Easier Said Than Done

mark-536“Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” (Mark 5:36b)

It’s easier said than done much of the time.

I walked by a sign the other day that said, “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.” It’s not that fear doesn’t exist. We can’t just wish it away. We have to have something bigger than it, something that keeps it in check, in context, something that absorbs and handles it well.

Belief in and of itself doesn’t get rid of our fears. Some beliefs exacerbate fears. If we believe in the wrong things, undependable things, the fears are only masked, and when things are masked, they can grow in the dark where we hide them. Fears can grow and become something that they’re not.

Fears aren’t just the things we tremble about. They are also the quiet ways we think we’re missing out on something, the insecurities, the desires spurred by “what if.” Without true belief, our “what ifs” become unmanageable. We can’t control them like we thought we could, and they begin to control us. We begin to make decisions based on fleeting assumptions and feelings. We might feel certain at the time, but when we’re on shaky ground, it doesn’t take long for insecurities, regrets, and doubt to move in.

Belief isn’t easy. It’s an unrelenting effort. But it’s worth the effort in the long run.

Reality Check

78c372262db9b19678466bab9dd41100_400x400There’s something about reading the entire book of Job. We all get the basics. Job was faithful but encountered  beyond what seems to be a fair share of troubles. He struggled, others got involved and gave him all kinds of advice and explanations, and God didn’t say a whole lot until later in the book. And that’s when the reality check comes in.

Basically, “Um, hello, Job. Can you stop for just a second please? Remember me? God? Let me remind you of a few things. In fact, I’ll just ask you a few questions.”

Who is this who obscures My counsel with ignorant words? Get ready to answer Me like a man; when I question you, you will inform Me. Where were you when I established the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Who enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its blanket, when I determined its boundaries and put its bars and doors in place, when I declared: “You may come this far, but no farther;
your proud waves stop here”? Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place, so it may seize the edges of the earth and shake the wicked out of it? The earth is changed as clay is by a seal; its hills stand out like the folds of a garment.
Light is withheld from the wicked, and the arm raised in violence is broken. Have you traveled to the sources of the sea or walked in the depths of the oceans? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the extent of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Where is the road to the home of light? Do you know where darkness lives, so you can lead it back to its border?
Are you familiar with the paths to its home? Don’t you know? You were already born; you have lived so long! Have you entered the place where the snow is stored? Or have you seen the storehouses of hail, which I hold in reserve for times of trouble, for the day of warfare and battle? What road leads to the place where light is dispersed? Where is the source of the east wind that spreads across the earth? Who cuts a channel for the flooding rain
or clears the way for lightning, to bring rain on an uninhabited land, on a desert with no human life, to satisfy the parched wasteland and cause the grass to sprout? Does the rain have a father? Who fathered the drops of dew? Whose womb did the ice come from? Who gave birth to the frost of heaven when water becomes as hard as stone, and the surface of the watery depths is frozen? Can you fasten the chains of the Pleiades or loosen the belt of Orion? Can you bring out the constellations in their season and lead the Bear and her cubs? Do you know the laws of heaven? Can you impose its authority on earth? Can you command the clouds so that a flood of water covers you? Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go? Do they report to you: “Here we are”? Who put wisdom in the heart or gave the mind understanding? Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the water jars of heaven when the dust hardens like cast metal and the clods of dirt stick  together? Can you hunt prey for a lioness or satisfy the appetite of young lions when they crouch in their dens and lie in wait within their lairs? Who provides the raven’s food when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? (Job 38)

Go ahead and continue into Job 39 if you want. It’s riddled with more questions. And I always read these questions as directed not just to Job but to me. And not just to me but to people in general. I mean, what are we thinking when we try to understand what God has done, estimate what He will do, and even try to take some of that control away from Him (or refuse He has it in the first place)?

Don’t get me wrong. I think God is okay with our questions. He’s okay with our struggles. Both indicate we’re working through something, that we’re on the journey instead of indifferent.

I never want to be indifferent again. I don’t have all the answers. I have a lot of questions. Yet I am more certain about who God is the closer I get to Him and the more passionate and persistently I pursue Him.

God is God.

Don’t define Him. Let Him define Himself as you seek and get to know Him. He’s worth the journey.

Following the Example of Doubting Thomas

But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!”

After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”

Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28)

Thomas gets a bad rap. Sure, he doubted, but he didn’t something about it. He pursued Jesus.

We should follow his example.

When you doubt, you can reach out and touch Jesus. Pursue Him. You don’t have to “figure out” your doubt. You don’t have to dawdle, meander, and wade through the muck of possibilities. You don’t have to get stuck. You can let Jesus be your proof. He’s good at it. The best, actually.

Take your doubts to Him. He won’t let you down. Ever.

Growing in God Through Life’s Challenges

Today’s guest post is from Dinah Cook, founder of Changing Your World Coaching International and author of the upcoming release Fixing a Broken Glass, testimonies from ordinary women who God has used to do the extraordinary.

whyI have to continually remind myself who God is in my life as I deal with my mother getting older and requiring more attention and care. I have to remember who God is in my life as I deal with a recent job layoff and I question how I will make ends meet. I have to remind myself who God is in my life as I fight to see what is God’s perfect will for my life during this season of transition.

As I face current life challenges, I recognize that I was in error when I found myself questioning God with “why” questions, such as why I had to take a particular path which caused me great frustration and why  events that seemed unfair (from my perspective) were allowed. I realize God allowed me to take this journey to strengthen me, cleanse my heart of things that were not good for His plan for me, to educate me,  and to put more of Him in me so I could have more compassion for others who may face similar challenges. He was teaching me to draw nearer to Him and to trust Him with my life.

God showed me His amazing love and patience when I lacked trust. He loved me when I questioned why I was on this particular path. He showed me great love when I repeatedly vented to Him about the hard things that occurred that I didn’t understand. God listened patiently and gently reminded me to trust Him. He encouraged me to go to His Word, and through it, He reminded me He is for me and not against me.  God has shown me that He is the same almighty God when things are going well and when things are hard. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV) says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

God has taught me that, as a believer, I will experience both the cross and the blessings. Through this journey, God is continually drawing me closer to Him. He has taught me to hold on tightly to His hand, to walk with Him, and to learn to do hard things with Him, not trying to solve every problem on my own. I have learned that I have to trust God with my life. I am not in control; He is. I am slowly getting better at trusting God by reading His Word and watching His hand work out my life’s challenges for my good.

We as believers of Christ Jesus must remember that He will allow us to take paths that may seem difficult, but during those hard times, He is also calling us to draw nearer to Him and to trust Him. God doesn’t want you to look back at things which are behind you, and He doesn’t want to you focus on your present circumstances. God wants you to keep your eyes on Him and to move forward with Him. Remember that God is always walking with you during your times of challenge and uncertainty. God’s hand is always open and available for you to grab and hold. Always remind yourself who God is by getting into His Word and speaking His Word out loud daily. Listen to God speak to you with His still small voice. God desires your trust and He desires to have a closer relationship with you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

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A Slow Leak

30days Today’s guest post is from Allison Cain, speaker and author of several books, including 30 Days in Zechariah

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:2 NIV

I was thinking…

It’s interesting how we believe what the newspapers and internet say but question what the Bible says. It’s sad how quickly we will dismiss what the Bible says because the world has changed since it was written. I think the landscape has changed, but I don’t think they human heart has changed one bit. I don’t think Satan’s desire to deceive us and lead us astray and into sin has changed. I don’t think our God has changed – nor His mighty promises.

Think about it.

This week will you join me in pondering what it is we don’t buy into about God’s word? What is it that you question? What would you ask an angel of the Lord right now if given the opportunity? What don’t you trust? Where is your faith lacking?

It isn’t easy, but these are important questions for each of us to answer. If we don’t face the weak, leaky spots, they will continue to grow bigger and bigger until they overtake all of our faith. It’s like a slow rot. It takes courage and strength to look inside our hearts and see what is there, but when we do – when we face the question, fear, or uncertainty and ask God to change it into a stronger faith and trust in Him, He honors that.

It may not happen over night, but He will honor your desire to trust and follow Him. If asked, He will gladly help us overcome idols and the things of this world.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

When you discover the hole in your faith: 1) take it to God in prayer 2) look in your Bible or ask a pastor or friend for some verses that reaffirm God’s promise you are questioning 3) write out those verses on cards and place them around your home, office, car or school 4) read them over and over and continue to pray throughout the month 5) keep a journal on your phone or on paper about how God is showing you His glory, victory and truth.

How is He opening your eyes and heart and growing you closer to Him? We would love to hear about what the hole in your faith is, the verses you discover bring you strength and your journey to a stronger faith and trust in God. Consider sharing them here if you feel led to do so.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1-3 NIV

Father, we ask you to search our hearts for anything that is getting in the way of knowing you, believing you, loving you and serving you. To some it may be obvious, but others are struggling to pin point what the obstacle is. Please reveal it today and give us the strength and courage to place it on the alter before you so that we can move forward in our relationship with You. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

allisonConnect with Allison on her blog and Twitter.