By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:1-2, Matthew 11: 1-7
Sunday 8th November 2015
From the series, we began last week 'The Power of Belief', we agreed from the message titled 'Accessing Your Inheritance', that each of us has an inheritance in God, which He prepared beforehand for us – we are already blessed, prosperous and victorious. Our faith must however be exercised in order access all these blessings that God's grace has made available to us.
We understood that there is a gap between the finished work of Christ and our experience of these concluded blessings which can be bridged by our belief. In other words, our belief is the bridge that connects grace from the realm of the unseen to our natural realm. Our case study, Abraham demonstrated faith and inherited God's promises by changing what he was focusing on, looking away from his circumstances and switching his attention to God's strength. In the same way, God wants us to consistently focus on His promises. In the scriptures are various promises that we can focus on and begin to experience in our lives. In conclusion, we examined Jesus' admonition in the New Testament on the Lord's Supper. This new covenant should be kept in remembrance of what Christ has accomplished on the cross – our deliverance, wholeness and wellness has already been secured.
Today, we continue this series with this message titled 'Overcoming Doubt'. Here is the foundation scriptures in Matthew 11:1-6: 'Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" 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."'
Doubt is a messenger from Satan to hinder believers from receiving what God's grace has made available to us. It is the doorway to unbelief. Doubt has become a part of our life's experiences. Sometimes, we doubt our future, calling it worry; we doubt people, suspicious of them. We doubt ourselves, which we often refer to as inferiority complex. If we can eliminate doubt from our hearts, we would have successfully shut the door against unbelief. This is the warfare and challenge that we all face, as Satan is working hard to limit our experience of what God's grace has accomplished for us. Hence, every trial we face in life is usually a fertile platform which the devil often utilizes to conjure doubt within us. This was the same strategy the enemy used in the Garden of Eden, leading to the fall of Man. Here is Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-5: 'And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." The devil took advantage of this lapse in judgement by Adam and Eve, causing them to doubt what God had already commanded.
John the Baptist, from our foundation scriptures in Matthew 11 was imprisoned because he confronted Herod the King, for marrying his sister-in-law (See Mark 6:17-18). After spending weeks and months in prison, he became disillusioned and sent two of his disciples to Jesus, as we've read from the foundation scriptures today, to find out if Jesus was truly the Messiah. Yet John already had a clear revelation of this as revealed in John 1. Here are some verses from this scripture in John 1:19-34: 'Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the Lord,"' as the prophet Isaiah said." John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."
From these verses above, we can conclude that John had an unequivocal understanding of who Jesus was, but his conviction was shaken by the crisis he was going through. The prison experience challenged the truth he once held to, tenaciously. This same strategy is being used by the devil to challenge and shake the foundations of our convictions. John's circumstances beclouded what he knew; his sense of judgement was distorted by the unfavorable conditions he was going through. Sadly most of us face the same trials, when the pressures of life causes us to doubt; pressures in marriage, finances and health challenge our conviction; the cloud of darkness is so dense that it causes us to doubt the promises of God. Jesus response to John's disciples was simple, but profound. 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. Likewise, we ought to adhere to what we've understood about God in our difficult times. Jesus concluded by saying 'And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."'
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 reads: 'For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal'. Our trials and circumstances, in God's economy are merely light afflictions, and are temporal in relation to what God has promised us. It is important that we see with our eyes of faith the promises which God has prepared for us, coming our way in the nearest future.
Here are five things to do to overcome doubt:
1. Lift up the shield of faith: Ephesians 6:16 reads: 'above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one'. Our shield of faith is the word of God, to withstand and stop the flaming arrows of the devil.
2. Do not be afraid: Doubts can be traced to fear. Here is a scripture that gives us an insight into this: And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Jesus highlighted Peter's doubt in this scripture that led to his fear. Hence, we need not doubt what we already know from God's word, as this could worsen, translating to fear. God is never late and never delayed – Hold on to His words.
3. Do not entertain the enemy's suggestion: We must shun every attempt of the enemy to engage in conversation with our minds. We cannot afford to allow the devil to direct us – regardless of whatever circumstances we may be facing. Hearkening to the devil only leads to misdirection and trouble. Instead, focus on, read and listen to the word of God. Adam and Eve and their fall are a classic example of what could happen when we attempt to engage the enemy in conversation.
4. Align your thought with the word of God: Whenever your thinking does not line up with the word of God, doubt is imminent. James 1:5-8 reads: 'If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways'. Even when things are tough, and life seems unsettled and uncertain, God desires that we align our thoughts to His word. Mary learnt this truth, when she said 'Let it be unto me, according to your word'.
5. Anchor your soul to the word of God: Hebrews 6:13-20 gives us an insight into this truth, by an illustration from Abraham's encounter with God in Genesis 22:17. 'For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'. God swore by himself in confirming an oath to Abraham, because there was no one greater than Himself. Based on this truth, we can anchor our souls to God's unfailing promise regarding our lives. An anchor is a device, normally made of metal, used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. Conversely, when we are anchored to God's promise, we can be rest assured that we would be held up by His word against the turmoil of life.
Can I encourage you to hold on to God's word, concerning you? Stay away from the devil's persuasive lies and remain secure in God and His word and stand upright against the billows of life that often attempts to pull us away from Heaven's promises.
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