Monday, November 01, 2010

2010 – November 1 – When There’s Reason to Doubt

Blogger's Note: In my quest to read through the Bible and blog my journal entries this year, I've been led by the Editor of The Daily Bible in Chronological Order, Dr. F. LaGard Smith, from the Old and into the New Testament. I'm on the backstretch, heading toward the tape of completing the entire Bible reading in 2010; and I hope that others who've read here with me get as much from God's truth as am I.

Study from God’s Word Passages selected by the Editor of The Daily Bible in Chronological Order from Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6 to illustrate Jesus’ claims, His miracles, and the doubts of some of the people, especially the religious leaders, as The Messiah traveled around Galilee in His 2nd year of ministry … Passage for Reflection: Matthew 14: 31 … NIV 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “Tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

My Journal for Today
Does anybody reading with me here identify with Peter besides yours truly? Peter, maybe more than any of the other inner core of Disciples, illustrates for me the challenge of choosing to believe and follow this man Jesus as the Son of God and our Messiah. And probably no historical account in the Gospel accounts illustrates Peter’s desire to pursue Jesus, believing in Him as the Son of God, in the midst of this disciple’s very human doubts, any more than this story of the disciples seeing Jesus walk on the water in the midst of the storm.

Are you like me (and I believe Peter as well), desiring desperately to believe in the truth of passages like Romans 8: 28, 31 and yet falling short of Jesus’ command of discipleship in Luke 9: 23? I don’t think any passage in the Bible illustrates this for me any better than the encounter the 12 Disciples had with Jesus in the boat out there in the storm on the Sea of Galilee, involving Peter’s confrontation with faith and doubt as he stepped out of the boat to pursue Jesus, yet sank into the water due to his doubt.

I’m sure, dear Christian, you’re not that much different from me, desiring desperately to believe in the truth of the Bible, as with the two passage I mentioned above (which I hope you’ve either memorized or have found and meditated upon here). Yet many of us - me certainly included - have very rational doubts, just as Peter did, stepping out of the boat and realizing that he was actually walking on water. We have very human doubts like wondering why God performs miracle healing with some and allows others to suffer and die in spite of their prayers for life. And why does God allow Satan to have the power he has in this world? And what’s up with evil seeming to flourish all around us?

Oh, how difficult it is to see that the concept of FAITH would be meaningless unless it is experienced in the context of DOUBT. Faith is not faith without doubt being doubt. But that truth doesn’t make it any easier for me to step out of the boat of my life and to attempt to walk on the waters of challenging circumstances day-by-day.

I desperately want to be like Peter and to be able to step out of the boat of my life when Jesus calls me out, saying ... “come on, Bill, ... follow Me!” I hear Him saying “follow Me” when I know what I should be eating and the empty, but good-tasting, calories I should be avoiding; and yet I sink in the waters of my own doubt when I take in those empty calories, pursuing selfish pleasure rather than following my Savior’s call to step out in faith.

Some in the ministry I’m called to lead (go to this link), when it comes to avoiding sexual sin in viewing pornography, sink desperately into their own pursuit of pleasure rather than walking on the waters of faith, being called out by God’s Spirit to avoid viewing such visual, but sinful, pleasures. Others fall prey to their own selfishness, knowing - like me - that you should avoid certain obsessive/compulsive sin, but our doubt in God’s ability to give us the strength we need to walk on water and avoid pleasure-driven sin, leads us to have the same doubts that Paul had when he wrote about himself in Romans 7: 14-23 [linked here]. And when we do what we don’t want to do, avoiding what we know we should do, we sink into the waters of doubt rather than walk above those stormy waters in faith.

Let’s not be too tough on Peter. But let’s all be like Peter as he kept pursuing a deeper and deeper relationship with Christ as he walked with Him in the hills of Galilee in those day as Jesus ultimately walked to the cross. Let’s all keep pursuing a deeper faith, doing all we can, in spite of our doubts, to come when Jesus calls us to come and to deny self and follow Him even though the storms of life and temptation rage around us.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, in spite of the winds of life blowing and the storms raging, help me to step out of the boat and come to You today. Amen

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