“Two Responses : Doubt Vs. Faith” ( Luke 1: 38, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

(Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 1:03pm)

Zechariah, when Gabriel appears to him as he is burning incense to the Lord in the temple, is “startled and overcome with fear.” (Luke 1:12) Mary, when Gabriel appears to her and speaks of God’s favor, is “deeply troubled by [his] statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.” (Luke 1:29)


When Gabriel tells Zechariah that his barren wife Elizabeth is to bear a son and that they shall call him John, Zechariah responds, “How can I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18) Zechariah asks for proof, given his circumstances.


When Gabriel tells Mary that she will be with child and bear the “Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) Mary asks, “How can this be?” asking to understand the message, given her circumstances. Gabriel explains, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:34, 37) With the angel’s explanation which Mary readily accepts, she responds, “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)


Elizabeth later proclaims, “She [that is, Mary] who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)


On the other hand, Gabriel proclaims to Zechariah, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at the proper time.” (Luke 1:19-20)


Mary immediately acts, visiting Elizabeth so that the unborn children – Jesus and John – may meet even before their births. John leaps in the womb at the presence of His Lord, the One he will go before to prepare the way for the salvation of God’s people.

“In The Face of Doubt” ( Matthew 28 : 18 – 20, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

“The eleven disciples travel to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus directs them. When they see Him, they worship, but some doubt.” (Matthew 28: 16 – 17, HCSB)

“Some doubt:”  In that moment of doubt, Jesus reassures them. He tells them that “all authority has been given to Me” both here on earth and above in heaven. Jesus reminds them that He is the Christ, the One who is to come; the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; the way, the truth, and the life.

And, He commands them to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Not only that, He tells them to “teach them to observe everything I command you.”

Jesus wants us to “make disciples.” He doesn’t just want people to hear about Him; He doesn’t just want people to be baptized. Instead He wants us to teach; to “make disciples.”

And, He is with us always, “to the end of the age.” His authority walks within us; and the earth belongs to Him.

“Don’t Make Your Brother Stumble” (Romans 15: 2, HCSB) by Carley Evans

If your sister or brother is weak, then you — who may be stronger — must not please yourself. Instead, you must set aside your desire to please yourself and “bear the weaknesses of those without strength.” (Romans 15: 1) You are to “please [your] neighbor for his good to build him up.”
Essentially, Paul is reminding us that even if we have faith to do a particular act, if our sister in Christ finds that act questionable or sinful, we must set aside our own conviction for a greater obligation. That obligation is not to offend our weaker sister, but to please her. When we set aside our desire in order to please our neighbor, then we build up the body of Christ rather than tear it down. We please the Lord by submitting ourselves to one another. Paul says, “Do not tear down God’s work because” an act you find “clean” “makes your brother stumble.” (Romans 14: 20, 21)

Of course, whatever you do should come from conviction — conviction which Paul strongly suggests you keep between yourself and God. Paul only warns that “everything that is not from a conviction is sin.” (Romans 14: 23) Do not doubt; have faith. Know that what you approve emerges from firm and unwavering conviction. Nevertheless, do not destroy your brother or sister’s faith because you are unwilling to set aside your conviction that you are allowed to act in a certain way.

Do not promote your freedom in Christ in a way that destroys your sister in Christ.

“Why Do You Doubt?” (Psalm 40: 8, ESV) by Carley Evansa

David sings, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, Your law is within my heart.”

God promises, “I will remove the heart of stone from [your] flesh and give [you] a heart of flesh, that [you] may walk in My statutes and keep My rules and obey them. And [you] will be My people, and I will be [your] God.” (Ezekiel 11: 19 – 20)

Jesus promises, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14: 26)

Jesus tells us, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person… What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15: 10, 18)

God’s solution is to change your heart. How do you accomplish this change of heart? You can’t. God changes your heart. He takes your dead heart of stone from you, and replaces it with His own heart. He renews your mind through His Word through the power of His Holy Spirit who teaches you “all things.”

Jesus speaks to His disciples, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Peter answers Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus responds, “Come.”

Peter gets out of the boat to walk on the water. He’s doing fine until he sees the wind. He fears, and sinks. He cries, “Lord, save me.”

Jesus immediately reaches out to take hold of Peter, saving him. “O you of little faith, why do you doubt?” (Matthew 27 – 31)