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January 08, 2015

Three Barriers to Faith (and How to Overcome Them)

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Is there something God is calling you to, but you’re holding back?

How would you fill in the blanks in this statement? I think God may be calling me to _____ , but I’m holding back because _____ .

  • Maybe there’s something big you would put in that first blank. I think God is calling me to start a homeless ministry, but I’m holding back because I don’t have the resources to do it.
  • Maybe it’s something on a smaller scale. I think God is calling me to teach Sunday School, but I’m holding back because I don’t think I have the time to prepare.
  • It could even be something much more personal. I think God is calling me to make peace with my brother, but I’m holding back because I’m afraid he won’t respond well.

You get the idea. We probably all have things we think God is calling us to do, but we’re holding back for one reason or another. In Hebrews 11 we find what some people call the “Hall of Faith”. It lists heroes of the Bible that were asked to trust God in great ways. One of these men was Abraham. God had a big blessing waiting for Abraham. But he also had a great challenge. God called him to leave everything behind and venture to a new land.

That’s what Abraham would put in the first blank. And, as you can imagine there were significant barriers to obeying. Let’s look at what Abraham might have put in that second blank and how he overcame the barriers to obedience in his life.

Three Barriers to Faith

Faith Barrier #1: Abraham didn’t know where he was going.

Put yourself in Abraham’s shoes. God comes to you and says, “Pack your bags. You’re leaving everything behind.” And you say, “Where am I going?” And God says, “You’ll find out.” This would be a challenging command to obey, wouldn’t it?

However, I often find that this is the way God leads us. He shows us the next step, even though we don’t know the final destination. But if we don’t take that first step, we won’t arrive at the final destination!

That’s the position Abraham was in when God called him. He didn’t know where he was going.

Faith Barrier #2: Abraham left his comfort zone.

God called Abraham to leave the city and live in a tent. And not by himself – with his whole family. How many of you are ready to sign up for that calling?

God was calling Abraham to leave behind all that was comfortable to him.

Faith Barrier #3: Abraham was going to a foreign land.

We all love our homeland. It’s a part of us. God is calling Abraham to leave his homeland forever and to go to a foreign land. Now that’s quite the challenge. Which of us actually enjoys being uprooted from all that’s familiar, in order that we might move to an unfamiliar place? We would much rather stay put in our known surroundings than venture out into unknown territory, even if it’s just the next city or state.

So, how in the world did Abraham overcome those barriers? How in the world can we overcome ours?

Overcoming the Barriers to Faith

It’s really pretty simple. Abraham overcame them through faith:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. (Hebrews 11:8-9)

Faith is believing in the invisible reality of God’s Word over the visible world that we can see and touch and hear (Hebrews 11:1).

There’s always some competition between these two realities.

For example, Jesus said that when we give money to the Lord we’re laying up treasures for ourselves in heaven. We believe that, and so we give generously to the Lord. That’s living by the invisible reality of God’s Word.

But then our neighbor pulls into their driveway in a shiny new car. And the thought creeps into our mind: You know, if I wasn’t giving so much to the Lord, I could be driving a new car. Is giving that money away really worth it?

In crashes the visible world.

Surely Abraham was experiencing such tension. The invisible reality was the promises of God – that he would have a new land, that he’d be a nation and experience God’s blessing and be a blessing to the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3). That’s what God had promised, but he couldn’t see it. He couldn’t touch it. It was invisible.

Nevertheless, Abraham made the decision to live by faith. He chose to live by invisible, unseen realities. And because he chose to live by faith he experienced the blessing of God like you can’t imagine. Through his family line Jesus Christ was born: The Savior who would live the perfect life, show us the Father, die for our sins, and bring all those who believe in him to heaven for eternity.

You and I want to be people who say, “God is calling me to _____ , and I’m going for it by faith in Jesus Christ.”

So here’s the question for us all: What would it look like for you to exercise faith in the situation you feel God is calling you to?


Learn more about the faith of Abraham in the sermon Faith Obeys God.

Greg Norwine

Greg Norwine was a pastor for many years before joining the staff of GlobalFingerprints, the child sponsorship ministry of ReachGlobal.
Greg Norwine was a pastor for many years before joining the staff of GlobalFingerprints, the child sponsorship ministry of ReachGlobal.