Overcoming Obstacles to Faith

Just the other day, I was at a well-known grocery/department store to pick up a prescription and a few grocery items.  Much to my surprise however, was a maze of center aisle displays with a bunch of "stuff" vying for my attention as I navigated my way to the pharmacy counter and then to the back of the store for the milk and eggs (ever notice that these things are almost always located in the back of the store?).  At any other time of the year, these aisles are relatively clear and it is easy to get where you need to go and get out before making any impulse buying decisions.  Of course, the store is preparing for the upcoming Christmas (and therefore, shopping) season, and to catch those early buyers they are enticing you to buy things that you probably don't need anyway.  Adding to the idea that somehow we have comfort in our "stuff", these things are priced "at amazingly low prices!" so as to save us something so that our lives can be happier and more fulfilled.  However, as so many of us have recognized in our lives (often, much too late), the "stuff" really slows us down and hinders our growth and faith development.

The writer of Hebrews tells the reader, "let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2).  The word for 'weight' in the Greek literally means a "hindrance" or "obstacle".  These obstacles can be anything from a deep sin in our lives that continues to pop up at very inconvenient times in our walk, to a subconscious belief that somehow our lives will be more complete if we simply had the latest and greatest technology.  Either way, these things are hindrances to a greater and deeper faith in God.  Scripture is clear, our worship is directly related to those things that take our time and resources (Luke 12:33-34).

So, how do we overcome these obstacles to a deeper and genuine faith?  Below are three principles that have helped me to deal with this difficulty in my own life:

1. Start each day with a clear focus on God as the source of all you have been given (Acts 17:28)
2. Give praise to God, even when you don't feel like it (Luke 19:40)
3. Remember that in Christ, "we are more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37)

As we approach this Christmas season, let's not forget the meaning for our celebrations and source of our joy.  Stay close to God and he will stay close to you! (for he already is!)

Grace and Peace,


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