Burwell & Calvary United Methodist Churches
 Burwell & Taylor, Nebraska               308-346-4318
What Is It You Doubt?
     The followers were fearful, huddled together, anything but joyful.  Like a bunch of newborn calves, trying to stand on their own shaky, untested legs.  They had almost zero confidence.  They had been given instructions , but still they were confused and afraid to move out.  The women in their midst had come back from the tomb.  Mary Magdalene shared the wonderful news.  "I have seen the Lord!"  This must have been within the first hour after the Eater sunrise.  And th followers staid put.
     Comparing the 4 Gospels here's what we find.
*Mark's Gospel 16 - The angel at the tomb told the women (Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, Salome) "go, tell his disciples and Peter, He is gong head of you into Galilee.  There you will see him just as he told you."
Matthew's Gospel, 28 - The angel told the women Jesus has risen, just as He said.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples, "He ahs risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.  Now I have told you."  As the women were hurrying away to go tell the other disciples, Jesus met them.  "Greetings" he said.  The women clasped his feet and worshipped him.  Then Jesus told them, "Do  not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
John 2:19 - On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came an stood among them and said "Peace be with you!"  He showed them his hands ad side.  The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Luke's Gospel 24 - The two men from Emmaus returned back to Jerusalem, found the disciples assembled together and told them "it s true!  The Lord has risen and appeared to Simon" and how Jesus was recognized by us when he broke bread.  While they we still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."  They were startled and frightened, thinking they had seen a ghost.  He said to them "Why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet.  It s I myself!  Touch me and see.  A ghost des not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."  And after this Jesus asked for something to eat and he took the piece of broiled fish and ate it in their presence.
     Later on Paul also mentions that Jesus appeared to Peter alone (in 1st Corinthians 15:5) "and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve."
     The disciples knew tht the tomb was empty but didn't understand that Jesus had actually risen.  They heard the women's testimonies of what they had seen and the interchange of word  with the Master, yet, they seemed to bei n a state of shock.
     Apparently, Jesus intended to meet with his followers up in the Galilee region, but since they did not move out, they stayed up in Jerusalem, Jesus did the next important thing by coming to them where they were and appeared and talked with the disciples...in the effort to convince them that HE was indeed resurrected!
     I've found this over ad over as I study Scripture.  God comes to us where we are.  We are assured over and over ...I am with you always...but in our different stages of understanding and faith, God keeps coming to us where we are, encouraging us along.
     Would you or I have been ay different than the Disciples?  Are we quick to grasp and believe things?  Or are we skeptical and hard to convince?
     Jesus opened these people's minds to understand the scriptures.  The Holy Spirit does this in our lives today when we listen to teachings and study our own bibles.  
     Jesus' resurrection is the key to our Christian faith.  Why?
1.  Just a he said,, Jesus rose from th dead.  We can be confident that he will accomplish all he has promised.
2.  Jesus' bodily resurrection shows us that the living Christ,  no some false prophet, some imposter, is ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven.
3.  We can be certain of our own resurrection because Jesus was resurrected.  Death is not the end -- there is future life.
The resurrection of Christ is the basis for the church's witness to the world.
     So what is that you doubt?   Is something holding you back?
     I hear there was a lady who went to a nursing home every week at the same time and taught a sewing and Bible study class.  Her efforts were so successful that her pastor approached her to be a part of  the evangelism committee.  The lady was horrified that the pastor would suggest such a thing - as if the pastor had insulted her.
    The pastor pointed out that she was already engaging in evangelism at the nursing home, yet the lady denied any such action and explained she was only sharing her gift of sewing with a new favorite Bible verse.  With a little time to think about it, the lady eventually came around and agreed to serve, admitting that she was really afraid of the word "evangelism".  To her the word evangelism meant revealing your personal conversion experience and the lady doubted she had ever really had something like that in her life.  She grew up in the church.  Her faith developed over a long period of time and she felt she had nothing to offer in winning souls for Christ.
     Maybe a more suitable term for evangelism would be "faith sharing".  All of us here have faith or we wouldn't be here today.  Isn't that essentially true?  We have our faith.  We have our understand of what we personally experience.  Would it be fair to say that YOU EXPERIENCE GOD N ONE WAY OR ANOTHER EVERY DAY?
     What if you were asked How have you experienced God's forgiveness in your life?  How have you experienced God's Grace?  How have you experienced God's compassion in your life?  Or what about How have you experienced God's comfort or hope or support in your life?  Or how have you experienced God's challenge or God's direction or God's will in your life?
     The question is not about how you came to faith years ago, and it's not about the history of your church.  It's about your real life and God's part in it today.
     When we share our faith openly with others we're sharing what God is doing in our lives.  The Gallop Poll in 2016 shows 62% of people in the workplace hide their relationship with Jesus and their fellow workers never know.  Are we showing our faith?  Are we losing our "salt"?  Are we covering up our Jesus with our hat and coats?
     Jesus let it be known to Thomas and the others that "because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."  Is that encouragement for us today?  It was meant to be encouraging.  We are told that we are "Blessed" for believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.  We teach our children to believe.  We are to be an encouragement to others by telling our on stories.
     When I ask for you testimony on Sunday's I usually don't get very much reaction that I can see.  Maybe just a sense of "Don't be asking me to speak of something I don't know if I actually have".
     We need some practice at telling our stories.  I'm actually sure that many of us have experiences that we could tell about.  Times when God was a very real presence in our lives.  Times when God inspired us.  Times when God showed us our wrongs or mistakes.  Times when God rescued us.
     In closing, some will remember that I was with a group of pastors and laity who traveled to Wichita last fall.  We spent a day at the Disney Institute that was attended by over two hundred business and professional people, including eleven of us from Nebraska.  Near the end of the presentation, Rev. Todd Kargess spoke up stating that we were a group of pastors and laity from the Gateway District of the United Methodist Church and that we were finding many great applications of ideas that had been presented during the Disney Institute's workshop.  One of the presenters from Orlando replied back, "Well, you have the Greatest Story ever Told in the Gospel of Jesus Christ" and we're glad you are finding ways that you can collaborate together with Disney Institute."
     That's fact.  We, as believers have the Greatest Story Ever Told.
     And each and every one of us need to be sharing our faith openly with a hungry world.  Amen.