Life is full of obstacles.
Three men were hiking and came to large, raging river. They needed to get to the other side but didn’t know how. The first man prayed, "God, give me the STRENGTH to cross this river." Poof! God gave him big arms and strong legs, and he swam across the river. The second man prayed, "God, give me the TOOLS to cross this river." Poof! God gave him a rowboat, and he rowed across. Seeing this, the third man prayed, "God, give me the INTELLIGENCE to cross this river." And poof! God turned him into a woman. She looked at the map, hiked upstream for 50 yards, and then walked across the bridge!
Language can be an obstacle.
• Denmark: a sign for a Copenhagen airline: We take your bags and send them in all directions.
• When translated into Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-lickin’ good" came out "eat your fingers off".
• In a pamphlet for English-speaking drivers renting a car in Tokyo: "When a passenger of the foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet at him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigor."
Some obstacles require tootling.
A man found a cocoon. A small opening had appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. When the butterfly seemed to stop making any progress, the man decided to help so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly came out easily but had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man expected, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and the body reduce. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly. The struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening forced fluid from its body into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once freed from the cocoon.
Obstacles are a necessary part of life. Without obstacles and the struggles they produce, we’d never realize how capable we are and how amazing God is to help us. We’d end up with fat bodies and puny wings. Like the butterfly, we’d never be able to fly.
Obstacles help affirm God’s presence in our lives.
Getting Home – You never know what’s going to transpire to get you home.
David’s obstacle was a giant. God gave him strength to face that giant.
Gideon’s obstacle was his fear. God gave him courage to face his fear.
Jehoshaphat’s obstacle was trouble. God gave him the ability to face his trouble.
Today, we’ll look at Samuel’s challenges and discover how, when we are a God With Us Person, God gives us support to face our obstacles.
Mother couldn’t conceive – admittedly his biggest obstacle. Research has shown that reproduction is hereditary. If your biological mother didn’t have any children, you won’t either.
Samuel’s dad had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. (1 Sam 1:2)
He loved Hannah, but the LORD had closed her womb. Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. (1 Sam 1:5-6)
She sought a solution: Hannah, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life." (1 Sam 1:10-11)
Why would God close a womb and then open it later? Timing
Eli and his sons – the influence of his examples – imagine trying to learn how to be what you’re supposed to be from people who have no clue themselves.
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD (1 Sam 2:12)
Can you be religious and not know the Lord? Is there a difference in knowing about God and knowing God?
Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men despised the offering of the LORD. (1 Sam 2:17) Saw no value in devotion to God.
'Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?' "Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares, 'I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever'; but now the LORD declares, 'Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed. 'Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father's house so that there will not be an old man in your house. (1 Sam 2:29-31) Asa: God is with you when you are with Him.
Instead of their struggles drawing them to God, the let their struggles become stumbling blocks.
These men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. (Ezek 14:3)
There was no word from the Lord in that day – God was silent
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. (1 Sam 3:1)
When God is silent, we think He’s absent, uninterested, incapable, uncaring. If, during this silence stuff happens we don’t want in our lives, we think God has forsaken us. We assume He is inactive.
Habakkuk’s struggle: Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told. (Hab 1:5)
Obstacles attempt to prevent, divert, detour, stop, discourage. They become a barrier, hurdle, stumbling
block, obstruction, impediment, hindrance, snag, catch, drawback, hitch, handicap, deterrent,
complication, difficulty, problem, disadvantage.
But regardless of what we call it, when we let an obstacle interfere with what God wants to
accomplish it becomes an excuse.
Ben Franklin: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
If we are willing to make excuses, we are unwilling to change.
But though we allow our obstacles to hinder us, God is not hindered by our obstacles.
'But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always. (1 Sam 2:35)
“But God, don’t You realize what he has working against him?” These are serious obstacles. He has obstacles.
Number one question every therapist is asked following knee replacement surgery: “Don’t you know I’ve just had surgery?”
An artist in Mexico lost his right hand while working on a statue. But he didn’t give up. He learned to carve with his left hand and eventually finished the work which he named: In Spite Of.
What was David’s challenge – giant.
What was Gideon’s challenge – fear.
What was Jehoshaphat’s challenge – trouble.
What are Samuel’s challenges – obstacles.
Look at what God did through them in spite of these obstacles.
Secret of a God With us Life – God provides whatever it takes for us to rise above whatever we face.
Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail. All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD. And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD. (1 Sam 3:19-21)
Confirmed – to build up or support
“Whatever it takes for Samuel to be My prophet, I will provide!”
People say Christianity is just a crutch for weak people. I broke my foot years ago and needed crutches to walk. I welcomed the crutches because I needed help getting around. And I welcome whatever God wants to do to help me walk with Him.
You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living. (Ps 56:13)
The LORD will accomplish what concerns me. (Ps 138:8)
What’s going to stop that? What’s going to make “God accomplishing what concerns me” impossible? What obstacles do I have that are bigger than God’s promises?
Andrew Murry: God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.
Either we value God and seek His help, or, because of our pride, we are left to struggle alone.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. (Prov 16:18)
1. Facing obstacles is a natural part of life.
2. Obstacles are not the problem.
3. Allowing those obstacles to interfere with what God wants to accomplish in us is the problem.
4. If we use an obstacle as an excuse to being With God we will lose out on many of the benefits of God Being With Us.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)