Distraction and Misdirection

One of the greatest challenges aspiring Overcomers must deal with is the subtlety of distraction and misdirection. I can attest to you that looking back over my lifetime I have fallen victim to these insidious twins many times. The adversary uses both of these tools to deceive us and render our gifts and callings ineffective.

How many of us have been on a wild goose chase? We assumed that we were suppose to go down a particular path because it was so appealing to our flesh and we went under the auspices of our calling. We looked for a sign to support our decision and of course a sign was easily provided to support our assumption and desire. What we failed to do was to ask Our Heavenly Father AND hear HIS response concerning the decision to proceed. Am I the only one who failed to do this?

Let us look at the Apostle Paul’s first missionary journey tied to his calling. Paul had spent fourteen years after his conversion in preparation for his calling (Gal 2:1). The number fourteen being a multiple of seven, partakes of its significance; and, being double that number, implies a double measure of spiritual perfection. Fourteen times in the Book of Proverbs the expression occurs "the fear of the Lord" which implies that as we reach spiritual perfection we will truly operate in the fear of the Lord. There is nothing disclosed about those years other than the time frame mentioned by Paul himself. During that time, he was still known as Saul, this name means "desired". King Saul was described in 1 Sam 9:2- "a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people ". It appears that he was somewhat of a celebrity among the people. Many people assume outward beauty is a reflection of some special anointing and recognition by Our Heavenly Father. The beauty is a distraction to shift our focus away from Our Heavenly Father’s perfect plan, will, and purpose. I am sure this description fit Paul’s character before his conversion.

After Paul’s time of preparation he ends up at the church in Antioch where certain prophets and teachers were located. Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch were there with Paul. Up until this time, Paul had not operated in his calling. Until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he assumed his calling in life was to persecute Christians and be an expert in the Mosaic Law. At the time he did not realize that this was simply a period of training in preparation of his true calling- to be sent to the Gentiles and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We understand that he was 62 years old when he died and that he had left on his first missionary trip when he was between 40 and 42 years of age. We would then conclude that he had his conversion around the age of 28. The point is that Our Heavenly Father does not get in a hurry to place us in our calling.

There is an old saying "some were sent, and some just went". So often we get ahead of our calling. We get wrapped up in the excitement of someone else’s calling and we want to be where the action is. This is actually a distraction to the fulfillment of our own calling. Further, by our participation in someone else’s calling and some apparent fruit being produced, we assume we have been enjoined into the other person’s calling. This is misdirection. At Antioch, the men ministered to the Lord (focused only on Holy and Spiritual matters) and fasted. By fasting, they took charge over their flesh. The fleshly man cannot hear the Spirit of GOD and must be put under subjection. By ministering and fasting, they prepared themselves to hear the Holy Ghost. This is a critical point. As you put your body under subjection, you will become more sensitive to hearing. Additionally, you must focus on Spiritual matters which in turn will draw your attention to what the Holy Ghost is saying. By doing this you will eliminate any distraction that would cause you to miss your day of activation. The goal is to be "sent by the Holy Ghost".

Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

"Separate" means to appoint or set apart for some purpose. Paul was finally activated to his calling. He would spend the next 20-22 years ministering life to the Gentiles by preaching Jesus Christ and His resurrection. Miracles would follow him, confirming the Word. Barnabas whose name means "the son of rest" would accompany Paul on the missionary journey. As we enter into our calling, our soul is at rest and peace. When Paul was finally activated, his name was changed to reflect his new nature. The name Paul means "small or little". No longer did his character reflect an attitude of entitlement but now he considered himself a bondservant of Jesus Christ and was willing to serve all of mankind. He made himself of no reputation. When his calling was activated, something happened. Paul was now full of the Holy Ghost:

Acts 13:9 Then Saul, (who also [is called] Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,

This is the first record of his new name- Paul. Fourteen years after his conversion, Paul was now walking out his calling. Those fourteen years included a time of cleansing from the fleshly nature that had guided Paul’s life. His heart had to be circumcised of the fleshly man. Now that he was empowered with the fullness of the Holy Spirit, he was able to confront a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name [was] Barjesus. It is interesting to see the first record of an individual confrontation was with a man named "son of Jesus". Paul knew Jesus and His character so he discerned who this man really served.

A sorcerer is one who practices the use supernatural power over others through the assistance of spirits, i.e. witchcraft. So Paul is confronted with a counterfeit of his own calling. A false prophet is known to prophesy for money. He doesn’t necessarily prophesy falsely or he would not be taken seriously. A false prophet will attempt to control others with his ability to see into the future. He is one who, acting the part of a divinely inspired prophet, utters falsehoods under the name of divine prophecies. Jesus warns us of these false prophets and calls them ravening wolves who shall deceive many and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Immediately Paul’s calling is challenged. The deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood (resisted or opposed) Paul and Barnabas, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Paul was equipped to deal with Elymas for Paul was full of the Holy Ghost. He saw through Elymas and said:

“O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”

Now that was bold! Paul established that Elymas was the son of the devil, not Jesus. Paul recognized the deceit, fraud, and perversion. It was time to remove this hindrance for the man was causing distraction and misdirection, a hindrance to the "straight ways of the Lord". Elymas was struck with blindness.

We must be vigilant in not being deceived by false prophets. Jesus Himself said that they can show great signs and wonders. We must be careful about viewing signs as an endorsement of a path or action to take. We must hear Our Heavenly Father for HE is the source of our calling. HE formed us in the womb for a specific and unique purpose. We must not be distracted or misdirected from our own calling. Identification of specific past distractions and misdirection is the first step to correcting your walk so that you can fulfill your calling.

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