Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1
There was no doubt before the fall of man. He was in God’s image and he was pure. The trust between God and man at that time was unquestionable. Yet God also foresaw what would happen and warned Adam and Eve that obedience to Him was paramount. Yet the serpent was able to cause Eve to second guess God’s command. Man had lost his trust in God because he doubted the power that God wields over him, even when it was God who created him. Every time man has sinned it is because he doubted God.
Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty or a lack of conviction. Both have separate consequences. When I am uncertain of things it is often a lack of confidence in myself. This I think opens us up to not only failure but sin. We are uncertain of ourselves and if our conviction is lacking then we doubt God. Doubting God alone is a sin, He is Creator and worthy of all of our reverence. Luke 24:38 asks us, why are we troubled, and why do doubts arise in our hearts? I think that it is two-fold, Satan is whispering to us but also our desire to self-fulfill our destiny and not place it in His hands.
To overcome doubt I think that we need to understand that it is not a lack of belief in Jesus but more a state of limbo. Having doubts does not mean you have turned your back on Christianity which it may feel like. How we overcome this is by addressing it directly. If you find yourself wavering in some manner, that is doubt creeping in. Don’t take the “I guess it’s okay to doubt” or “I’ll work it out later” road. Make strategic war with it. Eradicate it by praying and do as Jesus did. Tell Satan take a hike and don’t come back no more.
Granted saying how to overcome doubt is easier said than done but Jesus told us that if we do not doubt in our hearts and believe in what we say (such as telling Satan to be gone) then it will come to pass. Jesus used the word of God as a weapon to send Satan away. We can too because in His death we have been empowered against the enemy. Do not let that leave your mind. Satan fears you and that is why he tries to subvert you. He cannot defeat you but he can make you a bad example. Stop the doubt. Toss Satan out.
Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” – Luke 22:31
Jesus was talking to Simon Peter, yes that Peter. The Peter that Christ specifically told He would build His church on (Matthew 16:13-19). God told a man how great His plan was for him. Peter was prolific in his work for Jesus as he was the founder and first Patriarch (Bishop) of the church in Antioch, visited the divided church in Corinth (1 Cor 1:12) , founded the Roman church and is credited with two epistles of the Bible. Even with all of that Peter took a hard road to get there. He denied he knew Jesus three times even though Jesus had foretold this and Peter vehemently denied it, it happened. When Jesus rose from the grave Peter had to confirm he loved the Lord three times before Christ would reinstate him. Peter had made mistakes before but he denied Jesus in his darkest hour. God’s plan for Peter came from his mistakes and gave Peter strength. Peter learned from his mistakes and it lit a fire in him for God that never became quenched.
We all do it. We make mistakes. I make them daily in some way or another. Maybe it is in thought or act or lack of desire to work. It can be literally anything. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Wise words from a man who was excellent at making mistakes but his words have wisdom in them. Too often, I get caught up in the trappings of my mistakes and I’m sure men like me do. Anyone does because we hate the idea of failure or mistakes. God is not like that because once we atone He considers it water under the bridge. We constantly guilt ourselves over things way past their expiry date. If we have a true change of heart (Proverbs 28:13) then there is no reason to continually punish ourselves. God doesn’t. We should find ways to resolve it in our minds otherwise we are doing a disservice to His grace.
By Faith, Not Works
This can be a bit of a wild card for someone because the thought is, “Well I can do whatever I want because God is going to forgive me anyway.” or as it is popularly put, “we are saved by faith and not works.” While that is an excellent get out of jail free card for some I think that for me it is a reminder that the grace we are giving should be life changing. If your heart is moved to God then your spirit will be on fire to obey Him. Not out of being commanded or out of fear. Devotion to God is truthful, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind. Look at what learning from mistakes did for Paul, who was Saul. God removed his stony heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and gave him the heart of a man who would eventually be the largest author of biblical material and be known as the Apostle of the Gentiles. Faith can carry you through anything because it is a gift that God allows us. Once you place your faith in Him a change happens and old ways die away and new ways fill you. This is why we should revel in His grace but not use it for misbehavior. Real faith sparks real change.
Our mistakes are part of us but they should never define us. God’s plan may have some terrible mistakes that we must go through to get to where we need to be. The changes that happen through the mistakes are the results of God’s chipping away at the marble to reveal the beautiful spirit he has designed. Each mistake is a lesson on who we are. It doesn’t matter if you were an adulterer or a thief. If you love God he will work for your good. Jonah ran from God but God used him to save Nineveh. Saul persecuted Christians and God used him to reach many of the Gentiles. These men eventually understood that while God allowed them to make mistakes it was because it allowed them to grow. Father’s can only tell their children so many times not to do something before letting them so that a lesson is learned. Our Father in Heaven allows us to make mistakes so that we become stronger in Him. I don’t want to spend my days feeling sorry for the mistakes I’ve made, I want to give God the glory of my service to others and beg for his amnesty when I do make those mistakes so that I can learn to be a better provider, comforter and friend to all of thwe people I reach.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. – Genesis 50:20
Joseph’s brothers did intend for him to be harmed. They were jealous of the love that Jacob (who was called Israel by God) bore for their younger brother. So jealous in fact that they sold him in to slavery to get rid of him. God had better plans for Joseph than what his brothers had intended. Joseph was patient and understood that even though he was going through tough times there was something God was working on within him and within his life that may not have been Joseph’s plans but that God had planned for him. Joseph did not know what those plans were but he had faith. Many of the men in the bible had extraordinary faith but they were not perfect. Everyone of them failed but Jesus. Even at the most difficult point in any person’s life Jesus trusted the Father. Joseph, even in the most difficult parts of his life trusted the Father’s plans because they were far bigger than him.
God’s Plans are About Trust
In all things God asks tells us that to be one with Him we must have faith in Him. Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Every time we willfully go against God’s plan we are saying we distrust Him. We don’t show trust in our Creator, our Father. Men, if you are a dad how does that feel? To know your child has no trust in you. Not in that youthful fear that kids so often present when you play something scary but in that complete lack of faith in daddy. It hurts, it makes you feel like you do not measure up. To an extent that is how it is for God. We displease Him with our disobedience because we are saying we do not trust that He knows what is best for us (Isaiah 58:11) even if we don’t think He is guiding us He always is.
God’s Plans are About Obedience
If we have the capacity to trust God fully then obedience to His will is part of the package. His will is the plan that He has laid out for you. To trust God with your life plans is to obey Him (Jeremiah 7:23). Obedience for me is a scary prospect I’m a very strong personality and like to think I can control my plans despite God telling me and showing me that no, it is not possible for my plans to be better than His. I left college, moved away from my family and ended up over $40,000 in debt before coming home broken. I punished myself by refusing to do bankruptcy, I could have but felt like I needed penance. That’s all changed now because of God not myself. I did a lot of work but that change of heart came from Him working on me and my decision to finally obey His will.
If there was one passage that pointedly describes God’s will against our own it is Jeremiah 29:11-14. God knows His plans for us and I oftentimes do try to plan but what is a ten year plan compared to the plan of eternity? It pales in comparison but as God tells us if we seek Him with all of our heart then He will hear our pleas and restores us. Restoration of our fortunes. My fortune is my salvation, it is my friends and family. My fortune is my future wife and the kids she allows me to be the father of. God has done amazing things in my life since I made the choice to be a vessel for his love and a fountain to spill forth those great things on to others. He has given me so much more than just my salvation and I am humbled to tears in my thanks of the grace he endlessly provides.
God had made me forget all my troubles and all my father’s household. – Genesis 41:51
I think we all have a tendency of forgetting how awesome God is all the time. Especially when the good times are rolling. We don’t give thanks nearly as often then but as soon as something bad happens it is the first thing out of our mouth, ‘God help me’ or some variant. God is here good or bad. So what about when things are more than marginally bad? Do we complain to God about it because we are experiencing trauma. Instead we should be seeking the comfort of His love. Joseph who was sold in to slavery, imprisoned despite his innocence never blamed God for the bad fortune. Instead he looked to God and then God raised him up higher than his brothers could have imagined!
For many of us our plans compared to God’s plans look very different. God’s plans are definitive and look like a straight arrow. Or plans on the other hand look like a winding snake over His plans. In fact it looks like this;
As our walk gets closer to God those waves, those deviations lessen and sometimes they become the same straight line but we are human and prone to error. Even in those times when we are far far from God’s plans for us He is there filling in those gaps with His grace.
Life is Tough
Because we are promised suffering (2 Timothy 3:12) we should become comfortable with seeking God in the hard times. If you’ve ever found yourself in the floor crying out to God for help then you know exactly how powerful God can be when He moves. His plans may be that someone has a hard life from the beginning and uses those experiences to lift that person into ministry. It could be the death of someone so that others connected to that person come running to Him. There is no shame in reaching out to God in your greatest need but it should not be the only time. He deserves out attention all the time not just when things suck.
God is the perfect father because he is there endlessly. We may come into friction with our parents here on Earth and in some cases those parents will disown us. God does not do that. He waits until you are broken and with no second thought picks up the pieces to make sure His children are whole. Life is really tough and being a Christian does not exclude you from that. In fact, you become a target because Satan wants to lure you away more than anything. It’s not the lost souls but the ones that know Jesus so he can tell God to look at how his servant is failing him. If we can be like Job or Joseph we take that power from Satan because God gives us that armor. I feel like one of my biggest strengths is that I do keep my eye on God in good and bad. Part of why I can is because of Bethany. She is far more than I ever deserved in my life and yet God planted her there for me. I am also surrounded by Greg and Melissa who are just an awesome God loving couple. My parents love God and encourage my relationship with Him. The support system you build helps you remember that God is there always listening when things are great and when they are tough.