There are many things that hinder a Christ-follower was from maturing and growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Too often we settle for the status quo and do not make the effort to rise above the ‘norm.’ Worrying about other people’s acceptance of us is one of the greatest strongholds to overcome. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in our teen years. Socialists use the term “peer pressure” to describe this natural emotion. This explains why some good kids do some bad things they would not normally do. They would rather “blend in” than “standout.”
The Apostle Paul faced this in writing to the Galatian church. “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul is saying it is possible to be more people-oriented than God-oriented. Proverbs 29:25 tells us,“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
It’s sad to see people who try to please everyone – one minute they are pleasing one person; the next minute pleasing someone else. They remind me of the chameleon. They change with the environment; trying to fit in with whatever crowd they are around.
Jesus told us there are rewards for whoever you are trying to please. If you are trying to impress and please people; their response is your reward.Mt 6:2, Mt 6:5; Mt 6:16.
If you are seeking to please God, your reward will come later: Mt 5:12 Mt 6:1 James 1:12 Just to name a few.
If we displease God, does it matter whom we please? If we please Him does it matter whom we displease?” ― Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries: A Classic on Revival
A few weeks ago much of the United States experienced a solar eclipse. Thousands of people flocked to areas to get the best view of this rare phenomenon. The media warned the public that looking directly at the sun, without proper protection, could cause serious damage to your eyes.
In contrast, the Word of God tells us to look to the “SON.” The Son is Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12:2 “We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete…”
What does it mean to look to Jesus?
1. Looking means leaning.
Looking to Jesus means relying on him. The word translated “looking” has the idea of zeroing our gaze on something with confidence. The NIV captures it: “fixing our eyes.” As our help, Jesus is the one from whom we draw power. He is the one who has given us life (John 5:21) and has sent the Helper to be with us forever (John 14:16). We run this race only because of his word and only by the power of his Spirit. So we look to him. We lean on him.
2. Looking means not looking.
Another aspect embedded in this idea of looking is that we look without distractions. When we look to Jesus it means we are not looking at anything else. Looking to Jesus means looking to him alone. Looking to Jesus means he is our reward.
It is Jesus himself. Jesus is our goal. To look to him means to love him, to yearn to be with him, to see him as he his, to live in fellowship with him forever
On Sunday, 18 June 1815, one of the world’s most important battles was fought, the Battle of Waterloo. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was seeking to conquer the world. He was opposed by the Anglo-led Allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington. After 4 days of the extreme fighting, Napoleon finally surrendered.
There was no way for the news to reach England except my ship. When a ship finally arrived in England they sent the message by the only means at their disposal. The ship communicated with those on land by the use of semaphore, a system of sending messages by holding the arms or two flags or poles in certain positions according to an alphabetic code. A fog rolled in and only part of the message that was read was W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D…
They assumed the worst and news of Wellington’s “defeat” swept the country. When the fog finally lifted they received the rest of the message, “t-h-e e-n-e-m-y.”
In life, Christ’s message to us is sometimes obscured by the “fog” of circumstance. Sometimes in our hectic pace, we jump to conclusions without knowing all the details. Proverbs 25:8 The best advice is to be still until the fog lifts!
When America was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went before Congress to ask them to declare war. In his speech, he said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!” That may make a great political speech and it might stir people’s patriotism but unfortunately it is not true. There are a lot of things to fear in life but we should not allow our fears to control us.
My son has no fear of snakes, NONE. He has handled rattlesnakes, cooperheads and water moccasins; no problem. But spiders are a totally different matter. If he walks into a spider web, he almost has a heart attack!
When Jesus sent out the 12 disciples, he gave them detailed instructions. In Matthew 10, he let them know they would face rejection, persecution, and and possibly death. In light of this he encouaged them not to fear. “Do not be afraid of them who kill the body. They are not able to kill the soul.” Jesus made it very clear; there is only one person we need to fear. “But fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” God is the only we need to fear.
What is the worse man can do? Kill us? If they do kill us, we will be immediately with Lord!
People love racing. The urge to be faster than everyone else is ingrained in us. Whether it is in a race car, on foot or involving animals, nothing quenches our competitive thirst like a good race. Here is some race that you might not be familiar with.
* Hamster racing. The United Kingdom is quite fond on betting on hamsters racing miniature vehicles in a 30-foot straight line.
* Pig racing. Four trained pigs race around a circle track, knowing there is a delicious (for them) prize at the end.
* Mud racing is an adventure race where contestants hurl themselves through mud pits, waist-high mud rivers, obstacles on a challenging cross country race.
The Apostle Paul repeatedly referred to the Christian life a race but he carefully explained the differences from secular racing.
1. In secular racing, the winner wins a crown made from plants that only lasts momentarily. However, the Christian’s crown is the eternal life that never withers or dies. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
2. Only the person who crosses the finish line first wins the prize. But every Christian that crosses the finish line receives the prize. Matthew 24:13, James 1:12
The most important thing in your life is to realize that because God has created you and given you life, you ARE entered into this race called life. I know that you did not choose to be entered into this race but it is your responsibility to finish the race. Do not be afraid, God has provided everything you need to reach the goal.
Failure to finish means to be eternally lost.
Several years ago, I worked for a Pest Control Company whose clientele consisted mostly of millionaires. One of our customers lived in a wooded area and was having problems with rats. We set out our traps and within a couple of days, we had three rats (dead.) This presented a slight problem. How do you dispose of three dead rats? We couldn’t just toss them in the woods or put them in their garbage can. We were in South Carolina and it was a very hot summer, so you can imagine the stench!
We solved the problem by putting the rats in an empty zip-lock bag that had contained a pest control product and placed them in the back of our pickup truck. The plan was to properly dispose of them at the end of the day.
We finished our day and was headed to the office when we decided to stop and buy a couple of soft drinks. After buying our drinks, we discovered that someone had stolen the bag containing the rats, thinking they had a bag of expensive pest control product! I can only imagine their surprise when they open the bag! Remember the rats had been in that bag day in the hot South Carolina sun!
I guess they got more than they bargained for!
I grew up in a very legalistic church where spirituality was measured on personal performance. My acceptance to God (and my church) was based on how well I kept all the rules: modest clothing; no television, no movie going, very strict Sabbath observence, etc.
I dreaded when our church had revival services because the evangelist would always use the rapture as a means to get people to come forwardto the altar. He would use Christ’s return to scare Believers into wondering if they would miss the Rapture because they didn’t “cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s” spiritually speaking.
But when the Apostle Paul spoke of Christ’s return he said, “Therefore encourage one anotherwith these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18
“The prize that shows I have God’s approval is now waiting for me. The Lord, who is a fair judge, will give me that prize on that day. He will give it not only to me but also to everyone who is eagerly waiting for him to come again.” 2 Timothy 4:8