Lingering Doubt (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 21, 2016)

You have probably heard of “The Great Commission” at some point or another. It’s a New Testament story where Jesus met with his disciples after his resurrection and sent them out into the world to teach and disciple the masses. The story usually picks up in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations …”

 

However, if we take a couple of steps back and start reading in verse 16, after the disciples learned of Jesus’ resurrection, we see something very interesting: “Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!”

 

What? You mean after all this time – three or so years in the daily company of Jesus – and they still doubted the truth of what they saw?

 

As silly as that sounds to me (since we have the benefit of the Bible at our fingertips, rather than living the story of Jesus as it’s unfolding), it also gives me comfort that even those closest to Messiah were still sometimes clueless. I’ve gone through periods of time (some more recent than I care to admit) where I have questioned God’s direction for my life, doubted certain instructions that I used to feel totally confident about, and generally felt like a sub-standard disciple. Well, the good news is that we’re in excellent company! Ha!

 

Not all doubting is bad. Doubt means that you’re still seeking answers, and that’s a good thing. Even under the excellent teaching of a well-respected pastor, you should still seek out the answers in the Bible for yourself, reading and memorizing scriptures to tuck away in your heart. Doubt means that you are still growing and learning, and we should never stop doing either of those things. So, the next time you find yourself in a faith/doubt struggle, use it as fuel to fire you up, instead of letting it bog you down.

Jesus Loves Me, This I [Still] Know (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 22, 2015)

Sing along with me: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so …” It’s unfortunate how we sometimes lose sight of the simple truths of God’s word as we become adults. Kids take things at face value, as you can see from the song. The Bible says that Jesus loves us, so he does. It’s as simple as that. Right?

Well then, what happens as we get older to make us question God’s love for us? How do we go from knowing that we know that we know Jesus loves us to doubting our worth in his sight?

The next verse goes: “… little ones to him belong; they are weak but he is strong …” Kids know they are weak, but it doesn’t keep them from dreaming of becoming super-strong when they grow up. One of my nephew-sons is anxious for the day when he can start working out on weights with the big kids so that he can build 17” biceps like his Daddy had. There is absolutely no doubt in his mind that he will grow up to become strong and buff!

Perhaps the problem arises when we grow up and realize that we’re still weak – perhaps not physically anymore, but spiritually, emotionally, relationally, etc. We’re taught from an early age to be strong and independent, so the idea of relying on someone else and entrusting our lives to someone else (even though that someone is God Almighty) requires being weak and letting him be strong for us. That’s a counterintuitive concept in a lot of ways.

The nursery rhyme wraps up with this declaration: “… yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Oh, yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.” The same God who you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt loved you at age 5 still loves you at 25, 45, 65, 85, and into eternity. As Paul recorded in Romans 8:38-39, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Are you convinced of that truth, like Paul was? Don’t ever doubt God’s unconditional love for you. The Bible not only tells us how much Jesus loves us, but he demonstrated it himself on the cross.