Thursday, April 24, 2014

Doubting Thomas? Really?

            “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.’ Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 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.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:24-31 ESV

            When people talk about Jesus’ Twelve Apostles, there are a few who often have  negative things associated with them. Of course there is Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. We correctly remember his infamous actions. Judas was full of remorse after his betrayal of the Messiah—he felt bad about the consequences—but did not repent and receive forgiveness from the Lord Jesus. There is another Apostle—Thomas, AKA “Doubting Thomas” by many. How is he remembered? He doubted! But whatand why did he doubt? He knew that Jesus had been crucified. His Messiah was dead. And that was the end of that—or so he thought! He did not anticipate a resurrected Lord who would rise from the dead on the third day. Jesus told him in advance, but Thomas did not understand what Jesus meant by those words at that time. So, when the other disciples claimed to have seen Jesus who had risen from the dead, Thomas doubted. He thought that it would never happen; it could never happen. There was no conspiracy among the disciples to make up stories. The Scriptures record the true, historical events that correspond with reality.

            What would persuade Thomas to go from disbelieving to belief that Jesus was alive?

            “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,” Thomas said. Why was Thomas so stubborn? He needed to be convinced that Jesus was alive with proof, not with a mere subjective feeling in his heart. Eight days later, Thomas had his chance. Jesus, in his mercy, offered 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.” A resurrected-from-the-dead Jesus was not a figment of anyone’s imagination. He was raised bodily from the dead, after defeating sin, death, and the Devil by His sacrifice of Himself. In doing this, Jesus satisfied the holy wrath of the Father on our behalf—for you and for me! Thomas confessed about Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Notice that Jesus accepted those statements about Himself. Jesus is Lord! Jesus is God! Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity! He is the only means by which we can be certain that our sins are forgiven, that we have peace with our Creator, and that we have a home in Heaven. “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” These words are for Thomas; these words are for you. Thomas did trust in Jesus—even to the point of dying a martyr’s death as a missionary to India for his Lord.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Initial days in Sierra Leone

I thantho kuru!—I thank God! This is a common response to “How are you?” and other question greetings. We thank God for these past three months in Sierra Leone! An important step in our orientation was being formally handed over to our Sierra Leonean partners—first to the Bible Society of Sierra Leone, then to the local Themne translation and literacy projects in Makeni...
Vehicle for tough roads
Time to practice Themne
Until next time...
❤ Josh, Ruthie, Elijah (1.5 years) & July Baby

Friday, April 11, 2014

April update from Jonni Sliver

A Shift in Power 
Over the last several months the Miriam Home has had a more masculine air than the name would indicate. In fact we have had a little boys club, with 9 of our 12 children being boys, most of them 6 years old and younger—it has been a loud and very fun place to be!

Please Keep Praying! 
For precious co-workers on their way! Ruthie Grove, who knocked our socks off last year is returning in May and bringing a friend! Cheyenne Hanson is working right now on getting her visa and ticket - please pray for both to come easily =) Please pray for Pr Silvio as he hunts for a new car for the Miriam Home. Our lovely, new Ford Fiesta was totaled in a car accident the end of January (praise the Lord, no one was seriously hurt) and we have been hobbling ever since. The insurance money has finally been released, pray that Silvio finds just the right car at just the right price!

Click here to read the entire letter.

Family, Ukraine, and ministry update from the Coyles

Dear Prayer Team,

Greetings from Ukraine, where spring is upon us. Trees and flowers are blooming, kids are playing soccer in the streets, and farmers are busy in the fields. It is a great time of year. It is easy to enjoy these simple things and ignore the complexities of life that we, Ukraine, and our Bible school are facing.

In many ways, moving to the village has helped us not be constantly inundated with the tense political situation. We can enjoy being outside and tackle new projects with the yard, as well as enjoy hosting our staff and students. This has been a blessing for our family amidst the recent challenges. Much greater than that, however, is peace that the Lord gives through His presence and His Word. We are grateful to Him, and we are grateful to you who have been praying for us, for the ministry here, and for Ukraine.

Click here to read entire newsletter.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Searching for the Lost

After more than three weeks of searching, the prime minister of Australia said, “There was no time limit on the painstaking search to find the missing Malaysian Airlines jet.” He said they owe it to the families of the missing passengers. He pledged that the governments involved would “do whatever we reasonably can to get to the bottom of this mystery.” Twenty aircraft and ships, 550 search personnel and a vast amount of modern technology was involved in the search effort on that day, March 31.

At the same time, in Washington State, people were searching through the wreckage left behind from a deadly mudslide that devastated the community of Oso. After eight days of searching, even the rescue dogs were in need of rest. The death toll had reached 25, with 30 people still missing. Those involved in the search made clear, in spite of the conditions and challenges, the search was going to continue on.

In Luke 15 Jesus tells a parable about a shepherd who goes searching after one lost sheep “until he finds it” (v. 4). He follows that with a parable about a woman who loses a coin and then lights a lamp, sweeps the house and searches carefully until she finds it (v. 8). Both parables make the point about how the Lord engages in an all-out search to find lost sinners.

The parables were in response to the teachers of the law muttering that Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1). The teachers did not understand or appreciate what Jesus was doing. He came “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). He was willing to enter the homes of those society pushed away. He befriended those who were often scorned by the world. He is the good shepherd who engages in an all-out determined search for those who are lost.

The searches going on in the southern Indian Ocean and Washington State are commendable and impressive, but they are no comparison to the amazing search the Lord has conducted for you. The mud in Washington is a messy place to search. The spiritual filth of this world was a much dirtier place for the holy, pure Messiah to come to and live and search. But He humbled Himself and came. The search zone off of Australia is a long ways for the searchers to travel. Our mind cannot conceive of the distance from the glorious throne of heaven to the painful hill of the cross. But Jesus made the journey.

The Lord continues to search. He searches until He finds. When others give up and say there is no chance of recovering that lost soul, the Lord keeps searching. Jesus is searching today for your friend and loved one who doesn’t know Christ. If you’re not right with the Lord, Jesus is searching for you.

With the Malaysian jet and the Washington mudslide, there seems now to be little chance of finding any survivors still alive. But with the Lord’s search for lost souls there is great hope. No matter how far a person has wandered, if they are humbly willing to be found there is hope. Jesus, the crucified and risen One, is able to find them and give them new life.
This is a monthly missions devotional by Pastor Craig Johnson