Tag Archives: seeking God’s approval

People Pleasing: A Dead End Road

People-Pleasing is a dead end road. And I’ve traveled down it time after time again.

Seeking after the approval of people.

Wanting everyone to like us.

Sound familiar?

This dead end road is far from the narrow path He invites us to walk on.

In fact, Paul had to confront this same issue within himself as stated in Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” NIV

Seeking after the approval of man should never supersede the approval of Jesus. Yet, it happens day after day. We as humans desire to be accepted, to be included, and to be loved. And so we gradually begin conforming to the people around us :at work, at church, at school, and even at home.

This has been a tough lesson for me. A real challenge.

Especially when responding in obedience to Christ.

Many of us have experienced the “warm and fuzzy” feeling that accompanies a good deed done in the name of our Lord Jesus. Feeding the hungry. Sharing a word of encouragement. Providing money for someone’s utility bill. Even writing a blog post that pierces a stranger’s heart.

Let me be real here:

We like to feel good. We like partnering with Jesus and winning His approval. And of those around us, too. It’s a win-win situation. Everyone’s happy, and that appeals to our nature. But, what’s the motive here?

What if the Lord Jesus asks us to do good and it doesn’t win the approval of others?

In fact, they reject it. And they reject you.

I am learning, my friends, this is the raw reality of following after Jesus Christ. The cost of being a disciple.

And these are the exact words Jesus spoke into my soul this morning.

“My Word never says that people will not reject you. It does however, state that I will not reject you. If you do things in My name, especially in My name, you will be rejected. Even My own children, at times, will reject you.”

So, the question I have to ask myself is: “Am I willing to be rejected for the sake of Christ?”

He reminded me of the prophet Jeremiah. God chose Him (just like He chooses many of us) to speak a message of hope and restoration to the people of Israel. Jeremiah was willing and available and I’d imagine He was hoping for a positive outcome. But, it never came.

Let’s see how the story unfolds.

It begins in Jeremiah 4:1-2 stating: “If you return, O Israel, return to me,” declares the Lord. ‘If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just, and righteous way you swear “As surely as the Lord lives,” then the nations will be blessed by Him and in Him they will glory.

What’s happening here?

The Lord is pursuing His beloved, Israel. Just as He pursues us.They’ve gotten themselves into a real dilemma by constantly rejecting the Lord. So, in His abounding grace, the Lord decides to give them another chance in speaking a message of hope through His servant, Jeremiah.

Let’s continue.

The scripture states in Jeremiah 4:9: “In that day,” declares the Lord, ‘the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled’.”

And the prophets will be appalled.

Look at this statement. Jeremiah was completely dumbfounded by the people’s response.

He was obedient to the Lord and the people rejected him.

Then the Lord goes on to say in Jeremiah 5:18-19: “Yet even in those days, declares the Lord, ‘I will not destroy you completely. And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own’.”

There’s an important lesson to be learned here. God asked Jeremiah to be His voice to the people. Jeremiah agreed in obedience. Jeremiah spoke to the people. And the people rejected God’s message. It’s because they rejected God, they also rejected Jeremiah.

Are we truly seeking after God’s approval in our lives? Or are we focused on people?

What if God asks you to speak a message of truth to an individual and they criticize the very words you’ve spoken? Will you obey Him?

What if God asks you to leave your job and to follow Him into a foreign nation, and those you love the most oppose your plans? Will you follow Him?

What if God asks you to partner with Him to comfort someone in need by paying for their expenses, and then they decline the gift? Will you still partner with Him?

Or what if God prompts you to ask permission to pray for someone who’s deeply wounded and then they curse you? Will you submit to His leading?

These are real situations happening to real people. Are we willing to put the opinions of others on the back burner and follow through in our convictions?

What Jesus thinks matters. THE MOST. 

And at the end of the day when we sit before the Lord and look at our lives, no one else will be around. It’ll just be us and Jesus.

And may you remember, beloved, people-pleasing is just a dead end road. Thank you for choosing His Daily Dose today! 

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6  NLT

 

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When God Does the Unexpected

God Does the Unexpected

While sipping my hot tea and reading God’s word this morning, the Lord brought me to the book of Acts. This book is filled with tips on evangelism, acts of generosity, the realities of persecution, the power of the Holy Spirit, and heart-felt demonstrations of true church community. Acts is one fascinating book, to say the least.

One of the themes that emerges from Acts is that God can (and will often) do the unexpected. He cannot be figured out, controlled, or threatened. He alone is Sovereign, no matter what we perceive.  Throughout Acts, we see early Christians faced with trials that “appear” hopeless and out of God’s mighty control. Some of these trials even result in martyrdom for early followers of Christ.

Just like the early believers, we may face uncertain, dire circumstances that cause us to wonder where God is. Can He save us? Allow me to encourage you today: no matter what goes on around us, God position as the Almighty and Sovereign will never change. He controls the very universe in which we live.

By sharing the following three passages in Acts, I’m hoping to draw your attention to the glory of God. No matter how bad things appear, God is ALWAYS in control. Man can NEVER supersede God. Never. All power and authority comes from the Almighty (even that possessed by man), which should bring us incredible comfort.

Peter and John’s Story:

In chapter 4 of Acts, Peter and John are faced with countless protests from the Sanhedrin (the Jewish religious authority), who demand that the work of the Gospel come to an end. In all truth, these leaders want to be worshiped and to maintain their powerful positions. They also enjoy the comfort they found in religion. Jesus will always oppose this behavior, and they do not like it one bit.

The Scripture:

“Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help but speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.” Acts 4:18-21

The Lesson:

Despite the circumstances and the threats from powerful men, God’s will is done. People come to know Jesus as their Lord; they are not held hostage by mortal power. Most importantly, Peter and John choose the approval, the opinion, and the direction of God over men (powerful men at that). This is a huge lesson for us to learn. They could have caved in, but they remain firm in their faith in Christ instead.

Whenever pressure arises within our homes (from unbelieving family members), within our jobs (from colleagues who criticize our faith), or even within our nation (from unbelieving authority figures), we must not compromise our faith to pacify the desires of man (or gain their approval).

The Lord once told me: “If they reject you, Christy, it’s because they are rejecting me. Don’t take it personally.” I have always remembered this, and it has been incredibly valuable in saving me from a lot of heartache.

Stephen’s Trial

In chapter 6 of Acts, Stephen is opposed by Jewish leaders (similar to Peter and John, but by another group known as the Synagogue of Freedman). This particular sect stirs up lies about Stephen so that the Sanhedrin will sentence him to death. Want to guess why they were all so upset? Yep – Stephen was threatening their roles as pious authority figures by performing miracles and great wonders through the power (and in the name) of Jesus Christ. Sound familiar?

The Scripture:

“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of Synagogue of the Freedman (as it was called) – Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke……All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” Acts 6:8-10,15

The Lesson:

The wisdom and knowledge of God will always surpass that of man. Why? Because He’s the Creator of man, and any knowledge that man acquires can only be part of what God already possesses and what He allows. Even the most well-versed, highly educated men will never have as much wisdom or knowledge as the Great I AM. Seek His instruction for your life, and look to God for guidance, rather than the opinions of man (no matter how wealthy or experienced they appear). For those who serve Christ in corporate America or in the secular marketplace, this is an important lesson. You can definitely learn from others, but God’s Word is always supreme.

Stephen’s Stoning

From a reader’s standpoint, the story of Stephen appears to head downhill quickly towards the end of chapter 7. The hearts of the Sanhedrin become hardened and infuriated when Stephen powerfully confronts them with the Gospel, professing Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Yet, even in the midst of that incredible travail, Jesus shows up – Stephen sees Jesus. As they begin casting their stones onto Stephen’s flesh, he prays that they would be forgiven and then immediately falls asleep.

The Scripture:

“When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed. ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them’ When he said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7: 54-55,59-60

The Lesson:

Here, the lesson is both extremely simple and extremely powerful. When we seek to honor God, He will also honor us. Even with the certainty of death, Stephen still chooses to follow Christ and obey His commands. Stephen forgives his enemies and even shows his love for them by praying for them as they murder him. God allows him to feel no pain, as he simply falls asleep.

Whenever we find ourselves in the midst of severe difficulty, God will always protect us. As His beloved, when we call out to Him, He will always be faithful to respond. As followers of Christ, not even death can conquer us.

Be encouraged today, beloved. You serve a faithful God who is with you and for you. Follow Him, love Him, and obey Him, because He intends good for you. He alone has the power to remove you from the most extreme pain and difficulty. May He receive the glory!

Photo provided by sapphirethroneministries.com
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A Dead End Road

Image

People-Pleasing.

It’s a dead end road. And I’ve traveled down it time after time again.

Seeking after the approval of people.

Wanting everyone to like us.

Sound familiar?

This dead end road is far from the narrow path He invites us to walk on.

In fact, Paul had to confront this same issue within himself as stated in Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” NIV

Seeking after the approval of man should never supersede the approval of Jesus. Yet, it happens day after day. We as humans desire to be accepted, to be included, and to be loved. And so we gradually begin conforming to the people around us :at work, at church, at school, and even at home.

This has been a tough lesson for me. A real challenge.

Especially when responding in obedience to Christ.

Many of us have experienced the “warm and fuzzy” feeling that accompanies a good deed done in the name of our Lord Jesus. Feeding the hungry. Sharing a word of encouragement. Providing money for someone’s utility bill. Even writing a blog post that pierces a stranger’s heart.

Let me be real here:

We like to feel good. We like partnering with Jesus and winning His approval. And of those around us, too. It’s a win-win situation. Everyone’s happy, and that appeals to our nature. But, what’s the motive here?

What if the Lord Jesus asks us to do good and it doesn’t win the approval of others?

In fact, they reject it. And they reject you.

I am learning, my friends, this is the raw reality of following after Jesus Christ. The cost of being a disciple.

And these are the exact words Jesus spoke into my soul this morning.

“My Word never says that people will not reject you. It does however, state that I will not reject you. If you do things in My name, especially in My name, you will be rejected. Even My own children, at times, will reject you.”

So, the question I have to ask myself is: “Am I willing to be rejected for the sake of Christ?”

He reminded me of the prophet Jeremiah. God chose Him (just like He chooses many of us) to speak a message of hope and restoration to the people of Israel. Jeremiah was willing and available and I’d imagine He was hoping for a positive outcome. But, it never came.

Let’s see how the story unfolds.

It begins in Jeremiah 4:1-2 stating: “If you return, O Israel, return to me,” declares the Lord. ‘If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just, and righteous way you swear “As surely as the Lord lives,” then the nations will be blessed by Him and in Him they will glory.

What’s happening here?

The Lord is pursuing His beloved, Israel. Just as He pursues us.They’ve gotten themselves into a real dilemma by constantly rejecting the Lord. So, in His abounding grace, the Lord decides to give them another chance in speaking a message of hope through His servant, Jeremiah.

Let’s continue.

The scripture states in Jeremiah 4:9: “In that day,” declares the Lord, ‘the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled’.”

And the prophets will be appalled.

Look at this statement. Jeremiah was completely dumbfounded by the people’s response.

He was obedient to the Lord and the people rejected him.

Then the Lord goes on to say in Jeremiah 5:18-19: “Yet even in those days, declares the Lord, ‘I will not destroy you completely. And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own’.”

There’s an important lesson to be learned here. God asked Jeremiah to be His voice to the people. Jeremiah agreed in obedience. Jeremiah spoke to the people. And the people rejected God’s message. It’s because they rejected God, they also rejected Jeremiah.

Are we truly seeking after God’s approval in our lives?

Or are we focused on people?

What if God asks you to speak a message of truth to an individual and they criticize the very words you’ve spoken? Will you obey Him?

What if God asks you to leave your job and to follow Him into a foreign nation, and those you love the most oppose your plans? Will you follow Him?

What if God asks you to partner with Him to comfort someone in need by paying for their expenses, and then they decline the gift? Will you still partner with Him?

Or what if God prompts you to ask permission to pray for someone who’s deeply wounded and then they curse you? Will you submit to His leading?

These are real situations happening to real people. Are we willing to put the opinions of others on the back burner and follow through in our convictions?

What Jesus thinks matters. THE MOST. 

And at the end of the day when we sit before the Lord and look at our lives, no one else will be around. It’ll just be us and Jesus.

And may you remember, beloved, people-pleasing is just a dead end road.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6  NLT

Photo courtesy of stockfreeimages.com

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