Have you ever doubted anything? Of course you have. We all have heard something that we just couldn’t accept when we first heard it. Some people will question everything they hear. But there is something we should never doubt and that is the Word of God. It’s sad but some people do not believe in God, and if you don’t believe in God, you don’t believe what the Bible says; and if you don’t believe in God, you can’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Some people also don’t believe that there is enough evidence or proof for the fact that Jesus is who he claims to be. Then there are people who are almost there. They wonder if the Bible is true. They wonder if Jesus really rose from the dead. They wonder if the whole thing is just a story that someone made up, but if you have faith, you don’t wrestle with the question of whether God exists or not; or that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died and rose again. By faith, you believe in God and you accept everything that He said in His Word as fact.
Everyone, if they are truly honest, has at sometime doubted their faith. The strongest faith comes out of struggles with your doubt. When we see doubters, we tend to put them down. We think that they are weak Christians, but those who wrestle with their doubt often come out with the strongest kind of faith because our heavenly Father is aware of where we are on our journey and because of His amazing graceand love for us, will work our struggles out for our good and the end result is a testimony about the goodness of God. Doubts become an opportunity; they bring us closer to God rather than driving us away from Him but we must first admit that we have doubts. You cannot overcome your doubts unless you recognize them. Don’t think for a moment that God ceases to love you for any reason. The point is that not even your doubts can stop God from loving you. Even if you doubt Him, He loves you. If your doubt leads to questions, and your questions lead to answers, and you accept the answers that God gives you, then doubt has done a good work in your life.
My advice to you is to doubt your doubts, and honestly begin to seek after God with your whole heart. No matter how weak or how frail you think your faith is it’s enough. It’s enough to get you through. It doesn’t take much faith. Matthew 17:20 says, “If you have faith as small as the mustard seed nothing will be impossible to you.” In the middle of that verse it says “If you have faith as the mustard seed you can say to the mountain move and it will be moved.” Mustard seed faith moves mountains. A personal relationship withthe Lord Jesus Christ will erase any doubts you might be struggling with. Every little step you take towards Christ moves you further away from doubt, discouragement, depression, and despair. If you are going to doubt something, doubt the lie that says God isn’t real or that God doesn’t care about you and the issues you are facing. The truth is God is a God of love and He wants nothing more than for you to believe that He is who He says He is and that He gave His only begotten Son so that you might have ever-lasting life. Doubt your doubts and believe by faith that you are loved by God and that He is there any time you need Him.
I want to tell you a story:
One day a man decided to quit. He decided to quit his job, his relationships, and quit on God. He went to the woods to have one last talk with God. He said “God, can you give me one good reason not to quit?” God said “Look around”, do you see the fern and the bamboo?” “Yes”, the man replied.” God said ‘when I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year the Fern grew but nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In the fourth year, nothing came up but I would not quit. Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout appeared. Compared to the fern it was small and insignificant but just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.” God said to the man. “I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you.” “Don’t compare yourself to others.” God said. “The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful.” “Your time will come”, God said to the man. “You will also rise high.” The man asked.”How high will the bamboo rise?” God said “as high as it can.’ God said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.”
This might be hard for you to believe but do you know that the times you spend struggling with the cares of life are times when you have actually been growing roots?” Life is not a problem to be solved, but a gift to be enjoyed. You have been created by God for a specific purpose, one that no one else can fulfill and if you focus on how difficult life can be, you are missing the joy of the experience God has planned for you. Don’t walk by a rose bush and not think about how beautiful it is. Even rose bushes have thorns but the thorns don’t take away from the beauty of the rose. Life is a gift from God. You are a gift that God has put on this earth and He wants you to glorify Him by displaying your beauty. Don’t waste time by comparing yourself to others. Everyone has unique gifts but we all have the same purpose. If your beauty is not being seen, there is a gap in the rose bush. The rose bush isn’t mature until all the roses have blossomed.
Give God the glory due Him by rising as high as you can. Bloom where you have been planted because the world needs to see the beauty in you. Evil is always on display and it’s time for the things that are good and lovely to be seen. God works in mysterious ways and when you have risen as high as you can, you just might be the inspiration that causes another rose to bud.
I have a question I want to ask you. It is a serious question and it has serious consequences. “Can God ask you to do anything?” By ‘anything’ I mean anything, and would you obey even if you don’t understand why? Abraham was a man who did just what God commanded him to do at great personal expense. He obeyed God even though he didn’t understand why God told him to leave his home and his country and he did not know where he was going. Do you trust God that much or is your trust contingent upon your understanding of what God is asking you to do? If God required you to give up something or someone you love , are you capable of saying ‘not my will but your will be done?’ Obedience is the foundation to your relationship with God. Your level of obedience is fueled by your level of faith, and if you believe and trust God unconditionally, you will have no problem in obeying God no matter what He asks of you.
Abraham’s faith in God was at the highest level. He did not hesitate even when he was told to offer his son as a sacrifice upon an altar, but it was because of his faith in God that he did not have to give up his son in the end. Abraham passed the test and was rewarded. Is there anything in your life that you would withhold from God? Can God ask you to do anything? Are you willing to lay everything that God has ‘loaned’ to you on the altar, and have the faith to believe that “God will restore it to you? God might ask you to give up something near and dear to you. God might ask you to leave what is comfortable in your life. God might ask you to give up relationships that will hinder you from totally surrendering to Him, but if you do, if you are willing to let nothing keep you from obeying God, you will discover that your reward will be great. God honors those who honor Him and what better reward for obedience than allowing you to receive what He has promised you?
Take an inventory of your level of faith. The Bible tells us that faith if the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. When you are able to say ‘yes’ to God at all times, you are living by faith – faith that will not go unrewarded!
How would you describe yourself? How do you introduce yourself? How do you perceive yourself? Your answers to those questions are important because when you know who you are, then you know what to do. If you don’t know who you are, then you don’t know what to do. Let’s ask a different question: Who does God say that you are? Genesis 1: 26 says “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. That includes men and women. “In our image, after our likeness.” Who are you? God says, “I’ve made you in my image and likeness.” That’s your identity; that is who you are. You don’t have to decide what your identity is because God has already answered that question for you.
When God says that we are made in his image and likeness, think of images in your life. Every morning, most of us get up and look in a mirror, and that mirror is reflecting back to us our image, our likeness, revealing to us who we are. In the same way, God wants His attributes to be visible on the earth through His children. He wants the world to know something about Him, and so he’s made us as his mirrors. We were made to mirror God on the earth. God is loving, and when we love, we reflect his love to others. God is truthful. When we tell the truth, we reflect his truthfulness to others. God is forgiving. When we forgive others, we’re reflecting his grace and his mercy to others. God is generous, and when we’re generous, we’re reflecting his generosity to others. So our life is to be one of mirroring and the goal is not for the world to know us, but the goal is for the world to know Him. We are to reflect, to mirror, to show, to echo something of God’s attributes to the world.
Your identity is received, it’s not achieved. Adam and Eve didn’t do anything to obtain their identity. God made them, God spoke to them, God defined them, and God blessed them. It’s all God. Your identity is not achieved, it’s received. It’s not something you do, it’s something God does. It’s not what you earn, it’s what God gives. This one fact frees you from the performance trap. It frees you from the competitive trap. It frees you from being bitter or jealous of others. It lets you be who God made you to be, and rejoice in who God made your brothers and sisters in Christ to be. We are all made in the image and likeness and God. Your net worth has nothing to do with your self-worth. You are a child of God and no one can ever steal that identity from you because it is protected by the blood of Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior.
One of my favorite people in the Bible is David and because of His sensitivity to God, he became the best king Israel ever had. David was chosen by God when he was a young man to become the King of Israel after Saul disobeyed God. David started out as a shepherd boy but later became a mighty warrior and eventually King of Israel. Any good leader will tell you they do not become great alone – they surround themselves with like-minded people who are faithful and committed to making their leader successful. One individual who was totally committed to David was a man we hear very little about. His name was Eleazar. In one battle, after all the other warriors had left, Eleazar remained with David and the Bible says that “He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword.” The Bible tells us that the location of this battle is believed to be in the same area where David had defeated Goliath. This place seems to have been a place where many battles took place for Israel. Here is a lesson for us to learn; the enemy will often take us back to old battlegrounds; places where he’s held us up in the past; places where he might have even won a battle or two. Maybe the devil takes you to that place of doubt, that place of fear, that place of lack of faith inside of you. But when Satan tries to take you to those places just take him back to Calvary; the place where he was defeated by the blood of Jesus.
It’s important to note that Eleazar kept fighting even when he was weary. Sometimes we will grow weary when we are in a fight; sometimes we will lose strength. For you and me there are things that we must be willing to fight for like the preservation of God’s Word and not let Satan take our religious freedom away from us. Also, it’s important to note that he fought for his king, just as we are to fight for our King. Eleazar was alone in battle. There comes a time when each of us are required to stand alone in the battle. The battle that we all fight in our lives is when God requires change; change must come if we are going to see victory. These changes cannot be worked out in a crowd. These changes must be worked out between ourselves and God alone.
Each of us is called to serve our King to the best of our ability no matter what the battlefield is: whether it is restocking shelves in grocery store or managing a Fortune 500 company. Standing firm and serving our King even when everyone else is running in the opposite direction is what God’s mighty men and women do. Eleazar had something that he could not let go of – his sword. His hand became part of his sword. The battle was so intense that he and his sword became one. That is a powerful example for us today. Put the Word in you so that it will come out of you in the heat of the battle!Eleazor was willing to draw his sword and fight with or without any support. He didn’t look around to see who was still standing. Your responsibility is not diminished because other people turn back; rather you should rise to the occasion and close the gap. Remember, only 20% of the people will do 80% of the work. Spiritual strength is a test of greatness. Greatness is shown when you are able to go one more step when you are fighting the biggest challenge of your life.
Think about this:
For every failure in the Bible, there is a victory
For every Cain, there is an Abel
For every Saul, there is a David
For every Judas, there is a Jonathan
For every Pit, there is a Palace.
Refuse to let go of your sword!
There are two things for certain that God has planned for every Christian while they are on this earth: To grow and develop you so that your heart and character closely resembles Jesus Christ, and to transform you forever so that you become a useful tool in the kingdom of God. All of us have a sphere of influence where we are to be God’s agent. No matter what your circumstances may be, or how many people you influence from day to day, your character, faithfulness and integrity will be put through the fire so God can chisel and shape you to become a tool fit for the Master’s use.
The challenges that you will experience on your journey will teach you that life can seem incredibly unfair at times. You will also learn that your dreams will be put to a test because life doesn’t always happen in the way we we had planned, but there is one thing you must always remember. When life throws you a curve, you have been placed in that position for a reason and you are where you need to be at the exact time you need to be there. This is the time to get alone with God and ask him to open your eyes and heart to learn what you need to learn so that you are prepared for the future. It might look like your life is out of control, but your life is being controlled by your heavenly Father. Guard against becoming bitter, angry or unforgiving. Display a sweet spirit even during the hardest times. Remain faithful and have faith that God has a plan and a purpose for you and you will get there if you pass the test.
When it is all said and done, you determine whether or not you enjoy all that God has planned for you. If you have the right attitude, if you are persistent and faithful and trust God with your whole heart, you will succeed. If you lose heart and fail to trust God in every thing, you will miss out on seeing the victories that you could have experienced if you had walked in faith. Allow the promises of God to be the fuel that keeps you going day after day. Remember that God has promised to never leave nor forsake you. Hold on to the truth that God loves you and is mindful of you at all times. The enemy of your soul wants you to doubt God and do your own thing, but your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died to give you power over sin and death and He wants you to be happy and successful. Choose faith and you will choose the life that will provide you eternal joy and peace that passes all understanding.
All of you know that in this life we will be tested and if you can take it – you will make it. Think about a cruise ship. They are built to withstand adverse weather conditions because their journeys take them through the wind, rain and all types of storms. They would go out of business if every time bad weather conditions arose, they had to turn back to port. Ships are built to endure, they are solid. They have everything they need to keep sailing. They can take it, so they make it – they just keep right on going. How many times have you heard a Christian say ‘I can’t take it anymore?’ The truth is, how much you can take determines your success or failure. If you are able to take discouragement, even failure, and not let it stop you from trying again, you will always win. You must have a will to win, and your will to win will cause you to get up every day, get back in the game and try again.
Winners spend their time building dreams while quitters spend their time criticizing those who have not given up. Winners focus on the things they must do to win while quitters focus on things that make them think they can’t win. Winners see obstacles in their way as hurdles – they don’t stop, they just jump right over them. They condition themselves to take it and that is why they make it! The primary goal of a winner is to win so they take the word ‘can’t out of their vocabulary. The person who never believes that he is defeated is not defeated. His ‘I can make it’ attitude is evidence that he isn’t through fighting yet. There will always be people who will say that something can’t be done and, unfortunately, if you believe you can’t – you won’t! We are limited by what we tell ourselves and our performance is based on what we believe.
A winner knows how to pace himself; he knows when it’s time to slow down and regroup and he knows when it is time give it all he’s got. A winner believes that if one thing doesn’t work, he must try something else. A loser believes that if one thing doesn’t work it can’t be done. A winner takes risks; a winner sees setbacks as opportunities to try something new. A loser sees setbacks as a sign that it’s time to stop trying. It is your responsibility to have a winning attitude and your winning attitude will keep you in the game in life. The winning attitude you need today may just be the attitude of one who refuses to quit, refuses to give up, refuses to lie down and let life run you over. Jesus has fixed the race you are in – you have already won because the enemy of your soul has been defeated. If you can take it – you will make it!
Have you ever been broken – truly broken? God allows us to become broken because on the other side of brokenness is a victory that you could never have attained in the natural. Brokenness takes us to a place where we seek God with our whole heart and it is there, in God’s presence, that we are healed. Do not separate yourself from God but allow God to change your heart and renew your mind so that you become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts must have the capability to hold both whole and broken pieces together without becoming bitter in the process. There must be enough wholeness within our hearts to not allow the broken pieces we hold to keep us from moving forward. Brokenness is literally part of the fabric of life, woven into our experience of the world. There is no person that is immune from it.
On the other side of brokenness is freedom. You are able to see things you were not able to see before. You are no longer afraid of anything. Your heart is open and you can sympathize with the pain of others. Your compassion is greater. Your ability to hear God has been magnified because there is nothing in you hindering the Holy Spirit from talking to you. You become creative. Ideas begin to flood your mind. and you become humble because what didn’t break you has made you strong, and believe it or not, there are blessings in brokenness. Often, the blessings are found in the comfort of family or friends. Sometimes the blessing is in finding forgiveness, of self and of others, that helps us heal ourselves or a broken relationship. Sometimes the blessing might be in finding the wisdom, the strength, the courage we didn’t know we had.
God can take what has been broken and remake it into something better, something that He can use for His glory. On the night before He died, Jesus broke bread and said, “This is my body, which is broken for you.” He went all the way to Calvary to die so that we could live. His death has made it possible for broken, sinful humanity to be reconciled to God and be healed. Without the broken body of Jesus, we would have no hope of being made whole, and because Jesus has redeemed us, we must remember that we are more than conquerors in this life. We have within us the power to over come any and all obstacles that may come our way. It’s not what we do – it is what Jesus has already done that makes the difference. Wholeness in mind, body and soul can only be attianed through the Lord Jesus Christ. If you know Him as your Lord and Savior, you will not remain in a broken state. If you do not know HIm as Lord and Savior yet, make the decision to do so now. Jesus did not die in vain. He died so that we all might have life and life more abundantly. When you are sick you need a physician. When you are broken you need God. Move from being broken to being whole and experience the love of God like never before.
The Bible tells us to “fight the good fight of faith.” What does that mean? The enemy of your soul wants nothing more than to defeat you any way he can. He will use suggestions, ideas, pressures and negative circumstances to get you to believe his lies. If Satan can get you to change your confession of faith to a confession of doubt, he‘s got you and that is why you must hold onto your confession of faith and that is why you must resist the devil so that he will flee from you. If you are a child of God, Satan can’t get your soul, it belongs to God. Satan will do whatever he can to get you to lose your faith and give up, but if you fight the good fight of faith when times are difficult, you will come out on the other side more than a conqueror.
I’m sure you have heard of the military term AWOL – Away Without Official Leave. A good soldier holds onto faith, while an AWOL soldier lets go of faith. What’s the difference between an AWOL soldier and a good soldier? An AWOL soldier, after becoming engaged in the fight, changes his/her mind and decides to run away from their duties/ responsibilities without authorization thus leaving his post unmanned causing a breach in security. A good soldier accepts his responsibilities, follows the orders of the commander in charge without question, and will do whatever necessary to protect his fellow soldiers and their mission even if it costs him his life. God is our heavenly Father and His commands are all written down in His Book, the Word of God and a good soldier obeys his commander without question.
To fight the good fight of faith you must do the following:
- Put on your armor
- Be courageous
- Resist the devil
- Stick it out – do not go AWOL
God has given us armor and we must put it on every day. Our armor is described in Ephesians 4: 14-18.
- Belt of truth
- Breastplate of righteousness
- Gospel of peace for your shoes
- Shield of faith (to extinguish fiery darts of the enemy)
- Helmet of Salvation
- The sword of the spirit (the word of God)
- Prayer & supplication
Believing in God is a personal act. You must hold onto your faith – no one can do that for you. You must keep believing. You must guard your heart and always be aware of anything or anyone that will try to pull you away from the Lord and what He has called you to do. Get rid of all distractions. Stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish. Your faith should not depend on any person or any ministry or any church membership. You are not going to win in life’s fights just because you are a church member and you attend church. You will fight the ‘good fight of faith’ when you apply yourself to spiritual truths found in the Word of God.
Question: Are you a good soldier or have you gone AWOL?
Making the right decisions is very important because one day we will all have to give an account of the decisions we made. Remember the following four things when you are called upon to make a major decision:
- Do the right thing.
- Do the right thing at the right time.
- Do the right thing at the right time with the right motives.
- The right decision will always lead to a great reward.
The decisions we make do matter and they affect our family and our friends. A lot of people make a decision that will get them momentary satisfaction. They are more interested in what they can get out of life right now and they forget there is an eternity out there much longer than the here and now. But making the right choices takes a heavenly-minded person. There are three important people in the Bible who made decisions that not only affected them, but had a major impact on many others.
Joseph’s story is a good example of someone who consistently made the right decisions and ultimately he received his reward. As a young boy, he had dreams that put him in a position where everyone would one day bow down to him – including his family. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. His father was told that he was killed by a wild animal. He was framed by Pharaoh’s wife because he refused to sleep with her and was thrown into prison. He interpreted the dream of a prisoner who was released and restored to his position, but he forgot about Joseph. Joseph interprets one of Pharaoh’s dreams and he was promoted from the pit to the palace over night. In the end Joseph became the leader of all Egypt second only to the Pharaoh himself. When given the opportunity to take revenge or forgive his brothers, he chose forgiveness and his family was restored. God never left Joseph and Joseph never left God. He remained faithful and godly through it all and God honored him.
Job was a very wealthy man who one day lost everything but made a decision to trust God no matter what. His decision to trust God even after his wife told him to curse God and die, proved to be the right decision and allowed God to give him double for his trouble! Job had no idea that God would restore him, but holding on to his faith and not giving up on God positioned him for his blessing.
Jesus made a decision to obey his heavenly Father even to the point of death. In the Garden of Gethsemane he could have made a decision not to give his life as a ransom for us but his love for God propelled him to make the decision he made. This decision changed my life; it changed your life and the life of every Believer.
Let’s all follow the example that Joshua gave us. He made a decision as to who he would choose to follow in life. He said “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” If you believe that God is God, be a faithful follower of Christ and be consistent in your decisions so no one will ever doubt who you serve.