Obstacles in Becoming More Purposeful: Resistance in the Spiritual Realm

Training Category: Church Purpose

As you pursue the purposes of God you place yourself in opposition to the work of the enemy. He will scheme to divert your focus. He will set traps and tempt you to fall into them. Satan will be a forceful resistance but he does not have to win.

How to Overcome Obstacles, or Resistance, in the Spiritual Realm

1) Become Aware of Satan’s schemes.

. . . in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Cor. 2:11)

2) Become Alert to Satan’s traps.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

3) Become Attentive to God.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:7-8a)

For Resources on Spiritual Warfare: Spiritual Growth Resources (look for ‘Warfare’ tab)

Not all resistance in pursuing our purpose comes from the spiritual realm. Some comes from other people struggling to accept changes that may come as a result of being more purposeful.  Read:  Obstacles in Becoming More Purposeful: Fleshly Resistance & Conflicts

Church Purpose Ministry Manual

In addition to the content under the Church Purpose Training section of this site, the Church Purpose Ministry Manual also suggests what some of the schemes and traps of the enemy might be as well as four ways we can be attentive to God.

Making the Most of Every Opportunity Requires Perspective

Make the Most of Every Opportunity
(Click to enlarge image in Pinterest & repin.)

God exhorts us to “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” How we use our time is critical. We need to understand how precious each moment is so we don’t waste it. We have many opportunities to spend our time foolishly, sinfully. God wants us, instead, to make the most of every opportunity. Notice the reason for exercising such discernment and wisdom. — “the days are evil”

Until we gain a realistic perspective on life, we will not grasp the significance of using our time to its best advantage or benefit.

A realistic perspective says the “the days are evil” so I need to make the best choices in how I use my time. I need to line up with God and cooperate with Him in accomplishing His will during these last days. –“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Eph. 5:17)

A pessimistic view says “the days are evil” what can I do? I might as well eat, drink, and be merry. That perspective allows us to be overcome and controlled by what is going on around us.

To rise above, rather than conform, we need to keep going in Ephesians 5 to verses 18-20 which depict the opposite of a pessimistic view of life. — “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is that abundant, full life Jesus came to give us (Jn. 10:10). It has no expiration date. Nor does it have a conditional clause that makes it subservient to evil days.

Let’s ask ourselves these questions:

  • Are we living in a way that sets us apart from the evil all around us?
  • Are we living with the reality of how short our time to make a difference might be?
  • Are we rising above the evil around us, proclaiming Jesus as the answer rather than living for self?
  • Are we living within the joy of the Lord despite the circumstances around us?

Making the Most of Every Opportunity Requires Wisdom

Make the Most of Every Opportunity
(Click to enlarge image in Pinterest & repin.)

According to Ephesians 5:15-16, making the most of every opportunity requires wisdom. Living “not as unwise but as wise” takes discernment, being careful in the choices we make.

Have you ever thought about why Ephesians 5:15 words our need for wisdom with both the negative and positive expression? Why not merely say “be very careful, then, to live wisely”? Perhaps God wants us to contrast the two ways we can use time for we will either live foolishly or wisely.

We might want to ask ourselves questions like the following that depict the contrast:

  • Is what I want to do going to enhance life and not merely consume time?
  • Am I truly meeting needs, meeting people where they are, or just oiling the machinery of status quo?
  • Am I choosing the best of the choices or being satisfied with that which is mediocre rather than that which is excellent?

The Wisdom Needed to Make the Most of Life Comes from God

Let’s remember the Source of wisdom — God Himself. We must take time to get to truly know God in the fullness of who He is. Our hearts must be focused on the Lord because His character and ways define wisdom.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Prov. 9:10)

Let’s turn to the Source of wisdom. We must be people of consistent and persistent prayer if we are going make the most of every opportunity.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. (Prov. 3:5-7)

Making the Most of Every Opportunity Requires Discernment

Make the Most of Every Opportunity
(Click to enlarge image in Pinterest & repin.)

One of the key Bible verses guiding the use of our time could be Ephesians 5:15-16.

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

These verses not only instruct us to make the best use of our time but also cue us in on what is required to do that:

  • discernment (“be very careful, then”)
  • wisdom (“not as unwise but as wise”)
  • perspective (“because the days are evil”)

This post will look at the first requirement, with subsequent posts presenting the other requirements for making the most of every opportunity. You can subscribe to this blog to receive e-mail notice of new posts.

To Make the Most of Every Opportunity Requires Discernment

“Be very careful” comes from two Greek words: blepo (to see) and akribos (accurately, exactly) If we are going to make the most of every opportunity we must observe what is going on around us and properly interpret it. Use discernment! The King James Version words it, “See then that ye walk circumspectly.”

How are we going to be discerning? — by looking at life through the grid of God’s Word.

In speaking of the Word, Hebrews 5:14 clearly states that it is those “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” The more time we spend with God in His Word, seeking to learn how it applies to life, the more discerning we will be.

We can’t just coast through life and not think about what we are doing if we want to do what is best. We must take what we know from God’s Word and start by asking ourselves questions like:

Is what I want to do God-honoring?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

Does it line up with God’s character and ways?

Be perfect (complete), therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt. 5:48)

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:15-16)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love … (Eph. 5:1-2)

Would Jesus do it if He was here?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

When we take the time to stop and ask ourselves these questions about how we plan to use our time, and bring what we do into alignment with a positive response to these questions, we are exercising the discernment needed to make the most of every opportunity.

What are your goals?

Most people have goals. Most churches have goals. The goals may not have been articulated but they are there nonetheless. What are your goals? Are they worthy goals? Prayerfully, as a believer in Jesus Christ, your goals grow out of your relationship with God and are accomplished in accordance with godly ways and means. As a Church, your goals should reflect His purposes and be accomplished in accordance with God’s wisdom and power.

Tips for Establishing Worthy Goals

Knowing Christ is a Worthy Goal
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We can learn much about what constitutes a worthy goal for Christians by looking at the Apostle Paul’s example in Philippians 3:10-14. Of course, this specific goal can and should be one of our own. But, what we want to do here is to extrapolate from this passage principles we can apply to any goals we might set as an individual believer or as a Church.

1) Develop meaningful, eternal-oriented goals.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s goal:

I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)

2) Be committed to fulfilling your goals.

The Apostle Paul obviously committed himself to his goal.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Phil. 3:12)

3) Put your confidence in God.

The Apostle Paul counted his personal accomplishments as rubbish.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (Phil. 3:7) . . . not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Phil. 3:9)

4) Don’t wallow in past mistakes or accomplishments.

The Apostle Paul understood his own humanity. His past failing as a persecutor of the Church and present accomplishments as a church leader didn’t define him but rather God’s grace (1 Cor. 15:10) and power at work in and through Him (1 Cor. 2:4-5; 2 Cor. 4:7).

I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal . . . (Phil. 3:13-14)

For Church Leaders to Read: Goal-Setting & Vision Casting

For Bible Teachers: Teaching Goals – Lesson Aims Resources

Bible Verses Guiding the Use of Our Time

Make the Most of Your Time
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What does God’s Word say about how we should use our time?

Here are some Bible verses that can guide us in making the most of the time we are given. All of the reference used herein do not specifically refer to time, but the use of time would be implied.

Use your time responsibly as one accountable to the Lord not in bondage as a people-pleaser or mere lover of self.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Cor. 3:10-15)

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:9-10)

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Eph. 4:1)

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. … (1 Pet. 1:17-25)

Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30)

Use your time in God-honoring ways, making your goal to please to Him in all you do.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21)

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Rom. 13:11-14)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. (1 Thess. 4:1)

Use your time to its best advantage, investing it wisely, knowing that you will never get it back.

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16)

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (Col. 4:5)

Parable of the Ten Virgins and their Oil Lamps (Matt. 25:1-13)

Use your time to do good, not living merely for your own comfort and convenience.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:9-10)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)

Use your time productively, in ways that are beneficial.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. (Prov. 6:6-11)

Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing. (Prov. 20:4)

“I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive. (1 Cor. 10:23)

Use your time strategically and purposefully with everything in its proper time, not taking life for granted.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Ps. 90:12)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to … (Eccl. 3:1-11)

Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. (Ps. 39:4-7)

Use your time in full dependence on the Sovereign Lord, making His priorities yours.

But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. (Ps. 31:14-15)

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Ps. 139:16)

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Prov. 16:9)

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:33)

Use your time humbly as though each day was your last, knowing that God is in control.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (Prov. 27:1)

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:14-17)

For More Guidance on Time Use: