The last seven weeks have been a first. For all of us in many ways and on many levels. At first, I considered it a mini-vacay. I mean being in my jammies for weeks and never leaving home? That is my bliss! Departing from the normal, mundane, everyday routine of suits, client demands and driving hours on end every day sounded fabulous!
Until it wasn't.
Not shortly after Coro-quara-socia-tance was instituted, my mind shifted from "this is cool" to "not doing this anymore!" in about six days. I was plagued by a virus of another kind. The dreaded "Stinkin' thinkin" virus! Except, I've fought with this latter disease before and I beat it. Or did I?
I knew I was compromised when one day this week during prayer, my mind wandered from God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to fear, dread and thoughts not so holy. As if God was sitting next to me I heard him say "Ami, you need to make up your mind on what thoughts you're going to believe...mine or satan's?"
Um, yeah so that escalated quickly. Escalated to me doubting and questioning every blog I've ever written, every word of encouragement I've ever shared, every sermon I've ever thought was life changing and every bible verse I've ever read as truth. In an instant, James 1:2-8 flooded my heart, which was not shocking since my pastor just preached on part of that verse this past Sunday but it was the ending of that passage that wrecked me.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
I could write fifteen blogs on the above six verses as it is a huge piece of scripture but I want to camp out on the last three.
Believe not doubt
Expect nothing from God
Yeah, I know. Really inspiring and motivating huh? If you are going to live bravely, you have to face the hard stuff. I hope y'all know that I write these blogs for God & me. You would think as much as I study these verses before I write about them that I would have them mastered huh? Not even close. Study is not mastery. It's called "practice your faith" because that is what it will forever be, a constant practice day in and day out. I am a complete work in constant progress. God truly gives me a gift if anyone else reads these posts. I hope those of you who do find them helpful.
BELIEVE NOT DOUBT
The greatest enemy to answered prayer is unbelief. The second greatest enemy is doubt. Doubt makes us indecisive. James says God gives generously. It makes his heart happy to lavish us. But what stops the blessing is not believing God will give it or perhaps, that we don't deserve receiving it. He gives without finding fault. C'mon y'all! He doesn't wait for us to have it all together, perfect and tidy and without blemish. He gives without conditions - he just requires that we believe and then - not doubt that he will come through.
Peter temporarily walked on water. Temporary because his belief quickly turned to doubt and then he immediately sank and needed Jesus to rescue him. "Oh ye of little faith", Jesus exclaimed. Then asked, "Why did you doubt?" When we distract ourselves with anything that isn't Jesus, we become vulnerable to unbelief and doubt. We become double-minded. Stay focused on the one who calmed the waves, and believe he will rescue when you go to him.
Believing faith is only as good as its object. You can ask a stone and trust it to help you, but you will receive no help. No matter how much faith you may have and can generate, if directed at the wrong subject it does nothing. Warren Wiersbe says, "We are not saved by faith in faith, we are saved by faith in Christ." In whom do you believe? Your husband? Your pastor? Your children? Yourself? Your boss? Your bank? The only one who will never disappoint you, is Jesus. Get to know him.
James makes it clear that the faithless person shouldn't expect to receive anything from God. God cares deeply that His children, believers in Jesus, will trust Him exclusively. He has no interest in being some booth we visit in the marketplace of theological ideas. He wants to be our first and final stop.
If we read the first line of the passage above, James asks us to consider it joyful when we face trials. Seriously? Yes! Because when you are chosen to receive hardship, you need to make up your mind in that time to trust God. Christians who trust God also seek wisdom from Him—and not from ungodly sources. We continue to trust Him through difficult experiences, in part, to receive the crown of life promised to those who don't stop.
And do you know what the crown of life is? Me either.
But if it's promised, it's good - very good - and I would rather go through life expecting that from God then expecting nothing from God.
Verse 7 makes it clear that a doubtful person—the one who treats God as only one of many options—should not expect to receive anything from God. This verse calls that person both double-minded and unstable. Trying to live by God's wisdom while also following a form of "wisdom" from another source will always lead us in two different directions. We will always be deciding whose wisdom feels more right to us in any given moment. In that way, we end up making a god of our own ability to pick the "right" wisdom from day to day.
John Gills commentary on this verse is such a great illustration of what James was saying. He writes: "A man of two souls, or of a double heart, that speaks and asks with a heart, as in
(Psalms 12:2 ) who halts between two opinions, and is at an uncertainty what to do or say, and is undetermined what to ask for; or who is not sincere and upright in his requests, who asks for one thing, and means another, and asks amiss, and with an ill design; does not call upon God in truth, and in the sincerity of his soul; draws nigh to him with his mouth, and honours him with his lips, but his heart is far from him. Such a one is unstable in all his ways; he is confused in his mind; restless in his thoughts, unsettled in his designs and intentions; inconstant in his petitions; uncertain in his notions and opinion of things; and very variable in his actions, and especially in matters of religion; he is always changing, and never at a point, but at a continual uncertainty, both in a way of thinking and doing: he never continues long either in an opinion, or in a practice, but is ever shifting and moving."
Do you know people like that? This past week, I may have been one of them.
When we can't decide and make up our minds we become unreliable, unsure, confused and confusing. We say Yes! one minute and No!!! the next. Up one minute and down the next. It is clear evidence of instability and immaturity. When you go to God with a decisive, believing, undoubtful heart and ask in faith for what you need - that honors him and he gives abundantly. And oh my friend, how sweet and glorious his blessings are.