Pitfalls & Stumbling Blocks to Avoid, Part 1
By Jacquie Tyre
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on *so that I may lay hold of that *for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. --- Philippians 3:12-14
Early July: Be sure My people are moving in this season rightly aligned with My course so that they might not go astray. The winds of adversity, the winds of confusion, and the winds of deception are swirling and their intensity increasing. Therefore, My people must position themselves on My course, in My way, to avoid the dangers that lie to the left and to the right. Do not think that the winds will sweep you off the path in one fell swoop. No, these winds are set to cause you to lean in such a way that you feel like you are upright when indeed you are off-plumb and veering off My course.
Know that things are not always as they seem. Some of the people, places, and things that you have watched in the past season as indicators of My presence will not be so in this next era. It is mandatory that My people come to more fully know My voice, My Word and My ways, and find their places of divine fit among those who have determined to walk in the fear of the Lord - no matter the cost.
July 31: "The lure of the spectacular is the food of folly. Be careful of what lures and seeks to seduce by flattery and coercion for this is the manner of snares laid that have destroyed many if my choicest servants. I do not lead in this manner nor do I lead into snares of iniquity or usury. but such have entered into the camp but know that I Am is stepping into the scene and all that does not rightly align with My plumb line will be removed in My mercy. True Mercy always contains justice and righteousness and cannot by any means be separated. Prepare for the coming of I Am to come so that His Kingdom Purposes will not be hindered by the folly of the false."
In a previous article, we were challenged to understand that this season is one where the Lord is orchestrating life to reveal our heart, our mind and our will by the testing of our affections, our motivations, and our alignments. We were challenged to change our mindsets to more fully line-up with the Lord's ways, to live in humility, to be rightly aligned & connected by the Lord's design, to be Kingdom-focused, to pray consistently & fast as the Lord calls. And, we were called to be fully devoted to Christ in extravagant worship, in giving ourselves to apostles' teachings, in intercessory prayer and acts of service to demonstrate love and honor towards people in the Body of Christ and in our communities. (notes from the message are available on the website under "Articles")
The Lord is calling us to look at the pitfalls and stumbling blocks that could hinder our progress toward "finishing well." Always remembering that the way we finish one season determines the way we enter into the new. Some things must be laid down and other must be picked up, some avoided and some embraced, some resisted and some endured for the sake of the Kingdom. The challenge is in knowing the way of the Lord in each instance.
Let's take some time to discover some Pitfalls & Stumbling Blocks that the Apostle Paul spoke to the Church at Philippi.
First a little about Philippi:
- Paul went to Philippi in answer to the "Macedonian cal". Philippi was the foremost city of that portion of Macedonia...and the first city of Europe to be evangelized.
- The religious life of those in Philippi was marked by very syncretistic practices including the worship of the emperor (Julius, Augustus, and Claudius), the Egyptian gods Isis and Serapis, as well as many other deities.
- It was in Philippi that Paul met with Lydia, a business woman who met with others who met at the River to worship. Lydia and her whole household came to faith and became significant to the work of the Church in Philippi.
- It was in Philippi that Paul had an extended encounter with the slave girl that had a demonic spirit. Remember, she followed Paul around for several days proclaiming them to be "servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." Her words were true but the spirit at work was not. Paul discerned this - "greatly annoyed" - and after many days, turned and commanded the demon to depart. This was followed by time spent in prison..after being stripped, beaten, and severely flogged.
- Then, while in the Philippian jail, Paul & Silas were "praying and singing hymns" there was a great earthquake that opened the prison doors and broke the prisoners chains. This led to the conversion of the jailer and his household...and a confrontation with the officers of the magistrates for maltreatment as "Roman citizens!"
Some important observations of Paul at the time of his writing to the Philippians:
- Paul is in prison at the time of the writing. Scholars debate on the exact imprisonment - Rome, Ephesus or Caesarea.
- Paul was concerned for the Church at Philippi as a Father. He wanted them to know about his own condition, to speak words of encouragement and exhortation to them, to commend both Timothy and Epaphroditus and to thank them for their concern and for the gifts they had given.
The location, culture, situations, people, and relationship provide a context and foundation of understanding for our journey in 2011 in metro-Atlanta in the USA - as it was to Philippi in Macedonia.
Now, let's look at a few of things that could hinder our progress toward finishing well.
Pitfalls & Stumbling Blocks
- Lack of Confidence or faith that God will remain true to complete what He has begun in you, no matter what
Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Engulfed by struggles & challenges can lead to (Phil 1:9-11)
Giving in to Offense, either personally or on behalf of another
- Doubting God's faithfulness
- Wavering in love faith, discernment, sincerity, and righteousness,
Phil 1:10 "that you may. . . be without offense til the day of Christ.
Phil 1:12 "But I want you to now, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. . . "
Offence: aproskopos G677 - Having nothing to strike against, not causing to stumble - not troubled by a consciousness of sin.
From root word: proskoptō G4350 - to strike against, of those who strike against a stone or other obstacle in the path, to stumble, to strike one's foot against a stone, to rush upon, beat against, to be made to stumble by a thing...to be induced to sin.
Phil 1:14-18 And [also] most of the brethren have derived fresh confidence in the Lord because of my chains and are much more bold to speak and publish fearlessly the Word of God [acting with more freedom and indifference to the consequences].
Some, it is true, [actually] preach Christ (the Messiah) [for no better reason than] out of envy and rivalry (party spirit), but others are doing so out of a loyal spirit and goodwill.
The latter [proclaim Christ] out of love, because they recognize and know that I am [providentially] put here for the defense of the good news (the Gospel).
But the former preach Christ out of a party spirit, insincerely [out of no pure motive, but thinking to annoy me], supposing they are making my bondage more bitter and my chains more galling.
But what does it matter, so long as either way, whether in pretense [for personal ends] or in all honesty [for the furtherance of the Truth], Christ is being proclaimed? And in that I [now] rejoice, yes, and I shall rejoice [hereafter] also.
Bombarded by difficult circumstances, affecting you, personally or affecting those you care for can create offense through:
- Anger or disappointment in the Lord for allowing difficulties to occur
- Not recognizing the good that is coming through the struggles of faith
- Becoming angry, disgruntled, or distracted when injustices occur (such as those preaching with insincerity hoping to cause Paul more pain)
- Giving in to judgmental attitudes that end up taking you off course from the assignment of the Lord. (Paul's words... what does it matter?)
WARNING: Personal offense is typically easier to get over than borrowed offense. Be careful to not pick up offenses on behalf of someone else.
- Living by personal preference at the expense of Christ's purposes
Phil 1:21-26 For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]. If, however, it is to be life in the flesh and I am to live on here, that means fruitful service for me; so I can say nothing as to my personal preference [I cannot choose], But I am hard pressed between the two. My yearning desire is to depart (to be free of this world, to set forth) and be with Christ, for that is far, far better; But to remain in my body is more needful and essential for your sake. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and stay by you all, to promote your progress and joy in believing, So that in me you may have abundant cause for exultation and glorying in Christ Jesus, through my coming to you again.
While Paul was obviously speaking of the very real risk of his physical death, which would have been a joy to be with the Lord, nevertheless he knew that his living on would bring abundant fruitfulness and joy to the Lord and the people of Philippi. We can also glean further insights into our journey of "personal preference vs God's purposes."
Personal preferences will take us off God's course
- Operating out of Self-protection
- Opening the door to selfish ambition
- Keeping us being instruments of blessing or bearing fruit to the glory of the Lord
- Gaining our life but losing His
- Yielding to the temptation to live in a manner of life unworthy of our Kingdom citizenship
Phil 1:27-30 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents-which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Some characteristics of living "unworthy of the Kingdom" that are pitfalls & stumbling blocks
- The word of united is heis (G1520) which simply means "one" and in this passage, specifically "to be united most closely in will and spirit" - to be opposite to division of parts or in matters to dissensions.
- In spirit and purpose
- Departing from contending together for the Gospel
- With a "single mind" - the word for "single" is mia (G3391) meaning "only one" in opposition to many; again means "to be united most closely in will and spirit. FEMININE FORM OF HEIS
- Giving in to alarm - fear and intimidation in anything by opponents or adversaries!
- Frightened - ptyro (G4426) - to frighten, affright, to terrify; This is the only place this particular word is used in the New Testament. Presumably a derivative of the word ptyo (G4429) meaning "to spit" which is from the root word, ptysso (G4428) meaning to "fold together, roll up" that has connotations of expansion, spreading out
- Opponents or adversaries - antikeimai (G480) - to be set over again, opposite to, to oppose, be adverse to, withstand.
- Fear & Intimidation spreads out and spew forth defilement when it is allowed to take root especially when we give our adversaries room to affect our resolve to press on in oneness of spirit and mind for the sake of the Gospel
- Denying, refusing or demonizing suffering on Christ's behalf
- Suffer - pascho (G3958) - to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo - in a good sense, to be well off, in good case, or in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight - of a sick person. May speak of sickness, misfortunes, undergo evils or affliction
- In our modern Church culture there is a very real pitfall -- on both sides of the course of the Lord
- In you are walking in faith, true & strong faith, you will not suffer. If suffering comes, it is from the enemy...rebuke it. (See v 28 - sign of destruction: perdition in KJV - G684 - destroying, utter destruction, a perishing, ruin...which may consists of eternal misery in hell)
- If you are suffering or going through hard times (include sickness, relational challenges, employment or financial problems, etc.) then you either do not have enough faith or you have sin in your life
- Paul was imprisoned and suffered opposition many times in many ways, Epaphroditus was sick even near to death, and the Philippians were told...."you have been granted the privilege not only to believe but to suffer for Christ's sake."
- In vs 28, referenced earlier, Paul says that suffering is a "evident token" of salvation from the Lord. Soteria - deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation, - sometimes saved out of, but often saved through as a testimony of God's amazing grace to those who observe us through the midst of our suffering. --
- To advance according to God's course in this season to finish well and not be drawn off course, let us be mindful to
- Walk in full assurance that He who called us will keep us and complete His work in us
- Stay focused on the assignment of the Lord and do not get offended, distracted or derailed by others. Be faithful and true to the Lord and walk in trust of the Lord to accomplish His work. Benefits of NOT BEING OFFENDED:
- Preservation of life & calling
- Continuation of the work of the Gospel
- Keeping of "eager desire and persistent expectation & hope"
- Not being disgraced or put to shame in anything
- Freedom of speech and unfailing courage
- Magnify, glorify & bring praise to Christ and Christ be boldly exalted in our bodies....in life or in death
- Live for and in Christ alone, yielding our self-lives to His Lordship and for His glory, no matter the cost.
- Live worthy of the Gospel of Christ in character,
- Walk together in oneness of heart, mind, spirit, and purpose with those whom the Lord has joined you to in covenant relationship.
- Continue to contend together for the faith and the advancement of the Kingdom
- Live by faith with confidence and the joy of the Lord in the face of your adversaries
- Allow the sufferings that come your way to always bring glory, honor and praise to the Lord in everything
- Living not for ourselves but for Christ's glory. Clay Nash shares in his book, "Activating the Prophetic" that he once asked the Lord why something bad happened and the Lord rebuked him by saying don't ask me why. Then, Clay asked the Lord what he could ask and He told him to ask, "How are you going to get glory out of this situation?"