For the last several months, I've had the privilege and challenge of being on the teaching team for a second grade Sunday School class.
Over the course of the last 15 years, I've had the chance to be in a lot of rooms, lead a lot of discussions and preach a lot of sermons. This is one of the most intimidating. But it's also one of the most encouraging.
It's encouraging, not only because of what we get to see happen in these children, but because of what I hear myself saying every single week. We talk to the kids about the promises of God and about how we can trust Him to make good on what He says.
We can take God at His Word because He always keeps His promises. True enough, some of these promises are easier to accept than others, both for the children and for the teachers. But regardless of our opinions or feelings in the moment, they're all true.
Every last one of them.
3 Things That Hurt Our Faith
Believe in God's promises. Sounds simple, right? But it's not. Maybe even more so for adults than children.
There are certain things that can erode our confidence in either God's ability or His willingness to keep His promises. What are those things?
The easy answer is circumstances. We encounter times of difficulty and trial, and we think that those circumstances chip away at our resolve to believe. While that might be true, there are other things, too, that erode our confidence. But worst of all, they also can hurt our faith, if they go unchecked.
1. A lack of scripture grounding – One of the most basic reasons our confidence in God's promises erodes is that we simply don't know them, or at least we don't know them as we should.
If we believe that "God helps those who help themselves" is a promise of God, then we're wrong. God didn't say that, but Benjamin Franklin might have. That, of course, is an obvious example, but there are other ways in which we display our lack of scriptural grounding. We might still believe that we're on an exchange basis with God—that He's going to reward us in this life with ease and prosperity when we give Him our acts of righteousness. Though less obvious, this, too, is an example of our lack of scriptural grounding.
In order to believe the promises of God, we must first know the promises of God. And we must know them as they are, not as we would wish them to be.
2. Selfish ambition – Ambition can be a very good thing. We are to be ambitious in the things of God, "reaching forward to what is ahead" (Philippians 3:13). But ambition can also be very selfish. That's exactly what Paul warns against in Philippians 2:3-4. Ambition is one of those things that can erode our confidence in God's promises and hurt our faith. It happened to Moses.
You might remember that Moses had the right idea. He wanted the freedom of his people, the Israelites, from their bondage in Egypt. He was so passionate about it, in fact, that he killed an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand (Exodus 2:12). Right idea—wrong timing. Instead of trusting that God would deliver His people, using Moses as God's instrument, in the right time, Moses took matters into his own hands. And we do the same thing, all the time.
Discontent to trust and wait, we want to make "it" happen on our own. So we move, we act, we pursue—and though we might have the right idea and even some good intentions, we find all those efforts going nowhere. Our ambition has led us down the road of supplanting the work of God for our own. As a result, we might well find ourselves like Moses, hiding in a desert of doubt about whether or not God is actually true to His word.
3. Short-term memory – The Psalms were the songbook of the children of Israel. It was the tool of their worship, but it was also one of their tools for theological education. Through these songs, God's people were reminded again and again of who God was for their ancestors and who He still was for them.
There is a near constant refrain through these songs—it's the call to remember.
- Remember the Lord.
- Remember the Red Sea.
- Remember the great acts, signs and wonders.
- Remember the past and be encouraged in the present.
Sometimes our confidence in God's promises wanes because we have incredibly short memories.
We fail to look back with gratitude on what God has done in the past—the way He has delivered us, provided for us, and showed Himself to be good and wise through all the particular twists and turns of our various stories. And of course, we forget to look back to the cross—the ultimate and lasting demonstration of God's love, wisdom and trustworthiness.
It was there, once and for all, that He let us know that He has and will keep His Word to us.
Have You Taken Matters Into Your Own Hands?
If you find today that your confidence in God's promises is being chipped away, then get in the Word.
Read His promises. Check your ambition.
Have you taken matters into your own hands? Then spend a little time thinking about who God has been for you in the past, so that you can remind yourself of who He is ... even now.
Michael Kelley lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife and three children. He serves as the Director of Groups Ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources. As a communicator, Michael speaks across the country at churches, conferences, and retreats, and is the author of Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God; Transformational Discipleship; and Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life.
Article courtesy of HomeLife magazine, used with permission from LifeWay.com
For the original article, visit lifeway.com.
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