Soul Decay

Soul Decay

Matthew 14:28-32 (NLT)

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Like a hundred years ago when I was a teenager, my mom took me to the dentist for a cleaning and checkup. At the visit, there was a new thing out called “sealants” that he encouraged her to try on my teeth. It would seal each tooth and prevent decay by creating a barrier between my pearly whites and food particles and the cavity creeps (Schoolhouse Rock). Over the years, I would continue sporadic dental visits and as an adult quite infrequently. The truth is that I am terrified of the dentist. Please don’t tell my kids since I am fanatical about their visits. Don’t remind my husband or he will make me go. Anyway – following one of my pregnancies I noticed a cavity had formed in one of my back teeth. Forced into the chair that I loathed, I settled back for a filling. (Dang kids!) When the dentist x-rayed my teeth, he noticed that the sealants on my teeth had cracked over time trapping the “cavity creeps” in my mouth so rather than a single cavity – there were several in my lower and upper molars. The protection in my mouth left uncared for so many years became a perpetrator harboring tiny fugitives that attacked my teeth relentlessly. It took two more visits to the dreaded dentist to fill them all and again seal and protect my teeth. I will admit that regular examinations would have prevented this problem. Proper dental care would have kept me from having to endure so many procedures, but I was afraid. I still am. Oh me of little faith…

One would think that as a disciple, one would have unimaginable faith simply because of all the many miracles witnessed following Jesus Christ. Well, obviously this is not the case when we read accounts like the one of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. He walks a short distance until the wind and waves catch his attention and down he goes. Back to my dental dilemma. I had a visit scheduled for the week that our son began cancer treatment for the first time. It was a perfect excuse to cancel my next dental visit and not reschedule. It was more than four years ago and he has been in remission over a year, I still haven’t made another appointment. Fear takes over any place that we allow doubt to thrive and grow. Why do we struggle so with faith and trust in Jesus? Especially if we have witnessed miraculous outcomes or His Word coming to pass, yet still when He calls us out for more faith – we flail in the water over and over again. So what does Jesus do…He keeps calling us out on the water. But just to set the record straight, we asked to come out there in the first place. People try the Lord every day with the thought and question, “Lord, is it really you?”

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

 

Faith will never be visible. It will always be a quality in people that is personal and individual. No one knows the true capacity of my faith except the Lord. I think I have faith until I ask the Lord to us me or change me so He tests me at my own invitation. Down, I go. Sometimes quick and sometimes slow, my faith runs out and I know the areas of my life where it is not sufficient to secure the hope I have in Him. I must be confident in the hope I have to use my faith to obtain it. Faith is the decision to trust the Lord for the unseen or that which defies all five human senses. It is not socially acceptable. It makes us look like fools to the rest of the world. To many, it is a sign of weakness. But it’s not…

Mark 11:22-24 (NLT)

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.

 

Jesus told the disciples to have faith in God. In doing so, they would be able to pray for anything and by believing it would be received. We are told the same thing today yet where are the mountain-moving miracles that we are asking for. Where is the change? Why are so few people experiencing the benefits promised by having faith in God? Do I really need to say it? I guess I do. We still are too busy trying to find out “Lord, is it really you?” Right before his death, John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus the very same question. He was at the edge of his faith – it was running out. Faith answers the question, “Lord, is it really you?” Faith is a process. It is the process of acquisition by which we overtake fear and take another step closer into confident hope that is not moved by winds and waves but only the Word of God. Peter said, “Lord, if it’s really you tell me to come…” Jesus said, “Yes, come.” Genuine and complete faith would have allowed Peter to walk with Jesus indefinitely. However, when his faith ran out and fear took over – he began to sink. But that was not the end of the test, it was just one of many that the Lord would use to stretch this man’s faith from here to eternity.

John 14:6-9 (NLT)

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?

I have no excuse. I can go to the dentist anytime. I have a great insurance plan that pays for two cleanings and exams a year. It also pays a good portion of any procedures that may be needed. I have a great dentist who understands “white coat syndrome”. When I go to the dentist, I am ushered back to a room immediately. He does everything in his power to calm my fears and help me overcome this foolishness in my head. If an additional procedure is needed, he does not schedule multiple visits but tries to accomplish it in as few as possible so I will come. The last time he had to do some dental work, he numbed me so much my right eye drooped and I could barely hold it open, but praise God, I didn’t feel a thing. I have no excuse not to go. Yet, I still refuse to schedule another visit. What’s wrong with me?

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father, except through me.” Faith is the only requirement for salvation. Faith will change how we live, what we say and the things we do if it is flourishing in our life. When met with fear, faith says keep going. However, if we stop moving because of fear – it will soon take over. I have only been talking about going to the dentist with you – yet my heart is beating so fast and hard I can hear it in my ears. The enemy doesn’t have to wreak havoc in our life – he just has to make us think he might. Fear is a faith destroyer. See faith fills every void in our life completely. It is the knowledge and belief that Jesus is all that we need. However, if fear is allowed to exist – it will eventually stop in our tracks and we will not continue to follow Jesus Christ even though He is the Way to the Father. Fear is distracting. Fear amplifies every other voice over the Lord. Fear pushes back the Holy Spirit. Fear is solely dependent on you. It will create soul decay if not dealt with daily.

I can brush my teeth multiple times every day which I do. I can floss probably not as much as I should but I do. Avoiding foods that are not good for my teeth and the like, I can do everything in my power to maintain good oral hygiene. But to have the best care and prevent tooth decay, I need the dentist to do his work in my life. I can “do” all the right things, but I will always need Jesus to maintain my faith, strengthen my confidence and overtake fear in my life. Every day… all day or there is a risk that my soul will begin to decay.

Luke 24:36-42 (NLT)

And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.”  As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched.

Let me set the scene for you: Jesus has been crucified. He was buried. Now the tomb was empty. The disciples are now in hiding fearing for their very lives. Some are saying that the Lord is resurrected, others just want to make it home alive. Suddenly, Jesus is standing before them. Not a ghost-like imagine, but Jesus in full body form. Just like he was in the days preceding his death, but now with nail-scarred hands and feet. Everyone in the room, for lack of better words, freaked out. Now on many occasions, I have dreamt of my grandmother who is with the Lord. In these dreams, I walk through her house looking for her sometimes we sit and talk as my heart longs for her again. But now if my grandma walked in the house and sat down at my table, yeah I would be completely weirded out, too. Just saying. That’s the kind of crazy the Lord’s Appearance created even though it is exactly as He said. Welcome to our life.

Even on the days that Jesus does exactly as He promised or we experience miracles in our life, it doesn’t take long for us to reach our faith limit and experience fear. It happens to the best of them. It is the same thing experienced by Elijah who one day stood in complete faith in God on Mount Carmel ultimately killing almost 1,000 false prophets to hiding in a cave on Mount Sinai. We are to have faith that moves mountains but it is described a single mustard seed. It doesn’t take much but we must have it to overcome fear and live by faith.

As the disciples and followers of Jesus stood in speechless shock, I love what the Lord does. He doesn’t berate them. He doesn’t fuss at them for not believing. He says, “Hey, do you have anything to eat?” Jesus had jokes. No really, He knew their hearts. He knew they needed more time with Him to understand and take one more step to deeper faith in Him so He hung out with them. Shared a meal. Passed the time. Jesus loves us. He knows our heart. He understands our fear struggles and provides all the faith we need to overcome them all. He is patient, loving and kind giving us all the grace and mercy needed to overcome our faults and failures in the process of securing faith and dispelling fear from our life. We must simply come to Him.

Hebrews 3:13-14 (NLT)

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

I know to some people my fear of the dentist may seem dumb and unfounded. To others, they completely understand. We all have fears, faults and failures. The crevices of unbelief that trap our fears like harboring a fugitive until they take over. We must constantly walk with Jesus allowing Him to work faith through all of our life. If we submit our life to the Lord, He will do the rest. Just as it is a challenge for me to sit in the reclining chair opening wide and submitting to the invasion in my mouth, every man and woman knows the struggles in their own heart. To completely surrender to the Lord’s Word, Will and Way is an awesome task and daily endeavor. It means examining our heart in the Light of His Love and coming out of the dark. It is to admit areas of weakness daily giving them over so He can become our strength. It is to repent in each moment of the sin we so easily succumb to with the real and humble intent not to do it again. I want Jesus. In the end, I want Him to know me. I want to live in His Kingdom forever. I must closely monitor my soul. Revive it when weariness takes over with the washing of His Word. Revive it when fear come calling with bits and pieces of new faith. Restoration is a process brought about by His Great Love, it is not without its difficulties. It sometimes is a struggle but never ever a waste of time. Overcoming any and all disbelief is a lifelong endeavor. It will always be worth it.

3 John 2 (NKJV)

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

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