Mature Class Study, teacher Leslie Crain.

The enemy has a job to hinder our souls, our faith, and our confidence in each other. Hindrances allow him to work.

Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

The enemy tries to hinder our patience with ourselves and with each other. The testing of our faith works endurance. We need determination to endure every day until the end. It’s important to strip off the weights that would hinder us from following God, from having faith, and from fellowship with each other. God is able to help us endure.

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

Sister Sandy Coleman used to have meetings for those working in Bible Story Time. At one meeting she came with a string of onions around her neck. The onions represented the chores and messes in our homes. Children were coming into the homes where Bible Story Time meetings were and the homes needed to be cared for. The onions represented unfinished stuff that erodes our confidence and produces a sense of futility. Because people were comparing their homes, they would say “Well, I should be doing this and this,” or “My home will never be like so and so.” One onion at a time is taking care of things and then setting them aside. If the onions hung around our neck too long, they would start to ooze and we would really have a mess. Laying aside spiritual weights is so much more important than having our house tidy and the dishes done. Those are things that need to be done but it’s really important to get things in order spiritually. Sister Sandy’s home wasn’t always spotless and she knew her downfalls. There were times when she said it was time to have a “pitch it party” to get rid of things. God want us to have an easily managed and consistent life. Weights can hinder our faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

To paraphrase the scripture, faith is the conviction of reality without any physical sense of it happening. Faith is assurance that is firm persuasion, full confidence, trusting, free from doubt, and certain of expectations.

Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified Classic) Faith is a sure confidence of things that are hoped for…a certainty of things that are not seen.

Sister Leslie compared her feeling about her spouse and God. She knows he’ll be faithful, she can count on him, and he’ll take care of her. How does she know? He’s proven it. There have been times when she was disappointed. Why? She was disappointed because her expectations were not met and he can’t read her mind. About God, she knows he is faithful, he will never change, he’s dependable, and he’ll always take care of her. Why? He’s proven it. Has she been disappointed? Yes. She’s been disappointed because her expectations weren’t met but God does know what’s in her mind. She has to be open to God’s perfect plan. It doesn’t mean that she’s wrong to have expectations. The enemy wants to use our disappointments to cause questions. We must still have faith even though our expectations aren’t met. We must lay our expectations in God’s hands and trust him to know what is best for us. His time is his time, and we have no control over it. We can still have faith that God has not forgotten us, even if it seems like we’ve been in exile for 40 years.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

God had thoughts of an expected end for the people who had been in exile at Babylon for 70 years. They may have thought the Lord didn’t care about them because they were in exile so long.

Jeremiah 29:1…the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue…were carried away captives …to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;

Exile is a state of banishment from a safe place. You’re forbidden from returning to what you thought was safe and normal, for a limited time or forever. Exile today can be a very hard place, a very long illness, a dark and shadowy valley that you have to walk through, an expectation that seems impossible to obtain, an exile from money and security, or a broken heart for your wayward children. The enemy wants to hinder our faith in God. If we want to fully enjoy God’s plans for us, we need to lay aside our plans and be willing to wait. We need to lay aside the part of us that says, but I’ve always done it like this. We need to lay aside and accept the waiting and promise that God has plans for us. Our perceptions and experiences come from our families and experiences. We need to submit things to God and be willing to change according to God’s will, even if it’s new and uncomfortable for us.

Jeremiah 29:10 For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

Before we were saved, we were self willed and contrary. Contrary is perversely inclined to do the opposite. We saw the benefit of some changes right away because we saw the benefit of the change. Other benefits we had to learn to change and give them up so we could see the benefit of the change. Sometimes we tried to hold onto our own way but we learned to give things up because of the benefit. Some things are our own convictions and ideas that we like. We have to be careful about our own convictions. The enemy uses our ways and thoughts to hinder our faith, our obedience to God, and our unity with God’s people.

The enemy uses tools to hinder:

  • Ridicule and mocking tears down the confidence of our children and the saints in others. It doesn’t mean we can’t laugh about something stupid or have humor with each other. We need to be careful that we don’t undermine or mock but are just having a good time. The enemy wants us to be separated us from each other by what we say.
  • Observations or comments to someone that bring doubts about another person’s experience. We may observe something and say how someone did something poorly but we would have done it better. It becomes an “us against them” situation and it works division in the body which God hates.
  • Being nosey about others. People say they’re interested and concerned about others. They say knowing the details will help them carry a burden for the person. Your questions to someone may make them uncomfortable. Ask yourself how you would feel about someone asking for details about your illness, plans, new job, purchases, or an unspoken prayer requests. It isn’t our business and we have enough to take care of our own business. It can be harmful if we’re too free to share what we hear about someone. It can bring doubts about the person if we mistakenly tell the wrong story. Our words are important and our convictions can be a hindrance and a weight to others. We need to lay aside the weights of our ideas and convictions that could hinder others and turn into sin.

There was a video of a race by special needs Olympics children who had Down’s syndrome. They were excited to be running the race. They all started out and one stumbled so he fell. One stopped and then another, until everyone stopped. Someone helped him get up and dusted him off. Then everyone linked arms together and ran the race together. It is a vision of everyone working together to be sure everyone wins the race. The children were winners before they even crossed the finish line. They set their own goals aside to be a help and strength for each other.