God Speaks

“God Speaks”

 

One of the most important spiritual abilities we must all cultivate is the ability to hear the voice of God. Hearing the voice of God is the key in spiritual warfare. It is the only way to find direction and guidance at the crossroads of life. It is the means by which we can overcome the obstacles and barriers in our circumstances. As long as you can hear the voice of God you are never hopeless or powerless. It does not matter what kind of situation you may be in, if you can hear God speaking; you can experience your deliverance. We have been emphasizing how to hear the voice of God and here are a few of the highlights from our study.

First of all, voice denotes relationship. It is out of your relationship with the Lord that your ability to hear his voice evolves. As you grow in your relationship with Him, you suddenly have a greater sensitivity to His voice. Out of all the other sounds and noises that may be going on in your life, you can hear his voice. Your ears are attuned to the sound of his voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” The defining characteristic of those who are the Lord’s sheep is they can hear his voice. In Palestine, at night when the shepherd was leading the sheep by home, it would be dark and the sheep could not see the shepherd. At those times the shepherd would sing or talk to the sheep as he led them and they would follow his voice. In the same way, we are to follow the voice of God. Faith is not having God say something to us and then we go on our own. Faith is following the voice of God as He leads us to where He wants us to go.

Faith is not in what God said but rather in what God is saying. It is a faith walk. We are walking behind Him as He directs us with His voice. He does not reveal the whole picture to us. We have to trust Him and believe what he says to us now. Then we have to listen as he speaks to us further.

Instead of worrying about whether God will speak to us or not we need to concentrate on making sure we are in a position to hear what God is saying. There are several hindrances to hearing God’s voice. First of all, the posture of your heart must be pure. You cannot have evil motives and malice in your heart and then hear God’s voice.

Peter says, ‘laying aside all malice and evil speaking and hypocrisies and as new born babes receive the word of God.” Second, we must make a concerted effort to listen to what God is saying. We must focus our attention completely on what God is saying.

This involves quality private prayer time alone with God. Meditation and quiet reflection is key to hearing God’s voice. As he told Elijah, God speaks is calm, quiet voice.

Third, we must be willing to repent or change with anything God says. We cannot expect God to speak to us when we have determined what it is we will accept or reject. God requires us to be open and flexible to whatever He would speak to us. He is Lord and whatever He wants to do is His prerogative.

In conclusion, make the voice of the Lord the top priority in your life. Before you make any decision, before you accept any conclusion, before you do anything drastic, seek to know the voice of the Lord.

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Root of Problem

The effect of something is always more obvious. However true ministry must concentrate on the cause. Only when you deal with the cause can you ever find the root of the problem. There is a cause and effect in any kind of bondage. When you get to the root of the problem you are better able to find relieve from the affliction. If you treat the effects you can find temporary relief but when you get at the cause you can find a solution that is permanent.
For example, the key to understanding a particular behavior is know the motive behind it. It is ironic that criminal investigators always look for a motive in solving crimes. Usually if you can find someone who had a reason to commit a crime it will lead you to whoever committed the crime. The key to changing behavior it finding the motivation for why a particular behavior is being displayed by an individual. If you can change the motivation you may be able to change the behavior.
A lot of ministry is like what is done in the medical community when patients are given something for pain but nothing for the real cause of their pain. Sometimes before they know what is wrong, they give you something to endure the pain. When ministry is only intended to make you feel good and does not address the real problem it is not effective. Sin is the root of all that ails the human race. When preaching does not call people to repent and preach against sin, we are only giving people pain killers and not giving them what can really help them. I can wash a car all day but if I don’t do anything about my engine trouble, the car cannot serve its purpose. As we minister to others and pray for our deliverance, let us ask God to give us power over sin because that is the cause and Jesus is the solution.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty!

The Spirit of God is always working to liberate. The absence of the moving of the Spirit leads to bondage. The way God is moving in your life is He is bringing greater liberty and freedom. You can always identify the Spirit of God by what He is doing to liberate you. Ultimately the goal of everything the Spirit of God is doing in your life is to bring you to liberty. All the other blessings God will give you come out of you being freed in the particular areas where the blessings are aimed. Jesus said one time, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” The difference between the Spirit of the Lord and the spirits of this world is the Spirit of God brings release while the spirits of this world bring affliction and bondage. Yielding to the Spirit of God involves allowing the Holy Spirit to make you free. Bondage is of spiritual origin. While it may be manifested in the natural, the true cause of it is in the realm of the spirit. Demonic oppression is when some evil spirit attaches itself to your spirit. Consequently, deliverance is the expulsion of that evil spirit and impartation of the Spirit of God in its place. The degree to which you are free is dictated to by the degree to which the Spirit of God is allowed to have free course in your life. Nothing is more obvious to others than how free you are. There is so much God would do in our lives but sometimes we are too bound to receive it. You may assume there is not any connection between the things going on in your life and the promises He has made to you but sometimes God is freeing you up to make space for all He has intended to do for you.
As much as God would like to bless you, if you are bound you cannot receive or enjoy what God is about to do in your life. Don’t worry about when God’s promises are going to come. Focus on being as free as you can because you are blessed in proportion to how free you are. Renounce any bondage to anything and walk completely in all God has provided through the redemption of Jesus Christ.

Word of God

The Word of God is the medium of exchange by which spiritual power is transmitted.  The way that God imparts life, generates change and does things like more matter around is by means of the Word of God.  He even creates out of nothing by the Word of God.  Believing in God and living for Him involves operating from an entirely different way of doing things. As believers we are drawing from a different source.  To be a christian means to be dependent on a completely different basis of trust. The power of God is accessible to His people through the means of the Word of God.  

Adapting to Receive

The Hebrew writer is suggesting that your posture and attitude in relationship to God’s promise can determine whether the promise comes true for you or not. He is drawing a comparison between the children of Israel who died in the wilderness and us today in that what happened to them could very well happen to us. There is a stark similarity between us and them in that we are both in identical situations. Much like them we are at a crossroads, and impasse. We are at a critical juncture where what we do will ultimately determine the outcome. What happens here will decide if we are among the group that the promise goes unfulfilled or are we among the group that actually receives the promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He is warning us against making the same mistake the children of Israel made. As we survey our situation and look out at what is before us today, we too have promises made to us and promises that are yet to be fulfilled. Much like the children of Israel, God is pulling us in some directions we are not inclined to go in and leading us places we don’t find comfortable. A lot of times I say I can’t do something when in reality it is not that I can’t do it, it is that I don’t want to do it. It is amazing how incapable of doing things you don’t want to do. When you don’t want to do something you can think of so many reasons why you can’t do it. Proverbs 26:16 says, “The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason. Another translation says, The lazy man imagines he is wiser than a dozen men who argue ably. (Moffat Translation) The mind can just generate so many excuses and so many reasons for why you can’t do something when you don’t want to do it.

There are things God is requiring of us that go against our own conception of what we can do and what we would even want to do. There is a tension between what we had planned or thought would happen and what is actually happening. There is an element where in our minds God needs to move some things in or out of the situation so that we can receive. We need God to make the circumstances more conducive and more reasonable for what He promised. And yet in the midst of all these things conflicting with the promise God expect us to comply and consent to things the way they are. He wants us to flat out go along with taking us down this road that does not appear to be the way we would have chosen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the moment where the children of Israel revolted and rebelled. This was the place where they dropped the ball and missed out on the promise. The Hebrew writer says watch out and make sure you don’t make the same mistake. The reason for why they died in the wilderness and came up short must not be something we allow to happen to us. This something we have to avoid at all costs and make provision to prevent from taking place. The one great benefit of their failure is it gives us a blueprint to follow to make sure the same thing does not happen to us.

God’s promise requires you to change in order to receive it. You have to become someone you have never been, do things you have never done before.

 

 

 

 

 

God’s promise requires you to act in ways and attempt things that go against everything you have ever tried in the past. So much so that when God lines things up, much like the children of Israel you can conclude the promise is unreachable because what I have to do to get it is not something I believe I can do. To do that is going to require me to be something I cannot see myself being or being able to do. Consequently there is an element where you have to trust God’s assessment of what you can do beyond your own assessment of what you can do. You have to exercise faith in what God can do through you as a result of the changes He does inside you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is nothing out of your reach if you will commit yourself to change. There is no limit to how God can bless you if you will let go of what you want and be willing to go with whatever way God takes you.   Impossible things become possible if you become a different person. God intentionally places us in situations which require us to change in order to survive. It is amazing what is possible for you if you will allow yourself to be different.

Sometimes where we are is incompatible with what we have been in the past. This new place requires us to take on new qualities and new abilities we have never displayed in the past. It’s like we have to be good at things we have never been good at in the past. We have to display character traits that we have not had before, like patience and forbearance. A lot of times things can happen for us if we can be patient enough to wait on it and allow it to happen.

 

 

Instead of jumping ahead of God and doing things prematurely, this time to let things come full circle and trust God to bring it to pass in his timing. There is a new skill set God is pulling out of us that is necessitated by the new situation. We have to do things we never thought we could be good at before. Things like make decisions and handle pressure effectively.

There is a way to approach a situation where you are ready and open to adapt, adjust or make whatever accommodations necessary to master or prevail in that situation. Stubbornness or being obstinate makes you unable to fully maximize your potential. It makes you incapable of receiving or making use of what is available to you. Your unwillingness to accept God’s way and God’s leading causes the things intended for you to somehow be beyond your reach.

 

 

 

 

As a general rule there is not always something that can be done to change your circumstances but there is always some way that you can change to make the most of your circumstances. The Hebrew writer is bringing out a particular character trait or personal tendency that can make you someone unable to be blessed. Its like everything is laid out and you have all these things prepared for you to have but your willfulness, your resistance makes it so that those things never come into your possession. When everything is said and done, those things never end up having become yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its like the transfer never takes place, the shift never comes into flourishing. All the elements were in place and it seemed like an absolute certainty but in the final analysis, you blocked your own blessing. You would not do what was required or react in a way where it could be given. At the critical point when everything was moving toward resolution there was a defiance and act of unyielding and noncompliance which stopped everything short and prevented things from coming to completion. Your hardheadedness and determination to have things your way kept you from getting the promise made to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hebrew writer is suggesting that we make sure we are of a posture where we can receive. It is our responsibility to make sure we have the capacity to be blessed. Its like we affect how open we are to receive God’s promises and despite being assigned certain promises, we can miss out on those promises by failing to do what is necessary to receive them.

This is a call to us as believers to be open to any kind of way God chooses to bless. Instead of holding out for things to be the way we envisioned it or wanted it, there is something about going with what God is doing and accept how He chooses to move in our lives. More than any other quality or attribute, this is the single most important determinant as to whether you will inherit God’s promises or whether you will be left holding the bag. The question is will you conform? Will you agree to and submit fully to God’s leading, His methodology, and His particular way of accomplishing it?

 

I pivotal moment in the process of receiving is when God takes us in a direction that we don’t agree with or we refuse to consent to. We don’t have any problems with what God promises; our problem is with God’s way of bringing it to pass. Things would be simpler if God would not require us to trust him in ways we are uncomfortable and expect us to do things we find unpleasant or undesirable. In other words, we want the promises of God on our terms and within our own parameters. And if God would accommodate our idiosyncrasies and work within what we prefer to do we could easily receive God’s promises but that is exactly the point, God doesn’t and instead God requires us to give up our particular position or opinion about how something needs to be done and accept His way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children of Israel did not have a problem with God’s promise they had a problem with the way God was bringing it to pass. They wanted God to do things a different way and they wanted God to bring it to pass in a way they found more acceptable. Consequently they rejected the promise because they had a problem with the method and the means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask yourself is what God is requiring me to do in line with my present condition or state of being? Does what is ahead require me to change in a way to meet the challenge before me? Can I believe God can make me the kind of person that can do this? Certain character traits are not compatible with certain responsibilities and actions. For example, one of the things God was teaching the disciples out in the midst of that storm is you can’t be nervous and panic stricken and be used of God to lead God’s people. The main thing with Joshua was you can’t be a fearful person and then conquer the land. There are times when a relationship requires things of you that you have not been inclined to do in the past.

The training process leads to effectiveness coordination and harmony.  Wilderness was a way to train you so that you and the Lord could relate well together. Rest as opposed to struggle, strain, fatigue, suffering and anguish is what God is talking about.      

Mother’s Day Message

Chapter sixteen is a portion of scripture in which Jesus is preparing the disciples of his crucifixion and resurrection. In the hours prior to his passion, Jesus explains to them this process that must take place in order for Him to complete his mission on earth. He talks to them about how this is necessary for Him to die for all human kind. He explains to them how there is going to be a transition in the sense in which the Comforter or the Holy Spirit was going to come. Instead of Jesus being in the earthly form or visible form, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus would lead and guide them in all truth. Jesus is seeking to reassure them and encourage them that this change is for the better.

            However, the one thing they have great difficulty with is when he announces to them in verse 16, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. This was confusing to them. They were troubled by this to the point where they asked among themselves what did he mean by this. None of them, even Peter did not ask him about it but they all wondered about it and clearly by their body language must have shown they needed further explanation of it. Jesus addresses it given greater clarification of what He meant by this saying. First of all, he says in verse 20, that they are going to weep and lament. You are going to cry and you are going to grieve. There is no escaping the fact that you are going to experience some uncomfortable and painful moments. Jesus does not sugar coat it or understate it. I love the fact that Jesus does not lead them to believe this process is not going to be traumatic and challenging. Initially, what is about to happen is going to be catastrophic and very unsettling. He says the world will rejoice meaning it will appear as if the world is going to win over you. Things are going to look as if all is lost and that evil has prevailed. Jesus wants them to know that this is not going to start off looking like it is not headed in the right direction. As a matter of fact, you are going to really suffer a lot of anguish and uncertainty when you all this goes down. The little while that he is talking about is this period when everything is going to go south. The hardest part of all this will be the fact that you will not see me. For a little while you will not see me. It is going to appear as if I am gone. There will be reason to assume based on the circumstances that all would be lost and that I am gone forever. But Jesus wants to emphasize to them that it will be just for a little while. This will happen but it will happen for a short time. The duration of time will be short. The one consolation you will have during this time when I am separated from you is that God will not let it last for a long time. It will be just three days. For three days you will not see me or have interaction with me. This is going to cause some serious separation anxiety. This is going to be extremely stressful for you when I am away from you. But the one thing that should take into account is this is only for a short time. This is not going to last long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

            But then he says ye shall be sorrowful but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. For that time you are going to have a lot of grief and you will be sorrowful about my departure. But the good part about it is your sorrow shall be turned into joy. There is going to be rapid and drastic transformation in your emotions from being at your lowest point to your point of absolute ecstasy. The thing that will stand out will be how quickly and instantaneously you are going to go from zero to 100. One minute you will be crying the next minute you are going to be laughing uncontrollably. It is like you are going to experience this transference of emotions from feeling the worst you could ever feel to feeling like you are on top of the world. There is going to be a turning, a reversal of fortunes. God is going to do for you like it says in Isaiah 61, he will give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

            To bring it into the clearest focus for them, Jesus illustrates by comparing it to childbirth. In verse 21, he says it is like when a woman is in travail in childbirth. Childbirth is never comfortable. No woman who is going through childbirth is feeling good. No women at the moment of giving birth is singing songs or smiling. It is time when she is taken to a place of intense pain and anguish. There is nothing fun about the birth process. Mentally, a woman experiences a tremendous emotional burden. As that baby moves down the birth canal, her body literally burns with pain and discomfort.

 

 

            Jesus says though as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish. The birth of the child causes her to forget about all she was feeling a few moments earlier. The relief of the baby being born compensates for all she has been through. Some how she no longer cares about all she has been through. As awful as she felt a few moments earlier, the sight of the baby changes everything for her. I think it is significant that Jesus says remembereth no more the anguish. Another translation says she forgets the pain. The birth of the baby causes her memory of this entire experience to change from one of sorrow to one of joy. There is an alteration in how all this is interpreted, how this is processed. The birth of the child changes how this is stored in her memory and suddenly it goes from something that was sorrowful to something that brings her great joy.

            Jesus is saying there is something very noteworthy about child birth in that it is one of those things that is very taxing, stressful and mentally exhausting but as soon as it is over, there is no emotional left over damage. There is no trauma. There is no regret, no lingering mental injury.

            Not only is there not a bad effect but also there is joy because a man is born into the world. You will rejoice when you see how all this turns out. You will be filled with joy when you recognize that it was all worth it. There is a joy of accomplishment. A joy of having realized the fulfillment of your desire that comes when the baby is born. This is what motivates the mother. This is what allows the mother to endure such a physically and taxing ordeal.

 

            To encourage the disciples and to raise their hopes, he explains to them that you are going to have some sorrow but when I see you again your heart will rejoice. You are going to have some sorrow but it will give way to joy because when I come back and when you see me again, all your sorrow will be forgotten.

 

 

            While the process is painful and stressful, it will not be but for a short time.

 

            His absence is not because He is gone but because He has gone to the Father to do some work. Never assume because you don’t see anything happening that God is not at work.

 

You will see Jesus again. Jesus is going to return. There is a certainty with the fact He is going to bless you.

 

You are going to experience joy when it is all over. You are going to rejoice in the end.

 

            The joy will cause you to forget your sorrow.

            The joy will cause your heart to rejoice.

            The joy will be such that no man can deprive you of it.

            The joy you will get this time will last forever.

 

Easter Message

But Thomas, one of the twelve, call Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, we have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples wee within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace is unto you.

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 24-29 King James Version

Vs 27b…be not unbelieving, but believing. Darby

…Do not disbelieve, but believe. ESV

…Stop your doubting, and believe. GNT

…Stop being an unbeliever and believe. NCV

…Don’t be faithless any longer believe! NLT

…and call a halt to your progressive state of unbelief, but become one who is believing. WUEstNT

 

 

Vs 29b …blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

…How happy are those who believed without seeing me! GNT

…Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing. The Message Bible.

…Those who believe without seeing me will be truly happy. NCV

…Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. NRSV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you read the various resurrection accounts in the gospels, it is clear that Thomas of all the disciples reacted to the news that Jesus was alive with the most resistance. The first time Jesus appeared to the disciples as a whole he was the one disciple that was absent. Scriptures does not say where he was but for some reason he was not there the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection. It is never a good idea to willingly miss church for that very reason you might miss something very important. As was in this case, Thomas missed out on being able to witness first hand the appearance of the resurrected Lord. It was the most important sighting in comparison to the other sightings because it was before the other eleven apostles all at once. It sealed the deal for the other apostles because in this appearance Jesus had showed them his hands and his feet. John tells us “then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.” But his absence deprived him of the opportunity to share the common experience with the other disciples and therefore he was not quite ready to be where they had achieved. Some how he could not bring him self to fully accept what he was hearing from the other disciples.  

 

Some how the trauma of having seen him crucified had left a strong impression on him and affected them deeply. It was not something he could easily shake off or recover immediately from. In some ways the news Jesus had arisen caught him by surprise in the sense that he was not ready to deal with such an occurrence. He was still processing the crucifixion and death of Jesus. He was still trying to make sense of it all and figure out what he was going to do next when all of a sudden he had to deal with these new reports that Jesus had arisen from the dead. He no doubt had mixed emotions because on the one hand a part of them was intrigued by the thought that Jesus might still be alive but on the other hand there was another part of him which made him suspicious and wary because he did not want to get his hopes up and then get disappointed again. This report more so than any of the others was coming from the other ten disciples who all saw him at once? Ten people who he knew were credible and reliable. There description all matched and it was too great a coincidence that they all saw the same thing. He had been around these guys and Jesus for almost three and half years and he had to have some assurance they would not have made this up. However despite all this strong evidence, Thomas was stubborn and obstinate. He was immovable and unbending in assuming Jesus was indeed alive.

Clearly, in the back of his mind he remembered Jesus saying that if you tear this temple down I will rebuild it in three days. He was there when Jesus said, “Just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days so the Son of Man must be in the earth for three days and then rise again.”

He had flatly told them on several occasions that he would be crucified but on the third day He would rise again. And yet when told by the other disciples that this indeed had happened he balked at it. There was something in the make up of Thomas that made him especially agitated by all this uncertainty. When other disciples told him Jesus had arisen, Thomas refused to accept it. He said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and put my finger into the mark on the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. “ There is an element of sheer determination in this response defiance if you please. The crucifixion of Jesus and his subsequent death had affected Thomas in a way where he settled into a conviction that Jesus was dead so that even when he heard these things about Him being alive, he could not readily accept what they were saying. It was something he had already settled in his mind, something that he had put away and he was not about to go dig it up again. He had already started to adjust to the fact Jesus was gone and he did not want to go back to reviving lost hope and deaden prospects. At this point for all intensive purposes, he wanted to leave Jesus in the grave and go on with his life without him. Thomas was showing strong faith in reverse. He was displaying great confidence and decisiveness in the wrong direction. It’s like he had the right spirit but the wrong cause. Often we talk about someone having strong faith, there is also such a thing as strong doubt. Some times you can be absolutely convinced something is not true and even though you encounter all kinds of information to the contrary you refuse to accept it as true. Nothing can move you off your stance and you exercise great resolve in deflecting any suggestion that what you determined is not true is in any way true.

Thomas was not having it. He had concluded that Jesus was dead and even though the other disciples told Him Jesus was alive, he was not ready to take what they said as being true. Thomas was unbelieving in the face of all he had in front of him. It reflects an advanced level of thinking in that Thomas had already reached a point in his mind where Jesus was never coming back. So much so that when he heard from the other disciples that Jesus had indeed come back he was already too far gone. His mind drew a blank because he had already put Jesus in a place in his mind where he could never come back.

He had a mental block that would not let him incorporate the idea that Jesus could be alive. Every time he thought about it or heard about it his heart could not commit to it. It really illustrates the power of preconceived notions or underlying assumptions in affecting how and what you hear. When you take a cynical position, when you are negative about things and for whatever reason have a closed mind about something, nothing anyone says and nothing you see can change your mind. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary if you are already convinced of something you can still be undeterred by it. Jesus tells him to not be unbelieving or as another translation says don’t be doubtful. Still another says don’t be faithless. Jesus is talking about a posture and perspective. He is talking about the position you take prior to receiving information. It’s like you have certain prejudices and certain belief which cloud how you receive new information. In other words don’t be of a distrustful, disbelieving mindset. Be positive, be optimistic, and maintain openness to what you hearing. Let’s not shut down and rule things out before you have heard them. Lets not assume something could not be true before you give yourself a chance to see for sure and know for sure whether it is or not. Don’t be inflexible, rigid and closed to what God might be doing.

The trauma of the crucifixion had caused Thomas to go into a locked down mode where he was not going to let his hopes get up too high. He was not going to get caught up in all this hysteria. He had developed a negative and pessimistic attitude as a result of what he had seen and experienced. So much so that now that Jesus had arisen, he could not share in the joy of what had happened. He could not enjoy the moment. While the other disciples were glad he remained on the outside looking in. Its like watching people around you celebrate and have a good time but keeping your composure and remaining a spectator.

Thomas had a condition no believer of Jesus Christ can afford to have that is the condition of hard heartedness. It is when you have reached a point where you are actively discounting things, ruling things out. You are more conscious of what can’t happen than you are about what can happen. You approach things from the perspective that certain things cannot happen and no matter what you are not going to let your self believe other wise. Even if God were to do something for you, you are so sure certain things cannot happen that you will reject it or react in a way where you deny it. It’s like the way the children of Israel reacted to Joshua and Caleb when they told them we should go up at once and take the land. They reacted by becoming angry and threatening to stone them.

They were just not having it because they had already decided it could not be possible. Or what about the reaction of Martha when Jesus showed up at the grave of Lazarus. She had already settled in her mind that her brother was dead and when Jesus said remove the stone; she resisted and said Lord by this time his body stinketh. In other words, come on Lord I have already put that to rest lets not revive it again. Thomas was not ready to entertain such a possibility because in his mind Jesus was dead. You can reach a point where your heart is hard and you quite simply are not going to let anyone or anything convince you otherwise.

This extra appearance, this second time that he showed up before the disciples was for the distinct purpose of addressing Thomas’s erroneous posture. This was all about correcting a bad way of thinking which Thomas had some how pick up on. The last thing a disciple of Jesus Christ must have is a spirit of disbelief. There are a lot of things God will tolerate but the one thing He cannot allow to be in your heart is a spirit of unbelief. Whenever you shut down, whenever you are guided by a spirit of doubtfulness or skepticism. Whenever you are suspicious and pessimistic God has to reverse that trend in you. No matter what may have happened to you and how many bad things may have come your way, at no time and in no case are we ever to start to adopt a defensive stance in which we are standing aloof resisting any possible change for good or miracle.

Thomas had trouble making the adjustment. It was hard for him to make the transition from grieving to rejoicing. He had been down and depressed and it was too much to ask for him to all of a sudden switch to being happy and hopeful again. And yet that is exactly what God requires us to do. God requires us to stay in mode where at any time we can ready to react to good news. We are to live on the edge, constantly looking for what is going to happen. The problem with Thomas was he was so full of unbelief that even when he had all the evidence he needed to believe he still required more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He says that before he was going to commit himself to this possibility, he wanted more tangible evidence. He wanted some concrete proof and confirmation that this was in fact true before he let himself get excited and celebrate like the others. As awesome as it might be for Jesus to be alive, Thomas kept his feelings in check and did not let himself believe this might indeed be true. Thomas should not have needed all that to believe. God wants us to be quick to believe. He wants us to be so inclined that it does not take much for us to believe. Because we are already expectant. We are already anticipating things the slightest change causes us to believe. This is why God promises us things. He announces stuff to us so that we are in a state of readiness to react as things start to happen. We are suppose to anticipate what God has spoken, look for it, watch for it, foresee it taking place. We operate from the presumption that something is about to happen. It’s like the Church was praying for Peter who was in prison and when God freed him and he showed up at their door they thought it was a dream or something and did not let him in. As awesome as the resurrection was Thomas was missing out because he had taken an unbelieving position. Jesus tells him not be a doubter be a believer.

Jesus had arisen and Jesus was alive but he chose to keep on acting and living like nothing had happened. He refused to make any adjustment. He refused to do anything different. He was determined to keep on doing what he was doing and operating like he was still dead. He was like a lot of people who continue to function and act like Jesus is dead. After all these years after he has arisen from the dead they are still walking around living like Jesus is not alive. But I have come to declare to you the good news that Jesus has arisen and He is alive and well.

The other disciples were all excited and celebrating but Thomas was keeping an even keel. The people who are most excited this morning are those who know He is alive. But there are those who don’t know what we are all excited about because they are still acting like He is still dead. But if He is alive then we have hope. If He is alive we have a reason to expect good things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. He was glad for the other disciples but he did not think it applied to him. It is possible to agree to something and give mental assent to something but not really commit to it. You can believe certain things are true but not believe it enough to apply it in your own life. It’s like a lot of people believe God is real but they don’t believe in Him enough to get saved themselves. They will come to church and participate with others and don’t deny what God is doing in the lives of others but they themselves are not willing to turn their lives completely over to Him.   Thomas did not deny what the other disciples said; he simply was not ready to go simply on their word. It’s like you can celebrate Easter and the resurrection but not really take it to heart within your self. You keep it as a religious holiday or celebration but you never let it get down in your heart to a point where you let the reality of it impact what you think or how you believe. You never internalize the significance of it, you never let it envelop you or affect you to the point where you do anything about it or feel a need to change. It is good for other people but you yourself are not getting caught up in it. You can think it is good for other people but not quite right for you. It is wonderful that we are celebrating Easter but you your self are not in to it. Thomas was not absent. He was with the group. He was in the midst of all the talk and fellowshipping with the other disciples. Just like old times, Thomas was in the group but He was not of the group. He like a lot of people who enjoy the spectacle of Easter. They like to participate in the services and be a part of the holiday but the bottom line is they never really buy into the real meaning of his resurrection.   They never really believe in what it all means. They take part in the festivities but they never become accept the premise for why we celebrate. You are missing the whole point if you don’t take the significance of His resurrection seriously. What good is it to believe that Jesus is dead? How much sense does it make for you to be praying to a dead god? If he is dead why are you at church? Why are you participating in church activities if He is not alive?   What a waste to read your bible and sing songs to a God that is not alive?

 

 

 

 

I have never understood how people can see what Jesus has done for other people and think it is not right for them. I can’t understand why anyone would not want what Jesus can do for them. Its like they can be glad for other people and it never occurs to them that what God did for someone else can be for them too.

 

He refused to believe in something that was good.

 

He refused to believe in something that He needed to believe in.

 

He refused to believe in something that He clearly wanted.

 

  1. He could not merely take their word for it, he needed to see and feel for himself. This was something that he felt like he needed visible and physical evidence to offset all the visible and physical evidence he had seen to the contrary.

 

  1. He set up his own human criteria for whether he would believe or not. In other words, he required the Lord to meet his requirement or prerequisite before he would believe. It’s like you can have in your mind something has to happen or God has to do some certain thing before you will believe what God has promised.

 

  1. Thomas reveals the real nature of doubt. Doubt is not just that you don’t believe anything. Doubt is that you don’t believe enough. It is believing to a point and stopping short of believing until you have some kind of other evidence or proof. It’s like you don’t let yourself completely go but you take a wait and see approach where you are waiting around for some confirmation, some more change to be evident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The nature of believing in God’s word is you have to be willing to walk by faith and not by sight. As Hebrews tells us Faith is the evidence of things not seen. In Romans 4, it is said of Abraham that he “being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief but was strong in faith giving glory to God and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” Thomas had it backwards, you don’t see and then believe you believe and then you will see. God requires us to commit ourselves to the truth of His word the reality of His word before he actually reveals it in the natural. Before you can touch it, before you can see it, before your physical senses can attest to it, you are required to believe that it is true. Jesus told the Lepers they were cleansed before the Leprosy had left their bodies but when they were obedient to his word and started to go show themselves to the priest they experienced what they believed. The woman with the issue of blood believed she could be healed if she could but touch the helm of his garment and Jesus said according to your faith be it unto you. She believed before she saw it. This account goes to the root of what in means to believe. Believing involves taking something that is not yet visible and accepting it as true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Thomas did like a lot of us; he did not want to believe without seeing it first. He wanted what he saw to be the basis for what He believed. He wanted something to make him more assured and confident about what He was hearing. It is human nature to want to see something that indicates that something is in fact going to happen. It’s like we all like to see things moving in a particular direction before we can be sure something is going to happen. For example, if we are going to be prosperous, we like to see some improvement that helps us to see how things are working out. If we are going to be healed, we like to see the physical symptoms disappearing and positive reports from the doctor. Whenever we are trying to believe we welcome any kind of good news or favorable changes which seem to confirm what we believe for. But this account helps us to see how important it is to stake a claim on the truth even before you see anything. Decide that some things are going to happen before you see any evidence that they could happen. Make the commitment to believe some things that there is nothing physical or visible you can point to that verifies what you believe.
  2. We can sit here and judge Thomas and say he should have believed but all of us struggle in this very area. All of us know what it is like to believe in things that we can’t see anything that confirms what we believe.