We were looking at areas of weakness that God can turn into strengths in our lives. We’ve seen that insecurities, comparisons, apathy and today, I want to examine one character flaw that that really gets a bad rap in Christian circles… Doubt.

Doubt is a common experience for all of us, but in church circles it is often equated with lack of faith, unbelief and even the pardonable sin. We are people of faith, and so we do not admit to doubting, but instead shovel it under the carpet and pretend we have faith. But while I must make I clear that doubt isn’t really ever good or desirable, genuine doubt is not always a bad thing if it leads to a positive, strong and dynamic faith.

Many Bible characters struggled with doubt, and while it is never commended by God, God also was not usually offended by doubt. Job doubted God in his suffering, Abraham the father of faith doubted God, and asked for further assurance. Gideon has his fleeces, John the Baptist needed assurance that Jesus was the Christ, and Paul struggled with unanswered prayer. But the pin up boy for doubt is without doubt, Thomas.

 

FAITHFUL? I DOUBT IT

 

John 20:24-29 (ESV Strong's)

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

Jesus could have been angry with Thomas, but He was compassionate and patient, because he knew Thomas was genuinely grappling with the truth, and his doubt was genuine.  Thomas, like the other disciples, had seen Jesus crucified, seen Him buried and so was down and discouraged. He thought is was all over, that the dream was dead, that the future lay in ruins. The others are telling him that Jesus has resurrected, and he wanted to believe, but he is full of doubts.

 

The Greek word believe here is PISTEUO, which is not just mental assent of thinking something is true, but it means committing to or putting your trust in something. It was not a mental exercise but a whole hearted commitment!

 

DOUBTS VERSES UNBELIEF

 

While similar, they are actually different in the spirit that is behind them. Doubt is often an intellectual problem: We want to believe, but our faith is overwhelmed by problems and questions. Unbelief is a moral problem; we simply will not believe. We dictate a challenge to God to prove Himself and meet the criteria we set for Him.

 

Doubt says, “I cannot believe! There are too many problems!” Unbelief says, “I will not believe unless you give me the evidence I ask for!” In fact, in the Greek text, there is a double negative: “I positively will not believe!”

 

THREE KINDS OF DOUBT

 

There are three primary types of religious doubt: factual, emotional, and volitional. It is helpful to diagnose which doubt you are facing, because some doubts are easier to allay than others.

 

1.      FACTUAL DOUBT

 

Factual doubt involves honest questions about the grounds for one’s belief. It is the doubt that what you believe is built on solid ground. Once the facts are confirmed, your doubt goes away. Christian apologists such as Lee Strobel, Ken Ham, Josh McDowell and others present the case for Christ and Christianity. There is more evidence to support the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ than any other person of history before Napoleon.

 

John 20:31 (ESV Strong's)

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

Factual doubt is easily solved… gets the facts, get rid of the doubt.

 

2.      EMOTIONAL DOUBT

 

The most common doubt is Emotional doubt, which stems from passions and moods, and is intensified by other struggles in your life, such as loss, depression, hurt, disappointment, anger or fear. There are many examples…

 

Numbers 20:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”

 

Moses was angry and frustrated, and that fed into his doubt and cost him dearly! Emotional doubts are what we mostly experience, and they are solved when we replace destructive emotions with godly ones. Recognising that your doubts are an expression of past or current hurts or experiences, and they can give you the right perspective to grow real faith.

 

3.      VOLITIONAL DOUBT

 

Volitional doubt is the most dangerous because behind this doubt is your will. It mainly relates to issues like your motivation to follow God and forsaking sin. This is often the end stage of doubt, when unsolved doubts lead to anger and resentment towards God, blaming God for your failures and eventually forsaking following Him. It is often fuelled by a desire to pursue sin.

 

I had a friend once in church. He seemed a solid, godly guy. I went away on Uni break, and met him when I came back, and when I asked how church was going, he said he didn’t know, because he was having a holiday from God. I told him you can’t holiday from God. In the space of a few weeks, he had left church, left Jesus, picked up a girl, moved in with her and that was that. He didn’t want to change, he didn’t want to deal with his unbelief, he wanted to sin and hence he fell away.

 

This kind of doubt issues ultimatums to God, and has often already made its mind up! The Pharisees opposing Jesus had this kind of doubt when they accused Jesus…

 

Luke 11:15-16 (ESV Strong's)

But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.

 

While Jesus was compassionate and patient with Thomas, He was much harsher with this kind of doubt. This doubt is centred in self, and because it has its mind made up already, it is disastrous.

 

GOOD DOUBT AND BAD DOUBT

 

Ok, no doubt I really goo, but in a sense doubt can be good or bad, and it comes down to the motivation behind it. The doubt Thomas showed, while not really good, was a better doubt, a kind of open question to the Lord, seeking God to neutralise his doubts and replace them with faith. He was down and discouraged, he had withdrawn from the others which is often the case when we struggle with doubts, so he wasn’t present when Jesus appeared the first time. But his doubt was genuine, not destructive. Let’s look first at bad doubt…

 

1.      BAD DOUBT

 

Bad doubt is that which says “I refuse to believe You God unless You jump through these hoops.”  The motivation behind it is that I won’t believe, and it is demanding of a sign.

 

This is quite prevalent at the moment in Christianity. Our society is filled with people demanding signs from God.  Things like gold flakes falling from the sky, Angel feathers, jewels, coins sticking to walls and so on. We are demanding that the God of the universe, the creator who spoke and worlds sprang into being, satisfy our petty whims like a performing dog. And I’ve never met anyone who has cashed in those gold flakes or jewels for real money!  But Jesus said,

 

Matthew 12:39 (ESV Strong's)

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign,

 

Mark 8:11-12 (ESV Strong's)

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

 

Listen, setting your own arbitrary tests for God is not faith, no matter what you tell yourself. Telling God, unless you do this, heal me, give me what I want or show me what I want to see I won’t believe is not faith, it is sin!

 

I too seek signs from the Lord at Ignite. But the signs I seek are people coming to Christ, lives set free, marriages restored, bodies healed. Those are the signs I seek, not cheap party tricks. Bad doubt makes demands and dictates terms! I believe that Jesus is Lord and God is still God, and I dare not tell Him how He can reveal His will and His presence to me!

 

2.      GOOD DOUBT

 

Look, Faith is better than doubt for sure, but good or at least better doubt can lead to world changing faith! Good doubt is genuine, and comes from the position of wanting to believe, not demanding terms.  The father of a boy with an unclean spirit came to Jesus for healing, but he struggled with doubt.

 

Mark 9:24 (ESV Strong's)

“I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

He asked a question of God, but is was a genuine question, with the motivation being to believe. He wasn’t demanding a sign, he wasn’t dictating terms, he was in desperate need and was striving for belief, reaching out for faith. His doubt was honest, and Jesus loved his honest doubt. Good doubt leads you to build your faith, not destroy it.

 

And my experience is that a genuine questioning of God does not produce a harsh rebuke or fire raining down from heaven, it usually sees God respond with love and compassion, just and Jesus did with Thomas. You see, God loves you, and He is not afraid of your questions or doubts. He is for you, even as you struggle with doubt and feel faithless…

 

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (ESV Strong's)

The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

 

God’s is for you not against you, so if your heart is right and your desire is to grow in your faith, He will deal with your genuine doubts and build your faith if you obey Him and allow Him to.  Like the father of the demonised boy, like doubting Thomas, like so many heroes of the Bible, God sees your heart and if the doubt is genuine and striving for faith, He responds to honest, open questions.

 

ARE FLEECES WRONG?

 

Gideon is a good example of “good doubt” (not that it is really good, because doubt is still lack of faith). He struggled to believe that God had called him to save his people, and so he famously laid out fleeces to try and prove God to himself. But is it wrong to lay out fleeces? Some say yes because it’s a lack of faith, and this is true, but God clearly makes provision for dealing with this genuine doubt.

 

Judges 6:36-38 (ESV Strong's)

Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water.

 

Laying out a fleece is not an act of faith. Faithful, mature believers don’t need God to prove Himself. But hey, a genuine fleece sometimes allows God to gently prove His Word to us. It’s not right, it’s not faith, it’s not the preferred way. It is doubt, but if it comes from a sincere desire to build faith, it can be good doubt. God loved Gideon so much He endures with Him and answered his prayer about the fleeces to build his faith. Gideon’s genuine doubts were overcome, because God loved him enough to prove Himself to him.

 

THE CONSEQUENCES OF DOUBT

 

It should be an encouragement to all of us to know that the Lord has a personal interest in and concern for “Doubting Thomases.” He wanted to strengthen Thomas’ faith and include him in the blessings that lay in store for His followers. Thomas reminds us that unbelief robs us of blessings and opportunities.

 

It may sound sophisticated and intellectual to question God, but if the question comes from a genuine heart, He will lead us into greater faith.

 

Some of you here today are struggling with doubts… Doubts about your family, your job, about where to go to church, about whether God will bless you. I want you to know today that God is not put off by your questions, and would rather your genuine questions than fake faith!

 

But even so, we must never forget that doubting, even genuine, honest doubting, still has consequences.

 

James 1:6-8 (ESV Strong's)

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

Doubt is the opposite of the rock of faith, and doubt can stop a flow of blessings into your life. If you find yourself doubting right now, you are missing out on the best God has for you. So as you walk through a time of doubt, whatever you do, don’t camp there, use your genuine doubt to build more genuine faith!

 

DOUBT OFTEN COMES WHEN WE STEP OUT IN FAITH

 

Doubt often comes when we decide to step out in faith. This could be the enemy trying to put us off, but it could also be the Lord testing us, trying our faith to build it. He does this not to discourage us, not to hurt us or ruin our life, but to make us strong. This is spiritual resistance training!

 

If you want to build muscles in the gym, it’s not so much about the repetitions, it’s about the weights you use. The harder it is, the more difficult, the greater the resistance, the stronger you become, and that’s how you build spiritual muscles too.

 

Matthew 14:28-31 (ESV Strong's)

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

 

Now, you can criticise Peter’s doubting all you like, but only one of the disciples got out of the boat. This is a great illustration of what our lives are like… We step out in faith, then take our eyes off Jesus and look at the wind and waves, overwhelmed by circumstances. Jesus loves us, rescues us, but also points out our doubt.

 

If you are stepping out in faith, maybe trying this church is a step of faith, then even if you doubt, even if you’re not sure of His will, the Lord has His hand outstretched to you right now.  Believe and trust Him. Feed you faith and your doubts starve to death!

 

STEPS TO OVERCOMING DOUBT IN YOUR LIFE

 

If you are experiencing doubt right now, if you genuinely struggle and have doubts about the Lord, then let’s look at the steps you can take towards overcoming doubt in your life…

 

1.      RECOGNISE THE SOURCE OF YOUR DOUBT

 

If you are experiencing doubt because your heart is hard and you are threatening or dictating to God how He should act, you are in a dangerous place, and need to repent. Do not play with this kind of doubt, get on your knees right now and get right with God!

 

If your desire is to obey and grow closer to God, but you have genuine doubts, then this could be your platform to build a real and life changing faith. God is kind and patient, and we should be too with each other, and with ourselves. As Jude prays,

 

Jude 1:22 (ESV Strong's)

And have mercy on those who doubt;

 

If you struggle with doubt, don’t be ashamed, don’t be afraid, don’t be too tough on yourself, but recognise that doubts are a part of life and if they are honest, genuine doubts, God can gently lead you to grow in your faith. Yes, there still must be repentance, because doubt is still sin, and yes there still must be right decisions made, but God is for you and loves you and will lead you to greater faith if you decide to be obedient.

 

2.      BE HONEST WITH GOD

 

Many Christians are ashamed of their doubts, and the enemy uses this to keep them under duress. We can hide our doubts from many at church, but let me tell you that you cannot hide the state of your heart from God!

 

Psalms 139:1-4 (ESV Strong's)

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

 

Look, God is not fooled! He knows your heart, your thoughts, your fears, your sins and your doubt, so why not come clean and tell Him the truth… Tell Him you have honest doubts, but you want to believe. “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!”

 

3.      REPENT AND ASK FOR FAITH

 

If you have genuine doubt, God loves you and is for you, but don’t dress this up as God approving of your doubts! Doubt, even good and genuine doubt, is still sin because it is not faith. You can’t talk yourself into faith, you can’t positively confess yourself into faith, you can’t even argue yourself into faith, because God is the true source of true faith, not you, it’s the Lord…

 

1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV Strong's)

so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

 

So be honest with God about your doubt, then simply repent of your doubt and ask for faith. This is a simple formula, so today, make a decision to choose life, not death… repent and ask for faith.

 

4.      EMBRACE THE PAIN

 

Top athletes will tell you that pain is gain. Now we know that a lot of pain is not great, and that it’s not something we want to pursue. But you cannot become great by avoiding pain. In the Christian life, God often uses pain to train us and make us greater for Him, so James writes this…

 

James 1:2-6 (ESV Strong's)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

 

Pain usually causes you to doubt God, so recognise it, rejoice in the pain and take your eyes off the giant before you and place them squarely on Jesus. Take your eyes off your pain and put them on Jesus!

 

5.      LET’S STICK TOGETHER

 

Most people going through doubt withdraw from others, and that’s exactly what the devil wants you to do. I meet people all the time who’ve been hurt and hence withdraw from church. I know people get hurt by church and especially church leadership, but with all our faults and hangups, we are still better together. As Paul says…

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

Now obviously the opposite of doubt is faith, but the end of our doubting should be the building of our faith. Faith is part of the armour of God, the shield of faith…

 

Ephesians 6:16 (ESV Strong's)

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

 

Those flaming darts are the enemy attacking you causing doubt and unbelief. But here’s the thing we miss in our modern culture. The shield Paul is talking about was not designed to be used individually. If you go it alone the devil will pick you off, attack from behind and bring you down in your doubt.

 

A Roman shield was specifically designed for a warfare manoeuvre called the tortoise. Soldiers would link their shields together, interlocking them on the front, the sides and the back. When used together they became a mighty barrier to enemy attack. That’s faith, that’s church and that’s how we conquer doubt and unbelief… we join our faith together because we’re better together.

 

TURN YOUR DOUBTS INTO FAITH

 

You can turn doubt into incredible strength by being honest with God and  letting Him shape your doubt into faith. Everyone at some stage through a valley of doubt, an you may be there now, but it’s not ok to stay there.

 

Genuine, honest doubt might lead you to question God, but it should be with a view to building faith…  And when you let your faith roar loudly, you cannot hear what doubt is saying!

 

I know many of you have doubts about many things, but today is the day we collectively say, “Enough!” We say, “Devil, I will not fade away in doubt and unbelief, because today is the day I decide, I covenant with God and with those around me to turn my doubt into faith!

 

If you have doubts right now, I want to pray for you and let’s allow God to build faith in you.

 

If you doubt God and have wandered from Him, or maybe even don’t know Him, I want to start there.

Doubt and fear is what I want to wrap up our series on making right and godly choices with. Doubt and fear are something we all face, every one of us, even if we have made the right choice, and that is doubt.

SHALL WE DANCE?

Second guessing the choices we make is commonplace for human beings, and the Bible likens it to dancing. We are not God, so we do not have infinite knowledge, understanding and faith. As a believer, how many times have you made a decision, then felt this nagging doubt creep up on you, questioning whether you made the right choice, whether it is God’s will, and if it is, will He even be faithful to you, and are you even worth it?

 

Doubt and fear are normal, but it does not make them right, because they are based in fear and unbelief.  We might dress it up and call it different names, but it is doubt and fear just the same.

 

When you agree to buy something big, like a car or house, then on second thoughts you wonder if it was such a good buy, we call it “buyer’s remorse”. If a bride leaves the groom alone at the altar it is called “getting cold feet”. If we commit to something in church then pull out we call it “I just didn’t feel a peace in my spirit”, but all of these are purely and simply just doubt.

 

When Peter stepped out of the boat in the storm and walked on the water, and he did well until he stopped, rationalised and looked around and panicked!

 

Matthew 14:31 (ESV Strong's)

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

 

The Greek word Jesus uses here for doubt is “distazo”, which literally means, “to doubt or to mentally waver.”

 

A similar Hebrew word is used by Elijah to the Israelites when taking in the prophets of Baal...

 

1 Kings 18:21 (ESV Strong's)

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

 

That word limping in Hebrew is “pasah”, which means “to hop, to limp, to waver or to dance.” What a brilliant description of doubt, where we make a decision and then find ourselves dancing between two opinions, hopping from one foot to the other.

 

We would like our choices to be right, godly, strong and decisive, yet often, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves weak, insipid and flipping between doubt and faith.

 

So let’s analyse our thought process around the doubt and fear that will assail us after we have actually made a decision…

 

 

DANCE STEPS- THE DOUBT AND FEAR TWO STEP!

 

You’ve made a decision, and it’s a good decision. You know it’s right, you know it’s good and you know it’s God, but there’s that nagging doubt. Welcome to the Fear and Doubt and fear Two Step… Shall we dance?   Let me take you through the steps....

 

1.      RELIANCE

 

You started with reliance. You make a decision, you trust God, you have faith in the God who says He has plans for your life, to prosper you and not to harm you. You make a decision, take a leap of faith and trust God, believing that…

 

Psalms 27:1 (ESV Strong's)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 

However, the devil is not happy about your making a positive decision, and so he starts to subtly undermine the process with doubt and fear…

 

2.      RESTLESSNESS

 

So the decision has been made, but there is a restlessness.

 

James 1:6 (ESV Strong's)

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

 

The Greek word for driven and tossed “rhipizo” which means “to agitate or stir up.” It is used to refer to fanning an ember into a flame, and so the doubts are stirred up like that, like wind whipping up the ocean, starting small but agitating into full blown faithlessness.

 

3.      RECONSIDER

 

This uneasy, restless feeling causes you to reconsider. Like Peter, you look at your surroundings, at the circumstances, listen to the opinions of others and you begin to reconsider your initial decision…

 

Matthew 14:30 (ESV Strong's)

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

 

How many of us make a decision, then get swayed by circumstances into reconsidering our choice?

 

4.      RATIONALISE

 

As you reconsider the situation, you start to rationalise. You start to think things through in a different way. One phrase we often use in English for this particular dance step is that we start to “entertain doubts.”

 

What a curious but revealing phrase. We don’t look at doubt and reject it, we don’t slam the door in doubt’s face, we entertain it. We say, “Come on in, Mr Doubt, have a seat. Can I get you a coffee? Why not stay for dinner? In fact, why not move in?”

 

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV Strong's)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

 

When we lean on our own understanding instead of trusting God, we rationalise our doubt and fear and excuse them as inspired logic, and then we are not trusting God for that decision.

 

5.      RUN

 

The next phase is panic… we want to cut and run, run like crazy to get away from impending disaster that our rationalise mind convinces us is imminent.

 

But the Bible says, in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Paul tells us,

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong's)

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (Sound mind)

 

When you reach the point of panic, you have anything but a sound mind. Panicked people make irrational decisions, and most decisions made in the heat of the moment are bad ones. This leads to the next step...

 

6.      REQUESTING HELP

 

Like Peter sinking in the waves we cry out, “Lord, save me!” In our panic, in our fear, in our entertained doubts, we look for salvation. We search for a way out, and if we are wise, we turn to the Lord again… and He says…

 

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV Strong's)

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

GOD CAN DEAL WITH YOUR DOUBT AND FEAR

 

God is big enough to deal with your doubts… of that there is no doubt! He doesn’t want pretence and bravado from you, He wants honesty. If you make a decision and you doubt, don’t try and hide as many Christians do behind the bravado of false hyper-faith… where we never face our fears and doubts, we just positively confess them away. People who do this often have little faith despite their brave and sometime foolish positive confession. If you are trying to convince yourself to have faith, your faith is not in the immutable, infallible and incredibly powerful God we serve, but in yourself. That’s not real faith, folks, and trying to muster it doesn’t work long term.

 

When I think of faith and doubt I always consider Abraham…

 

Abraham is described as the Father of Faith. When God told him he would have a son, he didn’t stick his head in the sand and positively confess. No, the Bible says he looked at the facts, he recognised the impossibility, but because God had told him…

 

Romans 4:20-21 (ESV Strong's)

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

 

He didn’t waver, he refused to dance with the devil, he looked at the facts and recognised that his body was as good as dead at 100 years old.  He was rational, he was logical, he stared Doubt straight in the face, but then he said, despite all this, “My God is bigger than you!”

 

Don’t ignore or gloss over your doubts. Don’t try and fake or muster enough faith in yourself… look to Jesus, feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death!

 

Let’s look at someone else you struggled with their faith…

 

GIDEON WAS FEELING GIDDY

 

Gideon is another great hero of faith as a warrior and a judge in Israel. He is often held up as a model of decision making, but he is not at all! He’s actually an example of God loving us through our doubts and fears. Gideon was one of those guys who danced between faith and doubt constantly.

 

Some Christians try to determine God’s will by “throwing fleeces” as Gideon did in Judges 6. You might remember that Gideon was visited by an angel and he was threshing wheat in a cistern, for fear of the oppressive Midianite regime. The angel then called him mighty man of God, but he replied that he was the least in his tribe, which was the least tribe in Israel. Clearly this guy had doubts and very little faith!

 

Then came the fleece throwing thing…

 

Judges 6:37 (ESV Strong's)

behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.”

 

This happened, but he still was not sure. So he laid a second fleece…

 

Judges 6:39 (ESV Strong's)

Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.”

 

He was testing and testing God, but God knew his doubts and loved him enough to allay his fears.

 

Some Christians say, “If X happens, then I’ll do one thing; but if Y happens, then I’ll do another.” This is a terrible way to make decisions and is little different from heads or tails! It’s spiritual two up!  In most cases, putting out a fleece demonstrates not a robust faith in God, or a willingness to truly know and obey His will, but an unhealthy suspicion that God does not have our best interests at heart and He really can’t be trusted to fulfil His promises.

 

GIDEON WAS FLEECED!

 

God recognised that Gideon was a man of doubt and fear, but God loves him enough to tolerate the fleece throwing situation not once but twice. God did it to allow his faith build for the future.

 

Note this:

 

  1. This is the only place in Scripture where this method is used
  2. Fleece throwing was Gideon’s idea, not God’s! Nowhere in the Bible does God authorise this practice or recommend it for knowing His will.
  3. Gideon knew God’s will at the start… he had had an angelic visit and a direct Word from God. He was not trying to make a decision, he was doubting God, and he did this twice to gain confidence for the battle ahead. He needed an extraordinary sign to build his faith.

 

I’m sure God would have preferred Gideon to have faith like Job, who despite all the circumstances going against him, he trusted the Lord with a strong and deep faith, a faith that said,

 

Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;

 

HOW DO WE STOP THE DANCE?

 

I know many of you have made deep and life-changing decisions in this series of messages. But I also know that many of you have doubts, second thoughts and cold feet about the decisions you’ve made. Today is the day you stop the dance of doubt and fear and make 100% sure of your choices and decisions.

 

You might have decided to become a Christian but then that voice whispers in your head, “You’re not good enough for that. God doesn’t want people like you.” Don’t listen to that voice, and don’t doubt, because God’s Word says,

 

John 5:24 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

 

You might have made a big decision to get rid of a bad habit, or to make a positive change in your life. You might have made. Life changing choice but are doubting whether you can stick to it. We are here to love and support you, and together make that great decision stick for eternity!

 

You might have decided to come here to check out this church. You like what you see, but there’s that nagging doubt in your head. You might feel guilty that you want to leave another church. You may feel fearful because you don’t know where you can fit in.  Let me allay your doubt and fear…

 

Ignite Church is called to be a safe haven, a spiritual home where my desire as a pastor and the desire of our ministry teams is to see you become everything you could possibly be in the Lord. My heart is to train and equip and then release you to become a mighty man or woman of God. I won’t force you to do things you don’t want to do, but as God loved Gideon and gently helped him into faith and belief, so our commitment here is not to condemn you but to love and build your faith too.

 

So let me finish with ways can you deal with the dance of doubt and fear and stop second guessing decisions?

 

1.      BE SURE OF YOUR DECISION IN THE FIRST PLACE

 

Making the right choice, God’s choice for your life, is not always easy. As we’ve discussed previously, there are several tools you can employ as checks and balances  to make sure you are choosing correctly…

 

1.      CIRCUMSTANCES

 

Psalms 25:4 (ESV Strong's)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

 

Sometimes circumstances open up and just show you God’s will in a choice, revealing the obvious and logical pathway to doing it. Sometimes God’s ways are obvious, but beware because this method is often not reliable. Just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it is necessarily God!

 

2.      THE STILL, SMALL VOICE

 

We talked about the voices in your head a few weeks ago (check the app). Many time you can hear God’s voice if you know what He sounds like. I’m going to do a series coming up on hearing God’s voice, and Fiona has a course starting in July on hearing God’s voice.

 

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV-WS)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

 

3.      GODLY COUNSEL

 

When facing a decision, getting good advice and counsel from godly people can give you real insight. Not your mates at the pub or your Facebook friends, people at church you respect. I make all decisions in Ignite church consulting not one but many team members and leaders…

 

Proverbs 11:14 (ESV Strong's)

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety.

 

4.      SUPERNATURAL

 

Sometimes, albeit rarely, God will lead you supernaturally, with a dream, a vision or an prophetic word. Never rely on this method alone, it is fraught with danger. Gideon met and angel, Pete saw a vision and prophets throughout the Bible spoke God’s words…

 

Haggai 1:12 (ESV Strong's)

… all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.

 

In our church, prophetic words are common, and much of the prayer at the front is prophetic, but these words should reinforce what God is saying, not be the only source of guidance!

 

5.      GOD’S WORD

 

For me, the ultimate voice of God in my life is His Word. God will never contradict His written Word, and as I spend time with Him each day His Word comes alive, leading, guiding and lighting my path...

 

Psalms 119:105 (ESV Strong's)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

 

So use a combination of those methods we’ve discussed to be absolutely sure of God’s direction when you make a choice or decision, especially a big one like changing jobs, Church or residency.

 

2.      BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR DOUBTS

 

Some Christians are always trying to generate faith. I’m sick of Christians faking faith trying to generate enough faith to get what they want. Listen, if your will lines up with God’s will, faith is a lot easier. God’s not here to give you what you want. He is not your personal genie in a bottle. When you align yourself with Him, you don’t have to try to fake it, because you know that you know that you know God’s will in your choices. Seek first His Kingdom, and guess what happens!

 

God is not fooled by your false bravado! We all experience doubt, so please be honest, be open, and just as God loved Gideon, Thomas and others through their doubt and fear into faith, He will love you too!

 

Think of the father whose child was demon possessed…

 

Mark 9:24 (ESV Strong's)

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

This is a classic statement of the paradox Christians face in making godly choices… they believe, but still struggle with unbelief. They trust, but still can’t seem to trust enough. This desperate father wanted to believe, his heart said yes but his head said no! He was dancing with doubt and fear.

 

And some of you here are just like that. Heart says yes, but head says no. You’ve come to this church thinking your dreams are dead, they’ve gone, they’re finished. You can feel God awakening those dreams, you can sense that something is stirring, you even begin to believe and make the choice to follow God into what He has for you. But then you doubt, you second guess yourself, your heart cries yes but your head tries to logic you out of it! You believe, but cry “Help my unbelief!”

 

3.      ANSWER YOUR DOUBTS WITH FAITH

 

Doubt knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there! The answer to the dance of doubt, the second guesses, the fake hyper-faith and cerebral logic, is to build your holy faith…

 

Jude 1:20 (ESV Strong's)

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,

 

Praying in the Holy Spirit builds your faith, that’s why God gave us that gift. Reading God’s Word, studying it and memorising it, build your faith, that’s why God gave us His Word.

 

Faith is directly dependent on how well you know somebody. If you don't know someone, doubt and fear arise.

 

If Fiona asks me for $100, there’s no problem. I know her, I know she won’t blow it on alcohol or drugs. However, if some random guy in the street asks me for $100, the answer is “no way!” If I don’t know him, I can’t trust him. You get to know God and rely up and trust God by reading His Word and praying. When you know Him, your trust deepens and you stop second guessing!

 

Psalms 37:4-6 (ESV Strong's)

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.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

 

Today I want to pray for those struggling with doubt and fear. Today, faith will answer the door, and there will be no doubt there. No doubt, no fear, no second guessing, no anxiousness.

 

If you, like me, make decisions and then second guess yourself, if you decide then doubt, the Lord is calling you to respond today. Don’t stand there arguing with Him, if He is challenging you come forward and we will pray that doubt, fear and second guesses with be replaced by genuine, God centred, powerful, life-transforming faith. Look out mountains, you’re about to be moved!