Please God Or Please Man?

Whose approval do we seek? Are we trying to please God or please man?

When the apostle Paul preached Christ and him crucified, Paul didn’t try to flatter or sweet talk his listeners. He didn’t try to say things he thought would keep the status quo or not ruffle feathers.

Quite the opposite. More times than not, the truth Paul spoke to reach a world desperately in need of a Savior ended up enraging the mobs determined to kill, flog, or imprison him.

But Paul never changed his message to please man, protect himself, or avoid hardship. He was steadfast and resolute in proclaiming God’s truth, no matter what it cost him. Paul knew being a servant of God meant he was to please God not please man.

Paul did not try to make friends with influential people in order to advance his prestige or career. Sure. He wanted an audience with the Roman empire’s highest leaders. Not to see what he could gain from those meetings, but to share the gospel of salvation.

When Paul wrote his letters to the churches scattered throughout Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome, those letters weren’t written to highlight his mastery of the written word or brilliant debate skills. He didn’t write to win acclaim. He wrote to preach about a resurrected Savior, grace, and salvation.

Paul was not afraid to call out false teachers. He warned of the dangers of placing anything or anyone above our devotion to the One True God. He instructed the churches in how they were to live as followers of Christ.

I doubt Paul set out to intentionally irritate people, but that was often the result. Even so, he refused to compromise the message he’d been given in order to save himself from man’s wrath or disfavor. His goal was not to be a charismatic people pleasing preacher. Paul’s goal was to be a faithful servant who pleased God.

As Christ-followers we are called to imitate Christ. We are called to serve others in the name of Christ. We are called to live in such a way others will see Christ living in us and be drawn closer to God.

Nowhere in our job description as disciples of Jesus does it say our focus should shift from pleasing God to pleasing man. Paul never compromised the gospel message by seeking man’s approval over God’s approval.

What about each of us? Who do our actions show we are trying to please?

My prayer for each of us is we will be as convicted as Paul to please God rather than to please man.

How do you keep pleasing God your primary goal?

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You can see that I am not trying to please you by sweet talk and flattery; no, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please men I could not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Resistance Training

courtesy pexelsPower is developed through resistance. Or so I’ve been told.

During the recent physical therapy rehab for my fractured hip, several exercises required resistance. Either through machines, added weights, or my own weight against gravity. The more times I practiced and performed the various exercises, the stronger my leg muscles became. The more I pushed myself, the greater the result.

Yeah. It hurt at times and would have been easier to skip the effort, but I was willing to endure the hard work of resistance to achieve my primary goal. Return to pre-fall activities without needing a walker or cane.

My twice-weekly trips to therapy ended, but the resistance training continues. It has to if I expect to maintain the growth I’ve gained.

Are there any parallels to be drawn between physical therapy resistance training and the resistance training Christ-followers must take part in? I believe so.

We are told to be self-controlled and vigilant for our enemy, the devil, prowls about like a lion looking for someone to devour. We are told to resist him. Because when we do, he will flee. That’s resistance training. It isn’t a one and done deal. It is a continual training. We can’t think saying no to Satan once will be enough to keep him away forever. If only that were true. But it isn’t. The devil is relentless in his attacks against God’s people.

Our power to stand firm in our faith and say no to Satan is developed through resistance to his lies, and holding on to God’s truth. The more we resist the deceiver, the stronger we become to stand firm. It isn’t easy. It takes determination. We might think we can give in this time, skip this resistance training, and make it up next time, but it’ll be hard to recover what we lost.

Are we willing to endure the hard work of resistance training to achieve our primary goal? A pre-fall state in heaven with Jesus?

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Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and remember that the strain is the same for all your fellow-Christians in other parts of the world. And after you have borne these sufferings a very little while, God himself (from whom we receive all grace and who has called you to share his eternal splendour through Christ) will make you whole and secure and strong. All power is his for ever and ever, amen! 1 Peter 5:6-11 (Phillips)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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No Other Gods

Well, here it is. The second week of February. Prime time to idol worship.

The Grammy Awards, Oscar Awards, and  Super Bowl have come and gone. Race cars will start swapping paint next week when the Daytona 500 kicks off. The Boys of Summer are headed to Spring Training. Hoops are being shot. Hockey pucks are flying. Soccer balls are striking.

We have television shows which idolize singers, dancers, and various other talents. And in no particular order, we idolize athletes, politicians, performers, business moguls, movers and shakers, ministers, authors, artists, family members, friends. The list is long.

Several months ago, the thought of how we humans idolize various people and things was brought back to mind as news reports stated members of the Houston Astros organization illegally stole signs of opposing teams using technology during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

As a result, the Astros were fined $5 million and forfeited their first and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts. General manager Jeff Luhnow and field manager A. J. Hinch were fired. Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets were also implicated.

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Unfortunately. It is.

For many in my area of Texas, the news hit hard. I don’t see as much blue and orange Astros gear sported of late. Not too many Astros flags flying, either.

Which leads me back to how we humans idolize people or things.

God made it abundantly clear.

His people are not to put any person or thing, ANY, ahead of their devotion and allegiance to him. God’s people are to live by God’s standards. They are not to live by the standards of the world. God’s people are to be ambassadors for Christ. They are to love as Christ loved.

Celebrating and appreciating talent is a good thing. Idolizing the person instead of honoring the Giver of the talent is where, I believe, we sometimes get off track.

No other gods.

God and Jesus Christ alone are worthy of our worship. Period.

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 Then God gave the people all these instructions;

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

“You must not have any other god but me.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. Exodus 20:1-5a (NLT)

 

I wish you well.

Sandy

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When Our Heart Is Troubled

courtesy pexelsRecently, my heart has struggled not to be troubled. Whether real or imagined, multiple things conspired to trouble my heart. As soon as I believed I put one trouble to rest, another popped up with greater vengeance, and another, and another…

This past Sunday I recited a verse from John 14 which tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. Monday morning, while looking for a document in my computer writing folder, a blog post I wrote several years ago popped out at me. The post was titled “Don’t Allow Your Heart To Be Troubled”. Then, when I found the article I looked for, an article I wrote about an event in my life which took place over four decades ago, the article pretty much said the same thing in a different way.

That is when I realized maybe someone else needs a reminder God is in control, and therefore, we need not be troubled.

With that in mind, the following is a re-posting of the original Woven and Spun blog post from June 25, 2017.

Last month multiple things conspired to steal my joy right out from under me. And I let them. For awhile.

As I lamented with several friends about how I felt, one sweet friend told me something profound. She said, don’t let your heart be troubled. Another told me something equally important. Be gentle and give myself grace. Wise women.

Today I’m going to look further into the thought of not letting our hearts be troubled.

You need to understand, the verse my friend alluded to is one of my absolute all-time favorite passages of Scripture. I memorized the King James Version of John 14:1-4 when I was in elementary school. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me…

I’ve repeated that passage to myself countless times over the decades.

Yet, it wasn’t until my friend moved the emphasis onto the word let that I saw this verse in a whole different light.

Thank you, Jesus.

Up until that time I thought of let as don’t worry. I never looked at it as I have the power to decide whether my heart is troubled, or not. Wow.

It’s up to us whether we allow our hearts to be troubled. We have the power through the Holy Spirit who lives in us not to let our hearts be troubled. It’s a choice. We aren’t defenseless victims. We are more than conquerors.

Oh, how very grateful I am for that reaffirmation of truth.

So, my friends, if you find yourself in a place where the things of life are doing their best to pull you under, be gentle and give yourself grace.

And remember what Jesus told his disciples, and us. Do not let your hearts be troubled.

My devotion, Loving Prickly People, is on Inspire a Fire today, February 4, 2020. I’d love for you to stop by and read it.

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“Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way.” John 14:1-4 (AMP)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Steer Clear of Things That Trip You Up

The number one lesson I learned while being on a cane recently, is to steer clear of things that trip you up. Things like uneven pavement and uneven grass. Simple, right? Because of this, I know better than to go out to retrieve our newspaper in the morning. It would not be a wise decision. Therefore, that is one more job added to Pilot’s to-do list. (While he was away for the weekend, our sweet neighbor graciously delivered the paper, and mail, to our front door for me.)

Thinking about this led me to consider the things in our lives we should steer clear of which trip us up spiritually. We each have spiritual weaknesses whether we choose to admit them or not. Like my weakness of the inability to walk on the lawn right now, there are places, situations, and activities we need to avoid. I could ignore my instability and chance a fall to get what I want, the newspaper, but that would not be wise.

Just as I admitted my weakness and reached out for help, we need to be honest with God and ourselves about the areas where we struggle. Those areas we need to steer clear of. We aren’t telling God anything he doesn’t already know. If we feel we have no areas of weakness, perhaps we need to ask the Holy Spirit to point out those areas of temptation we deny exist.

Our temptation may be an attitude issue we consider not that big a deal. But is. Anger, pride, arrogance, criticism, idolatry, jealousy, gossip…the list is long. Each one separates us from growing in the Fruit of the Spirit.

Thankfully, my leg is to the point I can walk short distances around the house without my cane. Yay, God. Because my leg is not one hundred percent, though, I still need to be mindful to steer clear of things that could potentially trip me up. Things which might lead to another fall. Things like venturing out on uneven grass.

I’m thinking none of us will be one hundred percent in our spiritual strength until we stand before Jesus in heaven. We can pretend we’re strong enough to dance with those temptations we know tug at our weak areas, or we can admit them, steer clear, and ask God to strengthen us to overcome them.

It really is up to us.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

So take a fresh grip on life and brace your trembling limbs. Don’t wander away from the path but forge steadily onward. On the right path the limping foot recovers strength and does not collapse. Hebrews 12:12-13 (Phillips)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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