As I was reading John 20 this morning, I was reminded of the personal relationship I have with Jesus. I was reminded that each of us have a different relationship (or absence thereof) when it comes to Jesus. It all comes down to how we engage with God’s Word and with our Savior. Remember in John 20:20, we find Jesus appears to His disciples and He shows them His hands and side. He shows them His hands and His side. Later Thomas, or Doubting Thomas as many call him, returned. He missed the grand arrival of Jesus, and though the others noted that He came, Thomas would not believe. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe” (v. 25 NIV). Thomas desired a personal encounter.
Jesus appears later, this time Thomas was with the others. The Bible says that even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in. He said, “Peace be with you!” Then He directs Himself to Thomas. He says, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27 NIV). Immediately Thomas responds – “My Lord and my God!” Thomas had a personal encounter with Jesus.
We are often hard on Thomas. Yes, he demanded to have this personal moment with Jesus. He demanded to see Him, to touch the nail marks. He desired to look upon the One Who once bled for Him. He desired to reach his hands out and put his finger where the nails once were. He needed to have this personal encounter. Yes, he doubted. Yes, he needed some evidence. Most of all, He needed to encounter the risen Jesus Christ. He needed it to be personal. Remember, once this happened he immediately exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Today, seek out that personal encounter with Jesus. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. As you reach out and grasp a hold of Jesus, may you exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”
In Romans 10, Paul writes that salvation is all about the welcoming word—“Jesus is my Master.” This means that you embrace Jesus with all you have and you are calling out to God, trusting in Jesus and what He did for you. He said it really was not about doing anything. It was about the welcoming word. It was about calling out to God and trusting in Him.
With your whole being you embrace God and He sets everything right. It is only because of Him that things can be set right. With the welcoming word, life is changed. The word of faith is your righteousness. Remember Abraham believed and because of it he was righteous.
Have you declared the welcoming word yet? If you haven’t done so please understand that if you do so today, if you embrace God and call out to Him right now, you will be saved. God will set everything right between you and Him. If it’s been awhile since you were saved but you have fallen off course, today is a good day to reaffirm the welcoming word once again and ask Him to encourage and empower you to press onward. I am so thankful that we can approach Him with this welcoming word. Only through Jesus we have this great opportunity.
“It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—‘Jesus is my Master’—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not ‘doing’ anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’” – Romans 10:8-10 [MSG]
It is difficult to stay motivated when there is a long road ahead and the finish line is a far distance away. I remember trying to press through college and wondering if I would ever finish. As time passes and the goal appears so far out of reach, it is hard to keep from falling off course.
In Hebrews, the writer mentions how Abraham, Noah and others died believing the promises of God. They had not yet received what they were promised. They believed. But they had not yet received. The writer said, “They saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.”
We receive promises from God just as these great men. These promises are from a distance. We too can only believe God and welcome what He has promised. He keeps His promises. He is faithful. There might be times when it is hard to stay motivated, but this life is a small span compared to the eternity we have with God. From a distance is a peace unable to comprehend. From a distance there is joy like no other. From a distance is life in abundance, eternal life, true life as God intended.
“All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.” – Hebrews 11:13 [NLT]
As I was taking a morning walk, I heard a voice say, “Hello.” I responded with a “hello” and continued walking forward. Then the voice asked, “How are you doing?” I answered that I was “well” and then crossed the street. I had looked to my left to see who I was speaking with but I did not see anyone anywhere. I turned to look across the street. No one there. I turned around. No one there. Who was I talking to?
I have no idea where the person was that I was speaking to but I know someone was there. I couldn’t see anyone. But I believe. This reminded me of when Jesus said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” We do not always see things but we still believe.
We spend a lot of time needing proof for everything. We must know it all. We must see it all. Sometimes we need only believe. Believe with childlike faith. Today, what is hindering you? What is keeping you from believing?
“Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.’” – John 20:29 [NLT]
I remember when I was younger and I would see people reading the magazines with all of the half-truths or even some stories that made no sense at all. There were some people who would read them and believe everything. It was printed on paper so it has to be true they believed. Today things are much worse. Today we have social media. People can see a lot more information—and some believe everything they are told.
I cannot believe some of the things I see online. What is worse is when I see things that I can easily tell are false, get passed onward to others. Lies are shared so fast on Facebook. Even when people finally realize that it is not true, another wave of people sees it and passes it along because they did not get the memo. This proverb today says that “only simpletons believe everything they’re told.” Others will “carefully consider.” Others will look into things. Others will seek the Truth.
The simpletons can continue to believe and share the lies, but it doesn’t change the truth. The Truth is always the Truth. Today let us not fall into the category of the simpletons. Let us remember that God’s Truth is Truth. Let us “carefully consider (our) steps.” Let us seek out the Truth. Let us seek Him.
“Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.” – Proverbs 14:15 [NLT]
In Exodus 12, the people are given instructions: “be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in hand” (v. 11 NLT). They were getting dressed for travel. These people were slaves, slaves that were not allowed to leave due to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. But God was preparing the Israelites for the Lord’s Passover. God promised that they would soon be leaving.
Getting dressed for travel was an act of faith, trusting that God truly was going to do as He said. Are you dressed for travel? Are you prepared to do whatever God has called you to do? Are you believing the promises of God? The Word of God?
We might not need to have sandals on and a walking stick in hand, but we should always be prepared to walk in faith. Trusting God—trusting His Word, His character, His promises—that’s faith. Believing Him. And the only way you can believe Him is to know Who He is and what He promises. That requires prayer. That requires reading His Word. So are your sandals on? Are you ready?
“These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the LORD’s Passover.” – Exodus 12:11 [NLT]