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About Aaron Bjorklund

I am the Creative Arts Pastor here. That means I oversee our worship ministries and our communications team. I also serve on our Directional Leadership Team here. I love this place and I love the team I work with here!

Doubting because of our Circumstances

May 12th, 2024 | Series: When In Doubt

This week’s sermon reflects on doubt, transformation, and the presence of God in the face of uncertainty.

Sermon Resources
Sermon Content

Well, hello. Welcome. It’s good to see you all this morning. If you’re new or new ish, my name is Aaron Bjorklund. I’m one of the pastors here. Our fearless leader is traveling overseas this week. And so I get the opportunity to share the message. this morning, um, and finish up this series, uh, that we’re calling Doubt.

And before we start, I just want to pray. Father God,

I thank you so much for this morning. Thank you for the opportunity we had to lift our voices to you, to praise you, to celebrate all that you’ve done, all that you’ve accomplished. Lord, I pray that this morning as we hear your word, as we encounter your, your plan and your way for us, that you would soften our hearts.

That you would enable us to hear your plan, your heart for us. That you would give me the ability to, um, to only speak the things that you would have me to speak. And if I speak anything else, Lord, I pray that it would just fall, uh, fall on deaf ears. But Lord, if you would speak today, we’re open to you now.

We pray all this in your, in your precious name. Amen. Amen.

The past several years had been a roller coaster. It had been a whirlwind of emotions. It had been a Let’s be honest. It had been amazing. It had been terrifying. It had been revolutionary. It had been scary. It had been all of these things. But now, it’s like their gamble hadn’t paid off. It felt all meaningless to them.

What had it all been for?

They were dehydrated from all of the tears that they’d shed over the past several days. They were exhausted. They were disillusioned. They were terrified.

And it wasn’t just tears that they’d shed over the loss of a really good friend. It was also the tears that they’d shed because they had given up on a dream. A dream had died. You see, they’d hoped, they’d hoped that that this was going to be their future. And now it was all over. These two friends had been followers of Jesus.

That’s the operative word. They had been followers of Jesus because Rome had killed him brutally. See, they’d hoped they had hoped that this Jesus character was going to be the Messiah. That was what was in their hearts. That’s what they’d longed for. But the, the Roman machine had destroyed all of those things and they’d watched their Messiah die.

It wasn’t, you know, they hoped that he’d bring revolution. Jesus had made them think just for a moment that he might be the answer. He had managed to make them think it was, he’d been just so much different than anyone they’d ever met. In fact, he’d been so different than anyone they’d even heard of. The faith of their forefathers and of the prophets paled in comparison to the palpable presence of Jesus of Nazareth.

And in just a moment, when the rubber met the road, when push came to shove, A petty little trial and Rome wiped him out in a second. What had it all been for? What had it all been for? They were disillusioned. And now it was three days later after they watched him die and they cried their tears and they asked the questions why, but around that three day mark, what else are you supposed to do?

What else are you supposed to do? You have to get up and you have to move on with life. And even though they didn’t feel ready, they, they got up that morning and they ate a meal and they set out on a journey back to their old life. So I don’t know about you, but I’ve never doubted God’s faithfulness because he didn’t, because he failed to overthrow the Roman Empire.

But some of the emotions that these two characters felt might be more familiar to us than we would like to admit. You see, doubt often creeps in when the reason we start our journey runs into the reality of taking that journey. We often feel similar emotions that they felt. Is this really what I signed up for?

Is this all there is to the Christian faith? And I don’t know why you started your faith journey with Jesus. Or if you’re not in that space yet, maybe you haven’t taken a faith journey and hey, welcome. We’re glad you’re here. If you haven’t decided to embrace faith in Jesus, today’s going to be interesting to you because we’re going to peel back the curtain of some of the heaviness that comes along with that journey.

And so, uh, that might be interesting for you to hear. But for the rest of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus, you started your journey of faith for a reason. And I don’t know what that was for you. Perhaps the reason was your life was a train wreck. And someone came along and introduced you to Jesus and told you that if you embraced faith in Jesus, he was going to heal the wreck of your life.

And he has, but he hasn’t removed all the consequences of your past decisions. And you’re still haunted by some of those things. Or maybe you’re still struggling with the addiction that you struggled with before you met Jesus. And you’re like, this doesn’t feel like a complete healing yet. Is this all there is?

Or you entered your faith journey because you wanted healing from a past trauma and he’s brought some of that healing, but it’s felt incomplete. It’s felt like some of those traumas still linger under the surface. It’s like a, like a soundtrack in the background of your life. Or maybe for you, it’s you believed that if you, if you believed correctly and you obeyed, then your life would be blessed by God.

And you tried. You threw everything you had at it. You read your Bible. You tried to learn how to pray. You went to youth group. You went to camp. You started to go to church consistently. You started to pray more. You started to volunteer. You started to give. And yet, somehow, along the way, you’ve realized, is this really paying off?

My marriage is still struggling. My kids are struggling. My finances are a mess. I don’t know what it was for you. Does this, all this moral effort pay off for anything? Or maybe for you is if I’m good enough and I live the Christian life well enough, my family will be protected and they’ll be safe from the foolishness of this world and they’ll be protected and you lost the child anyway.

Or you had a friend who was way more faithful than you were. and they died in a car accident. How is that fair? Any of these questions ring familiar. You don’t have to raise your hand. And so today, as we continue and finish up our doubt series, we’re asking this question, why isn’t the Christian life is fulfilling as I thought it would be?

Or maybe a different way of putting it. Where’s the good part of the good news?

Well, I think our story today is going to give us some deep, profound insight into some answers to these questions. We pick up our story. If you want to turn in your Bibles to the book of Luke chapter 24, the story of these two characters that we meet in Luke 24 there, it’s three days after Jesus was brutally crucified on the cross.

And that morning the women had gone to the tomb and they’d found it empty, but they didn’t know entirely what was going on. They claimed that they’d met an angel that said he was risen again. And these characters, even after that news, they wake up that morning and they set off on a journey. We pick up the story here in verse 15.

As they talked and discussed, these things with each other. Jesus himself came up and walked alongside them while they were walking. Even if, even if you couldn’t hear the content of their conversation, the, the air between these two characters in our story was like static, full of emotional energy. The text hints at us in the original language that there was almost an argument or a disagreement Taking place as Jesus approaches them as they Jesus himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, What are you discussing together? As you walk along, they stood still, their faces downcast, and one of them named Cleopas asked him, What are you discussing? Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened in these days? Are you the only one who doesn’t know?

The irony of that, that last statement is Jesus is the only one who actually does know. This is the beauty of this story and God’s wisdom and in Luke’s masterful retelling of this story, he’s using this, this literary device to say, to show us who Jesus is, but to hide Jesus’s character or personality from these two characters.

But we know the inside of the joke. We see Jesus actually is the only one who really knows what’s going on.

But he finds these two characters escaping the epicenter of his work. Jerusalem in our story represents where Jesus last was, where his, his work was taking place. It’s where he was crucified and they’re exiting stage left and going back to a different city. Most scholars think it was about seven or 10 to 10 hours walk.

And they already knew that they’d heard rumors of the women going to the tomb, and yet they still were leaving the scene. It’s interesting. It’s interesting to me. Jesus finds them on the escape path. And he does that sometimes. Sometimes he finds us at the exit sign. We say, I’m fed up with this faith journey.

I’m out. And that’s right where he meets these two characters.

It might surprise you that Jesus is at the exit door of your faith. You may have given up on him, but he has not given up on you. You may have given up on Jesus. You may have tapped out or at least said, I’m taking my foot off the gas pedal because I don’t understand what’s going on. This isn’t what I signed up for.

And right at that moment, he still has not given up on you. When doubt creeps in, he’s right there. He’s right there. So what else do we see in this story? Well, we pick up here in verse 19. Look at it with me. Jesus asked them, what things, what things are you talking about that took place in Jerusalem? Heh.

About Jesus of Nazareth, they replied. He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. This is what we’d hoped for.

And once again, as the readers of the story, the irony is they weren’t wrong. He was the one that they’d been hoping for. They wanted freedom from Roman oppression. Jesus wanted to bring freedom from evil’s oppression. The problem wasn’t that they got his identity wrong. The problem was they had a different definition of what a Messiah meant.

Doubts.

Doubts often. creep in when our ideas of God’s plan run into God’s actual plan. Doubts creep in oftentimes when our ideas about God’s plan run into God’s actual plan. Or another way of saying that is doubt is often the side effect of mind change, and mind change is the sign of transformation. So maybe, just maybe, this morning.

If you face those doubts, you’ve hit that roadblock in your soul or that question mark or that experience that took place in your life, and you’re not sure what’s going on. This is not what I signed up for. And your soul is like, should I back down? Should I tap out? Should I move on? Maybe just maybe you’re on the cusp of transformation.

Maybe just maybe you are being invited into a new stage of your understanding of what his plan is. Maybe he wants to redefine for you. What a messiah actually is.

Romans 12 2 says it well, do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. His good, pleasing, and perfect will. See, see what’s going on here. is a mind is being changed. That’s a sign of transformation.

This roadblock, that emotion, that doubt, that fear that you might have in your soul. Is this it? It’s actually potentially an invitation to transformation. So don’t miss an opportunity to step into that. But here, let me ask this question. Why is it so hard to accept a change of expectation? Well, our brains are wired to try and see things on their horizon, to plan the future, to organize our lives, to make sure that we’re safe and secure, to make sure that we understand what’s going on and to control our worlds.

And when expectations change from that plan, it is very disorienting. So if you felt doubt, it makes complete sense. Because the plan is shifting and your brain and your body all the way down to your physiology is not okay with that change. But Jesus is, because he’s inviting you into a deeper thing. He’s inviting you into a deeper perspective of what he has in mind.

I think of it like maybe an illustration you’d think of is like going skydiving. You know, you’re invited to go skydiving. There’s an exciting prospect of going skydiving, right? It’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime. It’s exhilarating all the stuff, right? But then as you climb for many people in the smallest plane they’ve ever been in with the door wide open, your body, your very physiology starts to, I’m not so sure about this situation and you get this sort of experience.

It’s and then they. They lean out of this airplane, and oftentimes the person that they’re strapped to just jumps on their behalf, whether they’re ready or not. And this is the face that you get. Maybe this is the face of doubt. I thought this was supposed to be an adventure. I knew it was gonna be hard.

It’s not like I was naive. This Christian life, you know, it’s an adventure. It’s a, it’s a different way of thinking. Yeah, sure, sure. But then, as time goes on and the altitude goes up, And the winds are swirling, and your body and your mind and your physiology starts to scream, No, no, no, not safe. I can’t fall from here.

It’s not okay. I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna anymore. Sound like doubt to me, right? So let me be honest with you. As I was preparing this message, I had this fear. I had a doubt. I had a doubt Because I was wondering if I was going to take all of the good stuff out of the good news and I was just going to tell you, yeah, it’s hard.

Good luck with that, you know, and I didn’t want to do that. And so I was wondering, is Christianity a bait and switch religion? Is Christianity a bait and switch religion? Do you know what I mean by that? They, they lure you in with all these promises of hope and life and energy and community and relationship and all this stuff.

And then you get along the journey. You’re like, Wait a minute, I, where’s the good stuff? Is Christianity a bait and switch religion? And so there was this dissonance in my soul as I started preparing. I was like, am I leading them down a path to just tell them? Yep. Now it’s the hard stuff. Well, fortunately for me, all I had to do was trust God’s journey and the text that he’d put on my heart because he answered that question for me.

As I continued to study, look at it with me. here in verse 25 to 27. He said to them, how foolish you are. Thanks Jesus. How foolish you are and how slow to believe all the prophets have spoken. Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory and beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.

Here’s what these two friends on a journey away from God’s plan learned. The plan had never changed. Their perspective needed to be changed. It was all over the scriptures. They just missed it. It’s not like he went back and rewrote the Old Testament to inject the crucifixion into it. All he did was go back and reveal something that was already there.

And if you look at Jesus’s ministry, he’s been giving them stones all along the way. This is the journey we’re taking. I’m going to suffer and I’m going to die. Even at the upper room, when he’s serving them communion, he says, this is my body. This is my blood. I sacrifice this on your behalf. He’s been trying.

Jesus has been telling him about the journey. The problem was their expectations were misaligned with the reality of what he’d been telling them. And so the disorientation they were feeling, the plan had never changed. Their perspective needed to be changed.

As we continue through the story, here’s what we read.

Verse 28, As they approached the village, which they were going, where they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going further. But they urged him strongly, Stay with us, for it is nearly evening. The day is almost over. So he went in to stay with them. So along the way, as he’s unpacking this story of, that this is, this has always been part of the plan, guys.

They don’t know who he is. This random stranger, stranger calls them, calls them fools. And then he starts to teach them the scriptures. But what he’s also doing is he’s depositing, depositing a seed in their soul. What if, what if the story isn’t over? What if the dream that we dreamed, Wasn’t gone yet. What if, what if the plan is right on track?

I mean, it’s right there in the scriptures. This stranger is showing us a different way of thinking. What if? What if, what if?

And so when Jesus pretends like he’s gonna move on, they’re like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. We are not okay yet. We’re not okay with letting you move on because there is something about this person who’s been. speaking to us that is reawakening some emotions and some hopes and some dreams that we thought had died three days ago.

And he says, they say, please, please don’t leave us yet. Jesus meets them on the exit path and he follows them right smack dab into the depths of their doubt and he plants a seed of hope. And my hope for you today is if you find yourself in that place, if you find yourself in a place where you’re like, I might tap out or at least not, if I don’t tap out, I’m done growing.

I’m just going to sort of rinse and repeat because Christianity at this point in my life is just part of the sort of thing that I do, but I’m not going to press through any more walls if that’s where you find yourself today. My hope is that a seed of a dream would be planted in your soul today. And that Jesus would plant that seed and he would say the plan is right on time.

The plan is on track. See, Doubt often arises when God is changing our minds from weaker beliefs to deeper beliefs. This is when doubt oftentimes creeps in and we have an opportunity, we have an opportunity to either break through that doubt and go to deeper depths in our understanding of who he is and what his plan is for the world, or we can tap out or we can take our foot off the gas and just coast for the rest of our lives.

And this is what these characters are experiencing.

So they invite him in and he sits down with them. And then he does something strange. He takes over the dinner. He’s their invited guest and he decides to act like the host. What in the world, Jesus? Of course, they don’t even know who he is, but instead of them taking bread and praying the normal prayers, he takes up bread and he breaks it and he gives thanks to the Lord.

And he starts to distribute to them. And this is something that these followers of Jesus, these close disciples of him had seen Jesus do time and time and time again. And it was right at that moment when they started. It’s also, it’s also a moment. Where us as the reader are, we’re supposed to be reflecting back on the communion table when Jesus said, this is my body and this is my blood.

We as an audience and as a reader are supposed to remember these sort of scenes and tho that remembrance, that activity, that familiar behavior of breaking bread and of giving thanks, suddenly they know who he is and their eyes are peeled back. The blindness of their eyes is a physical illustration of the blindness of their souls to God’s actual plan in this story.

But when they encounter his character, his character that reminds of his sacrifice, his character of a Jesus who gently serves loaves of fish and of bread, and of body and of blood to them. It’s that character that opens their eyes and they see him for an instant and then he disappears again. And then they say to themselves, this in verse 32, were not our hearts burning within us while we talked to him along the road, they got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.

So listen, listen, listen, church. If you’ve encountered those moments of doubt, those moments of uncertainty, remember this. Doubt is often the roadblock between stagnation and transformation. Doubt is often the roadblock between stagnation and transformation. If you’re doubting, it’s okay. It might be part of your journey.

Because he might be inviting you to something deeper. He might be inviting you back into an adventure,

and it might be more beautiful and more good than you could ever have possibly imagined.

Christ doesn’t, or Luke, who’s writing this account of Jesus doesn’t want us to miss the connection to the cross. If you were to read chapter 24, he hits that subject over and over again. Right before this story in Luke 24, we hear a story about the women going to the tomb and they encounter This, uh, these angels who tell them this, why do you look for the living among the dead?

He is not here. He is risen. Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee. The son of man must be delivered, uh, to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day raise again. And then Jesus retells that story. Hey guys, why do you think the plan is over? Didn’t you know? I’ve been telling you all along, the Messiah must die and he must suffer.

And then later on in this chapter, these two characters run back to Jerusalem and they tell their friends, he is alive, we saw him. And then Jesus comes to them in the upper room and he eats with them and he meets with them. And he says again, This is what I told you in verse 44 while I was still with you, everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms.

And what I find is interesting is he returns them to the gospel of his suffering. That’s what’s going to comfort them in the midst of their doubt. He doesn’t tell them, Oh, by the way, all of your hopes and your dreams, all of that really good life and easy life and all of that stuff. He doesn’t say, Oh, that’s all restored.

Now everything’s going to be dandy and your life’s going to be easy and you’re going to be financially wealthy. What he promises is that he is a good enough God who sees us languishing in our darkness and he enters into time and space and he dies. On our behalf, and he encounters us in our broken place, and his body and his blood represent that sacrifice.

What he tells them is, I love you, I love you enough to die, and I’m not going to answer all the questions, but I’m right here. That’s what he tells them in the midst of their doubt, and I don’t know what that doubt is for you. But he tells you the same thing. I love you. The cross is a shouting declaration across all of human history that I love humanity enough to enter in and to die, to call them back.

And if that’s not good enough for you, that’s what he has to offer. So if that isn’t a good enough, good news, then there isn’t a good enough, good news for you. His presence, his palpable presence is what he calls you. He offers to you. So is Christianity a bait and switch religion? No. It’s the plan that’s been going on.

When doubt creeps in, don’t tap out. Hang out. I think it’s interesting. They had to take a 7 to 10 mile journey that day. If they just hung out in Jerusalem for a little bit longer, they would have seen Jesus. All of it come to pass, but God in his kindness met him on the exit path, and he brings them back into not the easy life, but the good life in his presence.

So let me peel back. Uh, this is pretty much the story we have to look at today. But before I invite Chris back up to sing, I just want to let you in on a little secret about why we talk about Giving here itself regularly. That seems like, Whoa, blindside weird switch of subject matters, but it’s actually very strategic.

Here’s why, why do we talk about giving so much here itself? And why do we practice these things like the communion table? And here’s why there is almost nothing like taking some of our possessions or our plans, our safety nets, our, I’m okay right now because I’ve got enough stuff. Plans and then setting those things in front of God’s presence and say, you know what, God, here’s my plan.

I trust you for your plan. There’s nothing like giving that does that in a soul. That’s what we talk about. Yes, we need to keep budgets and lights and all that. It’s actually a soul thing. As human beings, we need to relinquish our plans so that we have eyes to see His plan. That’s what we talk about it.

And I’m gonna invite, Chris and Matt up and they’re gonna sing a song here and we’re gonna take communion again. I know we took communion last week, but the same thing takes place here. The presence of God, when we take communion, it’s a reminder of his sacrifice. It’s a reminder that this God is so good, so loving, so kind that he’s willing to die on our behalf to demonstrate that love.

When we take this, it doesn’t answer all the doubts. I get it. But what it does say is you have a loving God. that died to show you how deeply he loves you and he will stay with you. But before we do that, Chris is going to sing the beginning portion of this song and I just want you to listen. I want you to listen, whether you can pray for any giving you’ve done this week, you can pray to prepare your hearts for taking communion.

I don’t know what you need to do right now, but here’s the activity that I want you to do as she’s praying this song called Rebel Heart. I want you to do some serious surrendering because until you surrender, the scales on your eyes of his actual plan will never be lifted. Surrender is the mechanism.

That God uses to open eyes and restore our higher hearts. So let’s listen to this song and I’ll be back up in just a moment to lead us through a time of communion. Just sit, listen, pray, ask Him to open your eyes. Ask Him.

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