Worship Service – July 11, 2021

Sunday July 11,2021

Welcome. Please open your bibles and follow along as I read from the gospel of Mark 6:7-30.

Mark 6:7-30

(7) Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
(8) These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. (9) Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. (10) Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. (11) And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”
(12) They went out and preached that people should repent. (13) They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
(14) King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
(15) Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”
(16) But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
(17) For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. (18) For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” (19) So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, (20) because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
(21) Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. (22) When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. (23) The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”
(24) She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.
(25) At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
(26) The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. (27) So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, (28) and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. (29) On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. (30) The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Our scripture today reminds me of two stories I would like to share with you. The first is a story told by Charles Swindoll titled; ”All the flies are doing it”. And the second is a fable.
Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house. He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it. The minute he got a “customer,” he would clean up on him, so the other flies would not get suspicious. Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spider web. Old man spider called out, “Come in and sit.” But the fairly intelligent fly said, “No, sir. I don’t see other flies in your house, and I am not going in alone!”
But presently he saw on the floor below a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it. So he came in for a landing. Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, “Don’t land there, stupid! That’s flypaper!” But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, “Don’t be silly. Those flies are dancing. There’s a big crowd there. Everybody’s doing it. That many flies can’t be wrong!”
Well, you know what happened. He died on the spot. Some of us want to be with the crowd so badly that we end up in a mess. What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue?
Second story. There’s a fable of an old man whose grandson rode a donkey while they were traveling from one city to another. The man heard people say, “Would you look at that old man suffering on his feet while that strong young boy is totally capable of walking.”
So then the old man rode the donkey while the boy walked. And he heard some people say, “Would you look at that, a healthy man making the poor young boy suffer. Can you believe it?”
So the man and the boy both rode the donkey, and they heard some people say, “Would you look at those heavy brutes making that poor donkey suffer.” So they both got off and walked, until they heard some people say, “Would you look at the waste—a perfectly good donkey not being used.”
Finally, the scene shifts and we see the boy walking and the old man carrying the donkey.
No matter what you do, someone will always criticize it. We smile, but this story makes a good point: We can’t please everybody, and if we try we end up carrying a heavy burden. Well-meaning Christians may offer us advice, and much of it is valuable. But when we try to do everything other believers want us to do, we can easily become frustrated and confused . That’s why we need to remember that the One we must please above all others is Christ. And we do that by obeying God’s Word. Carried any donkeys lately? You don’t have to if you’re trying to please Jesus.
In our scripture reading today, in Mark 6:7-13, he reminds us that all followers of Jesus are called to mission, and that mission involves opposition and rejection. At the same time, mission also involves authority from God in the proclamation of the kingdom truths. In verses 14-29 he also reminds us that when we tell the truth of our need for repentance, there is both authority from God and inevitable opposition to it. And when people reject the good news, the truth of their need of repentance, sometimes it costs the lives of those sent to speak for God. Because of that truth, before Mark reports the return of the Twelve in verse 30, he inserts the account of the martyrdom of John the Baptizer.
There are only two stories in the Gospel of Mark that are neither from nor about Jesus. Both, however, are about John, and both foreshadow Jesus.
The first, in 1:2–8, foreshadows Jesus’s ministry, and the second, here in 6:14–29, foreshadows his death. Mark reported John’s imprisonment in 1:14, and now in a flashback he recounts his death. Jesus’s fame reaches King Herod, who fears that he is a reincarnation of John the Baptizer, whom he beheaded (6:14–16).
A little information that will help is that, “King Herod” was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, ruler of Galilee and Perea from 4 BC until AD 39.
“Herodias”, who was formerly married to Philip, Herod’s brother, was to my surprise after a little research, actually the granddaughter of Herod the Great and thus a niece of Herod Antipas.

Herodias wanted to kill the Baptist, but Herod protected him. Needless to say, Herodias was incensed that John had turned the people against her. To her, the only answer was his death, but her husband stood in her way. His weakness is seen in his realizing that John was “a holy and righteous man,” yet being unwilling to take a stand on this. Still, he “protected” him for a time, undoubtedly from Herodias’s murderous plots.
Herod’s actions were determined by the influences of others, which lead me to our message today. I’ve titled;

“Truth be Told.“

Herod can’t risk allowing John to remain at large, nor can he bring himself to eliminate him. The opinion of Herod and many others,is that Jesus is Elijah or the Baptizer returned to life or one of the ancient prophets.
Now Herodias, was cunning and calculating, and emerges as the prime mover in the story by exploiting Herod’s inability to take effective action, by sacrificing the honor of her daughter in order to eliminate the Baptizer. Probably because of the “truth being told” about her and Herod’s affair and marriage.
Let’s continue, the daughter ,impresses the celebrities, officials, and leaders of Galilee with an explicit dance at Herod’s birthday banquet. Herod, desiring to impress his guests, promises the girl “up to half my kingdom” for her performance. A promise that Rome would not possibly allow and Herodias would’ve known this. So at the order of Herodias, the girl requests the head of John. So John, who is not granted a word in the story, meets his end by a cold sword, at the command of Herod, a treacherous ruler who seeks to please the crowd.
Mark by adding this account before the return of the Twelve, reminds us that, in following Jesus, one must reckon with the fate of John. Jesus teaches us in Mark 8:34: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
There are two types of people in the world who give us offense, who we have trouble dealing with. The first are people who can never be trusted to tell the truth. The second are people who can only be trusted to tell the truth.
We all know people who have trouble telling the truth. Is there anyone here who doesn’t know someone for whom a lie is just a more convenient interpretation of reality?
The second kind of person we cannot bear are those who DO tell the truth. We can’t tolerate them because they see right through our daily disguises, our fake facades. They are not impressed by all our toys, or our flush bank accounts, or the degrees we hold, or the opinions of others. We don’t like them because the truth they reveal can be uncomfortable, awkward, harsh and unyielding. It’s hard to know which of these two kinds of people offends our sensibilities more: the liar or the truth-sayer.
Well John the Baptist was one of these people. He was a truth-sayer.
I’m almost certain someone that was friends with John must’ve said to him; ”If your going to always, tell the truth, don’t lose your head over it”.
Who wants your head on a platter? What truth is worth your head? What truth is worth your life?
Eventually we learn that while we should always tell the truth, we don’t always have to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Our government calls it the,”Don’t ask Don’t tell policy. Some call this the art of the “white lie”. But whatever you call it, most of us gradually master the complex socialization process that enables us to keep what we’re thinking to ourselves. Those who fail to learn this social side-step are likely to find employment opportunities limited, friends in short supply, and relationships with the opposite sex unexpectedly brief.
The fact is, ”the truth be told”, we usually don’t want the truth, the whole truth to be told.
John the Baptist was a truth-sayer. But he wasn’t always “the whole truth” truth-teller. John the Baptist didn’t decry Herod Antipas’ opulent lifestyle. He could have. John the Baptist didn’t berate this Jewish tetrach of a Roman province for riding roughshod over the needs of his own people. He could have.
So why didn’t John the Baptist do what he could have done? Why didn’t John the Baptist tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Answer, because John’s agenda wasn’t political. John was a prophet of God called to speak the gospel truth. And the gospel truth he was called to speak was repentance and righteousness.(Mark 1:4) Even though John didn’t tell “the whole truth,” he told the truth of repentance and reform. John’s call offered no room for negotiation, no room for mediation, no room for dispensation. John the Baptist’s call required the gospel truth of repentance and reform.
The gospel truth meant, first and foremost, an admission of wrong-doing and attempt at right-living. As hard as that might be, “true” repentance is not achieved through any one-time confession. True rebirth takes place once, but conversions take place every day until we are ushered into eternity. True repentance can only be genuine if it is expressed in moral action.
For Herod Antipas, the price of true repentance was far too steep. He couldn’t admit his own wrong-doing. He wouldn’t send Herodias back to Philip. He had flagrantly flaunted the Torah-directive that no man may marry his living brother’s wife (Leviticus 18:16).
John the Baptist understood Herod’s actions as an offense not against Roman power or politics or even the rules of good leadership. John the Baptist saw Herod’s actions as an offense against God. John’s moral integrity is what ultimately cost him his head.
Who wants your head on a platter? What truth is worth your head? What truth is worth your life?
John the Baptist, like all the other “prophets of old” (v.15) had perfected the art of giving offense by telling the truth. Have you?
Let’s call the art of giving offense “sanctified indifference.” It is not that John the Baptist, or Jeremiah, or Nehemiah, or Hosea, or Zephaniah or Peter or Paul, or Jesus, or you, don’t care about staying alive. But all of God’s prophets develop the art of “sanctified indifference” to the consequences their truth-telling might bring. And one of the great problems in the church today is that we are missing that “sanctified indifference”.
It’s not that they didn’t care. It’s that they cared more for what God cares about than what kings and bishops and majority rules care about.
John the Baptist spoke the truth. John the Baptist was not afraid to offend. John the Baptist was more afraid of divine reprimand than human reprisals. He was well-practiced, well-prepared in the art of giving offense. Even when threatened by the local ruler, John refused to amend his message. Imprisoned, he never wavered. He kept up his offense even while locked up in his prison. Talk about “sanctified indifference”.
Herod couldn’t let John, and his offensive truth-telling, out of prison. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to take the final step and quiet John forever. The oath he swore to give his dancing daughter “anything” she wanted forced his hand. Though “greatly grieved,” he can at last be rid of that offensive voice, that “truth sayer” that kept chiding him.
John’s “sanctified indifference” was his hallmark, and that “sanctified indifference” came from an unyielding, unswerving, undiluted obedience to God. So I ask of us all this morning, myself included: who are we offending? What are we if we are not offending someone? Jesus said “Beware when all speak well of you”, in (Luke 6:26). Should we be “beware-ing ” this morning? Who wants your head on a platter? What’s worth losing your head over? Do we even have any “sanctified indifference”?
Are we doing our job as disciples of Jesus if we are not giving offense somewhere, to someone? Truth-sayers often don’t end up with good labels. But it’s with “sanctified indifference” that we hear insults hurled our way. Like “whistle-blowers,” “tattle-tales,” “spoil-sports,” “goody-two-shoes,” “wet blankets,” “prudes” and “prunes.”
John’s “sanctified indifference” was just a warm-up show for Jesus’ offensive abilities. John just got in trouble with a lower case political figure. Jesus got the local ruler, the Roman governor, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, until almost everyone took offense at him. And the more people took offense at him, the more “sanctified indifference” he showed.
We aren’t all called to go as far as Jesus did. But we are called to lives of giving offense, to learn this art of “sanctified indifference” to what people may think or say or do.
Do you want to be with the crowd so badly that you end up in a mess?
Carried any donkeys lately? You don’t have to if you’re trying to please Jesus.
Our mission today should be the same as John the Baptist mission. To tell the truth, that Christ is coming again, that he died on the cross so that we can live lives of “sanctified indifference”. Because we have been saved by the gospel truth.

John 3:16,”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

What truth is worth losing your head over?

In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20210711
Listen To Audio: Service 07112021
Prayer of Confession:   God, you are full of glory and mighty above your creation, we are part of your creation and we are moved to worship and glorify your name, but we admit that though we sing praises to your name when we worship, there are times when our actions do not bring praise to you.  Forgive us, God.  Help us to praise you not only with our voices but with our living, so that the risen Christ may be glorified.  Amen.



Pastor Joe will be returning to the pulpit July 11th and resuming office hours July 15th from 2 to 4.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Loose change goes to General Fund

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday July 27, 2021. 

Men’s Breakfast will be Wednesday July 21 at 8:00 A.M.

Session meets Tuesday, July 20, at 9am in the community building.

EMAIL address for the church has been changed to:  fhpc400@att.net  

Please tune your radio to 89.5 FM to hear the church service.        PARKING LOT TRANSMISSION WILL END TODAY.







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