There will be times in our lives when challenges and hardship or the unknown will arise. Family, friends or close acquaintances might decide to share their opinions or concerns because they don’t want you to experience pain or difficulty. Maybe it’s because they have tried something and it didn’t work out the way they thought it should or they were afraid to step out because they might fail. Regardless of the reasons why, people love to tell others what they should or shouldn’t do. If you are not careful, you just might miss the plan and purpose God has for you. I am not saying don’t listen to wise council, but there will be times God speaks directly to you about something He wants you to accomplish or the direction He wants you to take and not to other people. You need to learn to discern His voice above the static on the line!
Jesus faced such opposition from Peter, one of his closest disciples. The Bible says, “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must of necessity suffer many things and be tested and disapproved and rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be put to death, and after three days rise again [[a]from death]. And He said this freely (frankly, plainly, and explicitly, making it unmistakable). And Peter took Him [b]by the hand and led Him aside and then [facing Him] began to rebuke Him. But turning around [His back to Peter] and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get behind Me, Satan! For you do not have a mind [c]intent on promoting what God wills, but what pleases men [you are not on God's side, but that of men]. And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and [d]lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [[e]joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow [f]with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me]” (Mark 8:31-34 AMP).
Peter could not comprehend why Jesus had to suffer at the hands of evil people and then be crucified. After all, wasn’t Jesus His Savior, Master and King? So he naturally spoke up and rebuked Jesus. Jesus then rebuked Peter because Peter was thinking about himself and not the purpose of God. He saw pain and hurt, instead of the freedom Jesus would bring to people by obeying His Father! Jesus’ death and resurrection brought forgiveness of sin to all who would believe in Him. Jesus remained obedient to His Heavenly Father and He wants us to deny ourselves and follow Him too, regardless of the cost!
Have people questioned God’s plan for your life because it seemed dangerous or difficult to them? Or maybe you have been the one to question someone else’s decision? The problem with trying to decide what others should or shouldn’t do is that God endows the person He has given an assignment to, the faith to believe it – not others. Don’t get upset when people disagree with you; express love to them and ask God to help you see if there are nuggets of truth in what they are saying. In other words, chew up the meat and spit out the bones. However, the decision is ultimately up to you. Ask God to give you the courage to make the right choice despite opposition.
The Apostle Paul faced resistance from the Caesarean Believers and his close companions as well. “The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy. Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.” When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, ‘The Lord’s will be done’” (Acts 21:8-14 NLT). The Apostle Paul’s friends didn’t want him to go to Jerusalem because it was going to be dangerous and he could possibly lose his life. The Apostle Paul, however, understood that his life was not his own. He was to be directed by the Holy Spirit and fulfill his God-given destiny no matter how hard it was going to be.
God will give every person the grace and power to overcome and endure to the end and that looks different for everyone.
Later on in the book of Acts the Lord appears to the Apostle Paul to encourage him on his journey, “That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well” (Acts 23:11 NLT). It was not only God’s will for Paul to speak to the religious leaders in Jerusalem, but also to people in Rome. The Apostle Paul faced enormous opposition and difficulty, but God was with him every step of the way to encourage and strengthen him for the very purpose of God. The key was for the Apostle Paul to stay his course…ROME!
Are you staying the course God has marked out for you or have you let others get you off track? Ask God to give you the strength and courage to move forward with His plan despite opposition or fear of danger or failure. God will be there with you in the midst of the storm and will help you up if you fall down. Real faith is action not just talk. When you know God has spoken to you, the next thing you should do is step in the direction you believe God is leading. If it is God, the doors will open. Remember God steers a moving ship. Let me say it again, “stay your course” and God will cause you to succeed and finish the race He has marked out for you!
I close with this quote by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”