Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Prayer of Trust in God -- Part Two - Taken from Psalm 4

O Father, when men think of Your attributes - that You are completely self-Sufficient, and need nothing outside of Yourself, that You are Sovereign over everything (each atom, each molecule, each thought, each word) You created, that You are Holy, Powerful, Faithful, Good, Patient, Gracious, Merciful, and Full of Wrath - they ought to tremble.  They ought not to sin.

I meditate in my heart when I lie in bed, still, before You.  I offer You the sacrifices of my righteousness - mortifying the flesh, putting to death those sinful thoughts and words and deeds that You, my Saviour, already died for.  How dare I fear?  How could I whine and complain and fret and worry?  The God of the Universe is on my side, and He Who Does Not Lie has promised never to leave me, nor forsake me.  I trust in the Living God.

Lord, it grieves me that the world cries out, "Who will show us any good?"  They see your goodness every day, in the rising of the sun, in the food on their table, in the smile of a lover... and yet, they are NEVER satisfied.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, "Never satisfied, their gaping mouths are turned in every direction, their empty hearts are ready to drink in any fine delusion which impostors may invent; and when these fail, they soon yield to despair, and declare that there is no good thing in either heaven or earth."  How terrible.  How tragic.  Lord, may my thoughts be ever turned towards You, and may I always remember that You are the fountain of life!

Lift up the light of Your countenance on me, O my God.  You have put gladness in my heart.  Whether or not I prosper, I have You, and You are enough.

Fill me with Your Spirit, O God, and let me ever sing Your praises.  Keep me from the temptation of looking at my circumstances and responding like the foolish.  Let me never sit up to watch through fear, but let me lie down upon my bed in peace, knowing that You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

In lying down to sleep, I put my trust in You.  I let the cares of the day go, and rest in Your unfailing love, and in Your power to keep me all through the night.

You are so good to me.

I am forever grateful.

In Jesus' name, I pray.


Monday, July 14, 2014

You are not dirty even in the mud.

A Prayer of Trust in God - Part One - Taken from Psalm 4

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness. Even that statement is amazing.   I have no righteousness in me, apart from that which YOU imputed to me by Your grace.  You are so kind to me.  You have, again and again, relieved me in my distress.  You have proved Yourself steadfast and faithful, even when I am fickle and faithless.  You have always been gracious to me, and You have always heard my feeble, sometimes fervent, prayers.  Hear me now, my Gracious Father.  Have mercy on me.

I face Your enemies every day, O Lord.  I am surrounded by those who treat Your word as a joke, and Your ways as a jest.  It was ever so.   They mocked You when You walked this dusty earth, teaching them to good news, showing them the way.  They rejected the truth.  How long will foolish men continue to love worthless fabrications, and strive towards vain, deceptive conceits?  I must stop, and think, and meditate upon the deep-seated folly of the wicked.  Their destruction is sure.  The only difference between them and me is the admirable grace of God, which has taught me to love truth and seek after righteousness.  If it weren't for the fact that You rescued me, I'd be facing the same sure destruction.

Lord, I know (and all men should know) that You have set the godly apart for Yourself.  Just as I set my mother's and grandmother's dishes apart, to be used only during a special occasion, You set me apart for Your good purposes.  You hear when I call to You.  I am Your treasure.

Thank You that You ordain my steps, and order every single event that happens to me each day.

Thank You for reminding me that no matter how I stumble, I am forever clean in  You.

Thank You for this:

http://youtu.be/wzoMl-VFa2Q

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Wrong Question, Part Two.

Our Ladies' Mid-week Bible Study is working through a book by Mindy Ferguson, entitled "Eyewitness to Majesty: Abandoning Self for Christ".  Yesterday, during the study, I expressed my disagreement with the question Mindy asked:

How do the actions of this loyal group of women challenge you to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ?

In Part One, I explained that asking this question was the wrong question.  I outlined why these women, loyal as they were to the Lord Jesus Christ, were not at that particular time women I want to emulate.

The women at the foot of the cross had a measure of faith, but until they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, they did not have the same understanding that we do.  They didn't understand that "Christ's death and resurrection are inseparable in effecting salvation."  ~Thomas Schreiner  They did not comprehend the darkness, the earthquakes, the temple veil that was torn in two from top to bottom, and they certainly didn't understand the Resurrection.

Apart from the resurrection of Christ, those women had no hope.  They were on their way to the tomb, bringing spices for the dead body of Jesus.  They fully expected to find His body there.  They were in mourning.

However, that very day, on the evening of the very day that the women were planning to cover the Lord's body with spices and wrap His body with fine linens, He appeared to them.  He spoke peace to them, and He breathed on them and said "Receive the Holy Spirit."

This is what compels me.  This is what challenges me to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ!

It's all about JESUS.

It is Jesus Who speaks peace to me, no matter what storms I face.

It is Jesus who leads me to tread the path of life, rather than the path of death.  Those women were stepping heavily on the way to the tomb, not in joy and in faith, but in doubt and in sorrow, in grief and in pain.

Do you see the contrast between the path of death and the path of life that they were given?  Jesus breathed life into them, and they were now "in Christ."  If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.  The old things have passed away, and the new have come.

 How does the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ challenge you to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ?  What change took effect on that first Easter Sunday?  How did the lives of those women and those disciples change?

What a change was wrought by the work of the cross and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He has moved us from condemnation to eternal life, and brought us into a living and personal relationship with Himself.

Even as mature Christians, we need to remind ourselves continually of the basis of our acceptance-it is entirely because of what Christ has done for us. Thus, faith in Christ is not a onetime event; we must live by faith each day. ~Derek W.H. Thomas. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Kindle Locations 183-184). Kindle Edition. 
 It is the love of Christ that compels me.  We love Him because He first loved us.  The entire story of the Bible is HIS story.  It`s not about Samson or Rahab or Job or Matthew or Mary.  It`s about what God was doing in the lives of all of the people.  Oh, I know that Hebrews 11 outlines the lives of people of faith.  However, notice what the Bible says at the beginning of Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

It's all about Jesus.

The question should always be,

 "What does this event, this passage, this Bible story, this man, this woman teach us about Jesus?"

The resurrection of Jesus Christ took a doubting Thomas from confusion to faith.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ took mourning women from sadness to peace.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed Peter from a fearful Denier to a bold and fearless Preacher.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ makes ordinary sinners into saints whose lips drip with grateful praise.

There can be only one proper response to grace: a life of grateful holiness. Christ's atoning death was "in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).. . .Christians, whose sins are forgiven, now live in holy, obedient gratitude for the grace they have received. Grateful law-keeping is the saved sinner's response to received grace.
 The rest of our lives are a way of saying, "Thank you."
Derek W.H. Thomas. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Kindle Locations 184-190). Kindle Edition. 
We love Him, because He first loved us.  When we experience forgiveness and reconciliation, we are compelled to live a life of gratitude.

If we love Him, we keep His commandments.
                
 Law-keeping out of love is the true path of holiness.
Derek W.H. Thomas. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Kindle Locations 195-196). Kindle Edition. 

One day, I hope to sit with the group of women who stood at the foot of the cross.  I hope to hear them tell of the sorrow they endured as they witnessed the death of their beloved Lord.  But more than that, so much more than that, I know that they will speak of the wonders of the gospel, and the joy of being forgiven.  They will testify with gladness and gratefulness of the exceeding abundance of the Lord's provision for their sin.

Here's one more quote for you to ponder from the book I am currently reading:

For everyone "in Christ," there is no condemnation. What a beautiful statement that is. Repeat it to yourself: "I have placed my trust entirely in Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished for me in His life, death, and resurrection. I am in Jesus Christ, and there is no condemnation." What a sweet thing that is, what a glorious thing. A million questions arise, not the least of which is this: "How can God possibly love me so much?" But the truth of the matter is greater still: the blood of Jesus Christ has atoned for our past sins, present sins, and even future sins. Whatever sin you may commit tomorrow, there is no condemnation if you are in Jesus Christ. They are blotted out. ~Derek W.H. Thomas. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Kindle Locations 196-200). Kindle Edition. 

Here's a question for you:

What compels you to a greater commitment to Jesus Christ?




The Wrong Question

I attend a weekly ladies' study group.  We're working through a book by Mindy Ferguson, called "Eyewitness to Majesty: Abandoning Self for Christ."  It's an in-depth study of the Apostle Peter as an eyewitness to the life of Christ.


It's been an interesting study.  The best part about any group study is the interaction with the other women in the group.  As we share our insights, we understand more about our sisters' journeys through this dark world, on our way to glory.

Last night, I shared my answer to a question, and I could tell by the response that I was not explaining my position clearly.  Hence this post.

On pages 130 - 131, Mindy Ferguson is leading the reader to think about the women who were at the foot of the cross.

She writes,

The women stood on the hill watching as Jesus was crucified.  Crucifixion was a slow and agonizing death by asphyxiation.

Mindy goes on to describe the suffering of our Lord, and quotes 2 Corinthians 5:21, explaining that Jesus became sin for us.

She writes,

I can't imagine how the women felt as they stood watching Him.  They saw the soldiers mock Him and spit on Him.  They watched Him breathe His last breath.  Yet these women stood beside Him.  They were Jesus' disciples.  They followed Him, believed in Him, and took care of Him.  They supported His ministry - even at the cross.

Then she asks this crucial question:

How do the actions of this loyal group of women challenge you to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ?

That's the wrong question.

Let's think about this group of women for a minute.  There is no doubt that they loved Jesus.  They had followed Him for years, providing for Him and His disciples out of their means.  They had watched Him heal the sick and raise the dead.  They had heard Him preach the gospel and thunder the truth at the Pharisees.  These women believed He was the Messiah, and they loved Him very much.

But they didn't understand.

They stood there at the cross, weeping, mourning the fact that their Messiah was hanging there, suffering, bleeding, and dying.  They were brokenhearted.

...for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. ~John 20:9 ESV

You can see their bewilderment by reading Mark 16:1-7 and John 20:1-9.

On Sunday morning, the women went to anoint Jesus' body.  They were told by an angel, "He has risen.  He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.  There you will see Him, just as He told you."  And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. ~Mark 16:6b - 8.

The man dressed in white told them that Jesus had risen.  He told them that He would be going ahead of them to Galilee, which is just what Jesus told his disciples a few days before His crucifixion.  (Mark 14:28)
The angel also told them to go and tell the disciples this good news.

But what did they do?  Look at Mary's words in the book of John:

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” ~John 20:1-2 ESV

She could have run to the disciples and said, "He is risen!  The Lord Jesus is alive!  He said He'd meet us in Galilee!"

She just didn't get it.  She did not understand.

When I think about the trauma those women went through, my heart breaks for them.  I am a mother, and I try to imagine, simply on a human level, what it would have been like to be the mother of the Son of God.  Mary knew that Jesus was the Son of God, but to watch Him mocked and beaten and scourged and crucified must have brought her unimaginable pain.

So, it's understandable that Mary Magdalene didn't rush to tell the disciples the good news.  It hadn't sunk in yet.  It wasn't good news yet.  She didn't comprehend that Jesus was alive.  She only thought they'd moved His body.  It wasn't until He spoke her name, "Mary," that she began to understand.

John 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” Hearing only her name, Mary recognizes the voice of Jesus. As Jesus had taught prior to his crucifixion, “He calls his own sheep by name. … and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (10:3–4).~ESV Study Bible notes.

The Difference Between the Women at the Cross and Christians Today

The women at the foot of the cross were devastated.  They were in shock.  They mourned and wept, and could not comprehend the plan and purpose of God.  They watched Jesus die.  They thought He was dead.  On the first day of the week, they were heading to the tomb in order to treat His dead body with the respect that all of the dead were afforded.  It was their normal cultural practice.  In their eyes, He was dead.

He Was NOT Dead

But Jesus was very much alive!  That very evening, the evening of that day, Jesus did an amazing thing:

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.~John 20:19-22 ESV

He appeared to His Disciples!  He stood among them!  He showed them His hands and His side!  And He spoke words of peace to them.

What grace!  These men and women had gone through four days of trauma, and Jesus spoke Peace to them.

The next thing He did is the point of this blog post:

He breathed on them and said to them, 

Receive the Holy Spirit.

The resurrection changed everything.

Let me repeat that:

The Resurrection Changes Everything.

See Part 2 to find out why I think it was the wrong question.







Monday, March 17, 2014

Greatly Loved

I read Matthew 21 this morning.  It's the familiar story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  When you read it, right away you see the omniscience and omnipotence of the Lord Jesus Christ, as he sent two of His disciples to get a colt donkey that He could ride.

Omniscience

He knew precisely where the mare and the colt would be tied.
He knew that the disciples would be questioned, and He provided the answer ahead of time.

Omnipotence

The colt had never been ridden, yet it submitted to Jesus.  Even the cloaks tossed on its back ought to have sent it into a tizzy.  Add to that the crowds of people, waving palm branches, crying out "Hosanna!  Hosanna!"  If you've ever been around an unbroken donkey, you'll know how astounding it is that Jesus rode it calmly into Jerusalem.

Exactly 483 years 

In Daniel, Chapter 9, verses 24 - 26, we read Daniel's confession as he cried out to God in shame because of the rebellion of God's people.  The angel Gabriel came to Daniel to tell him God's decree.

You are Greatly Loved

Gabriel said to Daniel, "O Daniel, I have come out to give you insight and understanding.  At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore, consider the word and the vision."

It struck me that Jesus, being OMNISCIENT, was well aware of the date when He sent the disciples to get the colt.  He knew that the angel Gabriel had been sent to Daniel to assure him that in spite of how terrible everything appeared to be, God was in control.  The time of transgression would end, and there would be an end to sin.  A full atonement for the sins of God's people would be made.

It's okay, Daniel.  You are greatly loved.

Jesus knew about Daniel's prayer.  He knew the angel would be sent to comfort him.  And He knew that exactly 483 years later, He would be riding the colt of the donkey, heading into Jerusalem in the midst of the crowds.

He also knew, in spite of the praise of the people, that they would turn on Him in a few short days.

Like Daniel, I am greatly loved.  How do I know this?  

I know this because I know that Jesus is omniscient, and on the day of the triumphal entry, He knew what He was about to face.  He loved me when He sat on that donkey and rode into Jerusalem.

He rode right up to the temple, then went in and cleansed it a second time.  This time He stayed, and preached, and healed the blind and the lame.  He did wonderful things, and the children knew it, and cried out again as they had in the streets, "Hosanna!  Hosanna!  Hosanna to the Son of David!"

You'd think the leaders of the people would have been blessed by this.  As they witnessed Him cleanse the temple of the money changers, the buyers and sellers who were cheapening the house of God, it should have crossed their minds that here was a man with authority.

As He gathered the people around Himself, teaching them, explaining to them the ways of God, they ought to have listened and taken His message to heart.

As He smiled at the lads who were raising their voices in songs of praise, they ought to have wondered, "Is this the Messiah that was promised?"

Instead these leaders, the chief priests and scribes, indignant and miserable, demanded to know:  "Do you hear what these boys are saying?"

Jesus answered, "Yes."  (Of course, He heard!)

He then quoted from Psalm 8:2 - "Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies" you have prepared praise.

Jesus greatly loved.

He loved the boys who had gathered around to praise His Holy name.

He loved the prophet Daniel, who fell to his knees and cried out to God on behalf of his people.

He loved this granny, Janet, who sits and types at her computer, thinking about how He set aside His majesty in order to atone for her sins.

When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place, what is man, that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that you care for him?

He greatly loved me, enough to set aside His position and authority as Creator of the universe.  He greatly loved me, keeping me in His mind as He set His face like flint, and went to the cross of Calvary.







Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You are Peter. Get thee behind me! Thoughts from Matthew 16 & 17

Oh, Peter, how I can't wait to meet you.

You had just confessed that Jesus was the Son of God.  Jesus told you that this truth was revealed to you by the Father... you were so privileged to see it.

YOU ARE THE CHRIST, the Son of the Living God.

What a great confession!  

Jesus responded with these words:  "You are Peter, and upon this rock, this little stone, I will build my church."  Jesus, the Architect, the Builder, the Chief Cornerstone, was saying that even though you were a little stone, a pebble of insignificance, you would be used in His plan to redeem a people unto Himself.

This gives me hope.  No matter how small and insignificant I am, God is using ME, too, in His great plan.

Jesus went on to tell you, Peter, about His looming death.  No way did you want to hear that.  You loved your Master, and you wanted only the best for Him.  So, you rebuked the Lord Jesus, and He blasted you:

GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN!

Ouch.  That must have hurt.

YOU ARE A HINDRANCE TO ME.

Peter, you were not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.  You didn't understand that the death of the Perfect, Beloved, Holy Son of God was exactly what was needed in order to save a people from their sins.  You didn't think God's way.  You didn't want Jesus to suffer and die.

GET THEE BEHIND ME

Imagine those words - what a terrible shock.
Peter was just told that he was the rock
Upon which the Saviour would build His great church.
I think Peter's stomach must have leapt in a lurch.

"You are a hindrance to me," Jesus said.
"Do you see there's a problem inside your head?
You must set your mind on the things of God,
'Cause the things of man are most seriously flawed."

Oh, Satan's a sneaky one, that is for sure-
Using Peter to hinder God's purpose most pure.
Jesus set His mind to accomplish God's plan,
But Peter was tempted to think thoughts of man.

A battle is raging in everyone's mind-
God's thoughts are too high for mere mortal mankind,
Yet His Spirit indwells and we take up our cross.
God works in our sorrows - He purges the dross.

And we learn to think God's way, with wisdom & grace,
To put on our armour, to gaze on His face
As He shines like the sun, with clothes purest white
And transforms us, His children, for endless delight.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

An open letter to my friend.

My dear friend,

I visited with you yesterday.

It's a privilege, every single time.  Your faith is evident.  You are a light to all.

You let me know how things are going.  You shared what it's like to live with fluid building up in your abdomen, needing to be drained every week, simply so you can breathe.  You told me of the kindness of your palliative care team, especially the doctor who came to your house to listen, to offer alternatives, to minister to you during this difficult time.  You spoke of your husband, and your words told me that your love for each other is strong, and good, and holy.

Your marriage is a picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

You told me of the side effects, the twitching, the sleeplessness, the pain.  You told me of the joy you have in listening to preaching and considering joy - the joy of all Christians that is there for us to claim, if we view our circumstances through eyes of faith.

You spoke of your children.  Always with love, always with concern, always with faith that God will do what is best in their lives.

Then you said this (not word for word, but this is the gist of it):

"What's hardest for me is that I cannot do what I used to do.  I cannot serve others.  I cannot minister to them.  The gift God gave me was the gift of service, and I cannot serve.  This is so hard for me."

Oh, my dear, brave, Warrior Friend... 

You have no idea how much you are serving!

You sit on your couch and welcome all who are privileged to come into your presence.  Your smile lights up the room.  Your countenance is joyful and full of faith.  You shine with beauty and poise, even in the midst of your suffering.

Do you realize that you are a picture of Christ to everyone?  Just as our Saviour was filled with the Holy Spirit, so are you, dear friend.  We see God in you!

The Holy Spirit indwells you.  He has given you new life.  He has matured you, sustained you, strengthened you, and empowered you for ministry.  It's not the ministry you would have chosen, but it is what HE chose for you to do, and you are doing it well!  You are producing fruit that will last.  God's power is made perfect in your weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9 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.

Just as the Holy Spirit empowered the Lord Jesus  (Hebrews 9:14) when He laid down His life for us, the Holy Spirit dwells in you and will empower you to face whatever lies ahead triumphantly.  He sustains you in your suffering, my friend.  Just as He raised Jesus (Romans 1) He will raise you up, and you will dwell with Him eternally, praising and glorifying His Holy name.

Remember, dear friend, that Jesus said to the disciples, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father."  Jesus showed us by His life what PERFECT HUMANITY looks like.  The Holy Spirit works in us to make us look like Jesus.

God is so good to us.  He has taken corrupted, marred, scarred and broken image bearers, and restored in them the likeness of His perfect and Beautiful Son, Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:2Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Dear, Sweet Warrior Princess, read these words.  Sink into them.  Repeat them over and over again.  Let them saturate your mind and fill your spirit:

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. ~Romans 8:25-30
Do you see?

The Holy Spirit helps you in your weakness.

He is praying for you. (Think about that! The Holy Spirit dwells within you and prays for you, when you don't even know how to pray.  He utters groans on your behalf.  He is PRAYING for you!)

He is working all things together for good.

He is conforming you to the image of His Son.  Jesus suffered, and you are sharing in the fellowship of His suffering.  

He has called you.  You will be glorified!

Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

You are a fine porcelain vase, special, set aside for a purpose.  God prepared the work for you to do, and you are doing it well.  One day you will hear those blessed words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of the Lord!"

Be patient, dear friend.  Delight in each moment.  When you suffer, look to Jesus.  When you sorrow, look to Jesus.  In your joy, look to Jesus.  

And remember, when others look at you, they see Jesus.

Love,
Janet  (hugs and prayers)


Friday, January 31, 2014

Thoughts about John the Great and Herod the Not-Great

Consider Herod Antipas.

He was ruling in Israel during Jesus' ministry on this earth.  His father was Herod the Great, who was not a great man in any way.  He was the one who ordered the murder of all the baby boys in the region of Bethlehem.

Herod Antipas was the Roman ruler over the region where Jesus ministered. He was only 17 years old when his father, Herod the Great, died. The kingdom was divided among three of Herod’s sons—Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip II (see note on 2:22). Herod Antipas was made tetrarch (the ruler of a fourth part of a kingdom) of Galilee and Perea and had a long rule (4 b.c.a.d. 39).

Matthew 2:18
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Herod's son Philip married Herodias, his niece, the daughter of Aristobulus who was the brother of Philip and the son of Herod the not so great.  Philip and Herodias had a daughter, Salome, then they were divorced and Herodias married another uncle, Herod Antipas, whom we are considering.

What a tangled web!

Along comes John the Baptist, about whom Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. ~ Matthew 11:11

John the Baptist (this truly great man who actually deserved to be known as John the Great, for he was MUCH greater than Herod) was outraged that a ruler in Israel would disregard God's Law about marriage, so he told Herod "It is NOT lawful that you should have her."  

John knew Herod's power.  He knew Herod could throw him in prison or chop off his head.

He didn't care.

The honour of God was at stake!

So, John rebuked Herod severely.  Herodias didn't like that.  She wanted to keep up appearances.  She schemed and connived to ruin her enemy.

You know the story.  The nobles and lords, the commanders and leaders, all of the great ones were invited to a party.  It was Herod's birthday, and he was putting on the Ritz.  Salome, the daughter of Herodias and Philip, danced before the group of lustful men, and pleased Herod so much that he offered to give her whatever she wanted.

She wanted John's head on a plate.  She was prompted by her mother.

Think about your influence, Moms.  You can influence your daughter for good.  Or, you can influence your daughter for evil.  How I pray that my influence will point my daughters to Christ!

Almighty Father,
     You are Sovereign over all.
          All events.
               All storms.
                    All rulers.
                         All consequences.
You are in control of all things.

Give me the courage to be like John the Baptist.
     Who saw the truth.
          Who spoke against sin.
               Who did not worry about offending powerful people in high places,
                because he was offended by actions that shouted to the world,

"There is no God in Israel!"

Oh, the devil, he laughed
Clasped his hands with delight
Watched John tossed into prison
Thought he'd won that dark night...

Oh, the devil, he schemed
Saw the social elite
All together to party
To drink and to feast...

So, he whispered to Herod,
"Call the girl out to dance
You'll impress all the leaders
With her whirls and her prance."

Then Herod the Wicked
Who was not at all wise
Made a promise, not thinking
To impress all the guys:

"Up to half of my kingdom
I'll grant," he did state,
And Salome demanded
John's head on a plate.

The king, he was sorry, but he had to save face.
To not keep his word meant that it would erase
The appearance of things that he tried to maintain
So he did the wrong thing to continue his reign.

The king did the wrong thing for fear of his guests,
And John did the right thing, and he would be blessed
to open his eyes in the Kingdom of Light
Where there's no more sorrow, and there's no more night.

May we live like Great John,
     Standing firm for God's glory,
May fear of mere man be no part of our story...
Make us into prophets, hearts bared before You
Dear Lord God in heaven, make us ever true.