Grow Deep: Unlikely Outcomes Edition, Week 2
Week 2: April 8-14
“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.’” - John 20:27
I never understood what having “faith like a child” meant until I took my son to his first college basketball game. My alma mater was having a terrible season, one of the worst in their history. But my five-year-old son didn’t care less. Despite the paltry crowd, the missed layups, and the overwhelming sense of disaster in the air, my son knew the home team would win. He cheered for every basket. He high-fived me at every timeout. He yelled as loudly as possible for every chant.
At halftime, our team was already down by 20. Still, my son never wavered in his belief in spite of the dismal odds. With ten minutes left in the hopeless game and a 90-minute drive home staring us in the face, I wanted to leave. “No,” he said, “I want to see them win!” Finally, with 16 seconds on the clock and the good guys down 30 points, my son looked at me. With tears in his eyes he declared, “Dad, I don’t think they’re going to come back.”
The disciple Thomas had an adult-like faith, which is to say he exhibited the opposite of my son’s confidence. Even before the final bell tolled, he believed he was headed for a loss. Then Jesus breathed His last breath, and it was over. Despite any evidence regarding Jesus’ return, Thomas could not believe; he had already conceded defeat. I imagine him with tears in his eyes, much like my son at the final horn. Jesus was dead.
The miracle of the resurrection is that when all reason points to defeat, Jesus rises and converts a loss into a glorious win. Jesus’ return allows us to have confidence in Him during the most perilous situations. Jesus is with us, just as He was with Thomas.
This week we will examine confidence through the lens of Doubting Thomas and the early church’s growing pains. Examine each Scripture from a confidence that lays all disbelief at Jesus’ feet. He has returned, and He saved us! Take confidence in that fact! Take confidence in Jesus as all-sufficient sacrifice and mediator for our sins. Take confidence in the truth of Easter. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, He atoned for our sins, and He is an advocate for us in the presence of God in heaven.
Sunday, April 8
Read: John 20:19-31
You are blessed … God has inspired His Word so that you might believe. “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Jesus’ words bless and direct us today, just as they blessed and directed Thomas centuries ago.
Reflect: List some of the incredible facts about Jesus from Scripture that cause people to doubt that He is the Messiah. Which items on that list cause you to doubt Jesus? Pray for confidence and resilience to believe in Jesus in the face of doubt.
For the Family: When the other disciples told Thomas that Jesus was alive, he did not believe them. He had no confidence in what they said; he wanted proof. What proof did Jesus give Thomas? What proof do we have that Jesus is alive today?
Monday, April 9
Read: Hebrews 5:11-14
Today’s Scripture includes a strong rebuke! One can choose to let the words sting or to use the words as motivation to grow in confidence in Jesus. Make constant use of the Bible’s teachings by reading, reflecting, practicing, and growing in grace. It is God’s nourishment!
Reflect: Reflect on a time that your eyes were opened to a new truth in a Gospel message you’ve read several times before. Pray for the strength and wisdom to keep digging through the Word for a deeper understanding and confidence in God’s truth.
For the Family: Has one of your parents ever said to you, “Stop acting like a baby?” Well, in these verses, Paul is telling his friends that they are still acting like babies in their faith. He tells them to remember what they have already learned about Jesus and to keep learning about Him so they grow up in their faith. How do we grow up in our faith?
Tuesday, April 10
Read: Hebrews 6
Take confidence in the certainty of God's promises. God promises a glorious reward to those who believe in Jesus. Strong, consistent, and diligent faith is worth striving for, but it is not the finish line. The goal is reached when we are reunited with Jesus in eternal glory.
Reflect: How does God strengthen your faith? What actions can you take to deepen your roots and gain a greater confidence in God’s promises?
For the Family: What does it mean to have confidence? God made a promise through Jesus that gives us confidence in our future. What is that promise?
Wednesday, April 11
Read: Hebrews 7
Take confidence in the superior priesthood of Jesus. Hebrews 7:25 states that Jesus “is able to save completely … because He always lives to intercede.” Other Levitical priests, such as Melchizedek, blessed many. But Jesus is the superior High Priest; He blesses all who come to Him in faith! Through Jesus, we will be brought to perfection!
Reflect: Melchizedek came before Jesus and pointed people he encountered to God. Take time today to thank someone who has interceded (prayed) for you, or who has pointed you to Jesus through their confident faith.
For the Family: A high priest was the one in Bible times who went into the Temple of God and made an offering (an animal was sacrificed) to take away the sins of the people. He did that same thing every year. But Jesus, the great High Priest, came and died on the cross once to pay for our sins forever! Does that give you confidence? Why or why not?
Thursday, April 12
Read: Hebrews 8
Take confidence in the new covenant of Jesus' resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection is the fulfillment of God’s New Covenant. It is central to our faith, and yet it is the center of much disbelief for those who struggle with the Christian faith.
Reflect: Think of a loved one who has doubts in Jesus’ resurrection? How should the community of believers respond to disbelief? How should you respond? Pray that your confidence may inspire belief in those who doubt.
For the Family: In this chapter, the writer speaks of the “new covenant” we have with God because of Jesus. What is a covenant? What is the new covenant? Can you think of at least one way the new covenant is different from the old covenant? Why is that important?
Friday, April 13
Read: Hebrews 9:1-14
Take confidence to enter the holy place and serve the living God. Unlike the inner sanctum of the Tabernacle, which was off limits to everyone except the high priest, Jesus allows us to come directly to Him. More than that, He comes to us! Still, some people are timid, or even afraid, to enter into a “holy place” (i.e., a relationship with Jesus, a church building and/or community of believers).
Reflect: Pray for confidence for those who have anxiety related to entering a “holy place.” Pray that all people find comfort in Jesus, regardless of where they encounter Him. Pray that God will open our eyes to ways we can encourage those who lack confidence.
For the Family: Only the high priest could enter into the most “holy” place in the Temple to offer blood from sacrificed animals to “pay” for the sins of the people. But when Jesus died for us, His blood paid for our sins forever! Now we can enter into the “holy place” ourselves with confidence. Where is that “holy place” today? How do we enter there?
Saturday, April 14
Read: Hebrews 9:15-28
Take confidence in Jesus as the all-sufficient sacrifice and mediator for our sins. Take confidence in the truth of Easter. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us; He atoned for our sins; He is an advocate for us in the presence of God in heaven.
Reflect: Take a moment in quiet solitude to reflect on your gratitude for Jesus. When reflecting on God’s new covenant, what words appear in your mind?
For the Family: Jesus appeared on earth as a man so that He could take away our sins once and for all by dying on the cross and rising again. Now He is living in heaven with His Father. He will come again to those who are eagerly waiting for Him. What does it mean to eagerly wait for Him to return?