Our Summer Blog Tour continues this month with a wonderful post by John Dobbs about taking a moment to put a name to the fears that keep us from making progress in our faith. I love the heart of this man and I immediately thought of this painting by Joel Phillips called Battling the Demon. I hope you will consider these wise words in union with this image this week.
Peace be with you:)
NAME THE SHACKLES by John Dobbs
Who am I to do such a thing?
I’m not good enough.
I don’t have what it takes.
Someone else would do it better.
When you have visions of great things you’d like to do for God, are your visions followed with thoughts like those above? If so, you are not alone. Those are the kinds of statements made by some of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, just before God used them to do incredible works. Men like Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah were normal people of faith being unshackled to do amazing things empowered by an awesome God.
I believe it is one of the tasks of faith to name the shackles that bind us and keep us from the things we would like to do for God. In naming them, we identify the reality and pry apart the grip they have on our lives. What is keeping you from doing something for God that you have dreamed of but never taken steps toward?
EXCUSES. If you are like me you get defensive when someone identifies your perfectly good reasons as ‘excuses’. We need to be honest with ourselves. Are we making up excuses so that we do not have to experience the potential of failure as we try to do something great for God?
I don’t know how to speak because I’m only a child. – Jeremiah 1:6
SHAME. Maybe we think that if we try – and fail – in service to God that this is somehow a terrible thing. Jeremiah preached for forty years without a single recorded positive response to his messages. He struggled, but he didn’t quit trying.
I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. – Isaiah 6:5
SIN. The biggest shackle of all. We feel unqualified because we wrestle with sin – and maybe one ‘besetting sin’ – that just won’t go away. As we attempt to glorify God in our lives how easy it would be for someone to point out our flaws. They could paint us as a hypocrite. Sin takes feelings of shame and rationalizing excuses and forms a weapon that destroys our hearts.
Who am I … What am I supposed to say? – Exodus 4:11,13
I encourage us all today to stop letting our shackles keep us from an exciting journey of faith. Yes, we need to name our shackles and identify them as weapons – weapons our enemy is using to diminish our work for God.
No weapon fashioned against you will succeed, and you may condemn every tongue that disputes with you. This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants, whose righteousness comes from me, says the Lord. – Isaiah 54:17
Read again the powerful armor God has provided every Christian to withstand the weapons of the enemy in Ephesians 6:10-18.
Remind yourself of the power of the cross and the assurance of the resurrection to defeat sin and give you new life.
Ultimately everything we do for God is not controlled by our hands. He uses us in ways we couldn’t have guessed.
His surprises keep us attentive as we walk by faith. We will begin to notice that we are not, by our efforts, directing God’s work.
When we walk by faith we are falling into His works in such a way that the old excuses, shame, and sin are remnants of the shackled life that is now free.
Be mindful that no one does this perfectly. Don’t ever let a failure keep you from taking the next step with God. He’s never used anyone who wasn’t a failure in some respect or another.
Remember that you do not have to see the end of the story, you just need to walk in the story.
We live by faith and not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7
John Dobbs is the minister of the Forsythe Church of Christ in Monroe, Louisiana (http://facoc.org).
You can find him on Facebook, Twitter (@johndobbs, @facoc) and Instagram (@bigpoppa1130).
Weekly sermons can be heard at http://forsythechurch.podbean.com/ (or on Forsythe’s podcast on iTunes). Even with all of that social media, there’s a special place in his heart for his blog located at http://johndobbs.com. Happily married to Maggy for 30 years with two children and two grandchildren.