Series on faith in God
We are moving right along in our series on faith in God. I have wanted to focus on faith because it’s the path to God’s blessings, for us as individuals and for us as a congregation. And I want all of us to receive what God has for us.
But faith doesn’t just spring up within us. It’s not a natural part of us. We would much rather walk by sight, that is, by what we can see and control. But God calls us to walk by faith, that is, trusting in God when we can’t see what’s ahead or control things. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
But you might say – “I don’t have this kind of faith!” And, “Where does it come from? How can I have confident assurance in God’s promises to me? Especially when there are so many obstacles and difficult circumstances in my way.”
This is what we’re talking about today – overcoming doubt so that we can walk in the path of faith.
Last week we looked at -
What doubt is
And specifically about how Scripture speaks of doubt. Not really about intellectual doubt, but concerns of the heart about God’s faithfulness. Doubt means that you are not fully convinced that God is able to do what he has promised (Romans 4:21).
The reason for doubt is that you fear that God will fail you. When you look at the circumstances and difficulties around you, you think, “Is God able to come through for me?” Or, “If he is able, is he willing to come through for me?” And, then you think, “If God doesn’t come through for me, I could be embarrassed, or end up in worse shape than I am now.”
Doubt is really about wavering. It’s a state between firm faith and unbelief. You say, “I should trust God.” But then you say, “No, I shouldn’t trust God.” You are double-minded, going back and forth between the two.
The end result is that doubt keeps you from acting on God’s promises. It’s too risky if you aren’t sure God will come through for you. So you “shrink back” (Hebrews 10:39).
What can you do to overcome doubt?
Perhaps you are trusting God to provide for a need, or as looked at last week, to give you the words to share with a friend who does not know the Lord. Whatever your situation -
1. Fight your fear. Last week we saw how Jesus told Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36). He was afraid that since his daughter wasn’t just sick, but had died, that Jesus couldn’t help him.
And when we think that God can’t or won’t come through for us we need to hear this too! “Don’t fear, only believe.”
Here are two ways to fight your fear:
- Ask the Spirit to give you the strength to be courageous. Our flesh is weak and vulnerable to fear. But the Spirit can give you the strength to die to your fear and walk the path of faith in the power of the Spirit. As Jesus said, “the flesh is weak.” But he also said, “the Spirit indeed is willing” that is, to help us and strengthen us – Mark 14:38.
- When Satan tries to reinforce your fear, saying, “you should be afraid!” or “God won’t come through for you!” – rebuke him in the name of Jesus. As James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
When you are seeking to trust in God to come through on his promise to you, and your fear rises up – fight it in these ways.
2. Keep God’s word in your heart. Where does faith come from? Scripture says, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” – Romans 10:17. Now this is talking about the promise of salvation through Jesus. But the general principle stands: God’s word to us builds faith within us.
- God can speak to us through the Scriptures. And I don’t mean merely reading Scripture. The word is powerful. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” So, I’m talking about when we read Scripture and God’s truth goes down into our heart and touches us. And we know the truth at a level that goes beyond simply the mind and the senses.
- And God can speak to us by his Spirit within us, in the same way.
When God speaks to us like this and we receive it God’s word builds up and strengthens our faith. Something supernatural takes place within us that is powerful and life changing.
Dwell on God’s truth to you from the Word and the Spirit. This will build up your faith.
3. Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness. First, remember that it is God’s character to be faithful. Lamentations 3:21-23 helps us see this. The writer here is despairing and is suffering greatly after the destruction of Jerusalem. And then he says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
He finds hope in God’s unchanging character, despite his awful circumstances.
Second, remember that God has always been faithful. God has a track record that you can look at. In Psalm 77:11-12 this writer is troubled and concerned. Is God still faithful? He feels that God has deserted him. But then he says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”
He goes on to remember God’s miraculous deliverance of his people from Egypt. And this encourages him. God has always been faithful! And the Psalm ends on a note of faith.
You can remind yourself of God’s faithfulness too. Recall -
- Scriptural stories of faith, perhaps of Abraham or David.
- Stories of God’s faithfulness in history or today. People’s testimonies that you know.
- How God has been faithful to you. How God has answered your prayers and come through for you in the past.
4. Keep your focus on God, not your obstacles. Stay focused on God’s truth to you, and God’s faithfulness. Otherwise you will be overwhelmed by the obstacles in your way. It is these that feed our fear and doubt. So what you choose to focus on makes a difference.
Remember Peter on the water? He started out well. He walked on the water to Jesus! But when he took his eyes off of Jesus, and started to focus on the circumstances – the wind – and he became afraid, he doubted and he sank – Matthew 14:30.
Remember Abraham? He was promised a child. But he and his wife were way old! But he stayed focused on God, not the difficulties of how in the world the promise would be fulfilled. And he received the promise. Romans 4:19 says, “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.”
5. Remember faith is a choice, not a feeling. Feelings you can’t always control. But you can control your choices. So stay focused on what you can control. Even if you feel fear (you’re all alone, it’s gonna fail) make right choices. Your feelings will come into alignment with God’s truth eventually.
Let the reality of God’s truth determine what you choose, not your feelings about the apparent reality of your circumstances.
6. Be around others who will encourage your faith. Especially if you are weak in your faith and starting to waver. Fellow Christians can help build up your faith, encouraging you and praying for you.
The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” – Hebrews 10:23-24.
Let me end with a word of -
These six ways can help you overcome your fear and doubt. I encourage you to put this into practice in your lives. I want us all, as individuals and as a congregation to receive all that God has for us. And faith is the path to this.