Friday, July 24, 2015

"Obstacles, Opportunities"

    I'd like to return to the subject we addressed several days ago, namely, the fact that God birthed two of the New Testament epistles into being by using Satan's interference in the life of the Apostle Paul.

    "We would have come to you, even I Paul, once and again, but Satan hindered us" (I Thessalonians 2:18).

    As previously mentioned, it is very likely that the epistles to the Thessalonians would never have been written had Paul been able to venture to Thessalonica.  The devil's hindrance necessitated the Apostle's communication by pen, constituting literary volumes included in the New Testament.  As the saying, we might say that the Lord, through Paul, used the devil's lemons to make lemonade (in this case, the very Word of God).  Much of life, the Christian life, involves this process of grace through faith whereby blessedness proceeds not merely in spite of hindrance, but because of it.  

    Such condition, circumstance, and situation doubtless confronts all of us in the present moment.  Something seems to block our path, an unmovable obstacle that will not budge despite our best attempts and efforts, and even more, our most ardent prayers.  We cannot go over, under, or around it to make our way to our own particular Thessalonica.  The matter may be relational, physical, financial, or it may even involve a desired ministry for the glory of God and the blessing of others.  We long to proceed, to go!  But we cannot.  Indeed, if we could see with spiritual eyes, the case might well involve a devilish hindrance that prevents some good and godly journey that for all the world would seem to be beneficial.  The path is blocked, and we cannot convince the God who made the worlds to do that of which we know He is capable.  "Awake!  Why sleepest Thou, o Lord?!" (Psalm 44:23).

   Perhaps the Lord allows our enemy to hinder so that we may pen our own personal epistles to our Thessalonians.  That is, we possess the capacity to illuminate our sphere of influence in a manner no one else can accomplish.  Such ministry, however, may have more far reaching effects than we can imagine, especially if we seem hindered from that which would seem the most obvious means by which we might shine our light.  Indeed, consider that hundreds, or perhaps thousands, would have benefited from a journey by Paul to Thessalonica in the first century.  Millions, or dare we say, billions have been blessed because our brother of old made sweet lemonade from the sour lemon of Satanic hindrance!  The same principle applies in our lives.  Our particular obstacle provides the Lord and us with powerful opportunity to see and communicate the glory of a salvation that began with death, stillness, and a tomb sealed by a stone.  Such glory will never end, however, because the resurrection of the Lord Jesus revealed the greater glory that would never have been known apart from the seeming "hindrance" of the cross.  Nor will there be an end to that which God does in us as we view our obstacle as opportunity rather than oppression.  

"For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we depaired even of life.  Btu we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver, in Whom we trust that He will yet deliver us, ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf."
(II Corinthians 1:9-11)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.  But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
(I John 3:2)

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