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5 Things To Avoid In Order To Make/Experience/Enjoy Progress, by Pastor Samuel Obafaiye

Progress is something everyone desires, but not everyone wants to put in their best to achieve it. While prayer for progress is very important, prayer alone may not be sufficient to make it happen.

The word of God is filled with dos and don’ts. Instructions we must keep and things we must not do in order to succeed and make progress with our lives.
Example: Deut 28:1-end

Right from the Garden of Eden, God gave the first man and first woman instructions on what to do and what not to do in order that they might continue to experience a life of dominion, multiplication, fruitfulness and eternal bliss.

God told them to eat freely of every tree and herbs of the garden, including fishes, birds and other animals. He however told them not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that any day they eat of it, they shall die.
They eventually disobeyed and the sentence of death was pronounced unto man by God. Thank God for sending His Son (Jesus) through Who man can obtain eternal life.

As the children of Israel proceed to the Promised Land, God constantly told them the kind of land He was taking them to; what they need to do to get there and possess it; and what they must not do so as not to be slaves again when they get there.

A place that was filled with milk and honey; houses they have not built; wells they have not dug; vineyards they have not planted will be theirs if they are courageous and obedient: they must however hearken diligently to God’s words and must not follow after the gods of the natives. Most of the time, the Israelites failed.

I have observed in life that the forward journey is usually more tasking and longer than the backward journey. This is because the thought and effort to navigate through an uncharted course is harder than the effort to return the same way, which is now a bit familiar.
The power required to forge ahead is greater than the power required to go back.

It is harder to succeed than to fail.
To pass a driving test for example (whether theory or practical) is tougher than to fail. To pass, you have to do many things, to fail however; one doesn’t need to do much, other than to pay for it.

In the Army, we were thought that there are 4 phases of battle: Advance, Attack, Defence and Withdrawal. None of these phases is easy. Advance is however the toughest to bear.
When under Attack, the instinct to stay alive kicks in.
Defence is not too bad, though still hard.
Withdraw is deadly.

Making progress may be hard, but it is achievable. For that to happen, certain things must be avoided. So what are 5 things one must avoid in order to make progress in life?
1 – Avoid thinking backward.
We are essentially the product of our genes and our life experiences. If one continue to dwell on their past life experiences, or the deficiencies in their genome, such a person will not be able to move forward.
Whether one’s yesterday was tough or easy, the days ahead can still be better.

In Num 11:4-6, the children of Israel were going through the wilderness, the condition was challenging, they were eating only one kind of food daily (manna). It is true that if one eats one particular food for quite a while; one will get bored.
What they did not consider though was that what life would be like when they eventually get to Canaan.

They murmured and made God angry.
They showed ingratitude by mentioning different dishes they used to eat in Egypt. But they were slaves in Egypt! It meant they did not appreciate the cost of their freedom.
Many of them never progress to the Promised Land.

It is so easy to think backward when one is in a difficulty. Meanwhile progress is not made by thinking backwards.
What an extraordinary life Elijah lived! If I am to mention four prominent prophets in the whole of the bible, Elijah will be one of them. But at a time in his life, he actually thought, it would have been better for him to be a nobody in Israel rather than a mighty prophet.
He said of what importance was his life compared to those of his fathers (I Kings 19:1-4).
Meanwhile, we never heard anything about his father.

Stop thinking backward, if you want to make progress. Job suffered from this kind of thought.
Job 3:24-26 – For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters. For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.

Think forward. Think of progress. Think of making advancement. Ask God to breathe on the thoughts. Implement the ideas that come to you in such thoughts. Watch how God will make you to progress.
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

In Gen. 26:1-14, the bible tells us that there was sore famine in Canaan. Isaac was thinking backward to go and sojourn in Egypt like his father – Abraham. God however told him not to do so. He stayed in Gerar where God asked him to dwell; that became the catalyst to his huge fortune.

2 – Avoid looking backward. Looking back by someone who intends to go forward is very dangerous. The person will eventually crash in the direction their head is tilted.
In order to look backward, one will first need to reduce speed; that on its own is a negative movement. The actual act of looking backwards is deadly.

As Lot, his wife and their two daughters were led out of Sodom by angels, the instructions to them were “escape for your life; don’t look back; don’t settle in the plains; escape to the mountain”. Unfortunately for Lot’s wife, she looked back; she was turned to a pillar of salt.

Lot’s wife looked backwards to things that were already accursed. Things that were meant for destruction. Are you looking back to the way you used to live, when you were in Sodom? Or probably you were entrapped in your achievements of yesterday. Set new challenges for today and tomorrow.
Apostle Paul was someone whom God used to do a lot of things. His focus however was always to look forward and not backward.

Philippians 3:13-14 – Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 43:18-19 – Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Luke 9:62 – And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

What is the plough that you have put your hands on? Could it be, a course of study, a career, your marriage, your relationship, service to God … Don’t look back.

3 – Avoid drawing back. Life is full of challenges. Drawing back from them is not an option. It is a notable sign of defeat. One must confront every challenge until they either give way or become surmountable.
In wresting and boxing for example, the one that keep drawing back has given himself away as a weakling. It’s only a matter of time before they will be defeated.

In your secular pursuits, don’t draw back. What people don’t know is that drawing back is noticeable. It can be easily seen by onlookers. It does not help in progressing one in life. It will lead to demotion.

In order to grow spiritually and please God, you must not draw back in your walk with God and in your work for Him.
How is your prayer life? What about your reading of the bible? What about Evangelism? Many behave as evangelism is for evangelists alone.
You used to attend all fellowship before, but now you have forsaken most of them as the manner of some; it’s a sign of drawing back.

Hebrews 10:38-39 – Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Those who believe to the saving of souls will make a move to go forth.
David became the most celebrated king in Israel’s history because he went forward to fight the Goliath of Gath. For 40 days the whole of Israel were drawing back from the giant, but not David.
1 Samuel 17:23-24 – And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.
Confront your Goliath. Don’t draw back. Progress shall be yours in Jesus name.

4 – Avoid keeping back. It is the nature of man to grab everything and keep everything for himself. But true prosperity is not just being blessed but being a blessing.
The promise of God to Abraham was that he would be blessed and be turned into a blessing. Being blessed is stage 1; being a blessing is stage 2, it is a progressive trend.
Genesis 12:2 – And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

Isaiah 58:6-8 – Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.

1 Corinthians 4:7 – For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Have you seen some children holding food and hiding it from adult? Such children will miss out on many gifts.

In Luke 5:1-10, Peter did not keep back his boat and energy. That made him to progress to the level of surplus.
In John 6:9-13, the little boy did not hold back his lunch box. That fetched his mother 12 baskets full of fishes and bread.
In Mt. 21:1-3, the owner of the donkey and colt that Jesus road to Jerusalem did not keep back, historians says they were later sold for exorbitant prices.

The worst person to keep back from is God. Don’t keep back from Him. Your first fruit, your tithes, your offerings must not be kept back. If you are faithful to God at your present level, God will make you progress to higher levels.

In Acts 5:1-10, Ananias and Saphira kept back. They didn’t enjoy what they put aside.
Some believers today keep back their tithes by claiming that the early disciples did not pay such. What such people didn’t realise is that tithe was not an issue in the early church, as they were paying 100% or close to that with good explanation; 10% was just too small for them.

Today, many even try to bribe God with a ‘nice offering’ and not pay their tithe. God however cannot be mocked! Never keep back from Him.

Many have extended their hands to be of help to strangers, not knowing that they were helping angels. By so doing, they have made great progress with their lives.
Abraham had Isaac.
Lot was spared from death.

The letter of Paul to the Galatians is a great lesson.
Galatians 5:7-8 – Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
They already believed Jesus was the way to salvation; but later add circumcision, which is not the truth. You were doing what was right before, why add lies? That cannot be from God.

5 – Avoid going back. No matter how tough things may be or become. Going back is not the way out. As believers, there are many things that want to pull us back into the world; there are many other things that want to push us away from the faith.

Regardless of what these might be, going back should not be an option.
Success is never easy, failure is however not an option.
It is better to die while succeeding than to live in failure.

Thomas Edison successfully invented the light bulb at the 100 attempt. When he was asked how he felt having failed 99 times, he said he was only able to learn 99 other ways of doing it and has not failed once.
You have not failed until you have accepted it and settled for it.

– Christianity in the city of Thessalonica would not have been easy, Demas however could not handle the pressure, and he went back.
– Surviving in Jerusalem without the physical presence of Jesus was not easy; Peter and other apostles initially went back to fishing.
– Paul first missionary trip was not an easy one, John Mark turned back on the way.
– The teaching of Jesus was not an easy one compared to the Rabbis, out of 500 disciples, 488 went back.

Do you want to succeed in what you do? Do you want to make progress? Going back is not an option. The only alternative to progress must be progress.
May you progress in life in Jesus name.

Prayers
Help me not to think backward
Help me not to look back.
Help me not to draw back.
Help me not to keep back.
Help me not to go back.

The sermon, 5 Things To Avoid In Order To Make/Experience/Enjoy Progress, by Pastor Samuel Obafaiye, was delivered on September 24, 2017.