Tag Archives: Christian

How Does the Lord Respond to Doubt?

Jesus responds with grace and compassion.

Experiencing doubts in one’s faith journey can seem lonely. The one having doubts may feel he or she is the only one having questions. However, approximately 2/3 of Christians experience doubts at some point. And, this is not a new experience in the 21st Century. It has been occurring since the 1st Century; Jesus’ first followers had doubts.

The Bible records John the Baptist experiencing doubts. On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, many of his disciples had doubts, and Jesus responded with grace and compassion.

He responded 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 cannot 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 is like most Christians. He experienced a season of doubt, and Jesus responded with grace and compassion.

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.

If you are going through a season of doubt, you are not alone. Many Christians have asked questions and sought answers. Most respondents stated their faith was stronger after going through a season of doubt.

The Lord knows seasons of doubt come in life, and he responds with grace and compassion. Challenge your doubts by asking questions and seeking answers.

 

The Days After the Resurrection

Jesus gives a starting point for sharing hope.

The time from Jesus’ resurrection to his ascension was eventful for his disciples. He appeared to them numerous times, and they never knew when or where he would show up. They needed to be ready to learn from Jesus at any time.

John 21 records Jesus appearing to some of his disciples as they were fishing. It was the early morning hours, and the men had been fishing all night. They caught nothing though until Jesus guided them. While the disciples were about 100 yards from shore, Jesus appeared on the shore. He suggested throwing the net on the right side of the boat. They did, and it was filled with fish.

They came ashore, and Jesus was waiting with a hot breakfast. Jesus needed to have a conversation with the disciples concerning the future, but first, he wanted to make sure their needs were met. If they were struggling and hungry, they would not be focused on what Jesus had to say.

The Bible encourages Christians to share our hope, and I believe we find a starting point in this post-resurrection appearance.

We need to help a person meet his or her physical needs before we can have an open door to discuss spiritual matters.

If a person is struggling and hungry today, he or she is not concerned about tomorrow. A starting point for sharing hope is helping meet physical needs.

  • It may be helping the person look for work.
  • It may be helping the individual identify ways to advance his or her skills to improve financial stability.
  • It may be helping a person navigate resources to find help.
  • Mostly, it is investing in the person’s life to earn the right to share our hope.

People are more content to discuss tomorrow when today’s needs are met.

 

 

The Evening After the Resurrection

Jesus offers encouragement in two ways.

The doors were locked. The day had been eventful. The disciples learned of an empty tomb early in the morning, and two of them just returned from Emmaus saying the Lord had appeared to them. Though the sun was setting, the excitement continued.

As the two disciples from Emmaus were speaking, Jesus appeared in the room even though the doors were locked. At first, this startled Jesus’ followers, then they became overjoyed when they realized it was truly Jesus. Jesus spent some time with them, and he encouraged the disciples in two ways.

Encouragement to help with their doubts.

The Gospel writers recall the disciples still had doubts in their minds. Jesus understood their doubts, so he offered an opportunity to touch his hands and feet. He also ate in front of them. A ghost or figment of their imagination would not have hands, feet, or the ability to eat, so it really had to be Jesus. He encouraged the disciples through their doubts.

One of the ways Jesus encourages people with doubts today is giving them an opportunity to see his hands and feet, the church, in action. The church should help one another as well as the community. The church is a picture of Jesus and gives us an opportunity to see him in action.

I wish I could say this was a perfect picture; however, the picture is not always perfect. I can say I believe the world is a better place because of the lives of genuine Christ followers. Their love and work shined in the world around them.

Check here for more suggestions to overcome doubts.

Encouragement to share their hope.

Jesus helped the disciples with their doubts, then he sent them to share their hope.

John 20:21 says, “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Jesus never intended for the disciples to keep his resurrection a secret. The Lord does not intend for Christians to keep our hope a secret. He desires for us to share it with those around us.

In many ways, these pieces of encouragement are connected. The person with doubts sees the Christian community sharing hope. Our sharing of hope allows the Lord’s love to shine brightly. What ways have you found to share your hope?

 

The Hours After the Resurrection

Seven miles of pondering.

The empty tomb was just the start of Easter day for the disciples. Several women, including Mary Magdalene, returned to the disciples with the exciting news, and the disciples started piecing the events together; however, there was still much doubt in their minds concerning the women’s news.

Two of the disciples decided to travel to Emmaus. They were joined on the 7-mile journey by Jesus, but they did not recognize him. As they walked, they talked.

The conversation turned to current events: Jesus’ crucifixion and the tomb being empty. Jesus used the Scripture to help the disciples overcome their doubt and see the truth. They were wondering if everything was true, but as they studied the Scriptures, they pieced everything together and understood.

Luke tells us after Jesus left the two disciples, they returned to Jerusalem. This means they walked 14 miles in one day, so they certainly got a workout. The account also gives us an idea to help overcome doubts.

Ponder the Bible.

If you are struggling with doubts, try studying the Scripture. For the disciples, it helped clear up confusion and settle some doubts. It may do the same for you.

C. S. Lewis, a well-known author, was an Atheist in his early 20s only to convert to Christianity after pondering the Bible. His intellect determined the claims of Scripture were sensible, and the explanation of life given in the Bible made sense. Lewis commented in Mere Christianity, Jesus had to be telling the truth. Otherwise, he would have been a lunatic, and there was no other evidence of Jesus not being sane. Lewis’ study of the Bible is what helped him conquer doubt and embrace Christianity.

God understands you and I may experience doubts, so he provides the Bible to ponder. Challenge your doubts with the claims of Scripture.

Check here for more suggestions to overcome doubts.

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The Moments after the Resurrection

Don’t keep hope a secret.

The tomb was empty, but the day was not over. There was still much for the disciples to experience as the hours of Easter unfolded. Jesus appeared to them at various times through the day. Each time Jesus helped the disciples understand something valuable. He started with Mary Magdalene.

Mary was weeping and standing outside the empty tomb. In her mind she had lost Jesus. She assumed someone had taken his body to a permanent burial spot. Already grieved by the crucifixion, the empty tomb only added to her heartbreak, because she didn’t understand Jesus had risen.

Then Jesus appeared and they had a conversation.

John 20:14 says, “At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize it was Jesus standing there.”

How often do we miss Jesus? We are consumed by our own thoughts, so we miss the fact he is standing beside us. Our worries and anxieties keep us from realizing he is there. Mary’s grief kept her from realizing Jesus was there, but he still had her well-being in mind.

In John 20:15, “He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Jesus checks on Mary before he instructs her. Mary was important to Jesus, and he wanted to take care of her needs. We too are important to Jesus, and he wants to take care of our needs. This is the reason Jesus and Mary are standing outside an empty tomb.

Verse 15 goes on, “Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni’ Which means ‘teacher.’

No doubt this would have been an exciting moment for Mary. Her hand on Jesus’ hand, and her hope was back. Jesus told her it was time to share her hope.

“Jesus said, ‘Do not hold onto me for I have not ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’ Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news, ‘I have seen the Lord,’ and she told them he had said these things to her,” says John 20:17-18.

Jesus told Mary it was time to share the hope she had found. She couldn’t force the other disciples to believe, but she could share hope with them.

We can share our hope with those around us. We can’t force them to believe, but we can illustrate our hope through our lives and actions. Our generosity, mindset, actions, and interactions speak volumes about the hope we have. Mary is told not to keep her hope a secret, but to go share it.

Share your hope today. Encourage someone in a Facebook post. Send a friend an encouraging text message. Call a neighbor to check on them before you go to the store the next time. Share your hope today.

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4 Lessons Learned from Moses’ Life

A life of overcoming barriers.

From beginning to end, Moses’ life was filled with barriers. Getting through each stage of his life required him to overcome a barrier.

Moses’ life teaches us 4 lessons we can apply to our lives.

1. Faithful parenting helps our kids.

Moses parents were up against it. Pharaoh issued a decree that any newborn Israelite boy was to be killed. They ignored the decree and were forced to make some hard choices. Keeping Moses hidden for 3 months, they decided to float him down the Nile. His parents reached a point where they had no choice but to pray and trust the Lord.

Lamentations 2:19 encourages, “Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer pleading for your children….”

Moses’ parents believed the Lord would care for their son. Being faithful parents can start our kids on the right path. We should follow the example of Moses’ parents.

Pray and trust the Lord. Seek his guidance in guiding our kids.

2. Patience is needed.

Moses had to develop the virtue of patience. He patiently endured the struggle of Israel wondering in the desert. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and he desired to lead them into the promised land. However, their unfaithfulness resulted in desert wondering the rest of Moses’ life. It would have been easy for Moses to give up in this situation, yet he remained faithful.

Hebrews 10:36 says patient endurance is what we need right now. Life may be a struggle right now but pushing through today’s struggle will bring tomorrow’s reward.

Moses patiently endured his circumstances. He knew something better was ahead. Patient endurance will lead to a reward worth the wait.

3. Making right choices may be hard.

Moses went from somebody to nobody because it was the right thing to do.

“It was by faith, Moses, when he grew up refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Hebrews 11:24-26 records, “He chose to share the oppression of God’s people rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than own the treasures of Egypt. For he was looking ahead to his great reward.”

As we are working to fulfill our purpose, we may be forced to make hard choices. We may have to temporarily suspend some activities, spending, etc. This may be necessary to progress toward our goal.

We learn from Moses to focus on the future in these moments. Today’s struggles will bring tomorrow’s rewards.

4. God is magnified in our weakness.

In our society, weaknesses are viewed as a negative; however, God views them as an opportunity. His power is displayed in moments when we are weak.

Moses had a difficulty with speech. He stuttered, so he believed there was no way he could represent God. The Lord, on the other hand, knew Moses was the right person for the job. He reassured Moses and worked powerfully through him.

Perhaps we can relate to Moses. We have a weakness which we view as a stumbling block to serving. God, however, views it as an opportunity.

We can be encouraged by knowing God has a plan. In weakness, we cry out for help, and with power, God responds. He did for Moses. God provided Aaron as a spokesperson for Moses. Moses’ weaknesses did not prevent him from fulfilling his purpose, and our weaknesses will not prohibit us from completing our calling.

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The Problem with Time

Timing is everything.

Time can be a problem. We either don’t have enough time or we have too much time. We’re either late to an appointment or we’re too early. We either procrastinate or move too quickly. Getting timing just right is hard yet learning to recognize God’s timing is crucial.

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us there is a proper time for everything.

Verses 1-9 tell us, “For everything there is a season. A time for every activity under Heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to heal and a time to kill. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.”

God has assigned a time for everything. Birth, death, planting, harvesting, etc.; each activity has an appropriate time, and you and I can’t control the time. The best we can do is recognize God’s timing, which is important.

Solomon teaches us there is…

  • A proper time to stay at home and go out.
  • A proper time to lead and follow.
  • A proper time for prayers to be answered.
  • A proper time to take steps in fulfilling our purpose.

We need to be sensitive to the Lord’s timing.

Recognizing God’s timing is important to our success.

A young executive was driving his new corvette down a neighborhood street. He may have been driving a little fast, and suddenly, a brick smashed into the driver’s door. The young man threw his car in park, jumped out and ran to the sidewalk looking for the brick thrower.

The man found a boy standing on the sidewalk. He grabbed the child and demanded answers. The boy started crying and said, “I’m sorry I threw the brick. No one was stopping and I need help. My brother has fallen out of his wheelchair. He’s hurt, but I can’t pick him up. I need help.”

Fighting back tears, the young executive followed the boy to his brother. There on the curb lay a young boy beside his overturned wheelchair.

The man right sided the chair and gently placed the boy in it. Then, he used his handkerchief to tend to the boy’s wounds. After that, the two brothers went on their way.

The young executive watched for a moment before returning to his corvette. The damage was noticeable, but he never fixed it. He wanted the reminder to slow down and be sensitive to timing.

It took a brick to get the young man’s attention. We can’t control time. The best we can do is recognize it.

Acting

Slow down and ask the Lord to help you recognize his timing.

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Patient Endurance Pays Off

Don’t give up. Patiently enduring today’s struggles will pay off with tomorrow’s successes.

Frank wasn’t known for his patience. While he was working, Frank’s wife called him. She was speaking kind of slowly, and her mood was somewhat down.

Irritated by this, Frank barked, “Get on with it. What do you need? And, be positive!”

She was silent for a moment, and then chipperly reported, “I found out today the airbags in our brand-new BMW work very well.”

Patience can be hard. We live in a well-connected world with virtually everything at our fingertips, so when patience is required, you and I may struggle a little. We want what we want when we want it, but sometimes patience is needed. Having patience may seem grueling to us, but the reward will be worth the backbreaking work.

Hebrews 10:36 implores, “Patient endurance is what you need now so that you will continue to do God’s will, then you will receive all that he has promised.”

Moses serves as an illustration of someone who had patience. He patiently endured the struggle of Israel wondering in the desert. Moses led Israel out of Egypt and wanted to take the people into the promised land, but the unbelief of the people forced Israel to stay in the desert the rest of Moses’ life. It would have been easy for Moses to give up in this situation, yet he remained faithful.

Moses patiently endured his circumstances. He knew something better was ahead. Moses knew what was ahead would be worth the wait. For him, it was Heaven, and for Israel, it was the promised land. Patient endurance will lead to a reward worth the wait.

Two frogs fell into a bucket of cream. The sides were slippery, and the frogs did not have an immediate way out of the bucket.

One frog immediately gave up. He said, “there’s no way out. We’re going to drown.” So, he stopped swimming and sank to the bottom.

The other frog said, “I’m going to keep swimming and see what happens.” He kicked and paddled; he swam and churned. Eventually, butter formed a platform under the frog. He was able to jump out of the bucket.

Right now, life may be in a season of adversity. Achieving goals, realizing dreams, and fulfilling purpose may be a struggle. Don’t give up. Tomorrow’s successes will be worth enduring the hardships of today.

Patient endurance will be worth it when we find success.

You are working hard. Your hard work uncovers more work needing done. It shows you more practice is needed or more connections made. You see the goal and dream, but you are beginning to doubt its obtainability.

Michael Jordan can relate. Jordan may be one of the best NBA players to ever touch the court, and he had to patiently endure missed shots, game losses, and letting the team down on his way to success. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games; 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed,” Michael Jordan once said.

The work you and I are now doing is helping us find success. It will be worth it when our goals are achieved, and dreams realized. Don’t give up. Patiently endure the struggles of today to enjoy the successes of tomorrow.

Patient endurance will be worth it when our purpose is fulfilled.

You’re trying to fulfill your purpose. It seems you have to overcome a barrier each step of the way. Your suggestions are ignored; your ideas fall on deaf ears. And, life seems to always pose an interruption. You’ve determined your purpose, but the present trials are causing you to doubt. Are you really the right person for this purpose?

Moses was ignored. His requests to the people fell on deaf ears. He endured all of this as he faithfully fulfilled his purpose. Moses wondered if he was the right person for the job; he doubted leading Israel was his purpose, but God said it was.

We, too, may wonder and doubt, but God gave us life and our purpose. Like Moses, we will experience struggles. The reward of fulfilling our purpose will be worth patiently enduring the struggles.

Patiently enduring this life will be worth it in the next.

The struggles of this life will be worth it in the next.

  • James 1:12 says, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
  • “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long, yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever,” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says. “So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now. Rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

Acting

Don’t give up. Today’s struggles will be worth tomorrow’s successes. Ask the Lord to help you patiently endure the struggles of today.

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