Episode 1. The Blockage on High
Wouldn’t it be great – well, if God is God – to be full to overflowing with His joy and His peace and all His goodness. But sometimes, things can get in the road.
Join Berni Dymet, on Christianityworks as he looks those things that block God’s fullness in our lives.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life in all its abundance.” See, the things happening in the supernatural dimension rob us of what Jesus has planned.
I don’t know if this ever happens to you but sometimes, we feel like we are running out of steam – you know what I mean. Whatever it is we do in life, at home or at work, maybe in some community group – we give and we give and we give and little by little it saps our energy. All that giving drains us and even if we have a holiday to recharge the old batteries, somehow, emotionally even spiritually, there’s still this tiredness, emptiness, a sense that, ‘well, I’m not sure if I have a whole bunch more to give.’
You’re a mum with some difficult teenagers, or a sick child, or maybe a job to juggle, or you’re a dad, the bread winner if you like and you’ve been grinding away at this job for what seems like an eternity and one day you wake up and the river’s run dry. There’s nothing left to give.
And it doesn’t have to be some kind of full blown burn-out – although that happens sometimes. So many people are living, let me call it a sub-optimal life – not all that life could be – kind of tiredness, listless and drifting; this sense that the days are just slipping by. Some people are really stressed. You know, the most common complaint of adults, in the western world at least, is stress. We are carrying around these heavy burdens; worry is tearing at our heels. Fear is a big problem amongst men and women.
All this stuff starts affecting your health; you’re well-being. You’re not sleeping well and it seems that all we can do when we open our mouths are complain and whinge about this or that. You’d be amazed how many people, on paper, have everything you could hope for – a family, a job, a career, even a nice home and relative financial security – yet, they are living a life I just described. Let’s call it sub-optimal; let’s call it unfulfilled; let’s call it stressed and tired and irritable – call it whatever you like. Life doesn’t seem to be what it’s meant to be.
Now, I’m not talking about the different seasons of life. We all know that life goes through seasons; ups and downs; summers and winters; bright sunny warm days, cold howling brutal days – I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about this ongoing sub-optimal, inner life where the circumstances on the outside are good or whether they are lousy, we should be living a life inside that’s really worth living.
I was challenged the other day by a friend of mine called Max. Let me tell you about Max – he works here in the studio with me – he’s the silent partner in all these radio programmes that you have been listening to. He produces hundreds of programmes each year with me and Max would be one of the most preached at guys on this planet. And he’s involved in another ministry – Ellel Ministries which is a great healing ministry and he listens to the stuff over and over again. Over a cup of tea and some toast with some of the honey that his bees make, Max is saying to me ‘Berni, you talk as though having peace and joy in your life is 24/7 normal – you know everybody should live life like that.’ And he said, ‘well, maybe God has taken you and done so amazing fast track stuff; you’re some kind of high-flying preacher, but it’s not like that for the rest of us.’
Now, that really challenged me. I’m thinking, ‘Um, maybe he’s right, is that what I do?’ See, I don’t see myself as some high-flying preacher. I’m just the average Joe kind of a guy behind a microphone. And then I thought, ‘Am I talking about something that’s realistic or is it a pipe dream?
For the first thirty six years of my life I did it all on my own. God wasn’t part of my life; at least I didn’t let Him be – so I thought. And I was this competent, surgically ruthless businessman but I had no real joy in my life. I met Jesus along the way when I was about thirty six years old and I decided to take to heart what He had to say. Not a religion; a relationship. Not a bunch of rules; it had to be something that worked. And that‘s why today I am working in a ministry called Christianityworks because the bottom line is, if God is God and Jesus is Jesus, then He has to make a difference. And for me it was kind of just this really simple, child-like faith.
I mean some of the things that Jesus had to say about this inner life really struck home for me. John chapter 10, verse 10, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life in all its fullness; in all its abundance.” In fact the word that John uses there for ‘abundance’ literally means ‘superabundantly’. “I have come,” said Jesus, “that you may have life in all its ‘superabundance.” Not just abundance; superabundance.
If you read in Matthew, chapter 11 and verses 28 to 30, “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Go on, take My yoke upon you and learn from Me because I am gentle and I’m humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy, My burdens are light.”
John, chapter 7, verse 37, “If anyone is thirsty let them come to Me and drink because whoever believes in Me, as the Scriptures have said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
John, chapter 14, verse 27, “Peace I leave with you and My peace I give to you. I don’t give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your hearts be troubled and don’t let them be afraid.”
Jesus is the ultimate realist – He never promised we wouldn’t have tough days – He never promised we wouldn’t have difficult issues to deal with – He never promised we wouldn’t have difficult people to deal with and yet He said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled – My peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I’ve come to give you a superabundant life.”
See, Jesus promises stand in such stark contrast to the realities of life some days and that’s what we are going to look at in the remainder of these next few weeks in a series that I’ve called “Full to Overflowing”, because I believe that what Jesus is talking about here is that He wants us to be full to overflowing with His goodness and His grace and His mercy and His joy and His peace.
And when He goes around to His disciples and He promises them trials and tribulations and persecutions, I look at Jesus and I think, ‘gee, you wouldn’t get a job in an advertising agency’, because He’s not very good at putting ‘spin’ on things. But He promises something much deeper than that. He promises us that in the middle of the circumstances of life; the very circumstances that you and I find ourselves in right at the moment, He promises us a superabundant life. He promises us rest for the weary – He promises us to fill us with Him and His goodness and His Spirit to overflowing.
And for me, when we walk into that with a simple child-like faith, in the midst of difficult circumstances and say, ’you know something, Jesus promised this stuff to His disciples, not some ‘nirvana’; not some sugar candy coated life, but His goodness and His peace. When we take that, just as simple children, I think He does something with that.
The Blockage on High
I was listening the other day to a well know actor, Alan Alda, being interviewed by an equally well known British interviewer, Michael Parkinson. Alan Alda, of course became famous as the character, Hawkeye Pierce in the long running TV series ‘MASH’. Alda is now seventy years old and he was telling us how a couple of years ago, he was travelling in South America and he had the most incredible pain in his intestine. They rushed him to a doctor who detected a blockage in that intestine. And unless the doctor operated immediately and cut that part of the intestine out, he was going to die.
When it comes to life and living, blockages in any part of our bodies are almost always deadly – in our airways, in our bowels, in our eyes – they can send us blind. And it turns out that spiritual blockages are the same; they’re deadly.
Earlier, we looked at how our lives can sometimes be run down; we’re tired or worried or running out of steam or running out of puff and the batteries are flat and sure, we have ups and downs, but sometimes our lives go into this kind of downward spiral.
And that stands in such sharp contrast to some of the promises Jesus made that we looked at before. John, chapter 10, verse 10, “The thief (the devil) comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life in all its fullness.” John, chapter 7, verse 37, “If you are thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, rivers of living water will flow from them.” And He promises His peace!
The problem is it doesn’t always work out that way. And that’s what my friend Max was getting at. You know, life doesn’t always work out so that we have the peace and the joy and the fullness and the overflowing of what God has for us. Now either Jesus is a liar or there’s something else; there’s something we’re missing.
One of my favourite authors, S.D. Gordon, wrote a book – late nineteenth century, early twentieth century, they didn’t put the dates on their books way back then. And the book’s called “Quiet Talks on Power”. And he works on a similar premise to me – he comes at it from the perspective of God’s power and he said “Look, a natural life as a Jesus believer is to have God’s power to accomplish things that God has called us to do.”
And he tells a great story at the beginning of the book about a blockage. He talks about a mid-western town in the U.S. in the late eighteen hundreds; a fairly dry area and it relied completely on the water from a dam up in the hills for the town to survive. Now this town grew and thrived – I mean, water, after all is essential to life. As the town grew and prospered, you know, people just took this water from the dams, for granted, until one day the water pipes ran dry. Now the people went up to the reservoir in the hills but what they discovered is it was full – but somehow there was no water coming out down below – no water, no life.
So people began to leave the town and tumbleweed was blowing down the main street and the town became almost deserted; almost a ghost town. Then one day someone sent an anonymous note that they had sabotaged the pipes. Right up near the reservoir, someone had put a small plug in the pipes. And the authorities went up and checked and sure enough, when they removed the blockage the water started to flow – people and life returned to the town. It was only such a small blockage but it had a huge impact.
Can I tell you? So many people are missing out on God’s abundance because of blockages like that. Maybe they’re only small compromises – ‘well, I believe in God but not in this area of my life.’ ‘Well, I believe in God but I don’t believe that He could ever fill me to overflowing.’ There’s a simple name for that; it’s a word that is not popular in our society today; it’s the word ‘sin’. It may only be small; it may not seem significant but it’s the small blockages that rob us of life.
Listen to Jesus again – John, chapter 7 and verse 37. “If anyone is thirsty let them come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scriptures have said, rivers of living water will flow from within him. By this He meant the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.”
See, Jesus plan is a flood-tide of blessing – full to overflowing. See, that’s His plan and for anyone, not for Mr and Misses super-Christian, not just for some hot-shot preacher. He says, “If anyone is thirsty”, anyone means anyone, “let them come to Me and drink.” And then He says, “Whoever believes in Me”, whoever, “rivers of living water will flow from within them.” This is for all of us.
And when we want to do it our own way – ‘I’m just going to grumble; I’m just going to cheat or lie or I’m just not going to believe Jesus for this,’ we end up with a blockage and that blockage is deadly. Sin is never small! God is a good and holy God and we rebel against Him and even in those hidden places, in fact, especially in those hidden places, it becomes a blockage that stops the natural flow that God planned.
Even though the reservoir is full of fresh, clean, life giving water; even though God’s plan is for us to be filled to overflowing with His Spirit; a flood tide of blessing, sin blocks His plan. You know, it can be hard to believe in God when life is tough and sometimes I don’t have a whole bunch of faith to believe in Him, I just have this small, little bit of faith that I hang on to Him with. And the last time I checked Jesus said, ‘all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed’ – a tiny, tiny little bit of faith and I can say to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself in the sea,” and it will be done.’
Jesus said, “Repent, (turn away from sin), the Kingdom of God is at hand.” ‘Repenting’ means literally to ‘turn away from sin and back to God and handing whatever part of our lives over to Him that we haven’t done in humility and obedience and that’s what removes the blockage; that’s what lets the Spirit flow and fill us full to overflowing.
Taking Hold of the Supernatural
It’s true that the things that we can’t see are often the things that ruin our lives. I mean, there are no symptoms for high blood-pressure or high cholesterol but if we have either of them, well, they dramatically increase our chances of heart disease and stroke. You can’t see them or feel them but when they hit, the impact is devastating and often fatal. There are no symptoms for glaucoma – before you notice it you have lost a fair chunk of your eyesight. There are no symptoms for bowel cancer or cervical cancer until it’s too late.
See, it’s the hidden things; the things we can’t see; the things we ignore, they are often the ones that take peoples lives. We know that is true physically but it’s also true spiritually. As much as we might try to ignore it and deny it, there is a spiritual dimension to life. It makes sense – God is Spirit and it’s what happens in the spiritual dimension that impacts what is going on here in the physical. I’ve spent the greater part of my life trying to ignore the spiritual dimension, but if God is God there must be a spiritual dimension.
The Apostle Paul had a real insight about this. Now this guy, he is as practical as practical can be. Not some airy, fairy spiritual fruit-cake. He’s down to earth – he wrote almost half the books of the New Testament and he dealt mostly with the really practical issues of life. But have a listen to what he says about the spiritual dimension in Ephesians, chapter 6, verses 10 to 12 – he says, “Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armour that God gives you so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. We are not fighting against human beings, we are fighting against forces and authorities and rulers and darkness and powers in the spiritual world, so put on the armour that God gives you. And then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself and when the battle is over you will be standing firm.”
People, he is talking about the things we can’t see. We can see it when someone difficult argues with us; we can see it when someone hurts us but Paul is saying, behind all of that is a spiritual dimension; the forces and the authorities and the rulers of darkness and the powers in the spiritual world. The devil is alive and well. Jesus believed in the devil, Paul believed in the devil and the things that rob us are often the spiritual battles going on behind the physical world.
Now, it’s so hard to come to grips with this. In the West, almost three quarters of all people believe in God, yet less than a third believe in the devil. But you go to parts of Africa or Asia and the demonic is alive and well – idolatry and witchcraft and devil worship and in the West, you don’t have to look so far to see the devil’s fingerprints on all sorts of things.
The hidden things in the supernatural dimension are the things that end up killing us. John, chapter 10, verse 10, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life in all its fullness, in all it’s abundance.” See, the things happening in the supernatural dimension rob us of what Jesus has planned
So, what do we do about it? Well, you know something? When I pray, I pray about the supernatural – not just the things that I can see, I pray about the things I can’t see. When I see spiritual attacks happening on people around me I pray to God about the battles happening in the spiritual dimension. When I claim that spiritual territory in Jesus name, the devil and his demons have to flee. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
My experience is whenever I step out in Jesus name to live a good life or to tell other people about Him, forces of spiritual darkness come against me in all sorts of different ways. When we are close to a breakthrough in our ministry, sometimes we talk to a new station and lots of people listen to that station and they are going to hear the Gospel when our radio programme goes on there, I’ve almost come to expect that either I’m going to be attacked or our board members or my family or there’s going to be sickness or something snaps in one of the businesses of our board members – you name it, however the devil can disrupt God’s goodness, he will try.
So, you know, sometimes God is up to something good and Jacqui and I will start getting scratchy with each other, what I do is I name this for what it is – it is the devil trying to drive a wedge between God and His blessing and me. See, the devil wants us to sin because he knows that our sin will be a blockage to the fullness of the Holy Spirit and what God has for us.
When I was in the Army we used to probe and attack and surprise and create fear and doubt with our enemy. Well, the devil does exactly the same; he sends his demons to disrupt us and to rob us of what God has planned. And what God has planned is exactly what Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life in all its abundance.”
People sometimes look at me when I talk this way and they think, ‘what is the matter with him, is he whacko or something?’ But you look right through God’s Word – Jesus, Paul – the reality is that there is a spiritual dimension; the devil is alive and well, even though we can’t see it.
It’s simple, just believe and take Jesus at His word – His plan is to fill me, to fill you to overflowing. And when that plan is interrupted by the devil through heaviness or hatred or temptation or fear or doubt; through attacks on us or people around us, we just need to claim that ground in the spiritual dimension.
Father, I ask you in Jesus name to give me victory in this spiritual battle.
Maybe I’m whacko, but you know something? It works – go figure. The spiritual dimension is real. When we win victories in that place through prayer, those victories come to pass in the physical dimension.
Just believe – don’t be double minded – just believe!