Doubt? Hope?

The enemy is selling doubt to us loudly every day, while our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a still, quiet voice offering us a free gift of hope and love.

Distraction. Confusion. Lies. These are the ways of the enemy, who wants us stumbling blindly in the dark.

An upright direction, a dedicated life of purpose, and fearful respect for the truth of the Word of God as we walk in the light along this narrow path – this is what the Father wants for His children.

Truly God is good to Israel,
To such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my
feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but  You?
And there  is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Psalms 73:1-3, 21-26 NKJV

In this world, we see what appears to be evil triumphing every day. We see those who are wicked and evil and who oppress others rise to power and prosperity. We see false teachers selling lasciviousness and worldliness prospering and drawing large crowds together to be fleeced do that the wolves can grow rich and fat off of their followers. If we judge only by what our eyes can see in this fallen world, it seems to be a strong case that the accuser has laid out against God, and seems like our advocate, our defender is backed into a corner by the mountain of evidence.

But in a court of justice, the accuser speaks first and the accused speaks last. We can’t just throw in the towel because all we have seen so far is the evidence against us and against God. Hope is trusting in the things we have not yet seen come to pass. Yes, faith is knowing and trusting in what lies ahead.

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:24-29 NKJV

Doubt and Fools

Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the  mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
Luke 24:9-12 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.24.9-12.NKJV

Doubt.

As we head towards the end of March and towards the first day of April, we get ourselves ready and we expect people to try to trick us and deceive us. It is called April Fools Day, and it is a day that celebrates whether or not people can make someone else feel like a fool. It is a day when lies are subtlety crafted with the intent of leading someone into a trap, so it can be sprung it and revealed as a ruse with a proud,  “Got you!”

I wonder if this is how these men felt when these “silly women” came to them with a “tall tale” about Jesus and the tomb. They examined closely what the women were saying, and they decided that it made no sense to them, so they dismissed it as a trick, as a lie, as deception – even though there was no contradiction in their words and they had taken no effort to investigate for themselves.

Yes, this is how much of the world sees the Child of God. They see these “silly Christians” with their “tall tales” about creation, about a flood, about people miraculously healed, about a risen Savior.

Yes, us Christians have a pretty wild story that leaves no middle ground -we claim that God himself came in the flesh to live among imperfect man, to walk a blameless life of service and love and guidance forothers, to face rejection and scorn in return, to die the death andbear the punishment that evil men deserve, and to rise from the dead to heaven as an example of what lies ahead for those who believe. This is the type of story that either leaves us in doubt and disbelief, or leaves us believing, following, and putting our full trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.

He is either a liar and we are fools for believing,  or He is who He says He is and the world is a fool for turning their backs on the true treasures of His teachings and guidance to chase after the dust and ashes of a worthless and meaningless life. His story leaves no room for waffling, for riding the fence.

So the question is do you believe it to be completely and utterly true?

If so, how is that knowledge going to impact your day? Does it make you eager to go out and share this “tall tale” with a world where many will see you as “silly” and “a fool”?

If you don’t believe that it’s true, have you investigated it for yourself just to make sure? Have you read the Bible and offered your life following in His teachings in order for Him to either prove Himself faithful and true or to prove otherwise?

With a claim that eternity and things greater than our physical existence (like our soul, or essence, our very being) is at stake – who is the fool,  the one who investigates the claims diligently, or the one who blindly dismisses what isn’t yet confirmed?

What is the greatest risk of someone willing to instigate – being labeled a fool? What is the greatest risk of someone not willing to investigate – facing eternal consequences?

Is there anything more worthy of our life focus than demonstrating God’s love by loving and serving others? Even if the wise man says that self sacrifice is foolish, can they not see the beauty in the math – that if by denying myself and helping others, they experience encouragement, love, and increase – and by my trusting in the Lord, I have gained in faith through any sufferings and self denial. For something that the wise man calls altruism and that we call the manifest love of Christ, explain to me how the costs outweigh the benefits?

Lord, help us to be willing to face the mocking perspective of others, willing to be a fool amongst wise men – willing to be one of those “silly folks” that love to talk about Jesus and things they can’t see, touch, or prove – willing to help those who have nothing to offer us in return – willing to offer love and mercy to those who offer mocking and hate and persecution in return. Lord,  show yourself victorious, reveal the beauty of your ways, lay conviction upon hearts, and draw us near so that we might see a revival of our purpose and meaning in this life. Lord, we aren’t just hoping for a some day, one day kind of God experience – Lord, we want to be your body, alive and at work in the world today. Help us, guide us,  lead us, use us – and prove to the world through your undeniable presence, your blessings eternal, the fruit of your spirit rising up as a beautiful aroma that others would long for in their own lives. Not so that others would mimic or honor or praise any of us – but so that they might get to know you. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

Silence

Silence.

Jesus’ friends and family awoke this morning to silence. Their friend, their teacher was not there with them.

The last words they had heard him say were, “It is finished.”

Can we imagine the feeling of loss,  the desperation, the sadness, the disappointment, the confusion that they went through a they mourned His horrible death?

Can we imagine them wanting answers now more than ever – after seeing Him mocked and beaten – after even His closest disciples had hidden and denied Him – and realizing there was only silence?

To everything there  is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what  is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/ecc.3.1-4.NKJV

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.12.15.ESV

Sometimes in our lives, we can face times of darkness where we find ourselves not hearing or knowing the clear direction and guidance that we want to hear from the Lord.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 ESV
http://bible.com/59/pro.3.5.ESV

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2co.5.6-8.ESV