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What is holding you back?
We sometimes hold ourselves back from living the life that God has called each of us to live. We all have at least one area of our life that challenges our faith and knocks us off course. It causes us to fight to move forward in our lives, our callings, and our spiritual growth. It’s frustrating to feel stuck occasionally or even all the time. The great news is we have a God that can (and will) move mountains for us. He works on our behalf through our faith in Him to do what seems impossible, even overcoming our strongholds and negative thinking!
All of us, at some point, cry out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” There are five areas where most of us struggle to trust God, and if we’re not careful, these areas can become habits that can become strongholds that keep us captive.
Key Passage: Mark Chapter 9: 17-24
17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So, I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
#1 Living by what we see
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT) says, “For we live by believing and not by seeing.”
Faith is always focused on what God can do. When I am not in Faith then I am focused on what I can do. It gets us looking at the enemy, the problem, the obstacle, the situation, and rules our emotions.
Q: Describe a time when you were believing for something and felt disappointed. Where was your focus?
#2 Human Reason
There are times when God asks you to do something that feels unreasonable. We can be in a place where our reason feels stronger than the voice of God. It may not be negative or bad, it just doesn’t have any rational ground or motive.
Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NLT) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
The world operates on common sense, never considering spiritual truths. When we feel God’s call on our life often our human nature will disagree and appear as reasonable. You will then be tempted to be more concerned about proving your faith is sensible to yourself and to others.
Q: Have you ever let reason override faith? What was the outcome?
#3 Negative Counsel
Proverbs 11:14 (KJV) states, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall: But in the multitude of counsel there is safety.”
Be careful who you seek counsel from. Don’t just allow anyone to speak into your life, protect the things you’re praying about. Seek counsel from someone who knows you and your heart. Someone who will pray with you and points you to the word of God.
The right counsel will encourage you, confirm, or correct you. It’s important to weigh out the advice we receive from others and test it to see if it lines up with the Bible and is true, just, pure and that it glorifies the Lord.
Q: Have you ever had counsel from someone that you felt pointed you in the wrong direction? What would you do differently next time?
#4 Feelings – fear, confusion, guilt, etc.
Your feelings are not legitimate evidence of your life of faith. Many believers fail to follow God, waiting for the right emotion to come along.
- Suppose God tells you to get up and read the Word at 4 am! Will you wait to feel like getting up?
- What if God leads you to teach once a month in Kid’s Life. Will you obey, or wait until you feel excited enough to do it?
Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear says that God cannot when faith says that He can.
Q: Read Joshua 1 (verses 7, 9). What did God command Joshua to have? Where can you apply this to your life today?
#5 Not reading your bible
The Word of God is fuel to our faith. Romans 10:17 (KJV) says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Knowing and understanding the Bible will give strength to our faith. Although we can hear from God in several ways, we most clearly discern His voice through reading His Word. If you want to know God in a deeper way and hear His voice more clearly, make the commitment to become a student of His Word. Read the Bible every day, and let the Lord speak to your heart.
Q: Have often do you read your Bible? What importance do you place on studying it in your life?