Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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15. From Doubt to Devotion – Part 2

John 20:19-29
19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” 26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” 28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

It’s here in Thomas refusal that we see the:
3. Response of Jesus –Vs 26-27

a. Manifestation – Vs 26
How does Jesus dismantle our Doubt? He shows up in the midst of our struggle. The disciples heard Thomas’ words, but there was an unseen listener as well, the Lord. That’s something we all need to remember. The risen but unseen Christ witnessed Thomas’ dogmatic statement of doubt, just as he knows ours, whether its spoken or only in our mind. A whole week passed from Thomas’ first statement of doubt until Jesus showed up and we might think that Jesus would have showed up at the first hint of doubt, but that was not to be. God’s timing in dealing with our doubt is his own affair. Thomas was left to reflect on his words for 7 days, talk about a weary week. Day after day he heard the repeated story of Christ’s appearances, oh how the days must have dragged as he grappled with his doubt, tossed between hope and despair , fear and faith, wondering if he would ever be able to experience and share what the other disciples had. Then a week later, the disciples, with Thomas present were gathered together behind locked doors when Jesus shows up. Notice they are in the same place; the same circumstances, still seeking refuge from the authorities using man made means, trusting in locks instead of the Lord. We criticize Thomas for living in doubt but notice that even though Christ had appeared to the disciples bringing both His peace and His plan, the disciples were still living behind and leaning on locked doors. Maybe the reason Thomas didn’t believe them was because their words didn’t match their walk. Parents don’t preach what you are not willing to practice. Model the message don’t just mouth it. It’s here that we see that we are all prone to being disciples of doubt. But Even though you have had an authentic encounter with the living Lord there will still be times of doubt. The Christian life is a journey, not a destination. But it’s into our doubt and despondency that Christ comes, like a shaft of sunlight piercing the darkness of our doubt. The answer to our affliction is Jesus, He is the remedy to our reluctance. We think that what we need are answers but what we really need is the Author. Thomas wanted proof but what he really needed was God’s presence. Because answers without the Author are meaningless. Christ is the only cure. I think today we have become sidetracked seeking answers instead of seeking the Almighty. What I need is Jesus and if we are not careful we will miss the real Miracle, Jesus in their midst. Today many of us are demanding that the Messiah do a miracle in our lives so that we can believe and be blessed but what we fail to realize is that we have missed the greatest miracle of all, the miracle that not only brings us the greatest blessing but also bolsters our belief, the Miracle of Christ conquering the cross, when our Redeemer rose from the dead. Church we serve a risen Savior our God is not dead. This is the essence of our Christian faith: …….”Jesus is in the midst.”
• Where was Jesus when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace, in their midst.
• At Calvary, as Jesus hung on the cross He was in the midst of sinners
• Where is Jesus when two or three are gathered together in His name, there am I in the midst of them.
• As the Lamb in Revelation Jesus is in the midst of the throne, leading us to living fountains of waters: and wiping away all the tears from our eyes.
• Here in the middle of our doubt where is Jesus, in the midst
Why is this theme, “in the midst” repeated so often in the Scripture, because it is the key to the Christian life. As followers of the Christ we are called to let Jesus be Lord, to be in the midst of every aspect of our lives. The word translated “midst” from the Greek comes from the root word meaning “middle”. Is the Master in the middle of all that you do, is Christ the center of your life? We all have different “compartments” that make up our lives, work, school, hobbies, family, church and many of us make the mistake of making Christ just another compartment. We make Him another spoke in the wheel of life instead of the hub connecting the spokes. You see it’s only when Jesus is in the midst of our life that we experience His peace. Not only is there a manifestation but there is also an:
b. Invitation – Vs 27
Jesus is more than capable of dealing with our doubts, He addressed Thomas personally. Jesus not only knows you He knows all about you, He knows your doubts and your fears. You don’t have to fake it because your doubts don’t derail God. It’s ok to have questions. Jesus is not bound by your doubt or limited by your locks. The truth is God appears far less threatened by doubt than does His church. Many of us are afraid to admit our doubts, many Christians today are living in a sea of doubt. And when you’re swimming in doubt, it’s hard not to get wet, to have that doubt seep deep into your life. Have you ever doubted? Have you ever wondered about this whole business of Jesus and the cross and the resurrection? Often, we’re afraid to face our doubts because we’re afraid of what we might find. We’re afraid of what others might think. People might find out how weak our faith really is, so we keep our doubts to ourselves, but our doubts don’t go away. They are always there, and like a cancer, our doubt slowly eat away at our faith, until we believe in Jesus less and less, and we become more and more skeptical. Some of you are drowning in doubt because rather than dealing with it you are faking it. When Thomas got honest with his doubts Jesus showed up offering him a personal inspection of the marks of his passion. Jesus didn’t discipline Thomas for His doubt instead He invited Thomas to inspect the proof, the marks of His love. Have you responded to the Redeemers invitation to come to the cross and inspect His love for you? Are you letting Jesus be in the midst, doing life with the Lord so that He is in the middle of everything you do?


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14. From Doubt to Devotion – Part 1

John 20:19-29

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” 26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” 28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Today as we continue in our series “Living in the Reality of the Resurrection” we will see how the risen Savior deals with disciples of doubt. Have you ever been dogged by doubt? Have you ever had doubts about your faith? Have you ever questioned whether this Christianity thing is really real, have you ever doubted the deity? If you have then you are not alone. The bible is filled with those who doubted and yet ended up being committed to the cause of Christ: Sarah & Abraham, Jacob, Job, Jonah, John the Baptist, Martha, Peter, and Thomas. For those of us who have doubted, be encouraged, you are in very good company. Today as we look at John 20:19-29 we come to the famous passage that deals with Thomas doubt. His biblical nickname means twin, but the church has given him a new nickname “Doubting Thomas.”  And while Thomas gets a bad rap of being the doubter he was not the only doubting disciple. It’s easy to criticize Thomas for his doubt, but the truth is we have all been here. You see at some point we all deal with doubt, and the question becomes how do we deal with doubt effectively? The story starts not with Thomas doubt but with the disciples:

  1. Reaction to Christ’s Commission 

They shared the Savior with Thomas. What about you who are you sharing the Savior with? Jesus didn’t just show up to comfort them but to commission them. He freed them from fear so that instead of living scared lives they could live sold out lives. When it comes to sharing Jesus many of us have locked lips because we are living locked up lives. We are letting fear rule instead of the Father. When we hole up and hide because of fear we are not just hiding our lives we are hiding the light, because we hide His hope. So, let me ask you when it comes to the Lord how locked up are your lips? Why don’t we witness, because we are more motivated by fear than we are moved by the Master. We care more about what others will say than what Christ has said. Many of us are basing our witness on the reaction of others instead of the command of Christ. Our focus is on me more than it is on the message. Look when it comes to telling others about Jesus there will be those who respond with rejection and refusal. But their response is not your responsibility. My job is not to convince others about Christ my job is to provide them with a choice about Christ. What they do with that choice is their responsibility. You are the messenger not the Messiah and when people refuse the message they are not rejecting the messenger they are rejecting the Messiah. We need to stop basing our decision to share Jesus on people’s rejection and start basing it on Christ’s commission.  It’s here that we see Thomas reaction of:

  1. Refusal 

Instead of rejoicing there was refusal.  “I won’t believe it unless I see” Thomas wanted proof and while it’s easy to criticize him for being the doubter the truth is that all of the disciples had doubted. Jesus’ appearance to Thomas just happened to take place a week later…other than that it was no different from His appearance to the others. Because we are told in verse 20 that it wasn’t until Christ showed the other disciples His hands and side that they “saw the Lord.” Be careful about criticizing other Christians and labeling them because you may just go through the same struggles. For some reason Thomas had been absent on the first Easter Sunday morning when Jesus appeared to the disciples as a group. We can only guess why he wasn’t present, but could it have been because he’d fallen into a state of spiritual despondency and it was just easier to crawl into a cave and hide. Sometimes we need to withdraw and think things through for ourselves, but only up to a point. We need to emerge and engage so we can test our conclusions in the fellowship of believers, to make sure that we haven’t gone off at a tangent. We were created for community, that is why Hebrews 10:24-25 calls us to gather together. It’s easier for the Devil to pierce us with his fiery darts of doubt when we are separated from the flock. One of the dangers with doubt is that it can cause us to depart from fellowship and make us vulnerable to attack. The point is that hearing about Jesus wasn’t going to be sufficient to move Thomas from doubt to faith. He needed to see with his own eyes. The reality is that we all need to have a personal encounter with the risen Savior. Despite what the other disciples told him Thomas had to experience Christ for himself, and when we do we will start to own our own faith. As parents we desperately want to protect our kids, we want to just tell them and have them accept it all but in order for it to become their faith they are going to have to question and wrestle and struggle. If you want your kids to become grounded in their faith you are going to have to let them grow up and that means letting them go through the hard things. Christians don’t grow through coddling they grow through challenge. We can tell and tell and tell but at some point all that head knowledge has to be translated into a heart knowing and that only comes through an authentic encounter with Jesus. You can know a lot about God, but do you really know God? Because if not all you have is information without the inspiration. What about you, what is your reaction to Christ’s commission, is it one of doubt or one of devotion?