Whom Do We Strive To Please?

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Romans 15:1-4

A wealthy but eccentric man called his pastor, doctor, and a political friend to his deathbed. He told them how he disagreed with the conventional belief that you can’t take your money with you when you die. He said, “I’m taking mine!” He pulled out three envelopes and handed one to each of the gathered trio. He explained how the envelopes contained $30,000 in cash and he wanted each man to throw an envelope in when they lowered his casket. At the funeral all three men did as their dead friend had requested. Upon returning from the cemetery the pastor’s conscience got the best of him and he made a confession to the doctor and politician. The minister said, “I needed the money for our church so I took out $10,000 and threw $20,000 into the grave.” The doctor then came clean and admitted to taking $20,000 for some costs he had incurred at his clinic. The politician was appalled at their dishonesty. He pridefully said, “I’m ashamed of you gentlemen. I threw in a check for the full amount.”

Groucho Marx was ahead of his time. He said, “I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.” With the ongoing deterioration of morals in television it is significant to know that in America 98% of homes have a TV but only 96% have an indoor toilet. As Bob DeMoss notes, “This is the first time in history we have more garbage coming into our homes than flowing out of them.”

While at the prom, a girl delivers her baby and suffocates the child in the bathroom. No one even knew she was pregnant, and the mother claims that she never really felt like the baby was hers. A father in Florida drives his two sons into a canal in the Everglades and drowns them because he is angry with their mother. A girl who is believed to be about twenty-one years old and mentally impaired is heard screaming and is found locked in her bedroom.
Investigators suspect that a man who claims he is her father left her there for prolonged periods of time. At the time police found the young woman, she weighed only about sixty pounds and wore a nightgown that was stained with urine and covered with feces. The great tragedy of our society is that we continue to lose our moral underpinnings.

Jesus said, No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Americans owe $384 billion on credit cards alone, and 70% of credit card holders carry an average balance of $3,900? While some of that is truly necessity, most is not. John D. Rockefeller once said, “The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.”

Americans are spending over $1 billion a year on cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic operations have risen 60% in the last decade and the number of plastic surgeons has quadrupled since 1965. Have we forgotten 1 Samuel 16:7? “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Voltaire predicted that within 100 years of his life (the 18th century) Christianity would be nothing more than history. He admitted, though, for this to happen the world would first have to get rid of Sunday. He said, “There is no hope of destroying Christianity so long as the Christian Sabbath is acknowledged and kept as a sacred day.” Football season is over and we know that many schedules have been affected by the desire to watch the games, a perspective check is in order. Don’t forget, more people gather each Sunday to attend church in America than the total attendance of all professional football games in an entire season.

There was the delinquent church member who suddenly began attending church faithfully on Sunday mornings. The pastor was greatly pleased and told him: “How wonderful it makes me feel to see you at services with your wife!” “Well, Parson,” said the prodigal, “it’s a matter of choice. I’d rather hear your sermon than hers.”

In his short story, “The Window,” author G.W. Target tells of two seriously ill men who occupied the same hospital room. The man by the window was propped up for an hour each day to drain fluid from his lungs. The other man spent his entire time on his back. The two men enjoyed each other’s company and talked for hours about all different types of subjects. During the hour the one man sat up in his bed, he would describe all the things he saw to his bedfast roommate. Each day great detail would be given to the activities going on outside. He described the park with its lovely lake and grand old trees. He would tell of children playing and lovers walking through the park outside their window. One day, a beautiful parade went by. Even though he couldn’t hear the music, the man on his back could see it all in his mind as his roommate gave exquisite details. But somehow, it didn’t seem quite fair. Although he enjoyed listening to his friend describe the sights, he began to crave the view of his comrade.

His desire for the bed by the window became a consuming thought. It even kept him awake at night. Then, in the darkness of one sleepless night, his roommate began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs and was desperately groping for the button to call for help. The covetous roommate could have easily pushed his button to summon a nurse, but instead, he watched the old man die. The following morning the nurse discovered the man’s death. The standard procedure was carried out and the body was removed. The surviving man then asked that his bed be switched so he could see out the window. At last, he would have what he felt he deserved. Painfully and slowly he struggled to prop himself up for that first look at the park. To his chagrin, the window looked out to a blank wall.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

The temptation of Evil is that it is all about “me.” Paul, frustrated by some of the things happening in the Galatian Church writes, 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.

Our first thought in the morning should be pleasing God. “What Would Jesus Do?” A farmer once went to the county fair with a pumpkin that was the exact size and shape of a two-gallon jug. His pumpkin won the blue ribbon. When someone asked how he got a pumpkin to look like that, he said, “It was easy. As soon as it started to grow, I stuck it inside a two-gallon jug.”

Paul exhorts us to not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). If we don’t heed his advice, we will soon find ourselves pressed into the mold of this world. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

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