Friday, August 27, 2010
I keep asking God to increase my faith.
When people or things I love are thrown to the ground, I sometimes feel like the man who asked Jesus to heal his mute, epileptic son. Jesus' disciples had not been able to cast out the spirit, and the man wasn't so sure now that Jesus could do it either. "Have mercy on us and help us, if you can" (Mark 9:22, NLT)
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes” (verse 23).
He looked into Jesus' eyes, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (verse 24).
I expect Jesus' question penetrated this father's best hopes and fears. He believed, but he had his doubts.
Unbelief shrinks God to what we've seen and heard. When the limitations of our mind stop us short of the goal and when trusted experts hit the wall of their own expertise, hope get thrown to the ground like the young man. Our senses and experience lie that we are undone and tempt faith to step back from trusting God.
Those are the best times to turn to our Helper. Those are opportunities to let Jesus help us overcome blocks to belief -- to have overcoming faith. They are occasions for God's Holy Spirit to remind us of His presence and greater power at work in us. (See Philippians 2: 12-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.)
Paul says that hearing comes by faith through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17), and John writes, "The Spirit of truth ... will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13).
Regular hearing, reading and applying God's word, then, is critical for opening us to the Word and the Spirit. They train us to jump unbelief's hurdles.
As we make ourselves available to Christ's transforming word, God's grace helps us hear Jesus asking, 'Do you believe I can do this?'
Yes, Lord. Help me believe.
For Your Consideration
When you become aware of doubt, look for your underlying belief:
Do you assume God doesn't love you? That God is surprised or disappointed by you? Or do you think God is either powerless or disinterested? Are you blaming God for consequences of your own behavior? Or are you projecting onto God? -- How do the scriptures speak specifically to the issue you have identified?
What will you do about your discoveries?
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I struggle with unbelief at times.
I don't like to admit it, but the temptation to disbelieve God lurks in the background waiting to sabotage my best efforts at faith.
I was appalled when I first discovered this enemy living in my home. I denied its presence, incredulous that I was providing shelter for this saboteur of God's work.
"Moi?" I thought innocently. Unbelief had so subtly veiled my sight I could not even see clearly.
At risk of oversimplification, I will share some steps I take to overpower this enemy.
First, I have to acknowledge its presence.
"If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light ... the blood of Jesus, [God's] Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:6-7, NIV).
When the Spirit of Christ is revealing a new nugget, I ask for discernment whether I need more information or whether there might be underlying unbelief holding me back from assimilating and agreeing with God's truth.
Pretending I always have faith with a only little doubt sprinkled on top is not enough to face unbelief in the eye. While my intellect is God-given for His worship and my joy, I have to agree that God, not my intellect, deserves the last word. When the enemy tries to deflect my trust in God's goodness, I must stand my ground... or rather, God's ground...in exorcising this monster.
"Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God... You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. " (1 John 4:3,4, NIV).
Secondly, when God's Spirit sensitizes me to this attitude that hurts us both, I ask forgiveness for my part in playing hostess and then appropriate Christ's deliverance.
When God first revealed this awful house guest, I chose to believe the overcoming presence of Christ was greater than the lies that had snuck into my living space because of hurt, false teaching, disobedience or ignorance. Since Jesus shares His authority with His own, I opened the exit door and commanded unbelief, by name, to get out.
It's Jesus' accomplishment on the cross that gives us the power to overcome unbelief. We continue to learn what is available to us as Christ followers as we read and study God's word -- not merely listen to others who do.
My unbelief had been dressed reputably, but I had to agree with God's word that its clothes covered tentacles of pride and fear which curled around my heart and mind cutting off life flow. Instead, God wanted to enlarge my heart to hold more of the Almighty's presence and my spirit to discern the unseen.
I truly want what God wants. So, when unbelief comes to my door hiding death under garments of apparent enlightenment, I count on my Lord for the power to overcome.
For Your Consideration
Have you encountered unbelief masquerading in your life?
How might the power of Jesus Christ practically impact your struggle?
Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57, NIV)
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I pushed the wheelchair to the register without the dress we were hoping for.
It was Mum’s first shopping trip in two years since her illness. Looking for suitable clothing had tired her out so I was conscious of the small talk the cashier was making with the customer ahead of us. If she wouldn’t chit-chat with her friends, I thought, we could get through more quickly.
When it was our turn, I found her warm -- not merely professional. I realized then that she was as genuinely friendly to us as she was to her previous customers. She directed us to where the better dresses were, and we wheeled over to them.
Our second time through the line, I complimented her on her outstanding customer service. As I completed the form she offered me to write my commendations to management, I couldn’t help but wonder if she might be a Christ follower: she was extraordinarily personable.
She efficiently took care of the sale, while she told us how she loved her job and considered it a blessing to be there. “I had been down for many, many months with an immune system disorder, not thinking I would ever recover.”
“But God is good and I’m now able to work again. Glory to God!”
No wonder, she was uncommon. Her can-do attitude was probably shaped, or at least strengthened, during her illness. Now her eyes and voice reflected an uncommon love of life and people.
I suspect it may have been the powerlessness she experienced during her illness that propelled her into God's great power to conquer and live fully in each moment.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35, 37, NIV)
For Your Consideration
Consider how your daily life might be transformed if you realized your health was in jeopardy.
How might you give your frustrations to Christ?
Meditate on the love of Jesus Christ pouring into your life at your point of greatest need.