Eliminate the Hurdles


We approach seek the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds as we hear God’s Holy Word. Join me in a spirit of prayer.

God our Helper: by your Holy Spirit, open our minds, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may be led into your truth and taught your will. We do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from your mouth. Make us hungry for this heavenly food that it may nourish us today in the ways of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, the bread of Heaven. Amen.

SCRIPTURE READING                 Romans 14:13-23                    Do Not Make Another Stumble

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith;[e] for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

We pray that the Lord will bless us with these Holy Words.



THE MESSAGE                    “Eliminate the Hurdles”


Come to the Lord's Table, all you who love Jesus. Come to the Lord's Table and overcome the hurdles of sin. Come to the Lord's Table, be at a spiritual champion of peace.

Hurdles block our way. On the track, they are spaced out to interrupt the sprinter heading for the finish line. I became a hurdler during my sophomore year in high school. Over spring break, the boy’s team competed against the girls for a fun practice. Only the boys did not run our own events. So while I was a long distance runner, Coach Avery put me in the hurdles since, I failed as a freshmen shot putter.

We lined up for the 100 meters low hurdles. The gun went off and I ran and did my best imitation of other hurdlers. I don’t remember winning my heat, but Coach saw something that got him excited. He exclaimed he’d just found a new event for me. I reminded him that I was not a sprinter and he responded that we’d try the 300 intermediate hurdles.

When I protested, he said that I had great form and that would make up for my lack of sprinting speed. Now I want you to visualize my 4feet 10 inch body going over 3 foot hurdles.  I thought it would be easier for me to run under them instead of high jumping over. I actually got pretty good and when the other runners jumped and broke their stride, I could be competitive.

Ryan Lochte would be a gold medalist, except for one big hurdle, Michael Phelps. Lochte holds several gold World championships, but Olympic Gold eludes him individually. Phelps the world’s decorated Olympic swimmer overcame several hurdles to compete this year. After the London games, he contemplated suicide, felt a failure, and struggled with addiction issues. Through rehab and a coming to Jesus moment, Phelps overcame the hurdles and trained with new rigor. Through Rick Warren’s purpose driven life, Phelps discovered the knowledge of God’s love and allowed a path of forgiveness to rebuild relationship with friends, family, and others.

Life seems to be full of hurdles that get in our way that slow us down from our goal of living for Jesus. Time hurdles that limit what we can offer to God. Confidence hurdles convince us that we don’t have the talent, ability, or skills need to accomplish God’s work. Financial hurdles with restricted resources to support the Lord’s work to the full extent. Our view of God’s capacity to achieve miracles in our lives with us becomes a stumbling block. We can be our own biggest hurdle.

The Christians in Rome considered the hurdles to almost insurmountable. They needed spiritual help getting over the sin that made them stumble on the course. They needed the Holy Spirit’s guidance to not place more hurdles in front of others who wanted to accept Jesus.  Around Rome, the pagan hurdles of idols distracted would be believers from accepting the simple gift of forgiveness. The idea of working to please the (g) gods and earn acceptance permeated society. Many people wanted to place Almighty (G) God into a box, setting human parameters to contain the Lord. A big issue revolved the Jewish food laws and the ability of Gentiles to accept Christ without being Jewish first.

The Word of God came from the Apostle Paul persuading them that Jesus truly could lead them and their neighbors into the Kingdom of God. Almighty God calls for righteous living and offers forgiveness freely. The issue for Christians does not revolve around human rules, but our relationship with Christ. We discover peace and joy when the Holy grabs our hearts and prompts us to use our gifts to serve the Lord. “Let us pursue what makes peace for mutual upbuilding.”

Blessed are those who come to the table overcoming the hurdles of life and trusting the Lord Jesus for forgiveness of our failures.  Let us work toward the goal of serving Christ together. TGBTG. Amen.

  January 2018  
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