Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Commissioned Series: Week 2 - Commissioned in Authority

In my last two years of high school I had a coach, who was the parent of one of the players. He started coaching the year before I arrived at the school, and won the league. I had high hopes for the team when I joined, because they only lost one player, and were gaining several others. But my hopes were quickly dashed, when I realized what kind of coach he was. Instead of teaching his players, he would berate them.
I remember my first pre-season game my senior year with the team. We were playing against a team a division above ours and I was pitching. By the third inning, I had allowed 1 run, but they had kept us to 0. Their pitcher was either really good, or as I believed, we just weren’t prepared. Up to that point in practice I had taken five swings against a live pitcher. In two innings were the pitcher had struck out six players in a row. Then in the third inning, the first batter came up, strikeout; the second came up, strikeout; then it was my turn. The coach always put me last in the batting lineup when I pitched, even though when I played the field I hit 5th. But here I was hitting ninth. The opposing pitcher had eight straight strikeouts, and was looking for the ninth. I wasn’t going to let that happen. The first pitch I was given I hit, a ground ball to the shortstop, my team were on their feet cheering me on. I ran as hard as I could to beat out the throw and a split second before my right foot hit the bag, the ball reached the first baseman. I was out, the inning was over. I hustled back to the dugout and the first words out of my coach’s mouth were shouted at me, “You hit the bag with the wrong foot!”
Instantly I was furious. I tried not to respond as I entered the dugout to grab my glove, as he berated me for not hitting the bag with the correct foot. See, the general accepted technique to stepson a bag in baseball is with the left foot. This allows for the body to make a left turn easier when going to second base. And as I grabbed my glove the constant yelling from the coach finally broke me. My 5’11 skinny frame lunged at the 5’6” portly man, and if I would have gotten a hold of him, I don’t know what I would have done. Luckily my teammates grabbed me. I left then and there in a furious mood. Eventually I apologized for my behavior, never receiving one in return. 
Years later, I met one of the shortstops from the other team who remembered me from that game. He told me that after I left, they destroyed us, a fact none of my teammates let me know. 
My dad told me once, that he asked the principle why they kept that coach around, and the answer was, he got them free equipment through his work, and when his son graduated, he would be gone.

I never like that coach, because I believe he used his authority as a coach to berate and demean his players, going so far as the during year they won their league, chasing a player with a bat. No one on the team liked him, the staff tolerated him, but everyone saw, that this man was given authority and was not worthy of it. 

And it’s this idea of authority and using it correctly that brings us back into the text of Matthew 28, verses 16 through 20; where, last week, we began to dissect, what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission. We started down this path, because as we talked about at the end of our ARK Series, when a person puts their trust into Jesus as their Savior, they are indwelled with the Holy Spirit and are now the ark of God’s presence on earth.
In our first week of the year, we tackled the context of the Great Commission. And in the context, we saw three important points: First, the disciples met Jesus on a mountain. The eye witness Matthew pointed this out, because mountains represented encounters with God throughout the Old Testament. The second point we noticed, was that the disciples worshiped Jesus. Matthew points this out, because Jesus himself makes the clear proclamation that only God is worthy to be worshiped (Matthew 4:9). So by the disciples worshiping Jesus, and by him receiving that worship, Jesus infers that he is God Almighty. The last point we saw last week, and the one that we walked away applying to our own lives, was the fact that Matthew pointed out that there was still disciples that were doubting. We talked about how even in their, and in our, doubt, God can still use us.

With the context understood, we can now jump back into the Great Commission of Matthew 28, verses 16-20. And like we said last week, we’re going to read through the whole passage and then focus on a particular verse or verses. So let’s read together starting in verse 16 of Matthew chapter 28.

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Like we said last week, when we understand the context of the disciples encountering God on a mountain, worshiping him and yet still having doubts, it puts into perspective the words of Jesus that follow their doubting. 

In verse 18, Jesus speaks and says these important words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to.”

These words are in direct response to their doubting. Jesus is saying that there is no need to doubt because he has all authority in the universe. But today, I want us to focus on three words from this passage, “all”, “authority”, and “given”.

The reason I want us to stop and focus on these three words, is because when we glance over these words, I have found that people misapply their meanings and come up with all sorts of beliefs from them.

So today we’re going deep into Scripture so that we can fully understand the meaning behind what Jesus is saying in this verse and how we are to respond with what he is calling us to do. First, let’s tackle the first and the last words, because the one in the middle is the most troublesome it seems.

The word all, is the Greek word pas (pas), which means the parts making up the whole. Simply put, it’s a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces of the puzzle are brought together to make the whole. In this case, it’s the pieces of heavenly authority and earthly authority.
One of the harder things to understand about Jesus, is that on earth he is both fully God and fully man. And as such, Jesus actually excludes himself from using his divine power. Paul says it like this in Philippians 2:6-7, “Who (Jesus), being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Those words, “he made himself nothing”, literally mean, he emptied (Greek: kenoó [ken-o’-o]) himself of his divine power.
And we see this through Jesus’ earthly ministry. In John 5:19 it reads, “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
Later on in verse 30 of that same chapter Jesus says, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
Earlier in Matthew’s book, satan, recognizes that Jesus has put away his divine power when he became a human and so entices Jesus to break this emptying in Matthew chapter 4 verse 3 where it reads, “The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’”
And so, when Jesus says, all authority, he is making a point to let us know that on earth, he only had some authority, which was the authority given to him to accomplish certain tasks. But now, all, every piece of his divine authority had been restored.

Which brings us to the word given. The Greek word didómi (did’-o-mee), has the idea behind it that something is being bestowed. In that Philippians passage, if we were to pick it up in verse 9 it reads, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
As Jesus completes his earthly work, which started with him emptying himself of his divine power, he is restored by God the Father in all of his infinite power and status.

Taking these two words together, we can now read verse 18 like this: Every aspect of Jesus’ divine authority, which he had emptied himself of, has been restored to him, because of his work on earth and through the cross.

Now, for some of us, maybe most of us, these two ideas are commonly understood. But there are those that want to either bring Jesus down to merely an exulted human or lift him him beyond human limitations, but the Scriptures won’t allow those interpretations. Instead, the understanding of Jesus being fully God and fully man, with the limitations of a human while on earth is the Scriptural view of Jesus’ earthly work.
But I’ve noticed that when it comes to the word authority, there is a lot of misunderstanding. I have seen this lead into one major misinterpretation of what authority means in Scripture and in the life of the believer.

And so, let us dive into what Scripture has to say about authority.

Now, we can go in one of two directions with the time we have left. We can either talk about Jesus’ authority or we can talk about the believer’s role in that authority. Through my time in prayer, it has been pressed on me that we need to focus on our role in authority, because more and more I have seen it be misinterpreted. Many people understand that Jesus’ authority is infinite and all encompassing. But what about the believer? And so I want to bring us to the misinterpretation of authority in the believer’s life first, and dive into what the Scriptures have to say about it.

One of the more common misinterpretations I have heard, uses verses like Romans 4:17. The verse reads, “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”
The common paraphrase that I’ve heard focuses’ solely on the last phrase of the verse and sounds like this, “We as believers can call things into being, things that were not.”
Not only is it taking the verse out of context, inserting us when the verse doesn’t mention us at all, but it gives us authority to do things that only God can do. This misinterpretation has at it’s core a misunderstanding of where we stand in authority.

So let’s get into what the Scriptures say about authority and what it means in our lives.

First, the word used of authority in Matthew 28:18, is the Greek word, exousia (ex-oo-see’-ah). Exousia (ex-oo-see’-ah) means the power to act, the right to have, the freedom to do. And so Jesus is saying in Matthew 28:18, that all powers to act, and all rights to have and all freedoms to do, are his.

But this word appears a lot in the New Testament, in fact it appears 102 times, and in almost every book.
Of these 102 times, we can break that down into 5 categories. First, the references to God or Jesus’ authority is referenced in 31 verses. Second, in reference to the believer there are 19 verses. Third, in reference to earthly governments we’re at 12 verses. Fourth, to satanic authority, there are 14 verses. And finally, the miscellaneous use of the word, with another 16 verses.
In several of these verses the term authority is used multiple times, and the Greek word gets translated into authority, power, right, and freedom. 
But right off the bat, we can see the main focus of the word authority in the New Testament, far and above all other uses, exousia (ex-oo-see’-ah) is focused on God’s authority, his power, his right, and his freedom.

And so, when Jesus says that all authority in heaven and on earth is his, we can see throughout the New Testament, just what that means. And if you would like a list of these verses that talk about God’s authority, come tonight to our sermon discussion and I can given them to you.
But like I said earlier, there is a misunderstanding of what the role of the believer has when it comes to authority. And so, I think it best to allow the Scriptures to dictate to us what role in authority or what authority God didómi (did’-o-mee), or bestows to us. So let’s focus on those. 

In the 19 verses that connect believers to authority, all 5 (Matt. 10:1; Mark 3:15, 6:7; Luke 9:1, 10:19) in the first three Gospels, reference Jesus giving authority to cast out demons, heal the sick, and proclaim the kingdom of God. The only reference in John’s Gospel (1:12) talks about a believer’s right to become a child of God. In the rest of the New Testament, there are five references to ministers of the Gospel having a right to compensation (1 Corinthians 9:4, 5, 6, 12,18; 2 Thessalonians 3:9). Two references to church discipline (2 Corinthians 10:8; 13:10). One reference is in having authority over, or being in control of our sexual appetites (1 Corinthians 7:37). One reference tells us to not misuse our authority or our freedom (1 Corinthians 8:9). Then there is one reference to being identified with Jesus in his suffering (Hebrews 13:10). And the last three references come from the book of Revelation where we’re told that when we overcome we’ll receive authority to judge nations (2:26), the second death has no authority over us (20:6), and we’ll have the authority or right to eat of the tree of life (22:14).

So now all that said, what can we glean from the authority that we have in Scripture? Well first, we’re intimately connected with Christ who has the authority.  In 10 of the 19 verses the believer has no authority apart from Christ. Any authority we have comes from him, and is done at his command. That’s really important, because where he has every piece of authority, we only have a piece. 
This is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” We are merely a representation of the authority that Christ wields.
Next, five of the verses show us that we should be in support of those engaged in ministry. So as believers we need to be looking for those ministry that are sharing the Gospel through speaking the word, caring for those in need, and honoring God though it. I’m not saying you should support the Alliance ministry, though I think you should, what I am saying is that you need to be led by God to find the ministries he wants you to support. 
Then, two of the verses tell us that there is a structure in the Church of correcting Church related matters, and so we need to be under that authority. Each of us then, is called to a group of believers so that we can be accountable. If you’re not in such a group, then you’re actually missing out on the blessing that it brings. Because none of us is supposed to be a loner in this family of God.
Next, one verse calls us to be in control of our sexual desires. Really that means in control of our whole body. Our physical desires should not control us, but rather we should be in control of them
And finally, one verses tells us to not misuse any aspect of this authority. Not to misuse our thinking about where the authority comes from. Not misuse what ministries we support. Not misuse the accountability and fellowship of believers. Not misuse our bodies. 

So the authority that Christ bestows to his disciples, is to spread the Gospel, support each other in spreading the Gospel, be humble in our spiritual walks by being accountable to other, be in control of our bodies, and to not misuse any of it.
It makes sense that this is the authority that we are bestowed by Christ, because the first two words following Jesus’ proclamation that he has all authority in heaven and on earth is “Therefore go…” 
Each of us is to share the Gospel, each of us is called to support the sharing of the Gospel, each of us is called to a body of believers to be accountable, each of us is called to bring our desires under Christ’s rule, and each of us is called to not misuse any of it.

We are called by the authority of Jesus to conduct ourselves as he calls us. Not into what our own desires have for us, but what his desire is for us. We do not call those things that were not into being into being, but rather, we speak the words of Jesus, “Very truly I tell you, the Son (the believer) can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son (the believer) also does (John 5:19).”

My challenge for you this week is to take inventory of your life. First, in what areas are you trying to have authority, when the authority hasn’t been given to you? Sometimes, we try to force God into doing our will, but it is his will we need to be seeking. Second, in the areas of authority he has given you, what are you not following through in? Sharing the Gospel, supporting ministries, being accountable to others, not letting your desires overcome you, or just misusing it for your benefit and not Christ’s. 
Jesus has only given us authority in a very narrow area, and even so, there’s a lot to be done with it. What are we trying to do beyond that? 

Let us be God’s people, a people under Jesus’ authority, working out the limited authority he has given us today. Amen.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Commissioned Series: Week 1 - Commissioned in Doubt

When Marika and I were in our first year of marriage, we led a missions team down to Honduras for two months. While we were getting trained to lead this group, we had to attend a week long leadership camp, where they pushed us both physically and mentally. For the most part, I was fine, because most of the tasks weren’t out of the realm of my abilities. That is until we got to a challenge called the high ropes course.
Now, if you’ve never experienced a high ropes course, let me tell you it’s all in the name. It’s high above the ground with all you have to support you are the ropes, and it’s an obstacle course to navigate through. Personally, ropes and courses are fine with me; I’ll run a course, and play with ropes all day long. It’s when you take those two things and put them twenty feet high above the ground that I start to doubt my abilities. Because I don’t have a fear of high places, but of long drops.
In order to get me through the course, as I held on for dear life, Marika, who didn’t seem to have any trouble with the whole situation, spent the whole of the time encouraging me every step of the way. But the most harrowing part of the course, and the part that almost all of our group failed at, was this thing called the “X”. It was the final challenge of the course, and you had to accomplish it with a partner. 
The challenge went like this: You faced your partner, put your arms out, and held each other’s hands in front of you. Then you made your way onto two ropes that gradually moved away from each other. The object of the challenge was to lean on your partner’s hands as your feet moved out from under you. You would eventually get to a position of almost being parallel to the ground.
I obviously had my doubts, but through Marika’s encouragement we were the only two from our group who finished the whole thing without falling. And that is why I will never do another ropes course for the rest of my life. I beat it, and so I will end as a champion.

But it’s this idea of doubting that brings us to a new series as we kick off this new year. We ended last year with our Ark series, finalizing it with the understanding that if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, then the Holy Spirit has been given to us, making us the ark of God’s presence in this world. 
This is done through Jesus’ death on the cross, his resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God the Father.
Recently, I had a conversation with someone where the idea of apostleship and commissioning were brought up. Through that conversation and my prayer time following it, I was brought to a point where I understood God’s leading for us to talk about what it means to be commissioned by God. What it means for a believer to carry the presence of God in this world.

So for the next several weeks, we’re going to unpack one of the Alliance’s core passages, Matthew 28, the Great Commission. So if you have you’re Bibles, we’re going to be camping out in Matthew chapter 28 verse 16-20 for the coming weeks, as we dive deep into what it means to be commissioned by God and carry his presence into the world.

And as we open to Matthew 28, verse 16, I want to bring us up to speed on where we’re at in the passage and why we’re beginning where we are.
First off, let’s talk about the passage in it’s context. We’re coming at the end of one of the original twelve disciple’s Gospel account of Jesus. So as we read this, this commissioning is from an eyewitness account. Through the eyewitness of Matthew, we are given insight, not just of the words of Jesus, but of the state of mind of the disciples. Matthew’s Gospel is also undeniably focused on connecting Jesus with the Old Testament. So throughout his writing, we are brought back to Old Testament ideas. When we come to this passage, were coming directly after the resurrection, where we’re not told the number many days that have passed, just that Jesus is risen, and the disciples are to meet with him. Matthew ends his account of Jesus’ ministry here, because it’s where we see Jesus passing of the torch, of his work to the disciples. That’s the passage in context of where we find it.

The Second thing I want to point out is where we’re starting the passage. Though most translations start the passage in verse 16 with the heading, “The Great Commission,” when most people talk about the Great Commission, they’re usually only talking about verses 18-20. But for me, the situation that the disciples find themselves in, and that Jesus is speaking into, is just as important as the words that Jesus uses. Because as we’ll see, the words Jesus uses reflect the state of mind that the disciples are in. Therefore, I believe that we need to make sure we encompass verses 16 and 17 into the Great Commission to fully understand it.

So let’s do just that. We’ll read through the entire passage, and then go back and start to unpack it. Let’s start reading the Great Commission in Mathew 28, starting in verse 16.

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Alright, a lot is going on this is passage, so let’s focus on verses 16 and 17 today. In these two verses, Matthew gives us the location and the state of mind of the disciples as they see Jesus resurrected. 

First, let’s talk about location. Verse 16 reads, “16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.” In Matthew’s Gospel, mountain is mentioned twelve times. Nine of those are in connection to seven physical locations. The devil tempts Jesus on a mountain in chapter 4. Jesus delivers a sermon from a mountainside in chapter 5. Jesus goes to a mountain to pray in chapter 14. Jesus is transfigured on a mountain in chapter 17. In the end times, Jesus says that people are to flee to the mountains in chapter 24. And finally the mountain where the disciples are in this passage. 
Why is this important? Because Matthew’s focus on mountains, is a direct connection to the Old Testament understanding that to meet with God, is to meet him on his holy mountain. Abraham meets God on a mountain when he is called to sacrifice Issac. Moses meets God on the mountain where he receives the commandments. Elijah meets God on the mountain where he is encouraged to return to ministry. 
It’s where we get our phrase mountain top experience. The mountain being closer to the stars, is connected with the idea that the further up you go from the earth, the closer you are to heaven. Therefore, God meets you on the top of mountains.
So the fact that Matthew is pointing out that the disciples met Jesus on the mountain is significant. How significant? Let’s move into verse 17.

“17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” In verse 17 we’re given an action, and a state of mind. Let’s focus on the action first.
Matthew says that the disciples “worshiped him”. The word Matthew uses here is, proskuneó (pros-koo-neh’-o), which sounds a little like prostrating. And in fact means something similar. Proskuneó (pros-koo-neh’-o) means to give reverence to someone by getting down on your knees and kissing their feet.
This is the same word that is used by both the devil and Jesus in their clash in Matthew 4:9 and 10. While on a mountain the devil says to Jesus, “‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and Proskuneó (pros-koo-neh’-o) worship me.’ 10 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall Proskuneó (pros-koo-neh’-o) worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’””
So, when Matthew uses proskuneó (pros-koo-neh’-o) here, he’s not using it lightly. Matthew is helping us understand the response of the disciples to Jesus. But what is more telling, is Jesus’ response to them. When we read the whole passage together, there is no rebuke, no correction from Jesus to the disciples. This points us to Jesus’ true identity of being fully God and worthy of our worship.

But let’s now turn our attention to the state of mind of the disciples. After the disciples worship Jesus, Matthew adds three words, “but some doubted”. The word distazo (dis-tad’-zo) is a combination of two greek words, “dis” and “stasis”. “Dis” means double, whereas “stasis” means stance. The proper understanding of the word then is a wavering between two stances, positions, or beliefs.
This word is only used one other time in the the New Testament and it’s by Matthew in chapter 14 verse 31. Listen to how it’s used in that context. Starting in verse 25 of Matthew chapter 14 it reads, “25 And in the fourth watch of the night he (Jesus) came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you distazo (dis-tad’-zo) doubt?”

Jesus speaks of Peter’s wavering between his trust in Jesus and his fear of the wind.
In the context of the Great Commission passage, the disciples are wavering in their belief of who Jesus really is. Sure they’re worshiping him, but they’re not sure about it.

And it’s here that I have to say, I love the intentionality and the honesty of Scripture. How many of us, if we tell a story about ourselves, try to leave out the most unflattering parts and embellish the parts that make us look better?
Growing up I used to tell this story of when I fell in a ditch. I was about seven or eight and I was riding my bike back from my friend’s house. We lived out in the county and my friend’s place was about two miles from mine. On my way back, I was practicing a wheelie, when a rattlesnake crossed right in front of me. When I tried to avoid the snake and I fell into the ditch along the side of the road. I hit my head, and when I came to, the sun was setting. I felt wetness on my scalp, and I thought I was bleeding, but when I went to move my arm to touch my head, I felt a really bad pain shoot through it, and I thought it was broke. As I was feeling the pain in my arm, I heard the faint rattling sound that is unmistakable for a rattlesnake. I sat there and thought of what I should do. I slowly looked around, but couldn’t see where the rattle was coming from. The grass had turned golden and was so thick, the rattle could be coming from anywhere. I laid there for a while, not daring to move. Then, I got up the courage to move slowly. With my hurt arm and pounding head, I pulled the bike out with my good arm and rode the half mile that remained to my house.

That’s a good story right? Let me add the unflattering details and bring back the embellishing. I wasn’t practicing my wheelies, I just hit a small patch of pebbles that had been thrown onto the road by a car coming off of a gravel road by my house. And there wasn’t a snake, the rustling sound I heard, was the wind through the grass. The wetness on my head was sweat, because it was summertime, and my arm wasn’t broke just really bruised. But when I told that story when I was younger, people would pat me on the back and tell me how brave I was. But the reality is, I wasn’t. I was just a shaky kid on a bike that didn’t want people to think he was such a bad rider. So I embellished the story, and got rid of the unflattering parts.

We tend to embellish the good and down play the bad, but the Scriptures don’t do that. They let us know the struggles of real people. Matthew could have easily left out the fact that all of the disciples where in this state wavering in their worship of Jesus. I mean, they were his inner circle, his eleven apostles, the first evangelists and leaders of the Church. But we’re told, that even after his resurrection, they were still doubting.
And I am so glad that Matthew lets us know that this was the reality of the disciples, because the words that Jesus uses, makes more sense when shown in the light of the disciples wavering, and it gives me hope as well.
These eleven disciples would go on to spend the rest of their lives being persecuted. These eleven waverers, would go on to be the first building blocks in Jesus’ Church. These doubters would go onto write the New Testament and give encouragement to those that would follow after them. 
By letting us know that even these eleven wavered in their belief, and showing us that Jesus still commissioned them to carry out his work, gives me hope.

One of the things I struggled with when I was first called to ministry was, can I really do this? Am I really able to be a pastor? There are times when I waver even today with this question. But when I read about the wavering of these eleven disciples, and how God still used them, I realize that God can still use me when I waver.

Even in our wavering faith, God can use people like you and me. Peter wasn’t the brightest, Matthew wasn’t the most liked, John and James where hot heads, Thomas was a realist that needed hard evidence, Simeon and Thaddaeus were revolutionaries, Andrew was a simple man that stayed out of the spot light, Nathaniel was prejudice against those from Nazareth, Philip didn’t usually grasp the harder teachings of Jesus, and James the son of Alphaeus, well he got stuck with the nick name James Lesser, so yeah he didn’t do a lot.
These men weren’t the best in any regard, yet God used them to radically impact the world. That should give us hope, hope that even at our worst God can use us. Even in our doubts, in our wavering, God can use us. And when we understand that God uses common men and women of wavering belief, then we can understand how each of us is commissioned by God to accomplish all that he has for us.

Today, if you have put your trust into Jesus, yet you struggle in that trust, I want to encourage you that God can and will use you. You are commissioned to do his work, and let your wavering push you deeper into trust, deeper into the Scriptures, and deeper into worship. 

I want to challenge you this week to write down where you struggle in your faith. For some it’s, how can a loving God allow evil. For others it’s, how do I love the unlovable. Still others it’s, I don’t have a response for the questions that non-believers ask me. Where do you struggle? How do you wavier? Bring it before God this week, and then re-read these two verses f those that came before you, who also wavered in their faith.
And through it, let us all become more humble before our God, bringing our doubts before him who still uses us, and worship him in truth. Amen.