Sometimes there are things that are preventing us from moving forward with God or in our calling that we don’t recognize right off.

Things happen in life that, if not dealt with immediately, take root and grow into strongholds. Much like a weed, if not dealt with immediately, grows into a strong cancer that takes over the garden and multiplies. If not killed at once, the root travels far into the earth and can’t be easily uprooted. Have you ever tried to pull up a weed, only to find out the root runs across to the other side of the yard? You continue to pull and pull only to have it break off before the very end of the root comes out only to have it regrow time and time again? Or one day you see one dandelion and the next day twenty? By not removing that weed from the deepest root, it continues to crop up time and time again only to hinder the growth of the desired plants or flowers. By not dealing with disappointments, abuses, hardships, unfair circumstances etc, you allow it to take root in your spirit man and to cause stunted growth in your spiritual fruit. You aren’t able to grow and mature in your walk with God. You wonder why you seem to be stuck in the same place time ofter time. You desire to go to the Next Level in your relationship with God but can’t seem to move forward. It’s one step forward and two steps back. You aren’t making progress in your spiritual walk and you don’t understand why.

Sometimes there are things that we are are unwilling to let go of in order to  be free. Somewhat like a monkey trap, we refuse to let go of the object in order to be set free from captivity. In order to catch monkeys without harming them, people would build a cage made with bars all around. Each bar is just far enough apart to get an open hand through. Then on the inside of the cage lies the bait – a banana or something else attractive to monkeys. When the monkey reaches it’s hand through the bars and grabs the banana, he soon discovers that his hand gripping the banana will not fit back through the bars, but he refuses to let go of the bait. Even while being captured and sometimes mistreated, the monkey still will not let go of the bait.

We are so like the monkeys that we refuse to let go of things that we need to release, forgive, and leave in God’s hands so that we can be freed from captivity. We allow Satan to hold us captive, when all we have to do is release the bait.

What is it that keeps you from moving forward? What memory, what circumstance, what person keeps you from being free today? What event in your past have you failed to deal with? 

There are many things in our past that embeds itself into our spirit. Hard things, unfair things, abuse, betrayal, or loss – things that wounded us and caused us to begin to build up walls around ourselves for protection. Walls that you build to prevent anybody else from hurting you, to prevent unwanted people from affecting you, to prevent others from touching your heart, your emotions, or your physical body. You separate yourself from others to prevent yourself from being hurt anymore. The trouble with building walls for protection is that those same walls imprison. You may be successful at keeping others from getting in but you also prevent yourself from getting out. You can’t move forward while imprisoned by high walls of protection. You can’t move out of where you are while the walls are still standing. There are things that must be dealt with in order to move to the next level.

Jeremiah 29:12-14, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; “

If you seek God’s will in this matter and honestly ask Him to show you what might be holding you back, He will reveal to you the offenses that have been buried, sometimes for years, and He will show you how to release them. You must allow God to guide you in releasing the things from the past that hold you captive. You must forgive those that don’t deserve forgiveness. You must release those things that genuinely wounded you. You must free yourself from the trap of unforgiveness. We cannot move forward in our Christian walk with unforgiveness in our heart. We cannot move forward when we know we’ve wronged someone else and have failed to make it right. We cannot follow when we have sinned and not repented. What is holding you back?

Most of the time when Next Level people deal with negative emotions but can’t put a finger on the cause, there is something much deeper going on that a blatant sin that you failed to repent of. Many times, we can’t point to the root of the problem. Maybe we experience anger or fear or bitterness frequently but don’t know why.

Proverbs 4:18-19, But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know what makes them stumble.” 

The wickedness this speaks of is not the individual, it is the devices of the enemy, that uses these tools as a way to prevent us from Next Level living. It is the way that Satan beats us up and defeats us on a daily basis. He uses these things to prevent us from being a righteous follower doing the will of the Lord. He uses guilt or unforgiveness, or fear to hinder us from moving forward. Satan uses our past against us. He talks us into feeling justified for holding unforgiveness towards another – after all, do you know what he did to me! He makes us believe the lie that we have the right to harbor anger against someone. Or we are justified in our actions of mistreating someone else because they mistreated us first. But usually there is a deep root that we can’t identify that has been buried many years or circumstances ago, that we continue to pile excuses on until we no longer recognize or know what the original event was. We allow fear to grip us and prevent us from stepping out. We allow bitterness to drive us to hurt others. We allow anger to propel us into lashing out at those we love. We do so without knowing why or what the cause is. When you can’t make sense of something in the physical realm, it is time to delve into the spiritual realm. You must seek Holy Spirit’s wisdom in the matter. Only Holy Spirit can reveal the things that have been buried deep inside of our spirit. He can, not only, reveal the root but He can remove the root if we allow Him too.

You must give Holy Spirit permission to delve into the secret places you’ve hidden in your heart. But don’t be surprised when He shows you the root of your anger or fear or bitterness and don’t be surprised if the root is anger at God Himself. Sometimes, we as Christians, unconsciously hold unforgiveness or anger at God when something happens that you believe only God himself could have prevented. Maybe the loss of a family member, or a sickness that debilitated you or an accident that occurred. Once you’ve allowed Holy Spirit to bring attention to the root, be open and honest with God. Pour out your heart, ask Him the hard questions, tell Him how hurt you are, and listen for the answers. Allow Holy Spirit to begin to soothe the hurt places and bind up the wounds. Allow the healing process to begin. Grieve if you need to, but allow the restoration process to take place.

Psalm 147:3,He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” 

After you allow Holy Spirit to reveal the root causes, let go of the bait that Satan used to entrap you. Write down the thing that held you captive, hold it in your hand, ask God what He would have you do with it, as you listen for instruction, tell Him that you are willing to be obedient to whatever He says, then drop it. Release it. Let God take it from you, never to hold any power over you again. Take a few days and cover it in prayer and listen for instruction. Is God telling you to apologize, to pay a debt you owe, to make a phone call, to forgive someone? Be willing to be obedient to His instructions and you will be set free from it. You will have released the bait and become free from your captivity.

James 4:7-10, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. 

You are then ready to move forward with God, to hear His voice, to fulfill your calling and to operate in God’s perfect will. Wake up and recognize what it is that is holding you back. Deal with it. Then don’t be surprised to find that your greatest trial becomes your greatest victory and then becomes your greatest testimony that sets others free. God will use your difficulties to ease someones else’s path. Don’t be ashamed to admit you’ve been held captive because the fact that you are now free encourages others to seek freedom.

Sometimes this process takes time as there may be many things that needs to be dealt with and released. But know this, each and every issue, once released, gets you one step closer to God’s plan for your life. God may begin by showing you the smaller things first. He may have you deal with those things that will be easier to release before He goes deep into your spirit where the deepest hurts and the deepest offenses reside. These things require the Great Physician to heal. He is the only one who can ease the pain while gently removing the source. But much like a surgical procedure, you must consent to the process and then put your trust in the physician that he not only has the wisdom but the skill to do the job. And then much like in the natural, you must recover from the process, while you heal and regain strength. As recovery is completed, you emerge stronger and healthier than before. The root of the problem has been removed and your body can now function at it’s greatest level. After the process, you come out stronger and rejuvenated to do all that God has purposed for you to do. You are now well and can speak of the circumstance in past tense, with joy and gladness. You can praise the Great Physician that made you whole!

Matthew 7:7-11,Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” 

This week, begin to ask God to show you things you have failed to deal with that are hindering your spiritual growth. Ask Him to go into the deep places and search out those unreleased offenses and to gently show you how to release them. Ask Him for wisdom in the process. Commit to being obedient to any action He requires you to take. And submit to the process of release. Let it go, never to pick it back up again. Then praise Him for freedom to go to the Next Level with Him.