Press Forward Without Hindrances 7-4-04
PRESS FORWARD WITHOUT HINDRANCES
Acts 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. 29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. 30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him.
Introduction: During the Olympics, I will not watch all of the games. Most of them don’t interest me very much except some of the “Track and Field” competition. I really like the 100-yard dash, relay races, and most of all, the Hurdles. I like the art of the races and the timing of the Hurdles. When it comes to the Hurdles, you have to pace yourself just right, plus you have to anticipate which foot you are going to lead with and get it up and over at just the right moment. Then there is the problem with the trailing foot and whether it is going to snag on the Hurdle or not. All this happens in a few seconds and just when you get over one Hurdle right, a few yards away there is another one waiting. I have all the respect in the world for those men and women because it is tough. Some it seems, no matter how hard they practice, they bring down some, if not all the Hurdles in a race to the finishing line.
I have only tried the Hurdles once in my life. First of all I found out that my best running was not on a Track, but only while someone was chasing me, did I run my very best. But I did try one time to jump a Hurdle. The only problem I had was I thought that I couldn’t get over it, so I ran around the side. So that was the beginning and the ending of my track and field experience. I will never know if I was fast enough, or if I could have jumped a Hurdle because I really never tried. I believed I could not get over the Hurdle, so I truly could not get over the Hurdle.
Life is just like that for many of us. If the way is clear and there are no barriers, we are fine. If our health is good and our bills are paid, we can move. If we’re not in any conflict and not under unusual pressure, we can keep on going. If our feet don’t hurt and three square meals are on the table, day by day, we stay calm and we move forward.
But very, very few of us can really expect to live that way. Very, very few of us can expect to travel an open road, with no Hurdles or barriers. Almost none of us can expect to sail through life on beds of ease, while others fight to win the prize and sail through violent seas. No, we are going to sail through some brutal seas. We are going to encounter some barriers. We are not going to go forward without jumping some Hurdles. That is not how life works, it just won’t be. The issue is, then, not whether you can move forward without barriers. The issue is whether you can move forward without hindrances!
Let me say that again. The issue is not whether you can go forward without barriers; the issue is whether you can press forward without hindrances. And there is a difference. There is a distinction.
What is a “Hindrance?” Literally it means to cut into, impeding persons by breaking up the road, or by placing an obstacle sharply in the path: hence, metaphorically, of detaining a person unnecessarily.
1 Thess 2:18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
Paul blamed Satan for his failure to be able to return. Was Satan responsible, or was God, or were other people? Paul’s reason for deciding to return was to provide additional spiritual help for the new converts. This by itself is clearly the will of God in any situation. Seen as such, any hindrance becomes opposition to the will of God. Regardless of who was involved on the human level, the ultimate leader of this kind of opposition is Satan.
So a Hurdle is an artificial barrier for the purpose of jumping over, but a Hindrance is placed in the way to stop one from moving at all.
Barriers are things that are set up to challenge you. They prevent us from doing what you want to do easily. Like Hurdles, they stand in the way of a quick run around the track. But they are part of the game. They are part of the way life is. Remember as a child I had the option of running around the Hurdles instead of jumping them. The only problem was I never ran a race. If I were in a race…it would be understood that it was against the rules to run around the Hurdles, which is not the way you run the race. Barriers challenge you, and they are just there; they have to be jumped. And no one is going to ease through life without barriers.
Hindrances are different. Hindrances are the conditions of heart and spirit that make barriers impossible. Hindrances are the attitudes, the stuff inside us, that make the barriers difficult. My hindrance was the belief that I could not jump those barriers, because I had never tried it before. Never before had I had to do this thing that was put in front of me, so I just knew that I could not do it. Because I believed in the hindrance I had put in front of me. I had a mental problem with it. I could not advance over the barrier because I could not move on without the hindrance; I could not go forward without first dealing with my thoughts of defeat.
Gal 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
Gal 5:7 (Amplified) You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? 8 This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ]. 9 A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church].
Paul loved to use “a race” as a symbol of the Christian experience. What he was saying to the Galatians was that they had begun their race well, but someone had cut in on them, causing them to break stride and stumble. Many false teachers were disturbing the Galatians. The result was that the believers were no longer obeying the truth, but were attempting to complete the race by legalistic self-effort rather than by faith.
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Today I am convinced that there is no hindrance to our advancement. There are barriers, but we need not place hindrances in our way as well. We can move on without hindrance but we can not move on with hindrances. We must move forward.
In the very first message in the Book of Acts, we can sum up the whole message of the in a nutshell: The Savior Went Up…The Spirit Came Down…The Church Went Out…The Lost Came In.
Someone has said that the key to understanding the Acts of the Apostles is to notice the last words of the book.
Acts 28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
The very last words in the Book of Acts are, “no man forbidding him.”
Acts 28:31 (Amplified) Preaching to them the kingdom of God and teaching them about the Lord Jesus Christ with boldness and quite openly, and without being molested or hindered.
The very last sentence in Acts sums up all that has gone before; it says that the apostle Paul “proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” Unhindered!
Does that mean that Paul faced no barriers, no hurdles? Does that mean that Paul had it easy and could just sit in an ivory tower and write elegant theological essays for the world to admire? Where was Paul when Acts ends? He was in his own rented house. He was advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles without being hindered.
First, Paul felt unhindered because he knew the power of God’s love. He had experienced the Kingdom of God. Also because he had personally experienced the Kingdom, he knew that it had no boundaries, and that God could overcome every barrier. Paul advanced without hindrance because the thing that meant the most to him was his personal relationship with the living Christ.
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
1 Cor 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1 Cor 4:20 (Amplified) For the kingdom of God consists of and is based on not talk but power (moral power and excellence of soul).
Think back through the Book of Acts. Remember the history. There is that powerful moment when Deacon Stephen, full of the Spirit of God, preached to the people on the streets. Some receive Christ as Savior, but others stirred up hate, and they stoned Stephen. Who was it who stood on the sidelines, cheering them on? Who was it who held the cloaks of others while they threw the stones? It was Saul of Tarsus.
Who was it who went on a crusade against the church? Who was it who planned acts of terrorism against Christians? It was Saul of Tarsus. Who was it who got himself a bundle of warrants and set out to Damascus to root out this Christian thing? It was Saul of Tarsus.
Who was it that encountered the living Christ on the road to Damascus and had his entire life turned around? Who was it who was knocked to the ground, whose eyes went blind, and ended up acknowledging as Lord the very one he had cursed? It was Saul of Tarsus, who became a changed man. This man was so changed that the name Saul, was no longer used, and he became known by his Roman name, Paul.
The rest is history. You know it. You know that this oppressor of Christians became the foremost missionary of the Christian movement. You know that this man who had breathed out threats and slaughter against the followers of Jesus had become the leading preacher of Jesus. Paul the missionary…did he encounter barriers as he went on his preaching missions? He suffered beatings, imprisonment, shipwreck, threats and misunderstandings, each one of them a barrier. But he marched on without a hindrance. Nothing stopped him. Why? Because Paul had a personally encounter with love of God and because he knew Christ and the power of His resurrection.
The first key to advancing without hindrance is to know that God loves you; that His kingdom includes you; that who you are and what you do matters to Him. When you know that the infinite God, in all His glory, is paying attention to you, loving you, claiming you, then nothing will stop you. Nothing will hinder you from doing Kingdom business. Nothing!
Whatever hurdles we have to jump, we can jump, even with aging legs and tired feet. Whatever barriers we have to cross, we can cross, because we will proclaim the Kingdom of God that we know personally; we will teach Jesus to every human heart and to every human need; and we will invest ourselves with boldness. By the power of Christ, we are advancing without hindrance.