Why Do You Doubt?

John 20:24-29

Thomas was one of the Twelve, Thomas was there for the ministry of Jesus, and Thomas was full of doubt after the news was received following Jesus’ Resurrection; but Thomas is not much different than you and I.

It is something that is within us, something that we can’t really explain.  It is something that we must overcome to fulfill our life as a Christian.  That something is doubt – not being able to believe in something unless it is there physically.  Many times we are like Thomas in that we feel we have to be able to touch something to know it’s there.

I mean, the only reason that we believe in the wind is because we can see the effects of the wind, and we can feel it brush across our skin on a breezy day; but if we couldn’t feel it, would we still believe?

Jesus came to the earth to abolish the slavery that we face each day when we become a party to sin.  Each day we are faced with numerous decisions to make – most of which we make sub-consciously – and most of which deal with the subject of right and wrong.  But our sins were washed clean, and for that we have no one to thank but the Father of Lights, for sending His son to live a perfect life and to die in our place.

But Jesus’ death would mean nothing without the resurrection, because without that victory over sin and death, we would have nothing to grasp ahold of…nothing to save us.  Enter Thomas; the doubter, the one who stated to the others, “unless I can touch his wounds and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”  Thomas had to touch and see for himself the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.  He had a need to see for himself before he would believe – he couldn’t take someones word that Jesus had risen.

We all are like that in some way…many of us feel that we have to see something for ourselves before we believe…we can’t just take someone’s word for it, that would be too easy.  Think about it; you hear news of someone’s death – the first thing you do is look in the obituaries to see if it is true…or make a phone call to ask someone else for confirmation; you can’t just take someones word for it.  Maybe it isn’t a death, maybe its a storm – you know, when someone says it’s raining, you look out the window to see and make sure; and I’m sure there are many other things that you face in life that are this way.

Jesus knew that Thomas needed to see.  Jesus knew that Thomas needed to touch.  Jesus knew that Thomas needed to believe.  Thomas was going to be instrumental in the Apostles’ ministry to the rest of the world.  Thomas needed to be a messenger for the King of Kings – so Thomas needed to believe.

Jesus had appeared to the Twelve without Thomas present, but we see that their word was not what Thomas wanted to see…Thomas had to experience it himself.  So, Jesus appeared again…this time knowing Thomas would be there.  Jesus entered and looked at Thomas and told him to touch the wounds; Jesus told Thomas to place his hand in His side.  We then see something that was crucial to the continuing of the ministry of the Twelve.  Thomas replied, “My Lord and My God!”  Thomas finally got it, he finally believed.  But that is not the end…

Jesus responds to Thomas by asking him, “Do you believe because you have seen?”  That is a question that we should hear every time we see a miracle occur in the life of someone…a life that is riddled with illness, or maybe the recovery of someone from cancer…whatever the circumstance, the question is the same, “Do you believe because you have seen?”

But Jesus didn’t stop with the question…because Thomas needed to hear one more thing.  The ministry of Thomas, as well as the others, was dependant upon one thing … Faith.  The faith of those who would hear the message of what Christ had done for the world.  It was a message that was upon the shoulders of the Apostles to share to a sinful world, a message that was to change the world – one life at a time.  That statement was this, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Blessed are those…the ones who would hear the message of the Twelve.  You and I are a part of that group.  How do I know that we are a part of that group?  John 17 – Jesus prayed in the garden for the ones who would be touched by His message brought to them from the ones who had been with him.  Jesus asked that the Apostles be blessed, and then he asked for a blessing upon those who would hear their message.  Jesus had to say this so that Thomas would understand.  Thomas needed to understand that he was now to help carry that message to the ends of the earth; but not only Thomas, the rest of those who were called Apostles.  Jesus told Thomas in front of the others, not to embarrass Thomas, but to help them understand as well.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” – The key is this…Jesus is saying to them, tell people of the blessing that knowing and following me can bring.  Tell them how I saved their lives.  Tell them about my Father.  Tell them about ME.  The words of Jesus were a command to the Twelve; tell the world of the love of Christ.

If Jesus had stopped at the question, Thomas never would have known the answer.  It wasn’t a yes/no question when Jesus asked Thomas, “Do you believe because you have seen?”  The answer to that had already been made when Thomas responded with, “My Lord and My God!”  Jesus was telling Thomas it was his turn to tell someone else…show them my love in your life, show them I exist…you have touched me – now, go touch someone else.

The question today is this, “Why do you doubt?”  Jesus has already given the command – touch me, know me, love me, share me.  Share me to a dying world, share me to the ends of the earth, share me with those that need me.  Jesus is speaking through everything that we’ve ever faced in life – and he is saying, “Believe!”

“Blessed are those you have not seen and yet have believed.”  Believe.

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Fool’s Gold

With April Fool’s Day being just a few weeks ago this is something has been running through my mind quite a bit and I wanted to share it with you. One of the most interesting things that we come across is Pyrite, or fool’s gold. On the surface it appears to have all the appearance of God, and is named because it has tricked many over the years into thinking that they have a fortune; yet, on closer inspection is worthless.

There are many today who claim to be Christians, and on the surface appear to have it all together, but on the inside are falling apart and are from from being the person everyone thinks they are. This is something that I’m sure we all feel guilty of at times, and something that can keep us from growing closer to God as we should. We too often allow our guilt to get the best of us.

Guilt doesn’t have to rule us. One thing we can do is to evaluate our own character. It isn’t what everyone sees that we will be judged when Christ returns, but the person we are when no one sees us. It isn’t the shiny, outward appearance that God uses to measure our character, but the inward.

Monitor yourself and see what God sees.

What are you centered around? Do you pray? Study scripture? Who are you when no one is looking? Is it a man or woman God wants to see?

If the answers to these questions don’t line up with scripture, maybe we need to change some things about ourselves. We may feel that who we are is not good enough for the Kingdom. We must remember that Christ died for our sins, and all he asks of us is that we adapt our lives to the calling he has on our lives. Today there is hope for each of us thanks to the death and resurrection we just celebrated.

Today, ask God to help you keep your private moments holy, just as you appear in the not so private moments of life as well. Filter your life through the scriptures, and make it a point to live life along the lines of Philippians 1:21, rather than 2:21. Who are you today? Who do you want to be?

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 KJV)

“For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philippians 2:21 KJV)

Which one are you today? I hope you find yourself seeking to live in Christ today.

Forced Removal

This is not at all the planned article for this week, but given recent circumstances I felt that this is the article that needed to be written…

This is not political…this is not in favor one way or another of the situation given that I do not have all the facts, but it did lead me to a very deep thought process that truly has opened my eyes to something that maybe we have difficulty seeing sometimes.

By now, I’m sure that many of you have seen the video on the news of the passenger being forcefully removed from a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville…the story being shown is that the passenger refused to give up a seat on an “overbooked” flight to apparently open seats for pilots who needed to get to Louisville for another flight the following day.

What it spurred in my mind is this…that nothing is overbooked with God.  We will never be forced to leave His presence…we will never be pulled out of His grasp.  The airline asked for volunteers to leave, and then as one passenger put it, “United decided for them” who would be removed.  God welcomes all to come and will never ask us to give up our seat at the table to accommodate someone who is “more important.”

It is a truly sad video to watch, and honestly, as I said before, I do not know enough details about the situation to determine who was right or wrong, but as I watched it I was comforted in knowing that Christ died for all of us and not only for a few elect.  No one else can determine whether we are worthy of the sacrifice that he made for us because God has already determined that we are all worthy of His gift.  The fact is that none of us are worthy on our own, but because of God’s mercy and grace we have been accepted as rightful heirs to His kingdom.

We are God’s children, and no one can take that away from us. NO ONE can tell you that you’re not good enough, no matter what your past holds.  NO ONE can tell you that you are unworthy of Christ’s sacrifice, because it is not their place to judge for God.  NO ONE except for YOU can remove yourself from the benefits of God’s grace.  Only you can decide whether you accept His gift.

Today, I encourage you to accept the gift that God has so freely given…accept that Jesus came and died on a cross for your sins and was raised again, defeating death and hell, to give you a chance at life eternal with Him.  You are a child of God and it is your rightful place, not because you earned it, but because He gave it…so accept His grace and live a life guided by the Holy Spirit, showing others how to take their seat at the Table of God; after all, there are plenty of seats available.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23, HCSB

Stand or Fall

I have done a lot of thinking lately about the old cliché, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

It came to mind the other night while thinking about the situation that we are in with HB2 and other laws, but also with a number of issues that we face today as Christians.  I want to take some creative liberties, however, with this statement and redirect our attention to these words: “You’ve got to stand for Christ, or you’ll fall for anything.”

The problem with our world today is that a number of Christians tend to approach controversy in such a way to not offend other groups or individuals.  We tend to play it safe when it comes down to the things in which our ‘religion’ comes into question.  Here is where I want to encourage you to truly seek God’s instruction and wisdom on how you should approach certain circumstances that may arise.

We must stand on the Word of God, taking to heart each word and applying it to our lives.  If we take the Scripture at it’s worth we will see things in a different light.  We will not seek approval from the world, and we will not fall for the lies that the world will try to tell us.  This may mean that we are turned away by some groups or individuals based on our beliefs, but I would warn you to avoid changing your stance for acceptance.

Romans 14:22 says, “Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.”  This says to me that we can be held accountable for the things that we show approval for.  Taking a stand for what the Scripture says is the best way to avoid this in our lives.  The Bible is the Word of God.  If we are not completely immersing ourselves in the Word and becoming familiar with God’s intentions for our lives, we can easily find ourselves approving of things that we should not be.

Do not let the world talk you into approvals that aren’t God’s will…

I’m not telling you how to believe, I’m encouraging you to open the Word and see for yourself….

I feel that if we want to make a difference in the world today, we must be aware of the lies that are out there.  We must fully envelop ourselves with the Word of God, fully preparing ourselves for the battle that is ahead.  Today is a day that we can see freedom, but we must accept grace.  Today we must embrace our faith and tell others where we stand.  Today, we must stand for God, accepting His grace that saves us from our sins.

Please, look deep within your heart today…trust God, love God, seek God.  Read and apply the Word!