Thursday, September 24, 2015

Obstacles and Opposition

What should be our response when we face obstacles? And, what if those obstacles actually turn out to be full-out opposition?

First of all, I would distinguish between the two. Obstacles are simply . . . obstacles! They stand in our path. They block our progress. Opposition is more of an active reality. Facing opposition is a bit different than just a mere obstacle.

Regardless, what do we do when we find ourselves facing an impediment to our progress or someone (thing) is actually opposing us? There are numerous examples in the Bible of God’s people facing the challenges of obstacles, impediments or opposition.

Often, the first response is fear. It can be quite natural to be afraid of an obstacle. For example, when God asked Moses to send spies into the Promised Land in Numbers 13, those men returned with a report of fear. They explored the land and it indeed was prosperous and promising. However, they acknowledged their fears of the fortified cities and the giants in the land. In fact, they summarized their report with, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes” (Numbers 13:33).

Sometimes it is natural to just be afraid. In fact, I don’t think that bothers God too much. However, if God is leading us towards something, we have to move forward despite our fears. We cannot allow our fears to paralyze us. Unfortunately that is what happened to the spies and the entire nation. They were paralyzed and unwilling to move forward. What should they have done?

I would propose that we should re-focus our attention on God in the midst of our fears. So, when you are sensing God’s direction and you begin to move ahead—you will probably encounter some obstacles. You may be afraid at first. That is ok. But, don’t let those fears stop you from obedience. Re-focus your attention on God.

Our temptation will always be to focus on the obstacle. Our focus is to be on God. He is the object of our affection. He is the one who is calling us and leading us. So, re-focus on Him. Make sure you are listening to Him. Be assured of your understanding of His direction and wisdom.

Then, face the obstacle. Engage it. Muster up the energy and the courage—and face it! Take the steps God lays out for you. Move through your fears. Don’t let fear or the obstacle win! Forge ahead.

You don’t have to fake your way through it. Your FAITH your way through obstacles! God is an expert at empowering us to face obstacles and opposition. He will provide insight and resources in His time and according to His will. He is calling us to a deeper relationship with Him. He wants us to learn to trust Him.

Paul was in Ephesus and the Corinthian church wanted him to come to Corinth ASAP. This was a demanding church. They were always in crisis mode. Paul heard their request and turned them down! In his answer to the Corinthians, we learn a valuable lesson about obstacles and opposition. Listen to what Paul told them:

But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
-1 Corinthians 16:8-9

Did you catch it? Paul said – a door has been opened. I am walking through it. But—there is great opposition here! Paul understood that the open doors in our lives are most often characterized by the presence of opposition. He did not allow that to keep him from forging ahead in obedience to God.

So, if you are facing obstacles or opposition—don’t be surprised. And—don’t allow those obstacles to deter you from doing the will of God!

Friday, September 11, 2015

We Will Never Forget

Fourteen years have passed since the events of September 11, 2001. Our world was forever changed that day. We will never forget.

We will never forget the senseless loss of innocent lives on that day.

We will never forget the families who lost loved ones to the acts of terror that day.

We will never forget the courageous and selfless actions of countless first-responders who saved the lives of others while showing little regard for their own lives.

We will never forget the countless acts of love and mercy shown by countless numbers of people in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy.

We will never forget the character of a nation that refused to be defeated by the cowardly acts of terrorists.

We will never forget the men and women who have stepped in the path of terrorism and served honorably in our military and worked tirelessly to make our country safer.

We will never forget that freedom is a precious privilege and a great responsibility.

We will never forget that God has a remedy for terrorists and all other sinners. It is His grace made possible through the loving sacrifice of His Son. He remains our only true hope and the true Answer for what is so broken in our world.

We will never forget the darkness of that day - September 11, 2001.

We will never forget the light of the Gospel that shines forth today and brings healing to the broken, hope to the hopeless, freedom to the captives and light in the darkness.

We will never forget.