Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt

BY JEFF BRAWNER

I suspect you’ll be able to relate to the sentiment expressed in a letter that a fellow-pastor received. It read…

Dear Pastor:

Something has been bothering me of late which I think merits mentioning to you. I’ve lost God This is no case of sophomoric atheism, but rather a matter-of-fact statement in the same way that I might say I’ve
misplaced my car keys. I’m not denying God’s existence, but for me He’s simply not real.

That became apparent to me the other night when I tried to pray. About three sentences into it, I realized I really wasn’t feeling what l was saying. God probably wasn’t hearing me anyway.

The very act of prayer suddenly became so tragically absurd that I shut up, took two aspirin and went to sleep. But the issue has been haunting me ever since.

I know one response for this kind of statement is to say that God exists in people and we should look for him there. And I’ll buy that. But what has become of the transcendent deity? To whom do I pray?
Where’s that personal Lord and Savior of yore? If you have any thoughts on this subject I’d like to hear them.

Have you ever been fresh out of faith like this honest, struggling brother?

A popular ballad from the early ’70s contained the lyrics, “I don’t know where we went wrong, but the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back.”

Though Gordon Lightfoot intended these words to paint a picture of a romance gone wrong, they aptly describe the feelings of far too many believers.

This should not come as a big surprise. Every Christian, regardless of age or maturity, inevitably encounters circumstances or situations which shake their faith to its foundation, leaving many to wrestle with doubts and discouragernent.

Some of the greatest men and women in Scripture wrestled with seasons of doubt, just like we do. If ever there was a man sure of his calling and conviction it was John the Baptist. But when the props were
knocked out from his life and he was imprisoned and lonely, he sent word to Jesus saying, “Are you the one? Or, are we to look for another?”

Moses, David and the disciples, all had moments in which their faith was overshadowed by doubt and fear.

Now many people consider doubt to be the opposite of faith. Not true! Second Corinthians 5:7 suggests that the opposite of faith is sight. To the non-believer, “seeing is believing” The Christian believes in
what he has not seen.

Remember “Doubting Thomas”? Perhaps he would more accurately be called “Seeing Thomas.” Even a look at Jesus’ wounds wouldn’t satisfy him; he insisted on conducting a hands-on examination. Let’s not forget that the Lord granted his request.

Specifically, doubt is more like “half-faith.” Literally, it means to be tossed or double minded. (See James 1:6-8.)
So. how can we grow beyond our doubts and move toward confidence in our Christian walk? Obviously, it requires more than a simple declaration that we’ll be more trusting from now on. Doubt originates deep within us. We must seek its roots, and attack it at its source.

SOURCES OF DOUBTS

Each of us is an original creation of God. It should not surprise us that our areas of doubt are as varied and unique as we are. However, there are some common patterns we should consider from the beginning.

Personality

Back in 200 B.C. a Greek physician named Galen described four basic personality types. He suggested that each type perceives reality in a slightly different way. Chances are they experience doubt differently
as well.

“Sanguines,” for example, are passionate and feeling-oriented. They are eagerly optimistic, Out going, and cheerful. A person with this temperament may believe easily when emotions run high. However, when life consists of a trudge through the blahs and the presence of God isn’t readily apparent, sanguines can easily become vulnerable to a shadow of a doubt. Once the feeling is gone, faith follows closely behind.

The “Phlegmatic ” personality is calm (even sluggish), peace-loving and relatively unemotional. People with this temperament prefer life on an even keel. Rocking the boat with strong feelings or dramatics simply isn’t their style. When the waters of life turn choppy and the waves start to rise, phlegmatics quickly grow uneasy and too often find themselves asking, “Where is God?”‘

The “Choleric ” personality is a hard-driving, get-it-done-yesterday” kind of person. Faith comes with relative case to the choleric. provided God abides by his agenda and his schedule. Should the Lord
have other plans, doubt call be close at hand.

The “Melancholy” personality type tends to be analytical, exacting, contemplative. artistic and Moody. Melancholiacs are the classic rock kickers. You can probably spot the scuff marks on the toes of their
shoes! They question everything. “Is it right?” “Is it real?” For the melancholic. doubt isn’t a mood, it’s a matter of genetics. They struggle with ideas that others accept easily. And they also have a difficult time separating chronic depression from chronic doubt.

Christians too often confuse mood swings with the state of their faith. An emotional “‘high” might be just that-and not a “season of refreshing from the Lord.” An emotional “low” might be the result of stress,
fatigue, or low blood sugar, not a lack of faith. It is important to understand your own personality type and physical condition in order to properly shore up your defenses against doubt.

Problems

We have seen how our personalities create vulnerability to doubt. The circumstances and challenges we face in life can stimulate doubt at those points of weakness.

For example, financial problems may cause us to wonder -how our physical needs will be met. It’s hard to be spiritual when a mountain of financial obligations threatens to crash down on top of you.

Relationship problems can prompt us to question our closeness to Christ. When a trusted friend disappoints us or a spiritual leader falls us, some think of giving up Christianity altogether. It isn’t
hard to become so focused on others that we lose sight of the omnipotent.

We can also become tangled up in imponderable intellectual struggles. “Why does God permit evil?” “How will God judge those who never heard the gospel?” Such questions (and a list of others like them) have been debated for centuries. Unfortunately, they will never be resolved by debate, or by study or by human insight. Until we see God face-to-face, such concerns can only be addressed by faith.

Pain

In the book-, Pain’s Hidden Purpose, Don Baker wrote, “Pain speaks a strange language. It plays funny tricks on us. It makes us think things and say things and even believe things that are not true. When
pain begins to bore it’s way through human flesh and onto human spirit and then just sit there and hurt and hurt and hurt, the mind becomes clouded and the brain begins to think- strange things like ‘God is
dead’ or ‘He’s gone fishing’ or ‘He’s just not interested.”‘

When I mention pain, I’m not just talking about mild discomfort. I’m not necessarily talking about physical pain like the kind that accompanies an injury or illness. I’m talking about that deep, agonizing pain that follows the death of a child, abandonment by a spouse, a devastating fire or a natural disaster-the kind of pain so intense that it tears at your soul and seems like it will never go away.

My father made a trip to my home state of Arkansas recently to visit my grandmother. I called him there just to chat. and asked him casually, “How are you doing?” “Truthfully, ” he replied. “not too well.” He
went on to tell me that my second cousin Phillip, his wife. and two other couples were on their way to a class reunion when their car was hit head-on, killing everyone except Phillip’s wife. At that moment,
she lay unconscious in the hospital in serious condition. She had already missed Phillip’s funeral. “I’m really struggling with it,” my dad told me. “When she finally wakes up and they tell her that her
husband and four best friends are dead, how can she possibly deal with it?”

Life can sometimes kick us in the stomach, leaving us doubled over and gasping for breath. It is extremely difficult to maintain an eternal perspective when tragedy becomes so “up close and personal.”

In the long term, pain can strengthen us and remind us that God walks with us no matter where our path may lead. In the short term, however, it is easy to ask questions like, “What kind of God would take the one I love?” or “What did I do to deserve this loss?” or “Why is God punishing me?”‘

Pace

The speed at which we live our lives can easily deplete the spiritual resources we need within us to keep doubt under control. We were not designed to run on empty for very long.

The story of Elijiah in I Kings 18-19 is a classic biblical example of the effect fatigue can have on our spiritual outlook. Elijiah had triumphed mightily over the prophets of Baal. First he humiliated
them, as God consumed a soaking- wet sacrifice with fire. He followed that up by having all 450 of the false prophets destroyed. With that task behind him, lie climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel, where he prayed fervently for rain. Then. as the storm approached, he ran down the mountain and into town faster than a chariot. Not long after, he found himself on the run again-fleeing for his life after Jezebel promised to have him killed within 24 hours.

Talk about a high-stress career!

Desperately tired and terrified, Elijah hit the road. Finally, he collapsed under a tree in the desert and prayed to die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said (I Kings 19:4).

If you find yourself in your own desert of doubt, consider – the possibility that living life at the speed of light with a to-do list as long as your arm has exhausted your spiritual and physical reserves.

Prince of Darkness

Never underestimate Satan as a source of doubt. Since the beginning of human history, he has made a career out of placing stumbling blocks in the path of God’s people. He made Eve wonder what God really said about that tree. He challenged Jesus in the wilderness by taunting, “If you are the son of God…”

You can count on Satan to plant similar thoughts in your mind-particularly when your defenses have been compromised.

BUILDING A FOUNDATION OF FAITH

We can become experts in diagnosing our doubts. But it’s all a waste of time if we fall to put that information to work. There is a passage in Romans 4 that paints a picture of what a faith-filled life should look like. Paul spends this entire chapter focusing the life of Abraham, often referred to as the “father of faith.”

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so become the father of many nations, Just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be. ‘ Without weakening his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-since he was about a hundred years old-and that Sarah’s womb was also dead Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he promised This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness “‘ (Romans 4:18-22).

This passage reveals three things Abraham did that we must copy if we’re serious about dealing with our doubts.

Facing the Facts

There was no getting around the fact that Abraham and Sarah were old, They were beyond the golden years,” and well into the “tarnish and rust” years. Imagine the idea of parenthood at their age! Diapers,
midnight feedings, colic-even couples in their twenties have a hard time finding the stamina to keep up with the needs of an infant. And this assumes that Sarah could somehow survive a pregnancy.

You can’t argue with cold, hard facts. And the facts were clear: old people don’t have babies. It hasn’t happened before- there’s no reason to believe that nature has somehow changed its mind.

Rationalism can make a weighty case.

The only piece of evidence tipping the scale in the other direction was God’s Word. The Lord had promised Abraham offspring galore. He was to be the father of a nation.

When Abraham faced up to the facts honestly and without excuse, his choice was clear: either God could be believed, or He could not. Every time we come face-to-face with doubt, we must make that same
choice for ourselves. We need no one to tell us that the odds are stacked against us. We can see for ourselves the crises and conflicts that press in around us. We’re well aware of the source of our
problems. What we need is a source of faith. There can be no other source but God’s Word.

Facing the Father

Faith without an object is meaningless. To believe suggests that we believe in something or someone. For the Christian, the object of our faith is God. After all, no matter how bright a promise might be, it
is only as good as the promise-giver.

The story is told of a world-famous tightrope walker who had astounded audiences near and far with his daring feats on the high wire. As the crowning achievement of his career, he scheduled a walk across Niagara Falls.
A wire was strung from one side of the giant falls to the other. A massive advertising campaign informed the public of the event. As you might expect, the grandstands were packed to overflowing.

As the crowd applauded thunderously, the rugged daredevil ascended the platform and began his performance. He danced across the wire, looking nearly weightless. He made the return trip blindfolded. He pedaled across on a unicycle, then tiptoed back balancing a ball on his nose. The crowd went wild.

At this point, he grabbed a microphone and said to the crowd, “Do you believe that I can push a wheelbarrow across these falls?” A roar of applause spread through the audience. “Do you believe I can do it blindfolded?” The cheering grew so loud that people could scarcely hear the acrobat as he added, “Do you believe I can do it with a person in the wheelbarrow?” By now, the fans were nearly frenzied. They were about to see the greatest feat ever performed.

That’s when the acrobat turned to the audience and said, “Who will be the first to come on up here and climb in?”

The cheering fans grew silent, realizing they had a decision to make. Had they simply been caught up in the excitement of the moment, or had they developed genuine “faith?” Was the acrobat’s claim reliable, or just an empty boast’? Getting into the wheelbarrow turned these questions from an intellectual exercise into a matter of life and death.

Suddenly, a young lady began making her way toward the platform, a calm but enthusiastic smile on her face. She ascended the steps, and climbed eagerly into the wheelbarrow. Off they went. The woman never flinched as the ground disappeared from beneath her and the spray from the powerful falls swept around her. It seemed like no one in the audience drew a breath until the two returned at last to the safety of the platform. The onlookers were overwhelmed.

Later, members of the press questioned the young lady about her bravery. “What did this man say to make you willing to risk your life?” they asked. “It wasn’t anything he said,” she replied. “It’s
Just that he’s my father. And I trust him.”

Trusting his Heavenly Father, Abraham Jumped into God’s “wheelbarrow” without hesitation. He had enough confidence in the Promise-Giver to be “fully persuaded” that God could do what He said He would do. He staked his life (and, later, Isaac’s life) on that confidence.

Facing the Future

Those who are filled with faith and confident in the promise of God can march into the future singing a song of praise, just as Abraham marched toward a new home unlike anything he had imagined. There are times when we praise God for the circumstances we encounter along the way, and times when we praise God because He triumphs over our circumstances. Either way, praise is always the natural byproduct of faith.

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas had been severely beaten and then thrown into a Philippian prison for preaching the gospel. They had been chained in an inner cell, their feet clamped in stocks. Their future
looked anything but rosy. Imagine the reaction of the guard and other inmates when, around midnight, they heard Paul and Silas praying and singing hymns to God! Now weeping, they could understand. Wailing prayers of desperation, maybe. But singing hymns? Who were these guys?

God doesn’t just help us live within our circumstances. By faith, He empowers us to live above our circumstances. Praise is the tool that does the job.

PRINCIPLES OF FAITH

Everyday Faith

To sonic degree, every living human being possesses and demonstrates faith. Every time we sit on a chair, use an electrical appliance, fly in an airplane, submit to medical treatment, drive through a green
light, or eat a new food, we are exercising a measure of faith.

For lack of a better term, we’ll call this “everyday faith.” We don’t need a lot of facts to develop everyday faith. You don’t need to understand electrical concepts like conductivity, current, resistance, or voltage to believe that when you flip the switch, the light will come on. You trust it will happen because it has always happened. You don’t need to understand how light is converted to electrical energy and transmitted over radio waves in order to surf the channels on your TV set. Your experience with television (of which many people have far too much!) has reinforced your faith.

As experience validates our trust, we grow willing to risk more experiences. Of course, experience can be misleading. Our five senses, through which experience is interpreted, don’t always paint a complete picture of reality.

Circus elephants, when they are young, are chained to a tree to keep them from getting away. They can pull and tug all they want, but the chain holds firm. Later, when they are fully-grown and completely
capable of ripping strong trees out by the roots. they can be chained to a twig. Their experience taught them long ago that pulling and tugging don’t work-, so they don’t even try!

The lesson for Christians is clear: breaking free of the chains that hold us captive in this world requires going beyond what our faulty senses and limited experience can teach us. This calls for a kind of
faith that believes there are greater realities than we are able to perceive.

We’ll call it…

Everlasting Trust

Mark Twain said, “Faith is believing what any fool knows ain’t so.” Twain was funny, but wrong. Everlasting trust is not a “leap in the dark-.” Instead, it is more like a step into the light. It is far more
than empty belief without reason( or a grasp at spiritual straws. It is simply trust based on a different set of standards.

I’m told that when a person loses one of their senses, the other senses grow more acute in order to pick up the slack. For example, I have heard stories about blind people whose sense of hearing became
especially keen. In the same way, when we learn to become less reliant on our physical sense, God sharpens our “spiritual sense” and makes us aware of a whole new reality that transcends what we can see, hear, taste, touch or smell. As that sense becomes more highly developed, we see the object of our faith more clearly. Our faith grows in direct proportion.

In 1864, Abraham Lincoln wrote out a memorandum on a piece of paper, folded it, and asked his entire cabinet to sign it-without reading what he had written inside. Amazingly, each man signed the document, committing himself its contents sight unseen.

An exercise in blind faith. you say? Not at all. hi fact, quite the opposite. These men signed on the dotted line not because they believed in the proposal, but because they trusted the proposer!

By backing up their trust with action, they demonstrated that faith is a path, not a parking lot. Many churches are full of believers who have spent their lives “standing on the promises,” but have never taken a single step in faith.

James made it very clear that “faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). Acting on your faith not only proves that it is genuine, it reinforces your spiritual confidence and prepares you to trust even more. Everlasting faith demands that we rest our entire weight on the One who is trustworthy and true.

PROVISION OF FAITH

Both everyday faith and everlasting faith come to us from the same source: God. Our capacity for faith was part of the human design from the very beginning. God created us as dependent beings. We have to
believe in something. We know that, by ourselves, we are incomplete. We sense what has been called the “God-shaped void” within us.

This propensity toward faith is a gift from God That’s why Paul tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one
can boast” (Ephesians 2.-8-9). It is a humbling thing to realize that, if not for God’s provision, we would not even have the capacity to believe in Him.

So why doesn’t everyone exercise that capacity? That has to do with another gift God gave us: the power to choose. We have the free will to decide whether or not to believe, and to choose in what (or whom) we
will believe.

To become a Christian is to make that decision correctly, and to open the floodgates so that the flow of faith begins. Romans 10:17 describes how that process works: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing
by the word of God.” if you want more faith, you must hear more of who God is. “Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you…” as Colossians 3:16 suggests, and your faith will grow deeper and stronger until you
wonder how you ever survived without it.

The late Smith Wigglesworth said, “I want to be so filled and saturated with God’s Word, that I find it more difficult not to believe than to believe.”

The source of spiritual faith is confidence in the person, power and promise of God, and it begins with receiving and responding to His revelation.

THE PROGRESS OF FAITH

Building a faith-filled life isn’t an event; it’s a process. Typically, this process takes years and involves a considerable amount of struggle and sacrifice. We take a few steps forward, then a step back. We fall, we get up again. We grow spiritually, in the same way that we grow physically-in stages and through struggles.

Now, this probably wasn’t what you wanted to hear. After all, we live in an age of speed and convenience. Instant breakfast, microwave ovens, overnight mail … that’s our style. Few of us are into sacrifice. “Maximizing our potential” seems more fulfilling. And don’t talk to us about taking short steps. We prefer giant leaps and instant results. That’s why the supermarket tabloids can grab our attention
with headlines like. “Lose 30 pounds in one week without dieting.”‘ (Count on it-there’s surgery involved!)

Granted, we serve a God without limits. He can deliver a supernatural dose of faith to anyone, anytime. I’ve heard testimonies from people who found themselves trusting God in the midst of unbelievable
Circumstances, no doubt due to the Lord’s special provision. But most of the time, he builds our faith the old-fashioned way-the way he did with Abraham.

We talked about Abraham a little earlier, describing his mature,
steadfast faith. Let’s rewind the tape a bit, and explore how God
constructed that faith.

In Genesis 12, Abraham (still called Abram at that time) received his marching orders from the Lord: “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household, and go to the land I will show you.
That’s a tall order, no matter how you measure it. Obviously, it took a great deal of faith to give up every secure, familiar. comfortable thing in life and set off into the desert without a hint of a destination. But don’t miss the twist in verse 4- “…and Lot went with him.”

Apparently, Abraham had enough faith to go, but not enough to go alone.

Later in the same chapter, Abraham and his wife arrived in Egypt. Now. Abraham wasn’t naive. He knew that Egyptians had keen eyes for attractive, Vibrant, 70-year-old women like Sarah. Naturally, they
wouldn’t touch her if she was married. They would do her the courtesy of making her a widow first.

Fearing for his life, Abraham decided to pose as Sarah’s brother, No longer a threat to prospective Egyptian suitors, he would be pampered instead of murdered. Of course. Sarah would wind up living as another man’s wife.. But every plan has Its “down side.” Besides, that would have happened either way. right?

Think about it-here’s a man with enough faith to dump his ranch and his relatives and head for some phantom “promised land.” Yet, when his back was against the wall, he lied through his teeth and loaned out his own wife.

By Genesis 16, Abraham was well into his eighties. His wife had remained childless. Both were beginning to wonder if God had forgotten all about this “father-of-a-nation” business. So, they decided to jump-start God’s promise.

Sarah suggested that Abraham sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. (A patriarchal equivalent of surrogate motherhood.) “Perhaps I can build a family through her,” Sarah said (Genesis 16:2). Abraham agreed. He believed God’s promise, but apparently thought it was time to move on to plan “B.” Unfortunately, neither of them understood that God had never given up on plan “A.”

Abraham was just short of 100 years of age when the Lord appeared to him again and confirmed the promise He had made so long ago. (See Genesis 1 7) Ninety-year-old Sarah was to bear a son. Abraham’s
response, in contemporary terms. could be loosely, translated. .-Yeah, right!” He actually laughed out loud in the face of God.

As you reviewed these excerpts from Abraham’s life, you may have found yourself saying, “Some example you chose! Here’s a guy who heard from God. He supposedly believed what he heard. Yet, at key points along the way, he caved in to doubt. What kind of ‘father of faith’ is this’?

The answer: a growing one. No one becomes a spiritual giant overnight. The people we read about Hi the pages of Scripture are no exception. Abraham was obviously not granted some kind of “divine exemption” from the process of growth. His faith was shaky and unsteady at first-far
from perfect. But he never let go of God. At the very moments his faith faltered, he was in the act of obeying God, making his way, to the land the Lord Would show him.

God blessed Abraham s imperfect faithfulness., and made it fruitful. That’s why Abraham could stand atop a mountain, knife in hand, ready to carry out God’s command to sacrifice his precious son on an altar. He had learned that the Lord could be trusted unconditionally-even with a life more precious to him than his own.

PROFESSION OF FAITH

There is a powerful link between what we believe and what we say. That connection is perhaps best illustrated in Romans 10:10: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved ”

Theologians have tried to hang a lot of meaning on that word “confession.” Some of it is deep and significant. However, much easier to describe the phenomenon this way: If your life is overflowing with
faith, it is only natural for some of it to spill out through your mouth.

Before I dig deeper into what confession is all about, let me deal briefly with what I believe it is not about.

There are some who believe that creative power exists in our mouths; that what we speak and how we speak it actually has the power to make things happen. This is often called “positive confession.” Its
proponents insist, “If you speak it, if you’re specific, and if you’re persistent, it will happen.”

There are many sincere believers who have become caught up in this teaching simply because they want all of God they can get. I certainly can’t fault them for that. However, despite their good intentions,
they are treading on dangerously thin theological ice.

I heard a story told by Dr. Cho, pastor of a 700,000- member church (no, that’s not a misprint!) in Seoul, Korea. When Cho began his ministry., he operated on a shoestring. He had no means of transportation besides walking, no desk at which to work-, no chair in which to sit.

Considering these simple items to be basic necessities, he lifted the needs to the Lord in prayer. For 6 months, he earnestly sought God for a bicycle, a desk and a chair.
Nothing happened. As you can imagine, discouragement began to set it. Why couldn’t God honor such simple requests?

That’s when Cho felt God speaking to him. The message was clear: be specific. Rising to the Lord’s challenge, Cho modified his request. He began praying for an American-made bicycle complete with a gear shift, a Philippine mahogany desk, and a swivel chair with rollers.

Overflowing with faith and convinced that he had heard from God. Cho began describing the items to others. claiming they were already his. Skeptics chided, “So where are they?” Undaunted, Cho replied, “I’m pregnant with them!”

Not long after, Cho received a call from an American military official who was about to be shipped back to the States. It seems the man needed Cho’s help getting rid of a few items he couldn’t cram into his
crates. I’m sure I don’t need to list those items for you.

Many people use that story to support what has been called the “name-it-and-claim-it” approach to faith. Armed with this example, they tell all their friends that they’re “believing God” for a powder blue
Mercedes with calf-skin upholstery, CD player and a built-in cellular phone. The more they speak it, the closer it gets to their garage.

Even Dr. Cho himself is quick to point out that interpretation. “There is no power in the mouth,” he says. “There is only power in the Almighty.” We can confess our will until we’re blue in the face, and
all we’ll have to show for it is a blue face. It is only when we confess God’s Word and God’s will that things begin to happen.

Review Cho’s story for yourself and consider the order in which events took place. Cho lifted up to God the desires of his heart. God responded, inviting Cho to pray specifically. Cho acted in faith, following the Lord’s instruction. What he confessed to others was not his own wish list, but his confidence in God. He simply repeated to others what God had told him.

That’s exactly what Elijah did, though on a much larger scale. As you read about his life in the Book of I Kings, notice how many times you see the phrase, “And the word of the Lord came to Elijah…” Elijah had an enormous amount of faith, but he was simply confessing what the Lord had already made clear to him. “. . . I am your servant,” Elijah prayed to God in the presence of the false prophets, “and have done all these things at your command” (I Kings 18.-36).

Chances are you will never find yourself calling down fire from hearten as Elijah did. Still, you can follow his powerful example. Learn to hear the “still, small voice” of God. Then, confess”, that you hear
with confidence. If God’s voice keeps getting lost among the noise of life, you need to follow a simple, powerful prescription: Commit yourself to the study of His Word, make it a priority to spend time in
prayer, and diligently develop deeper relationships with fellow believers. Your faith will grow stronger, your spiritual senses will become more acute. and those troublesome doubts you struggled with for
so long will melt away into nothing more than a distant memory.

MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL

Perhaps one of the best descriptions of what it means to be a faith-filled believer came from AM Tozer: “A real Christian is an odd number. He feels supreme love for one whom he has never seen, talks in
a familiar fashion every day to someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so that he can be declared right, goes clown in
order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, happiest when he feels worst, has died so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible hears the inaudible and knows that which passes knowledge.”

No wonder the concept of faith seems like nonsense to the natural man. No wonder doubt so easily ensnares us. Faith makes no sense whatsoever unless our eyes are fixed firmly on Jesus Christ,

There is no more literal example of this principle than the one found in Matthew 14:22-33, where Peter sees Jesus walking across the lake. It took great faith for Peter to put aside his fear and say, “Lord, if
it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Let’s not forget that Peter was the only one of the Twelve willing to get out of the boat. The Lord rewarded that faith by granting his request. Scripture tells
us that all went well until Peter saw the wind and be-carne afraid. That’s when he began to sink. Obviously, if he was paying attention to the wind, his attention had wandered from Jesus. Fortunately, it didn’t take Peter long to diagnose his doubt and recognize the only solution: He cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!`

The same hand that rescued Peter is reaching out to you today-even if the waves. of doubt and fear have overcome you and your faith is on its way to the bottom. That hand isn’t waiting to slap you in anger. It
there to push you aside in indifference. It certainly isn’t there to hold you under until you stop wiggling. Jesus waits patiently for you to grab hold so He can lift you to safety and plant your feet on solid ground.

I urge you to reach up in return. Respond to the Lord’s invitation to trust Him. Don’t worry if your first steps of faith are unsteady ones. Keep your eyes fixed on Him, and this light of His love will shine so
brightly that those shadows of doubt won’t stand a chance.

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THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD AND REVIVALTIME MEDIA MINISTRIES, 1995, PAGER 2-22. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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