It never fails that when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere someone gets in my way. It doesn’t matter if it’s driving down the road or trying to get through the checkout line at the store, and it has even happened when I’ve been in desperate need of the restroom. Can you relate? And so that is just the way life is, right? But there is also a greater reality to consider, and that is the possibility of God getting in your way. Not only will God get in your way, but we’re told that in Acts 16 that the Spirit forbid Paul to preach in one place and didn’t permit him to go to another place. Paul was stopped by God.
Acts 16:6-10 “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Please don’t think that God is not still stopping people and forbidding people from going into certain places and doing certain things. And it wasn’t like those in Asia didn’t need to hear the gospel as much as those in Macedonia. But this speaks to the intentionality of God. God can get you to where He wants you by closing the doors and by a series of what may seem like frustrating events. From my own experience, God can grab your tongue and hold it at the beginning of the most important interview of your life to stop you from going a certain direction. From my experience, God can put the brakes on your plans to move to another city even after you’ve placed a down payment on the house you intended to live in just by speaking softly to you through the reading of His Word. God can stop you by speaking through the mouth of a complete stranger or He can stop you by troubling your spirit and keeping you up all night over a decision you’re about to make.
What this Holy Spirit intervention tells me is that we need to become very familiar with the Holy Spirit’s voice and grow in our relationship with Him. It also tells me that when I sense God is getting in my way, to not force the issue and ignore His prompting just to create my own disaster. We often run into walls that frustrate, but in the greater reality, those are heaven’s guardrails meant to get you headed in the right direction. God has a way He wants us to go and it’s always towards Him and never away from Him. This very moment your life is headed in a specific direction, as is the whole world. If you’re not going God’s way, you should expect His grace-filled intervention. When Paul was forbidden to go one way, He anticipated God sending him another way. Like Paul, wait for God to show you the way, and then walk in it!
How is it possible to be more than a conqueror when you are out of a job? How can you be more than a conqueror when you’ve been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease? Being more than a conqueror seems like a strange way to describe someone who has been abandoned. Are you still considered to be more than an conqueror if your teenager is hooked on drugs? I would dare to say that most people don’t feel like they are more than a conqueror most of the time. How could you tell someone they are more than a conqueror when they are in the middle of a difficult circumstance in life?
The apostle Paul said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than a conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37
Those are Holy Spirit-inspired words of God through someone who understood tribulation, distress, persecution, and more. The reason Paul could say that we are more than conquerors even in times of great difficulty was because he had a very different take on trials than most Christians do today. Paul understood the sufferings of this life as personal invitations to get closer to God. Being more than a conqueror has nothing to do with the way you feel, but it has everything to do with who you are in Christ Jesus. You are more than a conqueror because of God’s Spirit living inside of you. You are more than a conqueror because Jesus is at the right hand of the Father praying for you. You are more than a conqueror because God the Father, Creator of Heaven and earth, is 100% for you. Praise God you don’t have to achieve some spiritual summit to be called more than a conqueror. Praise God being more than a conqueror is not depending on how many verses you have memorized or how many people you have witnessed to or how often you make it to the Lord’s house. Praise God that every single person filled with the Spirit of God is more than a conqueror!
Something that really annoyed me at times when I was younger was being imitated or copied by someone else, usually my brother. His intent was not to learn anything, but to aggravate, like any good brother would do. On some jobs new employees are given training partners whose job is to demonstrate how to do what is required, what is safe, and what are the standard procedures for the company and position. Becoming a follower of Christ is no different. Jesus meant for the mature followers to demonstrate to others how to live out lives that honor God. Recently I was giving a message on our Baby Dedication Sunday, and I spoke about how parents are to, “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it.” —Proverbs 22:6. Our children and grandchildren need to see a good demonstration in living color of how to live and to love as Christ did. The training period is hard sometimes, because willingness is not always there on either side, the trainee or the trainer. Demonstrating the love of God is also challenging because God has not called us to just love who we love and like already, but to love even those who cross us and hurt us. The training also lasts for an extended period of time—it actually never ends. But at some point, you should be receiving some help in this training. If you have been demonstrating the Christ life and showing how to love as Christ did, at some point point the one you are training will allow another trainer to step into their lives. The other trainer is the Holy Spirit. What a great advantage when you have someone on the inside who understands the requirements and standard procedures even better than you do. You can do all you can do to demonstrate how to live and love as Christ did, but then you must trust the Holy Spirit on the inside. If the one you are training goes astray, sometimes all you can do is pray. But you can pray believing the trainer on the inside is still there and is able to redirect and empower every life to live and to love as Christ did. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
You really can’t train how to live and love as Christ did without an object to demonstrate on. God will always make sure you have someone in your life that will test your training abilities. God will make sure you have the opportunity to faithfully take up your cross and love with sacrificial love to reflect His Son. Don’t be just a spokesman for the faith in God, be the demonstrator God has called and equipped you to be. Let me ask you, who has God placed in your life right now testing your ability to love as Christ did? God has placed that person there to prove His Son lives in you. Go out today and imitate the love of Christ to others, demonstrating how to live and to love like Him.
“And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.” Deuteronomy 29:5 (NKJV) I don’t know about you but I’ve worn the same shirt and pants two days in a row. And it’s ok especially if you’re not going to see the same people as the day before. Am I wrong? Am I the only one? I don’t think so. Now when you start wearing the same clothes more than two days in a row, there may be a problem. God performed a fashion miracle for the Hebrews coming out of bondage and wandering for 40 years in the wilderness. Their clothes didn’t fade like ours do and didn’t wear thin for wearing them too much. The women were not checking each other out because they wore on year 20 the same thing they wore every day on the first year of their wandering. Can you imagine? But what’s the point, right? How does this speak to us? It should speak to us about the detailed care and faithfulness of God. But here’s the point, in the Old Testament God put something on His people that would be preserved for all those years, but in the New Testament God put something in us to preserve us. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man(flesh) is perishing, yet the inward man(spirit) is being renewed day by day.” You may be wearing out physically, but God’s spirit is due for a renewal. Ask God to let you experience the renewal today. You have been clothed with a never aging Spirit that lives in you. You renew everything else, be renewed in your spirit. Renew your strength. Renew your hope and joy. Renew your love and devotion to God. Renew your faith and vision. He lives in us to renew us!