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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.

Audacious

On Sunday, Pastor Ed preached an Advent sermon titled "Audacious," covering the passage in Luke 1 where the angel announces to Zechariah that he will have a son.

This is not about audacious prayer, but about audacious answers.

3 Traveling Points from Dr. Luke:

1)  This Stuff Really Happened!

"I myself have carefully investigated..."  It matters to Luke that this is history, not myth.

Our faith is essentially the declaration of a historical event.

It always drives us back to the Resurrection.  There's more concrete evidence for the Resurrection than against it.  In brief:

A)  Where did the idea of the Resurrection come from? 

They didn't expect it.

B)  Where did the body go?

The first teaching of the Resurrection happened in Jerusalem.  If there was a body to be found, they would have found it.

c)  What in the world do you make of the disciples?

The Resurrection was central to their message, and they all gave their lives declaring this.

If the Resurrection is true, it's mind-blowing.  The disciples acted like people whose minds had been blown.

This stuff really happened!  That means our world is amazing!  Anything is possible!

2)  God Answers Our Prayers!

"your prayer has been heard"

The fulfillment of Isaiah 40 -- preparing the way for the Lord.

God's answering your prayers, and He's going to use you to do it.

God often does this with His people -- using you to be part of the answer to your own prayer.

Zechariah's personal prayer is also answered -- a son!  He gave up that prayer a long time ago.

Here's God offering an audacious answer.

God answers beyond all we can ask or imagine.

3)  God Expects to Be Believed.

The release of God's power is coupled with faith.

God waits to move on our behalf to see that the movement is coupled with faith.

What do we do with this?

We pray, believing.

Personally:  A call to rededicate ourselves to prayer, believing that God will answer.  Let's not fall prey to feeling guilty about prayer; let's just pray.

Spiritual growth looks like taking the next step.

Two essential conditions for prayer are helplessness and faith.

Create some disciplines for yourself to help you take the next step in prayer.

Corporately:  We reviewed what God has done for Gateway, giving us the land.

We got a loan and are building a facility to serve our neighborhood!

When we open our doors in 2017, we want to put our best foot forward.  We also want to have a facility that can best serve our neighbors.  We need an additional million dollars.

We're not going to get a million dollars by planning, but by praying.

So corporately, we're going to try two prayer exercises:

We want to do 24 hours of prayer on New Year's Eve Day.  We'd like as many people as possible to sign up for an hour to pray.

In January, we're going to pray as a group for 1 minute at 1:00, asking God for 1 million dollars.

Then we finished the service by sharing Communion together, reminding each other that This stuff really happened!

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