Why I Believe

Good morning, I wanted to share with you my testimony and why I believe in God and why I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  In order to do so properly, I would like to begin this message by looking at a passage of scripture in John Chapter 20, verses 24 – 30.  It records for us an encounter with Christ that takes place AFTER His resurrection.  It is a beautiful passage that speaks to the issue of faith.  Let’s look together at John 20:24 – 30.

John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”                                              

  John 20:26 And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

This particular encounter between Jesus and His disciples takes place 8 days after His resurrection, 8 days after He had risen from the dead.  You see, on the day of the Resurrection, Jesus had already appeared to Mary Magdalene in the morning and later on that same day to all of the disciples except Thomas.  That encounter is recorded for us in John 20:19-20.  They were all gathered together and the bible says:

   John 20:19 “… Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus revealed Himself in His glorified state to His disciples, showed  them the wounds in His hands and His side, and He commissioned them to go out into the world in His name and with the same mission that God the Father had given Him.  The disciples rejoiced to see the risen Lord.  But as the scripture notes for us here in John 20:24, Thomas was not present when this occurred.  The scripture doesn’t record for us why Thomas was not there, he may have been hiding, he may have been busy, he may have overslept and missed the prayer meeting, but for whatever reason Thomas wasn’t there and he missed out.  He missed out on experiencing the presence of the Lord.  As a preacher I can’t help but say that when we don’t faithfully attend worship we miss out on blessings from the Lord.

When Thomas is told about this visit from the Lord he says, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  Thomas expresses his doubt, and that is where we get the expression “Don’t be a doubting Thomas.”  I know that sometimes my life has been characterized by doubt.  Right now, I doubt plenty of things, I doubt it’s going to rain today, I doubt I’ll ever dunk a basketball again, I doubt I’ll ever grow a thick head of hair again.  There are plenty of things I doubt, but I DO NOT doubt that the Lord wants us to believe in Him and place our faith in Him.  The bible says in 1 Timothy 2:4 that our Savior, “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  That is a fact that you should never doubt!!

The Lord had already sent Mary Magdalene to the disciples on the day of His Resurrection to tell them that He was alive and that He would meet them in Galilee.  And then He met them just as He said He would and Thomas was not there and Thomas expressed his doubt.  The Lord didn’t want Thomas to have doubts and 8 days later, the Lord reveals Himself to Thomas in the presence of the other disciples, looking at verse 27, Jesus is speaking:

John 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

To me, this verse clearly exemplifies that it is the Lord’s desire that we believe in Him.  Not that we just believe He lived, not that we just believe that He died for us but that we believe He rose from the grave for us, that we believe that He LIVES for us, that we believe He has the right and authority to be our Lord and Savior.  And based upon these verses, I see that a belief in Christ does not rest on an ability to physically see Him or to actually touch the wounds that He took for us.  Because my belief does not rest on the fact that I have touched Him, I want to share with you this morning, why I do believe.

Why I Believe

  1. The Nature of the World.    The bible says in Psalm 19:1

 Psalm 19:1    The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.   2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world.

Believe it or not, I was young once.  Real young, and as the bible says, “when I was a child, I thought like a child.”  But even though I thought like a child, it seemed evident to me that there must be a creator.   I was raised out in the country and my wife will testify to the fact that when she met me, I was about as country as a young man could be.  I think a brand new Pearl Snap shirt, Wrangler jeans and Roper boots is “dressing up.”  I was country.  I was “chickens on the porch” country.  I was “mow the yard and find a car you forgot you had” country.  But glory to God, growing up out there in the country allowed me to have the opportunity to observe nature.  I remember sleeping outside and looking up at the all of the stars and just being awestruck by the magnificence of it all.  Who made all those wonders?  Who placed all those lights in the sky?

In science class they were coming out with the Big Bang theory that says that you could trace the beginning of all of the galaxies in the universe back to one point in time that started off with a big bang.  Now remember, I was a country boy, and I had my own 20 gauge shotgun before I was ten, so I knew that if there was a big bang, somebody pulled the trigger!  That Big Bang could not have happened by chance.  I saw so many things that were so wonderfully made that it told me there must be a God.  Now in science class they call this intelligent design.  When you see an object with order and design, you know there must have been a designer.  When you see art, you know there was an artist, when you see plumbing; you know there was a plumber.

I didn’t know anything back then about the term intelligent design, but I remember being awestruck by the stars in the sky and having questions like how far could you go if you got into a rocket ship and just took off.  It just seemed like you could never get to the end of it, it was one of those science words, it was infinite.  I remember thinking that there must be some force holding it all together.  I would later find out that the bible says in

Hebrews 1:2-3   in these last days (God) has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

 That force that has created all things and upholds all things is the Lord.  Yes, Psalm 19 is right, the very world itself demonstrates that there is a Creator, and the Nature of the World started me on the path to believing in the Lord.  The second reason I believe is because of The Nature of the Word.

 Why I Believe

  1. The Nature of the World.
  2. The Nature of the Word.  The bible says in  Isaiah 55:10

 Isaiah 55:10  “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,  And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11  So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

 The word of the Lord is always effective.  At various times in my life, I had people sharing God’s word with me.  I remember being very young and my Mom would come into our room and say prayers with us.  “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  Anybody remember that one?  Bedtime prayers are a great way to introduce a child to the fact that God wants to know them, to speak with them and to have a relationship with them.  As we got a little older, she would say the Lord’s Prayer with us from time to time.  Those words began to place a desire within my heart to know more about God.

We didn’t go to church much when I was a kid, my parents weren’t very religious and I don’t know much about their spiritual journey when I was growing up, but I do know that they got us into Vacation Bible School and they got us into Sunday school when we were little.  We didn’t win any attendance buttons, but when we were there and eating cookies, someone was sharing God’s word with us.  I still have a plaster Paris plaque of the Golden Rule that I made in Vacation Bible School.

I remember the stories I heard about God; stories about God helping a little boy kill a giant named Goliath; stories about Jesus calming the sea.  All of those stories stuck with me.  Even though we didn’t go every Sunday, and even though I don’t think I sat through a sermon until I was about 9, God’s word ministered to me.  A little boy killed a giant?  That was cool, because there were some giants that I had in my life that bothered me; giants that I didn’t talk about, giants I was scared of, giants I was not sure how to handle.

The words I learned in VBS and Sunday School spoke to me.  The words on that plaque about the Golden Rule spoke to me, letting me know that there was a God who desired compassion to be shared amongst people.  And that meant a lot to me because the nature of many people I encountered as a child was not one of compassion at all.

When I was growing up, I felt like our family was different.  As I became older I finally realized that every family is different.  We did not have a lot of money when I was young because my Dad was working to put my mother through college.  It seemed like my dad worked all the time but it never seemed to be enough.  While my father did his best to hold things together, we were still impacted by various conditions and issues within our family when we were young children.  What others say about what you wear, how you dress, how kids treat kids sometimes, and talk in a small town can greatly impact one’s self esteem and the hope that one perceives to be present in the world.

 There were many instances where I felt left out, excluded and just felt like something was missing and that the whole world needed to be different.  But even with the struggles those feelings brought into my life as a child, The Nature of the World told me there was a God, the Nature of His word that I learned in Vacation Bible School told me that this God loved me and that He would take care of me.  Those two elements were drawing me to Him.  There was also another element that helped me to believe in Him.   That is the Nature of the Workers of the Lord.

 Why I Believe

  1. The Nature of the World.
  2. The Nature of the Word.
  3. The Nature of the Workers of the Lord.  The bible says in Matthew 5:16

 Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

God always seemed to put somebody in my path to encourage me and bring some light into my life.  Even when I didn’t realize it was dark, He sent light to me.  I remember a teacher in the first grade who was concerned enough about the jelly bread sandwiches that I ate to buy me lunch and talk with me on a regular basis.  I remember how special she made me feel when she sat and ate lunch with me.

I remember in elementary school, one of the popular girls who rode our bus started sitting by me and became my friend.  I remember one time she asked me if I was saved, and I remember that even though I didn’t know what that meant; she didn’t jump up and walk away.  She explained it to me as best she could.  She treated me with respect.

And I remember later that summer, my dad got jumped by some local hoodlums, pulled off his motorcycle and beaten very badly.  He ended up in the hospital for several days in real bad shape.  I remember being scared by that because my Dad was big and strong.  And if he could be hurt, what chance would I have in such a situation?  I don’t think I had ever been that shaken up before.  I remember praying that he would be okay.

And I also remember that the grass needed mowing.  We lived on 3 acres and daddy liked to have about 2 of those acres mowed.  We had a push mower, it was old and it was hard for a skinny 10 year-old to start.   And I remember that Saturday morning, hearing the dogs barking, and I go outside and there is the preacher mowing the grass for us…  on a riding lawn mower!  You know, I hardly recognized him it had been so long since we had been in church.  He came to mow our yard without being asked because he found out my Dad was in the hospital.  He was demonstrating God’s love to me.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I wish I could say that we were in church the next morning, but we weren’t.  I guess that didn’t bother the preacher too much, because 2 weeks later, while daddy was still on bed rest, he came back out and mowed the yard again.  Workers like him helped me to believe in the Lord.  They made God’s love real and tangible to a family that irregularly attended their church but who regularly needed God’s touch. 

And that brings me to the final reason, I believe, “The Nature of Our Wonderful Lord.”

Why I Believe

  1. The Nature of the World.
  2. The Nature of the Word.
  3. The Nature of the Workers of the Lord.
  4. The Nature of our Wonderful Lord. 

The Nature of our Wonderful Lord is that He wants you to believe in Him.  He wants you to know Him.  That is His nature.  He longs for our fellowship so badly that He will go to great lengths to reveal Himself to us.  Thomas was not there when Jesus revealed Himself to the other disciples and because of that Thomas had doubts.  But the Lord wasn’t willing to leave the relationship at that status.  The bible says in John 20:26

John 20:26 And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be with you.”

John 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.”

 He wants you to be believing.  It is a process that takes longer for some people than others.  After my Dad got back on his feet, and after he got his yard mowed a couple of times, we slowly started getting back into church.  My belief and profession of faith came about a year later.  A revival was held in the church that we slowly started attending on a more regular basis.  The words of the evangelist and the words of our pastor finally brought me to that place where I knew, that because of my sin, I needed the Lord.  I finally became convinced because of God’s great efforts to make Himself known to me that this was something that I should ask for and receive His forgiveness.

I came to believe because He has made Himself known to me through the world and stars that He created that spoke to a young country boy.  He revealed Himself through His word which was taught to me in the “irregular attendance” that I had in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School.  He spoke to me through those who did their best to minister in His name, who helped our family during times of trouble.

My belief does not rest on the fact that I have touched Him, but rather on the fact that He has touched me. 

1 Peter 1:8   and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

 I do believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.  I do believe that He died for our sins.  I do believe that when we ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, He reconciles us to God the Father and sends the Holy Spirit to live within us.

If you don’t yet know Him as Lord and Savior, I would love to speak with you and share many other wonderful things about Him.  You can contact me at the email address below.

May God Bless you,

Phillip Stephens,     pastorpstephens@aol.com

6 Responses to Why I Believe

  1. Rita Santiago says:

    Happy Wednesday to you!
    I just read “Why I Believe” What a great summarized message. Since I am teaching Religious Education tonight, do you mind if I share this with my class? I like the way you have worded it in a way, that the teenagers, and myself, can understand.
    I hope you continue to heal, with restful nignts in the near future.
    Take care of yourself. Rita

  2. Sis LJ Brown says:

    My brother you are a blessing, and I thank you. It was so refreshing and warming to hear a saint testify and share milestones in recovering from Dreaded back surgery. I was already sad about my upcomming L4 & L5 fusion on 22June11. Then reading other posts mad me depressed, no one praised the Lord for still being alive and healing. Then I found your posts and desire to continue with you on the road to restoration. What a great way to spread the gospel. Sure glad you are here on-line sharing your testimony and text. Looking forward to bearing witness of God’s mercy and grace in my recovery and restoration. Bless you Bro. Pastor

    • Sister Brown, sorry for the delay in my response. We are having VBS this week so it has been very busy. The program is going well and my back feels fine! The Lord has been very good to me. I pray that your surgery goes well and that you have a good recovery.
      Blessings to you,
      Pastor Phil

  3. DEAR PASTOR,MY NAME IS KAREN ROBINSON I’AM ALSO HAVING SPINAL FUSION L4&L5 ON OCT.12 2012, THIS IS A GREAT TESTIMONY I LOVE IT, IT SOUNDS ALOT LIKE ME. I SURE CAN RELATE TO THIS SERMON, WE HAVE A WONDERFUL GOD DON’T WE? YES I’M SCARED ABOUT THE SURGERY,I’M HUMAN, BUT I ALSO KNOW MY FAITH IN GOD. HE HAS MY BACK TO! PRAISE THE LORD!!! HE LEAD ME TO THIS ,THANK YOU!

    • Dear Karen, You are right, we serve a wonderful God! I know that He will be with you. I will pray for your quick recovery and have my class pray for you this morning. I know that your faith will help you through the recovery process. Keep me posted on your recovery and the wonderful testimony that you will be able to give the Lord through it all.

      May He bless you and your entire family,
      Pastor Phillip

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