Consider these facts...Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job because he lacked imagination. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Oprah Winfrey was nearly fired from a reporting job. There are plenty of people around you that are willing to say there's no way you can succeed. But, when the world says no way, there's an incredible opportunity.
Today's study looked at Joshua 6 and how to overcome our barriers. I will be sharing some bits and pieces from today's message that Ryan Nelson shared and also share how this message impacted me as I have dealt with my own challenges in overcoming barriers erected by others or by myself.
As Ryan mentioned early in his message, barriers are not obstacles that will prevent you from achieving your dreams. Barriers are opportunities to allow God to do something amazing for Him. God has a plan for you so that He can get glory IF you are willing to do what He has in store for you.
Joshua 6:2 says: "Then the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men." God is telling Joshua that the battle is done even though Jericho, at this point, had not fallen yet.
One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 where God says: "For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. This verse has had a significant impact on me many times in my life, especially when I have faced obstacles or struggles wondering what is my purpose in life. There are times when I have allowed others to impact me in a negative manner based on things they have accused me of or talked bad about me. I admit that I am a very sensitive person and that is my nature. Those who know where to hit me to cause heartache know this is the case and too often I have allowed people to virtually punch me in the gut to inflict emotional damage. However, with time, this has got better because of God's promises to me that NO ONE can ruin the plans the LORD has for my life if I only trust in Him. All you have to do is read some of my older posts on this blog to see what are the type of things I have battled against with many people in the KC area who have done these things to try and ruin my life. Some of them still try to do the same things today. Unfortunately, in many of the cases, I let their false assumptions about who I am to dominate my thinking which in turn has affected how I view myself. Then, there have been others time when I have beat myself up because I thought the worse things that others surely must be thinking about me and most of these assumptions are not even true or based in reality. We can so easily cause immeasurable grief in our lives if we focus on what society tells us in how we are to behave or what we should do with our lives. All we have to do is look at most advertising that exists in this world to see their main message is that WE NEED what they sell. If we don't get what they sell to meet what we think WE NEED, then we are made to feel inferior or looking from the outside in.
There is a difference between a life you live for others (to gain their approval) and a life you live in faith. You must listen to what God's calling you to do and NOT what your eyes or the world is telling you. For Joshua, the plan God laid before him didn't make much sense with his eyes or mind. The same thing could be said about Noah. The LORD told him to build a massive ark to prepare for a mighty flood that would come in the future. Most of those around Noah probably thought he was nuts to be building a huge ark when there was no water to be found anywhere nearby. If you look back at Scripture, God used people in mighty ways if they only trusted him. Most of these people where not the religious-minded people who looked down on everyday folk who did not follow the laws of what they thought should be done. Those people thought they had it all figured out in life. Do what pleases others and life is good. Or so they thought.
Everyone needs to realize that whatever you have in your life that may disqualify you from being something incredible for God is the very thing God may use for you to honor him. God loves to bring incredible success stories out of horrible experiences we have faced in the past.
What you have done and what has been done to you in the past are not barriers but opportunities for what God can do for you in the future. He used people with ugly pasts throughout Scripture. He can use you and He can use me in the next week. Much like what is shared in Joshua 6:20-21: "When the trumpets sounded (after the people walked around Jericho seven times as the Lord commanded), the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall (around Jericho) collapsed so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the LORD."
The truth is that those who may look down on you in life and think they are almighty because they are part of a "club" or group that is looked upon as being influential are not any better than the people sitting in the local jail or the federal prison. In fact, none of us are better than anyone else! We all need God's grace. This is one big reason why Jesus was sent. That way, every one of us could trust in something other than ourselves or this world.
There are plenty of people that are willing to discourage you and there are circumstances you will face in life that will threaten to knock you down and raise doubts in your mind. BUT, these barriers do not have to keep you from living out the life God has planned for you. These are opportunities for you to show the world that God's plans are greater than the plans of all of the doubters!!
Sharing a few more personal things in my life...recently this weekend, I took some time away from being engaged on social networks that have played a very large part in my life in the past 3 years. I joined Twitter way back in August 2008 after I heard about how this network allowed one to engage and meet new people no matter where they live. At that time, I was trying to meet new people in the Kansas City area after being in the area for a little over a year at that point. I had heard about a Social Media Club that was just getting started and I figured I better get on Twitter so I can start meeting some of those people who were part of this club and were organizing Tweetups (informal face-to-face meetings with people you interact with on Twitter). You see, I have not always had very close friends in my life and this is something that I wanted to try and change by meeting new people in the area. It went well for several months after I joined this club and attended the monthly breakfast meetings, etc. I was even voted onto the first board to be the Education Chair and I felt like I had finally reached that point where I felt significant and that I was influencing people in a good way. But all hell broke loose about a year ago when I decided to voice my opinions on my own blog about a new Social Media Club that was starting up in the area. I knew or thought I knew the real reasons why this new club was being started and I was trying to explain my point of view of why this was a bad idea. But, it seems I overstepped my boundaries of how I should "act" since I was part of a board that was looked upon as being influential to its members. I spoke out thinking I was doing some good in trying to show why this other new club was a bad idea. See, there was a plan that was to be shared with everyone soon about how the board would address this new club and I jumped out ahead of the others sharing my own point of view. To be honest, I thought our board needed to step up and address this situation quickly and not rest on our laurels. Our members were wanting answers on what this new club was all about and why our board was not responding. So, I did not follow the plan set out by others.
In the end, there was enough pressure by others on the board since they were highly pressured by the national leaders (who never really took time to get the real story) that it would be best if I resigned from my chair position. It was my decision to step down when everyone on the board, except one blessed soul, voted for me to remove myself. I did so and to be honest I have struggled with how this whole thing went down for a long time. It has made me bitter towards many who were on that board who shared their thoughts about me and how the plan they had moving forward should not include me. It has been hard to move on from that chapter in my life, but with God's grace and others who have looked past my mistakes and failures to accept me for who I am (warts and all), I am moving on from that painful experience with time. It still bugs me at times and I have shared my thoughts/opinions about this club to this day, but I also realize that when I thought I was part of the plan for this club, it was not in God's plan for my life. To be honest, if I would have stayed on with this club or this incident would never have happened, it makes me wonder if I would have an "esteemed attitude" about how great it is that I am on the board and I am influencing all of these people because of my position. We can too easily get wrapped up in ourselves and think highly of where we are in life. This is a danger sign though if we continue to think this way and in response, treat others as they are lower than us on the totem pole.
A year later removed from the position I once had, I now realize after some new opportunities are coming into my life, that God has a different plan in mind for my life. In retrospect, the pain and bitterness I felt after what happened to me have been turned into opportunities where the LORD knows my true heart lies in serving others. You see, I thought I was "serving others" when I wrote my point of view about this other new club, but I was not. In the weeks ahead, you will start to hear more about the new opportunity God has in store for me. I am helping to lead a small group to do much greater things that will make a major impact on the lives we will serve and I am grateful that God has this new plan for me. What I need to do is put my faith in Him and know that whatever he places on my heart for my calling is where he wants me to make an impact. And the best thing about this plan the LORD has for my life is that the impact will be for eternity!
In closing, I challenge you to be one who is not confined by barriers, but instead take on the plan the LORD shows to you as opportunities to show this world that when they say it can't be done or that you can't lead it, we can show that God will not be stopped by anything!!