Sunday, November 29, 2015

Revealed Doubt - Part 5 - Failing to Trust God and His Love

The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group is conducting a study about doubt and the Christian.     These posts are my notes for each session.   Please study with us. You can participate by asking your questions or making comments below.   We welcome your thoughts, questions, comments, and prayers.
Last week we finished talking about the doubt of Jeremiah in Lamentations.   Jeremiah said early in chapter 3 he said that although  the nation was destroyed and he had been imprisoned and thrown in a well he knew that God still cared;
Lamentations 3:19-24 (HCSB)19 Remember my affliction and my homelessness, the wormwood and the poison.20  I continually remember ⌊them⌋ and have become depressed.21  Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope:22 Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.23  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!24  I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.
But even knowing this he still had more doubt even to the point he thought all was lost.  He was at rock bottom.
Lamentations 3:43-54 (NLT)43  “You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down, and slaughtered us without mercy.44  You have hidden yourself in a cloud so our prayers cannot reach you.45  You have discarded us as refuse and garbage among the nations.46  “All our enemies have spoken out against us.47  We are filled with fear, for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined.”48  Tears stream from my eyes because of the destruction of my people!49  My tears flow endlessly; they will not stop50  until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees.51  My heart is breaking over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem.52  My enemies, whom I have never harmed, hunted me down like a bird.53  They threw me into a pit and dropped stones on me.54  The water rose over my head, and I cried out, “This is the end!”
Then he did what we should do, when we are at our wits end, and cried out to God.
Lamentations 3:55-66 (NLT)55  But I called on your name, LORD, from deep within the pit.56  You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!”57  Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.”58  Lord, you are my lawyer! Plead my case! For you have redeemed my life.59  You have seen the wrong they have done to me, LORD. Be my judge, and prove me right.60  You have seen the vengeful plots my enemies have laid against me.61  LORD, you have heard the vile names they call me. You know all about the plans they have made.62  My enemies whisper and mutter as they plot against me all day long.63  Look at them! Whether they sit or stand, I am the object of their mocking songs.64  Pay them back, LORD, for all the evil they have done.65  Give them hard and stubborn hearts, and then let your curse fall on them!66  Chase them down in your anger, destroying them beneath the LORD’s heavens.
Doubt and fear usually go hand in hand.  When doubt and fear creep in, it is a signal to ask ourselves if we are failing to trust God.  Are we failing to truly love Him, are we failing to allow His love to be made perfect in our lives?
The bible says that perfect love, the kind of love that God has for us and that we should have for him casts out fear.  With that kind of love we don’t have to doubt or fear the past, present, or future.
1 John 4:17-18 (NLT)17  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.18  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
Perfect love causes us to have boldness. It is the love which God, who is love, has produced in us through the Holy Spirit.  That boldness comes about because we know that we can approach God’s presence boldly, without any shame.  
Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)16  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
If we are bold and not afraid of punishment then we aren’t fearful are we?
If we aren’t fearful of punishment because we love God and seek to glorify Him then we can really say with confidence;
Romans 8:28 (NLT)28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
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.
Psalm 121:3-5 (NLT)3  He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.4  Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.5  The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
He never leaves us or forsakes us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)6  So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
He is never fickle He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 6:10 (NLT)10  For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
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!
Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)16  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.17  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.18  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.19  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from 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 (NLT)5  Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.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.8  You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights.9  For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.
He loves you so much more than you could ever understand!  
Paul prayed that the Ephesians would somehow understand how great that love is. That should be our prayer too.
Ephesians 1:15-23 (NLT)15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,[a] 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom[b] and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
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 anecdote. Taste and see that the Lord IS good! His love is the best!
Psalm 34:8 (NLT)8  Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
God's Word tells us that when we doubt, God is not obligated in any way to answer our prayers about the situation for which we are asking for help.
Where does it say that?
The Bible describes doubt as being double-minded. In fact, God even says that we should not even expect an answer.
James 1:6-8 (HCSB)6  But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.7  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.8  An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.
James is talking about asking for wisdom which is actually protection against doubt.    He had just been talking about trials in verses 2-4 which is quite often when we have doubt.
James 1:2-4 (HCSB)2  Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.4  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
When you are going through trials you may not be able to see any purpose in it.  When that happens we should ask God for wisdom, not theories that we come up with, like God’s trying to tell me something,  He may be trying to tell you something, but ask Him for  practical insight into the trial.   He says when we do ask, without doubt, God will give us insight so that we can endure.  
James 1:2-4 (HCSB)2  Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.4  But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Also always remember the promise to never leave or forsake us.  
If we continue to doubt 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 think that we know better than God.   
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.
Nehemiah 9:6 (HCSB)  You alone are Yahweh. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them, and the heavenly host worships You.  
Psalm 36:6-7 (HCSB)6  Your righteousness is like the highest mountains; Your judgments, like the deepest sea. LORD, You preserve man and beast.7  God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
Doubt makes us believe we would be better off in control. That’s pretty arrogant of us when we think we know better than God.
So what do we do we need to do when we realize that we are doubting and thinking we know best?
Admit it, confess it and ask forgiveness and when we do that sincerely what happens?
1 John 1:9 (HCSB)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Here’s what The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says about that verse.  The victorious Christian life is a life of no unconfessed sins; and genuine confession includes forsaking, and thus produces growth.
Psalm 100:5 (HCSB)  For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Revealed Doubt - Part 4 - Jeremiah a Big Doubter

The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group is conducting a study about doubt and the Christian.     These posts are my notes for each session.   Please study with us. You can participate by asking your questions or making comments below.   We welcome your thoughts, questions, comments, and prayers.
Last week we started to talk about a big time doubter, Jeremiah.  
Jeremiah was a prophet used by God  at a very crucial time in the history of Israel and Judea.   God told this man, Jeremiah to tell Israel that they were going to be overrun by Babylon,  and that Jerusalem and the temple were going to be destroyed and they would be taken into exile for 70 years.  God sent him to do this at the same time that others, who said they were prophets too, said everything is going to be fine.  Well you can imagine who they would rather believe.  In fact they wanted to kill Jeremiah, he was imprisoned even thrown in a well.  
Jeremiah is often called the weeping prophet because he expressed sorrow for the things that God had shown him about what would happen to his people.  We looked at the book of Lamentations, which was written by Jeremiah.  He wrote this book after the stuff that he said would happen to the nation, to the capital Jerusalem and the temple actually happened.  The nation was in ruins, Jerusalem destroyed, it’s wall torn down and the temple, burned to the ground.  
Our emphasis is on chapter 3 where Jeremiah bares his heart and sorrow about what has happened.  We got through verse 24 last week.
In the first 13 verses  Jeremiah  says there is only bitterness and frustration.  Some of it physical (verse 4), the other affliction from the enemy (verse 5); his  freedom is now gone (verse 6) and God is even rejecting his prayers (verse 8).  
In verses 14-18 he says he is now the object now of public ridicule and that his peace is now destroyed and he has no hope.  That peace and hope that he had lost was in the Lord.  Remember when I said that sometimes we wonder if God even cares.  Well it looks like that’s what Jeremiah is thinking.   
But then when we read verses 19-24 we see that he prayed and asked God to remember him and his circumstances and he remembered that God does love him and he became confident, he had hope.  
Lamentations 3:22-24 (HCSB)22 Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.23  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!24  I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.
He now has hope.  Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  In other words  hope is the confident expectation, the sure certainty that what God has promised in the Word is true, has occurred, and or will in accordance with God’s sure Word.
Lamentations 3:25-36 (HCSB)25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.26  It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the LORD.27  It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is ⌊still⌋ young.28 Let him sit alone and be silent, for God has disciplined him.29  Let him put his mouth in the dust— perhaps there is ⌊still⌋ hope.30  Let him offer ⌊his⌋ cheek to the one who would strike him; let him be filled with shame.31 For the Lord will not reject ⌊us⌋ forever.32  Even if He causes suffering, He will show compassion according to His abundant, faithful love.33  For He does not enjoy bringing affliction or suffering on mankind.34 Crushing all the prisoners of the land beneath one’s feet,35  denying justice to a man in the presence of the Most High,36  or suppressing a person’s lawsuit— the Lord does not approve ⌊of these things⌋.
We can wait because we have hope, which means that we are certain that God will be with us and that whatever is going on will work out for our good, so we should try to wait patiently.  I know that’s hard but we have to ask for strength and God tells us that when we are weak that the Holy Spirit that is in us gives us strength.  
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV)7  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.8  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul tells us that when we are at our weakest we gain strength through God’s grace or favor.  That’s how we can be thankful at all times and do what Paul says that we should do in 1 Thessalonians
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16  Rejoice always,17  pray without ceasing,18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)31  But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
God just doesn’t forget us.  He doesn’t hate us and doesn’t delight in our suffering.    
Remember;  
Psalm 17:6 (NLT)6  I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.
Psalm 56:8 (NLT)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.
Lamentations 3:37-39 (HCSB)37 Who is there who speaks and it happens, unless the Lord has ordained ⌊it⌋?38  Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High?39  Why should ⌊any⌋ living person complain, ⌊any⌋ man, because of the punishment for his sins?
Nothing surprises God anyway.  If something happens to us that’s not our fault,  it could be an attack of the enemy allowed by God, it so then we know is that there is a purpose for it.  It may be to call attention to something in our lives that needs attention or change, it may be to help somebody else, but whatever it is it will be for His glory.
Lamentations 3:40-42 (HCSB)40 Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD.41  Let us lift up our hearts and ⌊our⌋ hands to God in heaven:42  We have sinned and rebelled; You have not forgiven.
Now it really looks like Jeremiah, realizes that he has been doubting and is sincerely repenting.  However he says that God has not forgiven.  Could it be there’s still some doubt there?
Lamentations 3:43-54 (NLT)43  “You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down, and slaughtered us without mercy.44  You have hidden yourself in a cloud so our prayers cannot reach you.45  You have discarded us as refuse and garbage among the nations.46  “All our enemies have spoken out against us.47  We are filled with fear, for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined.”48  Tears stream from my eyes because of the destruction of my people!49  My tears flow endlessly; they will not stop50  until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees.51  My heart is breaking over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem.52  My enemies, whom I have never harmed, hunted me down like a bird.53  They threw me into a pit and dropped stones on me.54  The water rose over my head, and I cried out, “This is the end!”
He really feels that God has come down on Israel.   Even though they have repented God hasn’t forgiven.  God doesn’t even care.  It’s all over for them and for him.  He says it’s over.  He was at rock bottom.  We get there too when we are really going through, crying out to God for something and nothing changes or even gets worse.  We think God doesn’t care.  Well keep crying out.  You’ll get some kind of answer even if it’s my grace is sufficient for you.  That may not be what you want to hear but what that does say is that God will be with you.  Think about those things you say when this gs are going good.
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.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33  Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.34  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36  As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."37  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  
Remember when we studied spiritual warfare through the life of Samson what happened
Bottom of the Barrel 
when he reached rock bottom.  What did he do?
He called on the Lord.
Judges 16:28 (NLT) Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.”
Well that’s what Jeremiah did.  
Lamentations 3:55-66 (NLT)55  But I called on your name, LORD, from deep within the pit.56  You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!”57  Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.”58  Lord, you are my lawyer! Plead my case! For you have redeemed my life.59  You have seen the wrong they have done to me, LORD. Be my judge, and prove me right.60  You have seen the vengeful plots my enemies have laid against me.61  LORD, you have heard the vile names they call me. You know all about the plans they have made.62  My enemies whisper and mutter as they plot against me all day long.63  Look at them! Whether they sit or stand, I am the object of their mocking songs.64  Pay them back, LORD, for all the evil they have done.65  Give them hard and stubborn hearts, and then let your curse fall on them!66  Chase them down in your anger, destroying them beneath the LORD’s heavens.
Jeremiah says that he prayed and the Lord came to the rescue.  
Can you name somebody else who was in a tight spot and prayed and was rescued?
How about Jonah?
Jonah 2:1-10 (HCSB)1  Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish:2  I called to the LORD in my distress, and He answered me. I cried out for help in the belly of Sheol; You heard my voice.3  You threw me into the depths, into the heart of the seas, and the current overcame me. All Your breakers and Your billows swept over me.4  But I said: I have been banished from Your sight, yet I will look once more toward Your holy temple.5  The waters engulfed me up to the neck; the watery depths overcame me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.6  I sank to the foundations of the mountains; the earth with its prison bars closed behind me forever! But You raised my life from the Pit, LORD my God!7  As my life was fading away, I remembered Yahweh. My prayer came to You, to Your holy temple.8  Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love,9  but as for me, I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the LORD!10  Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.  
David throughout the Psalms
Psalms 23, 30, 121, 125, 126, 91
Jeremiah was even confident that  God would avenge the wrong done to him.  When people do things to us u justly we should let the Lord to avenge us.  We can let our emotions get the best of us and do unwise things.  Remember Samson when he got angry because the guys answered his riddle.  He went out and killed 30 people.  When he found out that his wife had been given to his best man, after he left her by the way, he tied some foxes together and burned down the Philistines grain fields ending with the death of his estranged wife and his father in law.    
Romans 12:19 (NLT)19  Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.
Believers are not to take their own revenge but rather to give the wrath of God an opportunity to work out its purpose. The OT points out that vengeance and recompense belong to God. He is now confident that Jehovah has observed his plight and will become his Redeemer, Advocate, and Vindicator  - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Deuteronomy 32:35 (NLT)35  I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’  
From Charles Spurgeon Morning and Evening Devotions 
Lamentations 3:58
0 Lord, Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul.
Observe how positively the prophet speaks. He doth not say, "I hope, I trust, I sometimes think, that God hath pleaded the causes of my soul"; but he speaks of it as a matter of fact not to be disputed. "Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul." Let us, by the aid of the gracious Comforter, shake off those doubts and fears which so much mar our peace and comfort. Be this our prayer, that we may have done with the harsh croaking voice of surmise and suspicion, and may be able to speak with the clear, melodious voice of full assurance. Notice how gratefully the prophet speaks, ascribing all the glory to God alone! You perceive there is not a word concerning himself or his own pleadings. He doth not ascribe his deliverance in any measure to any man, much less to his own merit; but it is "thou"-"O Lord, Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; Thou hast redeemed my life." A grateful spirit should ever be cultivated by the Christian; and especially after deliverances we should prepare a song for our God. Earth should be a temple filled with the songs of grateful saints, and every day should be a censor smoking with the sweet incense of thanksgiving. How joyful Jeremiah seems to be while he records the Lord's mercy. How triumphantly he lifts up the strain! He has been in the low dungeon, and is even now no other than the weeping prophet; and yet in the very book which is called "Lamentations," clear as the song of Miriam when she dashed her fingers against the tabor, shrill as the note of Deborah when she met Barak with shouts of victory, we hear the voice of Jeremy going up to heaven-"Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life." O children of God, seek after a vital experience of the Lord's lovingkindness, and when you have it, speak positively of it; sing gratefully; shout triumphantly
When we admit, confess, and ask forgiveness for our doubt is should  eventually lead us to the knowledge that God does love us and will be with us and deliver us.
Romans 8:28 (NLT)28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

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Prayer Warrior: Praying Your Way To Victory - Session 12 - See What's Happening From God Perspective

The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through Prayer Warrior The Power Of Praying Your Way T...