11 Apr 2021
After waiting for the fulfilment of God's promise to him for 10 years, Abraham is understandably rattled in his confidence. He began to wonder and doubt if God will ever fulfil His promise. And so when God reminded Abraham of the promise of the land, Abraham asked "How am I to know? " Doubts can come into our lives, just as they did to the Father of Faith, Abraham. Whilst they are not the same as unbelief from a stubborn and rebellious heart, they need to be defended against. Let's learn from this story how God dealt with Abraham's doubts, and then how God can help you in your doubts. Are you struggling through pains and disappointments?
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Well, this morning, I'm glad to once again share with you from the book of Genesis. We've been going through this book, we come now at Genesis, chapter 15, where God promised Abraham a multitude.
God promised Abraham that he would have a special offspring, and from the offspring, a great nation. God also promised Abraham that he would have a great name and that Abraham would have a great land to possess. But you must understand that it has been a long wait for the fulfilment of these promises. God promised these things to Abraham some 10 years before this. And I think it would be quite understandable, if you could see that Abraham is somewhat anxious; concerned and may be questioning.
I think for these 10 years, Abraham must be waiting very eagerly. Every month, I can imagine him going to Sarah, "Sarah, how are you feeling? Got nausea or not? Got vomiting or not?" And if there was any Guardian Pharmacy or Unity Pharmacy, he would probably buy all the urine pregnancy kits back and asked Sarah to test. But for long 10 years, 120 times, he would ask and the answer would be, "No, I'm not pregnant! No, I'm not pregnant! No, I'm not pregnant!" And after a while, you could imagine, Abraham, somewhat discouraged and maybe disillusioned.
So when we come to Genesis, chapter 15 and verse 7, when God said, "I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldees to give you this land to possess." That this will be the next statement we read, "But he [that is Abraham] said, "O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" So there is a 'but' here because it has been a long 10 years. So when God reaffirms the promise, it is no surprise that Abraham would respond, "How am I to know?" Because somehow over time, some kind of a questioning; some kind of doubts have crept into his mind.
So this morning, we are looking at a very unique perspective that the father of faith, Abraham would doubt. So I've entitled the sermon, "Abraham Doubted". That's the story before us, but the question is - how about you? Because some of us today may be going through hardships; some of us may be going through difficulties in life. And it has been a long while and now you begin to doubt, "Is God really for me? Is it really true that God has promised good to me? Will I really be the beneficiary of all the amazing promises in the Scripture, when I am currently going through so much pain, and so much suffering?"
Maybe doubts have come into your life; into your mind. And so I hope this is a message that would inoculate you against crumbling in doubt. Now, I want to say that, "There is a very big difference between doubt and unbelief." You've got to get that! In this story, we don't read of God reprimanding or scolding Abraham at all! God did not say, "Oh, Abraham! How could you question Me?" No, it was doubt, genuine doubt, honest questions that Abraham was struggling with! He was not struggling with unbelief.
You say, "What's the difference?" I believe unbelief is a stubborn; rebellious attitude towards God that says, "No matter what you say and no matter what you do, I will not believe you. I do not want to believe You." That's unbelief.
What's doubt? Doubt is when someone truly; genuinely wants to believe, but he needs more assurances, he needs more truths, he needs more facts to back it up. So Abraham, I think is not struggling with unbelief. He is not stubborn in rebellion, but he's struggling with doubt. He wants to believe, but he needs help.
So what does God do when Abraham doubted? Well, let's look at verse 10. "He said to Abraham, "Bring me a heifer ... [heifer is a cow, a calf] of three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle dove and a young pigeon." And he brought him all these, cut them in half and lay each half over against the other."' [Gen 15:9-10] When you read a verse like this, you say, "Wah, we better call SPCA, Society for Prevention of Cruelty against animals! Ah, what is he doing? Why does he kill all these animals? It's brutal! It's gruesome! It's bloody! It's smelly! Oh, why!"
Well, you've got to understand that in ancient times, that's how they make deals; that's how they make agreements; that's how they make covenants. In our day and age, it's way more clinical, it's cleaner, it's easier. You just ... both of you go to the lawyers office, sign the papers and it is a done deal, but in those days, no lawyers!
So this is the way they make a covenant, they get an animal or they get a few animals. They kill the animal or the animals and they split the animal right down the middle, at the backbone. So it's cut into two halves, then you separate the two halves and you lay it on the ground, facing opposite each other. That way you line up a path so that you and the person you want to make the covenant with, would stand between these two pieces of ... or the two rows of carcasses. And you hold his hand, you recite the terms of the covenant, and you walk down this aisle that you have made.
The idea is this, the idea is that as you pronounce those terms, you are agreeing, you're binding yourself to each other to fulfill the terms of the covenant. And if you, or if he would fail to fulfill the terms of the covenant, then you're saying, "Let my fate or let his fate, whoever breaks the covenant be like that of the animals. Let our blood be poured out like that of the animal. Let our lives be broken like that of the animals. Let us die tragically like that of the animals." That's the way they make a deal; a covenant in those days.
We read of that in Jeremiah 34:18, God says, "The man who transgressed My covenant, who broke My covenant, who did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before Me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two," like the heifer that was cut in two. So this was the way covenants were made and it's therefore interesting in verse, 18 of Genesis 15, the Bible summarizes it like this, "On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abraham."
Now, you may think very little of this verse but I want you to notice that the word, 'made'. In the Hebrew, the book of Genesis, the Old Testament large parts were written in the Hebrew language, and the Hebrew word that is to a word, 'cut'. And the Lord cut a covenant with Abraham, so this is what God is going to do, "Abraham, I hear that you have doubts. I hear that you're struggling, I understand that after 10 years you may begin to waver, you may begin to be discouraged but I'm going to assure you, and I'm going to assure you with a binding covenant. And if I do not fulfill my word, let Me be like the animals that you've just killed."
That's how strong God is binding Himself to assuring Abraham of this covenant. Now, this covenant does come with some caveats. Caveats are specific notices of specific conditions. I'm sure you understand that when you make an agreement with people, you have some conditions. They kind of clarify the agreement you make.
So in this covenant there are also specific conditions, caveats. And God says to Abraham, "Just in case you misunderstand, I'm going to spell it out for you, the precise terms of our agreement. "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for 400 years." [Gen 15:13]
"Now, I did promise you a great nation Abraham, but they will not be immediately great. In fact, they will first be sojourners in a land that is not theirs. They will be migratory. They will not have a land to call its own in the beginning. In fact, they will also be servants, and not only will they ... will they be migratory; roaming; wondering, not only will they then be servants, but they will be afflicted for 400 years. They will be a suffering people, Abraham, I just want you to be clear about this." [Gen 15:13]
"And not only that, "I will, however bring judgment on the land that they, on the nation that they serve and after what they will shall come out with great possessions."' [Gen 15:14] I think anyone who has read the Bible would immediately identify, that this is a reference to how Israel will be under bondage in Egypt. But after a while, God will deliver Israel out of Egypt.
And if you read the book of Exodus, you will read of how the Egyptians would heap lots of jewelry and cash onto the Israelites and say, "Please go! Please go! Your God wants you to go!" So this is a caveat that God has given.
"And then as for you, Abraham, this is the deal, you will not inherit the land, "You shall go to your father's in peace but you shall be buried in a good old age." [Gen 15:15] You would die at a later time. You would ..."' In fact we are told that Abraham would die at age of 175. That's a good 75 years away from where he is right now, at least. "... And then, and they, that is your people, your offspring shall come back here, this land that you're standing on, in the fourth generation for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." [Gen 15:16]
So these are the conditions to this agreement, "I will give you the land, you have a great nation, but first they will suffer, and you will not inherit the land but you will inherit the land indirectly through your offspring." So these are the terms and conditions. And one of the reasons why the land is not yet ready for their inheritance is because the people occupying the land are the Amorites the Canaanites, the Girgasites and so on, and their sins are not yet full.
So God is patient, God is waiting for the right time, not just the right time, but the right time for judgment to come. And God is going to inflict judgment via the Israel ... Israelites, the nation of Israel. That's why this is going to be later on in your history not yet now. Some of you may ask, "Why isn't Jesus coming back yet?" One of the reasons, because the sins of the world are not yet ripe. But there will come a time where our sins are full, and Jesus would come in fierce wrath and judgment against those who do not believe in Him.
Now, just in case you think that this land that God promised Abraham is some spiritual allegorization, is not exact piece of land. God makes it clear I think, in verses 18 to 21, when He lays down the boundaries of this land. Now, if you buy any piece of property, I'm sure many of you own property, you bought property before, you will be very exact as to the exact property boundaries. You know exactly where is yours - where's the balcony, where is common space, whatever. You'll be very particular. And God states it clearly in these boundaries.
Now, it is very interesting that when scholars look at these boundaries and the exact location, they say that, "This is actually a huge piece of territory, that the entire history of Israel had not enjoyed yet. Not during Joshua's time when they were great conquests, because there were still a lot of pockets of land that was not yet conquered. Not during David's time and not even during Solomon's time." So this is a territory promise, that has yet been enjoyed by the people of Israel.
In other words, I think going by that, there should be a fulfillment of this somewhere in the future. That's for some message, some time next time. But the point is this, the big picture, do not miss this, is Abraham has doubts in his life. He asked God, "How am I to know to know? 'Zhun bo' [Hokkien dialect], is this really for me, I mean? I've been waiting for so long!" And God says, "Most assuredly, in fact, I'm going to assure you by cutting you a covenant. I'm going to make this agreement with you and this agreement is so strong that I am saying that, "If I don't fulfill My promise to you, My agreement with you, let My fate be like that of the animals."
Alright, that's cool! But let me tell you what even more cool in this covenant. The Bible tells us that, "As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abraham." [Gen 15:12] He was feeling sleepy and then he fell asleep. Now, I want to suggest to you, it's not a natural sleep. I think it's a supernatural sleep. The ... the reason why I say that is, number one, when you meet with God and when God talks to you, you probably won't be sleeping. Maybe if your wife talk to you or your husband talk to you, we may fall asleep. That ... that I can understand - familiarity. But I don't think you can be familiar with God in such a way, certainly not when God is speaking directly to you.
Number two, this is not really late, this is like, as the sun was going down, evening time, not the time to sleep yet. And number three, the text tells us, "Behold, dread ... dreadful and great darkness fell upon him." [Gen 15:12] So there's a kind of a supernatural darkness. So I think this is a supernatural sleep, this is a supernatural knock out, as it were.
So Abraham was made to sleep by God, that's my point. And when he was asleep, when he couldn't do anything else. "When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces." [Gen 15:17] These two items, I think are meant to represent God. Now, no man can see God and live. So God uses these two emblems to represent Himself, just like how he would represent Himself by the pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night later during Exodus.
So, what God is doing here is this, as I've mentioned to you, when someone makes a covenant with another, you hold his hand and you walk down the aisle. But in this case, God says, "I don't need you, you go and sleep. This one's entirely on Me, Abraham." And God goes down the aisle Himself. In other words, God is saying, "This agreement will be kept unconditionally; unilaterally by Me. I am the One to guarantee this. There's nothing you do, and there's nothing you need to do Abraham, for Me to give you a land, an offspring, a great nation, and a great name. I alone has promised and covenanted to do it."
"So Abraham, you're struggling with doubt?" "How am I to know?", you asked. "Well, I will cut you a covenant, and I alone will do it, you, rest assured." Wow, that must have blown the mind of Abraham!
And let's talk about you today, how about you? Maybe today you ask the question, "How am I to know? How am I to know that I'm not the loser for following Jesus? How am I to know that it is really, ultimately worth it for me to deny myself, take up the cross and follow Jesus in my life? How am I to know that God has ultimately promised good?"
Well, I want to say first of all that, "We should acknowledge struggles like this." I think, we as God's people should not say to people, "You should never have doubts. Oh, ignore those doubts! Oh, you should never think about these things!" Now, I think we need to acknowledge struggles, we need to acknowledge doubts and we need to distinguish them from a stubborn heart of unbelief. That's clear!
But if someone is genuinely struggling with doubt, I think we learned from Abraham, let's acknowledge that struggle first, because there are people today who are genuinely struggling with questions like, "Is there really eternal life at the end of it all? I mean, I'm giving my life for Jesus, for following Him, is it worth it? Is there ... am I going to inherit eternal life? Is it really true that there will be glory and unmolested, untainted joy forevermore in the eternal life that is to come? Is it really true that I will be an heir and co-heir with Christ?"
The Bible says that, "Christ would inherit all things, and then I'm co-heir with Him." That means whatever Jesus will have is what I will have. Is it really true? Now, that's a difficult question, when you are today going through hardships or trials or difficulties. So, how am I to know that these are for me? Well, the answer that God gave to Abraham is the answer I want us to leave with. Well, the answer I hope you will get - How am I to know that I'll have these things? The answer is this - I will make you a covenant.
This is how God assures His children. He wants you to know by the way, He understands that they are doubts and He wants you to be sure, nevertheless. Now, when did God make us a covenant? When did God say that He's covenanted with us that our sins will be forgiven and that we will be His and that He will be ours?
Well, remember on the very last night, before Jesus will go to the cross, He had a special meal with His disciples. The Bible records it as such. He says to them, "Take, eat; [breaking this bread], this is my body. Taking a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."' [Matt 26:26-28]
Oh, this was no ordinary meal! This was a significant meal. This is the Last Supper, where Jesus is saying, "I am going to die. My body will be broken, My blood will be shed, will be poured out and all that is so that I may secure forgiveness for you. And I want you to remember this, I make a covenant with you. I promise you this, and this is my covenant. No need to kill animals here. No need to do that splitting into half. I will be the One. But I want you to remember that, by means of this last supper."
So henceforth, the New Testament church when people gather together for meals, when they break bread and drink the cup, they ought to remember Jesus. That's why in 1st Corinthians chapter 11:24-25, it says, "'This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way He took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."'
Now, I want you to remember that when we looked at this message on the Last Supper in Matthew 26, we had a quick look at 1st Corinthians 11. And the context of 1st Corinthians 11 is really actually not a church service, okay? It is when they were gathered in their houses of one another. It was a fellowship meal. It was a time where Christians were eating together, and Jesus, or Paul is saying, "What Jesus did on the last supper is what we need to remember when we have meals together, that Christ died for us."
Now of course, it's very hard to invite all of you to my house to have a meal nowadays. So I think in modern days, churches conduct Lord's supper as what we have - elements. And we take that as a kind of a ceremony, but actually, it ought not to be limited to such occasions. It is something that we could remember God by in our fellowship meals together.
The reason is so that we might be reminded of God's amazing covenant with us, God's amazing promise to His people, that His Son will die, and will shed His blood, so that we might be forgiven of our sins, so that all the wonderful promises would flow into His children's lives.
So, if you're struggling with doubt, really, this is one of God's ordained means to fight against doubt - remember Christ, look to the Gospel. This is God's covenant with us. Isn't this the same logic and reasoning in Romans 8:32, "If He, [that is God], who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?"
Is it true that I will have eternal life? Is it true that I have the forgiveness of sins? Is it true that I can look forward to glory above, and that I'll be heir and co-heir with Christ? Well, "If God gave His Son for you, how will He not with Him freely give you all things." [Rom 8:32] So the way to fight doubts is to look to the cross; to look to the Gospel; to drink in this Gospel; to be reminded of Jesus.
How am I to know? I will cut you a covenant. And you know, something, you did not do anything to contribute to your salvation! Jesus paid it all! "I alone will do it." And friends, that's why today, I believe it is so important for us to read the Scriptures, for us to read the Bible because doubts come in and the way to fight against it, is to guard your heart, to reinforce your spiritual life, with the reminders over and over again about God's promise, and God's deeds in order to save you from your sin.
So Romans 15:4 tells us that, "Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, [for you and for me] that through endurance, and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Some are doubting and losing hope, but the Scriptures are given so that you might have hope. How? When we are reminded of God and His love and His gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Fight doubt with Scriptures. Read the Scriptures. Read your Bible. Not so that you can be smart or have all the facts, but so that you may be warmed in your heart, about the covenant God has made. And you know, I've endeavored to show you from each page of scripture, from Genesis all the way to the end of the Bible, the central message is about Jesus and His Gospel.
Didn't the Bible [sic:says], say, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ." Faith rises where we hear about Jesus Christ, the Gospel according to Christ. And that's why Paul, he writes for us the book of Romans, chapters 1 to 11, all about what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. And then in chapter 12, He says, "Because of what God has done, because of His love for you, because of the hope that is found in the Gospel, present yourself a living sacrifice. It is worth it! You can count on it! Jesus has paid it all!"
Now, just in case you think this is merely an intellectual academic pursuit. I want you to know that the comprehension of the Gospel and the treasuring of the Gospel in the heart of a man, is not something that is accomplished by IQ alone. Now, you do need to understand, but I think the real grasp of it, is only possible by the help of God supernaturally.
The reason why I say it is because in Ephesians, chapter 1, Paul prays for the church. One prayer is what you see here in chapter 1 where he says, "I give thanks and I pray for you ..." What does he pray for? I love to read the prayers of the Bible, especially the New Testament, because they are so different from the prayers I hear in Singapore. When I hear people pray, we love to pray for PSLE, A-levels, job opportunities, pay rise, treatment from cancer. Now, I'm not saying that, "All these things are wrong." But I'm saying, "Something is really wrong, if we pray only for these things and not pray predominantly, the prayers that are modeled for us in Scripture."
The apostle Paul prays for the Ephesians that, "God would give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints." [Eph 1:16-18]
So Paul in short, is praying that the Christians and Ephesus would really, really understand the great riches God has in store for them. It's got to be prayed for! It's got to be effected by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation! It's got to be something that the eyes of the heart need to be enlightened by! Without God, these things just brush off you, like water off a duck's back. It does not stay, it's Teflon to you, you don't really grasp.
So it's of utmost importance, friends, if you're struggling with doubt today, maybe pick up Ephesians, chapter 1, and pray that God will help you understand and see. And if you're struggling today, I didn't put this verse up, but it's one of my favorite passages, that you will turn to Ephesians, chapter 3 and pray that you would understand the magnitude of God's love. Pray! That's one of the antidotes to debilitating doubt.
And if I may end with one more passage. It says in Hebrews 10:23-25, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." In other words, don't give up. I know it's difficult. I know it's trying. I know some of you are tempted to give up on your faith, but don't give up, hold on, hang in there. And one of the things the ... the author of Hebrews says is that, "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and to good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another."
Oh, it's so sad that Christians have neglected and abandoned Christian community! Some have done it and it has become their habit. It's so sad if they should do so. But don't be like them! Gather, encourage one another, do not forsake the assembling of yourselves, because it is God's ordained means that Christian community, God will use one another to help me fight against doubt, that I may keep on believing and not give up on my faith.
Remember the Gospel. Remember Jesus. How? Each time you have a fellowship meal. Each time you open the pages of Scripture. Each time you kneel to God in a place of prayer. And each time you sit in circles with Christian fellowship. That's how you fight debilitating doubt! "Remember Me, I've made you a covenant, I alone would do it." And through these means, strengthen your heart against the attacks of doubt.
Let me conclude with a story I have told before but I which, but which I love to tell again. I love being with my two sons, going on expeditions and adventures. When they were younger, we would love to go to green spaces in Singapore. We can't go NParks, we don't like to go those places because they are ... you know you can't do anything that except to see, no touch. So we like to go to places where it is neglected; abandoned, wild, so that we can hunt for creatures and insects, and so on and so forth.
I say, "I miss those days now because my two boys have grown up. And now instead of hunting for insects they like to hunt enemies on call ... Call of Duty, which is sad to me and I wouldn't join them in that." But I missed those days, I enjoyed those days where we go out hunting, especially for insects. So there's a place we go to, it's one of the many places, one of which is Queenstown, I remember fondly.
If you go there right now, you probably can't see this wildness anymore because it's sort of cleared for some developments. But when we were there, we found this potential ant nest. My son, Shawn, the older one, is superb at spotting potential spots. And when we were there, we found this spot and he dug a little and found that indeed there were these ants called, Carebara diversa, that are there. Now, Carebara diversa; diversa tells you it is diverse. And the reason why I think it's called diversa, is because the worker ants come in different shapes and sizes.
You could see that the smaller ones are typical ants, maybe you may even find at home, small tiny ants, but then they have majors. Majors are like the ones there, by the way, if you're trying to get your orientation, you see the two things, they are the claws of the ants. Imagine being bitten by them, no joke! But we found these ants, and we knew there was a nest there and so we looked at each other and said, "Let's do it!"
So, what we were wanting to do is we wanted to find the queen. The queen will be even bigger than majors. The majors how big? You say, "Maybe it's like the ... the last segment of your index finger." That could be the size of a Carebara diversa major but we wanted to find the queen, because if you can get a queen, you can bring it home, and it can reproduce for you at home.
So we decided, "Let's go for it!" And we ... we dug, We ... we took sticks, we took stones, we dug into it. Now no, it's not NParks, ah don't sue me ah! We got sticks and stones, we dug, dug, dug, dug, dug, dug, dug into it and now within maybe 30 seconds, the nation of Carebara diversa, the country of ants hiding there, knew that they were under foreign invasion. So they mobilized their troops and their workers, all flooded out from all the holes, it came out trying to defend against Jason and Shawn.
Now, they were fierce. They were, they came out in droves and they started to bite us. Now we knew that, we anticipated that, we knew that so we had to do it as fast as we can, but they were not easy. Let me show you a video of what they were, they were look like.
This is what happens when you go to a nest. All the soldiers workers, they flood out, and you can see the small ones and the big ones. Try having them in your home, no fun! You ... you ... you remark, "Jason, your photography skills sucks, man! Why is this so shaky?" Because I'm being bitten by them as I was filming it for you. So it's like, wah, no joke! It's really painful!
So Shawn and I, we would go dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, and we cannot 'tahan'[holdup in Malay] anymore, go back. And then go back again, dig, dig, dig, dig, and go and so it went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And I mean it, it was really difficult, it was really painful, it was really tiring. And after a while both of us, say, "Okay, let's call it a day!" We can't get near. But we didn't give up, the next day we came back with gloves, with pails, and with water.
I thought I could ... you know this is the joke here, I could fill the pails with water, step in the water, and then just dig at them so that they can't climb up to me. Well, it didn't quite work because it was somewhat on a slope, and it was slippery. And by the way the Carebara diversa, they were so determined to fight against alien invasion, that they swam across the waters and came up anyway.
So it was, it was messy, it was muddy, it was painful. We tried our very best, the two of us. We dig and dig and dig, we go back, we come back and so on, on the very same day we tried many times. And then we decided we needed reinforcement, and we got Matthias. Matthias is a smart one, he knew that this was an exercise in futility, so he was playing around somewhere until we say, "We are desperate, must finish today, Matthias, come and help us!"
So the three of us, invaded like crazy. But these soldiers fought so hard and valiantly, that there was no way I could get to the queen of the nest. Impossible! So, the three of us admitted defeat to Carebara diversa that day. But I reflected upon it and I thought to myself, "Wow, look at how hard these guys fight! And I think that's how we need to fight - when the alien forces of demonic doubts want to wrest away the queen of our heart, the faith we have in Jesus Christ.
Doubts will come, they attack all the time. You may not have a doubt today, but you may have it tomorrow, or maybe some of you had a doubt yesterday, or maybe some of you are struggling with doubts today. I can tell you, especially in times of difficulties and trials, doubts will come to assail your soul, but don't let doubt dehydrate your soul. Drink in the Gospel. Nourish your heart with Scripture, with prayer, with community, with a remembrance of the Lord's death. Remember Jesus and His love. Remember Jesus' promise that, "I will drink with you, I will sup with you again when I come." And let these realities inoculate you against debilitating doubt.
I pray that you will not give up on your faith. I pray you keep on pressing on. I pray you will not just depend on your willpower, but you will really come to God by the means of grace - in prayer, in Scripture, in the Lord's Supper and in Christian community. May you have a vibrant hope filled; love filled spiritual life, as you endure and as you go through the difficulties that God has put you through. He is faithful! God says, "I make a covenant with you, I alone will do it." We can trust Him in that.
Let's come to God in a word of prayer together.
As I've said, maybe some of you today right here, right now are struggling with doubt. I want to acknowledge that this is real and it is a struggle. I hope it's not stubborn unbelief; stubborn rebellion, but if you today have the right posture, you say, "Lord, I want to believe but it's hard." I hope today God has spoken to you. I hope today that you can draw tremendous encouragement in the way God dealt with Abraham. He did not reprimand Abraham, but God said, "Let me make this as concrete and as sure and as certain for you as I can, I am going to cut a covenant." And I'm saying that, "If I do not fulfill My word, let My fate be like that animal."
But you can trust that God alone will do it. And didn't God give His Son Jesus Christ for you? And if God has given Jesus Christ for you, how can He not with Him freely give you all things? Maybe today you have not been reading your Bible, you have not been seeking Him in prayer or even if you have been seeking Him in prayer, you have not been praying for the things God wants you to pray for. Maybe today, you have neglected to be in community. Maybe you have neglected remembering Jesus in your meals, whatever that may be. Perhaps this is a great time for you to say, "Lord, I want to be strengthened in my faith. Help me today to fight for faith, to drink in the Gospel, to remember Jesus and His love."
Maybe today, you're here and you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This is the Good News of the Bible - You don't need to contribute anything to earn salvation, because the Bible says, "Jesus paid it all." This is the amazing Good News that whosoever believes in Jesus Christ, that He is the One who died and who rose again for the forgiveness of sins, you will be saved. That is the amazing; magnanimous; generous; gracious offer of God, you can be saved through Jesus Christ.
So Father, we thank You this morning for Your Word. Bless Your people, some need to be encouraged, some need to return to our first works, some need to repent and believe to be saved. But, we all need you today, so speak to us and draw us near to You. Work in us to do Your will and good pleasure, and we pray You grant repentance and faith to those who need it this morning.
Thank You, dear God for who You are, what You have done for us in the Gospel. We praise You, we worship You, we thank You, we ask all this in Jesus' Name. Amen. God bless.
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