Archive for the ‘Doubt’ Tag

The Risen King And The Doubter

 

Doubter

Audio – Full Message:

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Bible Verses: John 20:24-29


At first reading it looks like Thomas was more unbelieving than the other disciples, but this was not necessarily the case. They do not seem to have believed Mary Magdalene when she said she had seen the Lord—it was not until Jesus appeared to them that they were filled with joy (v. 20). Earlier references to Thomas reveal one who was dogged in his commitment to Jesus (11:16) and honest about his doubts (14:5). He refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead unless he actually saw the prints of the nails and spear wound for himself. By the way, this shows that the disciples and the evangelist were talking about a bodily resurrection of Jesus, not some spiritual survival beyond death.”  – Colin F. Kruse

Theological Theme:

Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

Christ Connection:

Although Thomas doubted the testimony of the other disciples, he was blessed to encounter the risen Jesus for himself. He saw Jesus in His resurrected and glorified body and placed his hands in the scars from the cross, the signs of Christ’s unfailing love for His people. Though we have not seen Jesus with our eyes, with Thomas we confess by faith that Jesus Christ is our Lord and our God.

“Christ demonstrates his victory over death, not by feats of strength, not by more and more spectacular miracles, but by wounds: nail holes, spear marks. Behold, the lamb who was slain.” – Mark Buchanan

Missional Application:

God the Father calls us to be patient with doubters as we bear witness to His Son, whom we have seen only with the eyes of faith, in the Spirit.

“But do thou, when thou seest the unbelief of the disciple, consider the lovingkindness of the Lord, how for the sake of a single soul He showed Himself with His wounds, and cometh in order to save even the one.” 17 –John Chrysostom (circa 347-407)

Faith Biblical faith is the resting, or trusting, in Christ alone for salvation (John 3:16-21). More than being simply a mental agreement of historical facts, genuine faith begins with a recognition and confession of the truth of the gospel (1 John 4:13-16), followed by a receiving of Christ as Lord and Savior of one’s life (John 1:10-13). Biblical faith is not blind faith, for it rests on the historical life, death, and resurrection of Christ. – The Gospel Project

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Drop the binoculars

??????????????????????????????I had a rough few moments a few days ago. Instinctively, I knew that the comfort I needed could come only from God – but my prayer went something like, I know the comfort I need can only come from you, God…but…(whispered) I’m not completely sure that you exist.

That admission was not the result of what was going on – but was rather my doubt, always present at some level or another, finding a voice. There are times when I am absolutely certain that a loving God exists – that there is NO WAY any of what I experience in life could exist without him. But there are other times when I fear that it’s all just a great story and that I have been deluding myself. In that moment, I felt alone and lost.

But in an instant it all changed. A peaceful warmth like real arms enveloped me, and I knew that I was NOT alone. If there were words, they were, you’re not alone, dear one. I am here. 

Just like Mackenzie in William Paul Young’s book, The Shack:

“Jesus?” he whispered as his voice choked “I feel so lost”
A hand reached out and squeezed his, and didn’t let go. “I know Mack. But it’s not true. I am with you and I’m not lost. I’m sorry it feels that way, but hear me clearly. You are not lost.” 

And just like Mack, since my eyes were opened to his nearness and to my inclusion within the love relationship of the Triune God, if my sad, scared or desperate thoughts have turned to him, I have found that he is already with me, his hand reaching out and squeezing mine. And his words to me are, without fail, gentle, loving, and spoken with all the warmth and intimacy of a best friend, or my own mother. I know that I am known, understood, accepted, and truly, personally, beloved.

I don’t have to fast or pray or behave my way to him – all I have to do is open my too often screwed shut eyes to find that he is there and that he never left.

Comparing Jesus’ life on earth to a bird he was holding, Papa said about Jesus, “Although by nature he is fully God, Jesus is fully human and lives as such. While never losing the innate ability to fly, he chooses moment-by-moment to remain grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel, God with us, or God with you, to be more precise. (Paul Young, The Shack)

I can’t read that passage without tears swimming into my eyes. Somewhere, from deep within, I recognise it as truth. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around how exactly God can be here and everywhere – at once with me personally and with every person personally, while also composing the entire cosmos. But these are terms that I can understand. He didn’t leave or abandon us here on Earth any more than I would abandon my own children. He’s not somewhere else while we wait for him to return. He’s here.

Have you ever looked through binoculars at something inches away from you? The images in the lenses swim and there appears to be no form. It looks like nothing. I believe it’s the same with Jesus. If we pick up our binoculars and search for him in the distance, we miss him. But we don’t need binoculars because he isn’t far off in the distance. He’s near enough to touch. Father, Son and Spirit, near enough to touch – so big and vast that when we look at them, the images swim in our eyes and we think we see nothing. We don’t realise that the entire cosmos rests in the palm of his hand. More than that – that it Is an inseparable part of his heart. Yet he made himself small as well so we could relate and enter into a relationship with them.

…we want you to join us in our circle of fellowship. I don’t want slaves to my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me. (Paul Young, The Shack)

It’s very normal – very human – to doubt. I will again, and I will be comforted and reassured again. Again and again and again. If we’re honest, we all doubt sometimes. But our doubt, while normal, comes from fear.

“So, why do I have so much fear in my life?” (Mackenzie asked.)
“Because you don’t believe. You don’t know that we love you. The person who lives by his fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe that I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it, you talk about it, but you don’t know it.”  (Paul Young, The Shack)

When my eyes squeeze shut and, with the blackness, fear rushes in, it helps me to see it for what it is. Why do I doubt? Because I am afraid to be disappointed. Afraid that life is exactly what it appears to be – tragic, random, unjust – and death what it appears to be – final, irrevocable. Honestly I don’t, consciously at least, fear that God won’t be all that I hope he is. I am more likely to believe that there is no God than to believe in the stern, frowning, distant, conditional God I used to.

When I recognise my doubt as fear. it’s easier to arrest it. Because I recognise that a life lived in fear is wasted. And a lesson I have learned repeatedly is that when I have worried about something, I’ve almost always wondered why afterwards. I have seen that I need not have worried – that I wasted moments worrying.

I think it is unrealistic to go around perpetually certain. I am a bit put off by those who claim never to have even a moment of doubt and an answer to every question. Who knows though – perhaps they are the fortunate ones! I am who I am though, and I remain calmly confident, and yes, sometimes doubtful. In those moments, all I have to do is open my eyes – really open my eyes – and see that everything around me and inside me points to him. Everything is a miracle. The fact that I am conscious at all is a miracle. The three children who grew in my womb are complete miracles. A tree is a miracle. The earth is a miracle. There is no end to miracles and yet I take them for granted every day.

And so the cure for my doubt is gratitude. To open my eyes – drop the binoculars – look around me and within – and to marvel, with him, at what I see.

~ Jeannine Buntrock

The Waiting Father

Luke 15: 11-32, for me, is one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture describing our Father’s love for all humanity.  It provides each one of us the foundation to stand before our Creator with no fear, no shame, no guilt, and no doubt.

A number of years ago my family and I were flying home from a vacation trip.  I entered into a rare moment of deep meditation, lost in my own thoughts.  A vision flooded my mind when my mom and I were waiting in the parking lot for my dad.  It had been years since I thought about those trips to pick him up from work to take him home.  I remembered very clearly, how, as a young boy, I would wait for the doors of the RCA plant to open at the 4 p.m. bell.  I eagerly waited to see my dad in the crowd, on his way “home.”  I remembered the joy of seeing him.  Although it brought a smile to my face, I didn’t know why I was recalling this, until I felt God’s presence speak to me.  In that moment, it became clear.  I heard God say to me, “that’s how I feel toward you.  I get the same joy of seeing you just like you did in seeing your dad come through those doors.”  I immediately broke into tears with an awkward hope no one was looking.  It became a very touching memory and metaphor of the Love our Father has in seeing and waiting for all of humanity, all of his children, “coming through the doors of life on their way home.”  He always smiles with joy at seeing you and me, just as I did, when I saw my dad.

Commentators have called the Parable of the Prodigal Son, many things.  The one I love the most is, “The Waiting Father.”

Breaking into the story, when the son requested his inheritance, his father had an amazing reaction.  There was no imposition of fear, or shame, or guilt, or doubt.  There was no anger, or punishment. He simply gave him what he asked for and let him leave on a trip leading to a life less than zero.  The son gathered what he had, left home, and “headed for Hollywood.”

Verse 17 begins with a beautiful line, “When he (the son) came to his senses…”  Because of God’s love for His creation He sent His Son to unite us forever and included us (and the entire cosmos) in Union with Him.  When Jesus died on the cross, he said, “It is finished.”  Our Union in Him is accomplished forever, and is irrevocable.  For any one human being to cease to exist, Jesus would have to cease to exist.  It is an accomplished fact. Unfortunately, most of humanity is included without a clue, until we come to our senses, believe, and come home.  When we do, we find a Waiting Father.  A Father who doesn’t wait for a moment, or a few years, or just in this lifetime (as some Christian friends may tell us) but one who will be waiting for eternity, as long as it takes.

In verse 20 we find that Waiting Father (waiting for his son to come home)…”but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him.”  The son had worked up a repentance speech to make his way back home into the family just as a hired servant, but his dad didn’t allow him to finish his speech.  He restored him to full fellowship in the family as if he never left.  His dad didn’t allow sin to separate him from his son.  He had been his son, and the relationship with his son had never changed.  He had always been his son.  But when the son came to his senses and came home, the son’s relationship and fellowship changed toward his Father.  His Father never moved, never changed his love for his son, and remained…waiting.  For us, just as with the son, it is always our move, because Jesus made the first move toward us when he brought us home.

Just as I would wait with anticipation for my dad, our heavenly Dad waits with anticipation for us.  Our loving father waits, and waits, and waits, and will forever wait until all humanity comes to its senses, and comes “home.”  While He is waiting, He never loses His sense of joy and feeling toward us, despite what we may think.  When humanity comes through those doors, comes home, one by one, our dad will be standing there with open arms.

~by Craig Kuhlman

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