Sermons

Summary: Even amidst life’s harships, confusion, and pain, we can discover a new and clearer vision of Christ Jesus as the Messiah.

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THE PERSON WHO HAS NEVER TAKEN THE RISK OF HAVING TO TASTE WHAT IS BITTER HAS NEVER REALLY KNOWN THAT WHICH TASTES SWEET.

THE HUMAN SPIRIT IS CAPABLE OF WITHSTANDING ENORMOUS DISCOMFORT, INCLUDING THE PROSPECT OF DEATH, IF THE CIRCUMSTANCES MAKE SENSE.

MANY MARTYRS, POLITICAL PRISONERS, AND WAR HEROES HAVE GONE TO THEIR GRAVES WILLINGLY AND CONFIDENTLY. WHY? BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTOOD THE SACRIFICE THEY WERE MAKING AND ACCEPTED ITS MEANING IN THEIR LIVES.

THIS IS ALL "FINE AND DANDY" IF, AS I SAID, THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE ARE FACED WITH MAKE SENSE! BUT MOST OF THE TIME LIFE FOR US DOESN’T SEEM TO EVER MAKE SENSE.

WHEN IT COMES TO THE REALM OF HUMAN SUFFERING THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE INEVITABLE QUESTIONS THAT TROUBLE OUR SOULS BECAUSE THERE ARE NO ANSWERS.

THE SAD THING ABOUT THIS IS THAT TOO MANY CHRISTIANS TODAY THROW IN THE TOWEL AND WALK AWAY FROM CHRIST SIMPLY BECAUSE THEIR CURRENT SITUATIONS DON’T ADD UP AND GOD DOESN’T APPEAR TO MAKE SENSE.

WARS, FAMINE, CANCER, HEART DISEASE, CEREBRAL PALSY, DOWN’S SYNDROME, DIVORCE, RAPE, LONELINESS, REJECTION, FAILURE, INFERTILITY, AND WIDOWHOOD. WITH JUST THOSE MENTIONED FEW, ONE WOULD THINK OUR HEAVENLY FATHER WAS REALLY UNCARING OR UNCONCERNED ABOUT HIS CHILDREN AND THAT HE GETS SOME SORT OF TWISTED PLEASURE FROM TAUNTING US WITH THESE CRUEL, COSMIC JOKES.

IT IS ALMOST BLASPHEMOUS TO SAY THESE THINGS ABOUT GOD BECAUSE THEY ARE TOTALLY NONSENSE. BUT AT SOME POINT AND TIME IN OUR LIVES I’M SURE WE’VE FOUND OURSELVES PONDERING SUCH QUESTIONS OF POSSIBILITY.

COULD JOHN THE BAPTIST HAVE EVER DOUBTED? AFTER ALL HE WAS THE "FORE-RUNNER" OF THE MESSIAH. HE DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO PAVING THE WAY FOR JESUS TO COME AND ESTABLISH AND USHER IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED! INSTEAD OF USHERING IN A KINGDOM, JOHN IS USHERED INTO PRISON.

JOHN HAD BEEN EXPECTING THAT THE MESSIAH WOULD SET UP THE KINGDOM AS HE HAD BEEN ANNOUNCING. AFTER ALL THE TROUBLE HE WENT THROUGH HE INSTEAD FINDS HIMSELF IN PRISON AND IN DANGER OF BEING PUT TO DEATH.

AFTER ALL HE HAS GONE THROUGH AND EVERYTHING HE HAS PLACED HIS HOPE IN DOESN’T EVEN SEEM TO BE REAL. AS FAR AS JOHN KNOWS THE KINGDOM HAD NOT COME. HE DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO SERVING A HEAVENLY KING ONLY TO HAVE HIS HEAD SERVED TO AN EARTHLY KING.

JOHN’S QUESTIONING IS LEGITIMATE FOR ANYONE FACED WITH SUFFERING FROM DISILLUSIONMENT. JOHN RAISED HIS QUESTIONS BECAUSE HIS PRECONCEIVED IDEAS OF HOW THINGS SHOULD WORK OUT COMES UP SHORT.

WE CAN LEARN A LESSON FROM JOHN’S REACTION THAT WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL THAT WE DON’T CONFUSE OUR EXPECTATIONS OF GOD WITH THE VARIETY OF STYLES GOD USES TO REACH THE LOST OR HOW HE CHOOSES TO ANSWER OUR PRAYERS.

SOMETIMES GOD IS DOING SOMETHING SO POWERFUL THAT WE MISS THE WHOLE POINT SIMPLY BECAUSE WE HAVE PRECONCEIVED EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT GOD IS GOING TO DO.

I BELIEVE THIS IS WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE MIND OF JOHN WHILE IN PRISON. JOHN ANTICIPATED THAT JESUS WOULD TAKE AN INSTANT ROAD TO GLORY. SO, WHEN JESUS DIDN’T MEET THAT EXPECTATION, JOHN HAD QUESTIONS.

HOW OFTEN DO WE DO THE SAME AS JOHN? WE SOMETIMES EXPECT GOD TO DO SOMETHING A CERTAIN WAY, AND WHEN HE DOESN’T DO IT THAT WAY WE GET TO THINKING THAT GOD HAS, IN SOME WAY, FAILED US.

THE GOOD NEWS FOR US TODAY WHEN WE BECOME DISILLUSIONED WITH THE WAY GOD CHOOSES TO WORK IS THAT GOD CAN AND DOES BLESS THROUGH HARDSHIP.

CAN WE OR WILL WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO HEAR SUCH A MESSAGE? CAN WE MAKE OURSELVES SEE GOD IN THE MIDST OF EVENTS THAT GO A TOTALLY DIFFERENT WAY FROM WHAT WE HAD HOPED OR WOULD HAVE DESIGNED IF WE HAD BEEN OFFERED THE OPPORTUNITY TO SIT DOWN AT THE PLANNING TABLE WITH GOD TO WORK THINGS OUT?

WHAT ARE YOUR DISILLUSIONMENTS ABOUT THE MESSIAH? HAVE YOU BEEN LOOKING FOR THE MESSIAH WHO IS NOT COMING THE WAY YOU WANT HIM TO?

HAVE YOU BECOME SO DISILLUSIONED BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN WANTING THE MESSIAH TO COME AND YOU WANT HIM TO COME RIGHT NOW? DO YOU WANT A MESSIAH WHO WILL RESCUE THE INNOCENT AND PUNISH THE GUILTY?

BUT, LIKE JOHN, IT FEELS LIKE YOU ARE STILL WAITING IN YOUR PRISON CELL AND YOU JUST FOUND OUT THAT THE MESSIAH YOU GET IS NOT THE MESSIAH YOU EXPECTED.

INSTEAD, YOU GET THE MESSIAH WHO WAITS WHILE YOU FIND YOU OWN ANSWERS. YOU GET THE ONE WHO GIVES SUSPENDED SENTENCES TO THE GUILTY.

YOU GET THE ONE WHO LETS ALL OF HUMANITY STEW IN THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS. YOU WANT TO CRY OUT AS JOHN DID, "ARE YOU THE ONE WHO IS TO COME, OR ARE WE TO WAIT FOR ANOTHER?"

ANYONE WHO HAS CRASHED HEAD ON INTO A WALL OF DISILLUSIONMENT FROM LOOKING FOR THE LORD ONLY TO FIND THAT HE DID NOT COME IN THE WAY HE WAS EXPECTED CAN KNOW TODAY THERE IS GOOD NEWS. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT DISILLUSIONMENT IS NOT A BAD THING AT ALL!

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