April 17th 2022: Dave Norbury

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“And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”
(Luke 24:38).

Our faith is rooted in history. Jesus really did die and really did rise again from the dead. This is a most amazing truth that can thrill our hearts. When some of the disciples were told that Jesus had risen from the dead, they didn’t believe it. They had doubts. They knew Jesus, ate with Him, saw miracles, even saw Lazarus raised from the dead. They saw His compassion. Witnesses had told them all that had happened. Now, having heard, they see the Lord Jesus Christ in their presence, face to face. But some doubted. Is that you? Sometimes, we don’t face the issues of doubt. All of us have had doubts at times. For example, when facing tough times we doubt whether God is in this. When we face illness we can ask why, and doubt God’s presence. We can doubt whether Jesus is really with us. Doubts can sometimes point to past failures and cause us to question whether God had really forgiven us.

The disciples see Jesus risen from the dead. The greatest day in history! Yet they doubted. It is wonderful to know God understands our doubts.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6). Doubt is not being settled or confident. They are significant. James himself refers to himself as being double-minded. 

Doubts can mess around with your heart as well. Jesus says, “Truly,  I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” (Mark 11:23). Where do you doubt? In your heart. It is not just a head thing. Doubts can mess up your head, doubts can mess up your heart, and God understands.

Jesus says here in Luke 24, ‘Why do doubts arise in your heart?’ The word for doubt used there is not the same in the Greek language as it is being used in other references we have had. The doubts that Jesus refers to there are arguments and disputes. So doubting isn’t just with your head or your heart, but it is disputing – ‘Is this really true? We know He’s dead, now He’s alive. This can’t be true?’

Another example is found in Matthew 14:31. Peter is seeking to walk on water. The waves are up and down and he can’t see Jesus and he doubted. Wonderfully, Jesus rescued him. If you have doubts, they are not terminal. Not only does the Lord Jesus understand your doubts, He is also gentle with those who have doubts.

Remember the story of the desperate father whose son had been ill since being a child? He brings is son to the disciples and they couldn’t heal him. Then Jesus meets with the desperate father and the son. The father says, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out[d] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22b-24). This father wasn’t unbelieving, he was doubting. The father wasn’t unbelieving because Jesus heals his son.

Thomas is known as ‘Thomas the Doubter.’ This is unfair. Really, he should be called ‘Thomas the Honest.’ At least he is admitting his problem. Jesus allows Thomas to see His wounds. He gives the evidence he needs. Thomas says these amazing words, ‘My Lord, my God.’ The Lord Jesus deals gently with those who doubt.

John the Baptist, when in prison, hears about the Lord Jesus and everything He is doing. John knew Jesus, he knew him face to face. He had baptised him. So, here is a person who had all the evidence. In theory you would say to yourself, ‘Well, surely he would never doubt.’ Listen to what happens, “Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11:2-6) John is facing a huge gale. Jesus does not berate or judge him. He quotes scripture and deals gently with him.

On this wonderful Easter morning we too can have doubts. Whatr do we do? Be honest and tell Him our doubts and our fears. We need to lsilten to Him. God wants you to be sure, not to doubt in any ways. So, when you go to scripture, there is no doubt.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). He doesn’t want you to have the slightest doubts.

God abundantly pardon, so there is nothing between heaven and ourselves,

“Let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
Isaiah 55:7

Jesus wants you to be sure and says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

You need to read the Bible for yourselves. I encourage you to read the Bible, to listen to God. He wants to help you gently with every doubt you might have. He also wants us to remember how good God has been to us (Psalm 103). It may be helpful to keep a journal, to keep a record of God’s goodness and answered prayers.

Listen, read and remember, then look to the wonderful things He has done. He gave us His precious Son, who walked this Earth. He spoke like no-one else spoke. His wisdom, His purity, His total integrity was hammered by religious leaders. He spoke with the down-trodden, the rejects of society. He lived without any of our failures, without any of our selfishness – no nasty comments, no unforgiveness – simply kindness and love to the poor, needy, forgotten and down-trodden. He lived the perfect life. Then, He lived and died the perfect death. He rose from the dead, as we are celebrating today. He shows us His wonderful, wonderful love, He tells us; you can read it and listen to Him.

Be confident He can help us. Whatever doubts you have, He is always there, risen from the dead, alive today. Martin Luther, the great reformer, had a prayer for anyone who has doubts,
“Dear Lord,  
Although I am sure of my position, I am unable to sustain it without thee. Help me or I am lost.”

Jesus Christ is risen. He is alive! We can thank Him. We can worship Him. We can know Him helping and dealing with our doubts. We need to take those doubts to God and ask Him to help us to deal with them – and He will because He is alive, He is risen from the dead. He loves you with an everlasting love. He calls you to Himself, to trust Him, to lean upon Him, to know His forgiveness.

February 16th 2020: Thomas Kitchen

Thomas Kitchen - Feb 2020Luke 24:13-35

This is a great way to start a story – two people walking on a long road to home. It is a blank canvas, anything can happen. The two people are sad, distressed, confused; something terrible has happened and they are wondering how to cope and move on. Then another man enters the scene. This is what really drives the story along. But it is not just a story. It is from the Bible, the words of God on a page, 100% true. Everything is built around verse 26, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” The story is hinged around this one sentence.

We know from the start it is Jesus who joins them – the risen Jesus who has conquered death. The two people don’t know. Look at our hope as Christians, if you’re trusting in Christ today.

The two people are Cleopas and another, who is unnamed. It could be his wife or a friend. They are walking to the village of Emmaus, a little, unknown village. Still, even today, we are not sure where it is. Why is it mentioned at all? To give a real historical location – it is a real place with real people. Secondly, it is such a small, irrelevant place and this shows Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance is real. If you were trying to make up a story about Jesus risen from the dead, you’d want to do it in a place people knew to give more credibility. But no, because it is true, it actually occurred in a small, obscure village.

The two disciples were talking intensely. They were distraught, unable to process what had happened. How will Jesus’ death affect them? And someone joins them, but they do not know who it is. “But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:16). They were kept from knowing who it is Jesus. This is because Jesus needed to teach them important truths about Himself before they knew who He was. As far as they were concerned, Jesus was dead. We can be disappointed with life and cry out to God, ‘Where are you? Help me make sense of all this!’ To help you know Christ more intently we face trials. We can be spiritually blinded so Christ can be known to us in a more glorious way. Part of the drama of the story is when will the two disciples discover the mystery man is their Saviour?

Jesus asks, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.” (Luke 24:17). This man had obviously overheard the two talking about Jesus yet still asks what and who they are talking about. They stood still, shocked He did not know what had happened. “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” (Luke 24:19-24).

At first glance their response seems focused; they give a true picture of who Jesus is – a good prophet who did good things, who might have done good things if He had stuck around. ‘Redeemed’ here is linked to a political leader, a victorious ruler on the earth. But that is not why Jesus came. They missed the real ‘why’ of Jesus’ coming. They are clearly very passionate about Jesus but also disappointed. The Messiah had failed in their expectations. They do love Jesus but they don’t understand what is going on. Their hopes have been quashed. Their hopes were in the wrong thing. They lapped up all of Jesus’ teaching but now He had died they have tried to transfer their hope to something else but they couldn’t. They realised Jesus was the answer, but Jesus was dead.

Jesus replies to them with a rebuke, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26). Jesus is disappointed in their understanding. He is saying, ‘You think I’ve come to save you from Rome, but I’ve come to save you from sin.’

Knowing His followers don’t understand why He came, Jesus guides them through the Old Testament. He starts with Moses and the prophets – the entirety of the whole Old Testament – making it clear why He had to die and where His death was prophesied in Scripture. He rips the curtain away to show the full reality of the Messiah coming back to life. Jesus’ main concern is to unpack His suffering, death and resurrection. Without His suffering and dying, Jesus couldn’t come back to life. If He hadn’t conquered death, sin would not have been conquered. Jesus died and powerfully came back to life again to show authority over Satan and sin, so we can trust in Him and crucify and bury our sin (1 Corinthians 15). He lives, He rules and reigns! He rules above all and every other king. Jesus teaches these two disciples the Old Testament in a New Testament era.

Like these two people on the road didn’t understand, we have masses of people who don’t understand. In Christ’s strength we now do what Christ did – open the scriptures and explain who Christ is – a Saviour to be worshipped and who will save them. Jesus begins to open their eyes that had been spiritually closed. We can know everything Jesus did; some people know the Bible far better than Christians, but they don’t know the Lord who walked the Emmaus road. Knowledge is important, to understand the gospel we have to understand it to affect us – but it must go to our hearts.

Ultimately, it is God who works in us. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts, who moves. The Holy Spirit is the comforter – the person of God working in you right now, helping you understand the things in this passage. The Holy Spirit shows us our sin, the wrong things we do each and every day. He is the one convicting you, telling you, you cannot stand before God where you are. As an unbeliever, you are spiritually dead. You need the Spirit to open scripture for you, to show the Cross and what Jesus did for you.

For Christians, believers, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are also walking the road to Emmaus. We doubt. It is easy to trust our Saviour when the sun is shining, but when storms arise you can feel lost. You can lose sight of Him, get angry with Him, wonder why He is doing what He is doing. If so, walk the Emmaus road and ask Him to open up the scriptures to you. Read Jesus’ words in scripture and hear Jesus’ voice. Pray and your relationship with Him will deepen. He has promised to be with us always. We don’t always believe that; we can sometimes think if we can’t feel His presence He is not there. But we need to trust, no matter how hard it is. He is there.

Remember those two people, nobody’s, one we literally don’t know who they were. Jesus first appeared to shepherds. He stoops and humbles Himself to know us. The one who died for us isn’t going to forget us. That is why He died for us – to know Him and love Him more and more. He is a victorious Saviour. He is our hope. We trust in a living, breathing, holy Saviour who has conquered sin and death. He will sustain us. I still sin but Christ deals with it every day. We gather here because we worship a living God. If you’re trusting in Him He is living in you, shaping you to be more like Him. It is not deserved but given to us because God loves us.

The two disciples saw Him in His glorious state at the dinner table. Do you want your eyes opened in a new way? Go home, pray, open you Bible. Trust Him. Trust He is alive and reigning in heaven. Amen.