Week 1 - Dealing With Doubt
Dealing with Doubt
11 June 2017
Ps Patsy Cameneti
The children of Israel were delivered out of Egypt – not just so that they could be free from captivity – but so that they could go into the Promised Land. Many things occurred on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land; but, when they arrived at the Land, there were giants and walled cities. These were not mentioned in the Promise.
When the people saw them, they saw them as a contradiction to the Promise – and they chose to go with the contradiction.
Heb 3:12-14 “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ” (NLT)
We consider lots of sins as moral sins; and the children of Israel committed lots of sins in their time in the wilderness – they made a golden calf and worshipped idols, sexual perversion around the idol worship. Yet, it was not any of these things that kept them out of the Land of Promise.
In his letter, Paul says to warn each other every day about the danger of unbelief. It is the hand of faith that takes hold of the promises of God; it is the ability of doubt to make us put our hands in our pockets and not use our faith. The outcome is to make a decision about God against His character and harden our hearts against Him.
Don’t Let Life Form Our Beliefs
Our experiences will contribute in forming what we believe. What is around us helps to form what we believe – even what we believe about God.
We do not want life to form our beliefs about God
What do we let form our beliefs”
When we are out on the water, we do not want to navigate using a cloud as a reference point. Why? They move – and we will end up some place we did not intend.
Neither do we navigate using the waves. The waves are driven by the wind – and there is no telling where we will end up.
If we navigate by our experiences, our feelings, what we see or hear, then we are relying on something that is no more reliable than a cloud on the ocean. We end up drawing conclusions about things that are not true.
If there is a lack of truth in what we believe, then we will not be free.
John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (NKJV)
Life is like an ocean; and different winds blow across the surface. Sometimes it’s quiet and calm and beautiful; other times it is violent and scary. On the ocean of life, we need to navigate by something that is sure. A sailor will navigate by a star or the sun – something that will hold still and not be moved. We want to latch onto something that will not move, that will not change.
Don’t Let Failure Form Our Beliefs
When failure has become part of our experiences, we face life more tentatively.
Mark 4:38 “Master, do You not care that we are perishing” (NKJV)
Jesus asked 2 questions: why are you so afraid; why did you doubt? Anyone in their right mind would be scared in these circumstances. Why wouldn’t we doubt when we see the circumstances around us? The responses are saying: look, feel, hear, experience.
Life is going to give us reasons to not believe Him
Then we are in danger of doing what Hebrews warns us about – turning from believing Him.
Examples of People Who Failed
- Albert Einstein
Did not speak until he was 4 yo and did not read until he was 7 yo. His parents thought he was sub-normal; his teacher described him as mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in foolish dreams. He was expelled from school and refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic. He eventually learned to speak and to read and even do a little maths.
- Thomas Edison
His teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything. He was fired from his first 2 jobs for being non-productive. He made 1000 unsuccessful attempts at making the light bulb. When asked how it felt to fail 1000 times, he replied ‘I didn’t fail 1000 times; the light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps’.
We are not going to let our senses form our beliefs; we are not going to let failure form our beliefs
What Does Form Our Beliefs
And …. sometimes His Word stands alone with no reason to believe it except that He said it.
Mark 6:5-6 “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people” (NLT)
Jesus was amazed at their unbelief; but, what did He do? Did He just erase them? No, He taught them. What is a cure for unbelief that makes us sit on our hands and stops us from receiving from God? His Word.
Jesus is so faithful
Ps 18:30 “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection” (NLT)
What if we are in a situation where it does not seem that His Word is true? We are in a place of decision. Do we believe our feelings or experiences or do we go back to a verse of Scripture and say what the Word says?
God’s way is perfect
All His promises prove true
He is a shield to all who look to Him
Abraham received the promise from God for a son – yet, it was 25 years before that promise was fulfilled. Do you think that Abraham had occasion to doubt if that promise was true?
Rom 4:18-21 “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, ‘That’s how many descendants you will have!’ And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead – and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises” (NLT)
Abraham’s faith never wavered. One translation says that his faith grew stronger ‘over the passage of time’. Time can be a real battle for us. If we are to stay connected to what God says, we are going to need to make some choices to either believe what we feel or see or experience – or what God says in His Word. We can continue to say, ‘God’s way is perfect and His Word is true’.
Let the Lord Himself be the rock. We take the Scripture to stand on – and this promise is like a life raft. We take the promise and follow it to the mouth that spoke it. The reason that the promise is solid is because the One who said it is a rock. Our beliefs are formed by the Word but they are founded on the One who is the rock.
2 Sam 22:47 “The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May God, the Rock of my salvation, be exalted!” (NLT)
Hos 6:3 “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord” (KJV)
Sometimes we can come to a point where we think that we cannot go on until we know ‘why’. We are going along just fine and then we come to a riser and this riser contradicts the beliefs on which we have been operating. We can decide to sit down and refuse to go on until all our questions are answered. But, this verse of Scripture says it is the other way around – we will know when we follow the Lord.
Jesus is the truth and the Spirit of God will lead us into all truth. When He leads, He doesn’t always talk to us about the questions that we have; instead, He talks about other things and keeps leading us as we keep our eyes on Him. It is not wise to make decisions when we are so close to the issue that we cannot see the forest for the trees. Follow the Lord and He will bring us up to a higher vantage point.
When we come up against a riser, an apparent contradiction to what we believe, what do we do? We step on that apparent contradiction and keep stepping forward. We choose to believe the Word. We choose to believe that what God promised, He is also able to perform. Don’t let time be our enemy. His way is perfect and His way is proven and tried.
We step on the very storms that are sent against us and we go from faith to faith, strength to strength, glory to glory
We stand on the Word and It has the power to change us, power to change circumstances.
2 Tim 1:12 “That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return” (NLT)
It isn’t just about believing a promise. When we follow the Word back to the source, we meet The One who gave the promise.
When our faith is transferred from what we believe to who we believe, then we become embedded in the rock
Then our faith becomes like Paul’s (in the shipwreck) – immovable, unshakeable, the very core of our being.
When we come up against the contradictions, don’t let our questions turn into questioning.
Let our questions be a motivation to seek Him
Heb 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (KJV)
In the storms of life, we may need to come back to the basic rock of ‘I believe that You are’ – and believing that we will find Him when we diligently seek Him.
These risers in our lives give us the opportunities to choose to be fervent in our seeking.
We step up and follow Him – not because it looks right or sounds right but because He said it and He is real. He is real in the daytime; He is real in the night; He is real when the sea is quiet; He is real when it is raging.