Good morning. It is Thursday, April 30, 2015. Last day of April, a month which is forever darkened for me.
Today’s Word of the Day is epistling. Epistling is, “The action or practice of writing letters; (also) epistolary matter, correspondence.”
Today is International Jazz Day. It’s showtime! Here is some fun jazz from an artist that I just discovered last night.
Christi comes home tonight. But she came down with something last night. Not sure what, but she had fever and was coughing a lot. I’ve had a couple of texts from her this morning, though, and she said the fever broke early this morning. She still feels pretty bad. Not a good thing to happen when you’re away from home, especially working at a convention.
Got this song stuck in my head, lately. There’s a reason. My dad made some recordings back in the eighties. One of them had this song on it.
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
(From Knowing Jesus)
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 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. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,
“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
This reading, called “Jesus Answers the Big Question,” may be the most important reading in this book. We see, at the beginning of the Scripture passage above, that John the Baptizer sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” They were asking him if he was truly the Messiah. “John had lost his focus and his faith certainty. Doubt overwhelmed him.”
Earlier in his ministry, John had “unequivocally pointed to Jesus,” as the Messiah, he who would baptize in the Holy Spirit. He had declared that Jesus was the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29-34). But when John was thrown in prison, our enemy got to him, “and assaulted him with the big question: Was Jesus really God’s promised Messiah?” During this “dark night of his soul, John no longer possessed absolute assurance about who Jesus was.”
Jesus reminded John’s disciples of who he was and what he had done. As they departed, Jesus turned to the crowd and spoke to them of John, stating that there had never been a better man born than John the Baptizer.
This “big question” keeps coming up, over and over. It comes up repeatedly in Scripture. “It’s always there, demanding an answer.” Jesus challenged his own disciples with it. Pilate asked it to Jesus. “The apostles confronted the world with it. Boiling everything down to its essence, John the Apostle explained that the only thing that really matters is whether or not Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.
“How we answer the big question settles our fate.” In the Revelation to John, Jesus describes the eternal fate of those who would reject him. “The closer of all things brings heartrending terror (Rev. 20:7-15).”
It is not hard to find the right answer to the “big question.” “Follow Jesus, look at him, examine him from every angle, read his story again and again, reflect on his deeds and words, and ask him to ratify the right answer by giving you the inner witness in your heart. Jesus promised that if we’re serious about knowing the answer, he will show it to us.”
Saying “yes” to Jesus is not a one time thing, either. The devil will attack our confidence and confession “every chance he gets. In the darkness of depression and fear, our faith candle may flicker and go out.” When this happens, we run to Jesus and cry out to him to reinforce our belief, just as John did, while he was in prison. Jesus’s answer will be, “Yes, I am God in the flesh, his eternal Son, given to die for your sins. Look to my deeds and words one more time, especially to my death on the cross for you.”
Father, I confess that I have doubts. Some days, I have more than others. Some days, I live in total confidence of the truth about who Jesus is, and my relationship in him. But others, my faith is in shambles. Help me, on those days, to run to Jesus, asking him to renew my strength and confidence in the truth of the Gospel.
Father, I pray for Christi, this morning, that you would heal her body and renew her strength. I pray that she will be able to function, this morning, and that she will get safely home tonight. I pray that she will feel your presence strong within her this morning and all through this day. I pray for Stephanie, that she would know your love today. I pray for my mother, that her strength would continue to be in you. She answered the big question a long time ago, and, as far as I know, never looked back. My mother’s faith is an inspiration to me. I pray you keep her strong. Give me safe travel to and from work, this morning, and may my day go well. I thank you that my knee is feeling better, and I pray that it would continue to do so.
Your grace is ever sufficient.
Has Jesus answered the big question for you? If and when you have doubts, run back to him, as John the Baptizer did.