The Essence of Life

Perhaps like no other, the Apostle Paul could give a greeting in a letter that was so full of Biblical theology that it leaves your head spinning in amazement. He does it again in writing to Titus. Paul is writing to Titus from either Ephesus or possibly Macedonia. Titus is on the island of Crete. See the map…

CNM29-TitusHe has a job to do. Titus is to finish appointing the elders (pastors) that Paul had chosen for the churches on the island. Titus was also to encourage the churches to remain faithful and live self-controlled, godly lives.

Here comes the powerful greeting loaded with theological thunder…

Titus 1:1-4

1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

There are so many nuggets of gold in this introductory greeting, that it’s hard to know where to begin. But we’ll try to point out five of those nuggets.

First, Paul wants Titus to understand that his job is to get the truth to the people for the sake of their faith in God. And folks, that’s still the goal. The goal is to understand truth. What is truth (as Pilate asked)? Jesus.

Secondly, in your pursuit of the stuff of this earth, don’t forget the primary reason you exist: to know the truth of Jesus Christ. If you get the rest, but miss that, you’ve missed the boat entirely. Did you catch that? “…for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth.”

And that truth will lead you and me to: GODLINESS. Yep, in the crazy, wacky world we live today, the desire of God for His children remains. He wants us to be godly in all we say and do. Seems simple…but, today godliness is discarded (even in may denominations and churches) for that which is culturally acceptable and politically correct.

Thirdly, God never lives. Four simple words: “God, who never lies.” Do you know anyone who doesn’t lie? I doubt it. In fact, if you say you do, you are probably lying! 🙂 Yet, God never lies. He’s incapable of lying. So you can trust every word of His Word (Scripture). Man, oh man, does that give me confidence when I’m reading His word and I come across His promises. He NEVER lies!!

Fourth, I love the little phrase, “…promised before the ages began…” Never forget God stands outside of time. He has always existed and there has never been a time He has not existed. He wasn’t created or He has no beginning. He is everything and all existence is embodied in Him. He’s so powerful that He spoke the universe into being and yet, He loves us so intimately that He’s numbered the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7) and stores every tear we cry in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Just contemplating those thoughts bring me great peace and joy! I can exhale a sigh of relief knowing I’m that loved. So loved, in fact, that He came and died for me in the person of Jesus Christ. Wow!

Last, God loves preaching. Yep, you read that right! 🙂 And I’m saying that (not just because I’m a preacher), but because it’s true. “…and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching…” God showed Himself to us through preaching. This is why preaching the Word of God is so important. It’s how a person comes to know Jesus. The word “preaching” is Kerygma (Greek) and it means: that which is proclaimed by a herald or public crier, a proclamation by herald.

Somebody shared the Gospel with you. Who was that? Who was instrumental in that taking place in your life? Can you remember? You see, the Good News was delivered to you by #1 by someone, so that you could #2 understand the truth of Jesus, so that you could #3 realize that the God of the universe (who never lies) and #4 has existed for all-time, #5 wanted you to hear the truth of Jesus so you could be saved and know Him. Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that!

So, what’s driving your life today? What are you pursuing? Are you being like Titus? Are you being someone who is sharing the word of truth (proclaiming as a herald) the truth of Jesus to others by how you live a life of godliness? Are you opening your mouth and KERYGMA (being a herald for Jesus)? If you aren’t, then you have missed the essence of life. This life is not about the accumulation of stuff. It’s about Jesus and the truth that God wants us to know Him and to enjoy Him. Take a moment and pray and thank the Father for revealing Himself to you in truth through Jesus because someone told you the truth. Now let’s go be that “someone” for someone else. 🙂

Kevin

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This Isn’t the End

John 21: 24-25

24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Today, we come to the end of our time in the Gospel of John. It has been a wonderful journey to walk through this Account of Jesus life, ministry, and even His friendship with the Disciple John. We have been impacted by accounts of Jesus healing the sick, helping the poor, forgiving the sinner, confronting the prideful, showing compassion to the humble, and performing miracle after miracle.

Yet, the miracle that has transformed us most is the miracle of Redemption, and the Resurrection to come.

Endings are bittersweet. Bitter because it feels like the story is ending, sweet because we have been transformed because of what we have read and experienced because of Johns account of Jesus’ ministry and life.

What do we do now?

There is a decision to be made with every closing of a chapter in this life. We have to decide where we will go next, and what we will do with where we have been.

What to Do With Where We Have Been

What we have read in the Gospel of John and the things we have sought to teach you from this wonderful account will be nothing if you choose to do nothing with it after the Book is closed.

That is the thing about Scripture- it is not just for reading, but primarily for living.

That is why I believe that John takes this moment, at the end of His writing, to clarify and reinforce his testimony, its authenticity, its trustworthiness, and to identify once again the One who sent Him.

John reminds us that we can trust His testimony of Jesus’ ministry, because He was a personal friend, a Disciple, and one who watched Jesus daily throughout His ministry. John wants us to know that this account is authentic, true, and life changing. Most of all- He wants his readers to understands that it is not really his writings that they are reading, but Gods.

So, what we hope that you will do with where we have been in the Gospel of John is to allow it to continue speaking into your life, to continue teaching you, continue transforming you, and continue encouraging you.

That in times of remorse and shame, you will reflect to when Jesus stood between sinners and their accusers, as He does today. In times of doubt, that you will be reminded that Jesus clothes the lilies of the field, he made the lame walk, he healed the sick, and raised the dead. In times of needing God’s provision, that you will be encouraged by remembering that you follow the Savior that fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and fish.

That is the purpose of this book. It is not simply to be read, enjoyed, and placed back on the shelf- it is meant to be lived, to be loved, and to be living and active in your life- as all the Bible is.

Where Do You Go From Here

The Gospel of Matthew and Mark conclude with the Great Commission- the lasting and primary command for us as New Testament Believers. At first glance, you might be surprised at how John concludes His Gospel account, but when you really think about it… it really is not all that different from the command Jesus gives us to go into all the World, and continue to do His work.

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

There are some who falsely believe that all of Jesus life and work is contained in the Gospel account, and that they should throw out any Biblical Doctrine if it does not appear in the Gospels, forgetting that Jesus did A LOT more than what we see here in these 21 chapters.

That is another devotion for another time, but it is an important side note that John I think wants us to understand. That we remember that Jesus was everything we see in this Gospel account, but He was more. He did more, more than we can imagine… More than this World can understand or contain.

And, I think that is really what John wants us to leave with. It is his great commission to us. That we remember that this World cannot even contain or hold an account of what Jesus did while on this Earth- or what we will continue to do in His name.

Jesus is bigger- bigger than everything- and He is still working today. He is working through you and me… and this world cannot contain what He is doing.

The story does not end here at Acts 1… it just begins. It is the beginning of Jesus working in this world through His Holy Spirit and The Church.

Where do you go from here?

Into the World. You go to work, to school, to the hospital, to the ball field, to the gym, to the lake, to the park, to the grocery store, and to the restaurants. But you don’t go alone- you go with Jesus in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Keep doing His work, because while the four Gospel books are closed, Jesus works in this world is not, not while The Church remains on this Earth.

Love on the hurting, pray for the sick, give to the needy, preach to the lost, give grace to the humble, and confront the prideful. Follow Jesus each and every day.

That is how we keep the story going. It’s on you and me.

Caleb

Follow Jesus!!!

John 21:20-23

The previous verses showed us Jesus restoring Peter to service and telling him exactly what he was to do.

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But not only that, he also shared that it was not going to be easy.  It is made very clear to Peter in verse 18, and described to us in verse 19, that ultimately his devotion to Jesus will cost him his life.  Three and half years ago Peter heard these words and he hears them again, “Follow me.”

20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”

After Jesus said to Peter to follow him we see Peter immediately doing so.  Does that sound familiar?  If you go back and read in Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4 and John 1 of the disciples first calling to follow Jesus we see the same thing.  Immediate obedience.  By Peter rising up and walking with Jesus he showed his willingness to pay the price.  That same call is summoning us to the same thing.  Yes, Peter messed up big time and probably each of us has also.  But there is forgiveness waiting if we will repent and surrender that sin or that fear to God and allow him to restore us.  Look at what Peter became.  Do you think Satan tried to bring up that past?  Peter had to let go of the past and look at what God did with him in the future.

Let go of the past and let God transform you into the servant he wants you to be for his glory.  That is not going to look the same in each of our lives.  As Peter and Jesus start walking along the shoreline, Peter looks over his shoulder and asks Jesus about John.  Jesus has just described what was going to be required of Peter.

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You may say, “How do you know it is John?” First, John never refers to himself by name.  Second, by process of elimination.  Peter is doing the questioning and the one following is described in the same way as earlier at the Passover and at the Cross.  Peter’s question may have been out of concern for John and the other disciples but it is met with somewhat of a rebuke.

22Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die, yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” 23So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die, yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Jesus had just restored Peter and personally called him to a specific task.  Jesus had just said, “Follow me!” and Peter did so.  But again it wasn’t long before Peter took his eyes off Jesus. Remember from verse 20?  It said Peter turned and looked at John. Now Peter’s inquiry may have been out of concern and we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and have love and concern for them.  We definitely should have a desire for everyone to fulfil God’s call in their life and to live it to its fullest for the glory of God.

But we personally have been called to serve God in a specific way.  If we get focused on other people so much and look at what they are doing it can cause problems.  Pride could set in.  You are a leader and everyone seems to turn to you and you think no one can do it like you and boy these people really love me. Jealousy could set in.  Maybe someone seems to be more in the spotlight.  Maybe because of certain talents people have a competition sets in to see who is better, instead of allowing God to use your talents collectively for the Lord.  And boy does that create a mess.  Maybe you think you don’t have anything to offer and discouragement could set in.

May I remind you today that if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ he has a task for you.  You are a part of the body of Christ and the whole body needs to be doing what it is supposed to be doing for the body to be healthy.  Read Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians Chapter 12:12-31.

2 Corinthians Chapter 5 verse 20 says, Therefore we are ambassadors of Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

That’s a good place to start!  Follow Jesus!!!!

Dale

Do You Love Me?

One of the most famous passages in John’s Gospel is the restoring of Peter after his three denials of Jesus. Jesus asked Peter three times: “Do you love me?” But, do you really know how this scene unfolded? You might be thinking, “What are you talking about?” I know. I know. It seems like a simple deal. Peter denied Jesus three times and Jesus in turn a few days later restores Peter by asking him three times: “Do you love me?”

But, the truth is: there is much more to it than that. Or at least, that’s the way I see it. Now, you all know that I don’t have a seminary degree and I’m not a scholar of any kind. I can’t read Hebrew or Greek and the truth is sometimes I wonder why anyone would want to listen to anything I say. Yet, I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me as my Helper and my Teacher and I have the Word of God (as the lamp to my feet and the light to my path). I also have access to Hebrew and Greek lexicons.

So, with all of those caveats, here goes…

Jesus did restore Peter three times. But, the way that Jesus talked to Peter is not truly understandable to us in English unless we look at the words Jesus and Peter used in their dialog with one another in the Greek.

Here’s the account (and note that I’m going to place the Greek word for “love” in parenthesis):

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agapaō-unconditional love) me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love (phileō-love you like a brother) you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agapaō-unconditional love) me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love (phileō-love you like a brother) you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (phileō-love you like a brother)  me?”Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love (phileō-love you like a brother) me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love (phileō-love you like a brother) you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Did you catch what happened? You can be lulled to sleep by what you read if you aren’t careful. Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him unconditionally and Peter kept saying, “Yes, Lord…you know I love you like a brother.” But, finally Jesus dropped his question to where Peter was: “Do you PHILEO me?”

Interesting isn’t it? Jesus kept asking Peter do you agapao me and Peter kept answering with phileo. It’s like Peter just couldn’t get up that mountain quite yet and in my mind, it seems that Jesus knew it. Yet, Jesus kept giving the same directive “Feed my sheep.”

What does that mean? It means: “portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church” (Source: http://www.blueletterbible.org.) Even though Peter couldn’t rise to the level of the unconditional love, Jesus still entrusted him with the job to go and feed the sheep. Aren’t you glad that Jesus is so long-suffering and full of mercy and grace that He continue to help us and give us opportunities to grow in Him.

How did Peter do? He would lead the church in Jerusalem until James (Jesus’ half-brother) would step in and take much of that duty so Peter could be gone and minister elsewhere. Peter, without question, was the leader of the Apostles and ultimately the prophecy of Jesus would be fulfilled. For indeed Peter would stretch out his hands and according to church tradition, he would be crucified.

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Yes, crucified… But, how? Upside down. According to church tradition, he refused to be crucified like Jesus and the request was honored that he be crucified upside down.

Did Peter “feed the sheep?” You better believe it! He rose to the occasion. Jesus gave Him the opportunity to be restored and Peter would grow from that experience. May we follow his example.

Kevin

From 0 to 153

Have you ever been fishing? Sure you have. Now, after you return (and people know you’ve been fishing), what’s the first thing they ask you?

How many did you catch?

What if you said: 153.

153? Yep, 153! That would be a haul wouldn’t it! And that’s exactly how many fish John recorded that 7 disciples caught. The occasion?

Well, Jesus had been raised from the dead and He had appeared to the disciples in an upper room in a house in Jerusalem. But, the scene had changed. He had told the disciples to return to Galilee (Matthew 28:16) and they obeyed. When they returned, they did what most of them had previously done for a living: FISHED.

It’s to the Sea of Galilee they went (John calls it the Sea of Tiberias…he’s the only Gospel writer to do so).

John 21:1-14

1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Fishing at night was preferred in that day, because they could sell their fish, “fresh to the market,” the next morning.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

Wow! That’s a lot of trust in someone’s voice they didn’t recognize at the time. Yet, in frustration (having fished all night) they must have figured, “What do we have to lose.” And BANG! They started hauling ’em in!!

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

John is called “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and he knew only Jesus could do something like this!

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

Peter was always the tempestuous one! Off he goes! Remember, he had denied Jesus three times and had to be heartbroken at his reaction when pushed, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?” (More on this dynamic tomorrow. :))

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 

Once again (as with the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000), Jesus materialized food.

11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.

The disciples knew only Jesus could provide like this. 153 fish and not a tear in any net. That’s a miracle in their eyes. Normally with a haul like that, the nets would have torn and they would have lost some fish. Not this time! They didn’t lose a single fish! And this had to be a record catch! I’m sure they were probably high-fiving and chest-bumping (did they do that in Jesus’ day :)).

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Without question, they finally recognized it was Jesus. Once He handed them the bread and fish and they saw the nail holes in His wrists…well, there was no question. This was the third time they had seen Him and now in Galilee. So, this is no ghost folks! He’s alive!

Do you need Jesus to provide for you today? He will. He’ll take care of what you need to the point that you can count the fish. You can count on Jesus. They had caught ZERO and now they had 153. It’s amazing what we can do with Jesus directing our lives.

153.

Kevin

So That You May Believe

Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe He existed? Do you believe He really rose from the dead? Do you believe He actually performed all those miracles? Were they really miracles? Do you believe the Bible, as it purports these things?

These are all questions that we are bombarded with from time to time. How do I know? Because I’m bombarded with them by Satan’s forces. Demonic hosts seek to deposit doubts in our mind about Jesus and Who He was and what He did. Satan’s main weapon is doubt.

I believe the Apostle John knew this and it’s why we have verses 30 and 31 almost sandwiched in his Gospel account. We’ve been reading about Jesus’ resurrection and we’ve witnessed the account where Thomas finally sees Him for himself at the end of chapter 20. So start with Chapter 21, right? Wrong. Before that happens, John (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) pens these words:

John 20:30-31

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

What’s John saying?

In my mind he’s saying, “I couldn’t write it all down.” In fact the last thing he’ll say in his Gospel account is:

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25

Wow! What a statement!

So, why do we have the Bible? Why do we have the Gospel of John or any book in the Bible for that matter? Simple… So that we’ll believe!

31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

We have the Word of God so that we might believe. It’s all about belief. For if you and I don’t believe, then we can’t know Him and if don’t know Him, then we’ll never know Heaven either. Do you believe? How can you know for sure?

By your actions.

Your actions reveal what you believe.

I know that sounds really basic, but it’s the truth. If you want to know what a person believes, just watch what they do. Their actions will reveal what they believe. Belief equates  to action, as action equates to belief.

Jesus knew we would be living in 2016. He knows everything. He knew we would be bombarded with doubts and He knew Satan would do all he could to create doubt and fear in our lives. So, He graciously gave us His Word. We have the Word of God to provided guidance, comfort, strength, sustenance and direction for our lives. And, yes…to provide evidence for all that Jesus did so that we might believe.

Do you believe? If you do, then you will have LIFE in His name.

…that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31b

That means you will have the best that this life on earth could possibly have to offer. I’m so thankful for the life Jesus has given to me. Yes, there are times it’s very difficult, but that just draws me closer to Him and to His word. And even for those times, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that He not only shows up in the pages of Scripture, but He’s also written Himself on my heart with His Spirit. I’m grateful that He brings comfort in all things, at all times and in all ways. And there’s no doubt about that!

Kevin

 

God’s Great Grace For Our Doubt

John 20: 26-29

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Doubting Thomas

When we think of this passage, we as Christians almost always think of what we do not want to be. This account has been used primarily as an account in scripture to inform people about the dangers of unbelief and doubt, and to urge them to not allow themselves to doubt God.

Don’t be like doubting Thomas” they say….

Yet, when I read this account, I am amazed at what Thomas was able to experience in his doubt- whether it was despite his doubt or because of his doubt. He got to lay hands upon the risen savior!

Thomas was given the privilege of having his doubts forever washed away. Jesus allowed Thomas to lay his hands upon the wounds that saved his very soul from Hell!

And, when I read that account, what I see is not condemnation of “doubting Thomas” or a directive that I should do all that I can to avoid being a “doubting Thomas”. What I see is that I already am “doubting Thomas”, and I am reminded that God has a magnificent grace in store for those who-

  1. Admit their unbelief
  2. Have a desire to have help to overcome their unbelief

An Example of The Struggles We all Have

Rewind back the story a little over a week. Jesus has just been crucified, and laid in the tomb.  The fear of every follower has just become a bitter reality, and some handle it better than others. Some feel hope, others confusion, others anger, and some even feel that they have lost all ability to believe.

That was Thomas. Thomas, who had been described in earlier passages as a man of courage and faith, had lost his anchor. He had lost his ability to believe and to have courage. And, the worst thing he did was to isolate himself. Something many of us have also done.

A week earlier, when all the Disciples were gathered together on Sunday, The Lord’s Day, Jesus appeared to them. We can gather that Thomas was not among them. We do not know why exactly, but speaking from my own experience, when any of us are hurt, discouraged, and struggling in our faith- we tend to isolate ourselves. We tend to remove ourselves from the one thing that can encourage us, and isolate ourselves from the very people who want to help us overcome our unbelief. We want to forsake the gathering of believers.

And, this is the worst thing we could do, because like Thomas- we might just miss God showing up in the exact way that we needed.

Yet, God was not done.

If there is one thing we can be certain of at this point in the Gospel of John, it is that we serve a merciful Savior and God. He has healed the sick, cast out the demons, he has protected the sinner, encouraged the discouraged, embraced the lonely, stood up for the neglected, and upheld the righteous.

And, today, that GREAT- unfathomable Grace would not stop.

Sure, we can read the above account, and we can focus on Thomas… But we will miss the hidden treasure that can really speak to us all.

To focus on Thomas’ doubt, to try to use this account as a way to discourage any doubt, to use it as a way to condemn unbelief, or to try and say “you don’t want to be like doubting Thomas” actually serves to possibly discourage us all the more. For Thomas got to see God! God showed Thomas grace! Unfathomable, unbelievable, and undeniable GRACE!

And that grace is still present for us today.

The truth is, no matter how hard we try, we all have doubts, we all go through seasons where we wrestle with our faith and struggle with unbelief.

So, this morning, I encourage you to choose to focus less upon Thomas and more upon Christ.

Because we, like Thomas, have all endured something that has shaken our faith. The loss of a job, the death of a loved one, the betrayal of a fellow believer, the bad news, the hardships, the rebellion of a child, the disappointment of an unfulfilled desire, and the list can go one of things that we have each endured that have caused us to question our belief. We all have a strain of “doubting Thomas”.

But the good news is that God is still the same. He is still interested in showing up! He is still in the business of giving grace in our doubt, and He desires to help us in this time of struggle.

So, this morning, let’s focus less on the failures of Thomas- because we are vastly similar, and focus more upon the promise and goodness of Christ.

The only thing worse than unbelief is unadmitted unbelief- the type of unbelief that we try to hide, to mask or place a façade over because we are embarrassed, or because we do not want others to think less of us, because we don’t want others to know that we are struggling with our faith, or because we think God will condemn us.

This morning, you can be certain that God will not condemn you. He wants to help you overcome your unbelief, but the first step is to admit that you are struggling, and to secondly cry out to God for help in your unbelief.

He will show up!

His desire is not that we be miserable, or feel condemned for a struggle that we cannot make go away, for a doubt that we cannot artificially manufacture a solution for. The only solution is to be reminded of the mercy of Christ- and He will show up. It might be in His time, but He will come.

Sure, just as Christ noted, it is better that we believe without seeing, but in the times where we need to see Him, He is a good GOOD Father, and He will come to us.

So, the unbelief that is in your heart right now, will you bring it to the light, and cry out for the help of God in your unbelief?

Caleb