With God there is no such thing as being “over-the-hill.” Jesus death, burial, and resurrection are proof positive that with Him in control of our lives, as the saying goes, every “setback is a setup for a comeback.”
“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:4 NIV Self pity is a dangerous state of mind. The quote above is from the great prophet Elijah who at this point in his life was a poster child for self pity. We see here …
Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. 2 John 1:8 (NLT)
On several occasions in my life God has used this verse as a timely encouragement to stay the course and press ahead into all He has for me. At those times I have taken it as a personal challenge from the Lord to hang in there and not let discouragement or disillusionment have their way. It has helped me appreciate all he has done in and through my life and enabled me to refocus on what is really important.
The sobering truth is that there are ways in which a person can lose what they and others “have worked so hard to achieve.” And that is the concern of the Apostle John in his writing to the unnamed lady and her children in his second epistle. This verse forms the heart of John’s message for them is also meant to be a word of encouragement to all of us.
Although our knowledge about this single parent mom and her family is somewhat limited, we do know that some of her children were believers and serving the Lord along side of her. (vs. 4) We also know that they had the gift of hospitality and used their home to host itinerating ministers of the gospel. In those days, traveling apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers relied upon the graces of hospitable believers not only to provide food and shelter but also a meeting place for them to minister. There were no church buildings as there are now and the church met in homes where the body of believers gathered regularly for worship, prayer, teaching and fellowship. (Acts 2:42-47)
John’s instructions to this “chosen lady” as he refers to her, and her children warns about deceptive teachers and strongly urges them to be very discerning as to whom they bring into their home and allow to teach. (vs. 7 & 10) The explicit nature of John’s exhortation would lead us to believe that perhaps she, and one or more of her children, were also leaders in that house church that they hosted.
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew16:23 (NIV)
Recently I found myself battling a mixture of worry, fear and discouragement over a direction I felt God leading me to take. It was like I had come to a roadblock warning me to stop and redirecting me to consider another way to go. You know how roadblocks appearing out of no where have a way of threatening your plans and upsetting your equilibrium? Especially when you are on a tight schedule and are already feeling pressed to reach your destination on time. That is how I felt.
First off, worry, fear and/or discouragement are often tip offs that a person is under spiritual attack. Our enemy the devil and his evil spirits work mightily using tactics like that to hinder us from pressing ahead into God’s will for our lives. In so doing they seek to not only thwart our plans but also to rob us of our peace and joy by undermining our faith. (Romans 15:13)
As I began to pray about what I was feeling I found the Spirit of God rising up within me to speak to the devil with the same words Jesus used – “Get behind me, Satan!” The more I prayed this, the greater the force and conviction of my words became and the more directive! I found myself moving from repeating “get behind me, Satan” to repeating phrases like “get out of my way, get out of my way” and “you are not going to block or hinder my future!” In the process I began to see with such clarity that the fear, worry and discouragement I was feeling were direct roadblocks thrown up by the enemy to try to stop me from pressing ahead into the plans and future God had for me.