9 Minute Read + Scripture readings
Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
“‘I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.’ The next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’”
John 1:34-36 (CSB)
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
If you are of the same theological persuasion as me, you despise the teachings of the “health and wealth gospel.” It is advocated by preachers who pad their pockets with the money of their prey. That teaching claims that if you have enough faith, then only good things will happen to you. If bad things happen, then it was because you didn’t have enough faith (this belief kicks you when you’re down).
While I soundly disagree with that teaching, I believe that people in my theological camp embrace it when it is applied to other areas … such as discouragement.
Some people believe that if you are discouraged, you must not be trusting the Lord enough. If you were trusting the Lord, you wouldn’t be struggling with discouragement, or even depression.
That’s simply not true. It’s not biblical.
In our verses for today, we observe John the Baptist loudly and joyfully proclaiming that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, the Son of God!
John 1:34-36 (CSB): “‘I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.’ The next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’”
Yet, in a relatively short period of time, John the Baptist was thrown into prison for daring to speak about Herod’s sexual arrangements (Matthew 14:3-5). John knew that he was probably going to be killed. He grew discouraged, possibly even depressed.
How do we know this? Because of the question that John sent to Jesus by way of his disciples. While John knew in his mind that Jesus was the Son of God, his heart was discouraged and he needed reassurances.
Matthew 11:2–3 (CSB): “Now when John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent a message through his disciples and asked him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
John the Baptist knew(!) who Jesus was. But, it seems that he was simply so discouraged that he was doubting. He needed powerful words of assurance and encouragement.
Discouragement can happen to the best of God’s children.
If you read pastor Charles Spurgeon’s book, “Lectures to My Students,” you will notice that he wrote a whole chapter (“The Minister’s Fainting Fits”) on the discouragement to be found particularly in the ministry.
Friend, I believe that you cannot fight in the Lord’s army without fighting discouragement, at least periodically. Our minds and hearts can only take so much. Just as our body wears out at the end of a long day and needs to rest, so our mind, heart, and emotions might grow weary from a long spiritual battle.
In those times, don’t feel as if you are disappointing God. Don’t believe Satan’s lie that your temporary discouragement has embarrassed the God you serve.
How can I say such things? By observing how Jesus responded to those disciples who were on a mission for a discouraged prophet. If you listen carefully to Jesus, you will hear Him answer John the Baptist’s questions.
Matthew 11:4–11 (CSB): “Jesus replied to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.’”
Then, as the disciples turned to go back to John, Jesus spoke powerful words of encouragement knowing that the disciples would hear and share those powerful words with John.
Matthew 11:7–11 (CSB): “As these men were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ’What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? See, those who wear soft clothes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared…’”
Friend, if you are struggling with discouragement, look to Jesus who is more loving and gracious than you can possibly imagine. Realize that the one who desired to speak powerful words that could encourage John the Baptist is your Lord and Savior if you are saved. He wants to encourage you and walk with you through your mess. Rest in His love for you today.
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Lord Jesus, I have felt the need to deny my periodic bouts of discouragement for fear that You would be disappointed in me. Yet, as I have looked at John the Baptist and Charles Spurgeon, I realize that some of Your followers, who are much farther down the road of holiness than me, have also struggled with discouragement. So, help me to be real and honest with You about what is going on in my heart. Help me not to conceal my internal struggles for fear of receiving Your disapproval. Help me to realize that You love me just as I am as You help me progress on the road to Christlikeness. Thank You! Amen