Saturday, July 3, 2021

FEAR OR FAITH, BOND OR FREE



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz
 

The Parables of Matthew 13: From the wide spreading of seeds of faith, the Parables progress more narrowly to the individual, and finally to the angels separating the wicked from the good. Looked at as a progression, it can give us further insight into the heart and mind of the Father and Jesus. (Let the Holy Spirit participate, and give insight.)

Fresh from being rejected in His home town of Nazareth, we find Jesus not dejected or depressed, but wholly able to move forward in the “mission” given to Him by the Father. We should take a lesson from this! In the zeal of a new believer, we want to bring all our old friends with us into new life! It rarely works however. The Apostle Paul tells us in Second Corinthians 5:17 that old things are passed away, and everything becomes new, now being seen through the eyes of faith-in-Christ.

It was the Holy Spirit that removed you from the past and brought you into the present where we all found Jesus waiting for us.

As we begin Matthew 14, we learn of the execution of John the Baptist. And, we learn what that the mighty works of God produce fear in unbelievers, and faith in the faithful. Herod had heard of Jesus’ works, and was fearful that it was John the Baptist come back to life after Herod had him executed! (As thought the haunting would begin!) In truth, John was home in heaven, where the Prophets of God have all had reservations from before time.

Sharing the Word of God and His wisdom with people whose ears are closed, and still maintain their faith in man is an exercise in futility. Bringing them along is a work of the Holy Spirit. Let them see your new life as you move forward. A changed life is the best way to witness to people. Let them see your good works, and words will not have to be spoken; your new life will speak volumes.

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”  -  1 Corinthians 3:6 


Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 14:1-21 - "Fear or Faith, Bond or Free"

Matthew 14 tells the story of a wicked ruler who kills John the Baptist by having him  beheaded.  Herod Antipas was a son of Herod the Great.  He ruled only a fourth of his father's kingdom. They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Herod Antipas was as wicked, as cruel and self indulged as his father before him.  At some point in John's ministry there is a confrontation between Herod and John, about the sinful act of  taking his brother's wife, Herodias.  It was unlawful according to the Levitical law, and as a converted Jew it was a sin against God.  John would be arrested and thrown into prison for speaking the truth to him.  We find Herodias conspiring with her daughter to kill John.  We see Herodias' daughter enticing Herod at his birthday party with a dance, and ultimately he rewards her with giving her anything her her heart desires...ultimately this meant the beheading of John the Baptist.   Fear falls upon them.  They hear of the fame of Jesus and think John has risen from the dead.  Fear and guilt always follow sin and rejection of God's truth.

The kingdom of God is rejected by fools. Herod not only rejected God’s prophet, and the message of the gospel, but He would later reject Jesus right before His crucifixion.

It’s important for us to catch the fact that not everyone will follow Jesus. Not everyone will want to be a part of the kingdom of heaven. Some people will reject Jesus and His ways. Rulers and politicians may reject Jesus, your coworkers may reject Jesus, family members and friends may reject Jesus, not everyone will believe in Him.

People may have all the worldly wisdom, knowledge, and achievement there is to have, but they may be fools when it comes to the things of God.

Following Jesus will cause us to lose favor in this world.  Holding to authority of God's Word, the exclusivity of the Gospel, living righteously, morally, truthfully is not popular.  It is hated and rejected. Persecution may come, and like John, may cost you your life.  John lost his life following the ways of God. 

God’s work did not stop after John was killed. His kingdom is greater and of much more importance.  Though the death of a loved one, a family member, remember John was Jesus's cousin, it did not stop him from having compassion on the crowds that followed him.  His work would continue to be revealed and peoples lives changed.

Jesus would continue to minister and would eventually sacrifice His own life. After that, He would rise from the dead and the Holy Spirit would come to the earth to dwell in the hearts of people who by faith put their trust in Him. Churches would be formed all over the world  and many people would be changed by God and used by God to change the world.

The death of John the Baptist was just a picture of what was to come in the betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion of Jesus. God’s kingdom would not be overcome!

 









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