Tag Archives: God

Praise Wins (my thoughts on doubt)

We have been talking about honest doubt at church and house church the past few weeks. Maybe you’re more familiar with the term “crisis of faith”.  We have been trekking through the Gospel of Luke and just reached the part where John the Baptist sends his messengers to Jesus (because he’s in prison) to ask if he is the promised Messiah.  Any of us who have been walking this faith journey long enough could probably tell a story or two about times of doubt in our lives.  Sometimes it seems so much easier to doubt than to have faith, especially when it seems we have to wait an eternity on God, or when he doesn’t appear to be moving and acting the way we expected him to.  (John must have felt the same.  He had this image of a Liberating King who sets captives free, yet here he is locked up in prison!)  When we place so much faith in God, our eyes and our hearts fixed on him, our stake of trust grounded in his faithfulness, we feel we have wagered everything on him coming through.  It only makes sense then that we expect him to come through!  So what happens when we face those times where God asks us to wait?  He may not answer right away or respond the way we expected by doing what we know he can do.  He may answer and respond but not the way we hoped.  We can face real disappointment when this happens and with disappointment comes doubt.  What should we do?  I have a suggestion…

You have to make a choice to trust in God’s sovereignty even during times of uncertainty. And its in those times you must choose to worship God for who he is.  Don’t worship him for what he’s done or because you want something from him…worship him for WHO HE IS.  If you need a reminder of who God is just turn to the scripture.  And don’t forget that GOD IS LOVE.  He doesn’t just love us…he IS love.  He can’t be anything but love in everything he does.  He can’t do anything but love you in everything he does, including making you wait for his response or doing the opposite of what you asked him to do.  If you can start to worship God for who he is then you can worship him in any circumstance because he never changes.  If that doesn’t give you something to praise him for then I don’t know what does!  Let me also say that worship isn’t just singing praises to God on a Sunday morning at church.  Let me tell you from personal experience, if you fix your heart on God and submit everything you are, everything you have and everything you do to him (even your doubt), that doubt will turn to faith and that faith will grow.  You will find the next time you face doubt it will be easier to trust God through that doubt.  Then your faith will continue to grow even more!  Some of you may need a fresh revelation of who God is.  All you have to do is ask and when he reveals himself to you, your response must be worship!

I was reminded this week of King Jehosephat. You can read the story in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 but I will try to sum it up for you here.  Jehosephat was the King of Judah.  He was a God fearing man who loved his people.  In this part of the Story he finds his people surrounded by enemies much greater in number.  He became fearful of the opposition, seeing no way to defeat them.  His first response was to seek God and declare a national fast to gain God’s favor.  God assured him that they would not even have to raise their weapons and still they would be victorious.  Now lets just try to put ourselves in his shoes for a moment.  Picture yourself a part of a small army of 10 people (this is not true to the biblical account but I am just trying to paint a picture here).  Now picture yourself completely surround by an army of 1,000 people made up of all sorts of tribes from different places, all hell bent on wiping you out.    

Would you doubt God’s promise that you wouldn’t even need your sword?  I know I’d want my sword…and I’d probably be the one saying we’re toast.  But Jehosephat believed.  Do you know what he did next?  He got his army together to go and face the enemy (it doesn’t really say if they suited up or not) and…this is the best parthe put  his worshipers up front to lead the way.  Not his biggest, burliest, toughest shield and sword wielding warriors…HIS WORSHIPERS.  He appointed singers and instrumentalists to lead the way because he believed God would do what he said he would.  I think you can guess what happened.  They didn’t even have to fight.  God confused the other armies and they turned on each other until there were no survivors.  This is a beautiful reminder to us of the POWER OF WORSHIPespecially in the face of a bleak situation that most certainly would cause us to doubt!  So I challenge you, if you are facing hardship and doubt in your life, bend your heart towards God and WORSHIP HIM FOR WHO HE IS.  You can command your soul to worship God even if you don’t feel like it.  David commanded his soul all the time in the Psalms.  You will be changed, I promise.

I want to leave you with a Psalm that one of our house church members pointed out last night as we talked about honest doubt.  Its comforting, sometimes, to read the Psalms and realize that doubt is a normal part of life with God.  But I challenge you to focus on David’s final thoughts after expressing his doubt.  May we have the same heart in the face of our doubts.

Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? 
   How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts 
   and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
   How long will my enemy triumph over me?
 3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
   Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
   and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
 5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
   my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise, 
   for he has been good to me. 

Living in the "already but not yet" – More thoughts on suffering

Some of you probably wonder what the title of my blog means.  It doesn’t seem to make much sense at first glance.  Its a stolen phrase, I didn’t come up with it and I honestly don’t know who did.  I first heard it from my brother who is also my pastor.  It is, in my opinion, the perfect way to describe the Kingdom of God.  We have not yet reached it but it is also already here.  God’s redemption plan is not finished and we are not fully restored, yet God lives in us, among us and brings his Kingdom through us.  He is Emmanuel, God with us.

I was struck by this today as I spent some time in silence before my Creator.  It is often in these times God brings great revelation and he held true to that today.  He birthed a deep desire in my heart that, to put it mildly, surprised me.  (I don’t feel I can disclose the details just yet)  At the same time came the realization that my life, my marriage, my family is not even close to being what it needs to be for this desire to become a reality.  The desire consumed me and the realization of  the brokenness that is keeping me from it gave me an ache in my soul I’ve never experienced.  Enter the enemy.  It is undoubtedly true that brokenness draws our Savior to us like a magnet to a steel beam.  (Matthew 5:3, Psalm 51:17)  But the one who “prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8) preys on our brokenness too.  He whispered, “You’ll never have that.  God will never fulfill your desire because you aren’t good enough.   You’re too weak.  You’re broken.  Can’t you see how messed up you are?  You might as well forget about that.”

Pain and brokenness turned into despair and hopelessness.  All I could see was my current situation and at that all I could do was weep.

Then I heard another voice whisper…”Emmanuel“….and I remembered….

God is here!  

Not all things have been redeemed yet so I still suffer pain and brokenness in this world.  But God is with me NOW.  My Comforter, my Rock, my Defender, my Shield…Abba Father (which in the original language means “Daddy”).  His greater purpose to restore all of creation, including me, perfectly overshadows the suffering I might face today.  Even more, he invites me to be part of his greater purpose and my suffering then becomes part of that purpose too because my suffering is part of me.  This gives me hope.  This changes everything!

Living in the “already but not yet” is just that.  Realizing things are not yet as they should be, so, there is pain, suffering, disease, heartache and disappointment to say the least.  But God’s great purpose, his rescue plan, has been activated and HE IS HERE.  We are being rescued!  And our life, if we let it, can be part of God’s great rescue mission…messy, dark, broken and depraved as it is.  That, my friends, is REDEMPTION.  Not something we are just waiting for and looking forward to, but something we can have TODAY.


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