Conquer the Beast

Connecting Points

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Today’s Topic: Conquer the Beast

Today’s Text:  John 5:44 (ESV)  How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?   


The itch of self-regard craves the scratch of self-approval.

That opening line of today’s Solid Joys devotional ( ) by John Piper captured my attention. I kept reading.

That is, if we are getting our pleasure from feeling self-sufficient, we will not be satisfied without others seeing and applauding our self-sufficiency.

My heart was being pierced as I realized that the fierce beast of approval had appeared again and needed to be dealt with. You probably understand because this beast attacks all of us, and under the direction of the enemy of our souls he knows the perfect time to seek to devour us. He stalks us waiting for those moments of rejection and conflict, resulting in doubt of our identity. Immediately he is right there to convince us we are correct in our assessment of our worth. He offers us a solution that is ultimately destructive, but we choose the lure of the immediate that disguises the destructive outcome. We choose to seek self-approval.

The devotional continued.

This is ironic. Self-sufficiency should free the proud person from the need to be made much of by others. That’s what “sufficient” means. But evidently there is a void in this so-called self-sufficiency.

The self was never designed to satisfy itself or rely upon itself. It never can be sufficient. We are but in the image of God, not God himself. We are shadows and echoes. So there will always be an emptiness in the soul that struggles to be satisfied with the resources of self.

This empty craving for the praise of others signals the failure of pride and the absence of faith in God’s ongoing grace. Jesus saw the terrible effect of this itch for human glory. He named it in John 5:44, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” The answer is, you can’t. Itching for glory from other people makes faith impossible… if you are bent on getting the satisfaction of your itch from the scratch of others’ acclaim, you will turn away from Jesus.

I immediately went to God’s truth. It was time to flush. ( )

  • Colossians 1:11-14 (ESV) 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • Titus 2:11-14 (ESV) 11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
  • 1 John 3:1 (NIV)  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

 I belong to God through Jesus Christ my Lord. He has delivered me. He has redeemed me. He has qualified me. He has lavished love on me. I am His child. I need no other approval. I am zealous to do His work, and I am doing it.

Thank you Jesus for your grace.

Don’t Give Up

Connecting Points

Monday, March 03, 2014

Today’s Topic: Don’t Quit

Today’s Text:  Colossians 1:9-10 (ESV) 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  

On Saturday my wife and I attended a wedding in Duluth, Minnesota. It was no ordinary wedding. The mother of the bride and the mother of the groom wore almost identical dresses that had been made for them 5000 miles away. The groom, the groomsmen and the father of the bride also wore suits that were custom-made in the same location. They were transported to the wedding by the groom and his entourage from Sierra Leone, Africa.

The bride and her family are friends of ours from a previous ministry partnership. But it goes much deeper than that, and the story of our relationship emphasizes the importance of prayer partnerships.

Twenty-one years ago, as a part of a sermon series on prayer, I challenged the adults of the congregation to connect with one of the children or youth in the church and adopt them as a prayer partner. I had hoped that the connection would lead to a life-long relationship of prayer support and encouragement for each of them.

I really can’t remember how we decided to get the adults and youth connected, but I do remember this – a 12-year old girl named Christie standing in front of me and saying that she would love to be my prayer partner. That moment began a relationship that has lasted for 21 years, and will continue.

It was such a joy to be a part of Christie’s wedding day. For the past several years Christie has been serving with Jonathan House Ministries ( ) in Sierra Leone, Africa. It was there that she met James, and together they will now serve the Lord as husband and wife. We had such a precious time watching two cultures come together in a wedding ceremony that honored the Lord Jesus Christ.

It had been clearly stated by the groom that their married life would always honor God, and that the morning after their wedding night was not the time to start skipping church. So we had church. Following breakfast, two of the African pastors conducted a worship service for the family and friends with the bride and groom in attendance. We sang, we prayed, and we heard God’s word on the subject of love. Then, in a moment of honor that will rank with one of the top moments of my life, I was asked to close the service in prayer, blessing the couple as they begin their life together.

After a few comments, I had the couple kneel in front of me, surrounded by the African pastors, parents, family, and friends, and we laid hands on them. I cannot tell you what a joy it was to pray over my prayer partner Christie and to realize that after 21 years of praying for her I was now praying with her.

Christie has grown into an incredible woman of God, and has married a man who is passionate about Jesus Christ. Together they will serve Him for the rest of their lives, ministering to orphans half a world away.

Thank you Jesus for connecting us and for Christie’s faithfulness to pray for me. Thank you for the privilege of praying for her, and for your faithfulness to answer those prayers. She knows your will and has your wisdom. She is walking worthy of you. She is pleasing to you. She is bearing fruit in all of her work. She is growing in her knowledge of you. Thank you Jesus for letting me be a part of her life.

Don’t quit praying for people, especially the ones God has put in your life. You will experience great joy as you see God answer your prayers in their life.

Pastor John