When Your Plans Are Hindered
By Tom Brown
we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered
us.ó (1Thes 2:18, KJV)
Have you ever pursued something you believed was Godís will, yet
obstacles kept you from doing what you thought you were supposed to do? If
so, donít feel alone. The apostle Paul felt the same way.
Paul used the Greek word egkopto for the word hindered. It was an
old word, formerly used to describe a road so deteriorated and broken up
that it was impassable. It was also used in Greek times to portray a runner
cutting in or elbowing out of the way someone running a race. The primary
idea of the word "hindered" is that of an impasse so severe that it
prohibits you from going where you need to go or someone who unkindly elbows
you off course in your spiritual race. Paul was actually saying:
- Satan created an impasse that kept me from coming to see you.
- Satan cut in on me and prohibited me from visiting you, as I desired.
- Satan tried to elbow me out of the way to keep me from coming to see
Recently Satan created an impasse for our ministry. We had just sold a
small part of our property for a good sum of money, when the bank that the
buyer had used turned him down for the loan. It was crushing to us. We had
plans for that money, now we would have to wait.
On top of that disappointment I just received news that our Christian
Television station decided to pull our program off the air. No reason was
given! The board was given a gag order not to discuss it with anyone.
I know what it is like to be hindered from doing the will of God.
Everything does not always go smoothly for me. I sometimes have a hard time
as well. I think people need to know that preachers struggle too. God never
promised us an easy life. There will be obstacles. Paul faced them, and you
will too. So how do you overcome these obstacles? Let me give you three
things you must do in order to overcome these hindrances.
1. Recognize that the enemy stopped you, not God.
Paul did not use religious jargon and say, "Oh, I tried to visit you many
times, but it was not Godís will for me to come." Paul, instead, blamed the
real culprit behind his failed attempts to visit the church: Satan.
Paul had preached in Thessalonica for three consecutive Sabbaths, until
eventually the religious rulers gathered a mob and rushed into Jasonís house
where Paul had been staying. Paul was not there and so they grabbed Jason
and everyone in his house and brought them to the civic leaders. They
twisted their words, and thus made Jason and the others post bond. At night,
Who had inspired these people to treat Paul so unjustly? Satan of course.
Paul writes and lets the church know that Satan was behind all of this. God
had nothing to do with this horrible act. You see you will have to make a
clear decision as to who is behind your hindrances. Do you believe God
stopped you? If so, then you will have to change course. If you believe
Satan stopped you, then you continue your course. Paul was saying that Satan
did not want him to preach the gospel. He would not interpret this riot as
Godís way of telling him to shut up! Paul knew better. He would continue to
preach no matter what had happened to him.
The reason you need to discern the source of your hindrance is that
knowing the enemy is trying to stop you will help you keep on tract. It will
keep you from dropping out of the race.
For example, let us say you feel a real call to the ministry and so you
want to go to Bible School. You are saving your money to go to school. But
suddenly, your hours at work get cut in half. You now have to use your
savings to pay your bills. What do you do about Bible School? If you think
that God cut your hours, then you might conclude that God does not want you
to go to Bible School, and perhaps even the ministry. But if you know that
Satan has tried to hinder you, you will keep your plans on attending Bible
School. You wonít give up. Eventually, you will go.
Another reason it is good to know the enemy is trying to stop you is that
this knowledge will keep you from blaming yourself. So often, when we face
battles, and the first thing that often occurs is thoughts of condemnation.
You begin to erroneously think that God is judging you. You begin to ask
yourself, "What did I do wrong?" "I must have deserved these problems?"
"Maybe, I am reaping something in my past." You begin to beat yourself down.
This is exactly what the enemy wants you to do. But donít fall for it.
In my case, I recognized that the enemy did not like the positive results
that were taking place through our television program. He hated the fact
that we were receiving a lot of local and national coverage because of our
ministry of deliverance. So, he began to manipulate the minds of the
television stationís board members until they honestly believed they had a
justification for pulling our show off the air. If they had it, why have
they not told us? Why is it kept "hush, hush"? Why did they not give us an
opportunity to discuss the matter before they voted to remove us? I do not
believe for a moment that these people were being led by God to do what they
did. Satan put it into their minds to do what they did.
That sounds harsh to many people. They canít imagine that sincere people
could listen to the devil. Hey, remember Peter? In one moment, Jesus told
him, "Flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father has revealed
it to you." The next moment, minutes later, Jesus rebuked Peter, "Get behind
me Satan!" It is possible for godly people to hear from God one moment, and
then to hear from the devil the next moment.
I donít think the religious leaders who drove Paul out of town were
thinking that Satan was using them. They honestly believed that they were
serving God. Jesus said, "They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a
time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service
to God." (John 16:2) The worst kind of deception is religious deception.
There is not a stronger deception than what comes from religion. Religion in
one moment can inspire people with such profound thoughts, and in the next
moment, fill them with such devilish thoughts. This is what happened to
Paul, and Paul called a "spade a spade." He did not mince words.
2. Acknowledge that the setback is only temporary.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal
glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Cor 4:17)
The hindrance you have faced is only momentary. That means
temporary. It wonít last forever. At first you might think that you will
never get back in the race, but you will. Satanís attacks will cease and you
will see clearly how to move forward.
Tony Campolo preached a fabulous sermon entitled: Its Friday, but
Sundayís a coming! Donít you know that Satan thought he defeated Christ?
But little did he know that Sunday was coming. You might be facing Friday,
but Sundayís coming! The victory is near you!
Are you sick? Itís only Friday, Sundayís a coming!
Are you broke? Itís only Friday, Sundayís a coming!
Are you divorced? Itís only Friday, Sundayís a coming!
Are you defeated? Itís only Friday, Sundayís a coming!
3. Look for a way to fulfill Godís plan.
There is an old saying in the world that fits this truth: Donít take
it lying down! Do something about it. Paul did not throw up his hands
and resign himself to the situation. He found a way to keep preaching. Read
the story in Acts 17. After being kicked out of Thessalonica he then
preached in Berea, and the Bereans were more receptive.
Like Paul, I did not pulling our land off the market and, instead, another buyer
came and we sold the land for more money. Also, I did not to submit to the
idea that I cannot do television, simply because one station did not want us
anymore. My wife and I went on television on a secular station and we have reached new
people, especially those who have not heard the gospel. More people have
come to our church through the new station than the old Christian station,
and at a savings of 33 percent.
Remember the idea of the word hindered meant someone who
unkindly elbows you off course in your spiritual race. He told the
Galatians, "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you?" (Gal 5:7)
There are two things you can do when someone elbows you. You can drop out of
the race and find the judge and complain that someone elbowed youóthis will
unlikely do anything. Or, you can run faster and become more determined to
get ahead againóthis is the answer!
I coached youth football for many years. Young boys are usually not very
tough. Every season when we would have our first scrimmage, inevitably,
during the scrimmage, a couple of boys would come to me crying, "Coach, they
are holding me!" "Coach, they are grabbing my face mask!" At that point, the
kids were thinking that I would sympathize with them. But I didnít.
I told them, "When a guy is holding you, then hit his hands off of you."
"When someone grabs your mask, then slap their hands so they will let go!"
Basically, I tried to toughen the boys, because no one wins by looking for
the referee to defend them. No, they win when they find a way to overcome
the opponents aggressiveness and unfair tactics.
There will be jealous people who do not want to see you get ahead. The
reason that the Thessalonians filed charges against him was because of
jealousy. "The Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters
from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot" (Acts 17:5). They had
their public reasons for their mistreatment of Paul: "Paul is teaching
heresy", "Paul is not a good example", and "Paul has broken the Ten
Commandments." But the deep unspoken reason for elbowing Paul off course was
When you feel that you have been mistreated because they are jealous of
you, then the sweetest revenge is success. Simply succeed. Dust your feet
off in front of them. Declare you are moving forward in Godís plan. Donít
let them discourage you. Get them angrier with you when they see that they
canít stop you!
Paul not only moved on to Berea, but after being escorted out of that
city, he preached in Athens. He preached in the large outdoor amphitheater
called the Areopagus. This was a very important meeting place. This shows
that God used Paul more after being kicked out of Thessalonica and
Berea. Make the devil regret that he messed with you!
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