It's All Grace

Amazing things can happen when you allow the Lord to work in your life.

Faith on Fire

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.” 
—John 20:24-25

The resurrection of Jesus was the best possible news the disciples could have received, yet not everyone was immediately on board with the story. Thomas was absent when the Lord made His group appearance on that Sunday evening, and gave a skeptic’s response to the announcement that the other disciples had been with the risen Lord: “But he said to them, ‘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.’”

Some have been very harsh about Thomas’ reaction. He seems kind of demanding and disrespectful. Who does he think he is? Actually, though his words may strike us as odd, they were not prideful. Thomas wanted to believe, and he wanted his faith to be authentic.

John 20:20 holds an important detail in Jesus’ original appearance:“When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” Thomas was only asking for what he had missed. He was expressing a willingness to believe based upon the same evidence given to the people around him. His request was not unreasonable. He didn’t want to doubt; he wanted to believe!

Thomas sincerely longed for what the other disciples had experienced. He was gathering the wood and getting a match—he wanted a faith on fire. Thomas named the obstacle and was looking for the reasons he too could stand on authentic faith in Christ. This is the lesson: faith is kindled when you name the obstacle.

Identify the obstacle to faith in your life. I got hurt. I have a question I don’t have an answer for. I’m discouraged. I don’t honestly understand how Christianity can be true. Now bring it before the Lord: “God, thisis the barrier between You and me.” Produce your strong reservations and give God an opportunity to put faith where there’s doubt. Once you have honestly prayed this way, give God time to answer. Wait on Him.

This is not a casual challenge. If you’re a doubter, get on your knees every night before you go to bed and bring your barrier before God. You are expecting Him to provide an answer. Pray every day for thirty days. God did not disappoint Thomas and He will not disappoint your sincere approach. Name the obstacle before God and He will kindle your faith.

Pastor James MacDonald

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It’s the End that Counts!

This devotion is TOO GOOD and too true not to share.  God said HIS word will divide (Matthew 10:34-39) and cut like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 12:4) , cutting as it goes in and comes out.  We are seeing many “fall away” from the truth and it saddens me, as there are many who will claim the name of Christ, yet HE does not KNOW them (Matthew 7:21-23).  The end is nearer than it’s ever been.  Praying that you continue to run the race AND finish well – enduring to the end!

“And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” 
—Mark 13:10-13

This passage presents Jesus’ realistic appraisal of how things will unfold on earth as the end approaches. Not only will the gospel be proclaimed to all nations, but those who proclaim it will also bear the cost. Some will be brought to trial, some betrayed by siblings, parents and children, and some will give their lives. Those associated with Jesus’ name will be hated by all. Then He adds, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Jesus’ closing thought ought to concern you. He was stating a condition to salvation that is both easy to miss and easy to misunderstand.

Here’s the part we miss: He who endures “to the end will be saved”—not the one who starts well, but the one who finishes well.  Although the context indicates that Jesus was speaking about the close of history, His words also apply to the course of our lives. Unless Christ returns during our lifetime, you and I will have a final breath. The point isn’t when, but how we will get to the end of life. Will we cross the finish line enduring or not?

And here’s the part that is easy to misunderstand: Jesus is not saying you are saved by enduring. He is saying that those who are truly saved do endure.

This is reinforced in 1 John 2:19, as the apostle John writes of those who claimed to be believers, but who didn’t endure and didn’t persevere. John said, “They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had of been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out from us so that it might be manifested that they were in fact never really of us.” 

That’s not talking about local church membership. John was not describing people who leave a church; he was talking about people who leave the Church—people who depart from faith in Christ. People who backslide and never return make it very clear they never really had saving faith.

The longer you follow Christ, the clearer you can see how easy it is to pray a prayer of confession, to walk an aisle, or to confess faith in Christ in a safe and loving environment. But the steps of Jesus don’t take us the easy way; they take us the way of endurance. It takes perseverance to keep on following Christ—even when it’s hard, when the pressure is on.

He who endures to the end will be saved. Let Jesus’ words guide you as you examine yourself. Do you see evidence of your salvation? Then you can rest and rejoice, because when you are truly saved, God will give you everything you need to endure—to the very end.

Taken from Pastor James MacDonald

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Is That Sand Under Your Feet?

Have you thought about the 30 years that John the Baptist lived in the desert?  IN the desert was where God was preparing John to meet the Lord face to face!  And we whine because HE leaves US in the desert for a month or two!  God has a purpose in each one of our lives.  The purpose is different, because of what HE has called us to endure.

Sometimes a lot of the wear and tear on our lives is from fighting the circumstances that God has allowed to come into our lives.  Sometimes it’s in the desert where God will give you glimpses of HIS hand and HIS heart that you could not have had anywhere else!

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