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April
8
2018

Don't Limit God!

Holy Humor Sunday

John 20:24-29

 

This story takes place one week after Easter. One week after the incredible event that changes everything! On Easter, later in the day, Jesus appeared to 10 disciples, behind locked doors and he greeted them, “Peace be with you.” He took the time to show them the nail marks in his hands and feet, and he even showed them where the Roman spear pierced him.  But Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus showed up.

 

Can you imagine when he joined them later, after Jesus had left? “Thomas you should have been here!  We got to see Jesus! He is alive, man you should have seen him!  We were so stunned and amazed. Jesus even let us see and touch the nail marks!” I don’t know if these comments were repeated over and over again for the next 5 - 6 days but I can imagine that they were.  I don’t know, when, Thomas said the words that John remembered, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Do you hear the lack of faith in these words? Do you see how he was Limiting God? “God I am only going to believe under these conditions--I’m going to have to see it to believe it!”

 

10 disciples are smiling, cheerful and full of joy, and Thomas is sad, and grieving and feeling confused. It must have been a miserable 8 days--especially for Thomas who couldn’t believe the eye witness testimony of his friends. I suppose the other disciples tried to understand why he couldn’t believe what they told him; and they tried to encourage him and support him.

 

Then on the 8th day, when all eleven were gathered in the upper room, behind locked doors, Jesus suddenly and miraculously appeared among them.  He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve but believe.”

 

Jesus said, “do not disbelieve, but believe.”  What do the Scriptures teach about faith? The definition is found in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I shouldn’t be too hard on Thomas, he was looking at faith, as a natural man, or in the flesh; the Holy Spirit had not yet been given.  So, he thought of faith as something that is logical, something you can see and touch, and believe in because your five senses confirm it. But Spirit filled faith is the confidence, the assurance of things hoped for and a full conviction of things not yet seen. You pray in faith and then invoke the Word of God as an expression of that faith.

 

Thomas is a good example of “natural faith.” He wants to rely on his five senses to inform his mind, and his faith. Let me share this personal example. When I was on this Men’s Advance, and I started hearing testimonies about miraculous things happening, and people being healed by prayer. I already believed in the power of prayer, and I believe that God heals people today. So, it’s Saturday morning and I’m in the shower and I decide to pray for healing. In my left leg just above the knee on the outside of my leg I have some numbness and some occasional pain. I prayed that Jesus would heal me. I proclaimed Jesus’ power to heal me, I stated the promise that by “His stripes we are healed.” (Is.53:5, 1 Pt. 2:24) Then I thanked Jesus for healing me. Then like a “natural man,” I reached down to touch my leg to see if it had changed, to see if I had been healed.  But that act of reaching down to touch my leg and look to see if I was healed--was really an act of natural faith and not spiritual faith--unshakable confidence in things not yet seen!  Natural faith limits God!

I want to try and help us see the difference between natural faith and spiritual faith. If you are a believer and have been filled with the Holy Spirit, then God wants us to learn to live by spiritual faith and grow in a supernatural faith. I’m excited to be learning about these things and I hope it will help you!

 

Jesus gives us a good example of “spiritual faith,” in Luke chapter 7. Jesus is in Capernaum, and a Centurion, who built their synagogue sends Jewish elders to ask Jesus to heal his servant. Luke 7: 7-10, “Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.” There is logic and reason, but also understanding the power of authority, and the truth of the Word of God. God cannot lie. He does not break His promises. So, understand, because “God is no respecter of persons, the promise God made is appropriate for you. Act 10:34-35, “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”  

 

Back to John chapter 20, Thomas having his doubts answered, finally believed.  28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” That is the response that comes from the Holy Spirit. Thomas acknowledged that Jesus would be his Lord, that he would submit to him and follow him; and, he goes on to acknowledge the deity of Jesus, that he should be worshiped as God! Jesus totally accepts his declaration! “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” I don’t know anyone here who has seen Jesus. Yet many of us have believed the Gospel and the Word of God. We have believed through the eyes of Spiritual faith. In John chapter 6 Jesus explains that people are led to believe because the Father calls them:  65“And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

 

We need to un-train the “natural man” because when we think and act like that, we are limiting what God will do through us and for us. We have to eliminate language that says things like: “O that will never change. I am stuck here! That will never happen--not in a million years. It just seems impossible! I can’t see that ever happening”

 

Well, Thomas thought the resurrection was impossible, until he saw Jesus, touched him and spoke to him. Abraham thought he was way too old to have a baby at the age of 100, and his wife, Sarah was 90 years old. But she conceived and gave birth to Isaac. Gideon faced the Midianite army 135,000 strong, with a small of army of 300, they blew their trumpets, broke their clay jars and shouted war cry. God confused the Midianites and they slaughtered themselves and Israel had the victory! King Saul and all of his troops were so afraid of the Philistine giant that they would not go out and fight him for 40 days. Then David the shepherd boy slew the giant with a sling and a smooth rock. In Spiritual faith “nothing is impossible with God!” Luke 1:37. “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

 

I would rather look and believe that all things are possible with God, than to miss out on God’s blessings because I was not open to the possibility of how God might choose to work. If I believe in the miracle of my salvation -- if God could do that then God can do anything!

The Newsboys, a Christian band, have a song they sing; “God’s not dead, He’s surely alive. He’s living on the inside, Roaring like a Lion.” The Lion of Judah has sent His Spirit to live in you. He wants to do great things for you and through you if you only let him. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” It’s not about seeing and touching and feeling--it’s about believing what God has said!

 

May God bless you,

 

Doug Hasty

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