Wednesday, May 21, 2008

jesus and boat The Swaying Battle of Faith
James 1:1-8
It is easy to have faith that God is going to do something in the distant future. For example, if you were to walk into a church service and ask the congregation, "Who believes that Jesus Christ is returning?" nearly every hand would go up. But if you ask an indebted man whether he thinks God will reduce his liability in three months, he is likely to express doubts. And yet our day-to-day life is where we must practice unswerving faith if we hope to be effective for the Lord.

James tells us that our faith cannot be like the waves of the sea. Stormy waters rush first in one direction and then seem to double back on themselves and race the opposite way. In the Christian life, we rush forward to do the Lord's will until He makes a difficult request or allows a painful experience to confront us. Suddenly we are driven in the other direction by our doubts.
The reason we hesitate to trust God fully is that we judge our circumstances by what we see. Sight is often the enemy of faith because our eyes and brains cannot envision a method for the Lord to do what He promises. Our scriptural knowledge that God can do anything and our experience of His past faithfulness make us want to follow His will. But the obvious impracticality of our situation fills us with doubt. And so we are tossed like a sea wave.

Faith can overcome doubt only through action. We turn a blind eye to circumstances and make the first step toward doing God's work. If we exercise our faith every day, those seas of doubt cannot rage so fiercely.

Jesus and Peter Why We Hesitate to Trust
Luke 5:1-11
On the Sea of Galilee, the optimal time for fishing had passed hours earlier, so the fishermen cleaned their nets instead. But one lowered his into the water at the request of an itinerant preacher. The reward for Peter's trust was a net-breaking catch.

As believers, we want equal success in over-coming doubts so that we can courageously follow God. But sometimes we rely on our own faculties to decide whether or not we will trust Him. Perhaps what He is asking of us seems unreasonable. For instance, the principle of tithing goes against human wisdom: When we give God one-tenth of our income, He makes the remaining 90 percent spread farther than a hoarded 100 percent could.
In other situations, we hesitate to trust the Lord because our knowledge or experience contradicts His plan. All of Peter's expertise indicated that fishing at such an hour would be useless. Sometimes God challenges believers to act even when they do not understand how they can be successful.

Listening to others' opinions is another stumbling block to unswerving faith. There is a time for seeking godly counsel, but when the Lord makes His will clear, we are to act. We are not to pick up the phone to ask a few friends what they think. No opinion matters except that of Jehovah, who does not make mistakes in presenting His plan.
The next time you find yourself in doubt, think about what is causing you to hesitate. Then you can pray specifically to overcome the faith hurdle and move on to receive your reward.

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