Beware Of Loving Praise From People

jesus-always“Beware of loving praise from men more than praise from Me. One of the effects of the Fall is that people are overly concerned about what others think of them…. I don’t want you to be preoccupied with how other people view you. I have lovingly shielded you from being able to read the minds of others. What they think of you is really ‘none of your business.’ People’s thoughts are unreliable—distorted by their sinfulness, weaknesses, and insecurities. Even if they praise you to your face, some of their thoughts about you will be quite different. I am the only One who sees you as you truly are. … Instead of seeking praise from men, seek to see Me looking at you. My loving approval of you is shining from My face.” —Jesus (in Sarah Young’ s book Jesus Always)

8 Ways Pastors Can Minister Like The Apostle Paul

PreachingThe Apostle Paul reminded the Thessalonians of how he ministered among them (“You know…” [1 Thessalonians 2:1]). This gives all of us pastors now an example of how to minister.

(1) “With the help of God we dared to tell you His gospel” (v. 2). I cannot minister out of my own strength; everything must flow from God’s strength.

(2) The message “does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you” (v. 3). I must constantly allow the Holy Spirit to check my motives and check my theology.

(3) “We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel”( v. 4a). I am merely a vessel that God chooses to use to share His gospel. This must keep me humble.

(4) “We are not trying to please men but God, Who tests our hearts” (v. 4b). I minister only for God’s approval, only for the applause of Nail-Scarred hands. “We were not looking for praise from men” (v. 6).

(5) “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children … We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God” (vv. 7, 11, 12).

(6) “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (v. 8). Paul didn’t just show up to preach, but he was in day-to-day interaction with the saints.

(7) “We worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (v. 9). My salary should not be too much of a burden for my congregation.

(8) “Holy, righteous and blameless we were among you” (v. 10). My life of integrity adds weight to the message that I preach (v. 5).

May all of us who are pastors live and minister like this!

12 Quotes From “Rise”

RiseTrip Lee has given parents, teachers and anyone who mentors teens and 20-somethings an excellent resource in his book Rise. I read this book for myself, and now I’m reading it and discussing it with my teenage son. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are just a few of the quotes I especially appreciated in Rise.

“There are great benefits to living for Jesus in the present. Now is the time when we have the most strength. Now is the time when we have the most energy. Now is the time when we can give it everything we have. Now is the time to get up and live.”

“Every decision we make is a small piece of a larger puzzle. And without looking at the big picture for reference, we’ll place the pieces incorrectly every time. It’s tragic to treasure a moment in time more than an entire lifetime.”

“It’s loving of me to stop my son when he tries to put his finger in a socket or put a penny in his mouth. It’s loving of Jesus to tell me to say no to myself when I’m doing the wrong thing. … Let’s be clear, though. He’s not saying you can’t be yourself. He’s not calling you to ignore your personality and abandon your interests. Instead, He’s saying, ‘Submit all those things to Me.’ Your personality and your interests are His, and following Him shapes those things to bring you joy and bring God glory.” 

“One of our problems is that we think we belong to ourselves. Our assumption is that we are the masters of our lives and we get to make all the big decisions. That’s a myth. I belong to God. First, because He created me (Psalm 139:13), and second, because He purchased me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And that has serious implications for how I invest each hour of my day. I don’t have the right to rob God of time.”

“We allow our desire for approval to push us in directions we wouldn’t go otherwise. The answer is to be more content with the acceptance of Jesus, while praying that God would make us more passionate about pleasing Him than pleasing other people. … One of the quickest ways to ensure compromise is to obsess over what other people think of you.”

“Confession of sin can only be perceived as your enemy if you have a goal other than God’s glory. If your goal is your glory, then confessing your sin works against that goal and therefore should be avoided. But if you’re living for the glory of God, confessing your sin to the right people will only help.”

“With Christians or non-Christians, when we pretend, we are using them instead of loving them. Instead of saying or doing what would be most beneficial for them, we say or do what makes us look good. We’re using them to get to that end goal, the magical feeling of acceptance and approval, that sweet ego stroke. And that will eventually crush us and crush them.”

“The mature Christian doesn’t just ask, ‘What can I do?’ but ‘What can I do to glorify God?’”

“A Christian’s job is to live in such a way that shows off the real Jesus, the all-powerful, Almighty, sinner-loving King of the universe.”

“One of the reasons we struggle is because we forget that Jesus is the Lord of all. When I say Lord of all, I don’t just mean Lord of all people; I mean Lord of all things and spheres of life. It’s easy for us to section off our lives into little quadrants. There’s the fun stuff, the family stuff, the boring stuff, and the spiritual stuff. But the Bible doesn’t recognize any area of our lives that’s not spiritual. God made every sphere of life, He rules over every sphere of life, and He can be glorified in every sphere of life. This means everything is sacred.”

“The symptom of an encounter with the compassion of Jesus is compassion for others.”

“People go to hell because they haven’t seen the glory of God in the Gospel and trusted in Christ. Seeing the glory of God matters, and we want them to see it. Where the glorious light of Christ is not seen, sins are not forgiven and souls are not saved. This is why we share the Good News. The end goal of evangelism is that people would see the glory of God and worship Him forever.”

A Caution About Success

CautionAfter King David had been firmly established as the king of Israel, he wanted to show the world how devoted he was to God, and undertook to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.

This move came after “David knew that the Lord had established him as king” and “that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of God’s people” (2 Samuel 5:12; 1 Chronicles 14:2). David also asked the people about bringing the ark to Jerusalem and “it seemed right to all the people” (1 Chronicles 13:4).

Hooray! It sure sounds like David is using his new position as king to do something wonderful for his people. But…

Even with David’s knowledge that God had established him, David proceeded in a way that was displeasing to God, by attempting to move the ark in a way that God never sanctioned (2 Samuel 6:3; 1 Chronicles 13:7).

When things are going well and there seems to be a lot of positive momentum, we cannot abandon the things that brought God’s success in the first place! 

David had a habit of inquiring of God (2 Samuel 5:19, 23; 1 Chronicles 14:10, 14) which had led to his God-given success (1 Chronicles 14:17). But in the excitement of moving the ark, and the applause of the people David said, “We did not inquire of Him” (15:13) nor did they undertake the task “in accordance with the Word of the Lord” (15:15).

CAUTION!!! We can never be too careful about inquiring of God nor consulting His Word. A danger of success is that we abandon those things which God blesses and simply ride the positive momentum of the moment. No matter how popular or obvious a thing may seem, don’t forget to pray about it and consult God’s Word about it!

God-Pleasing Sermons

Lemuel Haynes

Lemuel Haynes

Sadly, I talk to far too many pastors who tell me their sermon topics have been selected by others. They don’t say this exactly in those words, but they talk about needing to prompt someone to do something differently, or of a parent who thinks the youth need some correction, or a board member who says the giving needs to be increased.

Sometimes it’s the opposite: pastors will say they won’t preach on a certain topic because it’s too sensitive, or it might make some people upset, or it might be offensive to some with an opposing viewpoint.

Whatever happened to preaching the Word as the Holy Spirit directs?

“A minister who watches for souls as one who expects to give account will have none to please but God. When he studies his sermons, this will not be the enquiry, ‘How shall I form my discourse so as to please and gratify the humors of men and get their applause?’ but ‘How shall I preach so as to do honor to God and meet with the approbation of my Judge?’” —Lemuel Haynes (emphasis added)

What Does It Mean To Fear God?

Fear GodWhat does it mean to fear God? Does it mean we cower before Him? That He is utterly unapproachable? Or maybe it means we’re always looking over our shoulder wondering if God is coming after us in anger?

Let me ask the question another way:

  • Are you afraid that you won’t buy the right Christmas gift for someone?
  • Are you afraid that you’ll forget someone?
  • Are you afraid that your response won’t be right when you open a gift?
  • Are you afraid you’ll offend a family member by something you say or do?
  • Do other people’s opinion of you factor into your decisions?

If you answered “Yes” to the above question, you have a fear problem. That is: you fear letting other people down.

I think this was the issue for Joseph in the Bible (Matthew 1:18-25). When he found out that Mary was pregnant before their marriage, Joseph carefully deliberated his response. Based on the meaning of the words had in mind and considered, and examining the way the angel told Joseph to “Fear not,” it appears that Joseph, too, lived in this same fear of letting others down.

But here’s the issue… Joseph placed greater value on people’s opinions than he did on God’s opinion. And what makes it even worse is that Joseph simply assumed what people would say about him, as he never actually asked anyone.

The angel challenged Joseph to re-evaluate his value system. To give greater weight to God’s opinion than to man’s opinion. In short, to change his fear of man to fear of God.

That’s really what it means to fear God: To give greater weight to His word and His opinion than to anyone or anything else.

The wise king Solomon explored everything he could to find the meaning of life. He tried money, education, art, travel, women, food, power, and the like. At the end of his exploration, he came to this conclusion—

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

We should be living for the approval of an Audience of One. 

We should be longing to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from our Creator. 

We should be listening only for the applause from nail-scarred Hands. 

“The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.” —Oswald Chambers

Please join me for the final message in our “Fear Not!” series next Sunday.

(Dis)Approval

Have you ever been doing or saying something, and then “the look” on someone’s face caused you to stop or change what you were saying/doing? We often look to certain people for their (dis)approval to gauge how we’re doing.

But what if we’re looking at the wrong faces?

God called Jeremiah to be a prophet while he was still fairly young. So when this young man starts saying, “This is what God says,” can you imagine the looks he’s going to get?!?

So right out of the gate, God says two things to Jeremiah: Do not be afraid of them … Do not be terrified by them (Jer. 1:8, 17). I like how the King James Version renders these verses: Do not be afraid of their faces … Do not be dismayed by their faces.

  • Afraid means to look at faces for approval.
  • Dismayed or terrified means to look at faces for disapproval.

But people’s faces aren’t the faces Jeremiah — or you or I — should be looking at. The only face that matters is God’s! Look how many “I” statements God makes about Himself in this chapter —

  • I formed you (v. 5a)
  • I knew you in advance (v. 5b)
  • I set you apart (v. 5c)
  • I appointed you (v. 5d, 10)
  • I am sending you (v. 7a)
  • I give you the words to say (v. 7b, 17)
  • I am with you (v. 8a, 19a)
  • I will rescue you (v. 8b, 19b)
  • I will put my words in your mouth (v. 9)
  • I am watching over you (v. 12)
  • I am making you strong (v. 18)

The faces of people are not how you and I should gauge (dis)approval. How sad to look at other faces for approval, only to hear God say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you!How liberating to know that even though other faces may disapprove me, I can still hear my Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!

Whose face are you looking at today?

%d bloggers like this: