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January 12, 2011

This past year God has shown me a very powerful word in scripture; a word that can limit our faith.

In the New Testament, there are five places where “if” is used in conjunction with “possible”. These scriptures point out how fragile and weak our faith can be.

Jesus warned us about the future when he said, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.” (Mt 24:24)

In Matthew 9:21-23, “Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into 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.”

At the beginning of Luke, we are even shown how “if” is tied with doubt and questions. Nothing undermines our faith more than doubts and questions about the character and identity of God. “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.” (Lk 3:15)

Paul uses these two words in a slightly different context when he challenges us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Ro 12:18)  Paul knew it there were those that would oppose believers. Even other religious individuals would oppose those pursuing Christianity, but he also knew that with Christ, “everything is possible for him who believes”.

The fifth occurrence where if and possible occur together is said by Christ himself. Even he had questions and maybe even doubts, but he also had faith.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  (Mt 26:39)

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  (Mt 26:42)

Christ shows us how we need to respond. Even he asked, “if it is possible”, but then he continued with accepting God’s will. He responded to his doubts and questions by honestly sharing them and then moved past them, choosing what he knew was the best thing.

Where are you saying “if”? Are you asking if something is possible? How can you move past your doubts and questions, being honest about them, and choose what is best instead of living in the lack of faith that can come from over using IF?

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