Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: Overcoming Obstacles - Eagles Chaplain Ted Winsley

“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Where have you laid him?’ He asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’” — John 11:32-40

What are the four obstacles you have to overcome in order to do something people never believed you could do?

We’re winning a lot this year. People didn’t think the Eagles would be doing this well. At least not this soon or in this way. Nobody saw us hitting 10-2! No one expected the big game for us this year. But what I did see was a family forming. It began last year and it’s continuing to grow today.

In the same way our team has been overcoming many obstacles this year on the field, each of us will be daily faced with obstacles to accomplish what no one thought we could. In our walks with God, He is always going to ask us to do something we didn’t think we could. He sees what we don’t, He asks us to do what we wouldn’t normally do, and He requires of us what we don’t think we have. Every day there are things nobody thought you could do, but God always knew you could.

In order to believe this, we need to understand who is calling and equipping us.

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ — John 11:41-44

Jesus raised a man from the dead! And in this passage He reveals to us the four obstacles we must overcome in order to do what others never thought we could:

Opinions of other people – Remember what Mary said: “If You had been here…” If we’re going to do something people don’t expect of us, we’re going to have to overcome people’s opinions. When we listen to other’s opinions, we begin to believe in the fears they have. That’s what their opinions are: reflections of their own fears and beliefs.

Unexpected obstacles – While Jesus was on His way, His friend died. That was unexpected. Not only did Lazarus die, but they put him in a cave with a large stone in front of it. Jesus had an obstacle in front of an obstacle. In order to overcome unexpected obstacles, we have to stop believing the lying eye. The truth is that what you can see was created by what cannot be seen. You must stop believing only what you can see because our eyes tell us that what we see is what’s real. Faith, on the other hand, tells us that what we see comes from what we can’t see. Don’t let your eyes tell you that what you see is permanent when Scripture tells us that only what we cannot see is lasting.

Emotions – Look at the statement Martha made: “But Lord, he’s been dead for four days.” She’s saying, “Leave this alone! I know that smell has to be terrible.” But had she smelled it? Was that a fact or was she letting her emotions guide her view? Our emotions are designed to be a gauge, not a guide. God gave us emotions so we can feel, but we should not be led by them. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate you.

Death/the end – Everything comes to an end — your career, your body, your friendships, your success. Even though everything comes to an end, the reality is that this doesn’t mean it’s THE end. If we’re going to accomplish something that no one expects us to, the fourth obstacle we’ll need to overcome is death. We serve a God who says the end is not the end.

This year, Jordan Hicks experienced a season-ending injury. He experienced an end, but it’s not the end. We often allow deaths or ends to allow us to forget that our Heavenly Father raised Jesus up from hell.

What are you dealing with today that God can bring you back from? If you can’t believe that God can bring you back from an end, you’ll never be able to do what people say you can’t. Nor will you be able to accomplish what God says you can. Even if you overcome the first three obstacles, you need to overcome death. Life is just a series of things ending, but don’t allow these ends to convince you it’s over. We serve a God who loves endings; He uses them as platforms to begin again.

When we believe God in such a way that brings us to operate with this type of faith, God honors our words and efforts and can supernaturally lead us to overcome.

Pastor Ted Winsley, Philadelphia Eagles chaplain

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