pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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To Belong Fully

Reading: John 20: 19-31

Verse 29: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.

John and Peter have seen the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene has seen and spoken with the resurrected Jesus. This much all the disciples know. Yet the way forward is unclear. Jesus is not in the grave and He has conquered death, but He is clearly not coming back to live amongst them either. So on that first Easter Sunday, they gather behind locked doors. It is into this room still heavy with doubt and fear that Jesus comes. He shows them His hands and feet as proof of who He is. The disciples are overjoyed.

Jesus then announces the plan: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you”. He then breathes on them the Holy Spirit and commissions them to forgive sins. This was a big deal between Jesus and the religious leaders. Jesus was questioned about this and healed a lame man to prove that He had power and authority from on high. And now Jesus gives this power to His disciples. They were there and witnessed the conflict and anger that the forgiving of sins had caused, so they must know that their road ahead will be hard too. Jesus breathes this same Holy Spirit on you and me. It also empowers us to overcome our doubts and fears and will lead us to help people find a relationship with Jesus Christ that will heal them of their sins.

In the second half of our passage today we focus in on Thomas. He was not there for Jesus’ first visit. When told about it, he says, “Unless I see…”. He too wants to experience what the others experienced. He too wants to see Jesus. A week later Jesus appears again to the disciples and invites Thomas to put his finger in the wounds, to touch and feel that this really is Jesus. For Thomas and all of the disciples it was hard to come to believe. But Thomas does when he sees Jesus for himself. Predicting the many who will come to know Jesus without ever seeing Him, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. It is just the reality for the church as it moves forward without the physical Jesus.

Part of Thomas’ story that we cannot miss is his need to belong. He wants to experience what his friends and future co-workers for the gospel experienced. He wants to be fully included. It is a desire we all have – to know we really belong. As we live out our faith this day, week, and life, may we always seek to help others to step inside the story, to help them know that they belong fully to Jesus as well. May it be so.


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Seekers

Reading: John 14: 1-14

Verse 5a – Lord, we don’t know…

Our faith requires some honesty.  Life is much the same.  We must be honest with ourselves and with others if we are to live lives of integrity and character.  We must also be transparent enough that others can know who we are and what we are all about.  At times this requires us to be open and vulnerable.  Philip and Thomas demonstrate all of these qualities in today’s passage.

Jesus is teaching the disciples some last-minute instructions before beginning His journey to the cross.  This “farewell discourse” is full of powerful emotions, moving experiences, and great teaching.  The disciples are like sponges, soaking it all up.  And is often the case, they need a bit more explanation.  Philip and Thomas could have kept quiet and tried to figure it out later.  They could have remained silent and not disrupted the Teacher.  Thankfully they did not remain silent.  Thankfully they were willing to be honest and transparent and vulnerable.  Thankfully they were willing to stop the Teacher and ask a question.  They were probably not the only ones a bit confused.  They were the two honest enough to ask Jesus a question.  Understanding was more important than looking like they understood.

Philip and Thomas were also seekers.  They were hungry for all Jesus had to offer.  Yes, they had been with Jesus for three years, but they still hung on His every word.  Jesus spoke the Words of Life.  Oh that we would live such a faith.  Too often we get comfortable and content and complacent.  Too often we simply go through the motions and fail to experience what God has for us that day in worship or in our Bible study or in our time of prayer.  Oh that we were all like that 96 year old woman, a Christian all her life, who still comes to church and to a Bible study because she seeks to always grow closer to her Jesus.  May we too be seekers always, ever wanting to grow deeper in Christ, ever desiring to know Him more.


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In or Out?

People look like to be a part of things.  Even when we didn’t really want to go to something, we like to be invited.  Even when we are not a lead part of a conversation we still like to feel that our presence and input is welcomed.  When we go somewhere new we like to be greeted and made to feel at home.  We are social beings.

For some, simply being by oneself is hard.  At times, when we find ourselves alone, we feel compelled to turn on the TV or radio or to pick up a book or a device with a social media connection.  Instead of enjoying a little quiet, relaxed time or some extra time with God, we try to fill the space.

Often in these times we feel we must be missing some event or some “thing”.  And if we come to realize we are missing “it” for some reason, we become agitated, upset, moody, hurt.

Such is the case with Thomas today.  For whatever reason he was not there when Jesus first visited the disciples.  And Thomas is not happy about it.  I can see him with hands on hips, stomping his foot as he says, “Unless I see…”. We too can react this way.  When we miss out we can become defensive, angry, hurt.

But Jesus visits a second time, and Thomas is there.  After Jesus says, “Peace be with you” I can imagine a soft smile on His face as He warmly, lovingly looks upon Thomas.  Thomas is invited to come see, to touch.  In a sense they are the only ones in the room, alone in a crowd.  Thomas connects to Jesus and declares, “My Lord and my God”.  Today may we too connect whether in prayer, reading, or word.  Connect often today.

Scripture reference: John 20: 24-31


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From Doubt to Love

Have you ever been a second late to a really funny happening at work or at home?  Have you ever looked away from the game at just the moment the ‘big play’ happens?  The laughter or cheers draws you to the fact that you just missed it.  Then you want ‘instant replay’, right?

Oh doubting Thomas!!  Thomas is the first one to be called to believe in the risen Lord on faith alone – without seeing Jesus.  I don’t think Thomas thought all the others were lying to him, he too wanted to see Jesus for himself.  Can you blame him?

Jesus again appears to the disciples and this time Thomas is there.  And Jesus, ever the same, meets Thomas where he is at and offers him just what he needs.  As always, no judging or condemnation.  Oh loving Jesus!!

We relate to Thomas, often wrestling with doubt, often questioning.  That is natural.  It is good for our faith.  We relate to Jesus too, but if you are like me, could do so more often.  Jesus simply offered what was needed to the one before Him.  He calls us to do the same.