1. Sometimes Our Steps Are Hindered
I just watched some of the videos posted of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew on the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina. It is sad to see the flooding and also the fire that is spreading to destroy more condos. We drove from central North Carolina to South Carolina to celebrate the birthdays of Meredith and Christopher. As we continued through the heavy rain I thought about things that hinder us on our journey through this life. I remembered Galatians 5:7, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" Some of our days are filled with peace and joy and our journey is most pleasant. But there are many times when our steps are hindered and we have trouble finding our way. Let's look at some of the things that hinder our pathway.
2. Hindered By The Storms
Hurricane Matthew has been on a destructive path as it made its way up Florida and on to the Carolinas. There has been devastating damage caused by the floods, the winds, and even fire. We are often hindered on our life's journey by storms. We should not be surprised when we face storms. Jesus was on the ship with the disciples and storms came.
"37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (Mark 4:37-41)
We can't control the storms that come into our lives, but Jesus can. He can calm a mighty storm, or He may just choose to calm us in the midst of the storm. Driving in a heavy storm can be very difficult as the rain pelts the windshield and the winds rock the car and it hinders our journey. But we can put our faith in Jesus and trust Him as we hear Him say, "Peace, be still" to our hearts.
3. God Didn't Give Us Wings
I love to sit and listen to my grandchildren talk to me. Here is a conversation I had with four year old Jedidiah last week.
Jedidiah: "I can't fly. I tried. But I can't. Do you know why I can't fly?"
Me: "Why can't you fly?"
Jedidiah: "Because God didn't give me wings."
Me: "No, God didn't give you wings."
Jedidiah: "If God did give me wings then I could fly and get somewhere really fast. But God didn't give me wings. So, I can't fly."
Jedidiah has a fascination with eagles and he wants to fly with the eagles. (I didn't ask him where or how he tried to fly.) I would guess that most of us have wished we could rise up and fly out of our storms from time to time. Even David, the mighty man of the Bible, wished he could fly.
"6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.
7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest." (Psalm 55:6-9)
We are sometimes hindered on our journey because God didn't give us physical wings. We don't have the power to rise up like a dove and fly away to escape from our storms. But, we do have the promise of Isaiah 40:31. God can renew our strength and help us mount up with wings as eagles. He can help us overcome the storms and tempests that threaten us.
"28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)
4. Traffic Can Hinder Our Journey
When we travel south we usually run into some heavy traffic when we get close to Charlotte, NC. We try to time our trips so that we are not going by the busy city while most are going to work in the mornings, or coming from work in the evenings. Even on the highways, traffic can hinder our journey. And if you think about it, it is usually the people that are going in the same direction that you are that give you the biggest problem. Let's look at the scriptures found in Luke 2:41-45.
"41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him."
Mary and Joseph supposed that Jesus was "in the company", "among their kinsfolk and acquaintance." They were traveling with a big group of people. There was a lot of traffic on the road, and they didn't notice that Jesus was not with them. Sometimes in our Spiritual journey, even when we are going with Christians, even when we are all going in the same direction, we may get so wrapped up in the journey that we leave Jesus behind. Let's not get side-tracked in our Christian journey and leave the Lord at church as we walk out the door. Let's go with Him each day and let Him be our Guide.
5. Wrecks Hinder Our Journey
I was taking my grandchildren back home a few years ago, and we barely moved on the highway for mile after mile. The children were getting very antsy sitting in the stalled traffic. As we finally got to the problem, they could see a car that was completely upside down in the high speed lane. The children were already stressed and the sight of the wrecked vehicle added to their anxiety. I decided to pull into the next town and find a Chick-Fil-A. The nuggets and ice cream cones gave us a good break and after a few moments in the play yard, we continued on our journey. Many of us have been in wrecks that hindered our journey. They can scar or cause medical issues that are carried for the rest of our lives. In II Corinthians 11:25 Paul tells us that he was shipwrecked three times, and spent a night and a day in the deep. Paul warns young Timothy of shipwreck of faith in I Timothy 1:18-19.
"18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:"
Our lives can be ended, or changed in a moment's time when we are in a bad wreck. And as we see in our little story today, wrecks affect all those who are coming along behind us. As the great Apostle explained to Timothy, know God's Word so that you can fight a good fight, and hold onto your faith. Many are following after us and a shipwreck of faith would not only change our course, but hinder many who are watching our lives and following in our footsteps.
6. Road Construction
As we continue our talk about things that hinder our journey, we come to "road construction". We have a special place that we need to be at a specific time (don't we always) and we are making good time, when all of a sudden we come to a man in an orange vest holding a sign that tells us to "Stop". We wait. Sometimes we wait just a few minutes, sometimes it seems like a lot longer. As we check the time to see how late we are going to be, we wait some more. We know that the construction is going on to make our future journeys much better, but for now, it hinders our journey and tests our patience. How do we put this on a spiritual realm? Sometimes our lives get marred. We go through the storms and sometimes they bring wear and tear just as storms bring cracks and pot-holes to the pavement. Sometimes God may be changing our direction in life, and although the way seems rough at the time, the road ahead will be much better. Let's go with the Prophet Jeremiah to the potter's house.
"1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." (Jeremiah 18:1-6)
We often sing a song that was written by Gene Reasoner, "He Didn't Throw The Clay Away." The construction in our lives may seem to hinder us on our journey, but praise the Lord, we are always in the Potter's hand, and He is lovingly fashioning our lives to be a useful vessel for Him.
"Empty and broken, I came back to Him
A vessel unworthy, so scarred from sin.
But He did not despair, He started over again
And I bless the day, He didn't throw the clay away.
Over and over, He molds and He makes me,
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay;
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn't throw the clay away.
He is the Potter, I am the clay;
Molded in His image, He wants me to stay.
But when I stumble and fall, and my vessel breaks,
He just picks up the pieces,
He doesn't throw the clay away.
Over and over, He molds and He makes me,
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay;
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn't throw the clay away.
7. Being Lost
The most dangerous hindrance on our journey through life is being lost. As long as we are lost we can never reach our destination. Many are lost simply because they don't know the way. When I read the New Testament I am glad the disciples asked Jesus questions. Thomas asked very simply, "...how can we know the way?" Jesus gave the answer and it still stands true today.
"1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:1-6)
Here is the Romans Road to salvation. I pray that if you are lost, you will accept Jesus as your personal Savior and trust Him to save you. Please don't put it off for a later time. You can trust Him and pray right now and change your direction and start heading towards heaven.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23)
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9-11 and 13)
8. Detours And Short Cuts
Storm damage, road construction, and bad wrecks can sometimes take us through detours. And detours can often hinder us on our journey. There are other times when we think we know a shortcut but it turns out to be a bad decision and we spend more time getting back to the right road than we saved on the short cut. That's how it is sometimes for the natural man. What about the Spiritual man? Think back to the life of Abraham. God called Abraham out of his country when he was 75 years old and promised "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:" (Genesis 12:2) In Genesis 13:16 God promised "And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered." Abraham waited. "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:5 & 6) In chapter 16, Sarah, Abraham's wife talked him into having a son by her handmaid, Hagar. Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. They waited 10 years on God, and decided to take a short cut to God's promise and have a child their way. When Abraham was 99 God appeared to him again, and promised him and Sarah a son.
"15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year." (Genesis 17:15-21)
Abraham and Sarah got tired of waiting for God to fulfill His promise, so they took a short cut and the conflict between Ishmael's and Isaac's descendants still goes on today. In our Christian journey we need to follow God and not take a detour from His Word. We also need to realize that we can't prosper by taking short cuts. There is no short cut to heeding God's Word.
9. Sin Hinders Us On Our Journey
In 1976 our church youth group celebrated the 200th anniversary of our country with a play about the Christian heritage of America. Those of us who have lived through the "good old days" know how God has blessed America and see the devastation sin is bringing to our nation. Today I want to look at three attitudes that Christians can have about sin. First, let's begin with the first sin. Back when there were only two people on earth, they blamed someone else for their sin. I think most people today want to blame someone else for their sin. Whether it's their childhood, their parents, or lack of parental guidance, or their environment, they are pointing their finger at someone else when they should be looking in the mirror. The next attitude some people have about sin is found in the life of Hezekiah. When Assyria came up against Judah, Hezekiah read the letter and went to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord and God answered his prayer and delivered His people. (II Kings 19:14) When Hezekiah was sick and about to die he prayed and God answered his prayer and added 15 years to his life. So King Hezekiah was a good king and had seen God work in his life. But, after he was lifted up by pride and showed the men of Babylon all his wealth, we see a different attitude.
"16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.
17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?" (II Kings 20:16-19)
I am afraid that there are some older Christians who see the sin of our country and think that it is okay as long as there is peace in their days. When I think of my children and grandchildren and the challenges they will face it burdens my heart and soul. The last attitude of sin I want to look at is that of Daniel. He was a young boy and was taken into captivity, but look at his amazing prayer. "And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:" (Daniel 9:4-5) He confessed to God, "We have sinned..." He prays a fervent prayer that ends, "O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name." (Daniel 9:18-19) This is the attitude we need to have against the sin of our nation.
10. Road Closed
A few weeks ago we took a short little visit to the beach. There was a line of stalled traffic in one little town and after a while we could see that there was some flash flooding in the area and several roads were closed. We went up one way and down another, following where the cars seemed to be moving, and finally we were able to weave ourselves back to higher ground. It would have been foolish and dangerous for us to push on through the "Road Closed" signs and stall out in the water or be washed down the river. That is clear to see. But, when God closes a door, or direction in our lives, we push and pull and whine and complain, and try our best to keep going in that direction. God is watching our lives from above, and He can see the danger up ahead. There are other times when God wants to send us in a certain direction for His glory. We see this in Acts 16:6-10.
"6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them."
A young preacher in our youth group 40 years ago was preaching from this text and he got excited and said, "He went west! He went west!" He then explained that through the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul carried the gospel message west, and it was carried on to our ancestors. I am so thankful that God opened the door and called to me with the salvation message!
11. Flat Tires And Car Trouble
The last time we had a flat tire I stood in the rain and held a jacket over Michael's head as he changed the tire. And even though it was not a heavy rain, we were both wet by the time he finished. As we got back into the car I saw my umbrella on the floor board behind my seat. I am so glad he loves me! He didn't even get upset that I didn't remember it was in the car. Sometimes we come upon big bumps or potholes in the road that we can slow down for, but other times we may run over a nail that we never saw. We get flats. We have car trouble. When I was younger I locked my keys in the car on several occasions. When things like this happen we can get all upset and angry, or we can try to stay calm and do what we can to help the situation so we can move on in our journey. This reminds me of a flat that I had many years ago. When Matthew was very young we had a blowout on the highway. He was scared as I pulled over to the exit ramp, so I told him we would pray for help. As we finished our prayer a man stopped and changed our tire. He was a Gideon and asked me if I was saved. I told him I was and thanked him for stopping. Before he left he gave Matthew a Bible. Matthew learned that day that God hears and answers our prayers. And I learned that God can use difficult situations, such as flat tires, to help us teach our children about His love when we call on Him and give Him the glory. "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:18)
12. Running Out Of Gas
Running out of gasoline not only hinders our journey, but stops us dead in our tracks. During evacuations for hurricanes people often run out of gas waiting in the long lines to get out of town. I even read that some gas stations ran out of gas as so many filled their tanks to evacuate before hurricanes were expected to hit. Elijah is a great example of how we can run out of gas in our spiritual lives. Elijah had a great victory on Mount Carmel against the prophets of Baal. Afterwards he outran Ahab's chariot to get ahead of the rain. Being threatened by Jezebel, he journeyed a day's journey into the wilderness, and there his physical and emotional being just "ran out of gas".
"4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee." (I Kings 19:4-7)
Just as an automobile needs fuel to keep going, we need food and nourishment. The angel of the Lord provided food and water for Elijah. Another thing we need to keep going is rest and sleep. God did not rebuke Elijah in his discouragement through the mighty wind, or earthquake, or fire, but spoke to him in a still small voice. We serve a loving God, who gives us food and rest, but also speaks to us through His Word. We need to do all we can during these last days for the cause of Christ, and we may sometimes feel like we have physically, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually run out of gas, but we can find encouragement through God's precious Word. "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)
13. Power Outages
I was driving through town one stormy night and suddenly lightning struck a power transformer on the pole next to my car. It was very strange that one moment there was bright light shining, and the next there was complete darkness. Well, I am not the best at directions. (Michael used to kid me that I would get lost in a phone booth.) This sudden blast confused me so much that even with my car lights on, I missed my turn and went way out of my way to find my way back to main street. I noticed that I was in a little housing development and had trouble finding my way back out. We see in this little story today that power outages can hinder our journey. We are so dependent on electricity it is hard for us to go about out daily business when the power goes out. How can we apply this to our spiritual lives? Let's look at Paul's warning to Timothy of the last days.
"1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (II Timothy 3:1-5)
The Apostle Paul gives several sinful conditions of mankind during the last days, and look how he sums it all up in verse 5. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." Many people want to talk a "good game" about how they believe there is a God, and I see some posting Bible verses on the internet, but do they have the power of God on their lives? In all honesty, I don't believe that any of us have the power of God on our lives as many did in days of old. We need to be determined to go with God and keep connected to His source of power through prayer and through the reading and meditation of His Holy Word. We can't get very far without the right source of power.
14. Darkness Can Hinder Our Plans
Michael and I went to Micah's football game, which started at 6:00 pm. By the time it was over it was getting dark and there were no lights at the field. It is hard to play, or work, in the darkness without another source of light. Actually, I don't think you can do anything if it is completely dark. Have you ever been in darkness so deep that you could feel the darkness? It was so dark during one of the plagues on Egypt that the people did not move for three days.
"21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.
22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:
23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." (Exodus 10:21-23)
Jesus tells us about Light and darkness in the book of John.
John 1:5 "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
John 8:12 "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
John 9:4-5 "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
John 12:35 "Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth."
John 12:46 "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."
We don't have to let the darkness hinder our spiritual journey. Jesus is the light of the world! And we can let our light shine to guide others to Him. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Please come to the Light and trust the Lord as your Savior, so you won't be cast into the outer darkness for eternity.
15. Murmuring And Complaining
I was surprised at how many ideas came to my mind when I started making a list of things that can hinder our journey. I began as we were driving back home during the rain and I noticed the road construction, barriers, traffic, and it all grew worse as darkness fell. Each one of these hindrances could easily be compared to our spiritual journey as well. I know that murmuring and complaining can hinder our emotional well being and attitudes in our physical journey, but I want to look at it more in our walk with the Lord. The Children of Israel had not gone very far out of the land of Egypt when they began to murmur against Moses and Aaron. "And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:" (Exodus 16:1-2) The Lord told Moses that He would rain down bread from heaven to feed the people. "And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD." (Exodus 16:7-8) The last little phrase of the verse is what I want us to notice, "your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD." We need to remember this the next time we are tempted to complain about how our journey is going. We even have the Word of our Lord to remind us of this. "Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves." (John 6:43) Our journey will be much more pleasant if we make an effort not to murmur or complain.
16. Following The Wrong Directions
We were driving from central North Carolina to visit our son and his family when they lived in Minnesota, and my Mom was going with us. She likes to travel and she finds great joy in getting her atlas out and mapping our directions before we go. Late that night I woke up and realized we were not on a highway. We were on a rugged road, with the fog so heavy we could barely see. At one sharp curve, the road looked at though it would drop us off into nowhere land. Michael thinks he must have accidentally changed something on the GPS when he picked it up at one point during the night. I was using the light in my phone, trying to get us back on the right road, and not wake Mom in the back seat. It did not work. She woke up and asked where we were. "We are on Wildcat Road, in Ohio." We were ready for her reply. "Ohio! We aren't supposed to be in Ohio!" We found our way back to the highway and we finally did get to Minnesota. A GPS is great, but it is not always reliable. Several years ago I was following one and it was not updated, and the road I was on ended right at the Randleman lake. God's Word is our road map. It can guide us and lead us in the right path. But there are many sources of wrong directions in the world today. In fact, it goes back to the beginning of time. God gave Adam directions for living in the Garden of Eden. Eve listened to the evil serpent and followed his directions, and she gave the forbidden fruit to Adam and he also followed the wrong directions. We need to stay in the Word of God because we can always count on God to have the right directions.
"7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." (Psalm 19:7-10)
17. Not Following The Right Directions
Have you ever taken something new out of the box and just started putting it together, only to have pieces left over when you are done? Sometimes we have the right directions, but we just don't want to be bothered taking the time to follow them. I like good, simple, clear directions. I am the type of person who needs good, simple, clear directions. Not following the right directions can hinder us in the little things of our daily life, but can also have a devastating affect on our life-long journey. Moses was God's chosen leader. We read in Deuteronomy 34:10, "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face," Moses spent 40 years carrying the burden of the Children of Israel in the wilderness but he did not get to go into the Promised Land because he failed to follow the Lord's directions at the rock of Meriba. God still sent the water for the multitude, but Moses did not get a second chance to do the right thing. We need to make sure we follow God's directions.
"7 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." (Numbers 20:7-12)
18. Distractions Can Hinder Our Journey
I don't know how many times I have almost had an accident while driving because I was distracted. I have often seen something that took my mind and eyes off the road. Something as small as a spider floating down in front of my face can make me lose my focus on the road. And although they tell us not to swerve to miss a deer, I can swerve by instinct to miss a squirrel or turtle. It is just as easy to get distracted in our spiritual journey with all the hype going on in the media about the election. We need to vote for the people who seem to follow the most after what is right in the sight of God, and not lose focus. I like the verse in Proverbs 29:18. "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." I usually think of this verse as our leaders having a vision, but I believe that it can refer to all of us. We need to keep our eyes on the Lord and keep our heart and mind tuned in to the things of God. Don't let the things of the world hinder you from following the Lord.
19. Family And Friends
We were going shopping once when the boys were small and one of the boys could not find his shoes. After everyone else was ready and he was still looking, I told him to just put on any shoes. As we started through the mall I noticed that he had on tennis shoes of two different colors. After we had children we learned that we had to allow more time to get ready to go anywhere. I would not call my family a hindrance, but there are Biblical examples where family and friends were a burden and a hindrance. Let's look at Joseph.
"2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.
4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words." (Genesis 37:2-8)
Joseph's brothers hated him and sold him into slavery. After the long hard years he spent in Egypt, Joseph was able to forgive his brothers. "And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them." (Genesis 50:19-21)
Friends can also make our journey harder as we see in the life of Job. After he lost his children, his wealth, and his health, his friends came to comfort him. But, they made such accusations he said, "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." (Job 12:2) After they continued to condemn him, he said,
"2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.
3 Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?
4 I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.
5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief." (Job 16:2-5)
He also was able to forgive his friends, as we see in Job 42:10. "And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before." In both of our examples we see that even though they were hindered by family and friends, Joseph and Job were able to find forgiveness in their hearts.
20. Our Biggest Hindrance
We have looked at so many different things that can hinder us along our way. Some can cause just a little delay, while others can change our course. Today I want to talk about what I believe is our biggest hindrance. Are you ready for this? I believe the most likely thing that can hold us back, keep us from making progress, and not just hinder our journey, but totally stop our journey before it begins is not ever starting to begin with. When we eat a late supper before church on Wednesday night, I don't have time to clean my kitchen so I come home from church to a big mess. I don't usually want to start on it that late, so I put it off and get up the next morning with a job to do. I really enjoy cooking, and I like a clean kitchen, so it is a daily job to wash dishes and wipe down counter tops. I was brought up washing dishes and I really don't mind, but I have a hard time doing it late at night. If I can just get started, I can usually get it all done in just a few minutes, and wake up to a clean kitchen. I just can't always get started. I find that to be true with so many tasks. I really make good progress, once I get started. But getting started is sometimes the hard part. Let's put that in a spiritual perspective. Some want to live the Christian life, but they never take that first step towards God. They try to do better on their own, but we can't go to heaven on our own good works because God's Words tells us, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Romans 3:10 & 12) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) Jesus died to pay for our sin, and once we ask Him to forgive us and save us, then He covers us with His righteousness. We must be saved before we can begin our spiritual journey which ends with everlasting life in heaven. We will never get to heaven until we choose to go with Jesus. After we get started on the right path with the Lord, we can be sure that He will be with us all the way!
21. Unbelief Can Hinder The Work of Christ In Our Lives
Jesus went about from city to city teaching and performing miracles in the lives of many people. He had great compassion and was glad to heal and give salvation to all who believed on Him. There was only one thing that stopped Him from doing good, and that was unbelief.
"53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:53-58)
The whole Christian ministry is based on believing that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and that He gave His life to pay for our sin. He rose from the dead on the third day and lives in heaven, making intercession for His children. We accept His gift of salvation through faith, trusting in His blessed name, Jesus, that He is the only way to have everlasting life. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10) And in those hard times when we have trouble with unbelief, we can cry out to God like the man did in Mark 9:23-24. "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
22. What Hinders You?
We have been looking at things that can hinder our journey for three weeks and have covered some common problems that we may face from day to day. I want to look at the verse I mentioned in our introduction, Galatians 5:7. "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" Ask yourself that question today. Is somebody or something hindering your Christian walk? Think about the ideas we shared during these devotionals. Here are a few more examples of hindrances that I didn't cover, but might possibly slow you down.
Disagreements - Don't let disagreements with Christian friends keep you from serving the Lord. Apostle Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement about John Mark and went in separate directions. I believe God used this to send out two groups of missionaries and they did make things right afterwards. Paul told Timothy, "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." (II Timothy 4:11)
Not building on the Rock - We need to have our lives built on Christ and a solid foundation.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Matthew 7:24-27)
Riches - We need money to survive in this world. But, sometimes riches can actually be a hindrance instead of an asset. When a person depends on his wealth to carry him through, he is less likely to look to God for help and guidance. "And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:23-24)
A few more examples include, going the wrong way, waiting on others, pride, and even the devil can hinder our spiritual journey. Don't let these things keep you from serving the Lord. Hear these encouraging words...
"8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (II Corinthians 4:8-10)