Jesus Will…Overcome Our Doubts.
“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “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.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”” John 20:24-29 NIV
I don’t know about you, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Thomas. He seems to get a bad rap for this story in Scripture. Poor guy even has the nickname of “Doubting Thomas” forever attached to his name. We have to admit that Thomas was there to glorify Jesus as an example of those who believe but never get the chance to see for themselves. But we also have to remember that he was called by Jesus to be one of the twelve. In Johnn11 he offered
His life to follow Jesus to Jerusalem. Thomas was eventually killed taking the Gospel east and into India. People rarely think of that Thomas but rather the doubter. I would say we have all been doubters at some point in our lives.
Being a skeptic at heart, I think I may have been very much like Thomas in that situation - wanting more facts. We have the Bible as a fact guide, and there are times we are still like Thomas filled with doubt. That’s why Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” I’m thankful for Thomas for being the example of doubt, but I thank Jesus even more for His patience with all of us doubters still out there.
Everyone (including you and me) may be in the same place as Thomas. We may have some doubt and discouragement holding us back. But praise God the story didn’t stop with the doubts of Thomas. Jesus said to Thomas, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” When you run across someone having their Thomas moment, encourage them to keep going and come alongside them in their doubt.
-Pastor Paul Marzahn
Questions for Reflection:
1.What are some things in your life that you doubt but others accept as truth?
2.What are some doubts people in our culture have about Jesus?
3.What are some personal doubts you have struggled with about Jesus?
4.What can we do to allow Jesus to overcome our doubts?
JESUS WILL...Illuminate His Word
Jesus Will…Illuminate His Word
What is something you get really excited about? Maybe it’s thinking about an upcoming vacation this summer? Maybe it’s a blockbuster movie you’ve been dying to see? Maybe it’s a big sale at your favorite store? Maybe it’s watching a sporting event like the thrilling back 9 at Augusta National this Sunday with the Masters Golf Tournament (okay I’m referring to myself with that one)? Maybe it’s reuniting with a loved one you have been unable to see for quite some time? Whatever it is for you, when you think about it, your heart burns with anticipation!
On the day Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus, a town about seven miles from Jerusalem. Jesus came up and joined them on their walk, but they were unable to recognize Him. Jesus explained and illuminated the scriptures about Himself to them. Look what happened in Luke 24:31-32 “Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! 32They said to each other, ‘Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?’” (NLT).
Jesus wants us to have that same level of excitement when it comes to reading His Word. When we wake up in the morning, He wants us to say, “Good morning Jesus, I can’t wait for us to meet and for you to speak to me through your Word!” When our weekly small group Bible study is approaching, Jesus wants us to think, “I can’t wait to meet with my brothers and sisters in the Lord and have Him speak to us as we study His Word!” When you wake up Sunday morning, Jesus wants our hearts to leap with excitement because we get to worship together with our church family and hear Jesus’ Word proclaimed in the sermon message. May Jesus illuminate His Word for us this week and may our hearts burn within us as He does so!
- Pastor Dan
Questions for Reflection:
1. What is the common perception of the Bible in our culture? Is it hard or easy to understand?
2. Can you think of a time when the Holy Spirit illuminated the Bible for you in a life-changing way?
3. What are some things we can all do to increase Jesus’ illumination of the Bible for us?
03-02-2021 JESUS IS | Our Forgiver
I have fond memories of my grandma. We had a close relationship and I miss her very much. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, I moved to California to attend seminary. When I returned home to Minnesota for visits, I would stay with my grandma due to space issues at my parent’s home. I have fond memories of my grandma making me pancakes for breakfast and having long talks with her over coffee. One morning, something happened that surprised me. My grandma shared that she was still angry at one of her sisters. After probing for more details, I discovered this sister had done a rather insignificant slight to my grandma decades earlier. My grandma had never let go of that. She had never forgiven her.
Jesus once told a parable about forgiveness. Matthew 18:24-30 says, “...one of his debtors was brought in who owed him (the King) millions of dollars. 25He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. 26But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. 28“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. 29His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.” (NLT)
Jesus is illustrating the absurdity of us not forgiving others when Jesus (the master in the story) has forgiven us an immeasurable greater amount of sin. At the end of the parable, Jesus warns us there are severe consequences for those of us who refuse to forgive. Verses 34-35 say, “Then the angry king sent the man (who refused to forgive his fellow servant) to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. 35That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” Jesus alerts us that our Heavenly Father will refuse to forgive our sins if we refuse to forgive others. We really have no choice. We must extend the same grace and forgiveness God has shown us, to others.
Have you ever been hurt or offended by someone so badly you had trouble forgiving them? If so, remember all the sins against God you have committed daily during your life. Jesus has forgiven them all! All Jesus is asking of us is to forgive like we have been forgiven. Don’t put your own forgiveness from God in jeopardy by refusing to forgive others. Practice forgiveness and experience the weight and burden of unforgiveness lift from our shoulders. May today be the day of forgiveness for you!
-Pastor Dan Schauer
Questions for Reflection:
1. How would you evaluate our culture on how we forgive others?
2. Who do you have trouble forgiving? Why?
3. What step can you take today toward being better at forgiving others?
02-23-2021 JESUS IS | Our Healer
Mark 5:30-34 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” 31His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (NLT)
Some of you may not know that I suffer from a chronic disease similar in some ways to the woman in this passage. I am a Type 1 diabetic. I came down with diabetes in my senior year in high school. In the decades since, I have lived with constantly monitoring my blood sugar, taking multiple shots each day, and having the daily pressure of realizing I’m only one mistake away from going to the hospital or accidentally killing myself.
In verse 34 of this passage, Jesus says, Daughter, your faith has made you well.” When I was diagnosed with diabetes, my family was attending a church that believed that if you had enough faith, you were assured of healing. I remember the pastor from this church visiting me in the hospital and telling me that if I had enough faith, I could claim my healing and I would be healed. I prayed repeatedly and fervently to God for healing. I thought I had enough faith, but I was not healed. I remember thinking, “Something must be spiritually wrong with me or else God would have healed me”.
Fortunately, I have since come to peace with my diabetes. I’ve discovered that when Jesus said “your faith has made you well”, the word translated “well” is “sozo” which means, “To deliver or protect, to heal, preserve, save; to do well or be made whole.” This is exactly what God has done for me! God has protected and preserved me from complications from my diabetes. Diabetes has brought me humility realizing I am not self-sufficient. I am purposeful in getting regular exercise. Technology has brought me things like continuous glucose monitors that have changed my life for the better (no more finger sticks to test my blood!). He has blessed me in ministry (hopefully doing well). He has made me whole in many ways. Ultimately I look forward to the day when I will join Jesus in glory and no longer have to deal with diabetes. Jesus has made me well!
If you struggle with an illness like the woman in this passage or like myself, pray to Jesus to be made well. Sometimes He does miraculous healing! But for others like me, Jesus still answers our prayer. He makes us well. No matter what you struggle with physically or emotionally may you be made well in Jesus Christ!
- Pastor Dan
Questions for Reflection:
1. Have you or someone you know ever experienced a miraculous healing from Jesus?
2. What are some things that hinder you from asking Jesus for a miracle of healing?
3. What is something Jesus could heal you from today?
02-16-2021 JESUS IS | Our Preparer
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
In the passage from Scripture, Jesus gathers a crowd and teaches about the Kingdom of God. He used parables or stories to help people grasp the richness of the kingdom. A parable is a story on two levels – a physical level that everyone can understand, and a spiritual level revealed only to those with a willingness to listen to the Spirit. The parable of the sower is one of the most important parables. It starts with the physical story of four soil types – hard, stony, weedy, and good soil. The seed falls on all of them. What is interesting is that growth of some sort happens in three, but fruit is only produced in one. Being a farmer growing up, I can relate to crops not making it for a variety of reasons. The physical understanding of the parable is easy and straightforward. Jesus knows the people heard it, but He is challenging them to hear with spiritual ears as well. Ears that listen to the Spirit reveal the spiritual level of the individual. As a pastor it is amazing how many times I try to encourage people to hear the Spirit speaking or see the Spirit working in our midst. Many are missing the Kingdom of God in their lives because they are not connecting with the Spirit of God in their hearts and minds.
Jesus explains it to his closest followers the spiritual meaning of the parable. The seed is the Word of God – the teaching of the kingdom of God. How we respond to the Word of God determines what kind of soil our heart looks like. Are we “hard, stony or weedy” souls? The difficult part is admitting to the truth of where we are spiritually. Our fruit (or lack thereof) tells the truth about whether we are part of God’s Kingdom. Our actions speak louder than words. We need only examine our time and treasure to truly see if we are planting seeds in the Kingdom of God. May we all become those who are bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God. May we all be planting seeds of faith by sharing the Good News!
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn
Questions to Consider:
1. What are some examples of where I have seen the other three soil types of hard, stony, or weedy steal the Kingdom of God from others?
2. Am I experiencing the Kingdom of God in my life right now? If so, what are some examples?
3. In what ways do I feel prepared to sow seeds of faith in others? What are some ways I can be sharing hope of the Kingdom those around me?
02-09-2021 JESUS IS | Our Provider
Has God ever answered your prayer in an amazing, perhaps even miraculous way? You praise God and your faith is strong...for a while. Then some time passes, and a crisis hits you unannounced. What is your response? For most of us, it’s instant anxiety or even panic! We don’t know where to turn for help. What happened to our faith?
If you can relate to this scenario, then you have much in common with Jesus’ disciples in our passage for this Sunday. Matthew 14:14-21 says, Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.15That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” 17“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. 18“Bring them here,” he said. 19Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children! (NLT)
The disciples had recently witnessed Jesus doing amazing miracles, even raising a girl from the dead! But then there’s not enough food to feed the crowd and they have no answer, no faith. The disciples overemphasized the problem and underemphasized the resource they had in their midst - the Son of God - known as “Jehovah Jireh” meaning “The Lord will provide”.
The next time we are anxious about our needs being met, Jesus wants us to remember that “the Lord who provides” is always with us. He will never leave us and is able to provide all our needs. Call out to Him in faith believing that He will provide!
Jesus also calls us, His disciples, to be agents of provision to those around us in need. In verse 19 we have the order of grace: Jesus blessed; He gave to the disciples; they gave to others. Jesus wants to work through us in the same manner. He is our provider. He has provided for each of us abundantly. May we receive what Jesus has blessed us with and give it to others.
Questions for Reflection:
1. How has Jesus provided for you during your lifetime?
2. What area of Jesus’ provision are you tempted to take for granted?
3. What is one need you have that Jesus could provide for right now?
4. Has God ever answered your prayer in an amazing, perhaps even miraculous way?
02-02-2021 JESUS IS | Our Teacher
JESUS IS...Our Teacher
Matthew 5:1-12 "Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them. He said: 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (NIV)
I have had amazing teachers and bad ones as well. I had one teacher for example who taught one year and then repeated it for 39 more. He was so proud of his 40 years of education. He thought he had perfected his technique the first year so why change it the other 39? He was wrong. The transparency overheads were no longer working.
Jesus was called a “Rabbi” or teacher because he shared the truth of Scriptures in relevant ways. He was a profound teacher that did not just recite the teachings of other His teaching techniques were not like the other Rabbis of his day. CROSSROADS CHURCH went through the Ray Vander Laan studies called, “That the World May Know.” Those studies discussed the educational process in the region of Galilee. The “Mishnah” was the guide for teaching and required students to memorize Scripture at an early age. Most Rabbis used familiar methods or schools of thought from other outspoken rabbinical leaders. Jesus taught as one with “authority” but not someone who merely quoted other scholars. “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:28-29 NIV)
In one of Jesus’ most important sermons or teachings called “The Beatitudes” he discussed a radical understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven. He shared how God would bless many who seem to lack blessing by worldly standards. Although the primary purpose of the beatitudes is to declare the blessings given by God’s kingdom, many who read these Scriptures see them as painting a picture of the character of that kingdom. The beatitudes describe the character disciples of Jesus are meant to take on. The beatitudes describe the character of God’s kingdom, but they are not conditions of salvation. Salvation comes by faith. When we step into God’s Kingdom, we hope to become more like those named as blessed. May we all become more meek, more merciful, more hungry for righteousness, more apt to make peace, and more pure of heart. May we be more like Jesus each day as we spend time in God’s Kingdom. May we grow the Kingdom of Heaven as we share God’s love with others.
Pastor Paul Marzahn
Questions to Consider:
1. What is the name of a teacher who made a huge impact in your life? Why?
2. What is one teaching or truth that has been life- changing for you? Why?
3. What is one (or more) life teaching you like to share with others? Why?
4. What is one Christian truth that you think all believers should know?