What Benefits Are Your Doubts?

Which apostle do you think gets the worst rap, the one who needs a good PR agent?

My preference for this award goes to Thomas, Didymus, whose name means twin. He is known for one statement of incredulity. The resurrected Jesus appeared to the other apostles in the upper room. Thomas missed the first Sunday night church service. That left him with a steep learning curve. The other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” Being a pragmatist he wanted proof. His response to them was, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25) That is about all most know about Thomas.

Soon thereafter Jesus appeared again. This time Thomas was present. Jesus offered this proof to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas didn’t do it, instead he fell on his face before Jesus and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26 – 28) Thomas fought with His fears and faith won.

Wow! Thomas became the first apostle to call Jesus, God. No doubt there.

On an earlier occasion Thomas expressed great faith. Jesus told His disciples He was going to Jerusalem. They pleaded with Him not to go because they knew the Jews sought to stone Him. Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16) Now, that is faith. 

Thomas struggled his way through the forest of his doubts to become a giant of the faith.

Secular records indicate Thomas took Jesus at His word to go to all nations and went to India where he established churches, suffering greatly as he did. One day while he was on his knees praying soldiers of King Mizdi allegedly thrust a lance through him.

To simply label Thomas a doubter is neither fair to him, nor does it take into full account the Scriptural teaching regarding him. I can not consider him a doubter because he expressed doubt on one occasion. He doubted, but he was not a doubter.

Candidly, I never doubt, but I do have many questions for which I seek answers, all the while having complete faith there are answers. I just don’t have the answers yet. Questions can purify and enrich our faith.

If you have doubts, keep struggling your way through them. Metaphorically speaking, Jesus will show you his nail prints. 

This is shared in order to pose the question, what acts of devotion are you engaging in that demonstrate your faith. How are you known?

My Favorite Apostle

Who is your favorite apostle? Mine was the Rodney Dangerfield of the apostles. In Scripture the only references to him is that he was an apostle called James the Less. He is also called “the Minor”, “the Little”, “the Lesser”, or “the Younger” according to the translation. He and Matthew were two of three sets of brothers who were apostles.

There are no notable deeds or eloquent words attributed to him, just that he was an apostle, BUT he was an apostle. Knowing what the apostles were appointed to be and do makes him significant in a notable cause. For example, he was among the apostles who came back on a mission on which they were sent by Jesus and it is said that even demons were subject to them. James the Lesser was one of those.

Jesus saw their rejoicing and said, “…rejoice rather that your name is written in heaven.”

Alfred Adler, one of the founders of modern psychiatry, said one of a human being’s strongest urges is the desire to be significant. James the Lesser was satisfied with obscurity in order to help further a cause that was greater than he.

James the Lesser is proof there is room for lessers in the service of our Lord. He is an example of the fact you can’t have a greater without a lesser. You can’t have a book without a chapter, you can’t have a chapter without a paragraph, you can’t have a paragraph without a sentence, you can’t have a sentence without a word, and you can’t have a word without the letters of the alphabet. You can’t have a greater without a lesser. Whatever he did it was essential to the role of the apostles. He walked with giants, and was a companion of Jesus.

If you feel like you are a nobody, get over it. In reality there are no nobodies in the cause of Christ. Nobody? There stands the cross proving you really are somebody. Now get out there and fulfill the cause for which you were called. May you find fulfillment in your calling. You really do matter.

Used Heaping Coals of Fire on an Enemy

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Romans 12:20

In the Bible era an extremely important matter was the ability to provide fire. Such fires were often started by a single coal. 

Before going further it should be noted there are commands in the Bible that relate to persons and others that relate to governments. This one relates to persons.

In this narrative an enemy has a need for a coal. To illustrate the way to respond to an enemy in need, that of a coal is used. The proportionate response was to give the enemies so many coals they had to be carried in a receptacle on his head. Carrying weights in such a way was common in the Bible era.

The story is a metaphor advocating repaying a wrong with a right. Generosity is encouraged by the instruction to give your enemy more than requested, surely more than deserved.

By abundantly giving an adversary more than needed it is equivalent to giving a person in need of a single coal so many he has to carry them on his head.

This is a hard command. Perhaps you, as I, have found it very hard at times. However, you can see it would go a long way in conflict resolution. In doing so we are modeling Jesus who gave us, His one time enemy, what we didn’t deserve, and more. Let your adversary know it is being done in Jesus’ name.

Formerly we sang, “Let others see Jesus in you…” Compliance with this instruction would surely go a long way toward doing so.

It might help if after doing so you went back to Jesus in prayer and said, “That’s one for you.”

Oh, note the last line in the above text.

“And the Lord will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21, 22)

What Is Your Primary Purpose?

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Victor Franklin, the internationally renowned Austrian psychologist, wrote: “Life has meaning only if there is a purpose, a life task. The more difficult the task, the more meaningful the life.”

The Apostle Paul in summarizing his life in part said, “I have fought the good fight.”  That did not just mean I have fought well, which he had, but it meant, “I have fought a good fight worth fighting.” Emphasis, it was a fight worth fighting.

Most would agree a purpose enriches life. Jesus was right in His Matthew 6:33 exhortation.

Don’t get disillusioned if you don’t have a headline popular cause. Most of us don’t, but everyone has a cause, everyone. Fight yours well.

Don’t get discouraged if yours is hard. If it is worth fighting, find it gratifying regardless of how menial, fulfilling. After all, God hasn’t asked us to be the best at anything, He just wants us to be our best at everything.

A Billy Graham Crusade was coming to New Orleans when I was a young pastor there. In a planning meeting of ministers, Dr. J. D. Gray, the preeminent pastor in New Orleans who had taken me, a kid, under his wing challenged me. In the discussion to select a person to head the promotional team said metaphorically, “We need someone who won’t just buy the gift, but he won’t stop until he has put the bow on it.” He paused and continued, “Someone like Price.” I knew in my youth that wasn’t me, but because of who said it, it became me. He appointed me to a hard and worthy cause, and I fought it as best as I could. New Orleans was saturated with news of the crusade, and God blessed.

You may not feel up to the task God has assigned you, but because of who assigned it, give it your very best without complaining.

The theme test of my life, one I keep posted in a prominent place is: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3:23) Know you have an abiding overseer, the Lord. Please Him, and you have every right to be fulfilled.

French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre observed, “You will never find peace and happiness until you are ready to commit yourself to something worth dying for.”

Give yourself away. Give yourself to the Lord. If not literally, at least figuratively, give each new day to the Lord singing, “O happy day.”

On Being Whole Hearted

It is said of God that “He will strengthen your heart.” (Psalm 27:14)

The physical heart is a marvel. This four-chambered, four-valved pump moves 5,000 gallons of blood a day through 12,000 miles of vessels. 

Reading this will be a bit weighty, but hopefully will give you a better understanding of just what it means for God to “strengthen your heart.”

The meaning of this has been veiled for years. Without awareness of this promise British researcher Dr. Alan Watkins has pulled back the veil on a fuller meaning. He speaks of the heart as the body’s powerhouse which has a “hitherto unrecognized role in balancing the entire human system.” He says the heart produces fifty times more electrical energy than the brain, and a thousand times more electro-magnetic energy. As the strongest power source in the body, it coordinates all the other body systems, including the brain, commonly thought to be the dominant organ. It produces harmony throughout the body called entraining. 

Entraining is illustrated as seeing a large flock of birds swooping in flight moving in and out of the swarm while moving as one. So the heart sets the pattern in the body for all systems. When there is a positive emotional state these systems entrain harmoniously. When this happens the brain works better, the immune system functions better, and your hormonal system is at its best.

When our Lord says He will strengthen our heart He is saying He will help our brain, immune system, and hormones work together to their fullest advantage. All of this happens when the Lord is allowed to strengthen our heart by us thinking with the mind of Christ; that is, thinking as He would under our circumstances. That is accomplished if you let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. Doing so impacts the entire body.

That is why you must “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

Only when the primary thing is in place (Jesus) do secondary things matter.

Jesus offered this encouraging word, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Why?

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory….” (II Corinthians 4:16, 17)