Doubt

“Occupy your mind with My love, leaving no room for worry and doubt.”

doubt

Doubt is like a bad penny.  It always keeps turning up.  It seems that no matter how many times we see the hand of God working in our lives, there is always room for doubt.  Even when we have a close relationship with Him, there are times when we still have doubts.  The disciples, who spent so much time with Jesus, still had doubts.  When Jesus told them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” they thought He was referring to food.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “You have so little faith!  Why are you worried about having no food?  Won’t you ever understand?  Don’t you remember the five thousand I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of food that were left over?  Don’t you remember the four thousand I fed with seven loaves, with baskets of food left over?  How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, `Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6-13) He was reminding them that each time they needed food, He was able to provide.  Then it dawned on them that He wasn’t speaking about yeast or bread but the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The disciples had seen Him perform miracles before and they had forgotten how He had fed thousands of people with what seemed like very little food.  He had made a little go a long way.  Like the disciples, we too doubt the power of God and He has to remind us.

The disciples doubted the resurrection.  The Bible says, it was early on Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead, and the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.  She went and found the disciples, who were grieving and weeping.  But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.  Jesus also appeared to two other people.

At first they didn’t recognize Him because He had changed His appearance but once they realized that it was Him, they rushed back to tell the others but they didn’t believe them.   When Jesus appeared to the eleven, He rebuked them for their unbelief” (Mark 16:9-14).  In the Gospel of Matthew, it says, that when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted (Matthew 28:17).

Mary had taken good news to the disciples but they allowed doubts to spoil what should have been a joyful moment.  Sometimes we allow doubts to get the better of us and we miss out.  Doubts could prevent us from seeing God’s blessings.  The religious leaders in Jesus’ time had the Light but their doubts kept them in darkness.  Doubts can hinder us from doing the Lord’s work.  Doubts can rob us of great opportunities.

Jesus does not want us to worry or have doubts.  He wants us to focus instead of Him and what He can do for us.  The next time you start to doubt Him, remember these words, “Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe”.

Never doubt, only trust and believe.  Remember all the times Jesus came through for you.   Fill your mind with His love and promises.  Don’t clutter your mind with doubts.  As Paul advised us, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).  Searching the scriptures will also help.  Diffuse the doubts with God’s Word.  Whenever you have a task to do and you start to have doubts about it, say to yourself “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Singing

I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me – Psalm 13:6

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Ranan means to sing, shout, cry out.  Ranan is often used to express joy, exultation which seems to demand loud singing, especially when it comes to praising God.

Isaiah 12:6

Proverbs 8:3

Psalm 32:11

Shir calls people to express their praises to God in singing

Psalm 96:1-6

 

Who sing?

Believers

Ephesians 5:19

The Redeemed

Revelation 5:9

 

When to sing?

Times of victory

Exodus 15:1, 21

Imprisonment

Acts 16:25

Times of Joy

James 5:13

 

Why Sing?

Thanksgiving

Psalm 147:7

Joy

Psalm 27:6

Gladness

Jeremiah 31:7

 

What to Sing about?

God’s power

Psalm 59:16

God’s mercies

Psalm 89:1

God’s righteousness

Psalm 51:14

 

What kind of songs?

Triumph

Judges 5:12

Spiritual joy

Psalm 119:54

Physical joy

Genesis 31:27

Deliverance

Psalm 32:7

Singing/songs help us to stop wrestling with negative thoughts.  It shifts our focus away from our problems to God.  King David sang to the Lord in Psalm 13.

Do you wake up in the morning and find yourself humming a song that keeps playing in your mind throughout the day?  What about when you are going through a tough time and a song that is just right for your particular situation comes to mind?  I have had the experience where I was going through a rough time and suddenly, out of nowhere, the words, “God will take care of you” started to go through my mind.  I could hear the tune.

I went and got my hymnal to see if there was such a song.  I was surprised when I saw it.  I wondered if it sounded like how I imagined it to be.  One day I got my answer.  When the hymn was sung in church the chorus was exactly how it played in my head.  Singing and songs have lifted my spirits, strengthened, given me hope, comfort and encouragement.

Two years ago a group of us went on the Great Controversy tour and we visited a place called Torre Pellice in Italy where the Waldensians hid from the Christians who were persecuting them.  We went into one of the caves where men, women and children hid.  It was cold, damp and dark.  We had to be very careful when we crawled in and we had to have torchlights, which those people didn’t have at that time.  We stood there in the cave and we thought of the people who had be flee into the wilderness and hide in caves because they would not compromise their faith.  We started to sing “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” Singing this song gave us the strength and courage and helped us to appreciate these brave men and women who ended up dying for their faith.  One of these days, we will meet them and together we will sing the song of the redeemed.

Stop Making Excuses

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When God calls us to serve Him do we make excuses?  Moses did.  When God asked him to go and tell the Pharaoh to let the Jews go, Moses protested, “O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words.”  So God asked him, (Exodus 4:10-12) “Who makes mouths?” the Lord asked him. “Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go, and do as I have told you.  I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.”

Moses protested but in the end, he led the people out of Egypt.  He became a great leader.  After his death, it was written that, “There has never been another prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent Moses to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and his entire land.  And it was through Moses that the Lord demonstrated his mighty power and terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

We have to trust God and believe that He will equip us for the work He calls us to do.  He used the staff Moses carried to perform great things and He equipped Moses to become a leader.  When it became too much for Moses to handle the many responsibilities, God impressed Jethro, Moses’ father in law to give him this very good advice, “You’re going to wear yourself out-and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing him their questions to be decided.

You should tell them God’s decisions, teach them God’s laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives.  But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes.

“Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.  These men can serve the people, resolving all the ordinary cases. Anything that is too important or too complicated can be brought to you. But they can take care of the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” (Exodus 18:18-23)

Moses learned how to delegate and that too makes for good leadership.  God does not expect one person to do everything and that is why leaders in the church and in the world have people working with them.  Jesus taught this when He called twelve men into His ministry.  He could have done it all by Himself but He chose not.

Jeremiah was a youth when God called Him to service.  He shares the experience which must have been overwhelming.  “The Lord gave me a message. He said, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

“Don’t say that,” the Lord replied, “for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 1:4-8)

When God calls us, He doesn’t send out to do the work and leaves us on our own.  He is with us every step of the way—instructing, guiding and helping us.  I used to be shy and didn’t socialize easily.  Since I allowed God to use me, I am not shy anymore.  He helped me to gradually get over my shyness.  I started with small things like scripture reading, poetry reading and then I graduated to telling the mission story, sharing my testimony in front of a large audience and making announcements.  He called me to be the leader of Singles Ministry.  I didn’t know anything about being a leader but I trusted that He would help me to do my best and He did.  He accomplished a lot through me.  Now, I am comfortable being a leader and I delegate like Moses was encouraged to.

Is God calling you to serve Him?  Don’t use your age or gender as an excuse not to answer His call.  David was a boy when he was anointed king of Israel and Josiah Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.  He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn aside from doing what was right. (2 Kings 22:2)  God accomplished great things through women.  Deborah was a judge, Miriam was a prophetess and Dorcas was a disciple and community worker.  God can use you.  Stop making excuses and allow Him to do marvelous work through you.

It’s a Two-Way Conversation

When we go to God in prayer is there a moment when we pause to listen to what He has to say?

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Prayer is a two way conversation.  It is a form of communication.  We say what we have to say and then keep silent and allow the Lord to answer.

I had gotten into the bad habit of getting up and going about my business after I finished praying.  One morning, I was impressed to remain kneeling.  When I did and I stayed quiet, Jesus spoke to me.  When I heard His voice, I began to cry.  I had missed hearing Him speak.  I told Him so and He said, “I have always been here.”

When we pray, the Lord is there but we don’t give Him a chance to speak.  It is like when you call a friend.  You say, “Hi Jane, it’s Martha.”  You allow Jane to say, “Oh, hi Martha.  How are you?” And that is all she gets to say.  The rest of the conversation is you talking with no pauses for Jane to get a word in.  And when you’re finished, you say goodbye and hang up.  Jane may have had news that she would have liked to share with you but she never got the chance to do so.

God may have news for us or something He wants to share with us but we don’t give Him a chance to do so.  We’re too busy talking and when we’re done, we thank God for hearing our prayers and answering them and then move off, not giving Him an opportunity to speak to us, we will miss out on that.  We may miss a message He has for us, what His will is for us that day or His plans for us.  God likes to listen to our prayers but He looks forward to when we come to Him and share what is in our hearts but He wants to share what is in His too.  Prayer is not just about us talking but it’s about us listening too.

The next time you pray, don’t get up or walk away as soon as you are finished.  Stay where you are.  Be still and listen.  God wants to talk to you.  Let Him.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14

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The most wonderful event in history occurred one night in the city of David.  Mary gave birth to her first Child, a Son.  She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in the manger because there was no room for them in the village inn.

Prophecy was fulfilled.  “Look!  The virgin will conceive a child.  She will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel—‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14) The birth of Jesus was something to celebrate.  An angel, excited about the good news, went and told the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone.  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David.  And this is how you will recognize Him:  You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth” (Luke 2:10-12).

Excited, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem!  Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (verse 15).  They rushed off and found Mary and Joseph.  And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had told them about this Child.  All those who were present were amazed to hear the shepherds’ testimony.  The shepherds returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them and because they had seen the Child just as the angel had said.

Could you imagine being one of those shepherds?  You are sitting there watching your flock and then an angel of the Lord suddenly appears to tell you that the Messiah—the Savior you had waited for so long is born?  Not only that—the angel tells you where you can find Him and how to recognize Him.  You and the other shepherds decide to go to Bethlehem and you see the baby.  You see the face of your Savior.  He is a Baby that would grow up into a Man who would touch the lives of many.  Mary kept these things in her heart and thought about them often.  Like her, we should treasure the things we know and learn about Jesus and think about them often.

During this holiday season many people think only about the birth of Jesus but how about thinking about His life, His ministry, His death and resurrection too?  Treasure not just Jesus the newborn babe lying in the manger, but treasure the Man, Messiah, Savior, Lord and King.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone.

The Virgin Mother

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14

PregnantMary

The mere fact that a virgin will give conceive and give birth to a Son, is in of itself a miracle.  This is humanly impossible.  Even Mary marveled.  She exclaimed, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel, Gabriel explains to her how this miraculous birth will be achieved.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”  He reminds her that, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

If the Almighty could have Elizabeth, a barren woman conceive in her old age why couldn’t it be possible for Mary, a young virgin, who found favor with Him conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son, and call His name Jesus? (Luke 1:30, 31, 36).  Yes, God can do the impossible and He did.  In Mary, He fulfilled the promise which He made through the prophet, Isaiah and He named the Child Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for leaving the glory of Heaven to come to earth to be with us.

For This Reason…

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work – 1 John 3:8, NIV

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When it comes to the meaning of Christmas, we always think of the nativity scene with Joseph, Mary and Jesus in the manger with the cattle lowing.  We think of the  angels who  appeared to the shepherds keeping their flocks to announce the good news of the Savior’s birth in the City of David.  We think of the shepherds rushing to Bethlehem to see the Child and then spreading the word concerning what had been told them about Him.  We think of the wise men who traveled far to see the King of Israel to bring Him gifts and to fall down in worship.

Yes, Jesus came into the world to save his people from their sins but there was another very important reason for His coming and it too is good news.  The apostle John tells us that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work.  How does He do that?  Jesus Himself tells us as He quotes the words of the prophet Isaiah:  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, 19).  When Jesus was finished reading, He told those gathered in the synagogue that He had fulfilled that scripture that very day in their hearing.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught the people the Word of God which was the Good News of God’s love and His salvation.  He healed diseases and sicknesses, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk and drove out unclean spirits.  He freed a woman who had been bound by Satan for eighteen years.  Eyes that were blinded were opened and sinners were drawn to the love of God which was manifested in Christ.  The Light had come into the world and many were brought out of the darkness.  Jesus came to reveal the true nature of the devil whom He said was a murderer and the father of lies.

Jesus accomplished not only salvation for us when He came but something else that is very important.  What was that?  Hebrews 2:14 tells us, Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14, ESV).   The Good News is that Jesus has given us victory over death which will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26).  Death will no longer have any power over us.  Those of us who die in Jesus will be resurrected.  Death will lose its sting.  

Jesus came to take away our sins.  Sin is of the devil.  He uses deception to cause us to sin.  1 John 3:7 says that, “whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning”.  Jesus came to help us to stop making it a practice of sinning.  He Himself was as we were but He didn’t sin.  He makes it possible for us to follow His example through the help of the Holy Spirit who not only convicts us of sin but enables us to practice that which is good and right in the sight of God.  Being born of the Spirit means that we no longer practice sinning.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever sin again but we have the assurance that when we do, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2, ESV).  

Thank You, Lord Jesus for coming into the world to destroy the power of sin in our lives through the Holy Spirit and for destroying the works of the devil.  As we celebrate this Christmas season, help us to enjoy the freedom we can enjoy only by living in obedience to You.