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!
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.