DECREASING FAITH AND INCREASING DOUBT
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man
and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel.
I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and
to tell you this good news. Luke 1:18–19
I spoke to the men of our congregation, recently, challenging them to mature in faith. I would like to do the same here. Not just to speak to the men, but also to the women who have remained at the same spiritual maturity level for a while.
Not that I’ve taken a poll, but as I have continued to: A. Look in the Mirror B. Interact with Other Believers, it could be argued in many cases that we have reached a plateau in Spiritual Growth. Worse, that plateau, though growth, is still many levels away from the mark God has set for us. We have measured our growth by those who stand beside us, and validated ourselves by those behind us. We have found safety and security in our salvation, and have not explored the depths of our faith, choosing to pray and seek earthly things and not the things of the Spirit. Too many have maintained the mustard seed faith because they take pride in just having enough to get a prayer through!
For us to move the ball forward, bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth,
accomplishing the will of God in this time, it’s going to take not just a
collection of faiths, but a growing gather of believers who have proven
themselves through obedience to be disciples.
As I studied the Luke account of the birth of John the Baptist, I was captured by the encounter of Zechariah and Gabriel. Zecheriah was a priest. His responsibility was to maintain his personal relationship with God and the people’s relationship with God. He was a mediator for both himself and others, yet he stood before Zechariah as a man limited in faith and questioning God’s will for his life and others. He knew God well enough to pray for His will to be done but didn’t have enough faith to wait for it to be fulfilled.
Let me start with myself! I asked myself as a Priest and Prophet, “how do you stand?” Am I a man standing in faith or preaching a faith that I lack? Am I so filled with faith that the Words that come from my mouth are fertile enough to birth a harvest? Do I hear God speak to my heart, and respond with action or questions? Is my faith so deep that it will weather every storm, or is it so flimsy that a gentle breeze will carry me away?
How about you? How are you standing? Would you even consider yourself standing? What about leaning? How many of us are praying with confidence? Do we understand that asking is not a deep display of confidence? I say this because some of us believe articulating the words is enough. Behind the words are the faith that back them. Faith plays a role in the transaction! The reality is that many of us are like Zechariah. We have enough faith to ask, but not enough to believe that He will answer our prayers in His own time.
I believe Zechariah had a good measure of faith, but had given up on God. He had drawn the conclusion that God was more not willing, than not capable. But then when given the Word of God’s Will, His response was not about God’s will, but the Capability of God! Of course, He was not questioning God’s power, but he was convinced that he was not able or capable even with the power of God. He didn’t have the benefit of seeing Lazarus come from the tomb, nor the man picking up his matt and walking, but he did have the testimony of his forefathers who had served in the temple. He had heard about Gideon, studied David, been enlightened by Solomon, been encouraged by Joseph and most of all, heard how God blessed Abraham and Sarah. Despite all this, he didn’t believe it could happen to him. He had counted himself out, and removed himself from the possibility of being a participant in God’s plan.
Maybe you too have disqualified yourself? Maybe you too have allowed doubt to sink in? Maybe you have gone so far between encounters with God, that you have forgotten that He moves in His own time and showers down blessings on even the most dyer situations.
Maybe the drought is the exact stage needed to display his power to those whose faiths have become stagnant or not yet begun? Maybe as opposed to doubting, our anticipation of His great display of power should be the results. Each day, believers should gain more excitement and not anxiety, knowing each day is a step towards Him honoring His Covenant! He is not a man that should lie; thus we don’t wait to see if He will fulfill, but we what for the day He will fulfill.
If only our prayers had a tracking number! Zecheriah found there was much distance between his request and fulfillment. Long after Zecheriah had forgotten about his fast, God had heard and decided when and how He would respond. Our friend Zechariah had a desire in his heart but thought it had reached its shelf-life. As if our words have a shelf-life? This is why we should see an increase and a decrease. His promises have no shelf-life. Our words, we learn from our father are life itself. Our prayer requests don’t have tracking numbers! We have to wait on God to unfold His perfect will for our lives.
So I ask you, “Where is your faith?” I asked the men, and now I ask you. “We have too many believers getting the faith needed for their prayer request like grandmother used to send us next door for a cup of sugar.” I stated in the message. I continued, “I’ll pray with you, but where is your faith? We need to be in agreement. We must stand together. He hears you, and hears me, and just a little doubt ruins the whole loaf.” Could it be that we have seen a decrease in signs and wonders because there is a lack of faith in the pulpit and the pew? What ashamed it would be if God had to put us all out of the church to perform a miracle? Maybe that’s what happening now? Only time will tell!