Missing Pieces

“And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.” Matthew 11:6 NASB

Isolated. In prison. For doing the right thing.

The hope of the coming Messiah had blazed like a torch as John the Baptist called Israel to repentance. One is coming whose sandals I’m not worthy to untie. I baptize with water. He will baptize—with fire.

People flocked. Businessmen. Housewives. Soldiers. Prostitutes. Priests.

Then one day, He came.

Waving aside John’s protests, Jesus was baptized. A voice thundered from heaven. Feathers fluttered. John had seen it all.

And now? John struggled.

“Are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?”

Though these are the words recorded in Matthew 11, I’m not sure that was really John’s question. I think John struggled with missing pieces. Miracles. Check. Fulfilled prophecy. Check. Kingdom? Nope. Deliverance from their enemies? Nope. What was really going on?

I get John, because right now, I’m struggling too.

My theology class—on salvation, no less—is shaking me. Nothing adds up. Total depravity. Election. God’s goodness. I’m missing some pieces. Scripture explains Scripture—until it doesn’t.

I still trust God. Really, I do. But I have questions that Scripture doesn’t answer. And I think John did too. Some pieces are missing for both of us.

Note Jesus’ answer, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

“Don’t stumble over Me” is how my version reads.

Know this.

We will have struggles.

We will have doubts.

We will have questions.

One day, the puzzle will be complete. Until then, we look at the empty spaces, scratch our heads, and trust His goodness.

Workout for the Week: Missing Pieces

Memory Verse: “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.” Matthew 11:6 NASB

Meditation Passage: Matthew 11:1-6

Just Do It: Don’t stumble.

Dynasty, Doubt, and Destruction

Dynasty, Doubt, and Destruction

“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:16 NIV

God made this promise to David.

But did you know God made a very similar promise to Jeroboam?

David’s son, Solomon, followed other gods as his wives turned his heart from Yahweh (1 Kings 11:27-39). Jeroboam served Solomon as one of his officials. God planned to split the kingdom and sent the prophet Ahijah to Jeroboam. Ahijah ripped his cloak into twelve pieces. He offered ten tribes to Jeroboam but reserved Judah for Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.

We’ll pick it up in 1 Kings 11:37-39:

However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.

Folks, that’s no chicken feed.

But the ten pieces of cloak in Jeroboam’s hand wasn’t enough. Fear lingered in his mouth like a bad aftertaste and Jeroboam wavered. All Israel traveled back to Jerusalem for the feasts: Passover, Trumpets, and others. Jeroboam feared the tribes would follow Rehoboam again and he would be killed. (1 Kings 12:26-27)

Jeroboam had options: figure it out or take his concerns to God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” 

Jeroboam needed to read it. Instead, he made two golden calves. (Sound familiar? This won’t end well.) The smelting fumes must have been incense to Satan’s nose. Jeroboam placed one in Dan and one in Bethel so the people would no longer travel to Jerusalem.

God sent a prophet, but his warning went unheeded—which brings us to this verse:

“And this event became sin to the house of Jeroboam, even to blot it out and destroy it from off the face of the earth.” 1 Kings 13:34 

Jeroboam’s sin of idolatry rippled through Israel until the exile. Not one king of Israel followed God during the divided kingdom era.

Not one.

Do you have a pet sin? One that began when you relied on your own understanding instead of trusting what God said? God will deal with our doubts, but we must take them to Him.

Workout of the Week: Dynasty, Doubt, and Destruction

Memory Verse: “And this event became sin to the house of Jeroboam, even to blot it out and destroy it from off the face of the earth.” 1 Kings 13:34 NIV

Meditation Passage: 1 Kings 11:29-39

Just Do It: Bring your doubt to God.

Sand: When Faith Gets Shifty

Sand: When Faith Gets Shifty

Abraham. A man of rock solid faith, right?


Sometimes, he found himself in the sifty, shifty sand.

As we dig our toes into the beach sand this summer, let’s look at the sandy spots that shifted Abraham’s world and avoid them in ours:

The Sand of Helplessness: In two incidents (Gen. 12:10-20; Gen. 20:1-18), Abraham traveled to a foreign region (Egypt, Gerar). Both times he told the reigning monarch that Sarah was his sister, neglecting to mention their marital status. Both kings took her into their harems. God protected Sarah, but the kings rebuked Abraham for lying.

His reason for fibbing? “Abraham replied, ‘I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’” (Genesis 20:11 NIV) He was scared. Pee-in-his-pants afraid, and, in his mind, at the mercy of the monarch. Helpless.

The Sand of Hurry: In Genesis 15, Abraham questioned God about an heir. God answered in vs. 4-6, followed by the famous verses of Abraham’s faith and righteousness. But in the next chapter, a barren Sarai proposed a second wife, the Egyptian Hagar, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said.” (Genesis 16:1-2)

Not a crazy idea. Pretty normal for the culture back then.

But it wasn’t what God had in mind.

And—Abraham didn’t stop to ask.

Hurry. Wanting our way in our time. It’s trouble.

The Sand of Hesitancy: In Genesis 18:16-33, God revealed to Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, lived there. Abraham bargained with God for the righteous of the city, hoping to protect Lot.

But he never mentions Lot by name.

Abraham never shared what was truly on his heart. Though God planned to rescue Lot all along, Abraham’s intercession was vague and somewhat sterile. He missed an opportunity for a heart-to-heart with his heavenly Father on behalf of a much-loved family member.

A lack of trust drove each shift, each sandy stumble. God’s protection, God’s provision, and God’s power were available to His beloved child.

Workout of the Week: Sand, When Faith Gets Shifty

Memory Verse: “Abraham replied, ‘I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’” (Genesis 20:11)

Meditation Passage: Genesis 18:16-33

Just Do It: Trust what you know; stay Rock-solid.

Dealing with Doubt

Dealing with Doubt

Webster defines doubt as “a condition of uncertainty.” It’s part of how we analyze and process thoughts, facts, and events. Unbelief is a different animal. Unbelief is defined as an absence of belief—the very opposite of faith. The enemy’s goal is to move us from doubt to unbelief. His method? Stir up uncertainty about what God says and His intentions toward us. Check out Genesis 3:1-5:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Watch how the enemy frames his words as he casts doubt on God’s instructions and on God’s intentions for man.

Verse 1: Did God really say? Any tree?

Verse 3: Surely not. . . . God knows …..

As the enemy implies God is withholding something, Eve loses sight of all God has already given her. She begins to question His goodness.

Satan tried this method on Jesus too. Read the account of Jesus’ temptation (Matthew 4:3-10), we see the word “If” several times. We also see another offer of something “withheld.” However, Jesus knows the Father far better than Eve did and knows there is no reason to doubt His goodness or His instructions. Sorry, Satan.

Doubts are far from fatal. It’s what we do with the doubt that takes us down one of two paths.

Doubt, taken to God, leads to faith.

Doubt, apart from God, ends in unbelief.

And unbelief is a big deal.

When we bring our doubt to God, He helps us work through it. Consider Peter when he walked on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:28-32). After Jesus caught the sinking Peter, Peter walked back to the boat. Think about it.

Or in John 20:27-28 when Jesus confronts Thomas after the resurrection.

Or my favorite, in Mark 9:20-24, when a man brings his son to Jesus:

“So they brought him [the boy]. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into the fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

That day, the boy was healed.

What a contrast to Eve’s unbelief in Genesis 3:6, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and was desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her and he ate it.”

Her unbelief touches us today.

Unbelief leads to sin—or worse, eternal separation from God.

Bring your doubts to God. Run them through the filter of His Word. Ask God to strengthen your faith as you work through your questions together.

God is faithful.

No doubt about it.


What are some doubts you’ve had about God?

How did those doubts affect your choices?

How did you handle those doubts?

How would you counsel someone with doubt?

Specifically, how will you counsel your kids when they express doubt?


Webster defines doubt as “a condition of uncertainty.” Click to tweet.

Unbelief is a different animal, an absence of belief—the very opposite of faith. Click to tweet.

The enemy’s goal is to bring us from doubt to unbelief. Click to tweet.

Doubt, taken to God, leads to faith. Click to tweet.

Doubt, apart from God, ends in unbelief. And unbelief is a big deal. Click to tweet.