Unless I See

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Being able to see faith by seeing what's real and personal.

Unless I See John 20:19-31 Testimonies show us the power of faith. This is not blind faith, but living, active, and visible faith that's transformed lives. These testimonies witness to us the difference that faith in Jesus Christ makes in a person's life. A person's testimony, coupled with Thomas's announcement that "Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe," show us how we desire to see something before belief kicks in. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that it's easier to believe when we can see something. So this service is a service of showing. It's a service that shows the difference Christ makes in how we live each day. That's why the testimonies that were shared, combined with today's Scripture, provide us with a motivating hope that keeps the joy alive and working in our community of faith. For everyone listening, ask yourself, "What's my testimony? What's my mission? What's my service? What examples of clinging to hope can I share? What stories of transformation can I tell? What can people see in me that lets them know my faith is in Jesus?" What Thomas cried out for was for something real, not just empty words. I believe there's a Thomas inside every one of us. A little Thomas inside us that says, "Oh Lord, if only I could see..." then you fill in the blank. For a long time, he's been referred to as "Doubting Thomas," but that's a great misunderstanding. When Jesus was ready to head to Jerusalem to face His crucifixion, Thomas boldly cried out, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John 11:16). Thomas was also a deep thinker who paid attention to Christ's words of wisdom, but he didn't always understand the depth of meaning behind those words. "Lord, we do not know where You are going," was his quick complaint when Jesus revealed that He would soon leave them and return to His Father in heaven. "So how can we know the way?" was his sincere question (John 14:5). It was his reliance on worldly wisdom that kept him from seeing spiritual truth beyond his physical senses that gave him the nickname "doubting Thomas." The world we can see, taste, hear, smell, and touch. We can see and handle worldly things, so we want the same when it comes to spiritual things. And Thomas is no different from others when the things of this world really heat up. When Jesus met the father of a demon-possessed boy, the father said, "If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us" (Mark 9:22). The father was desperate and doubted. When John the Baptist found himself in prison, facing death, John had his disciples ask Jesus, "Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?" John the Baptist was alone with questions and doubt running through his mind. (Luke 7:18-19). When Thomas was left out of seeing the resurrected Jesus the first time, he said, "Unless I see, I won't believe." Thomas had 10 reliable witnesses and rejected them all. Thomas deliberately doubted. In all of these instances, we learn the lesson of taking our doubts to Jesus. When Jesus challenged the father's unbelief with the sick child, the father cried out, "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24), and Jesus healed his son. In response to John the Baptist, Jesus preached and performed miracles, then sent John's disciples back with the message, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard" (Luke 7:20-22), and John never raised another question. We know what happened to Thomas. Jesus invited Thomas to touch His wounds and said to him, "Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27). Thomas's response is the one we need to make when we realize just who Jesus is and what He has done to save us, "My Lord and my God!" That's a strong, faithful, and real response. Jesus is not in the business of flattering words, but in realness through grace and love. We all have our real responses to things in life. If you asked me if I like ice cream, my real response would be, "Yes!" I especially liked it when they invented soft-serve ice cream, that when you bought it, it wasn't as hard as a rock. But I say "invented" loosely because there's always been a homemade way to get soft-serve ice cream; take it outta the freezer and set it on the kitchen counter for a while. Bingo! All you gotta do is transfer the atmosphere of the ice cream, and after a while, you'll see a change. Putting the ice cream in the right location will produce the transformation needed. The reason some Christians, like Thomas, can have moments when they become so cold, callous, stingy, unloving, or unbelieving is because they're not hanging out in the right atmosphere. God will transform you if you're in the atmosphere you need to be in. At first, Thomas was in the wrong atmosphere. He wasn't with the other disciples that first night when Jesus appeared. But now that he's where he needs to be, Jesus met Thomas with grace. Now, you may be listening to all of this and saying to yourself, "Great. I'm glad Thomas got to see something. But how's that help me?!" Jesus answers your question and says, "Believe." Believe in Jesus! Have faith! You know, the Christian faith can stand up to any question. But sometimes, people will ask questions - and keep asking questions - just to avoid facing their own spiritual needs and the truth of who Jesus is. Faith isn't pretending your problems don't exist, nor is faith simply blind optimism. Faith guides us beyond our problems and points to the hope we have in Christ. Faith is relinquishing trust in oneself and placing that trust in another. By faith, believers are justified (Romans 5:1), reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18), redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), made alive (Ephesians 2:5), adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:15-16), recreated (2 Corinthians 5:17), and set free (Galatians 5:1). So, how can people see the risen Christ through you? One day, John Wesley was walking with a troubled man who expressed his doubt about God's goodness. He said, "I do not know what I shall do with all this worry and trouble." At the same moment, Wesley saw a cow looking over a stone wall. "Do you know," asked Wesley, "why that cow is looking over the wall?" "No," said the worried man. Wesley said, "The cow is looking over the wall because she cannot see through it. That is what you must do with your wall of trouble-look over it." Faith enables us to look over our circumstances and focus on Christ. In a world that says, "Show me and I'll believe you," Christ says, 'Believe Me, and I'll show you." 2
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