I was one of those children who authors make big money writing books about to help parents. I challenge everything.
I question authority, ask hard questions and rarely take anything for granted. I especially ridicule authority figures who make grand pronouncements and simply expect everyone to follow in lock step.
Growing up I experimented probably a shade too much. In high school and college that didn’t always play out so well. But it’s just how I’m wired.
So in my faith walk it happens also, often.
The worst though was when I pastored a church. Yeah I know you’re shocked. Pastors are the Supermen of faith. Yeah right.
I’d be driving to the church on Sunday morning often with the kids. All of a sudden the thought would pop into my mind, “Who are you kidding? Are you sure about all this?”
Let me tell you that’s not what you want your mind focused on when you’re getting ready to preach.
One thing I’ve found though that has helped settle my faith was studying how Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament in a way that literally was impossible without God orchestrating it.
I mean think about this. Hundreds of years before Jesus, prophesies said the Messiah would be from Nazareth, Bethlehem and Egypt. Wait, what?
So Jesus was born in Bethlehem when his parents travel there for a census. Then they returned to their home in Nazareth where he grew up. And because of a genocide instituted by Herod they fled to Egypt when Jesus was two and returned a few years later.
Only God could orchestrate something that bizarre and foretell it hundreds of years earlier by different authors.
Multiply that literally by hundreds of prophecies written by scores of prophets over hundreds of years. And Jesus fulfilled each of them perfectly. And most often did so because of circumstances others created.
So I’m left thinking, “Only God.” Because no one could ever make this up.
For me when I began to wrap my mind around this the doubts eased.
Sure at times I still struggle with questions and doubts. But they’re less intense these days. And when I go back and accept what I know to be true the assurance returns.
It’s what Jesus said to a crowd. “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.”*
Scores of prophets gave hundreds of prophecies concerning the Messiah hundreds of years before Jesus and all recorded in the Old Testament.
Jesus fulfilled every one perfectly.
It was also prophesied that a messenger would precede the Messiah so we wouldn’t miss seeing him. Yeah I know that doesn’t seem possible. Yet, really?
And John the Baptist came as that herald fulfilling yet another prophecy.
We just need to accept what God unmistakably shows us and then we’ll find assurance of faith.
What do you do to find that assurance?
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*Matthew 11: 13-14 (NIV)