Some churches are known as “answer back” churches. When the preacher says something, the congregation naturally “answers back”. One Sunday, a preacher was speaking on what it would take for the church to move forward. “If this church is to move forward, it must take up its bed, and walk.” The congregation said “Let it walk, Preacher, let it walk.” Encouraged by their response, he went further. “If this church is going to move forward it will have to throw aside its hindrances and run!” The congregation replied, “Let it run, Preacher, let it run!” Now really into his message, he spoke stronger. “If this church really wants to become great, it will have to take up its wings and fly!” “Let it fly, Preacher, let it fly!” the congregation shouted. The Preacher got even louder. “If this church is going to fly, it will cost money!” The congregation replied. “Let it walk, Preacher, let it walk.” Ah…how quickly we change our minds!
Whenever we want to move forward in life we are going to have to overcome “us”! In other words, generally speaking, making progress costs us something personally. If we want to lose weight, it costs us time, effort, and discipline to exercise and make better food choices. If we are training for a marathon, it costs us time, sweat equity, and discomfort to buffet our bodies. If we want to get a higher education, it’ll cost us money and lots of brain power to get the most out of it. If we buy a new house, it costs money. We are usually gung-ho when we start moving forward in anything, but then…when the “cost” gets “real” we can be easily hindered!
As a Christian, when I think of making progress, moving forward in life, I naturally think of following Jesus! I want to grow in my relationship with Him, know Him more, and follow Him wholeheartedly and unreservedly. But there is a cost for this and if we don’t go into it with eyes wide open, we are likely to be hindered because the reality is, it’s going to “cost” us something to live a sold out life for Christ! That doesn’t really hit until hindrances prevent us from moving forward, and these hindrances always involve “us”! At first we try to avoid or ignore the “cost” but eventually we decide we can’t afford it because we’re tired of the effort it requires. So we settle into a rather lukewarm, mediocre relationship with Jesus.
There are probably innumerable hindrances our flesh produces to keep us from living fully and freely in Jesus Christ, but I chose just five! If we can admit we let these things hinder our life in Christ, we’ll move them from being hindrances and use them to help us live in God’s grace!
Our mouths can literally decimate intimacy with the Lord! One lady experienced the manifest presence of Jesus during the Welsh revival but let her mouth lead her astray! Here are her words: “I felt as if I must be in Heaven; the cold night was filled with holy gladness, and I sang unto the Lord in an ecstasy of joy unspeakable, and love inexpressible was mine. I knew I had found Him, and He had found me, and the Holy Ghost had come to immerse me in Himself that I might abide in Christ forever. I got out of bed to kneel before Him in worship and adoration. The clock struck twelve, then one and two, and I lived in the glory; my heart was satisfied and His presence filled the little hut. Before breakfast was served the next morning we sat around the table and sang to Him. All our conversation was of Him. In a very real and intimate way He had come to us. The Welsh Revival had reached us. God had spoken to us and was speaking through us to others. Every day we heard of those who were being added to the Church. Conviction of sin was very real; repentance and restitution came hand in hand, and we all felt we had lived for that time, and all my being said, ‘Glory’. We were there for some days, and then a friend called to see me and we began to gossip and criticize others. Something was said that was detrimental to another, and as we talked something happened. I lost the glory from my soul; it just slipped away, and I stood there after the friend left, feeling as if something was slain within me. I went to my grass hut, but there was no glory. I knelt to pray, and I could only cry. I knelt in an agony of mind. What had I done? Nothing very much, I only joined in conversations that led to gossip, making light of another and with drastic swiftness we took away her good name, and the glory I had received departed from my soul.”
God says in Psalm 101:5 “He that secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will cut off.” We need to move our mouths from being a hindrance to life in Christ to being a help to others! Walk away from gossip; choose not to make light of anyone; leave criticism behind. Though we can’t stop slander or gossip from happening in others, we can surely move our mouths from it! Living in the glory of Christ Jesus is surely worth moving our mouths!
Left to ourselves we tend to think too highly or too lowly of ourselves. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 “There we saw the giants; and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Numbers 13:33
We can convince ourselves we are everything or nothing; then others are convinced by what we think! But our minds can only hinder us if we let them! We can control our thoughts simply by thinking on Jesus instead of ourselves! The Bible says we have the mind of Christ; we are to take every thought captive into obedience to Jesus; we’re above our hindrances, not below; we are more than conquerors; we overcome this world; we are the head not the tail; we are authoritative believers; powerful allies of the most powerful One. We need to think as God thinks!
Our memories, good and bad can hinder our future! Wanting to relive or hang on to good memories keeps us from walking into new things. Bad memories can paralyze or imprison us! Memories though, are just memories! Life is meant to be lived TODAY! We must move the past to the past; move memories back to where they belong…behind us, not in front. When we do this, memories stop hindering us because we’re looking forward, not backward!
“…One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…” Philippians 3:13 There are two things to glean from this verse. The “forgetting” doesn’t mean we don’t remember; it’s not about erasing our memory banks! It’s no wonder we get so frustrated in life trying to move forward by erasing the past! It can’t be done! This “forgetting” means we no longer care about those things behind and so we neglect them. It is very freeing to know the past is behind so we can neglect to think or care about it because what’s behind only hinders us from reaching forward!
Secondly…notice the “things” are already behind so we don’t even need to move them behind! It’s just our memories we keep bringing in front that hinder us from moving forward toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Things in life happen; but once they happen, they are already behind us. Only memories can hinder us from moving! Forget what’s behind and reach forward!
Our wrong desires keep us from desiring right ones! When we nurture selfish desires we won’t desire change, renewal, restoration, and growth in Christ! When we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart! (Psalm 37:4) Too often we mix n’ match our desires with His delight! We literally come at this truth from the wrong direction. This is what we do: We have desires in life and even believe God put these desires in us! So we delight ourselves in the Lord, hoping these desires come to fruition. That’s the wrong way! Here’s what we should do: Delight ourselves in the Lord! That’s it! Focus on the delight not the desires. Then, the right desires, His desires are created and birthed and you’ll be surprised by His extravagant desires in your heart!
Our own lack of effort! We can actually stop trying because of hindrances! We get tired so refuse to put the effort in! The Bible tells of a man with an infirmity, just lying on his mat day after day for 38 years, unable to get into the pool of healing! He got so tired of trying he began whining that no one put him in the water at the right time and when he did try, someone else budged in front of him every time so he stopped making the effort!
Our own lack of effort can hinder us from living fully in Christ! Friends, though we need to “see” things for what they are, we do not need to accept things as they are! Make the effort to move yourself instead of expecting everyone else, including God to put all the effort in while you lay on your mat, pouting because everyone else gets first dibs! Better to try and fail than never to try at all. Of course Holy Spirit helps us in countless ways even providing other people to help. But never forget they are “helpers” who “help” us as we make the effort ourselves.
These five hindrances can be paralyzing, preventing us from moving forward with Christ! OR we can present our mouths, minds, memories, desires, and effort to God as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13) Practically speaking, we need help to move them from being hindrances to helps and God has provided what we need! He has given His Holy Spirit to help us; leaders to guide and teach us; believers to encourage us as we fellowship together; His body and blood to break together; and intimacy with our Father through prayer! “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42
Don’t let hindrances of your flesh tell you whether you’ll walk, run, or fly with Jesus! You tell your mouth, your mind, your memories, your desires and your efforts to fly high and continue to rise above the circumstances of this world! It’s a great view from up there…with Jesus!