Summary: Although we know we can have joy in trials and God works all together for good…sometimes we don’t see it. Some days faith wanes, and we wonder where God is. Link inc. to formatted text, audio, PowerPoint.
When Things Go Wrong
It is a blessing to be a Christian, but this world is under a curse. Things go wrong. Plans fail. The outcome of our goals sometimes isn’t what we had hoped. Tragedy strikes. Death takes its toll. Pain is a part of everyday life. Even Christianity isn’t all that some claim it to be. Although we know we can have joy in trials and God works all together for good…sometimes we don’t see it. Some days faith wanes, and we wonder where God is.
John the Baptist: He was the greatest man born of woman. He was a great preacher…bold and courageous.
He challenged the morals of King Herod, pointed out his sin. Can you imagine telling the King he’s living in sin / adultery, and that he’s not right w/ God? Don’t expect to be invited to open Congress in prayer, or to be invited to the White House for counsel. And in John’s day, you can expect to land in prison…and he did.
v. 2 In Bible days, prisons were much different than today. No A/C / library / weight room / cable…it was a dingy, dark, rat-infested, hole in the ground…a dungeon.
This is the end of the road for John…he’s living his final days in what seems like failure, embarrassment, and shame. He had lived his entire life for the Lord. The Bible says he was filled w/ the spirit of God from his mother’s womb; he surrendered at a very early age to be God’s spokesman, a forerunner to the Messiah. He lived his entire life in God’s will, and now he’s spending his final days in prison as the laughingstock of the nation…and fact is, it’s not going to get better—you won’t read later that John is rescued from prison. No angel releases him like Peter in Acts. No earthquake frees him like Paul and Silas. No, he’s going to die in this prison…he’ll be beheaded at the hands of Herod.
It wouldn’t be appropriate right now for Oral Roberts to say, “something good is going to happen to you today.” He doesn’t need to see Kenneth Hagan’s book, “Godliness is Profitable”! Or Joel Osteen’s best seller, “Your Best Life Now!”
John’s life is an example for many of us who follow in his footsteps.
v. 2-3 John’s perplexity
Don’t miss the boat here, folks: John is having doubts. He sends his disciples w/ a message, “Go to that guy we thought was the Messiah, my cousin, Jesus, and ask him if He really IS the Messiah, or should we look elsewhere?
He’s having doubts…is He really who He claimed to be?
Question: was there ever a time in John’s ministry when he knew for a fact that Jesus was the Messiah? Sure! Who walked before Jesus saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world?” Who said that? Did He have any doubts then? Why now? Because he’s in prison…times are tough…he’s used to being in better circumstances…he envisioned a better end than this! He’s in a valley w/ no mountains in sight!
Prison was not a part of the plan. He’s saying: “Jesus, if you’re really the Messiah, why am I in here? Don’t tell me this is part of the script/agenda! Why is it happening this way?”
Many believers live for God for years and years…and they see him work in power in their lives and in the church. They experience some glory days…thru ups and downs they learn and grow and roll with the punches…but thru process of time things slow down for them spiritually, excitement wanes, the freshness fades, their vision for God diminishes, their attitude weakens.
They’ve seen it all before: new converts come and go…some make it, some don’t…people transfer in/out…I’ve sung this hymn a million times…I’ve heard this illustration before…the missionaries’ slides were interesting—nice scenery—he really seems to have a burden for those people…had a lot of baptisms, that’s good, if they’re real decisions—we’ll see I guess…what’s wrong w/ the sound system?…I don’t like one of the pastors…you’d think they could get the temperature right in here!
They find themselves on a downhill grade…the victories and mountaintops of yesterday didn’t lead all the way to heaven after all! The family that started out so good, didn’t end up as they had imagined. The glory days at church were short-lived, and a generation has passed and it hasn’t happened since…probably won’t. “This phase we’re in as a church is a passing fancy. People let you down…I don’t know if I’ll ever trust again!”
They grow cynical, and become doubt-minded.
That’s exactly what John did!
I don’t know about you, but this is comforting to me! To know that a man of this stature…as great as John the Baptist, in time of tough circumstances / depression, had doubts—that’s reminds me, “Jerry the Baptist,” that I’m normal! I’m not a spiritual freak for having these low times! If John the Baptist had doubts, we will go thru periods of doubt.