Archives For Doubt

sheepfence

Caution! Looking over the fence can lead to cutting your chin. A better usage of your chin is to bow it in prayer, thanksgiving at the feet of Jesus. Bowing your chin in prayer and thanksgiving acknowledges Christ as Lord. Cutting your chin on the fence revels the desire to be the center of the universe and last I checked, neither you, nor I can run the universe. The call of the Christ follower has never been to look for what we already have. We have everything. We have been rescued. We have Him.

I guess looking over the fence started in the garden. God assured Adam and Eve that He had everything in control and hadn’t missed a detail. He even gave details about the tree to leave alone. Guess what? That tree soon became their “fence.” The enemy introduced a very seductive word. That word was introduced to get them to look over the fence. That word was, “surely.” The serpent spoke, “You will not surely die.” In other words,  the lie was, “You don’t have all that you need.”

Looking over the fence is a hard one to resist. We all want answers that fit with how we think it should be or how we think it ought to be. Therefore, we often think to ourselves, the answers I’m looking for are surely on the other side of the fence. After all, I can smell the barbecue goodness coming from the other side. I can hear the laughter of plenty. They never seem to hurt or want for anything on the other side of the fence.

Life always seems better elsewhere, but it’s not.  What is out of our touch, or inaccessible, often seems of more wealth than what is present and sanctioned in our life on God’s side of the fence. It seems to be in our human nature to desire what we can’t have, and at the same time despise what we have right under our feet.

I’ve often found I start looking over the fence when I stop ministry to God. Ministering to God is the safest place to be. When I totally surrender to the beauty of sitting at His feet, the fence has no power and the voices on the other side grow strangely dim, and my soul gives way to a song.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:5-6

EmptyhandsImage Credit

Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

faith_in_god_spiritual_math

No matter how you add it up zero added to zero equals nothing! However, add God to the equation and you get endless possibilities. You serve a God who is altogether above mathematical quandaries. He has always been able to blow the lid off the box of our limited human reasoning and capability.

Give God a few fish and some bread and He can feed over 5,000 people. Give God your empty wine vats and He can fill then with the best wine using only water. Give God a withered hand and He can heal it. Give God a storm and He can calm it. Give God a dry fishing spot and He will fill the boat with fish. Give God your impossible and He can make it possible.

You can’t control how God will answer your need, but you can be well assured He will answer in a way that brings Him the most glory. Just knowing that God will get the glory should be enough to reassure you that everything you are facing is going to be all right. It might not be the answer you want, but it will be in the end the answer you need.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed about the outcome of any particular situation that is uncomfortable in my life, I remind myself His glory will win out and if His glory wins, I win! God always acts with a view to His glory alone and everything is secondary. When God is put first, everything is going to be just fine.

unbelief

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Now that’s my kind of prayer! It’s my kind of prayer, and I venture to bet it’s your kind of prayer from time to time also. It’s not a faithless prayer. It’s a prayer that is mixed with trust and yet a hint of despair.

Despair is often the unwanted guest of an ongoing crisis. Despair somehow slips into our temple and pokes around causing us to doubt things will ever change.  Such is the case of the man in Mark 9.

His son is a demon-possessed, and he brings his son to the disciples of Jesus for deliverance. His steps of faith toward the men of God have ended in complete failure.  The disciples are not able to help his son.

The voice of despair grows stronger in his heart. He thinks to himself, “What now?” Suddenly, Jesus takes center stage. Jesus asks a few questions, and the man asks Jesus to do something. “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love the response of Jesus, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believers.”

Then we see the broken beauty of the moment. A man of flesh and blood has faith and yet unbelief mixed in his heart, but Jesus answers his prayer anyway. With tears, the father cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” It’s a prayer that bottles the request to remove the despair and fill up what is lacking in his trust.

He has seen the failure of the disciples, and it has only increased his  sense of despair and now what faith he has left seems to be quickly draining away. However, whereas the disciple didn’t have enough faith to accomplish the request, Jesus has unlimited power.

Jesus helps his unbelief and the miracle happens. Sometimes the greatest faith move you can make is to give your unbelief to Him in faith! The cries of this man’s heart have resonated with many that fight the same battle across the sands of time. He prays for relief just as he is, a doubter that needs a touch from God. Never forget; you can do the same.

storm

Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Of course, He cares. But even better than that, He knows!

Jesus knew the storm was  coming when He commanded the disciples to cross over to the other side. He even knew the storm was upon them during His nap.

It’s kind of incredible when you think about it.

You know you’re in a storm when it’s all you can think about. It’s on your mind so heavy you toss and turn on your bed at night.

However, I want you to know that Jesus can be calmly trusted in the middle of trouble.

He knew they were destined for the other side, and He knows how to write your story also.

He knew they would arrive, and He knew they would arrive different men than when they launched out from the other side.

The kind of differences only a storm can bring.

It is not that Jesus is not around; He is there all the time.

You may not understand His timing or the way He chooses to answer but please understand Jesus is sovereign over all forces and that’s enough.

Jesus can calm the inward and outward storms of your life. He will get you to the other side.

Psalm 89:8-9 (NIV) 8 O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.

emptiness_sings_scan

I’ve have found that the worst thing to do with emptiness is to try and run from it. If you run from emptiness, you will miss the song.

Emptiness that is not avoided, causes you to ask questions you would otherwise never ask. Emptiness is not the valley of death, but rather, the valley of teaching and even a valley of Joy.

I once read, “Emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness,  we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy.”

In my emptiness,  I’ve established I’m often to quick to look for human help before finding joy and peace with God first. When I was younger in my faith I often found myself asking for help from anyone who would listen, and then I would pray and ask God to bless what I had just asked for.

Older and more mature now, I now seek the joy in emptiness and then asking is nothing more than breathing out from a place of assurance- no matter the answer to come. When you stop running from emptiness you are one step closer to hearing a creative song.

Emptiness was the starting place of God in Genesis, and it’s still His creative starting place in your life now. Give your emptiness to God and watch as He speaks, “Let there be!” Emptiness is the place God begins to complete you. Emptiness is a place God begins to sing through you. This is how emptiness sings!

Genesis 1:2 (NKJV)
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

pour

Trusting God to show up can be a bit of an enigma. You need God to meet a need in your life or ministry, so you pray He shows up, and yet on the other hand God is everywhere, so it’s impossible for Him to be absent. In other words, praying He shows up is almost redundant, yet we ask anyway because the Bible encourages us to ask. The Lord’s Prayer being just one example of many in scripture.

I think a better way to look at asking God to show up is to ask God to give us eyes to see where He is at work in the situation and pursue it. Pursuing God is the more proactive form of asking Him for help. When you know God is always present and at work, then it’s just a matter of pursuing. Asking is just the opening of your heart to see with your eyes of faith where He is already active.

Even when the Bible speaks of God at rest, it’s better stated that God is in control. When God is at rest in the Bible that doesn’t mean He is kicked back with His feet up doing nothing. That’s more of our definition of rest then God’s definition of rest. Rest for God is control. He is sovereign and in control, and there is nothing passive about either.

God’s invitation to ask of Him is a real command, but it must never be forgotten that it is for our benefit and not His.  Prayer is mostly about bringing ourselves into alignment with God’s heart.

I’m not sure what you need God to show up for right now, but there is one thing that I am sure of, and it’s this- Grace is accessible to you right now, and so there’s no reason to struggle and fight for an answer. He is the answer for right now because He is the ‘right now’ God working at all times. Trusting God to show up can be a bit of an enigma, but that is half the joy of pursuing Him.

The power of God’s grace is working in your life. And whatever amount you need, is being poured into your cup right now.  So, belly up to the grace of God and say, “Pour me another.”

Choose Image_0

I’m not good with emptiness, but God is great with emptiness. Emptiness often becomes God’s greatest creative place in your life and mine.

Joseph was found in an empty well in Genesis 37:24 because of the envy of his brothers; yet eventually through the sovereign determination of God is made prime minister, second in the land of Egypt.

Emptiness doesn’t have to be a negative situation or a negative emotion when you know God is truly sovereign in your life. In fact, the greatest place to see the true message of what God can do with “empty” things is to ponder the empty tomb of Christ. The empty tomb is not a message of defeat and hopelessness. The empty tomb speaks to all of us, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:18

Maybe today you are feeling empty. Maybe today the future doesn’t seem so hopeful for you. Maybe today you can’t see past the moment of pain at all. Instead, You find yourself  hearing the negative and defeating voice of emptiness, and not the life giving voice emptiness has under the command of God.

You need to choose which voice you are going to listen to. Choose the negative and defeating voice and you will reap what that path leads to. Choose the life giving voice of emptiness and you will reap what that path leads to. If you are jobless today, if you are broken today by stress that is almost unbearable, if you are in the middle of family drama that is endless, there is hope for you. Your emptiness is a gift if you listen to the right voice.

Emptiness is a crisis, but in every crisis there is an opportunity for God to show off for His own glory. If you truly believe that God is sovereign, then you must believe that God has a plan and purpose in and through your emptiness. You can’t ever forget that God always shows up to demonstrate His glory in His perfect timing. God can work wonders beyond your dreams!

Which voice will you choose? Will you choose the negative and defeating voice, or the life giving voice of God? I think we both know which is correct. Now choose wisely.

Whisper

“Anything that God has ever done, He can do now. Anything that God has done anywhere else, He can do here. Anything that God has done for anyone else, He can do for you.” A. W. Tozer

“Anything that God has ever done, He can do now.”

That’s correct. You serve a ‘now’ God.  God can move in your life at this present time or moment. Take a breath and then Whisper to your soul, “God is closer than the air I just breathed.” I challenge you today to be mindful of Gods presence in your life. He doesn’t just drop in for a visit. God lives inside of you if you are a Christ follower. You are submerged in the unconditional perfect love of the God of the ‘now.’ The future can’t be experienced, and the past is consumed in the annuals of time.  You only have this moment and God has you in this moment. Whisper to your soul, The ‘now’ God is completely loving me right now!

“Anything that God has done anywhere else, He can do here.”

The scriptures declare that God is the great “I Am.” You don’t have to  look back at a past event God has performed for His glory and wonder if He can do a great miracle where you are in the present. If God can do a miracle anywhere, He can do it where you are.  He is not the “I was” or the “I might be.”  He is the “I Am.” Whisper to your soul, “God is here.”

“Anything that God has done for anyone else, He can do for you.”

You are His child. He loves and cares for you. Be awake to what he wants to do for you in order to bring Him glory. Be awake to the fact that it’s not about you in the first place. Life is about bringing God glory. You have been chosen to bring Him glory, and therefore, He will do for you in order to make much of Him. You are a branch attached to Jesus, the source of life. He is the vine, and we are just branches that produce fruit for His glory. Whisper to your soul, “He will do for me and through me what best brings Him glory.”

May this day be the great day you have hoped for! Whisper to your soul, “Let it be.”

carrying-sheep

1 Samuel 16:11
11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”

While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

Experiencing the pain of being overlooked touches each of us from time to time and can be extremely difficult to carry. Being overlooked transcends age, gender, culture, rich and poor. The loneliest place to serve God is in the land of the overlooked.

I’ve often thought about David and what it must have been like to be around 15 years of age watching sheep day in and day out. I find myself asking questions of wonder. Did David ever feel loneliness living in the shadow of his older brothers? Did David drift away in his thinking while watching the sheep, thinking to himself, “Will I always be overlooked and stuck out here in the field smelling like sheep?” When David played games with his older brothers and the neighborhood kids, was he picked last? If Dave was anything like you and me, then the answer to those questions are an unqualified, “Yes.”

I remind you again; while David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

Everyone wants to feel significant, that their life matters, that they have a place in this world. However, you must never forget that God looks not to you in order to give you significance; He looks toward you in order that your life will make great significance of Him to a lost and dying world.

Allow me to make a few statements of clarification at this point before we continue on. God never overlooks you, but God doesn’t look your way in order to make much of you; God looks your way in order to make much of Him. In other words, life is not about you and me ultimately.

Life is about God’s glory. When you come to realize that one simple point, then and only then can you truly be free to live as God has purposed. Otherwise you are trapped serving yourself first and God second.

I opened this devotion with the scripture of David being called from the field, where he stood before God and his brothers to receive the anointing as the future king. The older brothers were all passed over for this particular purpose. It was David God wanted to be king and not any one of them. That’s not to say they were overlooked because God never overlooks any of His children. It’s simply to say that God’s plan for their lives had a very different direction.

In 1 Samuel 16:12-13 we read, “12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

David went from being overlooked by the world around him to learn in a moment that God had not overlooked him at all. While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

As I close this devotion, I leave you with one last meditation. David received his call and found out he wasn’t overlooked; however he returned to taking care of the sheep until God directed him otherwise. Never forget, it was about 15 years between David’s anointing as king until he took the throne.

While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.