It was the crime that shocked the nation. Amanda Blackburn was a pastor's wife in Indianapolis. The 28-year-old was the mother of a 15-month-old son and was 12 weeks pregnant with the couple's daughter. She was shot on November 10 during an apparent home invasion and died the next day at a hospital. More than 2,000 people attended her memorial service.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department announced early this morning that it has arrested an 18-year-old on a preliminary charge of murder. Two other suspects have been arrested in relation to the murder as well.
Paul wrote, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). What would he say to Pastor Davey Blackburn this Thanksgiving week? What would he say to you as you face your challenges today?
We find his answer in a jail cell. Paul came to Philippi with the good news of God's love. Lydia and others responded in faith, and the first church in Europe was established (Acts 16:15). Then he cast a demon from a slave, and her owners had him arrested. He and Silas were stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison. How did they respond?
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (v. 25). Suddenly a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. The doors were opened, the bonds unshackled. The jailer assumed the prisoners had all fled and was about to kill himself when Paul intervened, saving his life. He then led the man and his family to Christ (vs. 26-34).
Why should we sing hymns at midnight in our jail cell? (Tweet this)
First, gratitude in the hardest places of life is a powerful resource. Paul could forgive his jailer because he had first worshiped the One who forgave all his sins. We enter God's gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). When we draw close to our Father in worship even in the worst pain and suffering, he empowers us to face our greatest challenges.
Second, gratitude is a powerful witness. The other prisoners heard Paul and Silas as they sang. When we are faithful to God in the hardest places, others take note and our faith becomes real to them.
Third, gratitude is a powerful legacy. Twenty centuries after Paul was persecuted in Philippi, we are still learning from his faith. You cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness.
Pastor Davey Blackburn has been forthright about his faith during these horrific days. He told a national audience that Amanda is in "heaven with Jesus," and shared the last words he said to her in the hospital: "I told her that we knew how to do long distance 'cause we'd done it before and this wasn't something we couldn't overcome."
His last sermon before his wife's death was titled, "Worship as a Weapon." In it he notes, "What controls you is what you worship. Worship is a 24/7 lifestyle, lived out not just on Sunday, but Monday through Sunday, every single day." He adds, "We are great at worship. The question is, what are you great at worshipping? Not everything is going to sustain you."
Later he states, "If Jesus is bigger than death itself, there is nothing that can come against you and me." His most recent tweet: "I'm really thankful for the hope of heaven in Jesus Christ. #NothingIsWasted."
The Lord Jesus is sustaining Davey Blackburn. Where do you need God's strength today?
Publication date: November 23, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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