Doubt/Weak Faith

The Spiritual Man (Words Change Their Meaning)Premium Content

As time passes, words change their meaning and often come to mean something very different from their earlier intent. In Shakespeare's day, the word "honest" meant sexually chaste; now it refers to a general truthfulness and dependability.

At other times, words remain somewhat the same in their general meaning, but with a dramatically different intention. "Spiritual" is one such word. Paul in Romans 7:14 says,

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

The word "spiritual" is, in the Greek original, pneumatikos; it does refer to nonmaterial reality, but even more, to power. To say God's law "is spiritual" is to say that it is powerful beyond man's ability to imagine. It has all the power of God and His heavenly hosts behind it. In this sense, the spiritual man is the most powerful man; he is not a pale and weak figure on the sidelines of life, but God's mover and shaker.

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Does God Get Tired?

Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4

I'm more than usually tired this afternoon. I am beyond tired.

When I came home a few minutes ago - earlier than I'd planned - from my errands, I thought how mortally exhausted I am, and the verse I'm using for the text came to mind. And I realized that though I might get tired - whether sleepy or physically worn out, or both - God doesn't. He upholds the entire creation by His will, and yet it is as easy to Him as breathing is to me, and indeed I suspect that it gives Him positive pleasure to do so. I'm tempted to say that it's restful for God to do all that He does, but that would perhaps cause some people to infer that God requires rest, and of course He doesn't. When the Bible says that He rested on the seventh day, it doesn't mean that He'd gotten tired creating the universe and needed a break. It means, rather, that for six days (and I can't make anything out of the Bible's statements except 24 hour days...unless in that early period the morning and evening added up to more or fewer hours than 24) He had been active in creation, and on the seventh day He ceased to be active in that work because it was finished.

Am I Loved? Will I Be Loved? Can I Really Love?Premium Content

Without question, my greatest struggle and crisis of faith is, "AM I LOVED?" This question releases its evil first cousin; "WILL I BE LOVED?" Is being loved and loving contingent upon if I do some proverbial duty, service, behavior, performance enough and well enough? Close on their heels is "can I really love" without impure motive or impunity?

The only correct answer to these questions is simply God is Love.

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it - we're called children of God! That's who we really are.(1 John 3:1a, Msg)

Look deeply into the glory of love! Having begun in Father's unmerited, unconditional, unending love; it elicits the following response!

My beloved friends let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. 8 The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love - so you can't know him if you don't love. 9 This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. 10 This is the kind of love we are talking about - not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God. 11 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12 No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love! (1 John 4:7-12, Msg)

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It's Time for Joel's Perspective: Promises FulfilledPremium Content

Our cities (and our personal lives) may seem like those in Canaan, surrounded by walls that reach up to heaven -- walled in by unbelief. But -- let's not forget -- the walls of Jericho fell. The walls of unbelief are beginning to crumble. What is long overdue is the shout of the people of God.

I grew up near the mouth of the river Elbe in North Germany where I used to see huge flat-bottom river barges set fast in the mud banks. No tug or marine engine could shift them. But the tide quietly rippled in, hardly perceptible, creeping higher and higher up the sides of those immovable hulks. Soon those hundreds of tons were floating. From the quay I could move them with the slightest kick.

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Our Perceptions Govern Our LivesPremium Content

"It is all about how you look at things." Ever hear that expression? We're often advised to think positively, to believe in ourselves and to have faith in God. All of these things speak to our perspective on any life issue. All of these pieces of advice can feel like they're easier to say than be lived, right?

When I was a little girl, living on the farm, come late summer and early autumn, our farmstead was besieged with grasshoppers. I tell you, it was a tiny snapshot of what any locust plague must have looked like. It was hard to walk anywhere without there being a grasshopper right there, almost crunched by my foot.

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Seeking Christ CrucifiedPremium Content

"Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus which was crucified." Matthew 28:5


THIS was the address of an angel to Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, that had come to see the sepulcher before break of day They were last at the Cross, and first at the tomb. Favors are given sovereignly by the Lord, but honor is conferred according to a rule; and the rule is this: "Them that honor me, I will honor." These women were informed of his resurrection before the apostles; the apostles received the intelligence from them, but they received it from an angel.

At first these pious visitants were afraid. And what wonder when we consider that they were females; that all their sensibilities were alive; that they were in another's garden; that they were alone; that the earth was reeling under them; that the guards were fleeing, and perhaps shrieking; that it was early in the morning, and the remaining darkness rendered more visible and awful the divine messenger sitting at the door of the tomb -- his countenance as lightning, and his raiment white as snow!

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When Our Beliefs are Called into QuestionPremium Content

The Physical, Mental and Spiritual Disciplines

Speaking from experience, Philip Yancey writes, "For nearly everyone, doubt follows pain quickly and surely, like a reflex action. Suffering calls our most basic beliefs about God into question." Suffering often causes us to doubt, to question our beliefs, to wrestle with everything we ever thought we knew about God: about who He is, about what He is up to, about the very nature of His heart. All these doubts and questions can be fertile ground for spiritual growth. Go ahead and out, question, wrestle – just be sure to use this time and out to seek to know him desperately. He will keep your heart open to God so that you can hear the answers to those questions.

How do we keep our hearts open? How do we grow closer to God in our trials, instead of crashing down into bitterness and despair? That is where the physical, mental and spiritual disciplines come in.

The Physical Disciplines

Taking care of our bodies

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

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Are You Experiencing True Guilt or False Guilt?Premium Content

We must differentiate between true guilt, and false guilt. Listen to how Paul differentiates between the two:

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness; to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.2 Corinthians 7:10-11


Before we investigate these types of guilt, I would like to give you an overview.

  • 1. True guilt. Corinthians calls this Godly sorrow in the NIV, or sorrow that is according to the will of God in the NASB.
  • 2. False guilt. Corinthians calls this worldly sorrow in the NIV, or sorrow of the world in the NASB.
    Within false guilt I see two categories:
      a. Deliberate pretended guilt.
      b. Imposed guilt. This is guilt that we, the world, and other people impose upon ourselves.
  • Let's explore.

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    Nurtured by the Right QuestionPremium Content

    Wrong questions are the breeding ground of doubt, despair and unbelief. I know; I've asked the wrong questions for almost sixty years. But, in the midst of those questions mercy, grace, atonement and the answer burst its way into my darkened questions. Tell Me Why is the most foreboding of all wrong questions.

    Don't miss-hear me; questions are natural and a part of our God given DNA. But: to end up at Why? That wrong question is not a part of the likeness and image of God that we are all endowed with. It is the epitome of our fallen, darkened condition! So, how do we approach these unanswerable questions?

    Before there are answers, there is a relationship you must have your heart opened to. There is a knowing that paves the way for sufficient answers. Here it comes! You must know that God's plan is God; revealed in a "baby wrapped in old dirty clothes", a Son of Man, a life lived exemplary for all generations, on a Cross-disfigured and murdered by His own and in an empty tomb. He is not a program, or an impersonal idea.

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    UncondemnedPremium Content

    Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1


    My immediate reaction when I read this verse is, Hallelujah!!! If there's any reason for the children of God to praise the Lord - and there are many reasons piled on top of each other - this must be it. If we were to list our blessings, as the old hymn exhorts us to do, surely the first in line would be the fact that if we're in Christ Jesus, we are uncondemned.

    Only those who understand our state outside of Christ can truly grasp what that simple phrase - no condemnation - means. Anyone who lacks a clear vision of human depravity simply doesn't have the background to understand the fundamental importance of this verse. We must first understand, in the words of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, that:

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