Doubt to Belief

Doubt to Belief!                                                                                             April 26, 2020
John 20:19-31
19 It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!”
28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!”

When Jesus first appeared to the gathered disciples He immediately spoke Peace to them and showed them His hands and side. showed them His hands and side. Why? Because He knew they were completely startled by His sudden presence. Think about it, they’d heard Mary’s story of her encounter with Him but hearing a story and actually grasping, believing the fact is two different things. He knew they needed to hear His voice and have tangible, physical proof of the almost incomprehensible fact that He was no longer dead.

Mary had told them that Jesus had appeared to her but were they able to fully grasp the reality? Not likely.

Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus came to the disciples that 1st night and when they told him about Jesus appearing suddenly in the room, even though the door was locked, he didn’t believe them. His reply, “I won’t believe until I put my fingers in the nail holes and my hand in His side!” has people ever since labelling him as Doubting Thomas. Is this really fair? Remember the two people on the road to Emmaus who had also heard Mary say she’d seen the risen Jesus? They even listened to Him talk about Scripture as they walked several miles together. It wasn’t until He blessed and broke the bread that they recognized Him.

When Jesus announced to the disciples that He should go to Bethany to Lazarus, Thomas was the disciple who bravely spoke “Yes! We should to go with Jesus so we can die with Him!”

Why don’t we call him Thomas the Brave? From records Thomas is the disciple who struck out alone to take the Good News of Jesus to people in the East. Some say as far as India.

Just as Thomas’ moment of bravery didn’t define him, neither should this incident of doubt! We all have times of doubt.

Thomas teaches us a good lesson: being in Jesus’ presence brings out the best in us; being away from Him can cause doubt to take hold.

Thomas is the disciple who earnestly asked Jesus: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5) He wants to know answers. He has a seeking mind that is willing to ask questions and risk ridicule. Jesus doesn’t berate Thomas, instead He says a most profound statement of truth: “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.

When Jesus returns to the disciples, again in a closed & locked room, He doesn’t berate Thomas, instead He firmly acknowledges Thomas’ doubt while allowing him to experience His physical reality in a way that allows Thomas to believe without embarrassment but complete yielding.

What is Thomas’ immediate response? “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas is the first to declare Jesus not only as Lord but as God. Thomas boldly claims Jesus as his Lord and God. He states the greatest revelation of all!  Jesus Christ is the same God that spoke the world into existence. Jesus is God in the flesh. Complete belief!

Create, Renew

Psalm 51:10-13 Create in me a clean heart, O God.                                              April 19, 2020

Create in me a clean heart o God, and renew a right spirit within me
Create in me a clean heart o God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence o God, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me,
Restore unto me the joy of They salvation and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10-13
10 God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast[a] spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.[b]
13 Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.

“Create” – “bārā” the word used in Gen 1:1, to create from nothing. David longs for a brand new heart, a complete newness of heart – a longing that Jesus Christ fulfills.

Steadfast spirit. “Ruach” – the God breathed power of life! We are animated by our spirit and our spirit is the foundation of our emotions.

Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again – birth as a new creation that is only through God, this is what David is longing for!

Steadfast: faithful. Undaunted. There are many times when I falter and want to quit. For some people faithfulness comes easy but it’s certainly not for everyone. Our desires, our weaknesses, get in the way of the deeper desire and longing to be faithful. Faithfulness is one of the fruits of the Spirit.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation! The joy of knowing that there’s a better life to come. The joy of knowing that death is simply the door to REAL life. The joy of knowing that God is in the details, He is still in control and His kingdom is real.

This is a very familiar passage, one we sing and know well. But, just as important, is verse 13, a too often overlooked verse which is the outcome, the result of God creating in me a new heart and a steadfast spirit.  13 Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.

What is the purpose of asking God to create a new heart and a steadfast spirit in me? To teach people God’s ways so they will know Him!

Create in me a clean heart; renew a steadfast spirit, Restore joy! Sustain a willing spirit, let me be bold to express Jesus, to share His life and reality. Teach sinfulness leading to relationship with Jesus!