waiting on a sign
We had such a great time in church on Resurrection Sunday. Starting with the Sunrise Service at 7:00, we talked about the relationship between Jesus and Mary of Magdala (Mary Magdalene). The breakfast that followed was full of fellowship and some just hung around enjoying each other until Sunday School began. In the morning service, the choir did an outstanding job as we presented the week from Jesus' triumphal entry in Jerusalem to his resurrection in message and song. We ended the morning by remembering Jesus with a special communion service. That evening, Pastor Josh challenged us with a message that was set beyond the cross. Sunday was just a great day to be in God’s house. I appreciate everyone that came, supported and participated.
The message on Sunday evening started me to think about the days after the resurrection. One such occurrence is found in John 20:24-29 where we read of Jesus appearing to the disciples after his resurrection. All of the disciples were there except for Thomas. No reason is given for him not being with the others. When Thomas did show up he did not believe the testimony of the other disciples about seeing Jesus. In Verse 25 we read, “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.” Thomas wanted positive proof and tangible evidence that would leave no doubt in his mind that Jesus arose. His lack of faith in Jesus and his lack of trust for his fellow disciples gave Thomas the reputation of being a “doubter.” While other disciples were rejoicing about the resurrection of Jesus, Thomas still believed that Jesus was dead and what they said meant nothing. Jesus did appear again eight days later and Thomas was with the others. Jesus spoke directly to Thomas and called him out on his unbelief. In verse 27, we read “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.” Jesus challenged Thomas about his lack of faith. That lack of faith paralyzed Thomas. He could not spread the Gospel about someone who he believed to be dead. He had no witness among his fellow disciples. He did nothing to show the world that Jesus was alive…he did not believe it.
Today, there may be believers who stand paralyzed because they are not willing to put their entire faith and trust in God. It is almost as if they are looking for a sign to prove that God is God. It is not that they don’t believe, it is just a lack of complete trust that keeps them in a holding pattern like Thomas. No doubt, he believed but he did not have complete faith in Jesus. Some possible consequences of a lack of faith is that their witness suffers due to their lack of belief. Circumstances led them to not share the Gospel, to not attend God’s house, to not fellowship with like-minded believers, to not have an active prayer life, to not study the Bible and their spiritual life suffers because they wait for Jesus to do something. I wonder how many times Jesus waits for us to do something. We use work, family, poor outlooks and just about anything else to set God aside. When Thomas did see and finally believe, we read in verse 29 what Jesus thought about Thomas: “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Jesus said those that believe without seeing a sign were blessed for their belief. What do you believe about Jesus? Are you waiting on a sign? Use what life gives you to strengthen your faith in God. Embrace Jesus today. Reach out for his nail scarred hand and accept him. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
A Peculiar people
Recently, I have heard the term “evangelical” or “Christian” used by those in the political realm when they were in front of that audience courting their vote. It always makes me wonder; does anyone know what that means? Before you jump to any conclusions, do you know what the Bible says about believing in God? In 1 Peter 2:9-10, the Bible says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” While these verses cover a multitude of topics, please allow me to focus on a couple.
People who have trusted Jesus as Savior are a “peculiar people.” This does not mean that believers in God are weird (although the world would have you think that), it simply means we are bought with a price and are a possession of God. We are set aside for him. This possession of us by God means we are to reflect Godly values and attributes. We can look at the fruit of a person; look at the testimony of a person and see rather easily whether or not they put their trust in God. In fact, John 12:25 says that “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” Love this life and the poor choices the world has to offer simply mean that what we hold dear we will lose. However if we would hate our lives in this world, we will keep true life forever.
The second thought I have for you is we are now “the people of God.” Does your life reflect the biblical definition of being a Godly person? 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says this: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Unrighteous people will not go to Heaven. We have no debate here…that is what the Word of God has to say. I love this phrase: “And such were some of you.” Some of us “were” but when we are saved, there is a change. We no longer identify with the world and worldly actions. We are a “peculiar” people, bought with the shed blood of Jesus that washes and sanctifies us. I really enjoy being a child of God. While I am just a sinner saved by the grace of God, I am thankful that he has provided a way to escape the trappings of this world and focus on the next. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
I am a day late on the blog. Maybe not intentional but acceptable since I want to share with you what we are doing this week. I am in Washington, D.C. most of this week (along with Pastor Josh, other pastors from WV, and from every state in the nation) making attempts to meet with our congressional delegation. The purpose for the meetings is for a time of prayer and encouragement for our leaders. The Bible is very plain that we do this and should do it often. In 1 Timothy 2:1-3, it says this: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” We are going to meet with them without any agenda or ax to grind…we just want to meet and pray. Our leaders may not always lead from a biblical perspective so we pray and our prayer should be that they personally know Jesus as Savior. I would ask you to pray for our nation, pray for our leaders, and pray for us that God gives us the words to say that he would want us to say. We should always strive to have a testimony that others will see God in our actions and we want our leaders to see God in us.
The main theme for this year comes from Isaiah 58:12: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” As you read that verse, I would call your attention to “foundations.” Our foundations in this nation are fractured and need repaired. We do not always look to God as individuals and as a nation and that can be rectified. Together with God’s leading, we can repair the breaches and restore the paths. There is no better time to be a Christian. We have a land that is in need and a Savior that has an answer. All we have to do is get the two together. Is your country worth praying for? Will you pray? Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
The same Hands
Ahhh the journey. Ups and downs, good and bad...I look and see that I have truly been blessed beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. The farther I go in this journey, I realize that God knew me…really knew me. According to God, we are all the person we will ever be at conception and he knows us. In Jeremiah 1:5 the Bible says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee.” Before we were ever born, God knew us, knew his plan for us, and knew our response to the plan he had laid out before us. The Bible goes on to say in Psalm 139:14, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” The writer in Psalm 139 expressed praise for how God had made him and he appreciated the person he was in God. He liked what God had done that he marvelled at the works of God. I love the last phrase in this verse “my soul knoweth right well.” He knew that God had made him, kept him, and in the eyes of God he was just what God intended for him to be.
How are you feeling about yourself? Do you ever thank God for who you are? Are you ever critical of yourself and realize that you are being critical of the person that God “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Have you ever seen the pictures or video of a baby in its mother’s womb? How the heart beats and the arms and legs move knowing that the little person in there was the handiwork of an almighty God. God the Father sent Jesus to earth, same little beating heart, same little arms and legs yet he grew up into a man that would ultimately die for our sins…but it did not end there. God the Father looked down and said “Arise my son” and that day, the world changed. That day we had access to God and a remission for sins. Yes we may err, we may not be the person we should be but each and every one of us has an opportunity to be perfect in the eyes of God through the shed blood of Jesus.
Those days at you may question your worth…you may ask the question “Why,” think about those little hands that grew into hands nailed to a cross and those same hands now sit at the right hand of God the Father. Think of the hands of Jesus reaching out to you and wondering why you won’t take them. Enjoy your coffee.
Love you all,
Gary W. Hall, Pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.