According to the Oxford English Dictionary a barrier is defined as a fence, rail, etc, barring advance or preventing access; and also as, a circumstance that prevents progress or communication. A barrier could therefore be an object or a circumstance aimed at barring us from making progress or access into certain things in life! Note that people, the environment, and even satan himself could constitute barriers in our lives. The devil is actually called “your adversary” in 1 Peter 5:8; that is, the opponent or opposer; the one who resists or sets himself against or withstands you!
The Bible is full of people who faced such barriers but praise God, were able to break through them. God said to Jeremiah “Do not say ‘I am a youth’, for your shall go to whom I send you and whatever I command you, you shall speak”. (Jer. 1:7) Paul told Timothy not to allow any one to despise his youthfulness (2 Tim. 4:12). Elizabeth, who was called barren conceived a son in her old age (Luke 1:36,37). Sarah received strength to conceive and she bore a child “when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised”. (Heb. 11:11) “They shall still bear fruit in old age, they shall be fresh and flourishing”. (Ps 92:14) Note that Abraham was seventy five years old when he left Haran to go to Canaan. What of folks like Moses (Ex. 4:10-12), the paralytic (Mark 2:3-4), the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:27-34), blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:5-9) and a host of others, who overcame one physical disability or the other? The Bible says that when blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people around him warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more. Then, Jesus stood still and commanded blind Bartimaeus to be called. They said to him “Be of good cheer. Rise up, He is calling you.” If you would not allow the opinion and comments of others to stop you, they will be the same ones to cheer you as you break through in life! People are fickle-minded, they change their mind so easily, their opinion should therefore not be strong enough to stop you from going forward!
In John 5 Jesus asked the man at pool Bathesda, “Do you want to be well?” He had an infirmity for thirty eight years and was at the pool waiting for his turn to get healed. I believe that Jesus was challenging the man’s mindset, his belief system, and his thought-pattern. Listen to the man’s reply to Jesus’ question. “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up...” The man thought and believed he needed a man to put him into the pool before he could be healed. But Jesus simply said to him; “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” Jesus was challenging an unhealthy dependence on man. Think of so many people who are stuck today in their predicament because they are waiting for a man or something else to get out of it. Take note of Jesus’ three-fold instruction to the man. ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk”. The man needed to rise in his thinking; he needed to rise on the inside above his immediate situation and environment. He needed to rise above everything around him so he could begin to see new possibilities. Do you know that where you are would determine what you see? Isaiah 60:1-4 “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will rise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see…” Note, you can’t shine if you do not arise in the first place! So, the first step of Jesus’ instruction to the man was ‘Rise’. There is a physical rising, as well as a mental and a spiritual rising; the three are very necessary for us to experience a breakthrough in any situation.
I, therefore, define a barrier as, that which one has accepted to be the reason or reasons for failure or lack of productivity or progress. The greatest barrier is the one inside us, because, no matter the number of barriers that are out there, they can’t stop you, unless they first get inside of you. Satan, over the years, through people, our environment, our circumstances, our background, our temperament, our experiences, etc, has created barriers in our minds, and we need to break through every single one of them to be all and do all that God has in store for us! The Bible is full of people who faced and broke through all kinds of barriers. A failure is not someone who failed while trying but is someone who didn’t attempt to do anything at all. A failure is someone who gives up, someone who quits trying. Quitters never win and winners never quit! If you could just hang in there and not quit, you will not only learn many ways not to do things but will also succeed eventually! “Tough times never last, but tough people do!”
Show me anyone who succeeded in life and I will show you one who has learnt to break through barriers of race, colour, class, nationality, culture, age, gender, people, religion, set-backs, past experiences, etc; to win in life! Joseph broke through nationality, culture, class, etc barriers, to become the prime minister of Egypt! Rahab, referred to as “the harlot” (Heb. 11:31) broke through race, religion, etc barriers to get into the lineage of Christ! (Matt. 1:5) Not to mention Ruth, Bathsheba, Tamar and others! One thing that was common to them was they did what it took to break through barriers. They did not allow the barriers to stop them. Someone said, ‘you can’t stop a man from rising, who has enough yeast in him to rise!’ Jesus was a man who broke through every barrier of his time. He ministered in the most impossible places and conditions. He broke through barriers of religion, tradition, race, gender, class, people’s opinion and expectations, etc. He said “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work”. (Jn. 4:34). And on the cross, He declared “It is finished”. Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors; He healed on the Sabbath days; He refused to condemn the woman caught in the very act of adultery, etc. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in Samaria he broke through many barriers at a go! So much so that the woman said to Him; “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask a drink from me a Samaritan woman? (Jn. 4:9) The Bible adds: “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans”. Not only was she a Samaritan she was also a woman. Jesus was not just a Jew, He was a rabbi and rabbis didn’t speak with women in public! The Bible says when His disciples returned, “they marveled that He talked with a woman.” Not only was she a woman, she has had a very colourful past! She had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband. And Jesus knew all that and yet spoke to her! The woman said to the men of the city “Come, see a man, who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (Jn. 4:29)
HOW TO BREAK THROUGH BARRIERS 1. An encounter with Jesus
That is one thing that will position and empower you to break through every barrier in your life! “So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though He were merely a human being. How differently I think about Him now! What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:16,17 N.L.T) Philippians 3:3 says we are the circumcision, who worship (i.e. serve) God in the Spirit, we rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh! And in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus! (Col. 3:11) That immediately breaks down race, social and gender barriers! The Apostle Paul said “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. (Php. 4:13) The Psalmist said “For by you I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall” (Ps. 18:29) and in verse 32 “It is God who arms me with strength…”
It is said that you can change without growing but you can’t grow or make progress without changing! Change is a necessary thing we must learn to love and embrace. Everyone who broke through barriers embraced changes. You need to change the way you think- “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Pr. 23:7) Mordecai confronted and challenged Esther’s thinking- “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace anymore than all the other Jews”. (Es. 4:13) Confront and challenge your own thinking with the reality and the Word of God! Change what you believe! What do you believe about yourself? your situation? The psalmist said “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. (Ps. 27:13) Some people believe that they will see the goodness of the Lord, but in the “sweet by and by”. Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (Jn. 11:40) Jesus saw a man who was blind from birth and His disciples asked Him; “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Jn 9:2) But Jesus answered, “Neither the man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (v.3). Change the way you see your problems. Do you see a stumbling block or a stepping stone? What you see determines what you get. God says “Behold I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”. (Ish. 43:19) Note that, this isn’t about what you can see with your physical eyes. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” God says “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them and not forsake them.” (Ish. 42:16) Believing is seeing! Jesus said “If you would believe, you would see the glory of God. Change your speaking. Jesus said you shall have what you say (Mk. 11:24). He said we should speak to the mountain, not speak about the mountain! A lot of folks never speak to their problems but they speak to every one about them. Jesus spoke to both animate and inanimate things. He cast out spirits with His words! He ‘answered’ the fig tree. He spoke to seas and winds and they obeyed Him! Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. In James 3:2, if we would control our tongue, we would control our whole body. And like the rudder determines the direction of our life (v.4) the tongue can also defile our whole body and set the course of our life or our very existence on fire! (v. 6)
You also need to change your response to things, to circumstances and even to people. You have the ability to choose your responses. Your responses are your responsibility. You may not be able to choose or determine all the events in your life, but you can choose your response to them! Someone once said “Events plus your response equals your outcome”. In Matthew, Jesus said you should turn the other cheek to the one who slaps you on your right cheek (v. 39); go two miles when compelled to go one mile (v. 41); love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you (v. 44). Change your attitude, change your lifestyle, change the things about your temperament that are negative! Change! Change! Change! And take note that no one is too young or too old to change what needs to be changed! [to be continued.....]
God Bless you!
Rev. Funke Ewuosho
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