Spiritual Development

Part 3–Coming off a Spiritual High

Resurrection—Now What?
Growing up I was blessed to have the opportunity to participate in many youth camps, Disciple Now weekends (sort of like youth camp, but held one weekend during the school year on Friday-Sunday), and various other events that helped to focus my attention on God and the work He was doing at the time.  Even as an adult I continue to seek times of spiritual renewal through various conferences; to take time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and rest in His presence and power in a different setting.  One thing that was and is always profound about these times is that I always come away with new understanding about God and feel refreshed and renewed.  Inevitably, though, I walk through the door and reality hits.  I am immediately hit with a choice.  Do I believe what God has shown me over the course of the weekend or week I was away and do I act upon that faith?  Or do I doubt what I heard and saw during my time spent with Him and shy away from carrying out the plans God laid before me?  As a youth, we were always warned that Satan would be ready and waiting for us on Monday mornings.  While we may be on the mountain top there at camp or at the conference, sooner or later we would have to go down into the valley (our schools, neighborhoods, etc.) and put our faith into practice.  The disciples had to make the same decision.

The disciples had the great opportunity to walk, talk, eat, and experience Jesus in the flesh for three years.  That is a long conference to attend!!  I can’t imagine the “spiritual high” they must have been on as they entered into the last days of Jesus death and resurrection.  The reality of the empty tomb hit hard and they were faced with the same choice we have today.  Will we trust Jesus to give us the faith we need to believe and then act upon that faith?  Let’s see what they did.

Later, He appeared to theEleventhemselvesas they were reclining at the table. He rebukedtheirunbeliefand hardness of heart, because they did notbelievethose who sawHim after He had been resurrected.” Mark 16:14 
Andas theywere sayingthesethings (the two men from the road to Emmaus), HeHimself stoodamongthem (the disciples). He saidto them, “Peaceto you!”  Butthey were startledandterrifiedand thoughtthey wereseeinga ghost. “Whyareyou troubled?”He askedthem. “Andwhydo doubtsariseinyourhearts?  Lookat MyhandsandMyfeet, thatit isIMyself! TouchMeandsee, becausea ghostdoes nothavefleshandbonesasyou can seeIhave.” Having saidthis, He showedthemHishandsandfeet.  Butwhile they stillwere amazedandunbelievingbecause oftheirjoy, He askedthem, “Do you haveanythinghereto eat?”  Sothey gaveHima piece ofa broiledfish, and He tookit and atein theirpresence. Then He toldthem, These are Mywordsthat I spoketoyou while I wasstillwithyou—thateverythingwrittenaboutMeintheLaw of Moses, theProphets, and the Psalmsmust be fulfilled.”  Then He openedtheirminds to understandtheScriptures.  He alsosaid to them, “This is what is written:TheMessiah would sufferandrisefrom the deadthethirdday, andrepentanceforforgiveness of sins would be proclaimedinHisnametoallthenations, beginningatJerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  Andlook, I am sendingyouwhat MyFatherpromised. As foryou, stayinthecityuntil you are empoweredfromonhigh.”  Luke 24:36-49
Three years with Jesus. Three years of listening to Him tell them what was going to happen and they still were troubled and had doubts in their hearts.  We are not too far removed from the disciples are we?  We are startled and terrified when we see and hear Jesus through the reading of His word and as He calls us out of our comfort zones.  We are even amazed and stand in disbelief as He provides proof of His existence and glory.  Lord, have mercy on us and open our minds!!  John’s account goes even further in depicting our doubtful hearts to an even further extent. 
In the eveningof thatfirstdayof the week,thedisciplesweregatheredtogether with the doorslockedbecause oftheirfearof theJews. Then Jesuscame, stoodamongthem, andsaidto them, “Peaceto you!” Having saidthis, He showedthemHishandsandHisside. Sothedisciplesrejoicedwhen they sawtheLordJesussaidto themagain, “Peaceto you! AstheFatherhas sentMe, I alsosendyou.” After sayingthis, He breathed onthemandsaid, “Receivethe HolySpirit. Ifyou forgivethesinsof any, they are forgiventhem; ifyou retainthe sins of any, they are retained.”
`But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!
`After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.” Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.  Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.”  John 20:21-31
There are still those today who want hard evidence from God that He is real.  I pray that He opens your eyes so that you can see the nail scars in His hands and the side that was pierced for your sins.  It has all been written down in the Bible so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.  I pray that you will make the same declaration that Thomas did, “My Lord and my God, and in your belief you may have life in His name.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be troubled.  Do not doubt that God sent His son to die on the cross for your sins and desires for you to put your complete trust in Him.  Open up His word and read His letter to you.
For those of us who have already made the declaration of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, may we not be afraid, troubled, or doubt God’s faithfulness, love, and plan for our lives.  It is far too easy to fall back into our selfish ways and deny what God says to us through His word.  Time has a way of fostering doubt in our lives. The best way to combat doubt is to daily spend time reading the Bible as we pray for open eyes to understand the scriptures and faith to carry out His will.

My Heart’s Prayer:  My Lord and my God!  Help my unbelief.  Too often I cower and shy away from what Your word says is true.  Open my eyes Lord and give me the strength and courage through the Holy Spirit to act on faith.  In Jesus Name, Amen.
 

Voice Of Truth from martielane on GodTube.

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