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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Second Sunday Of Easter

Option A: From Don Rayborn (for Kelly Bedard)

"Fine-Tuning Thomas--And Us!"
John 20:19-31

I Thomas' Persona Vitae
* AKA Didymus the Twin or The Doubter;
* Does not appear in the first three Gospels except as a name on a list of
the disciples;
* Emerges in a very special way, however, in The Gospel According to St.
John Moody, exacting, ready to pounce on anyone whose words don't match his
standard of truth;
* Skeptical, with a keen, reasoning, analytical mind;
* Unquestionable sincerity, but a fault-finder;
* Today's conjectural employment line: a physicist, OSHA inspector or number
cruncher in an accounting office;
* Didn't always get along well with the other disciples;
* The organizer among the disciples;
* Courageous: was at the cross while most of the other disciples were in hiding (why doesn't this attribute of his personality make headline news? Not Doubting but, rather, Timorous Thomas!); and
* Per John 11:16, declares he will go with Jesus to Jerusalem even though he doesn't necessarily agree with His Master's decision (John 14).

II A Brief Excursus on "Shalom"
A. Only escapes us when we reject the love of Christ in our lives.
B. Shalom is not living in a world without conflict(s) but, rather, having Jesus always beside us in the midst of our cares and anxieties, giving us comfort and assurance

III Thomas' Downfall: Not showing up
*  Woody Allen, "95% of life is just showing up" Nevertheless, the Lord uses Thomas' lack of presence and lapse of belief to fine-tune him for the vital work of bringing salvation to a dark world when the Master is no longer physically on Earth

IV Morals of the Story
1) God uses slow learners in matters of faith!
2) Faith--a gift of God, not a human achievement--moves mountains!
3) Insight on "Faith"
"...the knowledge of Christ and of faith is so above the natural man that
only God's grace can work that understanding in us. Flesh and blood cannot
reveal it unto us, but only the Father in heaven."(cf. Dr. Martin Luther in his
Epiphany sermon on Matthew 2).

V Beyond the Text
* Thomas brings the message of salvation to people in Asia Minor and Greece
before going to India, where he is martyred for sharing his belief in Christ
* Doubting Thomas becomes Dying (for Christ) Thomas

VI Personal Application
1) Like Thomas, our world jolts us and we come apart
2) In our human weakness, we struggle to overcome our problems. Left to ourselves, we cannot overcome.
3) Through faith in Christ, all our problems are overcome--even death (tie-in to The Resurrection of Our Lord)

Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

Option B: From Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Times Of Refreshing
Acts 3:13-20

I. They come like Spring, shedding light upon your spirit.
  A. "Repentance" means a "change of mind and attitude."
     1. Just as the coming of Spring changes our mood, so turning from sin
              toward God refreshes the spirit.
     2. It is like the gentle rains which allow a tree to bear fruit, as in
              Lk. 3:8a.
  B. They are like having a cool drink on a warm day.
       1. Jesus called himself "living water." John 4:10-11
       2. They not only quench our thirst but lead to the sharing of living water. 
              John 7:37-38

II. How do we get these times of refreshing?
        A. By repenting of sin, as in v. 14-20
        B. By being set free of the slavery of sin by Jesus.  See Lk.4:18-19

Richard Lenski explains: Seasons of refreshing or cooling from the presence of the Lord are periods of spiritual enjoyment when people who repent and are justified are given times to feel the sweetness of God's grace in Christ Jesus without disturbance.
They come from God's presence like sunshine or pleasant breezes. The old Legalism of the Pharisees--do-it-yourself righteousness, knew nothing about such refreshing times, for all work righteousness is like the drive, heat, and sweat of slavery.

     C. Through drinking deeply of the cup of salvation by meditating upon God's
           1. As in Deut. 32:2-3
           2. As in Ezek. 34:26
           3. As in Hos. 6:3 & 10:12

Albert Barnes writes about these "times of refreshing":
"The word rendered 'refreshing,'  (anapsuxis) properly means "breathing," or
"refreshment," especially after being heated with labor, running, etc. It hence denotes
any kind of refreshment, as rest, or deliverance from evils of any kind. It is used nowhere else in the New  Testament, except that the verb is used in 2 Tim. 1:16, "Onesiphorus often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain. He administered comfort to me in my trials". It is used by the Septuagint in the Old Testament nine times: Exo. 8:15, "But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite"; that is, cessation or rest from the plagues," Hos. 12:8; Jer. 49:31; Ps. 69:11, etc.

In no place in the Old Testament is the word applied to the terms of the Gospel. The idea, however, that the times of the Messiah would be times of rest, ease, and prosperity, was a favorite one among the Jews, and was countenanced in the Old Testament. See Isa. 28:12, "To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing," etc. They anticipated the times of the gospel as a period when they would have rest from their enemies, a respite from the evils of oppression and war.

Under the idea that the happy times of the Messiah had come, Peter now addresses them, and assures them that they might obtain pardon and peace. 

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

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