The Crushing Spirit of Doubt

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

At some point, disappointment reaches into every life. No matter how closely we walk with the Lord, its sting can paralyze us. In fact, sometimes the more we have chosen to believe big things of God, the harder we fall when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

Can you relate? Have you ever been so certain one moment and then found yourself reeling with doubt the next?

If so, you’re not alone. I’d wager that all who’ve chosen to live by faith, actively believing God for His promises, have faced a crisis of faith at one time or another. I know I have. If you and I are going to answer God’s call on our lives and trust Him to do extraordinary things through us, we need to know what to do when the crisis hits.

Let’s consider a man who found himself stumbling over his own disappointment—a man about whom Jesus claimed, “I tell you the truth:  Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).

You might be interested to know that Jesus spoke those words of John while he was going through his crisis of faith. Don’t you love knowing that God’s opinion of us doesn’t change in our moments of weakness? How He lavishes us in grace!

Let’s take a look at what caused this great man to waver. In answer to God’s call, John had devoted his life to preparing the people of Israel for the coming of their Messiah. He challenged them to repent and return to God, declaring Christ was coming! Then he pointed them to Jesus, knowing Christ had come.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” John 1:29-30

John had no doubt that Jesus was the promised Christ. He had seen the Spirit of God come to rest upon Him like a dove, just as God had told him it would (verses 32-33). Certain of what he knew in his heart, John boldly proclaimed,

“I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”  John 1:34

And John was right, of course. That same moment that sealed the truth in John’s heart launched the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The Teacher began to unleash the power of God upon the earth, performing miracles and healing the sick.

Yet while Jesus’ ministry kicked into high gear, John found himself in a situation he did not expect. He did not join the throngs of people standing by to witness the fulfillment of what he had prophesied about Christ. Instead, he could only listen to reports of Jesus’ wonders from behind the walls of a dark prison cell.

Can you imagine the seeds of doubt springing up through his disappointment? After all, didn’t Scripture foretell that Messiah would come to set captives free? How hard it must have been to hear about all those miracles Jesus performed for others while experiencing no miracle of his own. For a moment, John wondered if he got it wrong.

When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Matthew 11:2-3

Jesus responded by proclaiming the evidence of the miracles themselves, then added,

“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” Matthew 11:6

Indeed, blessed is the one who doesn’t stumble when Jesus doesn’t do what he expects.

I feel such compassion toward John. My journey thus far has not landed me in a cell, but I too have felt my resolve crumble under the weight of doubt. I know the confusion of shifting from a strong stand of faith to crippling defeat when God’s will for me did not align with my own. It didn’t take long for seeds of doubt to crush my spirit. But in my moment of weakness, I did exactly what John did. I took my doubt to Jesus.

I remember rising early to the sounds of a thundering storm. Fitting, I thought. Nature’s rage echoed the turmoil swirling about in my own mind and heart. I grabbed my Bible and stepped outside onto my covered porch. Taking a seat in my favorite chair, I watched the rain fall, tears flowing, it seemed, in tandem with God’s own.

I cried out to God, my voice barely audible, “I need to hear your whisper on the wind.” Almost immediately, Jesus responded in my heart with three precious words, “I love you.” 

Hope stirred within me, its presence slowly piercing the shroud of doubt. “Is that really you?” And my Jesus in His great mercy repeated Himself, “I love you.”

I felt His presence wash over me from head to toe. Memories flooded my mind of promises made and kept by my Lord. The faith upon which I had stood was no illusion. God’s promises and His plans for me had not changed. He had simply altered my view of them. The Lord drew near to mend my broken heart, infused my crushed spirit with life, and made me ready to stand again. Oh, how I love Jesus.

John never got the earthly rescue he sought from Jesus. Like me, his crying out to God did not alter his circumstances. But Jesus did answer his faithful servant with assurances of truth…the truth that John needed to hear to build his faith…and then the Son of God proclaimed His pleasure over John’s life (Matthew 11:11).

How sweet it must have been to hear what Christ had said when John’s disciples reported back to him. He had not been wrong. The Christ had come. But John himself had prophesied, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). The one called to precede the Messiah had fulfilled his purpose, and Jesus gave him the strength he needed for the last leg of his journey.

Not long afterward, Herod took John’s life. As the executioner’s blade pierced his neck, John breathed his last earthly breath. He took his next breath in the throne room of heaven, face to face with the God he had faithfully served. All doubt erased. Hunger ceased. Pain faded into memory as his being flooded with indescribable love and surpassing joy. You can be sure John never once thought of returning to the desert in which he’d spent his earthly life. He’d finally made it home.

They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.  Psalm 84:7

Are you stumbling in doubt, beloved? Take it to Jesus. He has exactly what you need to make you stand.

Missing the Blessing

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”  Exodus 4:11, NIV

One of my sons is a bit unhappy right now with a few of God’s choices for him. The way he puts it, “I got all the bad stuff from my parents.” It’s hard being twelve.

This year he has watched his friends propel past him several inches in height, shooting steadily upward as they hit their 7th grade growth spurts. His growth has been decidedly slower, and he fears he’s going to be short like his mom. He has also been blessed with dad’s teeth—which come complete with braces—and now he’s just discovered he has his mother’s eyes. Apparently glasses are in his future. As I said, it’s hard being twelve.

And right now, these things he perceives as limitations have obscured his view of anything else. He can’t see past them. They’ve completely overshadowed any thought of his potential. He doesn’t yet understand that every part of himself he views as weakness provides an opportunity for God to show His strength.

You and I tend to do the same thing. We get stuck on our limitations and often allow them to rob us of joy and blessings that wait just on the horizon. Even our friend Moses left some things on the table, and Scripture records that he left a legacy like no other.

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face . . . For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.  Deuteronomy 34:10, 12

Let’s rejoin Moses in the desert and uncover what he may have missed!

Last week we took a front row seat to his encounter with God through a burning bush. Out of all the people on the face of the earth, God chose Moses to lead His chosen people to their deliverance. What had Moses done to deserve such an honor? Absolutely nothing. God found him hiding in the desert, consumed by his past failure.

But God doesn’t call us based on our incredible strengths and abilities. He calls us according to His purpose. Moses hadn’t earned the position God held out to him. God had simply offered Him a gift of grace. His responses to Moses’ protests prove that to be true. 

God didn’t answer Moses’ doubt by building him up and encouraging his abilities. What Moses could or couldn’t do didn’t matter. God answered by promising Moses three things.

·      I will be with you. Exodus 3:12

·      I AM all that you need.  Exodus 3:14

·      I will prove to the people that I am with you through miraculous signs. Exodus 4:1-9

Still, Moses remained unconvinced. Immediately upon experiencing a miraculous display of God’s power, Moses offered up his final retort.

Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”  Exodus 4:10

Part of me wants to interrupt their conversation right here and ask Moses, “Are you serious?” I mean, He had just seen God turn the staff he was holding into a snake and watched his own hand become leprous and then healed at God’s command. Yet he faced God and said, “I don’t think so. I don’t like the way I talk.”

Pay close attention to God’s response.

The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”  Exodus 4:11-12

Essentially God said to Moses, “I made your mouth. I will help you speak.”

But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”  Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses . . . Exodus 4:13-14

Sometimes we need to be careful what we wish for. Even after all of God’s promises and a grand display of miraculous power, Moses asked God to send someone else. In anger, God granted Moses’ request, but that still didn’t get Moses out of going.

“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth . . .” Exodus 4:14-16

Don’t miss the cost of Moses’ stubbornness, dear one. Yes, God in His mercy provided Aaron to help Moses communicate with the people, but Moses forfeited a miracle God wanted to perform on his behalf. God didn’t plan to have another man speak for Moses “as if he were [his] mouth” (verse 16). God desired to reveal His power through Moses by making his mouth speak (verse 12)! God’s purpose still prevailed, but poor Moses argued himself right out of his blessing.

I wonder how many times you and I have talked ourselves out of a blessing God had waiting on the edge of a step of faith. How often have we wrestled against God’s purpose for our lives and refused to trust Him for His best?

I have a confession to make. I taught this lesson on Moses in my Sunday school class two weeks ago. When we reached these verses uncovering this missed blessing, conviction fell over me so powerfully, I couldn’t speak for a moment. I physically felt God’s presence from head to toe, and He whispered to my heart, “That’s you, dear one.” Tears stung my eyes and my voice caught in my throat. Before I even had time to think about it, I closed my eyes before the class, lifted my face toward heaven and answered Him, “God forgive me.”

You see, I have chosen to live my life for the glory of the Lord, and amazingly, He has used this life to bring about some small part of His plan for the nations. But I realize I tend to act like Moses did when God invited Him to participate. At times I believe I’ve allowed my view of myself and my limitations to overshadow my view of God. In those moments, God has still used me to bring about His will, but perhaps I’ve missed some of what God wanted to do for me in the process. I don’t want to leave any more blessings on the table!

God has things to do right now in our generation. Let’s commit together to believe big things of God. The God who made our mouths can cause them to speak with boldness. The God who made the seas still has power to make them part. God is so much bigger than our limitations. As we readily respond in faith, we may just get to witness His great power.

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning. . . so that when he comes and knocks [you] can immediately open the door for him. Luke 12:35-36



Doing the Impossible

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

We serve a magnificent, all-powerful God. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Things that loom beyond our human realm of possibility become quite possible when the Almighty enters the scene.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t live as though that’s true. We tend to limit what we’ll expect from God, especially when it comes to our understanding of how God might want to use us. We often allow our abilities—or lack of them—to define our idea of what God might desire to do through us. That misplaced focus can cause us to miss out on a marvelous blessing.

Today we will visit the desert with Moses and join him beside that famous burning bush. We have much to learn from his encounter with God, and you may just feel the heat of the flames. Thankfully, these don’t consume (Exodus 3:2), so you don’t need to fear getting burned. You may, however, learn how to push past your own self-doubt and trust God to do something extraordinary through you.

Let’s first consider the scene. Moses has spent the last forty years tending sheep in the desert, a long way from the Pharaoh’s palace he had been raised in. A botched attempt to intervene on behalf of an Israelite slave ended in murder and sent him running far from Egypt for his life. Now suddenly, on an ordinary day while Moses performed an ordinary task, God showed up and told him it was time to finish what he started forty years ago.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land… So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”  Exodus 3:7-8, 10

Moses’ response to God was less than enthusiastic. Honestly, I’m pretty certain mine would have been as well. I mean, who really wants to return to the scene of their most tragic failure? And the last time Moses saw Pharaoh, he wanted to take his life.

Like Moses, you and I possess all sorts of reasons for not wanting to do what God asks of us. On the surface, some of them even appear to be very valid reasons. But I think you’ll find that if you bring them to the Lord and allow yourself to see them overshadowed by His greatness, they really do become quite inconsequential.

How do you typically respond, dear one, when God calls you to move on His behalf? Do you charge ahead full of faith, or do you argue like Moses to see if God changes His mind?

Unfortunately, I realize I tend to do a bit of arguing. I am full of faith in God’s ability, but I tend to doubt myself. Thankfully, God’s pretty good at winning battles.

Moses offered up four arguments against doing the thing God asked of Him. Today we will consider the first three and conclude with His final argument next week. As we look at each one, contemplate how God’s response to Moses applies to you.

Who am I? Moses’ first argument stemmed from self-doubt. “But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3:11) It’s as if he’s questioning God’s choice, “Are you sure you’ve got the right guy?” I can tell you I’ve spoken similar words to God myself, and God responds to me with the same words He spoke to Moses.

God’s Answer:  “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:12

Who are you?  Next Moses asks for a little clarification. God had already revealed who He was at the start of their conversation, and Moses hid his face in reverent response (verse 6). Still, upon hearing the task God appointed for him, Moses asks…

“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”  Exodus 3:13

It might be interesting to note that God revealed His names in Scripture as His people experienced that aspect of His character. It’s almost as if Moses is asking, “You said you’d go with me, but who are you going to be?” Would He be Deliverer? Comforter? Provider? God Almighty?

God’s Answer: “I AM WHO I AM” Exodus 3:14 By declaring Himself I AM, God declared, “I am everything you need.”

What if they don’t believe me? We can easily face a crisis of faith when we consider how others might view it. Wondering what others think can keep us from believing ourselves. I would bet every fisherman that abandoned his net to follow Jesus dealt with this one. Moses, it seems, faced that same doubt.

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”  Exodus 4:1

God’s Answer: Essentially, “I will show myself.”  Exodus 4:2-9

God promised Moses that if he would trust Him by going to Egypt to rescue the people of Israel, God would make it known to the people that He was with him. He would provide evidence that He was present and that He did in fact send Moses to deliver them through miraculous signs.

Moses chose to trust God and saw Him keep every promise. God showed up to perform marvelous works that brought great deliverance and altered the course of history. And that shepherd tending sheep in the desert became the leader of God’s chosen nation.

Beloved, what is God calling you to do that you have neglected to trust Him for? Obedience invites God’s presence. And as you step out in faith with I AM, you can rest assured that God will eventually show Himself to doubting scoffers. If He has invited you to participate with Him in His plans, just like Moses you can believe that when the time is right He will allow Himself to be seen in the midst of it.

I’d like to leave you with one closing thought to chew on. When Moses voiced the reasons he couldn’t do what God had asked, not once did God encourage Moses by building him up. He didn’t offer the words, “You can do this.” Moses’ ability was a non-issue. God’s response was simply, “I will; I AM; I can.” Glory!

Word on Wednesday

I am sorry to inform you that this week there will no Word on Wednesday.

Kelley has been ill this week and unable to do her blog.  She is deeply saddened

to miss this time with you.

We hope you will continue to follow Kelley Latta Ministries on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

and of course stay tuned next week for

Kelley's latest installment of Word on Wednesday!

If the Lord brings Kelley to mind, would you please lift her up in prayer, for complete healing and for rest.

Thank you & God Bless!