A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Daily Encouragement on
Monday, March 11, 2019
"A Lesson From Herod's Birthday"
Message summary: Today, regardless of the price we pay, let us unashamedly stand up for Jesus!
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"On Herod's birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, 'Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.' The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John's disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus" (Matthew 14:6-12).
Ester's had her 30th birthday on Saturday. Last night we had a gathering with several of her friends at our place. (We'll share more about that in Tuesday's message.) Celebrations of birthdays are a worldwide experience and why not, after all our birth is something we all share of significance!
The Bible rarely mentions birthdays or birthday parties. In fact only two are mentioned, both concerning worldly leaders. Pharaoh in Genesis 40:20 and Herod in our daily text.
However in both texts the focus is not on the pagan's birthday celebration but rather the faithfulness of God's servants; Joseph in Genesis and John the Baptist in our daily text. Today let us consider John the Baptist.
As a child we had a picture of John the Baptist in our hallway. Since I grew up in the Methodist Church I recall in my earlier years reasoning that John must not have been a Methodist but rather a part of the Baptist church in our community!
Of course no single group or denomination can exclusively lay claim to this faithful servant. He had a relatively short life and a gruesome death as recorded in our daily text. Beheading is a particularly violent form of brutality and was the experience of at least two New Testament believers although there were likely others.* Throughout the Scriptures the consequences of sin and the fall are quite evident. We still see these consequences today.
The daily text records the most prominent beheading in the Bible. It matter-of-factly states that on Herod's birthday he was tricked into beheading John the Baptist. It is surely among the harder passages to read, learn from and present spiritual application for God's people (let alone encourage).
Our first reaction tends to be, "Why would God allow this to happen to a man who served Him so faithfully?" But it did happen and has happened many, many times since. It's still happening today, the most prominent and recent example being the ISIS beheading of Christian men in Libya several years ago. We wrote about a lesser reported feature in that event in this message.
The following thoughts are derived from the fuller context of John's beheading recorded in Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark 6:17-29.
In these passages we find three responses to God's Word that is demonstrated by all ages, in all places, and by all people. In fact you and I are demonstrating one of the three.
1) John faithfully proclaimed God's Word.
2) Herod and Herodias (his unlawful wife) stubbornly rejected God's Word.
3) Herod was interested and liked to listen to John but spinelessly waffled in regard to God's Word, thus defacto rejecting it. When push came to shove he ordered the execution of John, whom he knew to be "a righteous and holy man" (Mark 6:20).
There is an interesting passage toward the end of Revelation concerning faithful witnesses for the Lord. "And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the Word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).
Where do you fit in today? Apart from someone just dropping in on our site we don't expect to have very many readers that live in rejection of God's Word. However some may be interested and even find our writings compelling, but you're still at a crossroads. It's hard to admit, but are you spinelessly waffling, still undecided about where to place your allegiance?
Join us in faithfully proclaiming God's Word, in unashamedly standing up for Jesus. For some of you this will be literally preaching, but for most it will be that steady day by day proclamation through our lives and words to individuals and small groups. There are millions today who, like John the Baptist, faithfully proclaim God's Word. And frankly some will be beheaded or otherwise die due to their stand for the Lord. Today, regardless of the price we pay, let us unashamedly stand up for Jesus!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
* In Acts 12 James is the first of the original twelve disciples whose martyrdom is recorded in Scripture. He was "put to death with the sword" also by Herod. Presumably this means he was beheaded.
Consider how martyrdom is often used in the religion of Islam with those who are identified as "martyrs" if they die in the process of murdering others. The sense of Christian martyrdom is always a death for the witness of Christ. Associating the term with the killing of others is utterly perverse and essentially a blasphemous use of the word "martyr".
Last week Ester visited Dr. Mark Cohen, on of her first pediatric cardiologists. He first saw her as part of the team at Geisinger medical center. Than following our move back to PA from New England at Hershey Medical Center. He is a very caring physician.
Saturday evening we went out to dinner at Fuddruckers and she shows her customized buzzer.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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