speak only Your words. Help me be a Kingdom Ambassador and I trust in You to be faithful in all your promises. Amen.