Nick Jones

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Faith and Doubt

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“Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?’ This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone receive a little.'” -John 6:5-7

Why does Thomas always get the bad reputation when it comes to doubting? Whenever we reference doubt in Scripture frequently we look to good ‘ol doubting Thomas. And rightly so, he wouldn’t believe that Jesus had raised from the dead unless he was able to empirically prove it through his own senses. But why do we always point out this one disciple in this one instance?

Here in John chapter 6 we find Jesus preaching to five thousand people. And as they are probably not near a town as it would have been difficult to preach to five thousand in the small towns around Jesus realizes that these people will need food. Jesus knows what He is going to do ahead of time, but He decides to test one of His disciples; Philip.

Jesus asks Philip to get bread, Philip balks at the idea as he realizes that there’s not enough money among them to get enough bread for everyone to have even a bite. In the midst of the conversation Andrew enters in  with a boy that has a basket with five barley loaves and two fish. But even Andrews has some doubt. Jesus takes the food and begins to share it among the people and by the end there twelve baskets full of leftovers.

As I read this text I immediately asked myself, “How often does God test me and I doubt?” It’s a good question to ask because I find myself in a lot of different situations where I’m tempted to doubt that God is in control. God asks us to have faith.

Philip had seen Jesus perform miracles before this. He knew what Christ was capable of. And it would have been easy for Philip to believe that Christ would do something that would blow everyone’s minds. Yet, he doubted. Despite the previous evidence that he had seen, he doubted Christ.

Faith is not based upon a lack of evidence. Faith is based upon an abundance of evidence. I have faith that my wife will love me because she consistently shows that she loves me. I have faith that God will take care of me because He has consistently taken care of me. So when those times of testing come, remember what God has done for you and believe that He will take care of you.

Saved!

“Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” – Luke 17:19

According to Luke Jesus was walking along the border of Galilee and Samaria when he came across ten lepers. These people had been ostracized from society. They couldn’t associate with anyone other than those who had the same malady, which usually meant they stuck together in groups and in little communes.

As Jesus was entering a local village (Scripture doesn’t identify which one) these ten lepers call out to Him. “Jesus, have mercy on us!” They’ve heard about Jesus, they no doubt recognize Him by the crowds that were following, and they’ve kept their distance. Jesus shouts back, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Luke then says in verse 14, “And as they were going, they were cleansed.”

Evidently they turned around and went to the priests. They had enough faith to believe that when Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests that they would be healed. Now it’s important to note the word used here in verse 14, “cleansed.” The Greek indicates healing from a ceremonially unclean disease or sickness, which is what these lepers had. They had to shout “Unclean, Unclean!” Every time they were near anyone who was “clean.”

But as we continue through Luke 17 we find out that one of these leprous men comes back to Jesus and falls at His feet praising and thanking Jesus. It’s a Samaritan. Jesus says, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine–where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” The implication is that most of the men were not foreigners, that they were Jews.

Now pay attention to what Jesus says next, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well (has saved you).” There a difference between cleansing and saving isn’t there? All of them were healed in body, but this Samaritan was healed in his soul, he was saved. His gratitude for what Christ had done for him pricked his conscious. He recognized he had experienced an encounter with God Himself.

And so with us, we must develop a life of gratitude. God does so much for us that we neglect to thank Him for. God does so much for us that we gloss over during the day. We get caught up in the things we want and need that we forget to thank Him for the things He’s done for us. Thank Him today.

My Grandmother

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Two weeks ago my grandma passed away. It’s been an interesting two weeks. I have been struggling how to write this post. For the last several years I’ve seen her go downhill, and for the last few years I have been in denial. Not denial that she would pass away, but denial that I had already said goodbye and was going to be ok when she passed away. In my mind I knew that she would pass away sooner rather than later, and so mentally I had thought that I had prepared myself for the inevitable conclusion.

Two weeks ago my grandma passed away, and it hit me harder than I thought it would. Granted I have been blessed that I have made it to 31 years old without losing any of my close relatives. Up until this point all four of my grandparents were living. I feel funny writing about the grief that I am going through as I realize how blessed I am to have so little death in my family.

Two weeks ago my grandma passed away. This grandma taught me how to iron my clothes. This grandma taught me how to cook Indian food. This grandma taught me that presentation of food is just as important as taste. This grandma taught me how to host a gathering. This grandma taught me how to properly set a table. This grandma celebrated my birthday and my brothers birthday with us even when it wasn’t our birthdays. This grandma took us camping. This grandma encouraged my brother and me to act out Bible stories even if it was just for her and grandpa. This grandma was so much to me. And to see her go downhill was so hard for me.

Two weeks ago my grandma passed away. As soon as I was told she was in the hospital and would be going into a nursing home my family drove up to where she was. On the Sunday we arrived she recognized me, my wife, and my daughter. She knew who we were. She was happy to see us. It was good to see her, even though it was hard to see her. That would be the last time I would see her.

Two weeks ago my grandma passed away. She passed away April 20, early in the morning. My mother called me after I had come back home. After Sunday she didn’t recognize anyone. After I had seen her she went downhill much more quickly.

Two weeks ago my grandma passed away. There will always be a hole in my heart. But the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4 ring in my ears:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13, 16-18

Two weeks ago my grandma passed away. But someday soon I will see her again. Someday soon when Christ comes she will be raised up in complete health. Someday soon she will rise up when Christ sounds that trumpet and I will see her again. What a glorious day that will be!

Periscope Experiment

I started a Galatians series at the Sandy Seventh-day Adventist Church. With this series I decided to try out Periscope and add information that I couldn’t include in the sermon. This is the first one.

A New Move

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The winds, they are changing, at least that’s what it feels like. After five years of ministry in Southern Oregon I have accepted a call to pastor the Sandy Seventh-day Adventist church in Sandy, Oregon. I have learned a lot during my five years here. Just over two of them spent as the youth pastor of the Medford Seventh-day Adventist Church and Lead Pastor of Sonrise Christian Fellowship. And it’s been almost three years that I’ve been the lead pastor of Gateway Seventh-day Adventist Church and Sonrise Christian Fellowship.

Pastoring two churches is one of the hardest things I’ve done. There are some very unique challenges that one is presented with when pastoring two churches. At this point in time I am definitely looking forward to focusing all my attention and energy with one church family. Pastoring two churches has been a good learning experience as I have been able to solidify what I believe and stand for, and I am excited to see what God does as I join with the Sandy Church in doing ministry in Northern Oregon.

This move takes my family out of Southern Oregon and back up to the Portland area. Sandy is a smallish town on Hwy 26 heading out towards Mt. Hood. Their motto is “Gateway to Mount Hood.” As someone who loves mountains I’m excited. I have driven through Sandy several times and have always mentioned that it would be a neat town to live in. Here I actually get the chance!

So what will my focus be on the blog now that I am moving to a new area and my cancer ordeal is somewhat in the rear view mirror? That is a good question. There are a few things that I have been studying and reading about lately and I am thinking about using those as opportunities to begin discussion here. Two of the major things I’ve been looking into are apologetics and righteousness by faith. I’m sure that these two topics alone will create some very interesting commenting.

In the meantime, packing is taking priority as we must pack up an entire house (which now has much more stuff due to having a one-year-old). But I’m hoping to have a more regular posting schedule (I think I’ve said that before) once the move is done.

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