I’m not the easiest person to buy a present for, just ask my daughters. Anything I might want is more than likely out of their budget or they are unsure if I can use something they do think up. For instance, what would I want for my birthday next month? I wouldn’t mind a whole house generator, a screened-in front porch, or a vertical pellet smoker. But those are things I can and will eventually get myself. My gift cannot compare to what Herodias wanted. When is the last time you read the account of the death of John the baptist?
Matt 14:6-11 But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.
A human head is not on any gift list I can dream up. This shows you the depravity of people. Although, as a moral person, I cannot imagine cutting of the head of an enemy, you and I know there are those in this world that will do it. And it is not improving. As it was in the days of Noah, when the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen 6:5), the same behavior will happen before the return of Christ. We are there!
Rom 10:16-17 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Several years ago, I met a pastor from Nepal. He told about the revival happening in his country and the great distances people would travel to hear the Gospel message. He also told of a group of people that brought a dead man. He was dead for four days. At the revival meeting, they prayed over him and he came back to life. That’s totally unbelievable. “Lord, who has believed our report?” If you believe healing a death is impossible then your doubt makes it impossible. Just because you and I have not witnessed a resurrection does not mean it cannot happen. Believing begins by faith, not by sight. I have never seen God, the crucifixion of Jesus, or His resurrection but I believe by faith. I might add, I have never been to Nepal but I believe it exists. It is high time the church begins to believe God can and does the unbelievable. It’s time to start believing the report.
Luke 6:44 For every tree is known by its own fruit.
In our yard is a tree. It’s actually two trees that seem to come from one trunk. One is a flowering pear and the other is a fruiting pear. Both bloom within a week of each other. Both have fruit, although the flowering fruit never gets larger than your thumbnail. The flowering pear has more blossoms and is more beautiful than the other. In the fall, its leaves turn a vibrant red. The trunk and bark seem in better shape and appearance than the other. But it does not have fruit like the real one. There is nothing to gain and eat from it. Don’t be fooled by flowery words and looks. It is the fruit of a person that matters. You will know them by their fruit. And you are known by your fruit.
John 12:10-11 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
Can you punish someone for something they did not do? I know it happens and many innocent men and women are arrested and jailed but are not guilty. Mistaken identity, wrong place at the wrong time, and lies against someone can all lead to someone wrongly accused. In today’s scripture, the Jews wanted to kill Lazarus basically for being raised from the dead. He had no control over that. I’m sure many people came to see this man that was once dead. Perhaps they asked him questions about what was beyond this life. Whether or not he could answer is unknown. Paul said of his death he heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Cor 12:4 So, perhaps Lazarus could not say much. Regardless, the desire to get rid of someone or blame someone for something they never did is nonsense.
1 Tim 6:4 …but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words,
As I got up this morning, my pc had updated and rebooted overnight. I signed in and opened my browser, which opened my start pages, including Facebook. I saw a discussion over a Christian principle and read a few of the comments. It reminded me of today’s verse, in which I only gave a part. The entire verse says ” If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” 1 Tim 6:3-5 I do not argue the word of God. He did not call me to argue or dispute His word but to preach and teach it. Christian arguing over minor things does nothing to bring the lost to Christ. Paul said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Cor 2:1-2 This is what others must hear from our lips – Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
John 13:8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
There are those individuals that feel you are above doing anything for them. Others believe they are above you doing anything for them. Some don’t want to bother you with doing anything for them, while another group wants everything done for them, and finally, there are some choosing to do everything themselves. I always fell into the “I can do it myself” group. At one time I thought I was fine without Jesus. I did not need His salvation because I could just do it myself. However, the day came when that barrier was torn down and I accepted Him as savior. Then I shifted to the “I don’t want to bother you with it” group. My wife has helped me though when an elderly lady wanted to hand me $20 for pastor appreciation. I, of course, wanted to decline it because she was on a fixed income and I was still working. Linda told me, “Don’t deny her blessing!” I stopped that sweet lady from feeling good about doing a little something for her pastor. I don’t know what Peter’s thinking was but if someone wants to minister to you, bless you, or help you then don’t deny them.
Prov 4:14-15 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.
Years ago a man told me about a friend stopping by and asking him to go with him to a certain neighborhood. He told me, “I knew he was going for some drugs.” He went with him and bought some too, even though he was trying to break the addiction. I told him, “You need some new friends!” There are family members and friendships that take a toll on you mentally, physically, and spiritually. Our scripture today says to walk away. That is not to say you cannot pray for them and love them but you cannot maintain a bosom buddy relationship with them. Paul told Timothy about the last days and the types of people he would encounter. 2 Tim 3:1-5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! Did you read the last line? 1 Cor 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.
Neh 8:8 So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.
Many people say they don’t read the Bible because it doesn’t make sense. There are many things that don’t make sense to everyday people. If I were to write about the elephants giving stop green eggs for tax shelters born to please motorcycles, you’d definitely say that doesn’t make sense. I agree. Quadratic equations don’t make sense to me. I watch the movie Hidden Figures and I see a bunch of scribbling on the blackboard. I’m sure I could understand math like that displayed in the movie if I applied myself to understanding it. That would take a teacher or tutor. It’s the same with the Bible – it takes a teacher, who, by the way, was once a student learning the Bible. Ezra read the Law to those that could not understand what it meant. However, those that understood it explained it to them and helped them to understand the reading. If you are a Christian, you are a teacher of the Bible, though your teaching may be limited for now. But continued reading and study open your understanding for sharing with others. Never stop studying.
1 Cor 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
I love people that imitate others. One of the best, in my opinion, was Rich Little. He had the speech and mannerisms of many movie stars and politicians down to a fine art. Close your eyes while Rich imitated someone and you’d really think it was the actual person. The old saying is imitation is “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” The King James says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” When I first read this verse in New King James, I was taken aback. I thought it somewhat arrogant to say “follow me” or “imitate me”. That’s not what Paul is trying to get across. I believe he is saying, “Look, I’m striving to follow Christ. You can too!” It is good to keep your heart and mind on how God wants you to act and behave. It’s not always easy. Many things will come against you, as Paul experienced. Yet, he never quit. A man that went from persecuting the church to leading the church. Paul is saying, “If God changed my life, He can change yours too.”
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Sometimes you’d like a do-over – to go back in time and erase a mistake; take away something you said or did. But you cannot go back in time. The fictional lives of those that did so in the movies messed things up even worst. You are who you are today because of the choices you made – for good or for bad. All you can do is change everything from this moment forward. Let me go back to 1975. I was in high school and my life took a major turn that year when one of my best friends handed me a Christian tract and said, “Swanson, you need to read this!” I did and a decision welled up inside me. Do I accept Jesus as my savior or ignore what the tract said? I chose Jesus. It changed my life. I got my do-over because I was born again. I became a new person. It was the best decision of my life. If you want a fresh start, then consider accepting Jesus as your savior. You will not regret it.