DAILY DISCIPLINE #135
By Colleen Donahue
Have you ever cried out to God from a "tight place"? That's a place where you can't seem to move and are locked in your own prison. You were once so confident in your faith but now there are only questions and hesitations.
In these few verses about the great man John the Baptist, Jesus show us the second half of the gospel that John and his disciples didn't know. As Jesus enlightened John so we too may be enlightened to know more about the God we seek.
Questioning God From Tight Places
Studies continued from Matthew 11:1-11
Day 1- John the Baptist was now in prison. This man of the desert that lived with the sky for his roof had been thrown into a deep dungeon down in the mountains near the Dead Sea. He knew he was on "death row" for boldly speaking the truth and now in this tight space there came a question -- whether for his sake or his disciples sake -- we don't know.
Day 2 - I believe this scene with John is symbolic of those times in a believer's life when we find ourselves "hemmed in" by circumstances. We were so confident when we were free. But now everything seems so small and closed and dark. And here the questions begin to rise that would never have come before -- momentary doubts that cloud our minds and our hearts. Others before John had asked God some questions as well.
Genesis 15:8 / Judges 6:17 / John 20: 25
Day 3- If we have questions it's important to seek our answer from Christ -- God Himself -- as John and these other saints did. God will answer his seeking children.
Day 4- Christ didn't answer John's questions with an intellectual report. What did He tell John's disciples to report back to John the Baptist?
Day 5- The acid test of Christianity is not in talk but in action. It lies in the power of God to change men and circumstances from the inside out.
Matthew 5:16 / James 2: 17-18
Day 6 - People may hear our words about Christ but they will never be moved towards God themselves until they see a life matching in action what the words have said.
1 Peter 2:12 / Matthew 25: 35-36 / Acts 9:36
Day 7- Is Jesus a stumbling block to you? Does he cut across your idea of what it means to be religious and serving God? John the Baptist had preached divine holiness or else divine destruction. But Christ preached divine holiness because of divine love. John had missed an important half of the gospel and that is why Jesus now speaks these words to John.
Day 8- Christ became a "rock of offense" to many in Israel because He said and did the opposite of what they were expecting. They wanted their enemies destroyed, they wanted justice and retaliation. Christ came with a message of love and forgiveness. So many would not believe him and kept waiting for a Messiah of their own making. And for Him they still wait.
Isaiah 8:14 / Isaiah 28:16 / Romans 9:33 / 1 Peter 2:7-8
Let us not make the same error.
The Lord's Admiration for John the Baptist - Matthew 11:7-11
Day 9- One of the best ways to draw out men's thoughts is to ask them questions. Jesus in speaking to the crowd about John the Baptist was helping them to understand who he was and the important role that he played. Crowds flocked to John the Baptist. Why? Because he was a common man that spoke what men wanted to hear? No! Because he was a respectable gentleman that catered to kings? No! Because he was a prophet that spoke the truth for God? YES!
Day 10 -John was an extraordinary man that gave up all to follow God's call. Far from being a man-pleaser he spoke God's truth that cut across the conscience of men and kings alike. But -- Jesus says he was more than a prophet. The Jews had a settled belief that before the Messiah would come Elijah would return to announce the event. (Malachi 4:5)
Christ now tells the crowd plainly that this man (John) is that herald of the Messiah -- one of the greatest honors a man could have.
Day 11- If John was the greatest to come before Christ, how is it that someone that is "least in the kingdom of Heaven" could be greater than John?
What did John lack that every Christian has? John lacked the full revelation of God that could come only through the cross of Jesus. John's message could not have been called "good news". He called for repentance or else destruction. But it is now possible for the very humblest Christian to know more about God's love and kindness towards man than any of the great prophets that went before us. It is the cross of Christ that has divided time into two parts and ushered in a new dispensation.
Hebrews 7:19 / Hebrews 9:12-15 / Colossians 2: 13-15
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