Overcoming the Obstacles, Part 1 - Bob Sawvelle

Overcoming the Obstacles, Part 1

While we continue to face a challenging season with the pandemic and its subsequent hardships, we enter 2021 filled with faith and optimism—Jesus is with us!

Challenges and trials occur in life; to live victoriously and fulfill our purpose, we must live as overcomers in Christ. Jesus promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He gave the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. We have God’s Word to build and direct us. He has made the way and given us what we need to live as overcomers!

Learning to trust God in crisis and uncertainty helps to mature us in Christ and strengthens us to overcome the obstacles to destiny fulfilled.

2020 seemed to bring out the best and worst in people. The trials of the pandemic year sifted our hearts and brought to the surface the good, the bad, and at times, even the ugly. As Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Every year has its ups and downs, highs, and lows, but 2020 will be forever etched in our minds as a challenging and defining year.

While we can focus on the worst or negative of last year, the blessings and positive were there too. We mourn those who passed in 2020 from the pandemic, but we also celebrate the blessings and victories of last year as well.

As I shared last week in the article, Rejoice in the Lord Always, hardships and trials are opportunities to grow in Christ, to become better, not bitter. Suffering helps to shape us into the image of Jesus and grow stronger in the Spirit. Knowing who we are in Christ anchors us in hope.

Jesus has never lost control, and we can trust Him always, even in the most daunting of circumstances. Faith flows from intimacy and relationship with God. A life of faith is not about achieving results, but living as one who obeys, not out of duty, but as a child who trusts the One who guides.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will examine Joshua and the children of Israel as they crossed the Jordon and entered the promised land. From their story, we can glean principles to overcome obstacles.

One of the principles we observe in their story is that when God directs, faith ignores natural circumstances and embraces opportunity to live in promised inheritance.

Your ability to trust Jesus confidently amid the uncertainties of life determines how much you abide in God’s peace, joy, and victory. Courageous faith sees opportunity in contradiction. It is a faith that can deflect chaos and release God’s peace in a turbulent world.

As is the case with every new year, we are given a fresh opportunity to occupy and possess God’s inheritance for us. It is eternal and priceless.

Consider what Peter stated,

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”  1 Pet. 1:3-4 NLT

Our born-again experience brings us into Kingdom inheritance. In Christ, you have a priceless inheritance that will not change, this is a present eternal reality!

A kingdom mindset apprehends this reality by faith and lives from the assurance that inheritance is available presently—as well as future. Your certainty is in Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.

There are promises in God’s Word and prophecies He has spoken to us; they are part of our inheritance now, and we are learning how to possess them.

Jesus said His words are Spirit and they give life—words from the Father, when spoken through the Spirit, are life-giving. They build faith. They give hope.

Hope dispels discouragement and attracts what we hope for.

God is wanting us to become what He says, to apprehend what He has promised. For example,

Abraham, against hope became what God said he was—by faith. “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Rom 4:18 NKJV

We are now the light of the world because Jesus, the light of the world, has changed us the moment we believed. Let your light shine!

Principles behind Joshua’s success at possessing promised inheritance—Joshua 1:1-11

Forty years prior, God invited Israel to possess their inheritance in the Promised Land. Unbelief robbed a generation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb.

An entire generation of Israel wandered for forty years in the desert because they were unable to trust God and his promise of inheritance. That generation longed for the Promised Land, but they died dreaming about it, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. The skepticism of an unbelieving generation turned the Promised Land into a dream that never materialized.

A whole generation of Israel wandered 40 years—longing, wishing for the Promised Land, but they died wishing. Faith is not “wishing,” but believing the promise and then acting upon it. Their wandering turned the Promised Land into a mere Fantasy Land.

During those same forty years, Joshua and Caleb developed within themselves a victorious mindset. When God commissioned Joshua, he responded faithfully and turned the dreams and hopes of others into land, cities, homes, and possessions—an inheritance for generations to come. At 85 years old, Caleb took possession of his promised territory, proving that tenacious faith endures desert years to realize nurtured promises and dreams.

Forty years later, Moses passes, and God directs Joshua to “crossover” into the promised inheritance.

It is a time of transition and challenging circumstances. Moses has passed and the nation is grieving the loss of their revered leader, considered a great prophet (Deut. 34:7-12). Now they are directed by God, through a new leader, to overcome and cross a flooded Jordon River. In the natural, the circumstances seem contrary to them.

However, with Jesus, obstacles become opportunities when He is leading.

The river is raging and a mile wide. You have a word from the Lord, “cross over.” What do you do? Do you obey God? Or do you rely on your natural understanding of the situation?

The pandemic and suffering are still with us. But what is God saying? How do we move forward?

We enter 2021 with hope; we hold on with patient expectation. We believe His promises that the year is filled with His goodness, blessing, and provision:

You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.” Psalm 65:11 NKJV

We move forward, confident in God, knowing He will strengthen and help us:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isa. 41:10 NIV

2021 is a year of transition. Seasons of transition give opportunities to “see” the clearest. At first, vision may seem unclear. But as you wait on the Lord, He reveals and empowers you to act. Expect God to guide and sustain you this year—He will never leave you!

I will continue next week looking at specific principles Joshua used to overcome the obstacles!


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For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Overcoming the Obstacles, Part 1”

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