In his years of sharing the Gospel message, Pastor Miles has probably encountered just about every doubt that a person can have concerning God. In this new series, Pastor Miles will provide a framework for us to wrestle with our doubt in a biblical and intelligent way. Doubt itself is not sinful and God doesn’t ask us to check our intelligence at the door. Instead, He asks us to bring our doubt to Him - He can handle it! We are called to seek answers to our questions and to know why we believe what we believe.
Doubt itself is not sinful and God doesn’t ask us to check our intelligence at the door. Instead, He asks us to bring our doubt to Him.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15
One of the most important perspectives to gain throughout this series is that your life is a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. It’s powerful to learn how to draw out the nuggets of your story that have influenced your journey and helped you to understand who God is and to become who you are in your faith. Today we have the privilege to hear a little bit about the life story of actor Noel G., who appears in movies such as Bruce Almighty, The Fast and the Furious, and Training Day, as well as TV shows like Fresh off the Boat and The Walking Dead.
When Noel was young, his parents left their larger family unit and came to California to make a living, so he did not grow up with extended family around him. Up until age thirteen, Noel lived a typical middle-aged life with clothes in his closet and food on the table. But then his father met a very wealthy friend who offered him a sailing trip around the world, but he had to leave his son behind. Noel’s father came home, gave him $500, told him, “Good luck!” and left on his adventure. In a very short time, Noel went from a middle class kid to being abandoned with absolutely nothing.
It is natural for people to wonder how God could do that to Noel, but the reality is that God didn’t do that - Noel’s father did. The devil can influence hurtful choices, and so can people’s own selfishness, arrogance, and pride. If you are in a situation where you’ve been hurt by someone or even made poor choices that have affected yourself, God is still there and waiting to pick up the pieces and bring healing to your life.
For two years, Noel did whatever he could to find shelter and food, sleeping in laundromats, stores, or on the couch of a friend. Then when he was 15, he met a girl who inquired about his situation. Noel broke down crying and shared his story, so the girl introduced him to her father, a pastor at a local church. Her father invited Noel to live with them, and during that time he began hearing God’s Word and attending church.
The girl had a dream to be an actress and model, so she invited Noel to attend an acting class with her. Noel had never before thought about acting, but a producer in attendance thought he was funny and gave Noel the opportunity to be in a commercial. Two weeks later, Noel began his acting career and shortly went from “nothing” to “bling-bling” overnight. Once the money started rolling in, Noel began indulging himself with partying and girls and spent the next twenty years turning his back on God.
Maybe you can relate to Noel’s story. Some people accept God and are interested in the messages they hear from God’s Word, but have no commitment to Him. As soon as difficult circumstances happen in their lives, they blame God and decide not to follow Him after all. But the Bible says you can’t serve two masters - you need to fully commit to the Lord and give Him your life. Noel encouraged us to keep pushing forward in faith and stay in the game!
We all experience trials, but the devil wants us to blame God for our difficult circumstances. Are you in a tug-of-war with God? He is not an equal partner on whom we can cast judgment; He is the uncreated Creator, the morality maker who sets the standards for our lives. We can surrender all of our burdens, pain, and anger to Him - He can handle it!
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
After many years of turning from God, Noel was called to a studio lot for an audition, after which he met a “crazy white boy” who struck up a conversation with him. They hit it off immediately, talking easily about sports, movies, and other interests. Then upon parting ways, out of nowhere the man boldly prayed a blessing over Noel, which made him break down and cry. Thus began a long friendship during which Noel could see time and time again that although his friend had a beat up truck, a humble living arrangement, and nothing much of value, he was always happy. Noel finally asked him how this could be, and his friend replied that he actually had everything he needed because He had Jesus in his heart.
Pastor Miles spoke encouragement to all of us that there may come a time when God asks you to talk to someone about your faith - and it may be someone you don’t even know. Don’t create excuses for why God is wrong! Let the Holy Spirit do his work, because you never know how it may impact someone.
As the friendship continued, Noel’s friend continued to impact him and finally invited him to a two-day Christian seminar. On the second day, Noel and his then girlfriend (now wife) needed to leave early, but Noel was riveted and teeming with questions, so he finally interrupted and asked how to have God in his heart! He was told that in order to receive Jesus, he would need to sacrifice and it would cost him something. As he and his girlfriend were leaving, Noel said “two Christian ninjas” were stealthily waiting in the parking lot to pray with him before they could pull away! During the prayer to receive Jesus, Noel broke down once more, remembering the impact of the faithful pastor who had ministered to him as a teenager. (So when you plant good seed, it may not take root right away, but it will grow eventually!) Noel turned his life over to Christ that day in 2008 and has served God ever since.
Just like Noel’s life, your life is a process that will have ups and downs, but God is faithful throughout. He always loves you, wants to forgive you and wants to give you understanding to relieve your doubts. Trusting God doesn’t have to be a blind trust, as you can learn to trust in His faithfulness and truth.
If you’ve been fighting with God and you’re ready for Him to be in your heart, today is the day! The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory and that the penalty of sin is death. But while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and rose from the dead to conquer death. If you confess this with your mouth and believe with your heart, you will be saved. Stick with your faith journey, keep asking your questions and bring your doubts to God for Him to handle!