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Kinetic: He Is Risen!

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Today, on Resurrection Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen preached a message from John 20:24-29, where Jesus appears to Thomas.

Why did John feature this scene as the focus of his story of Jesus' life?  Why is this the most important interaction in the whole book of John?

There's an important way Thomas is not like us at all:

Thomas is one of the apostles.

Thomas didn't need to see the resurrected Jesus in order to believe.  In a real sense, he already did believe, because he was still showing up; he was there.  Why did Jesus show up again for Thomas?

Thomas and the other apostles were specifically chosen to be eyewitnesses to the Resurrection.

The apostles had all actually seen the resurrected Jesus.

John is emphasizing:  This stuff actually happened!  We saw it with our own eyes!

When John saw the empty tomb, he believed.  Some of us are more like Thomas.

But there are two ways Thomas is like us:

1)  Many of us are just like Thomas in the way our faith is assaulted by doubt.

Doubt is common.  It is not the opposite of faith, which is apathy.

You can only doubt what you partly believe.

Trying to force doubt away doesn't work.  Trying to ignore it will lead you to apathy.

For some, your doubt is in danger of metastasizing into apathy.  Inactivity is how that happens.  Don't put your doubts on the shelf.

Thomas still showed up the next week.  Keep showing up.

Doubt your doubts! 

We are blessed here -- We have not seen, but we have believed.

2)  Thomas is like us in his faith.

He here makes the clearest declaration of faith in the entire Bible:  "My Lord and my God!"

This statement of faith is on what John's entire message is focused.

Thomas makes the ultimate faith declaration.  He proclaims the heart of the Gospel.

If Jesus' teaching was the point, if it were all about a code of conduct, Thomas wouldn't have needed this encounter.

Our faith rests on a historical event, which changes life as we know it.

It's about Jesus, not about us.

The point is the power of the resurrected Christ!

We touch on that when we can say with our whole hearts, "My Lord and my God!"

Reliance on the great teacher Jesus is about you.  We don't need a teacher; we need a Savior.

Jesus consistently claimed to be God.  No one in their right mind would follow a teacher who made those claims - unless they were true.

We don't need more information; we need a Savior.

John was saying, "You can believe us!  We barely believed it ourselves:  Check out Thomas!"

What now?

1)  Pay attention to the teaching of the Apostles.

Hear it from the eyewitnesses.  Read the book yourself.  (Start with John!)

2)  Take the next right step.

3)  Remember your own experiences.  Don't surrender ground to doubt unnecessarily.

4)  Look at his wounds.

We need a God who bleeds.

My Lord and my God!

***

We finished up sharing Communion together, and after the service, the children had an Easter Egg Hunt.

The Call of God on Our Lives

Check out this quote:

 “A lost person or article is still what it is, still valuable in itself, but in the wrong place, disconnected from its purpose and unable to be or do whatever it is intended to be or do.”  (David Winter, What's in a Word)

I can’t help but think of last week when I was looking for a flathead screwdriver in our garage.  That screwdriver was somewhere, and, wherever it was, it was still a screwdriver.  But it was separated from its purpose because it was lost. 

Okay, that may be a bad example because Diane would argue that a screwdriver in my hands is still cut off from its intended purposes but you get my point.  That’s us apart from a life-giving connection to God.  We are still what we are – still capable of some extraordinary things, still with noble longings, still trying to give and receive love, but we are disconnected from our real purpose and cut off from our authentic selves. 

Last week in service we talked about the call of God on our lives.  Throughout the Bible we read testimonies of people whom God has called: Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah, the disciples and many more.  These people became who they were intended to be because God literally spoke into their lives in a way that they could hear and understand Him.  I also know many of these kinds of stories personally from hearing them over the years from others and from some experiences of my own. 

Being “called by God” is incredible and life-changing and amazing and several other powerful adjectives! 

But what if you’ve never heard God’s call?  What if, when you hear these stories, you feel something more like frustration or self-doubt or doubt of God or the story-teller?  I had someone ask me after church this week: “Does God not call some people?  And does that mean something is wrong with them if He doesn’t?”  Is such a person doomed to never being found?

This is one of those kinds of questions that deserves more than a short blog-answer.  However, since I’m writing a blog (partly because I never found that screwdriver) here’s a short blog-something-to-consider.  I think there are 3 likely reasons why we end up feeling this way:

1) For some of us, we’ve actually had experiences of being directed by God, or confronted by God, or even radically altered by God … but we just forget them.  I don’t mean we literally forget them, but we let them drift so far away from our thinking that they are no longer part of the equation when we’re making decisions or when we’re thinking about ourselves.  I’ve certainly ended up doubting my experiences with God at times because of this very reason.  I can’t help but think of what Luke says about Mary when she heard the things that were being said about her newborn son Jesus.  “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  (Luke 2:19)   For some of us, we need to do some treasuring.

2) For others of us, there is simply too much distraction in our lives.  This can take the form of sheer noise: soccer practice, karate, spend the nights, academic club, piano, softball games, baby showers, project deadlines …  Or this can be because we have too many other seemingly important things in our lives.  If we’re honest, it may be that we’re really relying on our children’s success or our bank account or our list of accomplishments to give us purpose and security.   Moses tells the Israelites, “If from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  (Deuteronomy 4:29)  This must be a big deal for God because he repeats Himself in Jeremiah (29:13) and in Jesus (Matthew 7:7).   So let’s consider for a moment: have we wholeheartedly sought Him?  He rarely screams over extraneous noise.

3) Finally, some of us are just plain resistant to God.  We may be mad at Him or we may be fiercely disappointed with our lives.  We end up feeling like and acting like a 14-year-old boy who thinks that everything his parents say is either ridiculous or irrelevant or both (I’ve had some experience with this).  We do not want to be bothered.  “Hey, show me something real and tangible and big or I think I’ll just go my own way.”  If you’re in this place, you’re in good company, but you’re not in a good place!  God does not respond to demands!

Here’s the thing: when I’m in one of those places I still am what I am.  I still have noble longings; I still do some good things.  I still feel like myself … sorta.  But it’s the sorta part that usually drives me back to Him.  It’s the sorta part that bothers me when I’m alone or when it’s late at night.  Because somewhere deep inside, I know I’m disconnected if I’m not living underneath His call.

I pray that you are treasuring God’s call on your life today.  And if you’re not, I pray that the deep sense of “sorta” will drive you to seek Him, wholeheartedly and without resistance. 

 

Posted by Ed Allen with 0 Comments