Psalm 85:15--But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth
John the Baptist was discouraged. The imprisoned forerunner to Jesus was unable to personally witness Jesus at work. He begin to have doubts as to if Jesus truly was the Messiah. So he sent his disciples to ask the Lord, “Are You the One who is come, or should we look for someone else?” It was an honest question from a godly prophet.
Luke 7:22--He replied to them, “Go and report to John the things you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.
Two words in the English language frequently reveal obstinacy—“I can’t.” Whenever I say “I can’t” in the context of not doing what should be done, I profess to know myself and my limitations and therefore to pronounce what Iwill not do. Of course, I have the right to state what I am unwilling to do. But it is not a question of rights when rebellion is exposed, rather it is a question of will. God sees me for who and what I really am. All the cleverest observations I utter about myself, the most thoughtful pronouncements fall infinitely short of God’s understanding of who I am.
It would be interesting to take a poll in order to discover how many of God’s children suspect that He does not hear them when they pray. I would guess the percentage might be fairly high. Personally, I’m convinced that God does listen to us when we pray. He has acted in many instances in direct response to a plea from my heart. I’ve felt His hand on my life protecting me and giving me strength knowing full well that others were praying for me. I’ve seen Him answer my parent’s prayers or other family members with specificity that is thrilling. I’ve watched Him heal suffering people through prayer. I’ve seen Him bestow peace to those in the midst of horrible pain and turmoil. He hears!
Paul and I were together several times the past month. I discovered he loves billiards so I asked if I could join him when he went out at night to the local pool hall. I am a weak pool player but he is both a great teacher and a patient competitor. While conversing, Paul revealed that he is an agnostic. One evening the topic of death came up and I mentioned the emptiness of dying only to end up as worm food. He countered that life was still valuable if we contributed to the betterment of others—even if they too had nothing more than the grave to anticipate. As our discussion deepened, I asked him if would not be much better to contribute to people’s lives and then have eternal life with God to enjoy. He agreed and at that point, I felt led not to force the conversation further with my fellow officer.
1 Samuel 27:1,2—David said to himself, "One of these days I'll be swept away by Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape immediately to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will stop searching for me everywhere in Israel, and I'll escape from him." So David set out with his 600 men and went to Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath.
National holidays can provide a natural period for introspection. As we approach yet another celebration of our nation's independence, I think this year of the word insecurity. In the 1770’s when our forefathers fought for the freedom we celebrate today, they lived in a time of great tumult. Consider this: they faced an opponent far superior in wealth and military might; they knew starvation, harsh weather and disease; they lacked basic supplies in armament, clothing and supplies; and they did not always know who was truly for or against them. But in the midst of uncertainty, doubt and despair the trumpet call for liberty persisted. Men and women strove mightily to worship, speak, live and work upon the foundation of freedom. For that self-determination, insecure lives bled nobly; though pained, pilgrims refused to give up; trepidation clung to truth and the right to dispel tyranny.
Numbers 13:33—“We even saw the Nephilim there.” (The offspring of Anak were descended from the Nephilim.) “To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them.”
Jeremiah 38:17-20—Jeremiah therefore said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LORD, the God of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘If indeed you surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned down, and you and your household will survive. But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city will be handed over to the Chaldeans. They will burn it down, and you yourself will not escape from them.’” But King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am worried about the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans. They may hand me over to them to abuse me.”
“They will not hand you over," Jeremiah replied. "Obey the voice of the LORD in what I am telling you, so it may go well for you and you can live.
My house has been on the Oregon market for ten months and counting. Recently, my wife and I decided to pull the listing. Now we are faced with several decisions. Do we rent? Do we try and sell with a different realtor? What other options are there for this morass of uncertainty?
To be undecided or skeptical is not necessarily a path towards failure it may be the genesis for learning. The blind, deaf and very wise Helen Keller wrote:
"It need not discourage us if we are full of doubts. Healthy questions keep faith dynamic. Unless we start with doubts we cannot have a deep-rooted faith. One who believes lightly and unthinkingly has not much of a belief. He who has a faith which is not to be shaken has won it through blood and tears-has worked his way from doubt to truth as one who reaches a clearing through a thicket of brambles and thorns."
“There is no sun,” the people cried. “Don’t talk to us about sun. Every day it is the same. We can see only so far in front, so far above and that’s the way it is. Life is a mist, soak it up. What we see is far more important than what we don’t see. What we believe is beyond us is of no consequence to what we experience. We do what we want to do and we want to be left alone. When we die we die and so it is better to live for whatever makes us happy.
The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single day in the history of the United States. On September 17, 1862, 23,110 casualties littered the ground fought between Confederate and Union Armies. Antietam is a small river in the state of Maryland close to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. As I walked the battleground today, I could not help but think of all of the lives lost and the folly of a leader who could have ended the Civil War but instead prolonged it.
Molly Unreliant works as a mechanical engineer for a firm in Duluth, Minnesota. She got the job through the recommendation of a friend at church and it was an answer to prayer. Her boss is a little cantankerous but overall she enjoys the work. So it came as a surprise to her friends when she announced that she was secretly looking for a new job. They counseled her against this. Why risk losing a position God clearly provided and was blessing her in? In truth, she also felt a check from the Holy Spirit to remain where she was. Even reading her Bible she sensed God directing her to stay.
It’s a dazzling day in Dallas. As you walk to your car you spot another woman who attends the same aquatics class. “Hi! That’s a nice outfit Shrena.” She looks at you surprised but then mutters, “Yeah, sure” (like you really care)! Surprised, at her response you innocently ask, “Shrena, are you alright?” But it’s too late. She walks away, ducks in her Audi and drives out of the parking lot.
Freddie recently conversed with a gas station attendant. The man told him that he could never place his trust in the Bible because it was inaccurate. He claimed that in 2 Chronicles 4:2, the circumference measurements listed for the circular Sea of cast metal (used by the priests for their ceremonial washing), did not match up. This greatly disturbed Freddie. Knowing God’s Word was on the line challenged his own faith. So he studied the disputed passage. He discovered that the measurements were from brim to brim and not rim to rim. The circumference distance was precisely accurate. Freddie was elated! Soon he’ll share his discovery with that petro-pumper.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, an agnostic is “One who believes that there can be no proof of the existence of God but does not deny the possibility that God exists.” There are two kinds of agnostics—those who have no interest in God and see no compelling evidence to change their minds, and those who have not found Him and consequently have no reason to suggest He exists.
Luke 23:44-46--It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” Saying this, He breathed His last.