Day Twenty-Three with Mark: Mark 6:14-29

Today in Mark we look at the death of John the Baptist, as found in Mark 6:14-29:

The Death of John the Baptist
14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18 For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23 And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

John the Baptist is Jesus’ family and friend.  While many folks questioned and doubted who Jesus was, John believed.  Now we see John at times, under the stress of the moment, doubt as well, we see though, that John knew who Jesus was.  Jesus loved Him.  And John loved and followed Jesus.

And we see in this passage that John is murdered by the king.

I think that there are several things that we can learn from this passage today.  First, we see that just because we faithful, it doesn’t mean that we wound face troubles.  John was faithful.  John did what was right.  John stood for Jesus, John stood up against what was wrong.

And because of that John was struck down by the king.  Sometimes, doing what is right doesn’t mean that you won’t face troubles, in fact, it’s the other way.  Doing what’s right may increase your troubles.

So today, if you face opposition or trouble, don’t get down.  Don’t get discouraged.  It means you are being faithful.  In this world we will face troubles, but take heart.  Jesus has overcome this world.  Don’t worry.  Trust!

And then we can learn a lot from looking at Herod.  Two things jump out to me about him looking at the text.  First, he “knew” what was right.  Notice he like to hear John preach.  He knew he was a prophet.  He knew his words word true.  He knew that was John was saying was right.  He knew it.  But yet he didn’t want to do anything about it.  He didn’t want to change.

It isn’t enough that we know what is true.  We have to follow what is true.  Herod knew what was true.  He just didn’t want to follow it.

And the second thing I notice is the danger of pride.  He didn’t want to behead John.  It grieved him.  But yet, to not do that would have been embarrassing.  It would have harmed his pride.  So, he had to choose between doing what was right, or his pride.

And he chose his pride.

Pride is a dangerous thing.  Proverbs tells us that the pride goes before the fall.  Because of Herod’s pride, he choose wrong and did great harm.  

May we not make the same mistake today!

Friday we’ll look at Mark 6:30-44.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

Hey Jealousy

shutterstock_68326738One of the things that can really trip us up in life is jealousy.  That can be a very, very dangerous thing.  And we are all prone to it.  It can have material elements – oh they have that, I want that!

It can have elements of money.  It can have elements of relationships – we can be jealous of others families, or friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, whatever.  We can be jealous of other’s jobs, or success or reputation, or a million different things that can plague us with jealousy.

We can be jealous of spiritual things.  Churches. Ministry.  Gifts.  Lots of things.  Today, in  Numbers 11: 28-30, we see Moses be tempted with jealousy:

Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

Moses was the prophet for the people at this time, he was the one that the Lord spoke through.  Now here are these others, that are beginning to prophecy and Joshua gets jealousy for him.  He says, make them stop, that’s your job.  You’re the prophet not them!  It’s not right, you are the one that God speaks through.

Joshua loved Moses and respected Moses and was jealous for him.  We can all understand that.  But Moses didn’t play along in that same way.  Moses understood.

What mattered wasn’t him or his pride, it was God being at work.  So Moses, instead of getting jealous, focused upon how great it would be if all God’s people had that gift.

He wasn’t worried about himself, he was worried about what God could in people and through people.

Jealousy isn’t just about earthy things it can also be about spiritual things.  We as believers can be jealous of others.  We as preachers can be jealous of other preachers.  We as churches can be jealous of other churches.

You want to battle jealousy in your life?  Take the focus off  yourself, and place it upon God.  When we are looking at others and comparing them to ourselves, we will always be lacking or jealous. When we focus on God and what He wants, we see that I have what I have for purpose and so do you.

And I’m not going to worry about me, or you, or any of this. I’m going to focus on God.  And He’ll take care of us.

The key to jealousy is our focus.  Where is our focus today?

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

Will We Miss It? (SOAP)

Today in our reflection, we’ll look at Matthew 13:53-58.

S – scripture

Be sure to slow down.  Yeah, we’ve got a busy week this week. But, in this moment, don’t worry about that.  Let the worries and stress of this day/week/month/year/life fade away.  Listen for God’s voice in today.  Listen.

Matthew 13:53-58:

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

home sweet homeO – observation

The people knew Jesus, and so weren’t listening to Him

This was Jesus home town.  They had known Him for years. They had seen Him grow. They knew His family, in fact His family was still in the synagogue, still part of the community, still part of the life of that town. And because they knew all these things, knew all this family, they knew, just knew, that there was no way that Jesus could do all these things and be who everyone says that He was.

The were familiar with Him.  They knew Him, or so they thought.  And so they knew that He couldn’t be all that.  They were so familiar with Him, they missed Him.   Because they weren’t paying attention.

It isn’t just that they didn’t listen, they were offended

It isn’t just that they missed Him, they were offended by Him.  Who is He, coming in here, telling them what to do. Who does He think that He is.  What right did this man that they helped raise, what right did He have, coming in here now!  I mean, the nerve!

Their pride got in the way. And because they were too proud, they missed what God was trying to do.

Their lack of faith stopped things from  happening

Because they didn’t believe, Jesus couldn’t do some of the thing that were possible.  For the spirit to move, for God to do certain things, He needs us to do our part.  Yes, we have a part to play in God’s plan.  We have a purpose.  We have a role. We have a part to play in the movement of God’s spirit.

We have to believe. We have to have faith.  We have to cling tight, and be obedient to what the spirit is leading.  That’s our job. That’s our roll.  And when we don’t do it, there is so much that God is not abel to do. Because we aren’t doing our part.

A- application

Who are we not listening to, that we should?

In our lives, there is someone that God may want to speak through, someone that God may want to challenge us through, convict us through, speak to us through. But, we haven’t been listening.  Maybe we’ve heard them speak too many times.  Or maybe we don’t know them.  Maybe we know them too well.  There could be a million different reasons. But, there is someone in all our lives, that God may wish to speak to us through, but just aren’t listening.

Today, will you listen?

Where is our pride getting in the way?

They took offense at Jesus because of their pride. Today, where in our lives, is there something that need to do, but we won’t because we are too proud?  Maybe we need to ask someone for forgiveness.  Maybe we need make a change.  Maybe we need to start something new. Maybe we need to move on.  I don’t know what it is, but for each of us, there is something we are missing, or something we are not doing, because we are too proud to admit it.

They were too proud to hear Jesus.  And they missed what He wanted to do.  May we not make the same mistake.

Where is our lack of faith stopping God?

Our faith is the spark that causes things to happen sometimes. Our faith moves mountains.  Our faith makes leaps.  Our faith does amazing, amazing things. When we truly believe, God can do something special.  But, we have to have faith. We have to trust.  We have to place ourselves in His hands. And jump.

Today, God wants to use you. Do great things.  Move mountains.  If we will just believe.  If we will just have faith.  He will do it.  Today, will will take His hand. And jump.  He will catch us.  He promised.

P – prayer

Great God, teach us to listen. Teach us to humble ourselves. Teach us to have faith.  Loving God, may we see you today, may we hear you today, and may we follow you today.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Not Ashamed

Listen to the Word of God as we see in 1 Timothy 1:8-9:

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began

432693939_640This is big.  Really big.  We are called today not be ashamed of our faith in Jesus. We are called today to live boldly, live with confidence, live with peace, live for Jesus.  We are called today to not be ashamed of the Gospel.

But, be proud of the Gospel.

The title that is most important to me today is not Reverend.  Or pastor.  Or even Husband.  Or Father.  Or Son.

The title that means the most to me today is Christian. Because the title Christian makes everything else possible.  For me to be the best pastor or husband or father or son that I can be, I must chase after Jesus with all that I am.

Today, the title that has to mean the most in your life is that title of being a child of God. That has to have the most meaning.  That is the title that everything, all things, they must flow from.

Don’t be ashamed.

Don’t run from it.

Don’t hide from it.

You are a Christian.  You are child of God.  You are His.

Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel.  It’s the power of God in you, through you, and for you.

Live boldly.  Live for Him!  Take His name with you, where ever you go.  Live.  Love.  Serve.

In Jesus name.

Don’t be ashamed, today, and each day!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

How Envy and Jealousy Hurt Us

There’s an old goofy saying that I’m sure you’ve heard before – he who dies with the most toys wins.

And of course you’ve probably heard the come back – he who dies with the most toys still dies.

Life is not about the accumulation of stuff. We can have all the stuff that we could ever want, but if we don’t have what truly matters, then what have we really gained at all.

Listen to how Jesus puts it today in Luke 12: 13-15:

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Take care. Be on guard against covetousness. Be on guard against jealously. Against envy. Why? Why should we?

Here’s why. Here’s how envy and jealously hurt us.

First, they put us down. They make us feel like we are a failure unless we have whatever it is that “they” have. Unless we have their stuff, their status, their power, their position, their “whatever” we are worthless and a failure.

Second, they hurt our walk with others. Because I can’t be happy for God’s blessings in their lives, we are jealous about what they have and why we don’t have them. We aren’t loving our neighbor. We hold things against them. We don’t love them. We want what they have. That’s not healthy for relationships.

And last they take our eyes off God. Instead of focusing on God and His desires for our lives, we are focusing on ourselves, and what we don’t have. Or focusing on them, and what they do have. We aren’t focusing on God, and His plan for us.

Today, be on guard. Your life is not made up of your stuff. It’s made for God. Be on guard against jealously and envy. God knows it will destroy you. Guard yourselves and your heart. Give it God, and He will take care of it all!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Pride

The suggested Old Testament readings the past few days have been from Proverbs. I’ve always loved Proverbs and Psalms.  Dr. Frank Pollard, one of the best preachers I’ve ever known, used to always tell folks to read three Psalms and a chapter of Proverbs a day, it would really make a difference. And I believe that to be true.

As I praying today, I started thinking about pride, and the famous passage we know from Proverbs popped in my mind Proverbs 16:18

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

It hit me this morning one of the ways that pride brings forth destruction in my life. It looks like this.

I need to be a better person. I need to be more faithful.  I need to do more.  I need to change.  I need to be different. I need to. . . whatever.

How is that prideful? Those look like good, Christian statements.  How is that pride?

It’s pride in that I’ve mistakenly though I can do it. I just need to bow up.  I just need to do more. I can do it.  I just haven’t.  But I can.

No, I can’t.  Pride fools us in to thinking we are stronger than we really are. Pride fools us into thinking we are smarter than we really are. Pride makes us think that if we just want it enough, we can do it!

That’s not what the Bible teaches.  The Bible reminds us that through God, all things are possible.  Yes, we can change. We can be different. We can do better. We can be new. We can be a new creation. We can experience all these things.

But, not through our strength and will. But through God’s grace.

Pride makes us think we can do it.

And, as long as we think we can do it, we will never be able to do it.

Only through His grace can we do any of it. Only through His grace can we be new and different. Only through His grace can we change. Only through His grace can we live.

The pride goes before the fall. May we not be prideful today. May we remember that our true strength comes not from ourselves.

But from God.