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Friday, February 24, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 3 ~ Faith & Doubt

Day 3 ~ Faith and Doubt

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Yesterday we heard James teach us that trials are inevitable in the life of the Christian. These trials are used by God to strengthen our faith. But, let's be honest, it is hard to trust God in the midst of trials. When we are suffering and struggling the reality is that we begin to question God and doubt His love for us. We wonder where He is and if He really is working through this trial with us.

In this way we are much like the apostle Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the water. If you don't know the story, you can read it in Matthew 14:25-33. In the midst of a storm, Jesus is walking on the water. This terrifies the disciples. But, Jesus speaks words of comfort to them saying, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." This calms them all down. But not Peter. He is not convinced. He wants proof and demands as much from Jesus. So, Jesus tells him to get out of the boat and walk to Him on the water. Peter looks to Jesus and starts walking! But then, he takes his eyes off of Jesus and focuses on the storm and the waves at which point he starts sinking. In his doubt, Peter finds himself being "blown and tossed by the wind." He is drowning in his doubt.

The danger of being in a trial is not so much the trial itself, but where our focus is directed in the midst of the trial. We are either listening to the wind and the waves or we are listening to the words of Jesus, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Through it all, notice where Jesus is in the midst of Peter's doubt: standing above Peter, picking him up, and putting him back in the boat. Jesus doesn't leave us in our trials. The trials are real, the wind and the waves are strong. But Jesus walks on water and lifts us out of our doubt.

Confession: Lord God, I admit to you now that I do not fully trust you as I should. Like Peter, I find myself doubting your love, mercy, and presence. Amidst my trials I focus more on the storm than your Son. In your mercy, pull me out of the water, forgive my sins, and place me in the boat of your security. AMEN!

Challenge: Find someone you know who is facing a trial or struggle right now. Pray with them or for them as a reminder to them that the Lord is with them. Next week, follow up on the prayer you prayed.

Pastor Bob

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