The Importance of Thomas

Poor Thomas.  He gets a bad rap for the importance of his statements and role in the gospel.  We hear about how he doubted that Jesus rose from the dead and wouldn’t believe until he had seen with his own eyes.  We hear the verse “blessed are those who believe without seeing” all the time.  But these two other statements in that small section of the gospel are incredibly important as well.

First, Thomas declares Jesus, my lord, MY GOD.  He declares Jesus God.

When I first read this passage last month I read in the commentary of my Bible about this important statement.  I had never heard, or realized, that this was the first time an apostle said this before.

This morning I decided to go online and research if I remembered correctly.  I did.  This verse is a big deal.  There is a lot of theological discussion about it because Thomas was the first apostle to actually refer to Jesus as God in the flesh.  This is part of the basis for the triune God.  This is the recognition that only God would be able to come back to life on his own.  That only God would be able to tell exactly what was going to happen before it did.

As Christians, it is the statement for each of us that we need to surrender to the higher power of God/Jesus/Spirit.

But as I researched on a website called Patheos, I also went down a rabbit hole as I clicked on and scanned a variety of other articles.  One was “10 Questions Christians Must Answer”, which turned out to be from an aetheist perspective.  Each question was a hard one, many relating to why doesn’t God save everyone and why doesn’t he answer every single prayer.  To me, it was very sad.

And then I realized, Jesus’ statement to Thomas was equally important.  We must believe that Jesus is Lord, God, creator, regulator of the universe.  We must.  Otherwise we have no hope.

Two things struck me most in the aetheist article:  1.  the author did not account at ALL for humans to be accountable for what can happen on earth.  2.  He had no hope at all.  No optimism that there might be some good that would come out of situations, no matter how bad.

The reality of our world is this:  we will not live on earth forever.  We won’t.  We live in clay jars.  We put too much emphasis on our bodies and their importance.  And we don’t look at the importance of our souls and legacies–which may not rely on how our bodies look, are “complete”, or how long they last.

Christianity does.  It is all about our souls–our legacies as a people who care and try to live in love on earth, until our souls can join Christ in heaven.  It is all about not doubting, but believing in the goodness of each person’s ability to have a soul that is good at the core.  About believing that God created us to be loved and good.  That He calls us to be servants in love and goodness.  About believing that there is a place that is untouched by evil and is pure rapture and hope.

We must not doubt, but declare, and surrender, to the fact that Jesus is God.

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Exalted

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As long as I am sharing art that I made mistakes on, but still really like, I might as well go full on.  I sketch everything in pencil, paint with watercolor, and then go over it with the ink.  It is a gel pen that takes forever to dry–and sometimes it is really hard to see the pencil through the color.  So I end up with smudges–or I mistake a letter for a different one.  And done.  Can’t go back and fix it.

Imagine this.  God didn’t need to go back and fix anything.

Except maybe people.  And that wasn’t His fault.  And even then He had a back-up plan in his pocket from the very beginning!

I don’t know about you, but that humbles me.   I am a hot mess of sticking my foot in my mouth, sitting on the fence of opinions, calling people out, zero patience, craziness ALL.  THE.  TIME!

God created mountains, fields, water, sky, light.  ME.  And He did it with finesse and perfection.  That is to be exalted.

Do you ever exalt God and His perfection?  We stand up and clap for athletes.  For rock bands.  For celebrities small and big.  Do you clap for God?  For He is the one who humbles us and is deserving of our praise.

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Be in Awe

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First of all, I screwed up…this verse isn’t from Mark 5, but chapter 4.  The verse is correct.

It makes me think.  My first idea to write about for this post was being in awe of God.  And actually my mistake makes me even more in awe of Him.  I can’t even write the correct number. I constantly am in error, no matter how hard I try.  But He, He does not make mistakes. The earth is His masterpiece and everything within and without it.  The wind and the sea obey His call.  He considers me one of his creations–one of the many many parts of his masterpiece–that He created without mistake.

Who are we NOT to be in awe of Him?

In this part of the Bible Jesus has called disciples, he is raising people from the dead, he is sharing parables of wisdom, and he calms the storms.  He is in control.  He is sharing the depth and breadth of his power.  He is impressing the Jewish community.  They were in awe of Jesus at this point.  Just imagine if they had really understood the lengths Jesus was about to go to in order to save humanity and bring us all closer to understanding His absolute majesty.

With the start of a new year, a new day to refresh our faith, we have a new chance to be in awe of God.

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Do What You Can

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Sometimes we have to do our part when it comes to faith.  Sometimes are the ones who have to work at it.  We need to save up what we can.  Share with others as often as possible–material things and emotional.  And in the midst of it all we just have to trust that God will fill in all of the bits in between.

Notice the honeycomb?  Busy little bees–they know their roles, they know their timing (see the clocks?), they know they must work constantly to make the best honey, the best hive, and have the best team to work for their queen.  And actually they sleep–same amount as us even.

Faith is the same.  We need to understand our roles in the kingdom of God.  We need to understand that everything will work–in God’s time.  We have to work constantly at keeping our faith in plentiful supply in gratitude to the best King ever.

What are you going to do this year to work, save, share and trust?

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Proclaim HIM

I imagined the crisp night air of Bethlehem, over the hills surrounding the city.  I imagined the night sky full of wispy, spirit-like– cloud like even– angels.  Ethereal.  Opalescent.  Glowing.

I imagined the sound coming from them. Celebrating.  Calling.  Leading.  Soft to some ears, clamoring for attention loud to others.

Some listened.  Some noticed and stared, not looking away.  Others did not.

But those who followed were allowed the chance of a lifetime.

I pray that you are one who always sees and hears the angels.  That you are blessed by the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

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Sing Praise!

This is how I try to live every day.  Joyous.  Grateful.  Filled with song.

It is encouraged throughout the Bible.  Over and over and over.  It is one of the easiest ways to spread the gospel.  It is one of the easiest ways to celebrate our hope and faith.  To celebrate what IS good.

Just read:

Psalm 98The Message (MSG)

98 Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!

He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.

God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.

He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God’s work of salvation!

Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.

Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
With everything living on earth joining in.

Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!”
And mountains harmonize the finale—

A tribute to God when he comes,
When he comes to set the earth right.

He’ll straighten out the whole world,
He’ll put the world right, and everyone in it.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Birds of Christmas

I do love painting birds!  LOL They have sort of become my trademark in ways.  So I have one for you today, and one tomorrow.  Even winter.  My hope in spring, and the new life God will send, the ever green, the new nests, the new eggs, the new babies.  They will come.  In the midst of the bleak winter, there are signs of truth–hope and love and faith –all around us.

God’s truth.  It is so worth waiting for.  It is so worth knowing.  It is so worth having.  It is so worth searching for.

Not the “truth” the government or media shares.  Whatever that is.  Not what your neighbor tells you.  Not what you see in the grocery store.

Because every story, every thing you see, every person you see–has a deeper truth that is affecting them to their core and everything they say and do.

Look instead for that deeper truth.  The truth that God sees and knows.

And not just at Christmas time.  ALL YEAR.

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Quite the year…

It has been quite the year in the news hasn’t it?  I try not to watch/read/listen to the news.  I get very angry with the sensationalism tactics of the media.  I get depressed watching the hate and arguing that goes on.  I am saddened by the loss of hope–the loss of faith.  The loss of perspective.  The loss of kindness in favor of being right and freedom of speech.

Yes, a lot of bad things happened.  But it was not the worst year.  It really isn’t getting any worse than it ever has.

Why do I think this?

Because it was bad enough that at one point God flooded the earth to get rid of the evil.  Over and over whole cities and empires were destroyed for their behavior.

And it got so bad….the best thing ever happened.

Christmas.

God sent His only begotten Son, our Beloved Savior Jesus, to bring us all HOPE.  To encourage us to have FAITH.  To teach us the gospel of love and kindness.  Of SERVING (which is different than service).

Read here what Paul went through, what he faced, and how we handled it.  Read the hope that he wrote of 2000 years ago, that are still apropro today:

The Rescue  (from the Message, courtesy of Bible Gateway)

3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.

8-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

12-14 Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus.

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Unshaken

Just a little thought to ponder.  Where are you able to find God’s presence right now?  Is it in trees?  Baked goods?  Decorations?  Music?  Shopping?  Gifts?

Are you having a hard time finding it at all?  Are there tough, sad, or bitter circumstances that are clouding your vision making it difficult to see and feel God?

Are you looking for memories to bring you hope and peace instead of God–who in this moment is waiting to fill you with hope and peace?

What is making you feel safe and loved?  Conditional love from humans?  Or the everlasting love of your Savior?

Where you can find God today?

 

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Peace and Hope

A Christmas piece for this year.  I have made a few–they aren’t always my favorite to make, so they don’t turn out very often.  🙂

Americans have a lot of “traditions” we are supposed to do.  This year I actually got family photos and am sending copies to dear friends and family.  My husband has taken over ALL gifts this year (hallelujah!).  I am not baking a single thing.  (sigh of relief)  We aren’t doing Advent much this year, which I miss, but the kids just aren’t all home at the same time most nights.  I put up decorations, but then quickly realized I needed some clear spaces, and took half of it down.  (much better)  So I guess you could say we are simplifying things in terms of American expectations.

What I am including more of this year is the whole concept of PEACE.  Being happy with what is really important, my friends and family.  Relaxing in the peace of quiet.  Being still and resting.  Finding hope in our Savior.  Sharing love with the ones I can.  Being a beacon of hope when I can be.

I hope you are enjoying your holidays this year and finding how you can celebrate them best–with traditions or not.  For this season is supposed to be about readying our HEARTS for the celebration of Christ and the family he baptizes us all into.  His birthday celebration was pretty simple in the beginning.  Nothing fancy.  Just hope and love beaming and spreading.

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Same Power

Time for a music inspired post.  This song has been inspiring me a lot lately.  When I think about the power of our Creator Savior I am amazed.  When I consider that that very power is inside me, I am overwhelmed.  When we let Christ rule our actions He gives us the strength to do what we need to do.  To stand up, and not be overtaken.  We can stand in victory knowing the greatest of all powers fills us, saves us, gives us hope.  It explodes in love from our hearts and souls.  Enjoy the song…

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He Calls Us

And here are all of our benefits!  Rejoice in these my fellow herd members.  I will see you on our path.  Be blessed.

he calls us

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Self Sacrifice

I love how the Bible repeats itself, but in different wordings.  So if one passage doesn’t hit the mark, if we don’t quite get it, understand, whatever, there is another place where it can.

This verse in Matthew is along the very same lines as the other two this week.  But it reiterates that not only do we need to not follow the mischief makers and stray from the path/herd, we need to give up ourselves to Jesus.  We have to admit we are not the most important individual, that the good of the herd and the path to God’s glory are.

It also promises not just forgiveness, not just leadership, not just confidence though.  It promises that we will find our one true best self.  For that is what we are in Christ.  Our best.  His path, the work for Him, is what will lift us up to our full potential and then we get to bask in God’s glory with all of the herd.

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Like Sheep

It is easy to go astray.  It is part of being human.  The hope that we have in Christ is that we are forgiven.  That we have clean slates.  That we can improve and be better servants of Him because He took all of our sins.

I don’t know about you, but having that hope makes me want to try to be a better person even more.  I am so thankful that I have this opportunity, this confidence through Christ.  It makes me want to do what I can in thanks for what He gave to me.

Part of my gift back to Christ is being humble that I mess up, admitting that I stray that I get things wrong.  That I am one of those sheep.  And that I need His constant teachings and reminders to follow His path.

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Mischief

It is soooo hard not to get mixed in with the mischief makers.  This verse really hit home when it showed up in my devotions a few weeks ago.  It can be really hard to discern who you can trust sometimes.  It can be really easy to listen and think what is being said or done is okay.  It can be really hard to stand back, look at a situation through the lens of Christ and decide how to really react. It can be even harder when you realize that Christ does not want you mixed in with such people, and you know it is going to be a difficult road to buck the system.

But we are called by Christ to stand up to the mischief makers.  We are called to stand up for the persecuted.  We are called to encourage others to do what is right.  We are called to be the examples.  No matter how hard it is.

We don’t want to be drug away with the mischief makers.  We should want to be held tight to Christ and his followers.  No matter how hard. No matter the consequences.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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