Crash the Chatterbox - 5
May 25, 2014
The story of John the Baptist is fascinating. We know John and Jesus are related, we don’t know exactly how, but they are related and John is a few months older than Jesus. John was sent to announce the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. We really learn about John in the gospel of Matthew. In chapter 3 we learn about his ministry~
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him,
6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
So, that was what John wore, what John ate and what John preached. People were flocking to John as he preached repentance and told the people the Lord was coming. John’s message was both hopeful and frightening. He understood the gravity of sin and the consequences. He also had an expectation of what the coming Messiah was going to do. He told the people ~
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.
10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3)
Those were very strong words from John! He’s telling the people what he expects Jesus to do. He’s going to separate the good from the bad. He’s going to judge and His judgement is going to be harsh.
We need to understand the background, if we’re going to understand what John later said. John expected something from Jesus. And we’ll see what that is, as we jump ahead to Matthew 11. We’re in our 5th week of crashing the Chatterbox, and today, we’re just diving right in and looking to an area we need to crash. Then next week, we will finish talking about the chatterbox.
John was performing his ministry, at the end of Matthew 3, even though John didn’t feel worthy, Jesus told him to baptize Him and he did. After His time in the desert, Jesus began to heal the sick, calm storms, turn water into wine, raise the dead, and people were flocking to Jesus. In the meantime, John was now in prison. King Herod put John in prison, and John is hearing about Jesus’ ministry and he sent some of his followers to Jesus. In Matthew 11, we read ~
2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples
3 and they said to Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:
5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.
I want you to think about what John was asking! In chapter 3, John said, he was not worthy to carry Jesus’ sandals, he was unworthy to baptize Jesus, that Jesus was the One who was to come! Yet now we find John asking one of the all time questions – Are you the ONE, or should we look for another? WOE! That’s quite a question. That shows that as much faith as John had, he was wondering what was going on.
Do you see this? The one who boldly announced the ministry of Christ, is now questioning the ministry of Christ. What happened?! Did John no longer believe in the call of Jesus? Was he losing faith? I don’t believe the answer is no to either one. I believe what John was dealing with was something we all struggle with at various points in our lives . . .
You can define discouragement this way . . . when there is a gap between our expectations and our reality . . . we become discouraged. Think about it, when we have expectations which are not met, because reality is different than what we hoped for, we become discouraged.
When your medical tests are not what you hoped for
When your grades are not what you expected.
When your children don’t do what you hoped they would
When your picture of life is not what you expected.
You can add your own story to this . . .
Whenever this happens, we become discouraged. I believe John was discouraged. He didn’t lose faith, it’s simply that his expectations of the way Jesus was going to do His ministry, was different than what actually occurred. Jesus healed and hung out with the sick and disenfranchised. He didn’t have nice words for the Pharisees, but they weren’t being thrown into the fire like John expected. Jesus wasn’t using that winnowing fork to throw the chaff into the fire, judging people for their sins, as John expected.
So, John is in prison, and he wouldn’t leave alive, as Herod ultimately had John beheaded. Can you imagine John’s disappointment that what he thought was going to happen wasn’t happening, and that leads to major disappointment. And once disappointment sets in, discouragement follows right behind.
When we’re in this situation, the chatterbox starts chirping. It’s not loud, it’s subtle comments in our heart and head. We hear things like ~
God wouldn’t let you go through this if He loved you.
If you had more faith, you would be healed.
If things were going to change, it would have happened.
How many times have you prayed? God’s not listening.
Who are you that God should pay attention to you?
And if we allow this discouragement to fester, to intensify, what happens to our hope? It slowly decreases. We begin to feel hopeless, we’re helpless, there’s no rescue, there’s no God, we’re stranded with no help in sight.
Let me ask you about what’s going in your life right now? Are your expectations not being met? Are you hitting your hopes, your dreams, your goals, your expectations. Call them whatever you want . . . and for some reason, it doesn’t matter if it’s you, others, life, whatever the reason, there’s a huge gap between what you expect and what you’re experiencing.
How do you resolve that? What do you do with all discouragement? Because remember, when we’re down, discouraged, dismayed, disillusioned, it’s difficult to think of anything positive. Yet, that’s the direction we need to move in. It’s not calling for a pretend — make believe world. It’s to redirect our attention to God.
I think about Paul and his prayer in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul tells the believers about his prayer for healing. Paul said this —
7 . . . a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, harSLIDEdships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
How difficult is that to do? To be a servant of Christ’s, to do His work, only to have this thorn in his flesh. Add to that all of the physical hardships Paul endured, his treacherous travels, and whipped 5 times, beaten with rods 3 times, and stoned once, (2 Corinthians 11:24-27).
Yet through all this Paul could boast about the amazing love of Christ. He could tell the church in Philippi, written while in prison and written about 6 years after 2 Corinthians, he could tell the church 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. How could Paul do that?
I believe in a few ways! Paul cultivated and continued to work on his relationship with Christ. He was always learning about himself, his positive and negative traits. He wasn’t full of himself. He didn’t think higher of himself than he should, even though he had earned it. He understood he was a sinner, desperately in need of God’s grace and love.
He sought to fulfill God’s plan for his life, not Paul’s plan for his life. When we seek God’s plan, even when it’s filled with hardship, we’re going to come out on the other side with a much more positive attitude and outlook on life.
You see the opposite of discouragement is encouragement. Paul, in the midst of his trials and imprisonments realized how blessed he was. Which is why he could tell the people of Philippi to rejoice, and he repeated himself. That’s how important this was . . . rejoice.
Don’t give in to the workings of satan who wants to lead you away from God’s presence and glory. You see folks, the plan is for us to be so connected to the Holy Spirit that we can’t help but be encouraged. And we also are encouraged through worship. When we come here, we seek the presence of Christ. We seek one another and we celebrate the presence and glory of the Holy Spirit . . . who is here.
When we’re at that point of discouragement, because reality and our expectations of reality are not in alignment, admit it. I know that’s not easy to do in life. We don’t like to admit when anything is wrong. We try to act like we have no problems, but once we can admit it to God and to trusted friends in Christ — we begin to find help out of our discouragement.
Now, I’m not talking about depression. Because there are some types of depression which need medication to help us. I’m talking about times when we are discouraged because we feel the world is against us, that God is against us, and so on.
Those are the times to call out to God, cry out to Him. Let God hear your cries and pleas. Tell them to others. Read the Psalms, psalms where David and others were under attack, their discouragement and their ultimate victory. If we’re not careful, the chatterbox will overpower us with the negatives and woe is me life.
Psalm 63 is a great Psalm. If you’re reading through the Bible, you’ll read it next week. As we close the message I want you to listen to a short song, it’s kind of a ballad from Fernando Ortega. He took the words of Psalm 63 and wrote a short song.
Listen to it, and consider how God has never abandoned you in the past, and He certainly won’t do that in the present or future.