Overcoming the Obstacles, Part 5
“Keep the main thing, the main thing!” I remember hearing Pastor Peter Lord share this thirty years ago about the importance of avoiding distractions and keeping our focus upon Jesus. For the follower of Christ, this should be obvious, right?
Yet, for most of us, at some point in our journey, we are bound to take our eyes off Jesus and get distracted through the cares of this life and storms that come our way. Remember Peter walking on the water with Jesus? What happened? He lost his focus on Jesus and began to sink in the stormy sea.
Distractions, temptations, and obstacles to growth in Christlike character and faith are certain. To overcome them, a resolute vision of Jesus, anchored in His Word and abiding in His presence, is required.
I have been sharing from Joshua 1:1-11 the last four weeks about Joshua and the Children of Israel crossing the Jordan into their Promised Land. From this story, there are principles we can glean to strengthen and empower us to realize God’s promises and overcome the obstacles in our journey with Christ.
This week I want to begin to examine the importance of having God’s vision for our lives. It begins by keeping Jesus before us. Before I begin, let us recap the importance of Believing God’s Promises from last week.
Believe God’s Promises
What had God promised Joshua?
“From the wilderness … to the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.” (Josh. 1:4 NKJV) God already gave the land of Canaan to the children of Israel. Joshua and the people had to determine how much land they would go in and occupy. It was theirs by faith, and it happened when they decided to act in obedience.
God’s Word is for you, and you can receive it as though He spoke it to you personally. Your only requirement is to believe and act on His promises by faith.
Every promise of Scripture is intended to provoke us to action.
What has God promised? How much of His kingdom is available? How much have you made up your mind to have? There are realms available in God’s kingdom that can only be achieved as you determine to possess and occupy the territory with God.
Circumstances, Feelings, and Time (Delay and Process) affect our ability to believe God’s promises.
Delay causes many to doubt or give up on God’s promises. Remember, Joshua waited 40 years before the promise was realized! The writer of Hebrews tells us that we inherit the promises through faith and patience (Heb. 6:12). Patience undergirds faith as we wait for God’s promise.
However, some begin to doubt God’s Word or vision over time and with delay. Consider Joseph. God sent Joseph to Egypt, and kept him in prison, “…until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” (Psalm 105:19 NKJV) Joshua’s delayed promise was God’s preparation period for his ultimate calling.
Joseph was tested by the very revelation and calling God had in his life, until it was time for the release of his ministry and calling. The same is true for us and our walk with God. With this understanding, let us examine vision for our lives.
Pursue God’s Vision
Joshua foremost sought God’s vision for his life and for others.
I shared two weeks ago, in part three of this series, how Joshua knew his strength was in God. He discovered this truth through intimacy, seeking the Lord foremost, and waiting in His presence. From his love relationship with the Lord, he was able to hear God’s directive and vision that shaped his life and impacted the people of Israel.
I shared about the benefits we gain from times of waiting in the Lord’s presence, dialed in to God, and tuned out from the world. To grow in vision for your life, start from a place of intimacy with the Lord.
Vision begins with Jesus; He is the author and finisher of our faith.
looking unto Jesus, the author (or originator) and finisher (or perfector) of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2 NKJV
Jesus is the author or originator of our faith; He finishes or perfects that in His ascended life. We are directed to look unto Him, which literally means to have no other distractions, only eyes for Jesus.
He is our first love, our desire, our goal. We love Him because He first loved us. As a genuine follower of Christ, we want to see Him, and we want His vision and mission to be fulfilled on earth.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matt. 22:37-39 NKJV
Pure vision originates in genuine love for Christ alone. But this love for Him begins with receiving His love for you and knowing at a heart level that you are forever loved and adopted by God. This heart revelation brings security, hope, and vision for the future.
From this place of intimate love with God, we can love Him back completely, and then genuinely love others. Love is greater than truth; truth, like faith, must operate through love. The great commandment must proceed the great commission.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matt. 28:18-20 NKJV
We are commanded to make disciples in the manner that Jesus did. What does this look like? It starts with spending time with others, listening to them, and loving them—those in the church and outside of the church. We can agree to disagree as we maintain love through our bond in Christ. We teach all that Jesus taught and did—the full gospel, beginning with love for God and others, and then demonstrating the power of God’s kingdom as the Spirit gifts and leads.
We must demonstrate the love of Christ with each other and then to the world. Love tolerates different views while not compromising the truth of God’s Word. Love does not hate. Love does not control or dominate others. It embraces and accepts. We are servants foremost to others, as Jesus was. He instructs us,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NKJV
Most of our nation is not Christian; they have a different world view. When they see our sincere love for each other and for them, they observe the genuineness of Christian discipleship and we gain credibility with them. By listening and genuinely loving those outside of the Church, we can begin to build bridges of relationship and trust to give the opportunity to tell them about Christ.
Worship and prayer are also key components to making strong disciples. Worship and prayer, from a foundation of God’s Word, maintain our intimacy with the Lord, the flow of His presence and love.
One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4
Have a great week, and keep your eyes on Jesus, He is the main thing!
I will continue next week looking at God’s vision for our lives as a key principle in overcoming the obstacles.
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Overcoming the Obstacles, Part 5”