Category Archives: Christian Life

Appearing to the Doubter

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He is famous for his absence; his lack of presence is what left his watermark in history. We don’t know why he was absent. He may have been too fearful to leave his home, or he may have been so discouraged by current events and the political climate that he just stayed away. We don’t know why he wasn’t there, but many are glad he stayed away. Many are glad this man was absent on the evening of Jesus’ appearance.

Their gladness does not come because he missed Jesus. Their gladness comes in knowing when he heard about Jesus’ appearance, he had his doubts about a resurrected Savior. John 20 says, “One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 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.”

The disciples kept telling Thomas they had seen the risen Lord, but Thomas can’t wrap his mind around it. We don’t know why he doubted; a few weeks earlier he was ready to lead the disciples as Jesus went to raise Lazarus from the grave. In that moment his courage and boldness for the Lord shined brightly, but here, Thomas has some unanswered questions and doubts. This may sound familiar to you.

In fact, it might describe you. Your courage and boldness for the Lord may have shined brightly in the past, but now, you have a few questions and some doubts. So, your glad Thomas was absent. His absence helps us understand how the Lord will respond to our questions and our doubts.

Jesus does not leave Thomas hanging in the balance filled with doubt. Notice what happens starting in John 20:26, “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. 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!” It’s as if Jesus was there when Thomas expressed his doubts to the other disciples, and comes saying, “Hey Thomas, here I am. Here’s my hands. Here’s my feet. Let me put your hand in my side.” Jesus does not leave Thomas sitting in his doubts. He comes offering an invitation of help.

Jesus comes offering us the same invitation of assistance. He does not leave us hanging in the balance filled with doubts. Jesus offers us the opportunity to look back at how he has helped us in the past. He offers us the historical evidence of an empty tomb. We can visit the tomb and find that it is empty.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I do not have to smother in moments of doubt. Jesus helps us renew our hope and our certainty through his resurrection. Doubts may come, but they will not cause Jesus to run. He responds to us with an invitation of help just like he gave Thomas. Jesus will not leave us alone in our doubts.

Peace in Uncertain Times

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They were afraid. The last hours and days have been anything but restful. Some in the group narrowly escaped fighting and arrest a few nights ago as an angry mob arrested their leader Jesus. They watched as the mob had him tortured and executed. They know his tomb is empty, but they are unsure of how or why. Thoughts of peace are replaced with a constant wondering about the next happening and how to get away from those who are against them. They do not know who is the next to be arrested or even worse, so they are gathered behind locked doors in a secret location plotting a path forward.

The disciples are consumed by fear and anxiety, but Jesus does not leave them alone. John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

As the disciples are sitting in an anxious and fear-filled room, Jesus shows up to bring peace. The peace Jesus brings to the disciples is for the past, present, and future. They are surrounded by uncertainty, yet Jesus says they can have peace. And, the peace Jesus brings on this night is the same peace he offers to us.

We live in uncertain times. Some folks struggle with letting go of past mistakes, while others are fearful of the future. To all though, Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”

Jesus offers peace with God. Through his work on the cross, Jesus bridged the gulf between man and God.  Scripture helps us understand.

  • “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us,” points out Paul in Ephesians 2:18.
  • He writes in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
  • And Romans 8:1 proclaims, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Because of Christ, we can have peace with God. Yesterday’s mistakes are forgiven and forgotten, so we don’t need to feel guilty any longer. Just look at what he did for Peter.

Peter boldly stated he would never deny Jesus; he would follow him to the very end, but when pressure mounted, Peter crumbled. He denied Jesus not once but three times, and after the third time, Mark says, “Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.” Peter knew he made a mistake. The Lord also knew Peter made a mistake, yet Jesus brought Peter peace. He was present when Jesus appeared to the disciples, and the Gospel writers tell us Jesus appeared to Peter earlier in the day, restoring their relationship. Peter did not have the power to make peace with God, so Jesus did it for him.

To spite his failures and all that Peter had done wrong, Jesus brings him peace with God. Can you imagine the relief Peter must have felt?

What about you? You know you’ve made mistakes; perhaps you remind yourself of it daily. The Lord also knows you’ve made mistakes, yet Jesus comes bearing the greeting, “Peace be with you.” You and I did not have the power to make peace with God, so Jesus did it for us. To spite the failures and mistakes of the past, Jesus gives us peace with God, and he freely gives it to us. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you a gift,” and that gift is peace with God.

It is in knowing the Lord is walking with us that we find peace for the future. Again, Scripture helps us understand.

  • “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” writes Paul in Philippians 4:7.
  • Notice again Jesus’ words in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Because of an empty tomb, you and I can have peace even if it is a turbulent time. The world may be swirling around us, but no matter what happens, the victory is ours through Christ. Remember the promise of Romans 8:37, “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Jesus isn’t leaving us alone to struggle. He is coming along side us and saying, “Peace be with you!”

Appearing Amid Life’s Shattered Pieces

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It was about a seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. A journey of this length gives you some time to talk, so the two disciples were discussing, and maybe at times debating, the events of the past few days. They had been in Jerusalem following Jesus, and a lot had taken place. A week earlier these disciples were filled with joy and great anticipation as Jesus entered Jerusalem, but those feelings quickly faded as the week unfolded. Today, these two men are down-and-out, and they are not sure what to make of everything that has happened.

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him,” says Luke 24. “He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still; their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” 

Notice they hoped, which is past tense. They have given up at this point. Their desire was to be free from the Roman government, and they thought Jesus was going to be the one who overthrew the Romans. They had longed for this day, but it didn’t happen the way the disciples had it pictured. And confusion was added to their disappointment this morning, they found out Jesus’ body is missing from the tomb.

Continuing their conversation with Jesus, they said,

“And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” Not sure what to make of things, the two disciples decide to return to Emmaus.

I can relate to these guys, and perhaps you can as well. We have an idea of what life is going to look like; the picture we have in our mind is exactly what we desire, and it seems everything is moving in that direction. But suddenly, it changes. Suddenly, it shatters. It shattered by a phone call from a doctor saying we have cancer. It is tattered after months of financial struggle has left us nearly bankrupt. It is violently torn by a devastating heartbreak.  Our hope for life to unfold as it is pictured in our mind is gone. The picture seems to be only a distant memory. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we simply don’t know what to make of things, and we are perplexed by life’s shattered pieces lying around us.

It is in moments like this we can be grateful for what Jesus showed the disciples. As they traveled, he helped them understand the promises of the Lord are trustworthy.

Jesus says in Luke 24, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Suddenly, these two guys connect the dots and realize every word of Scripture is true. It turned out their picture of life was not a reality, but there was something even better happening. There was something even better coming. They realized they could fully hope in the promises of the Lord. His promises are trustworthy.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I know we can fully hope in the promises of the Lord. Psalm 145:13 says, “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.”

Our mind’s picture of life may have been shattered, but we have hope of something better coming. “Trust in God; trust also in me,” Jesus encourages. We can fully hope in the trustworthy promise of something better coming. We have the faithful promise of eternal life in Heaven.

As for the disciples traveling to Emmaus, Luke says they returned to Jerusalem the same day. This means they walked 14 miles in one day, and I’ve often wondered if they had to buy a new pair of sandals the next day.

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Are You Afraid? Get Encouraged

A number of folks are finding their way through a fearful season right now, and the Bible offers encouragement for handling our fears. In this episode, we'll take a look at a Biblically suggested response to fear. This episode is also available as a blog post: https://getencouraged.blog/2021/01/14/are-you-afraid/ — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/chris-miller046/message
  1. Are You Afraid?
  2. 3 Keys to Remember Amid Suffering
  3. Personal Guidance
  4. Sleepless Nights Can Become Restful Ones
  5. 4 Reasons the Tomb is Empty

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Appearing to the Brokenhearted

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The events of the past few days have certainly been difficult. Watching someone you are close to suffer the excruciating horror of crucifixion is enough to make even the hardest person’s emotions raw. For those close to Jesus, the grieving process had to pause a bit because of the Sabbath, but now that it is over, it is time to pick up where they left off earlier: visiting the tomb to ensure a proper burial. The Gospel writers tell us Jesus’ friends headed to the cemetery as soon as the sun was rising and the Sabbath was ending. Heartbroken, they didn’t want to waste any time.

John’s Gospel specifically tells us Mary Magdalene was the first to go and realize the tomb was empty. Mary thinks she’s going to ensure a proper burial, but she finds an empty tomb and neatly folded linens with no Jesus. What happens next shows us the compassion the Lord has for the broken-hearted.

John 20 records, “Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

Mary is seeing something here that looks an awful lot like the Ark of the Covenant. Prior to now, the Ark of the Covenant, which represents the Lord’s presence, was only accessible in the Holy of Holies, and only one day a year by one person – the High Priest. But not now! The presence of the Lord is accessible to this heart broken woman.

She is not the High Priest nor is she in the Holy of Holies. She is a common person standing in a garden, outside an empty tomb, in tears because she doesn’t know what is happening. The person she cared about so deeply was ripped from her life, he was tortured to death, and now she can’t even make sure he has a decent burial because he is missing. Heartache is stacked on top of her heartbreak. Can you understand how she feels?

We are certainly not strangers to this pain. Heartache comes to us in any number of ways. The person we thought we were going to marry walked away from us. The child who should have outlived us didn’t. The husband who pledged his faithfulness was anything but faithful. The spouse of 50 years was ripped from our arms by death. The pain of a broken heart is not a foreign experience.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I know how she feels. It is exactly how I feel today.” If so, please remember, you are not alone in this moment.

Mary’s story shows us we are not left to drown in the tears of our heartache. As she is standing there crying, Mary is not alone. John 20 continues, “She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. ” Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).”

Jesus does not leave Mary standing in the garden with tears running down her face. The tomb is empty, and Jesus is right beside Mary amid her heartbreak. He brings compassion and grace. He brings encouragement and comfort. Jesus brings himself to the heartbroken Mary, and he brings himself to those who are heartbroken today.

Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

When our hearts are broken, we can look to an empty tomb and find a Savior who comes to the heartbroken. Just like he was with Mary amid her heartbreak, he is with us amid our heartbreak. The same accessibility and compassion are present. Jesus does not flee from the heartbroken; he comes to us. Jesus is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those with a crushed spirit.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I do not have to be alone in our pain. We can allow the Lord to come close and rescue our crushed spirit.

Feeling Abandoned and Lonely

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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was his cry as the weight of life pressed down overbearing him. He felt completely alone and abandoned. He cried out, but there was no one. No one there; no one to pay attention to his needs. His enemies encircled him. He had nowhere to go, and he was met with silence. His cries seemed to only echo in the wind.

For most, when we think the above phrase and the emotions, we can assume came with it, we think of Jesus on the cross, and we should (more on that in a moment). But they were also David’s words and emotions. Amid intense suffering, David cries out to the Lord only to be met with silence. The weight of life coupled with the silence of God is unbearable for David, so he cries out, “Why God?”

David certainly isn’t the only one with this experience. Feeling the unbearable pressure of life is common; we all face it. We may feel forsaken by the Lord as life crumbles around us. The person who has lost 6 family members in the past year may feel abandoned. The family whose home and possessions were blown away by this week’s tornado may feel lost and lonely. The weight of life may be overbearing and pressing down so violently that we are crying out, “Why God?”

In these moments we can find courage though. We can find our courage by looking at the cross and Jesus.

You see, looking at the cross helps us realize Jesus understands how we feel. No one, including Jesus, desires to go through times of abandonment, loneliness, and deep sorrow in life. This is why Jesus prayed if it was possible for the cup to pass from him, yet the time on the cross came. We are unable to fully comprehend the agony of that experience. We comprehend just enough to understand those hours on the cross were excruciating. Jesus endured the misery of the cross, so he knows how we feel when it seems the full weight of life is pressing down on us. And, he has promised he will be there with us.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “For God has said,

“I will never fail you.
    I will never abandon you.” Looking at the cross gives us courage in knowing Jesus understands how we feel.

Looking at the cross also gives us courage in knowing vindication is coming. On that day, as Jesus endured the full weight of God’s wrath, he knew vindication would come. He knew victory was on the way, and this would not be the last word. His despair would be replaced with peace and his agony would be replaced with joy. Speaking of Jesus, Hebrews 12:2 says, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” The cross was definitely not the end.

The cross was followed by an empty tomb and risen Savior. As Jesus felt the full wrath of God on the cross, he looked ahead to the awaiting vindication. As we are under the unbearable weight of life’s pressure, we too can look ahead to vindication because of the cross. This season will be followed by a victorious one.

Psalm 22 begins with a cry of despair, but it does not end there. It ends with a proclamation of victory. Verse 24 says:

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
    He has not turned his back on them,
    but has listened to their cries for help.”

When it seems, we are crushed and there is no escape, we can look to the cross and Jesus for victory. If life has you crushed and feeling like there’s no way out, concentrate on the cross and Jesus.

3 Keys for Overcoming Doubt

One of the world’s most loved comic strips is Hagar the Horrible. In one strip, we see Hagar kneeling in prayer, “It is not easy to believe in you God. We never see you. How come you never show yourself?” Next, we see:

  • A flower springing into life next to Hagar.
  • A volcano erupting in the distance.
  • An eclipse of the sun turning the sky black.
  • A star shooting across the night blackened sky.
  • A tidal wave rushing over Hagar.
  • Lightning flashing.
  • A bush beginning to burn.
  • A stone rolling away from the entrance to a tomb.

Hagar pulls himself from the mud, dripping wet, and surrounded by darkness. “Okay, okay! I give up! Every time I bring up this subject, all we get is interruptions.”

This comic strip makes light of a real issue with which many Christians struggle at some time in their life.

Is it true? This is a question many have asked over the years, and it brings to light the reality of doubt. Doubt is a season which many people pass through. When we think of someone who doubted, we probably think almost immediately of Thomas. He is even known as “Doubting Thomas.” Peter also experienced some moments of doubt, and it is safe to assume other of Jesus’ first followers may have had a doubt or two. John the Baptist among them.

Matthew 11:1-6 records, “When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region. John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing, so he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else?’ Jesus told them, ‘Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the good news is being preached to the poor.’ And he added, ‘God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

John the Baptist is struggling here. Perhaps with good reason, imagine the scene. John has been sitting in a small prison cell for approximately a year. His disciples were talking with John about the rumors of Jesus’ work. He was healing folks who suffered from a variety of diseases and illnesses, he was having compassion on people, and he was approaching individuals with a tender touch. As John was looking through the bars of his jail cell, it seemed Jesus was not bringing any judgment to the world, especially to the corrupted official who imprisoned him. Jesus is not acting in the way John thought the Messiah would, so he begins to doubt. He begins to wonder if Jesus is the Messiah who was to come or if someone else will be coming.

Put us in the scenes of our lives, and doubt begins to enter. We have plans made which we feel are secure, but suddenly life throws a wrench in those plans. We begin to wonder of the Lord’s whereabouts as our plans fall apart. Doubt creeps in.

Doubt enters for the young husband who is struggling just to provide for his family. Doubt enters for the parent whose child is struggling. Doubt enters for the retired couple who is dealing with much more than planned in their golden years. Doubt finds opportunities to walk into our lives.

Doubting and asking questions does not make you a bad person. It is how you handle the doubts and the questions which makes all the difference. Here are 3 keys for handling doubt the right way.

1.      Present your doubts to the Lord

The first key for handling doubts is taking our doubts to the Lord. John’s doubts are real. John doesn’t try to hide his doubts are hide himself from the Lord. He does just the opposite. He goes right to Jesus with the question. We can even say John’s question was blunt.

“Are you the Messiah, or is someone else coming?” This question is to the point. It is not hidden; it is not veiled. It is very real and honest, and Jesus’ response shows us it is okay to directly approach him with our doubts.

Jesus responds to John with much compassion and grace, as if to say, “I understand how you feel, so let me help you through it.” This is not the only time Jesus responds compassionately and graciously to someone with doubts.

He responds the same way to Thomas, who can be classified as the most famous of doubters. John 20:24-29 tells us Thomas was not present the first time Jesus appears to the disciples, and when they report the news to him, Thomas just can’t wrap his mind around it.

Verse 25 says, “But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail scars in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

Thomas’ doubt is not hidden or veiled here; it is real and bluntly presented just like John the Baptist. And, Jesus responds in the same way.

John’s Gospel goes on in verse 26: “A week later the disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.”

It is as if Jesus was in the room a week earlier when Thomas expressed his doubt, and Jesus responds compassionately and graciously.

The final statement Jesus makes to Thomas in this moment is, “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:26). The IVP Commentary Series states another way to think of Jesus’ words is, “Stop becoming unbelieving and become believing again.” Our Christian life is a journey of faith and seasons of doubt come, but when they do, Jesus responds with compassion and grace.

You see, it is okay to go directly to Jesus with our doubts. He even defends John. Matthew records Jesus telling the crowd they did not go out into the desert to see a man put on a good show. They went out to see a prophet. During everything John is going through, Jesus still calls him a prophet; “the Elijah” who was to come. John doesn’t lose credibility with Jesus because he presents doubts.

Likewise, we do not lose credibility with Jesus when we present doubts. He knows our hearts and minds anyway, so why try to hide the doubt? Why try to veil the very feeling which the Lord will help us work through? John presented doubts; Thomas presented doubts, and Jesus responded with compassion and grace. We can present doubts, and Jesus will respond with compassion and grace. Stop becoming unbelieving and start becoming believing again. The first key to overcoming doubt is to take it to the Lord.

2. Look Around to Overcome Doubt

The second key to overcome doubt is to look around. Jesus replies to John’s question by telling his disciples to go back and report what they see and hear. Look around at the Lord’s work.

Just step outside and look around at the workings of nature. We find the Lord’s fingerprints all over. According to Amazing Facts, here are a few places we see the Lord’s fingerprints.

  • The sun is a certain distance from the Earth. If it were any closer or at a greater distance, human life could not exist.
  • The Earth rotates on its axis at a certain angle. Any change in the degree of angle, and human life could not exist.
  • The air we breathe is 79% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen. The slightest change would cause much difficulty for human existence.

These are just a few examples of where we see the Lord’s fingerprints. Look around in nature, and you will find the Lord at work.

Another place we see the Lord’s work is in people’s lives. How many times have you heard those stories where there is just no explanation or things worked out in just the right way?

I’ve heard the story of a son who was going to look at a race car. He was interested in purchasing the car. He and his friends started on their way, and the son realized he forgot to grab an item out of his garage. He returned home to find his dad lying on the garage floor. His father needed medical attention, and had the son not forgotten the item, no one would have known it in time.

I’ve heard a story of a lady attempting to find her sister-in-law to let her know her husband was in the emergency room in serious condition. All she knew was her sister-in-law was running errands. The lady called some local businesses searching but came up empty. After exhausting all other options, she decided to just go driving around looking. She was getting ready to pull off her street onto the highway and guess who went by – her sister-in-law. If either of these ladies had delayed driving even by seconds, they would have missed each other. Everything worked out in just the right timing.

These two stories are interwoven. They are connected by a single family. As they were anxiously awaiting news about their dad, husband, and brother, they were reflecting on the afternoon’s events. And, only one conclusion was logical. The Lord had to be with them.

We all know of stories like this. There is just no explanation except the Lord was at work. “Look around,” Jesus says to John’s disciples. Look around at how you see the Lord moving; look around at how you see the Lord working; look around.

3. Challenge Your Doubts with the Bible

Thirdly, Jesus suggests referring to Scripture to help overcome doubt.

Jesus responds to John’s disciples in part by quoting Scripture. He quoted passages of Scripture which were beginning to be fulfilled. Not every detail of the prophecy John knew had been fulfilled at this point, but it was starting to come together.

Jesus was jogging John’s memory with Scripture. He certainly knew John was aware of the Old Testament passages discussing the Messiah. Jesus pushed John to Scripture to help him overcome his doubts.

Allow your doubts to push you to Scripture. Allow Scripture to challenge your doubts. Allow yourself to be open-minded enough to ponder the claims of Scripture. In doing so, your doubts may start to erode. After all, what do you have to lose besides doubts?

Acting

John the Baptist was a strong person of faith. He was the forerunner for Jesus, yet he had a season in life when he doubted. Doubt is certainly a part of many Christians journey; however, how the Christian responds to doubt makes the difference. These three keys will help overcome the season of doubt.

All three of these keys will only work if there is a willingness on our part to give them an opportunity. If you find yourself in a season of doubt today, why don’t you give them a shot? We asked this earlier, but what do you have to lose – besides doubts?

Dirty Work

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I’ve been watching the series Dirty Jobs. Mike Rowe spends time with men and women who have jobs considered to be dirty. Worm farmers, garbage collectors, and junk yard workers are just a few of the individuals Rowe follows. In one episode, he is working with a sewer inspector for the city of San Francisco. The inspector is tasked with finding weak spots in the sewer system. The work requires manually inspecting the underground tunnels carrying the sewage. It is definitely dirty; walking in raw sewage amid the rats and roaches is not the ideal place for a stroll. However, the work must be done. If the sewage system collapsed, it would cause havoc for the city. The inspector does what needs to be done even though it might be a little dirty.

Jesus too does what needs to be done even though it might be a little dirty.

Jesus’ Dirty Job

The excitement of the week was reaching its climax as Jesus and his disciples dined in the upper room. John’s Gospel tells us it was time for dinner, and Jesus got up to wash his disciples’ feet. We don’t know why one of the disciples had not already performed this ordinary act of hygiene. Perhaps they were focused on discussing the week’s events or they could have been arguing about who was the greatest. No matter the reason, this essential task was left undone. So, Jesus wraps a towel around himself and washes everyone’s feet.

This is an amazing example of Jesus’ humility. This dirty job was usually reserved for the lowest servant in the household. No one really wants to wash feet that have been in sandals all day. These feet have been on dusty roads plowing through manure and mud so it is vital they be cleaned, but who really wants to grab the pitcher and towel to clean them. It was a dirty and humiliating task, but Jesus does it. He’s not above the work or too good for it. He sees the need and does something about it. He’s not afraid to get dirty.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty.

The Bible encourages us to follow Jesus’ example of not being afraid to get dirty.

  • Mark 9:35 says, “He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
  • Mark 10:42-45 says, “42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Life can certainly be messy. Folks may have the “manure” of a messy past or the “mud” of guilt and heartache on their “feet.” Their “feet” are in need of washing, but they need someone to help them understand how to wash them. This is where Christ-followers come in sharing the Good News which can cleanse their “feet.” It may require humility; it may require patience, and it may mean a stroll through life’s messiness. As we drudge through the messiness, we can use Christ’s dirty jobs an example and encouragement.

Not only was Jesus willing to wash the disciples feet, he was willing to do the work of the cross. Scripture reminds us this was humiliating, painful, and outright torture. Yet it was essential. Jesus knew the need for the cross, and he wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work.

In what ways is the Lord calling you to help someone wash their feet?

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Who Can We Trust?

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There is an old song which says, “I never promised you a rose garden.” And, even if life would be a rose garden, roses have thorns. It is not a well-kept secret life is filled with difficulties. There are the headline grabbing challenges such as a pandemic, and the challenges which rock only our own little world. Pink slips and financial burdens can stun us while the rest of the world breezes by. We do not have to search for the difficulties of life; they find us, but we can find hope during these challenging times.

It was certainly no rose garden for the people of Israel in Jeremiah’s day. Jeremiah spoke of famine and drought; he spoke of harsh and hard times. But he also spoke of hope and where to find it amid life’s difficulties. Jeremiah’s words provided a way for the Israelites to find hope.

Jeremiah can lead us to hope just as he did the Israelites. Notice Jeremiah’s words in 17:5-8.

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

A gardener bought two identical plants. She planted one in the middle of the desert and the other in fertile soil. Both plants look good for a couple days, but it did not take long for the plant in the desert to wither and die. Meanwhile, the plant in the fertile soil thrived, staying healthy even though conditions became harsh. Jeremiah’s prophecy helps us apply this principle to ourselves.

The person who puts his trust in man will be disappointed and let down. Hoping only in man will place us in the Valley of Broken Promises. Man is fallible and easily makes mistakes. Leaving the Lord out and completely trusting man leaves us in the desert.

But putting our trust in the Lord will always give us hope. The Lord is faithful to always keep his promises. Notice again the words of Jeremiah 17:7-8. Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord. He or she can survive the challenging times in life.

The Psalmist puts it this way. Psalm 1:3 says:

 “They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.”

Trusting in the Lord is what pulls us through those challenging times. It is what gives us the strength to push through and the hope of a better season coming. Where is your trust being placed today?

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Hope in a Promise

“So, prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world” (1 Peter 1:13). The past twelve to eighteen months have magnified the need for hope. COVID19 has caused much pain, and current events have people starving and searching for hope. Hope for a change in pace; hope for a better tomorrow. Perhaps as you are reading this, you are wondering about hope. Allow me to remind you of the hope we have in Christ’s Second Coming and what it means for us.

We have a great promise for which we can be hopeful. Revelation 1:7-8 says, “Look, he comes with the clouds of Heaven, and everyone will see him. Even those who pierced him and all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes, amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,’ says the Lord God, ‘I am the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One.” Think about the hope we find in those words of Scripture.

The Lord is Coming

The Lord’s coming is the first point of this great promise. We do not have to doubt or wonder if he will return. We know he is coming. “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am,” promises Jesus in John 14.

In a world where it seems heartache and pain are around every corner; this prophetic declaration of the Lord is a grand promise to you and me. “In spite of the threatening circumstances, Jesus spoke with calm assurance of the divine provision for them, and took for granted that they would have a place in the eternal world. Jesus never speculated about a future life. He spoke as one who was as familiar with eternity as one is with his hometown. The imagery of a dwelling place, rooms, is taken from the oriental house in which the sons and daughters had apartments under the same roof as their parents. The purpose of his departure was to make ready the place where he welcomes them permanently. Certainly, he would not go to prepare a room for his friends unless he expected that they would also eventually arrive,” according to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Jesus promises he will come back and take us to his Father’s house, so his return is as certain as his departure. The agony of this life is only temporary. The struggles we encounter are only a stop on eternity’s timeline, because “look, he comes with the clouds of Heaven,” and everyone will see him.

Everyone Will See Him

This is an exciting point in the Lord’s promise. We can only imagine and hope for that day. We are not sure what it will be like or how we will respond. I’m sure there will be joy, thanksgiving, and awe, but I am not certain those emotions justly describe the feelings of that day. I am not sure there are words to express the emotions we will feel. I am sure, though, Christ will come. He guarantees it.

Guarantees It Himself

This is an awesome promise which God himself guarantees. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary remarks, “Such a stupendous promise requires more than the prophet’s own signature or even Christ’s amen. God himself speaks, and with his own signature vouches for the truthfulness of the coming of Christ. Of the many names of God that reveal his character and memorialize his deeds, there are four strong ones in this verse. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Their mention here is similar to the first and last in verse 17, and is further heightened by the beginning and the end in 21:6 and 22:13. Only this book refers to God as the Alpha and Omega. He is the absolute source of all creation and history, and nothing lies outside him. Thus, he is the Lord God of all. He is the One who is and One who was and who is to come. He is continually present to his people as the Almighty (lit. “the one who has his hand on everything.””

To erase doubt concerning Christ’s Second Coming, God himself speaks to its truthfulness. God says without a doubt, we should know Jesus is returning and we will see his face. We can find blessed hope in this promise.

Right Timing

John is the one who received the vision of Revelation. It came to him as he was advanced in years and isolated on an island. This vision may have served as a boost to John’s hope, and like all things with God, came at the perfect time. The historic time in which we are living is the perfect time for hope, and as Christians, we have hope. We have hope in Christ’s return, in the fact we will explicitly see him, and the guarantee of his truth. Everything else may give way, but our hope will remain. Hebrews 12:28 encourages, “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe.” Hang on because Christ’s Second Coming will be at the right time.

Please share this post, and a big thanks to Light magazine for including it as part of a recent article.