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The Gift

John Bradshaw


A party, a drunken monarch, and a rash promise. A young woman manipulated, a mother angry, and a hideous request that ended the life of Jesus’ own cousin. While one person denied decency and right, another denied his conscience and gave a gift he would forever regret giving.


John Bradshaw

President of It Is Written



  • November 11, 2019
    10:15 AM
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Great to be with you today before we open the Bible together let's pray and expect the God's blessing Let's do that now Father in heaven we thank you for the privilege that is ours to come to you through you would we ask for your blessing we pray you to open our hearts and give us understanding we pray thanking you for the presence of your Holy Spirit bless us drop us encourage us we must you and we thank you in Jesus name a man I'm not a great Christmas shopping 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 on the guy you saw trolling through Walgreens late on the night before Christmas 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 you have the Internet to help you you can find easy Christmas gift ideas such as a Kashmir blanket ideal for traveling 2001 $150.00 now you think that's a lot but do remember it doubles as a pillow a velvet Gucci cushion. $1600.00 a Kashmir's sweater $2500.00 I was interested in this assented 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 $570.00 now you think that maybe a lot but it has notes of lemon and burger modern Galban and Byron if you know what 2 of those 4 in you get bonus points. Ecuadorian chocolate $375.00 I was interested that has notes of ahead and berries which I think everybody is looking for in chocolate and it boasts a a long finish which was such a surprise and magine chocolate having a long finish it of. A set of dominoes $4110.00 a leather suit case made in Italy $5500.00 us unfortunately there wasn't time for me to order any of those things and receive them by Christmas so maybe next time around I should order the Ecuadorian chocolate Not that I eat it but it does have a long 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 what ever you wanted what if you were told You can't have anything would you ask for houses cars travels I noticed recently that some companies are offering lend on the moon for sale and even land on Mas No I don't know how is this to sell but you could own a little piece of out of space realistic I remember reading a while back that you can pay money to have a have a stock named after you of course it isn't official but that's a gift with a difference. Would you go for that d.n.a. testing is popular my brother got his d.n.a. done and that was very interesting but you have to be apparently very careful about that there have been support groups set up the people who got the d.n.a. profile down in order to find out about their ancestry they found out more than they wanted to found out some things that surprised them as they say by a bee with. So what would you ask for remember if you could have anything at all I don't mean we'll 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. 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 yourself 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 rich so what in the world would prompt a man in his fifty's 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 a wall this was a birthday celebration there was a lot of laughter 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 specially 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 the place where you could end up exposed to gospelly stuff you see it's common that not everyone who attends a potty is there with entirely perfect motives some of there simply to play the Engels to look what they can gain to settle school sometimes and this night there would be schools settled what about the gift the gift she was promised she could have anything she wanted how exciting a teenage girl computer get a horse a cot 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 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 chose but I'm thinking she would choose something for her father so we turned our Bibles to mock Chapter 6 verse 13 says and they cast out many demons and annoyed with oil many who were sick and healed in 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 out of wheelchairs and threw away the crutches in their walkers and people took off reading glasses and never needed them again and people throughout 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 who would do you think people talked. They hood and they talked they talked about it in school watched 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 aside just back they talked about it in offices and in universities and at city hall they talked about of the 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 a little regard for the 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 choosing 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 did and the full might he would show forth themselves in him some said no this is a lie and you but he said it is John who might be headed is risen from the day he was worried in his conscience was eating him up he'd had a man put today with never end of the governor of a state when an 11th hour appeal comes to him an appeal for clemency and appeal to have a death sentence commuted or is an execution delayed or I. Have to make these decisions in the night live with themselves in the wake of the decisions that they make as tough as that might be this was some 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 I ask and so they follow this passage we read with the story of what happened that night at the birthday party those 17 says there was a delicate issue bubbling away not beneath the least not fall beneath the surface matter of fact it was bubbling away on the sieves for the sake of his wife the king it 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 a loud mouth preacher Preacha is what he was so what had he said to get this man's wife so exercise while 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 all of the massacre of all the male children in and me a Bethlehem around the time of the birth of Jesus is quite the family tree idea sister has when you think about what's floating around inside this woman's d.n.a. 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 in the book of Leviticus is very clear that taking your brother's wife is strictly for both and 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 rebuke King Herod a leader in Israel admittedly not an Israel but still this man the most prominent man in the nation was up to his is in adultery and incest and that comes a time when someone needs to say something and John did 18 John had said on to here and it is not lawful for the to have my brother's wife you can't go around telling the can what's right and what's not. Well maybe it can you know we need to be very careful about this there are 2 equally dangerous pitfalls to avoid you know in Greek mythology Cilla and cribbed were said to be sea mongst is 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. The Sea Monster would get you if you got too close to Sicily the Sea Monster crypt this would get you so it was important to avoid both extremes we've got to avoid both the Scylla of criticism and the Caribbees 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 prophets and he was very close to God if you're wondering if you should rebuke the king 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 problems 2123 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 trouble I could wish that less people would speak sometimes sometimes including. 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 like they cause problems to get worse if you think God has appointed you to bring a message of rebuke all correction to the church or to the world you are 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 just drafting 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 until people in meetings if you have an opinion share it if you see something. If you don't you might as well not be at the meeting I keep in mind this is 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 what it was and knowing it could cost him his a 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 Hood this is verse 19 before her rodeos had a quarrel against him and would have killed him but she could not why those 24 Herod Theodor John knowing he was a just man and unholy 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 no way be fitting royalty There's no dancing I was wondering if you know if you're not doing anything we'd love to have you of a there's no so what you want to do tonight is that nice Italian place oh no there's none of that there's planning there there are invitations and Herodian knew all that and so she planned and plotted and steam and water Padi it was the Bible says and when a convenient day it was come that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lord's high captains and chief states of Galilee that's who's who of Jerusalem it was a high society to get invited to this you had to be somebody and the entertainment was going to be just the kind of soiree where somebody like Barbara Streisand Obi on said 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 pro-forma someone he was truly fond of his step daughter the daughter of the Herodian and to Harrod's a half brother she enchanted the audience with not only her youthful beauty but with her elegance and Chom and one would think was a done thing as well and this is where everything suddenly goes all raw I. The king tent up on alcohol and caught up in the moment everyone cheering loudly because that's his stepdaughter after all and that just had to be effusively in their praise making feels he needs to make a grand gesture the biggest gesture would have been a fiction and a hug and a kiss on the forehead but instead he does something reckless well. Not really reckless because how bad could this really turn out those 22 says and when the daughter of the said Herodian scame and saved and pleased Herod and then that set within the king and to the Denzel. Give me whatsoever the will. And I will give it the end as if that wasn't enough. He followed that up with more he pressed in case she was going to be slow in coming forward he prodded her that he swear on to her whatsoever the shot I ask of me I will give it the unto the off of my kingdom you are 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 know I'm in the spotlight here and I'm a big talker anyway and so I feel compelled to make some grand a sweeping gesture so I want to I want everyone to hear what I'm saying you can have anything you want. It to you what ever it is up to the. Kingdom Maj I wise men we call them came to visit Jesus in the 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 would come into the house they saw the young child with Mary his mother and fell down and worship him and when they had opened their treasures they presented unto him gifts gold and frankincense and myrrh you read that in Matthew 2 in verse 11 so what would they go ask for maybe she'd want some gold or essential oils like frankincense all mirthful perfume would she want her for that expensive cloth sold by Lydia in the book of Acts Come on girl you're a teenager for a husband from one of the big time families or maybe a land that's what I ask for land. Cost So what white horses and golden chariots this is your big chance fly 1st class to New Zealand study it a hobbit or yo all both for ocean front property get a farm without packages 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 if 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 a 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 6 Woods 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 men 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 would have been oh no wait I would have to Gotti I want an apartment in New York City I want every Apple product out there and so here comes out teenage friend ready to ask for the sun the moon and this was if indeed that was what she wanted this is verse 25 and she came in straight way with haste unto the King and. Saying I will give me by and bye in a shot. 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 how off of my kingdom What would he have done if she'd gone and said I want to offer you a 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 parable well enough to know that she would demand something reparation and simple and that she'd use her own daughter as a porn in her disgraceful scheme. 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 to do something about another is 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 in not a golden retriever not an i Phone not sneak is not a new piano gift for me I want the head John the Baptist read a good call interior on the story and you'll find it says that he Herod was horror stricken that that's the hope that someone would speak up and tell him he didn't need to go through with this someone say oh no. That's too much don't do that he was helping 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 for the head of a man and no one saw it you know that's no that's not right no one said Oh I. Don't do that there was Herod looking for a way out. And no one gave them a way out they eat enough and they drank enough and they were lost enough in the revelry of the moment that they would see when they should have spoken. When they should have been sensible in toxic aided when they should have sobered up and Salome because she. Got the gift that she wanted we pick it up in verse $26.00 and the king was exceeding sorry yet for his sake and for their sakes which sat with him he would not reject and immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded to his that's John the Baptist's to be brought and he went and be headed him in the prison and brought his head in a charger and gave it to the damsel and the damsel gave it to him mother so what was going on here this is the story of a young girl who was manipulated by. Hideous mother to make a most invidious decision it was a Pyrrhic victory at best for heroes. It brought in no advantage had no positive effect on his future in fact it covered it 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 from its 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 Herodian was the most honest person there or. 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 to speak her mind I want him dead she said. The daughter knew that what she was asking was wrong she knew the mother was. 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 prophets still warm 70 headed to the mother it's probably something we'd be better off not dwelling on what about here in 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 wrong I. Ignored his conscience more than that he ignored the appeals of the Holy Spirit God was suspecting to him I imagine I don't say God was shouting but imagine speaking in a strong voice 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 hero 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 didn't really mean anything of course I meant that within reason but they'd of understood surely they would and the impression he had made on the stepdaughter would have been only positive how in the olden could she ever have respect for the men now and here we would have to live with himself 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 thing to do not 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 you 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 to do something you're planning on doing understand Romans Chapter 7 when it talks about person doing what he or she don't want to do and not able to do what he or she wants to do understand that but Romans 7 resolves that situation by saying Who shall deliver me from the body of the stair 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 oh oh. Stop it when you know you should naught 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 of Herod had said oh God deliver me oh god I'm in a jam me and my big melt I don't know what to do I don't know how to get out of this if he just prayed his overlord God I'm looking to you that 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 exit cute a completely innocent man whose ministry had spoken to his house. 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. 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 he 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 by the time a lawyer is done with a document Oh my goodness it resembles something that only. 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 mis interpretation 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 cared to climb a mountain or swim in the widest sea or find a cure for the common cold or cure cancer or HIV Aids no nothing quite that difficult or gray and he simply spoke to heritage and said Herod speak up see the cup just a few words No I can't do that 5 that's a no I can't do that or he might have just used one would know that's all small thing small he would have had to have a Middle East peace process meeting with world leaders to deal with. The young lady for just not doing that. John the Baptist would have survived if Harry had done a small thing just spoken up no no think about when temptation comes to you what does it take to get out of temptation something major rarely rarely went to come sometimes easily their own turn the t.v. off shut down the computer. Walk away. Focus on something else in your mind is very very infrequently that someone has to solve a Rubik's Cube to deal with temptation. Something pretty straightforward walk close your mouth say something nice avert your gaze but 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 and brings the where with all its god it's God who helps you with the little things because as the Bible says in Philippians chapter 2 it is God which work within you both to will and to do for His good pleasure small thing it's a small thing just say no say no rebuke the go that's terrible no. It's too much to do that. 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 his sanity intellectuality was to come clean about what had happened and face up to her wrong. Denying conviction denying your conscience. And really. It's just not a good idea recently at an inn. 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 nose die but nose dive it did and it came hurtling towards the earth the pilot doing everything he can to avoid design you know everything it knows and he's pulling all the controls with all of us might. 50 feet 15 and a half meters from the ground the plane pulled out of the nosedive and a catastrophe was aborted narrowly I mean when you're in a plane hurtling towards the Earth 50 feet is nothing but of course there was an investigation into this new design. And you'll be interested at what the investigation turned up. The investigation discovered that the cause of the new design. Was a pin. Ball point pen you see they had been a pin in the cockpit of the plane and no surprise when a plane is doing maybe acrobatics or. Something like that the plane in the pan rather got loose and started to roll around inside the cockpit Well the pin got involved in somehow some of the Gila 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. Pin In fact they found a crushed pin cap in some of the workings of the plane. But we're talking about a plane this wasn't a Boeing 747 but a player was it was going to good size and it was it was almost brought hurtling into the ground by what. By something this big. Solomon wrote instead 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 a little Ok I'll get you that's true true enough but sometimes it's the small things and those are the small things praying small thing reading the Bible having your mind washed by the world about small things being prepared to speak up to Jesus when the opportunity comes small thing pride brings people down small Ok the Bible course it an abomination but small loss brings people down small thing Oh Ok I understand it grabs a hold of a person becomes a big thing. With God with God with God we talk about small things here peoples would say too critical a swipe at somebody a small small thing because with God he's able to bring this bring this under control that young lady was offered a gift. Give you half my kingdom she made a terrible choice the truly good thing is that you and I 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 the office you the Holy Spirit we're 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 the little hero in all of us that malicious been to gainst God rather than connected to go. We don't want that to gain the ascendency or to take control of our lives instead we want to say God you have a gift. Of 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 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 was good friend would you accept the gift I wonder where you are now would you raise your hand if you want the gift the gift of Jesus just looked up and I'm not sure what's going on where you are but I think you can raise your hand or we raise our hands and. 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 thank you so much for joining me looking forward to seeing you next time may God bless you and keep you in the wood.


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