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Monday, August 24, 2009

OVERCOMING DOUBT

by Bob Spurlin


Doubt and fear have caused many, including Christians, to fail in completing their responsibilities to almighty God. The word “doubt” suggests fear, confusion, and a lack of faith. Jesus often reprimanded his disciples for the doubt and fear that hindered their service to the Lord. One of the original disciples chosen, Peter, began walking on the water when suddenly he began to drown. This disciple of Jesus cried for help as he began to fall in the sea and Jesus reached out his hand to save Peter. Jesus punctuated the cure for fear and doubt as he stated to Peter, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt” (Mt. 14:31). This disciple of Jesus cried for help because there was an anemic faith in his life. Is it any surprise the disciples asked, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

“Faith is the Victory,” an old gospel hymn, shows God’s formula in surviving the doubts and difficulties faced in a faithless world. From the writings of Hebrews come the words, “Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him” (Hebrews 11:6). The result of Peter sinking into the sea and the Lord saving him from this near tragic episode was the rebuke for his lack of faith. Overcoming doubt is a difficult chore and needs complete trust in the Creator of all things. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This indispensable item comes through the word of God (Romans 10:17), and one grows in measure to our enthusiasm, and spiritual enlightenment (II Peter 1: 3-8). Three inescapable results come from an increased faith:

1. A CERTAIN STATE OF OPTIMISM WOULD RULE OUR LIVES. The more faith we have in God, the more cheerful and positive the outlook we will have in life. Faith in God will enable us to launch in waters of responsibility and challenge the impossible. Peter and his resourceful fishing partners labored throughout the night and caught nothing. Jesus said, “Launch out into the deep,” and this group of fishermen responded by faith resulting in the two ships overflowing as the multitude of fishes caused both vessels to sink (Luke 5:1-11). What great faith Peter and his partners had and performed the impossible. Also, Paul working in Troas had a vision in the night; a man begging him to come over in Macedonia to help them (preach the gospel) Acts 16:9. The faithful Paul immediately went to the land of Macedonia believing God wanted him to go and preach the gospel to these people (Acts 16:10).

The faith of the early Christians gave them an optimism that would realize the impossible, even evangelizing the world (Acts 17:6; Colossians 1:23). Someone has said that optimism is a person taking the cold water thrown on his ideas and the fires of his enthusiasm produces the heat to perform the unattainable. Remember success comes in “cans” not in “cant’s.” The promises of God will produce an optimism filling every child of God. We can rely on the Lord’s commands to be genuine without fear (Hebrews 13:6). Let us all remember the familiar words of Paul, “I can do all through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).

2. WE WILL DILIGENTLY SEARCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO DO GOOD. Matthew chapter 26 reveals two separate people looking for an opportunity. Mary was searching for the opportunity to anoint Jesus head with an alabaster box of fine anointment. When Mary finished anointing the Savior’s head the disciples spoke out with resentment toward her stating that it was a “waste.” Jesus rebuked these disciples saying, “Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work on me” (Matthew 26:6-10). Often we see those criticized for doing a good work when we should encourage such a deed. Let us always have our eyes opened to do well (Matthew 9:36-38).

Judas Iscariot “sought opportunity to betray him” (Jesus), and met secretly with the chief priests consummating the wicked deed for thirty pieces of silver (Mt. 26:14-16). Tradition reveals that this price of betrayal was the cost of a common slave. Satan looks for every opportunity to exploit the weakness of his prey. Judas had his weak points and Satan knew how to take advantage of his victim. Judas like Mary had the freedom of choice as one sought the good while the other looked for the evil.

Among an evil society with standards of right and wrong becoming blurred we desperately need the saving gospel more than ever (John 4:35). We must open our eyes and like Paul, “As we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Obeying the Great Commission involves devoted followers of the Lamb who will teach those that are sick in sin (Acts 5:42).

God’s people face a great opportunity with those needing our help. Souls lost in the sea of sin need the lifeline of the gospel by public and private teaching. Giving strength and encouragement to the weak and fainthearted serves those needing our support (Eph. 3:13; Gal. 6:9). Let us not fail to supply help for the sick, needy, poor, widows, and orphans (James 1:27; Mt. 25:34-36). Pray that our God will give us more faith to recognize our unlimited opportunities. Someone has given the following equation: potential + opportunity = responsibility. Study the equation carefully and search diligently for opportunities to serve.

3. WE CAN OVERCOME THE WORLD BY FAITH. The Bible tells us “Satan is the prince of this world” (John 12:31). Defeating the enemy of truth is possible through the “shield of faith.” Among the defensive weapons available to the Christian soldier Paul writes, “Above all, take the shield of faith, where with ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). Let us never forget that Satan is the most cunning, subtle creature of all-time described as “deceiver of the world” (Revelation 12:9). We can overcome the world as John the apostle said, “Ye are of God, little children, because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). Christians must “Fight the good fight of the faith” if we would overcome the world (I Timothy 6:12).

John provides encouragement to the faithful in Revelation 7. The multitudes wearing white garments came through the power of an obedient faith. To transform Saul of Tarsus to Paul the missionary comes from a deep faith in Christ. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). An enduring faith in God will give us the power to overcome the difficulties and trials we may experience. Regardless of the trials and suffering thrust on us having our name on the Lamb’s book of life will become the victory for which we yearn. This is the supreme blessing of an enlarged faith.

- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing. In addition to his website, http://www.bobspurlin.com, you may contact Bob via his email: prechteach@aol.com (©2000-2006 BOB SPURLIN).


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