My Life in Words
Check in regularly for encouragement, advice, suggestions or just a good laugh.
In my last message, I had talked about doubt. As part of that message, I mentioned some questions that Dagney and I have about the future. Particularly the near future... What is next for our lives? Where will find ourselves in the coming months with our plans to move? What does life look like vocationally going forward? What does ministry look like? As I am sure it is for many people, waiting on the answers to these questions can be a bit difficult at times. I think some of what makes waiting more difficult is the times that we live in. People these days are into instant gratification... Want to watch a movie? No need to go to drive to a video store, hope the movie is in stock, rent it, bring it back home, etc, etc... Want to see what happens next on your favorite TV show? No need to wait til next week to see the next episode. These days, we simply click a button and stream it right now, when we want it. Poof, there it is. And how impatient we can get if it takes a few extra seconds for the internet speed to catch up and for the show to start. Want to buy something that may have taken a while to get in the past? Not anymore... Now we get free next day shipping, if not same day if you live in the right market. “Waiting” is something that people are less inclined to be interested in doing anymore. But there are blessings in waiting on God. In Isaiah 40:31 the Bible says:
but they who wait for 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.
The Israelites who first received this promise were worn out from their hardship. They had lived in exile in Babylon for several decades. Their perspective was darkened by despairing thoughts. This was an awesome promise from God, for these people and for us today. Wait for the Lord and He will renew our strength. This is an incredible blessing.
Lamentations 3:25-26 says:
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for us to wait on God for answers to questions we have for our lives or for answers to situations that we are waiting on.
Psalm 37:4–5 says:
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
Does that mean, if we go to church each week, God will give us a new car or a mansion to live in? No. The idea behind this verse and others like it is that, when we truly rejoice or “delight” in the eternal things of God, our desires will begin to parallel His and we will never go unfulfilled. In our patience and waiting on God delightfully and patiently, He will bless us with what He knows is best for our lives. God’s plans are the best plans for all of us. God’s ways are the best ways...
Isaiah 64:4 says:
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for Him.
The happiness of God’s people should be wrapped up in what God has designed for them, and is preparing for them, and preparing them for. What He has done and will do.
Some of the greatest people in the Bible, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David all had to wait for many years for God’s promises. Everything that happened while they waited was used to prepare them, inwardly as well as outwardly. Then, when they reached their promise, they were blessed beyond measure.
We should do the same, despite the fast paced, get everything now world we live in. If we are patient while we wait for God’s answers to our questions, we will be blessed for our faithfulness in our Father who knows what is best for us.
At different times in our lives, we may find ourselves seeing things differently than usual, or even wondering what is going on more than usual. Given the year long global pandemic that we have all been experiencing, this has certainly been an interesting season in life. My family and I have experienced a tremendous amount of fun and good times together during this time. We have also experienced a bit of questioning. We have wondered... What is next for our lives? Where will find ourselves in the coming months with our plans to move? What does life look like vocationally going forward? What does ministry look like? Along the way, Dagney and I have come up with a few awesome ideas, of which a couple of them we are following through with fervently. With one of the ideas, we find ourselves running full steam ahead without really thinking there are any downsides or potential risks. With one of the other ideas, which I was working on yesterday, I suddenly found myself questions things... Wondering about the potential setbacks and reasons it may not work. Fortunately, right around this time when I started to voice some of these concerns, Dagney was right there to ask me “why am I staring at the waves?” Right away I understood her reference and what she was trying to tell me. We all know the story that takes place in Matthew 14:22-33. This is the story about Peter walking on the water towards Jesus. If you don’t know the story, you really need to read it... The point I am trying to make from the story is when Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus, starts to stare at the wind and the waves and begins to sink. After taking Peter’s hand and pulling him back up, Jesus said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Doubt, this is the word that I am talking about right now. For some people that are non-believers, it isn’t hard to understand why they may have doubts from time to time. But, for those of us that are believers, why do we sometimes find ourselves doubting? We have put our faith and trust into the hands of God who created us and yet we can still doubt from time to time? Why? I personally have doubts from time to time... I believe all Christians have doubts from time to time. After all, faith requires doubt in order to be faith. I think that maybe this is a topic that people don’t talk enough about because it is maybe considered faithless to have doubts. However, I believe this is not the case. Some people think doubt is unforgivable, but it isn’t. God doesn’t condemn people if they question him. Job and David both repeatedly questioned God, but He didn’t condemn them for it. There is the account of the boy that Jesus heals in Mark 9:14-27: And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?” Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. The key here is the fact that the father said to Jesus “IF there is anything you can do.” The father clearly “believed” that Jesus could help his boy. But, that he said “if” there is anything you can do, suggests there was doubt. That didn’t keep Jesus from healing the boy and Jesus certainly didn’t rebuke the father for having even an ounce of doubt.
When in prison John the Baptist sends messengers to Jesus to ask “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3) In John 1:29 John had said “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” In vs 34 he says “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that John knew that Jesus was the Messiah. However, he had been in prison for a long while at this point. Also, Jesus was being rejected by the leaders of Israel: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Sanhedrin. Given all of the surrounding circumstances, it is understandable that John the Baptist would have some doubts. What was Jesus response to all of this? We see the answer in Matthew 11:4-11. Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Once again, Jesus did not rebuke for this moment of doubt. Jesus loved John the Baptist and knew the trials that he was suffering at the moment.
We of course cannot talk about doubt without talking about Thomas. Many people have referred to him at times as “doubting Thomas.” But, was this amazing person deserving of this name? Thomas was actually a brave man. We see in the story told in Matthew 11:1-16 about the death of Lazarus, it says in vs 5-8, Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” It was Thomas who said in vs 16 “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” What an incredibly brave response from Thomas. We also know that Thomas was incredibly devoted to Jesus and would follow him anywhere. However, he did ask questions from time to time so he could fully understand what Jesus was saying. In John 14:1-6 we see where it says: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. He asked this question because he did believe everything Jesus told him to be true. John 20:24-25 is where the famous nickname “doubting Thomas” comes from. It says: Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” What we need to understand is the heart of what was going on at the moment. Thomas was broken hearted. It wasn’t for lack of faith that he couldn’t believe. He wanted to believe. But, because of the state of his heart at the moment, he simply couldn’t believe given all that had recently transpired and how it broke his heart to have witnessed the death of Jesus. History has given him the name doubting Thomas as we look down upon him for this. But, Jesus did not look down on him. We see in John 20:26-28 Jesus lovingly speaks with Thomas: And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” In this case, Thomas’ initial doubt actually led to a deeper unshakable faith. This can happen with us as well if we have doubt in a certain situation, only to see God’s hand at work when everything works out the way we hope and pray for it to.
Doubt in and of itself is not sinful. It can be dangerous by potentially leading us to making bad decisions. Doubt can cause issues in other ways as well. What it really comes down to is us making decisions based on our faith and not our doubts. Jesus said “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Of course people will have doubts from time to time. Doubts about health of a loved one, finances, their future plans, etc. It can be about anything. Even believers will have these doubts occasionally. But, it is our faith that keeps us on the right path. This all reminds me of a story we have likely all heard in some way shape or form over the years. It has been told many ways... There was a small farming community that had been experiencing a terrible drought. The crops were dying in the fields and everyone was very worried because this is how they made their living. The pastor of the local church called a special prayer service for all the people of the town to gather in front of the church and spend some time agreeing in faith that God would send some rain. Yet, only one man came with an umbrella in his hands. Everyone there must have had some degree of faith that God would bring the rain if they prayed for it. But, all of them must have had some degree of doubt as well. Only one man’s faith was strong enough in this case to trust God enough that it helped him not have any doubt in his mind that the rain would come.
Imagine you are at your own funeral and four people got up to speak about you: a
relative, a fellow church member, a business associate and someone from your
neighborhood. What would each of them say about your life? Thinking about this
may give you some perspective on your life.
Now think about what Jesus would say about your Christian life to this point.
What would He say about your faith? What about your accomplishments for His
Kingdom? Would He say that you have grown closer to Him every day?
Luke 19:11-27 says: 11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable,
because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom
of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a
far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his
servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I
come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do
not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the
kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called
to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first
came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he
said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very
little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying,
‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be
over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I
kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a
severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22
He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You
knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I
did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming
I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take
the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said
to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will
be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27
But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring
them here and slaughter them before me.’”
Jesus tells a story here about three servants to show us that God expects us to be
faithful with what we have been given. Many fears might keep us from using the
gifts God has given us though. Fear of failure, fear of ridicule, etc. It is when we
use our gifts that we grow. Jesus wanted to let His hearers know what they were
supposed to be doing in His absence. They were not supposed to sit around
waiting for Him to return. Rather, they were to be actively doing God’s work for
Him with what He entrusted to them. The day will certainly come when Jesus will
return. At that time, each servant must give an account for what he has done.
Only three of the ten servants are mentioned in this parable. These three fall into
two categories... Two who have made various amounts with the king’s money and
one who has not done anything with it. Here we are looking at the two who
traded and invested the money in such a way that they multiplied it. The first
turned the one mina into ten more. We are not to take this in a literal way, as
though he has led ten people to Christ. But, the meaning is that he has taken
what the master entrusted to him and used it well, multiplying it many times over
while awaiting His return.
The master commends him saying “Well done, good servant! Because you have
been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.” We should
not take this literally, that he will be over ten cities when this world passes. The
main idea is that the servant’s responsible use of the master’s mina will be
rewarded in the future kingdom. The servant has shown himself faithful in a little
thing. So, he will be faithful in much and so much is now given to him.
The master does not praise the second slave quite the same, but he rewards him
proportionately to his success. His mina has earned five more, so he is put in
charge of five cities. We do need to keep in mind that perhaps the difference in
results was due to factors beyond his control.
The first two slaves had made a profit with the master’s mina, but the third slave
had simply wrapped it in a handkerchief and he returns it to the master. He offers
an excuse that he feared the master. He accuses him of being a man who takes up
what he did not lay down and reaps where he had not sown. The master
chastised the slave for not at least putting the money in the bank, so that it would
have earned interest. Then he judges the slave by his own words. He takes the
single mina from him and gives it to the man who has earned ten more. To those
listening, he explains “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. For the one who
has been unfaithful to his master all will be stripped away.
The question is, does this unfaithful servant represent a true believer who loses
some unspecified reward but, who is saved, as described in 1 Corinthians 3:15 "If
anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved,
but only as through fire." Or, is he a person who professes to know God, but by
his deeds he denies Him as described in Titus 1:16 "They profess to know God, but
they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good
It seems to me that this third servant does not know the king. He wrongly thinks
of him as a harsh and “severe man” man. But in reality, he is very generous to
those that are faithful to Him. The third servant represents people who know the
God in that they are associated with His community and have some responsibility
in it. But their attitude shows that they do not see God as gracious and that they
have not really trusted in Him... These people are left with nothing at the
judgment. They will be cast out, because they never really trusted or knew God”
These harsh thoughts of God can be common for people who have not actually
put their faith in God. First, they misrepresent Him. Then try to excuse themselves
for not loving and serving Him”
Exodus 4:10-12 says: 10 But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not
eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am
slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made
man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the
LORD? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you
shall speak.” Ezekial 2:1-7 says: And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your
feet, and I will speak with you.” 2 And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me
and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3 And he said to me, “Son
of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled
against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day.
4 The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you
shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to
hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been
among them. 6 And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their
words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not
afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious
house. 7 And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to
hear, for they are a rebellious house.
Having read all of this, here are some final thoughts for you to consider...
What gifts has God given you that you can use for him?
What areas of your life have you been holding back? What can you do to invest
some efforts in these areas to grow and serve God better?
If you spent the next ten years of your life making these changes and using the
gifts God has given you, what would those same four people say about you? What
would Jesus say about you?