God's Word tells us that when we doubt, God is not obligated in any way to answer our prayers about the situation we are asking for help in. The Bible describes doubt as being double-minded. In fact, God even says that we should not even expect an answer.
James 1:5-8 (NLT2)5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
When we realize we are doubting God, and do not take the steps we need to overcome our doubt, it can be a tremendous slap to God's face, His goodness, and His character. We basically are placing Him under us as we faultily believe that we know better than the Holy God who created us.
God keeps all the world in order. He causes the sun to come up every single morning and the moon to come out every single night. He keeps the entire world, and all of creation, and the seasons, going each and every day without our help or our input.
Psalm 36:6-7 (NLT2)6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.
Doubt makes us believe we would be better off in control. Isn't it ridiculously arrogant of us when we think we know better than God?
But why does God allow situations that attempt to make us doubt?
When God creates us, He lays all of our days out before Him. Nothing we go through in life surprises Him.
Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT2)13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
If He does not see value coming out of a situation, He will not allow it.
There is not a situation that God is not in total control of. God never wastes any situation we go through. EVERY situation has the ability to help us or others.
We do not have the ability to see the entire picture of our lives...and our lives are not just limited to ourselves...or even earth. No, there is a MUCH greater picture! Our lives on earth also include eternity, and our lives also impact future generations.
None of us merely exist for just the "here and now"...and all of our lives will live on through whatever legacy we leave to the generations after us.
Situations we go through in life have a much greater purpose than we could ever wrap our minds around...in fact, some situations we are presently going through may be for a future purpose.
We CAN trust God! We are here on earth not for ourselves, or even our comfort or wholeness. Comfort and wholeness are promised and come later in Heaven.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT2)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Even if it seems like life will never get better...it can! When you feel you have lost your way, that truly can be a very good thing! It is a signal to warn you that you are on a wrong path and you're trusting in yourself, or something..or someone..else, instead of God.
Doubt can be the greatest catalyst that can catapult us into a richer trust in God...and a deeper relationship with Him!
Allow your doubt to refine you!
Nehemiah 9:6 (NLT2)6 “You alone are the LORD. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you.
Anytime you have doubts, it does not necessarily mean you lack faith...it means you are putting your faith in the wrong people or wrong things.
Acts 14:16-17 (NLT2)16 In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways,17 but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.”
From now on, use doubt as a signal to talk to God and to get on a right path with Him! Choose today to trust in the Lord with all your heart!
Continue having heart-to-heart transparent conversations with God. Seek Him with everything you've got!
Psalm 100:5 (NLT2)5 For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
The content of this post was taken from an article at Preaching.com Leading The Church Proclaiming The Word written by contributor David Murray who is a pastor and a professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology.
The Least Preached Subject
In a church of 100 people, 20 people will likely experience depression or an anxiety disorder at some stage in their life. If you are in a church of that size, there are probably 5-10 people struggling with depression right now. If you add in the family, friends, and employers of sufferers, something approaching 25% of an average congregation will be impacted to some degree. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the US among people aged 15-44, with suicide being the second leading cause of death in the same age group.
But when was the last time you preached or heard a sermon on depression, or any mental health issue for that matter? Given its prevalence, why is it so rarely even mentioned?
One reason is that there is so much ignorance and misunderstanding around mental health issues. Many pastors simply do not feel equipped to address the subject. Their seminaries did not train them and they have not pursued further training to help them understand and minister to people with such problems.
Many pastors are also unaware of just how common the problem is. Perhaps fearing a lack of sympathy or understanding, Christians with depression will often seek help from outside the church. The result is that there can be many depressed people in a church but the pastor does not know about it.
Other pastors may have decided that it’s entirely a medical problem and therefore something to be left to the medical profession. For these and other reasons, depression is rarely addressed in sermons and the effect is that depressed people feel isolated and ignored, exacerbating the problem.
But even worse than neglecting the subject is insensitive preaching that unintentionally makes the suffering even worse. From counseling depressed Christians, I’ve discovered that these types of sermon actually harm more than help:
– Sermons that over-stress the moral evils of the day. They are anxious enough through hearing the daily news without every church service ramping up the “we’re doomed” rhetoric. A steady diet of gloomy sermons, or graphic descriptions of violence, persecution, and other moral evils, is not going to lift up the head or heart of the cast down.
– Sermons that extol constant happiness as the only valid and virtuous Christian experience. The deep pain of depression is multiplied when a depressed person is repeatedly told that all sadness is a sin.
– Sermons that question the faith of anyone who doubts. A lack of assurance is not necessarily a lack of faith. Believers who hang on to God despite feeling no assurance sometimes have the greatest faith.
– Sermons that demand, demand, and demand. The depressed person already feels like an inadequate failure. To be regularly berated for not doing this ministry, or failing to engage in that Christian service, only crushes what’s left of their spirit.
I’m not suggesting that these themes should never be preached but I am calling preachers for greater sensitivity towards the depressed and anxious in their sermons.
If that’s what harms, what kind of sermons can help depressed people? One of the simplest and best things a preacher can do is preach sermons that at least mention depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional disorders. Just to have such suffering publicly acknowledged can minister deeply to sufferers. It can help them to come out of the shadows and into the open, to sense that this is a safe place to share, and to believe that it’s okay not to be okay. It can also be helpful for the preacher to mention statistics that show how common the problem is, how this is a normal abnormality in an abnormal world.
The preacher may also demonstrate from the Bible that true believers often suffer with depression (e.g. Elijah, Jeremiah, David, Job). The Psalms are an excellent vehicle for showing believers the dark depths that believers can fall into
Psalm 88:1-18 (NKJV) 1 O LORD, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You.2 Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry.3 For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draws near to the grave.4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength,5 Adrift among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And who are cut off from Your hand.6 You have laid me in the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths.7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah
8 You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up, and I cannot get out;9 My eye wastes away because of affliction. LORD, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You.10 Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah
11 Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?13 But to You I have cried out, O LORD, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.14 LORD, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?15 I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught.16 Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off.17 They came around me all day long like water; They engulfed me altogether.
18 Loved one and friend You have put far from me, And my acquaintances into darkness.
And also give hope of recovery showing that there is a way out.
Psalm 77:1-20 (NKJV) 1 I cried out to God with my voice-- To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me.2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted.3 I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
4 You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.5 I have considered the days of old, The years of ancient times.6 I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search.7 Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more?8 Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore?9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
10 And I said, "This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High."11 I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.12 I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God?14 You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were afraid; The depths also trembled.17 The clouds poured out water; The skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also flashed about.18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook.19 Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known.20 You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Sermons on Job should not just focus on the passages of triumph but also the passages of despair. Idealism must be tempered with realism. Other examples from throughout church history might also be added. For example, even the great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon endured long periods of depression.
Sermons should also promote a holistic approach to mental health struggles. It’s very easy for preachers to take a simplistic approach – it’s all physical, or it’s all spiritual, or it’s all cognitive, etc. However, it’s very rarely that simple. There’s usually a complex mix of issues – the physical, the situational, the relational, the financial, the spiritual, the emotional, the mental, etc. This is true not just in terms of tracing causes but also in suggesting cures. One size does not fit all. Those relying on just meds should be encouraged to explore other dimensions of the problem. Same with those who are fixated exclusively on finding a sin to repent of.
Preachers with a tendency to preach on the more subjective side of Christian life should remember that depressed people need to focus most on the objective facts of Christianity, the historic doctrines of the faith. Facts first and feelings follow. There’s a place for careful self-examination, but remember Robert Murray McCheyne’s rule: “For every look inside, take ten looks to Christ.”
And that really brings me to the best way to preach to the depressed, and that’s to preach Christ. Preach his suffering and sympathizing humanity. Preach his gentle and tender dealings with trembling and timid sinners. Preach his gracious and merciful words. Preach his beautiful meekness. Preach his miracles to demonstrate his power to heal. Preach his finished work on Calvary. Preach his offer of rest to the weary. Preach the power of his resurrection-life. Preach his precious promise: “A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench” (Isa. 42:3)
Preach Christ! Preach him winningly and winsomely. Preach him near and ready to help. Preach him from the heart to the heart. Preach him again, and again, and again. Until the day dawn and the shadows flee away.
The most important relationship that you can have is the one between you and God through Jesus.
II Corinthians 6:18 NKJV “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”
It's your the most important relationship because it's eternal. The status of that relationship determines your eternal destiny. Will you spend it in the presence of God where is fullness of joy.
Psalms 16:11 NKJV You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Away from His presence where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:37-43 NKJV He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
The most damaging enemy is not the person who hates you but the person who tempts to steal or belittle your relationships with God and family.
I Corinthians 15:33 NKJV Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
Proverbs 14:7 NKJV Go from the presence of a foolish man, When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
That's exactly what sin and wrong relationships do...take you away from God, family, and God's purpose for your life. We cannot afford to indulge in foolishness or foolish relationships...it will always be costly. It may cost us today or many years later. Few things in life are as costly to us as foolish relationships.
II Corinthians 6:14-15 NKJV Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
My past is littered with wrong and foolish relationships that resulted in sin and foolish decisions. Although God, and those who were negatively affected, have forgiven me, the consequences remain and some of them will remain until I am with the Lord.
I once heard a saying, "Show me your 5 closest relationships and I'll show you your future." We truly become similar to the company we keep so it is very wise to make sure that the people we are closest to are an encouragement to us in regards to God, our family, and God's life purpose for us.
Proverbs 13:20 NKJV He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
Ask God for wisdom and discernment in your relationships. Ask Him to mightily grow and bless your most vital relationships: Him, your spouse and children, your family, friends, and your church family.
Ephesians 6:2-3 NKJV “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Hebrews 13:4 NKJV Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Ask Him to guide and direct all of your relationships as well as your life purpose.
He truly cares about all of our relationships...especially the ones He purposely chose to be life-long such as with Him and family.
Be a bright witness to everyone around you and be kind to everyone.
Encourage your loved ones to establish and have good relationships with their most vital relationships: God, spouse, children, family, friends, and fellow Christians.
Editor's Note:. Some Content from YouVersion Reading Plan Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Heartbreak by Kim Niles and Grief Bites
Psalm 103:1-22 NIV Praise the Lord , my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord , my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord ’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the Lord , you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the Lord , all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the Lord , all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord , my soul. (Emphasis mine)
Think about how long your current trial has lasted.
Think about the tears you have cried, the frustrations you have felt, and the prayers you have offered up to the Lord.
What if you were to take the exact same amount of time you have experienced your loss(es) and then chose to treat the Lord better than you have ever treated anyone else for the same amount of time? What if you were to serve the Lord and do whatever it took to make His name successful, and to please and bless His heart?
Sometimes, the best way to take our eyes off of our situation is to refocus on Something greater.
Take some time today and think about:
• What pleases the Lord?
• How can I show Him love?
• What does the Lord require?
• What delights His heart?
• How can I make His name and reputation more successful to those around me?
• In what ways can I bless the Lord?
Today, spend time with God...tell Him how much you love Him...adore Him...shower and praise Him with words of favor and devotion...worship Him...delight in Him.
The opposite of delighting in someone is rejecting or ignoring them.
How do we reject or ignore God?
• not making Him a priority
• not loving Him
• neglecting His Word
• not fellow shipping with Him
• not praying to Him
• ignoring or refusing to listen to His Holy Spirit
• not fully obeying Him
• not praising or worshiping Him
• blaming Him
Your loss may have happened 1 month ago, 1 year ago, or 10 years ago. As long as you have the breath of life, it is never to late to develop a meaningful, devoted, and solid relationship with Father God. He loves you and He loves when His children are sold-out in love with Him.
Today, as you ask God for your needs, consider what you can do to please God's heart.
He is so good to do so much for us and to bless us. May we all seek to be a blessing to Him too!
Doubt and fear usually go hand in hand.
Both are evidences of a lack of trust and a lack of love.
When doubt and fear creep in, it is a signal to ask ourselves if we are failing to trust God...or are we failing to truly love Him? Or are we failing to allow His love to be made perfect in our lives?
Love is made perfect in God. We do not have to doubt or fear the past, present, or future.
1 John 4:17-18 (NKJV)17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
He truly makes all things work together for our good if we love Him and seek His heart.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
We serve an incredible, amazing, and powerful God...a God who cares so much that He walks with us every second of the day. He does not sleep and He never takes a break.
He never leaves us or forsakes us. He is never fickle.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
He truly loves us so very much and He cares about every detail of our lives...nothing is excluded. We serve an all-inclusive God!
When we doubt, we are choosing to believe that God doesn't have our best interests at heart. We are doubting His incredible love for us.
Do you realize How great His love is for you? His love is deeper than the depths of the sea...wider than the entire world...and higher than the heavens!
Psalm 36:5-9 (NKJV)5 Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.6 Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O LORD, You preserve man and beast.7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.8 They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.9 For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.
He adores you so much more than you could ever comprehend!
You no longer need to doubt or be afraid. The more you fall in love with God, the less you will fear, worry, or doubt. Love is the antidote. Taste and see that the Lord IS good! His love is the best!
Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
What doubts, worries, and fears do you need to share with God today? I encourage you to place your fears, worries, and doubts...and every situation that has broken your heart or spirit...and place all of it at God's feet.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV)14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Release ALL of it to Him today!
Psalm 121:3-5 (NKJV)3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
Fall into His arms and choose to trust Him!
Doubt is a difficult, and miserable, place to be...and it slowly destroys our fellowship with God.
Spiritually, it is a "silent killer" of our soul.
Mark 9:23-24 NIV “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Doubt has many origins. It can be a coping mechanism due to not understanding how to handle a tough situation...a desperate silent cry for help after a terrible experience has happened in life...or an arrogant attitude of pride that believes God owes us more.
We may doubt that God would ever want to truly work in our lives or through a tough situation we are going through...after all, who are we compared to God?
And what about the times we contribute to the tough situation we are facing due to unwise past decisions we have made? Does God just leave us stuck with our consequences with no mercy or forgiveness in sight? Not at all.
It is understandable to have feelings of doubt after a terrible loss has taken place. It takes time to come to terms with a situation that has broken your heart or impacted your life.
What about tough times where an unfair loss takes place through no fault of our own?
God works in..and through..every situation we face. Nothing takes God by surprise. He can redeem any circumstance by causing good to come from it.
Many times, He shows His mercy as He allows us to help others who later go through a similar grief experience or loss. He never wastes a trial, heartache, or hurt...as long as we submit our heartaches and doubts to Him.
In circumstances where something bad happens...God is so patient with us. He knows it is going to take a toll on us...and He is the answer to restoring our hope and faith.
When you take refuge in Him, He is faithful to guide you through the doubt(s) you have so you can come back to a place of complete trust.
In times when we are self-saturated and upset that God didn't do exactly what we thought was best, I believe that is directly challenging God.
We want what we want...and are upset that God doesn't bend to our plans. This kind of doubt is eventually lethal to our relationship with God...and many times, it can affect our other relationships too. In these times, we must quickly humble ourselves and repent.
It is imperative to understand that God has a plan for each and every situation or heartache we experience or go through.
If God allows us to go through a trying situation that attempts to make us doubt, or a situation that stretches us, we can trust that He has plans to increase the flexibility of ways He can use us for His glory in the future.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
It is never fun to go through tough life events, and they can truly attempt to knock us out. Life challenges can tempt us to be bitter towards God.
We must realize and embrace the truth that God genuinely wants what is best for us, and doubt attempts to lead us away from God's best.
God sees the "big picture" when we cannot. When tempted to doubt, use that as a signal to have a genuine heart-to-heart talk with God. He truly works out every situation we face for the greater good.
Romans 8:28 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Today, ask God to take total control of your life. Completely give Him "you". Pour your heart out to Him...share with Him all your doubts, hurts, worries, frustrations, disappointments, fears, and failures. Ask Him to grant you wisdom and to help you to see the greater purpose for your doubt and circumstances.
James 1:2-5 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Ask Him to resolve any bitterness in your heart towards Him, others, or any situation.
Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Tell Him you would like to repent of your doubt and begin trusting Him today.
He has a heart filled with love and mercy for you!
James 1:12 NIV Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
The Inexhaustible Masterpiece
They say that students and lovers of art will spend weeks sitting before a single masterpiece by one of the great artists. Some repeat this process year after year. To fully enjoy such a masterful work of art they need to immerse themselves in it for hour and hours. There was a man who said that he spent years studying a painting and that he was able to “discover some new beauty and a new joy” every time.
I enjoy a great painting or sculpture but it seems impossible to me that a person, even an expert or enthusiast, could spend weeks and weeks pouring over a piece of art and continue discovering something new, a “new beauty or joy.” They say that they can find some new part of the painting, a certain stroke of the brush, a use of color or some other fine detail that others never see.
If there is that much beauty and intricate detail in a painting, a creation of man, how much truer of God’s creation. A creation so vast we haven't discovered its full splendor much less study and observe it. Which brings up the question; if the creation is so expansive and magnificent, what does that say about the one who created it? We can sometimes become so familiar that we don’t look beyond the creation to the Creator.
God Almighty, the Creator, is much bigger than we could ever imagine.
Job 11:7-8 NIV “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
God is far higher than you can imagine, far deeper than you can comprehend, Stretching farther than earth’s horizons, far wider than the endless ocean.”
There is a depth to the nature of God that we have yet to see and enjoy. If we had ten thousand years we would have only scratched the surface of the immensity of His glory. God is an inexhaustible masterpiece.
Can our little minds comprehend how big God is? Of course not but that’s the very reason we keep coming back. There is a newness and a freshness to God, not because there is something new about God but because we see Him and experience Him in a way we have not done so before. It’s as if we have discovered some new beauty and joy each time.
Sometimes the joy comes in the rediscovery of a beauty that we have all but forgotten, one that God has framed in a new setting providing an even greater appreciation. As we grow so does our capacity for understanding and enjoying the person and work of our God.
What Is God’s Greatest Masterpiece?
God is the inexhaustible masterpiece, but what would you say is the greatest of His masterpieces?
You could give many different answers to that question. Many would say that God’s greatest masterpiece is the sunset that paints the evening sky or the millions of stars that twinkle so beautifully each night. Others might point to the majestic mountain ranges or the mighty, rushing rivers. And some might say the flowers that bloom in the spring or the many amazing creatures that populate our planet.
You Are God’s Greatest Masterpiece
All of those masterpieces are impressive, but none of them are the greatest that God has created. If you are a Christian you probably saw one of these works of art already today . . . that is, if you looked in a mirror. Yes, YOU are the greatest of God’s masterpieces.
Actually God’s greatest masterpieces have been created twice.
Genesis 1:26-27 NASB Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
You "are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus "
Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
God views you as His treasured possession.
Deuteronomy 14:2 NIV for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.
To Him, you are a rare jewel in His hand.
Isaiah 62:3 NIV You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Maybe you don’t feel treasured, cared for, valuable, or worthy. What would change about your life if you saw yourself as you truly are—as precious and treasured by God?
What if on this very day, God were to reveal to you all the ways He treasures you? Imagine how you treat your most precious, treasured possession. You protect it carefully; you position in it the best light; you refresh any parts of it that seem worn or fading. If we care for our earthly valuables in this way, consider how much more God will protect us, position us, and refresh us.
When God chose you to belong to Him, He never meant to leave you on your own to suffer and wander alone as a disregarded, worthless person. Instead, He carefully cares for you.
Scripture makes the astonishing claim that God will “never stop doing good” to His people;
Jeremiah 32:40 NIV I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. (emphasis mine)
He “richly blesses all who call on him”;
Romans 10:12 NIV For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, ( emphasis mine)
He “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment”;
1 Timothy 6:17 NIV Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (emphasis mine)
He “satisfies [our]desires with good things”
Psalm 103:2-5 NIV Praise the Lord , my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (emphasis mine)
This is a God who delights in your well-being and seeks to love and care for you as His treasured possession.
Consider the gentle care of God in Psalm 23. He makes you lie down to rest; He leads you to peaceful waters; He restores your soul; He guides you. God is a Good Shepherd caring for you tenderly.
Psalm 23:1-6 MSG God , my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
As you trust in God’s care for your life, remember He arranges the circumstances of your day to ultimately bless you and restore your soul. But just like a rare jewel might need some shining and sculpting to reveal its true beauty, God may put you in situations designed to refine you and rub off anything that obscures your beauty. The whole time, though, He’s treasuring you and showing you His care and love. On this day, look for evidence that God chose you as His treasured possession.
What Happens When God Turns You Into His Masterpiece?
You are Forgiven
Do not let your past mistakes keep you from living the joyful life God wants you to have. His love and grace is bigger than any sin.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
1 John 1:9 NASB So If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
You Show Other People How Great God Is
You are a living, breathing testimony of God’s grace and love through Jesus Christ. God says He picked you to be part of a new family, meant to show the difference He can make in a life.
1 Peter 2:9 NASB But you are A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession , so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
Your life is like a beautiful painting that gives recognition to its painter. As God’s masterpiece,
Matthew 5:14-16 NASB "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
You Become the Light of the World
Jesus sets you free from the slavery of sin when you accept Christ. Sin won’t control you anymore. God gives you the Holy Spirit, who is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
Romans 8:11 NASB But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
When you have the Holy Spirit, you will reflect God’s love, peace and patience through the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 NASB But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
God has created you to be a masterpiece so that He could show you off! He has a plan and purpose for you. He wants you to be that showpiece everyone talks about. The next time you look in the mirror say it out loud for your brain to capture. “I am God’s masterpiece!”
Editor's Note: Some content is from the YouVersion Reading Plan “What Is God's Plan For Me? 7 InvitationsTo Life You’ve Been Missing”, published by Moody Publishing. Scriptural content added by the blog publisher. Additional content from the sermon God’s Masterpiece.
Deuteronomy chapter 8 gives us thirteen reasons that God allows us to go through trials, especially long ones:
Deuteronomy 8:1-11 NIV Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord . Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. (Emphasis mine)
Trials are difficult but they really show us what we are made of. They reveal the true condition of our hearts, what we think, and what we believe. They ultimately reveal what we truly think about God.
We are running a race and the goal is to condition our spiritual hearts. It's easy to fall down...and the enemy stops at nothing to trip you up.
What if we are going through a life challenge right now...and we have failed miserably so far to love God and be loyal to Him?
Talk to Him about it right now and ask Him for His forgiveness. His mercies are new every morning and He is so faithful!
Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The Bible says if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9 NIV If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Life may be very tough today but you serve a God who is in full control of all of your tomorrows. Go through this necessary journey with God to become better suited to love and serve Him...and in the process, He will bring you to a better place. There is a great prize at the end of the race of life, press forward with all your might!
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Revelation 21:1-4 NIV Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Editor's Note: Some content from YouVerson Reading Plan “Grief Bites:Finding Treasure in Hardship” by Kim Niles. All scripture references added by blog publisher.
In life, we all certainly like mountaintop experiences better than valleys — the air is clean, the sun is shining, and the view is amazing. But the truth is, we’re going to go through valleys. It’s inevitable
There is a familiar feeling that many who are going through grief (or loss) may feel...yet many do not have the ability to label it.
It is a feeling that envelops a grieving heart, but is so subtle that many do not even realize how it is planting itself deeply down into the roots of their soul.
When I went through a tough grief experience, I couldn't figure out why I was able to still have a strong hunger for God, His Will, and His ways...yet I couldn't fully enjoy God or His Word.
I felt distracted every time I prayed or read my Bible.
As I prayed to God, seeking to conquer the distracting and stagnant apathy I felt, He revealed to me that my root problem wasn't distraction...and it wasn't apathy. It wasn't a lack of focus...or the inability to sit still either.
My root problem was doubt.
I didn't doubt God's goodness. I knew in my heart that He IS good. Even though I have been through a lot of loss, He has always given me so much grace to help me to see His goodness every single day.
Nahum 1:7 (NLT2)7 The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.
I didn't doubt God's love...I know He IS love and all love comes from Him.
Anyone at anytime can look around and see amazing evidences of His astounding great love.
1 John 4:7-8 (NLT2)7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God revealed to my heart that I doubted not His ABILITY to work in my life...but His WILLINGNESS to act and work in my circumstances.
I doubted not what God COULD do...but what He WOULD do.
Mark 9:24 (NLT2)24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
We cannot afford to trust our hearts, our mere thoughts, or our feelings during times of doubt...we must test our thoughts and feelings, and train our hearts to trust God to overcome doubt.
1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 (NLT2)20 Do not scoff at prophecies,21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.
Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT2)9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
Doubt is a very unpopular word in the Christian community. Most Christians would be afraid to admit any form of doubt they may have due to feeling guilty for having thoughts of doubt, or due to the judgment of others.
When doubt surfaces, many consider it as a lack of faith...or a lack of believing God and His Word...so many struggle silently. Through their silent struggle, they can become stagnant in their walk with God.
It is imperative to know how to handle our doubt(s) so we can experience the rich relationship with God we are fully capable of having.
Truly think about the doubts you have today.
Are you doubting that God can:
I have doubted God in some situations...and not even have known or realized it at the time.
There are many reasons we doubt.
Many doubt God cares. But did you know that God actually bends down from Heaven to hear our prayers, heartaches, concerns, and even our questions?
Psalm 17:6 (NLT2)6 I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.
Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT2)7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
He's so good! He doesn't have to bend down to hear us, but out of His great love, He willingly chooses to. Did you know that God has collected every tear you've ever cried and written every heartache you've ever experienced in a ledger?
Psalm 56:8 (NLT2)8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
God truly cares about each and every heartache and heartfelt question or request we have. He cares about each of us and every situation we face...past, present, and future.
If you feel stale in your relationship with God, doubt may be the culprit.
Do you wonder how God handles doubters? In scripture, God shows a loving example of mercy to the most famous doubter, Thomas.
John 20:24-29 (NLT2)24 One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came.25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Today, truly think about and label your doubt. Ask God to reveal any doubt(s) you hold in your heart. Be completely honest and transparent. The answer(s) revealed just might surprise you.
Choose today, like Thomas, to take your doubts to God and place your doubts in His hands. He already knows what is in your heart so be honest. The reward truly is a closer relationship with Him!
Editor’s Note: Content from YouVersion Reading Plan Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed by K.B.H. Niles. Visit Grief Bites website here
Psalm 61:1-5 NIV Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
When You’re Overwhelmed There’s A Rock That Is Higher
I once preached a sermon “Giving Thanks When It’s Tough Doesn’t Mean To Fake It”. In that sermon I said “While we can thank God in all things we shouldn't be faking our thanks, acting like we aren't affected by or bothered by our troubles. We are human beings and we have emotions. If we try to hide those emotions we aren't being honest with ourselves and more importantly, we are not being honest with God. We should let our real emotions show in our conversations, or prayer time with Him. After all He has emotions and He doesn’t deny them, or hide them from us.”
You can be real with God. Tell Him your struggles and what’s concerning you. He already knows, but He longs for that relationship with us, as we sit in His presence, as we pray, and read His words of truth. Ask Him for His peace to cover you, even if you find yourself in circumstances that are anything but peace-filled. He alone has the power to help us rise above the chaos and mess of our days. Let’s choose to fix our eyes on Him and believe that He is with us.
For the times when you feel overwhelmed, there's a Rock that is higher. Stable, sure, faithful, true...a place you can trust, a place you can rest.
We often long for a more simplified life, free of mess or clutter, and struggles. Yet most days we strive just to keep our heads above the demands of work, family responsibilities, and all that calls our name. It’s hard sometimes, feeling like we can never get it all done. Our minds are in a constant mode of “go” from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning. This is life. Real life.
And God longs to be right there in the center of it all. In the mess. In the full days. In the craziness and times when we feel overwhelmed. Because the truth is, the reality that we can ever get everything done we feel like we need to do, is not even reality for most of us. And that’s not where true success is found anyway. It’s found in spending time with Him.
Our Rock. Our stability. Our hope. Our peace.
Maybe today is the day to rise above. Maybe we’ve been stuck down too long. Maybe we’ve been drowning or fighting the “overwhelm.” All the struggles and stuff won’t ever go away, but they don’t have to defeat us.
He is the One who brings hope in the chaos, the clutter, and demands. Because most days don't look like a Pinterest post or page fresh out of a magazine for Simple Living. Sometimes they're messy and full, and we can hardly keep up. The to-do list doesn't get done, again, and we might be feeling a few steps behind. Pressures cling. We feel hurried and stressed. Battling defeat and discouragement, wondering why we can't just get it together.
Yet still His Truth shines through.
For though there's a lot that may be left undone at the end of every day, if we're living close to the One who created the day and cares more about us than we could ever imagine, that's where true life is found.
That's where real peace is. - From For the Days You Feel Overwhelmed: There's a Rock that Is Higher By Debbie McDaniel
Heavenly Father thank you for caring about all my problems and pains. Help me to always cry out to you first and leave my concerns at your feet. You know how difficult and how painful this life can be. When I am discouraged, please comfort me with your love and remind me of what’s important: which is my future with you. In the name of Jesus and in His authority I pray Amen
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.