Week of April 9

Living What We Believe:
An Easter Devotional

Read: 1 Samuel 6-7; Psalm 72; 2 Corinthians 9
“And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.” Matthew 28:17, ESV


“Faith that does not doubt is dead faith.” Few, if any, believers have never experienced doubts about God’s presence or answers to prayer. Some of my greatest heroes of the faith experienced doubt. Names like Sara, Gideon, Elijah, Jonah, Zacharias, and John the Baptist come to mind as women and men whose faith was shaped, in part, by their doubts!
We live in a current age that is shrouded in doubt. Uncertainty about health, security, the economy, and spirituality all cast a shadow across the hope that people should feel in the risen Savior. Two-thirds of Americans believe in a physical resurrection as stated in the Bible, which is good news in our increasingly secular culture.

However, this belief does not fuel active participation in church service and worship. Only forty-five percent of Americans attend worship monthly (Lifeway). Part of the reason for this decline is the fact that there are fewer Christians in our nation, but also because many Christians do not see the relevance of the resurrection regarding their daily lives and church involvement.
Casting off the doubt!
Wrapped in their humanity and limited by their grasp of both the present and future, they each hit a wall at the point of human circumstances and God’s promises. Perhaps you are included among the numbers of people who cannot see God’s redemptive activity in all of the uncertainty. This passage presents a similar set of circumstances at a most unusual time, but it provides for us helpful instruction in how to overcome doubt.
Steps toward living a resurrection faith
First, ground your worldview in the truth that Jesus is God’s Son, the Savior. It seems incredible that some of Christ’s followers could have seen visible evidence of the resurrection and still have doubts, especially at such a critical stage. Matthew has taken great care throughout his Gospel to demonstrate the truth that Jesus is God’s Son and Savior. There had been powerful eyewitness evidence that Christ was alive, yet Matthew records that “some” doubted, even in His presence (28:17; e.g. 28:9; Luke 24:31, 36; Acts 1:3).
The word for “doubt” means “divided in mind.” We say that “seeing is believing,” but in this case, some of the 500 others that were gathered with the 11 disciples “could not believe their eyes” (1 Corinthians 15:6). They were hesitant. You may be thinking, “I thought that I was the only one out there that had doubts.” Well, this is simply untrue. Many folks doubt. But there is more to learn.
Give your doubts to the risen Savior. Consider that Jesus was quite comfortable with their doubts. If you ponder the context, this is a risky moment. A huge sea change has occurred and it is very important to get everyone on the same page. The ministry is moving from the particular to the universal in the sense that it will soon become global after Pentecost (see Acts 2). The church will be established and the commitment to discipling the nations will take center stage. Christ’s mandate will be laid upon their shoulders. They, too, will relate to Him as the divine Son of God and sovereign Lord of the universe (NAC).
What is key for me is that some doubted, but He didn’t! Jesus knew that these “doubting ones” were in God’s hands (John 6:39-40). The Holy Spirit would soon move into and fill the void that was occupied with all sorts of emotions like doubt, and bring a “peace that passes all understanding.” Jesus did not take the moments that day to respond to questions about whether He was alive or not. He directed His full attention to their marching orders. He knew them and was fully assured of their future success, even when they were tentative. So He gave them the command to take the gospel to the world, and they did it!

An Easter Message of Hope

Our doubts are not the opposite of faith; they are an element of faith. All hesitancy on the part of Christ’s disciples ended that day in the presence of the Truth. Once He erased their doubts, they then committed themselves to following His way (John 14:6).
I recall a critical period of uncertainty as a young pastor, when I was doubtful of God’s direction to a new place of service. The future was “over the top of a hill,” so to speak, and I was hesitant to step forward for fear that my family and I would tumble over a cliff. I called one of my mentors, expressed my doubts, and wondered openly, “Who in their right mind would recommend me for such an assignment?” He spoke firmly, “Well, I was in my right mind, when I did just that.” I silenced my doubts by becoming determined to follow God’s call!

We moved forward with confidence that God would make the way clear, and He did. My family committed to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). In the language of Easter, “He is Risen! Now, follow Him.”
Here is a word of Easter hope for you. The resurrected Jesus in whom you have believed knows precisely who you are and where He is leading you—doubts and all. Hudson Taylor once said, “God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for people ready to follow Him.” Follow the risen Savior today, and every day.

For Thought and Action

1. Spell out clearly to the Lord your doubts today. Write them down and seek His comfort and assurance that He knows your concerns and will guard your steps.
2. For Families: Easter Sunday is a day of mixed signals for kids sometimes. We can surely all agree that it is so. Christian parents and families attend services that celebrate the Risen Christ! They often dress well for Eater services, have their pictures made at church, and invite family and friends home for Easter feasts and fellowship.

In addition, they often hide and hunt Easter Eggs, filling their beautiful baskets with candy-stuffed plastic eggs, sport bunnies and butterflies and ducks when decorating, and hard boil and dye eggs as well.

The egg hunt became an Easter tradition in 16th-century Germany. Martin Luther, the great Reformer, held egg hunts at the church for his congregation, where the women and children would look for eggs that the men had hidden around the property. This practice is symbolic of the women who discovered that the tomb was empty after the resurrection.

Share this story with your children, before they start their hunt. This is a way to celebrate what Jesus did when He rose again! He gave us new life, and He wants us to share it with others too. Every egg is a good news egg! Enjoy all that this day brings. Jesus is not in the tomb. He is alive!

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock