John Bradshaw - The Gift
Great to be with you today. Before we open the Bible together, let's pray and expect God's blessing. Let's do that now.
Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the privilege that is ours to come to You through Your Word. We ask for Your blessing. We pray You'd open our hearts and give us understanding. We pray, thanking You for the presence of Your Holy Spirit. Bless us; draw us; encourage us; we ask You and we thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.
I'm not a great Christmas shopper, never really have been. Good Christmas gift ideas just, just don't come easily to me. Many years you'd have seen me at whatever shop was open as late as possible on Christmas Eve. I'm the guy you saw trolling through Walgreens late on the night before Christmas. But last year I did my homework ahead of time, and I at least put together a list of nice Christmas gift ideas. And I found that there are plenty of options for nice Christmas gifts. And you have the internet to help you. You can find easy Christmas gift ideas, such as... a cashmere blanket, ideal for traveling, $2,150. Now, you think that's a lot, but do remember it doubles as a pillow. A velvet Gucci cushion, $1,600. A cashmere sweater, $2,500. I was interested in this: a scented candle from Selfridges in London. I was interested in the scented candle from Selfridges in London because I used to work in Selfridges in London on Oxford Street. The candle, a scented candle, $570.
Now, you think that may be a lot, but it has notes of lemon and bergamot and galbanum and samphire, and if you know what two of those four are, then you get bonus points. Bar of Ecuadorian chocolate, $375. Now, I was interested that it has notes of heather and berries, which I think everybody is looking for in chocolate, and it boasts a, a long dark finish, which was such a surprise. Imagine, chocolate having a long dark finish. Who would have thought? A set of dominoes, $4,110. A leather suitcase made in Italy, $5,500. Unfortunately, there wasn't time for me to order any of those things and receive them by Christmas. So maybe next time around, I shall order the Ecuadorian chocolate, not that I eat it, but it, it does have a long dark finish. But what would it be like if you could have whatever you wanted for Christmas? If money was no object? If someone promised you whatever you wanted? What if you were told you can have anything? What would you ask for? Houses? Cars? Travels?
I noticed recently that some companies are offering land on the moon for sale, and even land on Mars. Now, I don't know how it's theirs to sell, but you could own a little piece of outer space real estate. I remember reading a while back that you can pay money to have a, have a star named after you. Of course, it's isn't official, but that's a gift with a difference. Would you go for that? DNA testing is popular these days. My brother got his DNA done, and that was very interesting, but you have to be apparently very careful about that. There have been support groups set up for people who got their DNA profile done in order to find out about their ancestry...and found out more than they wanted to, found out some things that surprised them. As they say, buyer beware. So what would you ask for?
Remember, if you could have anything at all, and I don't mean world peace or a cure for cancer or that people would accept Jesus. I already know you want those things. But of the things that money can buy, what would you ask for? What would you ask for if you could have anything at all? Well, a young woman we're going to talk about today found herself in that situation once upon a time, one evening, in fact. Just a teenager. She so impressed a wealthy older man that he told her that she could have anything that she wanted; money was no object. And it really wasn't, as he was one of the uber-rich. So what in the world would prompt a man in his 50s to make such an extravagant promise to a girl not even old enough to have graduated from high school? Well, the usual things I think you'd find, but then there were some quite unusual things as well.
And here's what we can learn so much from: the gift. It was one of those important gatherings. All the heavy-hitters were there. It wasn't the kind of gathering just anyone could be at. Really, kind of makes you wonder what a teenage girl would be doing there at all. This was a birthday celebration; there was a lot of laughter, of friends catching up with old friends, business associates putting in an appearance, and along with that, there was music and alcohol. And if you've ever doubted the damage that music and alcohol can do, especially when you combine that with ego and desire, then the events of that night will leave you in no doubt at all about how important it is to make smarter decisions and to not put yourself in a place where you could end up exposed to ghastly stuff. You see, it's common that not everyone who attends a party is there with entirely perfect motives.
Some are there simply to play the angles, to look what they can gain, to settle scores sometimes. And this night, there would be scores settled. But what about the gift? The gift. She was promised she could have anything she wanted. How exciting! A teenage girl, computer gear, a horse, a car, jewelry, tuition. The rich man told her that she could have anything, so she could have chosen an island or a resort or a shopping center. Well, let's find out what she chose. The suspense is killing me. If my daughter was told she could have absolutely anything she wanted for Christmas, I'm not sure what she would choose, but I'm, I'm thinking she would choose something for her father. So we turn in our Bibles to Mark chapter 6. Verse 13 says, "And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them".
You know, I wonder if we can really imagine what that was like. Imagine hearing that a man went to your local hospital and healed everyone in there. Then he went to rehab centers and healed everybody there. People got up out of wheelchairs and threw away their crutches and their walkers, and people took off reading glasses and never needed them again, and people threw out their medication and no longer needed to go to dialysis. Not easy to get our minds around this because we've never experienced it. Seems so foreign. But this is what happened when Jesus came to town. And when that happened, do you think people heard? Do you think people talked? They heard, and they talked. They talked about it in school. "What? Your mother's cancer is gone? Wow"! They talked about it in factories. "I can't believe it. My father-in-law was blind, but now his sight is back".
They talked about it in offices and in universities and at city hall. They talked about it in government buildings, in the halls of power. And most people were thrilled. Most, but not all. Of course, the religious people, many of them were troubled. You see, this Jesus hadn't attended their schools, and He seemed to have little regard for their meaningless traditions. But the king, the king was really worried. It seems he was a superstitious sort of a man. And he wasn't Jewish, so he wasn't especially in tune with the religious teachings of the day. And when he heard about Jesus doing such incredible things, we read in verse 14, "And King Herod heard of Him; (for His name was spread abroad) And he said, that John the Baptist was risen from the dead, 'and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.'" Some said, no, this is Elijah. "But he said, 'It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.'"
He was worried. His conscience was eating him up. He'd had a man put to death. I've never envied the, the governor of a state when an eleventh-hour appeal comes to him, an appeal for clemency, an appeal to have a death sentence commuted or an execution delayed or overturned. Have to make these decisions, and then they live with themselves in the wake of the decisions that they make. As tough as that might be, this was so much worse. He made a decision to have a man put to death. You have to wonder why he did that. The Bible writers knew you would ask, and so they follow this passage we read with the story of what happened that night at the birthday party. Verse 17 says there was a delicate issue bubbling away not beneath, at least not far beneath, the surface.
Matter of fact, it was bubbling away on the surface. For the sake of his wife, the king had had a certain man arrested and put in jail. He might not have liked what the fellow was saying, but he wasn't so very troubled about it that he would have imprisoned the man, but his wife, she was a different animal altogether, and she demanded that her husband, the king, do something about this loud-mouth preacher. For a preacher is what he was. So what had he said to get this man's wife so exercised? Well, the king had done something not only unwise but also highly immoral. He married the wife of his brother. This woman he married was the granddaughter of Herod the Great, the man who, on one hand, expanded the temple of God in Jerusalem, but on the other, ordered the massacre of all the male children in and near Bethlehem around the time of the birth of Jesus.
This is quite the family tree our dear sister has. And when you think about what's floating around inside this woman's DNA, you can expect her to be a formidable individual. In marrying her, it really was a double whammy for the king. Not only was she his sister-in-law, and the book of Leviticus is very clear that taking your brother's wife is strictly verboten, she was also his niece. So that adds a rather troubling and particularly unsavory element to what was going on. It's no wonder John the Baptist rebuked King Herod. A leader in, in Israel, admittedly not an Israelite, but still, this man, the most prominent man in the nation, was up to his ears in adultery and incest. There comes a time when someone needs to say something. And John did. Verse 18: "For John had said unto Herod, 'It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.'"
You can't go around telling the king what's right and what's not. Or maybe you can. Now, we need to be very careful about this. There are two equally dangerous pitfalls to avoid. You know, in Greek mythology, Scylla and Charybdis were said to be sea monsters that dwelt in the Strait of Messina; that's the body of water that separates mainland Italy from the island of Sicily. If you got too close to the Calabria side of the strait, Scylla, the sea monster, would get you. If you got too close to Sicily, the sea monster Charybdis would get you. So it was important to avoid both extremes. Now, we've got to avoid both the Scylla of criticism and the Charybdis of cowardice and accommodation. There are times we should speak, but we should only and ever speak in love and kindness. If that's too high a threshold for you, then you need to keep your mouth closed. John the Baptist spoke up. And we remember he was a prophet, and he was very close to God.
If you're wondering if you should rebuke the king, ask yourself if you're as close to God as John the Baptist was. And if you're not, you want to be mighty sure it's God telling you to open your mouth. If it isn't, it's better to keep silent. Proverbs 21:23 says that the person who keeps his or her mouth keeps his or her soul from troubles. Shooting your mouth off typically gets you in a heap of trouble or causes a heap of trouble. I could wish that less people would speak sometimes, sometimes including moi. There's no shortage of people willing to opine, to criticize, to speak out about hot-button issues, and more often than not they generate heat and not light. They cause problems to get worse. If you think God has appointed you to bring a message of rebuke or correction to the church or to the world, you're probably wrong.
Now, you might be right, but the chances are you are not. If you think God has called you to pray about a situation, you are right about that. Pray, and speak when God tells you to. If God has not told you to speak, then don't speak. Issues come up in the church distracting us from our mission, and everyone's an expert; everyone's going to set things straight. How has that helped us? We both know the answer. But the flip side of that is there are too many times God's people remain mute instead of saying something. There's a baked-in tendency to go with the status quo instead of speaking up for what's right. I've told people in meetings, "If you have an opinion, share it. If you see something, speak up. If you don't, you might as well not be at the meeting".
Now, keep in mind this is at a meeting. But God told John the Baptist to speak up, and he did. He was bold. There's a time to speak. John knew when it was. And knowing it could cost him his life, he spoke. Knowing it would not make him popular, knowing he was never going to be elected to public office, he spoke, and he was heard. This is verse 19: "Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not". Why? Verse 20: "For Herod feared John, knowing...he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly". That's interesting, isn't it? Herod was under conviction as a result of John's ministry. In fact, Herod wanted to set John free, but he wouldn't because of his niece, I mean, because of his brother's wife, I mean, because of his wife. And then his birthday arrives.
You know, when the king has a birthday, a lot of people go into a lot of effort making a lot of planning, doing a lot of planning, I suppose I should say, making the celebrations happen as they should in a way befitting royalty. There's no "Hey, it's my birthday today. I was wondering if you're, if you're not doing anything, we'd love to have you over". There's no "Oh, so what do you want to do tonight? There's that nice Italian place". Oh, no, there's none of that. There's planning, there's scheduling, there are invitations, and Herodias knew all that, and so she planned and plotted and schemed. And what a party it was. The Bible says, "And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee". That's a who's who of Jerusalem. It was a high society. To get an invite to this, you had to be somebody. And the entertainment was going to be just so.
The kind of soiree where somebody like Barbra Streisand or Beyoncé would be paid big money to come in and sing. The college orchestra would, would play, no doubt, as the king would want to support young musicians, and there'd be some kind of acting troupe doing something to entertain or amuse. But the king would bring out a special performer, someone he was truly fond of... his own stepdaughter, the daughter of Herodias and Herod's half-brother. She enchanted the audience with not only her youthful beauty but with her elegance and charm and, one would think, with her dancing as well. And this is where everything suddenly goes awry. The king, tanked up on alcohol and caught up in the moment, everyone cheering loudly because that's his stepdaughter, after all, and they just had to be effusive in their praise. The king feels he needs to make a grand gesture.
The best gesture would have been an affectionate hug and a kiss on the forehead. But instead, he does something reckless. Well, well, not really reckless, because how bad could this really turn out? Verse 22 says, "And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, 'Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.'" And as if that wasn't enough, he followed that up with more. He pressed her. In case she was going to be slow in coming forward, he prodded her. "And he sware unto her, 'Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.'" You're such a sweet girl, and it was so nice of you to come out here and entertain all these important people, and you make me so proud, and now I'm in the spotlight here, and I'm a big talker anyway, and so I feel compelled to make some grand, sweeping gesture.
So I want everyone to hear what I'm saying. You can have anything you want. I'll give it to you, whatever it is. Up to the half of my kingdom. Magi, "wise men" we call them, came to visit Jesus in a house one day when little Lord Jesus was still an infant. And they brought Him and His parents gifts. The Bible says, "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh". You read that in Matthew 2 and verse 11. So what would the girl ask for? Maybe she'd want some gold or essential oils like frankincense or myrrh for perfume. Would she want purple, that expensive cloth sold by Lydia in the book of Acts?
Come on, girl, you're a teenager; ask for a husband from one of the big-time families. Or maybe ask for land; that's what, ask for land. Ask for a castle with white horses and golden chariots. This is your big chance. Fly first class to New Zealand. Study at Harvard or Yale, or both. Ask for oceanfront property. Get a farm with alpacas and avocado trees and ponies and dogs and cats. This is your big moment. But what teenager is wise enough to answer a question like that? She needs help. And so, she does the right thing. She's been told already as she was growing up: Involve your parents in these big decisions. And so she does. If she's going to ask for a gift, she wants to make sure she makes a good decision. This is a decision with lifelong ramifications.
Verse 24: "And she went forth, and said unto her mother, 'What shall I ask?'" My mother will know what's best. It's hard to know how much Salome knew about her mother's grotesque intentions. But it isn't hard to imagine the impact six words spoken by her mother would have on the rest of her life. "And she said, 'The head of John the Baptist.'" And so the teenager approaches the king, and everyone is looking on. Man, if you made that promise to a teenager at a party, I'd be watching with interest to see what the teenager would say. A Bentley, I want a Bentley. Oh, no, wait, I want a Bugatti. I want an apartment in New York City. I want every Apple product out there. And so here comes our teenage friend ready to ask for the sun, the moon, and the stars, if indeed that was what she wanted. This is verse 25: "And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, 'I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.'"
That's the gift. You've promised me a gift, anything I want, and that's what I want. I want a man's head on a plate. It's pretty clear that Herod had trusted this young woman to not make a ludicrous request. "Half of my kingdom". What would he have done if she'd gone and said, "I want half of your kingdom"? But he knew her well enough to know that she would never ask for something reckless. He evidently, he evidently didn't know his paramour well enough to know that she would demand something reprehensible, and that she'd use her own daughter as a pawn in her disgraceful scheme. A gift? For me? Oh! Thank you! I want you to bring me a man's head. And not just any man, but a man with a clean record. I'm not looking to get refuse off the city streets. I'm not asking you to do something about a murderer's crime spree. I want the head of a man respected by the people of this community, a man we all know has done nothing wrong.
I want his head. Not a golden retriever, not an iPhone, not sneakers, not a new piano. A gift? For me? I want the head of John the Baptist. Read a good commentary on this story, and you'll find it says that Herod was... horror-stricken at this. He hoped that someone would speak up and tell him he didn't need to go through with this. Someone would say, "Oh, no, no, no, that's too much; that's too much; don't do that". He was hoping someone would tell him that he didn't need to keep his promise to give Salome what she asked for. But no one spoke up. This young thing asked for the head of a man, and no one said, "Oh, no! That's, no, that's not right". No one said, "Oh, oh, Herod, no, no, don't do that".
There was Herod looking for a way out, and no one gave him a way out. They'd eaten enough, and they'd drunk enough, and they were lost enough in the revelry of the moment that they were mute when they should have spoken, numb when they should have been sensible, intoxicated when they should have sobered up. And Salome, because she asked, got the gift that she wanted. We pick it up in verse 26: "And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his", that's John the Baptist's, "head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother".
So what was going on here? This is the story of a young girl who was manipulated by her hideous mother to make a most invidious decision. It was a Pyrrhic victory at best for Herodias. It brought her no advantage, had no positive effect on her future. In fact, it covered her with shame. And in days to come, she and her husband would die in exile in a part of the world that we today would call France. There wasn't a single person in that room who thought it was a good idea for John the Baptist to lose his life. Strangely, Herodias was the most honest person in the room. Even if it was known that she was lower than low, even if it was known that she was vicious, she was going to get what she wanted. She was the only one who dared speak her mind. "I want him dead," she said. Her daughter knew that what she was asking was wrong. She knew her mother was... ah! But this was her mother, and she was a child, and even though she shouldn't have, she probably had good reason for shutting down her conscience.
How she felt delivering the prophet's still warm severed head to her mother is probably something we'd be better off not dwelling on. But what about Herod himself? He knew what he was doing, and he knew better. He knew he was putting to death a man of God, and that he was doing it 100 percent unjustly. His conscience was screaming at him, but he didn't have the moral backbone to commit to doing what he knew was right. He ignored his conscience. More than that, he ignored the appeals of the Holy Spirit. God was speaking to him. I imagine...I don't want to say God was shouting, but I imagine speaking in a, in a firm and a strong voice, "Herod, don't do this. Don't kill an innocent man. Don't do something so horribly brutal".
Now, the cost to Herod of not giving his stepdaughter what she asked for would have been real. He would have had to deal with a scorned Herodias, and he likely already knew from experience the validity of that old saying about the fury of a woman scorned. And then he'd have to explain to his guests that "No, no, no, I, I didn't really mean anything. Of course, I meant that within reason". But they'd have understood; surely they would. And the impression he'd have made on his stepdaughter would have been only positive. How in the world could she ever have respect for the man now? And Herod would have to live with himself. He'd go to bed at night and see with his eyes closed the gift he gave his stepdaughter. He'd remember that feeling of looking around the room, hoping that somebody would speak up, and that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach when he realized that no one was going to do so.
It is a bitter thing to deny your conscience. It's a weighty matter to deny conviction when it comes. People do it, of course. But they always pay a terrible price for doing so. Let me ask you a couple of questions. Number one: Is God convicting you about something? Doesn't have to be anything quite as graphic as the head of John the Baptist, but is God speaking to your heart? Is God asking you to not do something you're planning on doing? I understand Romans chapter 7 when it talks about a person doing what he or she didn't want to do and not able to do what he or she wants to do. I understand that, but Romans 7 resolves that situation by saying, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord".
So when God convicts you, you're about to click on a website; you're about to view something you shouldn't view; you're going to say something that you shouldn't say, or, or...stop at a bar when you know you should not. When God speaks, there is power in God to keep you in the right way and out of the wrong way. You just need to say, "Oh, God, deliver me". If Herod had said, "Oh, God, deliver me. Oh, God, I'm in a jam. Me and my big mouth. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to get out of this". If he'd just prayed and said, "Oh, Lord God, I'm looking to You," God would have delivered him somehow. Somehow. God would have delivered him. But conviction came; undoubtedly it did. A very real sense of right and wrong came; undoubtedly it did. Horror gripped him as he realized he was going to execute a completely innocent man, whose ministry had spoken to his heart. And yet, in the...heat of the moment, this man, this powerful man became weak and soft and impotent. Should have spoken up. Should have done, should have had some backbone.
But you can relate to that, can't you, because when temptation comes, there are times the backbone disappears, and you become jellyfish-like. It's important, when you get into a difficult situation, that you don't consult your own desire or think of your own ease. There are places that God brings us where we have to stand on principle and choose the right because it is right and then leave the consequences with God. There are times we just have to stand up and say, "God's will is going to be done, not mine". And if you're not sure what God's will is, you cry out to God, and you say, "Lord, lead me. I just want Your will to be done". And here was Herod. He promised her a gift. He learned and we learn from the story the great danger of speaking recklessly, of running off at the mouth and saying things you don't really mean.
You know, there's a reason that contracts are written in the way they're written. Mortgage contracts and, I don't know, employment contracts, or... by the time a lawyer is done with the document, oh my goodness, it resembles something that only kind of faintly looks like English or Spanish or whatever your language is. But there's a reason for that. That's because they want to lock these things down so there isn't room for misinterpretation. Oh, no, the contract plainly says... Oh, no, the language of this thing is very clear. Sometimes you want your language to be very clear. You don't want to allow your language to open the door for misinterpretation or something that can come back to bite you.
You know, God spoke to Herod that night, and what did He ask Herod to do? Did He ask Herod to climb a mountain or swim the widest sea? Or find a cure for the common cold or cure cancer or HIV AIDS? No. Nothing quite that difficult or grand. He simply spoke to Herod and said, "Herod, speak up. Speak up". Just a few words: "No, I can't do that". Five, that's all: "No, I can't do that". Or he might have just used one word: "No". That's all. Small thing, huh? Small. He, he wouldn't have had to have a, a Middle East peace process meeting with world leaders to deal with what that young lady asked for. Just "no, not doing that, no". John the Baptist would have survived if Herod had done a small thing, just spoken up: "Nope. Nope".
Think about when temptation comes to you. What does it take to get out of temptation? Something major? Oh, rarely, rarely. When temptation comes, sometimes you just have to leave the room, turn the TV off, shut down the computer, uh walk away focus on something else in your mind. It's very, very infrequently that someone has to solve a Rubik's Cube to deal with temptation. It's usually something pretty straightforward. Walk. Close your mouth. Say something nice. Avert your gaze. Not big. The reason those things become too big for us is because we haven't surrendered to God in the moment. It's God who brings the power, brings the wherewithal. It's God. It's God who helps you with the little things because, as the Bible says in Philippians chapter 2, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do [for] His good pleasure".
Small things. Herod, it's a small thing. Just say no. Say no. Rebuke the girl: "That's terrible! No"! Turn to your friends and say, "Oh, no, that's too much, can't do that". I heard just a couple of days ago about a woman who lost her mind because she was complicit in a terrible crime. The only way she could even begin to retain her peace of mind, her sanity, in all actuality, was to come clean about what had happened and face up to her wrong. That was all. Denying conviction, denying your conscience can really harm you. It's just not a good idea.
Recently, at an air show in Berkshire in England, a 49-year-old pilot was flying a 65-year-old plane known as a Chipmunk, doing some kind of an aerial show when suddenly the plane went into a nosedive. If you're on board a plane, you don't want the plane to nosedive. But nosedive it did, and it came hurtling towards the earth, the pilot doing everything he can to avoid disaster. He's doing everything he knows, and he's pulling on the controls with all of his might. Fifty feet, 15 1/2 meters from the ground, the plane pulled out of the nosedive, and a catastrophe was avoided, narrowly. I mean, when you're in a plane hurtling towards the earth, 50 feet is nothing. Well, of course there was an investigation into this near-disaster. And you'll be interested at what the investigation turned up. The investigation discovered that the cause of the near-disaster... was a, a pen, a ballpoint pen.
You see, there had been a pen in the cockpit of the plane, and, no surprise, when a plane is doing maybe acrobatics or maybe something like that, the plane, the pen, rather, got loose and started to roll around inside the cockpit. Well, the pen got involved in, somehow, some of the gear, some of the controls of the plane, and prevented the plane from flying right. The plane went crashing towards the ground, towards the ground. The plane was almost destroyed; the pilot would certainly have been killed. At the last minute, the pilot saved the day, and it was all because of a...pen. In fact, they found a crushed pen cap in some of the workings of the plane. How was that? What are we talking about here? A plane. This wasn't a Boeing 747, but a plane. It was, it was, I mean, a good size. And it was, it was almost brought hurtling into the ground by what? By something this big.
Solomon wrote and said, "It's the little foxes that spoil the vines". It's usually the little things that undo us. "Well," you might say, "no temptation is little". Okay, I, I get you. That's true, true enough. But sometimes it's the smaller things. And those other small things. Praying. Small thing. Reading the Bible and having your mind washed by the Word of God, small thing. Being prepared to speak up for Jesus when the opportunity comes. Small thing. Pride brings people down. Small. Okay, the Bible calls it an abomination, but small. Lust bring people down. Small thing. Oh, okay, I understand. It grabs ahold of a person and becomes a big thing. But with God, with God? With God, we're talking about small things here. People's words, they're too critical; they, they swipe at somebody verbally. Ah, small, small thing because with God, He's able to bring this... bring this under control.
That young lady was offered a, a gift. "I'll give you half my kingdom". She made a terrible choice. The truly good thing is that... you and I are both offered a gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the presence of Jesus, the gift of the power of God, the gift of salvation. The gift of conviction and then restraint, brought into our lives by God Himself. What are you going to do? What are you going to do with that gift that God offers you? He offers you the Holy Spirit. What are you going to do about that?
You know, what you ought to do, what we should do, what we should do right now is say, "Thank you for the gift. We want it. We accept it". We look into our hearts. There's a little Herodias in all of us, bitter, malicious, bent against God rather than connected to God. We don't want that to gain the ascendancy or to take control of our lives. Instead, we want to say, God, You have a gift. You have a gift called Jesus. We want that gift. We want that gift. Come on, let's pray for that gift. Pray with me now; join me now, bow our heads and pray.
Father in heaven, what a story, filled with instruction, filled with guidance, filled with lessons for us. But thank You that there is a gift offered to us, the gift of Jesus through Your Spirit, the gift of salvation through Your Son, the gift of forgiveness through His blood, the gift of everlasting life because You are a great God who is good.
Friend, would you accept the gift? I wonder, wherever you are now, would you raise your hand if you want the gift, the gift of Jesus, just lift up your hand. I'm not sure what's going on where you are, but I think you can raise your hand. Lord, we raise our hands and our hearts. We want the gift, the gift that is Jesus. Friend, accept Him now. He is yours. He'll live His life in you.
Lord, fill us with Your presence. We thank You. We love You. We pray in Jesus' name. Come on and say with me, please: Amen, and amen.