Wrestling with Belief

In this tender scene, Jesus gently beckons Thomas towards the place where Thomas has honestly wrestled with belief. This poignant interaction can fuel our courage to be honest with our questions of faith and allow Jesus to meet us there. He invites us to come close enough to touch and see him for ourselves. Our prayer helps us draw close. Watchful waiting in the ordinary moments of our lives will train us to see.

John 20:24-31 (NLT)

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Place yourself into this scene. Who are you? What feelings and thoughts are going on inside of you as this scene unfolds? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Where have you or long to experience Jesus loving you in such a humble way? Journal about that experience or your longing.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

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Just Who Are You, Jesus?

The question and answer session carries on between Jesus, the Pharisees and the crowd in John 8. Can you imagine being a first time participant in a rabbi study with Jesus, where the Scriptures, the questions and the answers are the learning process?
In the search to know Jesus, they and we may find his answers to the questions not easily understood or comprehended. Can we be compassionate with ourselves in the process of seeking understanding? Or give ourselves permission to wrestle with the questions, the answers, and the lack of immediate or understandable answers? Or with the very person of Jesus himself? It is in the wrestling that we come to discover the presence and trustworthiness of God - Father, Son and Spirit.

John 8:21-30 (NLT)
Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.”
22 The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going’?”
23 Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. 24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they demanded.
Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. 26 I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” 27 But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father.
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. 29 And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” 30 Then many who heard him say these things believed in him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Near To The Father's Heart

The freedom to truly be a child -
dependent;
not responsible for anything too big for us;
to cry out for what we need, whether nourishment, physical comfort, protection or attention;
living in the moment with whatever captures our interest and attention;
to be seen through the eyes of love and simply delighted in;
- these are the gifts of being a child who lives near to the Father's heart.

Jesus, show us how to live near to our Abba's heart.

John 1:10-18 NLT
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Which words, phrases, pictures or stories come to mind as you listen to this scripture? Savor them and bring them into conversation with Jesus.

As you listened or read the text, did you see yourself in the text? if so, what did you notice? Can you identify anything which you long for?

Good News

Have you ever had an experience of not being able to believe some good news that came to you—some good news that surpassed the furthest reaches of your imagination? This seems to be precisely the case for the disciples when they received the news that Jesus was alive, and the tomb was no longer home to His body.
    First came Mary Magdalene, and then two others to whom Jesus appeared. But “no one believed them.” We know, of course, that Jesus appeared to the eleven, cleared up the entire matter, and then sent them out to preach the Good News.
    And now here we are, two millennia later, still made alive through our risen Lord Jesus.
    Wow. Can you believe it?
   
© Brenda Henry

Mark 16:9-20 (NLT)
     After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.
 Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them.
 Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.
     And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.  Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.  These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

For Prayer and Reflection:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, or an image that stood out to you? Consider writing or drawing more about that with Jesus.

Have you experienced Jesus in different ways (forms)? What has this led you to believe or to hold close to your heart?

Have you had any experience(s) of seeing Jesus and not being believed? Where are some places you can bring your belief?