Fame

[20] Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. [21] On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. [22] And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” [23] Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

[24] But the word of God increased and multiplied.

– Acts 12:20-24

In our passage this morning, Herod, a persecutor of the church, is judged by God.  The people flatter him in a blasphemous way, he receives the glory due to God, and he is subsequently struck down.

Herod’s desire for and enjoyment of glory is not unique.  The desire for glory has been the source of conflict with God from the very beginning.  Satan was not satisfied by simply reflecting the glory of God; he wanted to take God’s place.  Adam and Eve were tempted by the prospect of becoming like God.

Glory is something like fame.  Of course, we understand that God deserves His glory (or fame), but we would not mind if we got some for ourselves too.  Perhaps we don’t want to be famous in a TMZ celebrity kind of way, but we would like others to speak well of us and for the right people to know how wonderful or talented we are.

Even in ministry, we are not free from this temptation.  I am a pastor, and I am committed to spreading the fame of God to the whole world, yet I also want people to recognize my gifts and my competence.

Thankfully, there will be a day when you and I will be free from this desire for self-glory, and we will be blessed to wholeheartedly give God everything He deserves.  All of human history is marching forward to the day when Jesus will get all the glory.

May our Risen King receive the reward of His death and resurrection!

[8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

– Philippians 2:8-11

BIG

[15] As I [Peter] began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. [16] And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ [17] If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” [18] When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

– Acts 11:15-18

The Holy Spirit, the gift of God that was given to the apostles at Pentecost, is given to Gentiles!  Peter was there, yet even he sounds shocked.  The Jerusalem church is so amazed that awkward silence fills the room before they can process what has happened and properly glorify God.

See Gentiles are people who largely did not know, let alone follow, the Mosaic Law.  Traditionally, they were actively opposed to God and His people.  For generations, Israel has assumed that the Messiah would come and crush the Gentiles.  Yet the Spirit of God falls on them; God Himself dwells in their hearts.

A few years ago, I visited the Grand Canyon with a few of my church members.  I had gone as a child and had a vague recollection of it, but when I looked into the canyon, I was stunned.  I realized I had no idea what “big” meant.

In our passage, the people of God are slowly beginning to realize that the good news of Jesus Christ is big.  Before Jesus came, many Israelites imagined salvation was about military conquest.  The Jerusalem church has a larger view, understanding that Jesus has come to grant not temporal but eternal blessing.

With the salvation of Cornelius’s household, the purpose of God extends beyond the individual or a particular ethnicity to include every tribe, nation and tongue.  The salvation of God includes even former enemies of God.  All peoples of the earth are to be a part of His Kingdom.

At times, salvation can be reduced to personal piety and well-being.  While Jesus is certainly concerned about both, His purpose is far larger.  Even as we labor in our local communities and love the people who are actually, physically present around us, we do so in light of the new heavens and new earth, the final defeat of sin and death, and the in gathering of worshipers from every era and every nation that is coming soon.

Revelations of Aussie Sex Tourists in Thailand

Jas Rawlison

As we come to the end of our chat, I ask the rescue worker what he would say to these men if he could say anything; if he didn’t have to hide who he was.

“If I could say everything and anything, I guess it would be: ‘are you happy with who you’ve become, are you happy with this life?’

“You can use all your skills and abilities to help people, not to take from them,” he says.  “It’s not too late to turn things around and become the man you’re proud of.”

Link: Complete Article

He Chose

[28] After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” [29] A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. [30] When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 

– John 19:28-30

Some things are not our choice.  They just happen to us.  I was born in southern California.  I am a boy.  I am short.  I did not choose these things.

The cross is not a tragedy that happened to Jesus.  It did not surprise Him.  It was not something unfortunate, outside of His control.

On Good Friday, the crowd was not in control.  The Pharisees and scribes were not in control. Pilate was not in control.  Not even Satan himself was in control.  Jesus and Jesus alone was in control.

What does this mean?  It means you are loved.

Things that just happen to us don’t say much about what we value or what’s in our hearts.  My core value is not manhood or shortness.  It’s the things we choose that reveal what we really love.  What we choose to do with our time, money, vacation days, etc. reveal what we love.

Jesus chose all that happened to Him.  He did not have to die on a cross.  Some may say He had to because He’s God and God is supposed to do that, but it’s not true.  He had the power and right to do otherwise.  He would have been equally just, righteous, and good if He left us in our sin.

But He chose.  He chose to be flogged, mocked, rejected, and crucified.  He chose to become sin and bear the wrath of God in our place because He loves us.

The cross tells us that sin deserves death.  It tells us our Lord suffered terrible.  And it tells us that we are loved by the God of all creation.  Jesus proved it by choosing the cross.

Waste

Watchman Nee

[3] And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. [4] There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? [5] For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. [6] But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. [7] For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. [8] She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. [9] And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

– Mark 14:3-9

The Lord has ordained that the story of Mary anointing Him with the costly ointment should always accompany the preaching of the gospel…

Now we must look at the question from two angles, that of Judas, and that of the other disciple. They all thought it to be a waste. To Judas, who had never called our Lord the Lord, everything that was poured upon Him was waste. Even water would have been waste. To the world, the service of the Lord, and our giving of ourselves to Him is pure waste. “Such and such a man would have made good in the world if he were not a Christian,” is a sentiment that is frequently expressed. For anyone with natural talents to be a Christian, to serve the Lord, is deemed to be pure waste…

Today, even amongst Christians, there can be found much of that spirit that wants to give as little as possible to the Lord, and yet to get as much as possible from Him…

That my usefulness should be brought to the full is not what the Lord is after, but His concern is rather with my position at His feet and my anointing of His head. What I have as an alabaster box, the most precious thing, my whole life. I give it all up to the Lord. It seems as if it is a waste, but that is what He is after…

Further, the Lord said, “Wherever the gospel shall be preached, this story shall be told.” Why? Because the gospel is meant to produce this. The gospel is not primarily for the satisfaction of sinners. The gospel is preached that everything may be to the satisfaction of the Son of God…

O friends, what are we after? Are we after mere usefulness, as those disciples were? They wanted to make every penny of that three hundred pence go to its full length. They wanted to be used themselves. If only we can please Him, surely that should be enough.