Greetings to all my brothers my sisters. For those of you who may be reading my blog today and happen to live in another state, let me proudly say that I live in Las Vegas, Nevada; yes, that’s right, ‘sin city.’ A city where no true believing Christian would ever desire to live. A city that most parents would not choose to raise their precious little children. A city that many outsiders think most of the residents of ‘Vegas’ live in hotels and surely never go to sleep. A city of extreme decadence and definitely not a place where churches would even want to be, right!!!
I always hate telling people I live in ‘Vegas’ because someone will inevitably say to me, ‘Are there actually homes, markets and schools in ’Vegas?’ I have to laugh whenever I hear people say this because if this was such a horrible place to live, to raise your kids, a place of such extreme decadence that it is even called ‘sin city’, I want to say to them, ’Then why did you even want to come here??’
Now don’t get me wrong; Las Vegas is definitely a 24 hour city that never sleeps; a city where you can find just about any wicked pleasure you may want to partake of, a place where you can easily get into much trouble. In ‘Vegas’ you will find gambling, immorality, drug addicts, murder, and many other crimes that are too numerous to list nor would I even want to. There are parts of ‘Vegas’ that I wouldn’t suggest anyone to be in after it got dark, or even when the sun was out. I could go on and on and give you all the horrible things about ‘Vegas’ that I truly wished did not exist and that I do not like but I wouldn’t want to forget to tell you about all the good that takes place in ‘Vegas.’
There are many wonderful Christians, people with high morals and high integrity, who live in ‘Vegas.’ There are also many wonderful churches and ministries that exist in ‘Vegas’ that are working hard to change lives. There are many good young people who eagerly desire to make an impact in their schools for Jesus Christ!! I could go on and on talking about all the good that takes place in ‘Vegas’ but I’m not sure if those who do not live here would even believe me.
In John 1:44-46 we read where Phillip went excitedly to find his brother Nathaniel, to tell him the great news; “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Nazareth! Can anything ‘good’ come from there?” Nathaniel asked.” Have you ever been so excited to share some great news, that you could hardly wait to talk about I, but when you did, you got same type of response Phillip did from his brother Nathaniel. We all have the tendency to qualify if the news we hear is good by from what or where it is talking about. “Can anything good come from ‘Vegas?” “Can anything good come from that church, that minister?” We even do that about one another. “Can anything good come from that person for they once were so evil? “Can anything good come out of that persons mouth?” Can anything good come from that mess of a life?”
In the book of Jonah the Lord speaks to Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh because its ‘wickedness’ had come before the Lord. Now if the wickedness of your city was so great that it has now come before the Lord, you know Nineveh must have been a bad city; you would say, it was like ‘Vegas’. (A side note here: before you are quick to judge ’Vegas’ take a look at your own city; more than that, take a look at your own life; for if you did you might not be so quick to speak.) Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh so he tried to run from the Lord, but we are no match for the Lord’s pursuit. After spending 3 days and nights in the belly of a whale (disgusting) Jonah is vomited on dry land (nice touch Lord) and again the Lord calls on Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to it and something takes place, this time Jonah goes. To Jonah’s surprise the whole city of Nineveh receives the word of the Lord and turns from their wicked ways; can anyone say Hallelujah!! Yet we read in Jonah 4 that Jonah was very angry about what took place in Nineveh. He tells the Lord that was why he tried to run because Jonah knew the Lord was gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love. Amazing isn’t it, yet sadly often we are guilty of doing the very same thing.
The Lord says to stand with someone but because of what we think of them or from where they came, we fail to extend grace and mercy to them and miss out on what the Lord is about to do. The Lord says to pray for a co-worker who we can’t stand and who we know is dishonest and untrustworthy and when the Lord turns their life around, like Jonah we get angry because deep in our hearts we wanted the Lord to punish them, not rescue them. The Lord says to help someone who is constantly prideful and negative to be able to get past their faults but because we think we are now above that, we fail to see the final work of the Lord’s mighty hand on their life.
Phillip’s response to Nathaniel’s words, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth,’ was “Come and see!!” Please hear me my friend, if people knew who you really were, or even what you were thinking last night, or how cold your heart can be, wouldn’t they say that nothing good can come from you? We serve a Lord who can take the worst situation, the worst life, and cause it produce good fruit, make it new once again. So if you ever hear anyone say, ‘Can anything good come from that,’ may our first response be, Come and see my friend!!!