(Schooley’s Mountain Young People’s Gathering, October 2019)
Do you doubt that God rules in the kingdoms of men? Or in the Promises? That you have the Truth? That God is working with you?
Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction. Doubt is natural, and it can be good; it can cause us to ask questions and to look into finding the answers, but I want to add that can also be dangerous, even deadly; it can lead to unbelief, which can keep you out of the Kingdom of God. Look what happened to Israel (Numbers 13:28-14:35); they doubted that the Lord would bring them into the Land; despite all the miracles the Lord had done for them, they still needed more evidence. Interestingly enough, God says, “doubtless (14:30)” they would die in the wilderness. Doubt can cause us to be like those warned against in Paul’s letter to Timothy, those who have a “form of godliness,” but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). Faith has to overcome doubt.
We have fulfilled prophecy in history: one example is the destruction of Babylon, prophesied in Isaiah; it happened exactly as God said it would. Babylon was wicked; imagine what more the Lord will do for them that love and obey him. We even have fulfilled prophecy and “miracles” in our day: we need look no further than the Bible itself or the nation of Israel.
A couple of years ago, you may remember we had the Solar Eclipse here in North America; I got to see totality, and I remember thinking beforehand that if I would see this incredible event, I would never doubt God again. I have a photo of the Eclipse above my desk at work, as a reminder that God is in control, and it’s quite often that I need that reminder. When God makes a plan, no one can stop it or change it (Isaiah 14:27). Nothing is left to chance when God does something.
When we hear about “the Promises,” we may think of the ones God made to Abraham, Moses, and David; but what about the promises God makes us now?
Recently, I was walking through the neighborhood, listening to a song on my phone (no need to say which one), and I was having a few doubts about what God is doing with me; life just isn’t extremely exciting right now and many times I feel like he’s just sitting on the sideline; I wonder if he even cares about what I care about. If you’re anything like me, you may feel this way often.
“The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him (2 Chronicles 16:9).”
No matter who you are or where you’re from, God can work with you, on two conditions: acknowledge him, and acknowledge his principles. In all your ways acknowledge the Lord, and he WILL (not “might”) direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
We all need reassurance as Gideon did (Judges 6:39), and certainly as Peter did; we read in the Gospel of Matthew how he walked on water with Jesus, but when he saw the wind pick up, he began to sink and called on Jesus to save him (Matthew 14:22-31). Peter had the Son of God right there; we don’t see Jesus physically, but he IS here (Matthew 18:20, 28:20); why do we refer to him as “absent”? He calms our storms; he says, “Peace, be still (Mark 4:35-41);” remember that right before calming the wind and waves, Jesus was asleep on a pillow! You have the most powerful man in the universe with you right now; why do you doubt?
I want to turn for a second, to those of you who aren’t baptized yet (doubt plays a huge role in that decision). I want you to consider what the Lord said to Daniel, and it certainly applies to you as well: “Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard (Daniel 10:12).”
For all of us, our faith has to be in something; where is your faith? In a house on sand or in a house on a rock? In the Lord or in the world? Is your faith in yourself, or actors, or athletes, or politicians? Is it in another brother or sister, or a group of brothers and sisters? Bob Dylan, a worldly musician, had a famous song with a repeated line, “You gotta serve somebody.” Remember the words of the Psalmist: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man (Psalm 118:8);” this is not just an “opinion,” it is a fact. We read from Genesis to Revelation and we see for ourselves that the world we live in has no lasting value and it certainly has no lasting solution to man’s problems. But it sure offers a lot of distraction; distraction can cause doubt; we live in a very loud world, a world that gives you and I its daily readings every day, but they are not going to help our faith. No one upon watching an R-rated movie ever said, “you know, that really increased my faith and now I feel closer to God and Jesus as a result.” No one ever felt closer to God and Jesus after reading the National Enquirer. It goes without saying, although it sounds cliché: we need to seek the Lord by reading his word. God’s answers are there, 1000 pages worth. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Elijah’s faith was renewed by the still small voice of God’s word (1 Kings 19:12-13); upon hearing it, he wrapped his face in his mantle. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life (John 6:68).”
To reconcile between faith and doubt, we have to seek the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2); Jesus is the author and finisher, not us, not John Thomas or Robert Roberts (nothing against them of course); the faith which was once delivered; a faith that we have to earnestly contend for (Jude 3). Remember that most of the people who wrote our Bibles were either severely persecuted or even died for their faith. “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Paul wanted the brethren in Colossae to have a “full assurance (Colossians 2:2).” Abraham was fully persuaded that God was able to do what he said he would do, and it was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:19-22). The just shall live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4).
As the man with a demon-possessed son said to Jesus, ask the Lord to help you believe (Mark 9:24). God gives to all men freely; therefore ask in faith, nothing wavering; a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8). Christ asks that when the Son of Man comes, “will he find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?” The answer, of course, is Yes! In the previous chapter, we read about Christ’s coming when he will gather his elect. The context of Christ’s question was his two parables about prayer. The Lord is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20); there is nothing too hard for him (Jeremiah 32:17). A brother from Richmond once said, “Never underestimate the power of the phrase ‘thy faith hath made thee whole (Matthew 9:22).’”
I’d like to finish with a few words from the 16th Psalm: “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption; thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:8-11).”