Sunday, 24 June 2018

Doubt Sermon by Norma Fivaz

Readings:   Job 38: 1-11                                                        
                   Ps 63
                   Mark 4: 35 – 41  Message & NIV translation

Introduciton:  The day when    “ The wind ran out of breath.....”
Eugene Peterson captures the moment in the most beautiful prose. Can you feel the wind?  Breaking, crushing, destroying......until it eventually settles down.

Here in Hogsback, we know those storms, and we all run to unplug the modems before all our electronic equipment gets destroyed.

And eventually, even the wind “runs out of breath...”   and it all gets calm once again.

Focus:  Life's  storms and the effect on us.....possible doubt

We have all gone through stormy patches in our lives, times that we had felt overwhelmed, tired.

There is one thing certain in this life:  there WILL be storms.

Mark 4    A very familiar story. All the Children's Bible illustrations are so vivid, of this little boat   surrounded by waves that want to crash it to pieces any minute. Both Rembrandt  van Rijn and Van Gogh tried their hands on depicting these moments  on canvas., and it you look at their paintings, you notice these hardy fisherman, with eyes wide and anxious.....expressions of despair, hopelesness....

V35 a:   “That day ….”   NIV
It had been a normal, busy day in the life of Jesus …
-      He had just selected His 12 disciples and started His ministry
-      teaching along the side of the lake of Galilee, explaining His parables in easy, understandable language
-      answering questions that arose from His teachings
-      healing Peter's mother-in-law ….and many others
-      healing the paralyzed man, which had to be lowered through the roof, as the crowd that surrounded Jesus, filled to house and all the entrances to the home
-      healing the man with the shriveled hand

An ordinary day in the life of Jesus...busy with what His Father sent Him to do....

V 35 b:  “when evening came..”  NIV  (Msg says “late” )   
There are times when it gets dark around us. The sun had set, and the beauty of the sun-set had been  swallowed by the dimmed's task is almost over..

And yet, there is still a beauty in the dark of evening....with bright stars against the pitch black velvet sky, sparkling....

-      tranquil
-      Silence around the boat
-      Idyllic

And then there is a change in the mood of the evening.....

v37 “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat” NIV
  Msg: “ ahuge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat....threatening to sink it”

Can you sense the anxiety that these skilled men of the sea, must have experienced?
-      hopelessness
-      the feeling of loosing the battle

v 38 :   Where is Jesus under these circumstances?
“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion”

-      He is IN the boat
-      right there, within reach
-      unafraid of what the weather conditions are doing to them

Question:   What was required of these disciples, in order to save them?

Answer:  to Call on Him
-      a simple instruction
-      humbling....because we cannot get it right in our own strength, even if we are experienced in these kind of situations
-      we need to take the step
-      reach out to God

v 39   Jesus' response?

            1.      “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves:  Quiet! Be still!”

                      He calmed the storm
                      He responded to their requests

           2.   v40  “ Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

 This comes as a rebuke to the disciples:    Where is your faith?   You of little faith.....

Let's apply this scene to our own situation:
What are the reasons that we........
-      waver when life gets tough
-      hesitate to hand it ALL to God
-      still want to carry the responsibilities of being in control?

We all wrestle with this to some degree, at some stage on our lives. This thing called    DOUBT.

 Myths about doubt  (1)
1.     Many people think doubt is the opposite of faith. It is not!     Faith vs unbelief

And UNBELIEF means:     refusal to believe
                                            a deliberate decision to deny God in our lives

Doubt may include:   -     questions about certain facets of faith
-      an ambivalence or in-decisiveness over one issue.
You may be a full-fledged Christian, without having EVERY single matter of faith 100% settled or neatly defined.

2.     Many people think doubt is unforgivable.  It is not! I want to point you to John the Baptist, the man who baptised Jesus. The man who said of Jesus....” Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. He saw the heavens open, and heard the voice of God, saying : “ This is My Son with whom I am pleased”

            This is the man who pointed at Jesus Christ, and said: “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God”.

He had incredible faith.

But what happens.....he gets arrested, thrown into jail, and doubt starts troubling him.....he gets uncertain about what he had believed before.  “Is Jesus really who He claims to be? Or should we be looking for someone else”.  So he sends two of his friends to go and check out with Jesus, and ask Him point blank the question.

What is Jesus' reaction? He doesn't blame John. He doesn't disqualify him. No criticism.

Luke 7:22:  “And Jesus answered and said to them:  “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard. The blind receive sight. The lame walk. The lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised up. And the poor have the gospel preached to them”

Paraphrased:   Go back and tell John about these evidences you have seen with your own eyes  that authenticate My claim to being the one and only Son of God. That will renew John's confidence and will bolster back up his faith.

How does this effect Jesus' opinion of John? Does He think John is worthless? No good for the kingdom of God any more?

NO:   after this episode, Jesus pays John the highest compliment.....”I say to you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John”.

God wants dialogue with us as His children. That's not to say doubt is praiseworthy. That is NOT what the Bible teaches.

What it says to me:    In our relationship with Him, God wants honesty, openness, intimacy to the degree that we have the confidence to discuss and reason and debate with our Father. Tell Him what concerns us. Tell Him when we feel lonely, abandoned, fearful......(add whatever feelings you may harbour)

3.     Many people think doubt is unhealthy.  On the contrary:  it can produce some positive changes in our spiritual life, if we take steps to resolve it.

If we take steps against doubt, it is like an antibody which our spiritual life boost our spiritual  immune system. We will have the defence mechanism to address future situations which may derail our faith life.

                                                                                    (1)    Sermon on Doubt
How does doubt affect us?

-      it affects our mind
-      our emotions
-      our will / decision making

How do we address doubt?
1. Find the root of your doubt......We need to make a diagnosis.
-      too little time spent in God's presence?
-      Too controlling of our circumstances
-      pride?
-      Our intellect that forms a barrier.....we what to reason everything out in a scientific way

2.     Addressing doubt …..the treatment

ASK....                         -    Turn to God
-      turn to a God-fearing friend, who can walk the way with you
-      turn to a support group / Bible study group who you can trust

READ  God 's Word

TALK to God

GO to a church and be part of a Christian group / fellow believers

Doubt is such a powerful instrument that the devil uses, to try and separate us from our Heavenly Father. He wants to destroy our close relationship with God.

Don't allow the devil to steal what does not belong to him.

God is powerful, loving and willing to hold you in His hand....may He protect you and keep you safe!

Heavenly Father, we so often forget that You are with us in the storms of life....right there, in the boat, lying on a cushion.....waiting for us to call on You.
How foolish of work ourselves into a frenzy, in stead of calling on You first, allowing You to be in control.....of the wind, the storms and our lives.
We want to asked for forgiveness, for the times that we doubted You; doubted Your ability to take control of the situations. Forgiveness for our doubt.....

Thank you that you do not                  – criticise us
-      disqualify us
-      write us off   …........... because of this weakness.
We come in a new way, this morning, reaching out to You, putting our hand into Your hand, and letting go of our anxieties.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your graciousness, to give us another chance. Help each one of us to leave here, knowing that we have a Father, who cares and  who wants to steer our lives.

Thank you for Your Word, and examples of humans who have stumbled before us. Let us learn from them and their examples.
We want to honor and praise You!
We want to thank you, for being a loving Father,
                                           an understanding Father
 one who cares, and wants us to live lives, believing and knowing that You are in control.

Thank you, that we can close this prayer in Your Holy name.

No comments:

Post a Comment