1. Hello, listening friends.
2. Thank you for tuning in.
3. We are in the midst of a series of messages entitled, “Looking Up…” when life knocks you down;
4. and it is based on the life of the Apostle Paul;
5. and I want to begin by telling you this:
6. if popularity and acceptance are your life goals, I want you to stay tuned,
7. because I’m going to deal with this subject today.
8. Have you ever thought about how some people can be held on a pedestal one day,
9. and, then, they get dropped the next day?
10. That’s why it is dangerous to seek after popularity and acceptance by people.
11. Boys and girls who want to be popular in school often find themselves disappointed and discouraged.
12. Parents who uphold popularity as a goal for their children will be disappointed and pay a heavy price.
13. When leaders seek popularity as the goal of their life,
14. they will end up compromising and becoming ineffective in serving God.
15. Seeking after popularity can be demoralizing.
16. Seeking after acceptance can be devastating,
17. because people by nature are fickle;
18. because people by nature are undependable.
19. People are unstable and, therefore, you cannot build your life’s goal on popularity.
20. A famous man once said the following words,
21. that “…fame is a vapor
22. and those who cheer you today will curse you tomorrow.”
23. King Saul is someone who sought after popularity,
24. and was devastated again and again;
25. and this is how it happens:
26. it, first, begins with pride.
27. When pride takes hold of us, it will not easily let go.
28. Be careful of pride,
29. for it is the one sin that is condemned by the Lord Jesus Christ.
30. When pride took hold of King Saul’s life,
31. he began to believe that he accomplished his achievements by himself.
32. He forgot to give God the glory.
33. He had forgotten to give God all the credit;
34. and, when pride takes over,
35. the next step was blaming everyone around him for his disobedience to the Lord,
36. instead of blaming himself.
37. The same is true with us.
38. We often begin to blame other people for our troubles;
39. then, the next step is acting, or, role-playing;
40. and that’s precisely what King Saul began to do.
41. He began to pretend to be repentant.
42. When we pretend to repent,
43. there may be an outward change; but, on the inside, there is no change.
44. If you are a person who has compromised your integrity, let me tell you about three steps for rebuilding your integrity.
45. Admit your failure and receive the forgiveness of God.
46. Find an honest friend who’s going to keep confidentiality and ask him to hold you accountable.
47. Ask him or her to walk with you in your road to recovery;
48. and, then, the third thing you must do is you begin to reset your goals in life -
49. not for popularities, or financial gain, or power,
50. but for one thing alone—the glory of Jesus Christ.
51. If you make this the goal of your life,
52. the world may be falling apart, but you will be standing strong.
53. Someone said
54. that some of the most talented people are terrible leaders,
55. because of their crippling need to be loved by everyone.
56. The reason I’m warning you about the sin of pride
57. is because Acts, Chapter 14, gives us an example of two men of God who overcame that insidious temptation.
58. Please turn with me to the Book of Acts, Chapter 14.
59. In the first seven verses, Paul and Barnabas go to Iconium and, there, in that city, Paul preaches the Gospel;
60. and they get the same, predictable response.
61. Those who believed the Gospel repented and rejoiced in the Good News,
62. and, then, there were the Jewish leaders who incited the crowd to persecute Paul and Barnabas;
63. but beginning at verse 8 of Acts 14,
64. Paul and Barnabas go down from Iconium to Lystra
65. and, there, they see this crippled man from birth.
66. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul heals the man and the pagan crowd was amazed.
67. Now, look at verse 11 of Acts 14.
68. The people of Lystra said, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men...”
69. and, in a typical crowd reaction, they said that Barnabas is Zeus and Paul is Hermes;
70. so, they bring in the priests of Zeus and Hermes.
71. They bring a bunch of bulls and garlands and were ready to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas.
72. They were ready to bow and worship them, thinking that the gods have come among them;
73. but the Bible tells us that, for a few minutes, Paul and Barnabas did not understand what was going on;
74. and, as soon as Paul and Barnabas discovered what the people were trying to do,
75. they tore their clothes as a sign of being horrified.
76. Why did they call Barnabas and Paul, “Zeus” and “Hermes?”
77. Why did they want to worship them?
78. I want to tell you why.
79. Because in the city of Lystra,
80. there was a mythology recorded by a poet named, “Ovid,”
81. and this is how it goes:
82. the gods, Zeus and Hermes, once came to earth into the city of Lystra, disguised as human beings,
83. and, when they arrived in Lystra, they asked for hospitality and accommodation;
84. then, they knocked on 1,000 doors, but nobody would offer them hospitality;
85. but there was a peasant man by the name of “Philemon,” and his wife, Baucis.
86. This couple took those gods into their humble cottage and offered them all they needed;
87. and the myth goes on to say
88. that the gods rewarded Philemon and his wife by turning their humble cottage into the temple of Zeus and Hermes;
89. but, then, they destroyed the rest of the population of Lystra in revenge for not receiving accommodation;
90. so, my listening friend, you can imagine what this pagan population of Lystra thought of Paul and Barnabas.
91. You can imagine the reaction when they saw a man healed before their eyes.
92. They said, “We don’t want to repeat the mistake of our ancestors,
93. so now we are going to worship them as Zeus and Hermes.”
94. Now, I want to ask you a question, my friend.
95. What is the temptation that Paul and Barnabas were facing at that very moment?
96. I can tell you what it is.
97. They could have said to themselves,
98. “We will accept what they are doing and, then, we can tell them about Jesus.
99. Here’s an opportunity for us to get some respect and relief from persecution.”
100. Paul could have said, “Let’s play along because we want to be relevant to them.”
101. On the contrary, Paul went on to preach a relevant message.
102. Knowing that these pagans worshipped nature, he talked to them about God, the Creator of nature.
103. These people were worshipping myth and unreality and, therefore, the Apostle Paul was telling them about the real God who became a real man.
104. He told them about the real God who died a real death
105. and who was resurrected—real resurrection from the real death,
106. and that He is coming back to judge every human being.
107. That was Paul’s message to the people of Lystra.
108. He never tried for personal gain and personal acceptance.
109. He never tried to mislead them.
110. No. He spelled it out up front.
111. Now, here’s a message to those who worship nature.
112. Here is a message for those who are into self-worship.
113. Listen to it very carefully.
114. The message comes from the Word of God,
115. that every meal you eat,
116. that every drop of water you drink,
117. that every breath that you draw,
118. that every enjoyment you experience,
119. that every moment of good health that you have,
120. that every dollar or pound in your pocket,
121. every particle of air that you breathe,
122. that they are all a gift from the Creator God.
123. If you keep enjoying God’s blessings and ignoring Him,
124. if you keep on taking from Him and giving credit to others,
125. one day, you’ll stand in the courts of Heaven before the great Judge on that dreadful Day;
126. and all these blessings that God has given you will serve as witnesses against you;
127. but, if you will turn to Him and acknowledge that His Son Jesus Christ died for you,
128. if you worship Him alone and commit your life to Him,
129. then, the Day of Judgment will not be a dreadful day for you,
130. because, on that day, you will be pronounced guiltless.
131. On that day, you will escape the judgment of God.
132. On that day, you will experience the forgiveness of God.
133. On that day, you will be with Him in Heaven;
134. and this is the message for our generation.
135. Acts, Chapter 14, verse 19,
136. proves to us the fickleness of the crowd.
137. The very people who wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas suddenly began to stone them;
138. and that is why, if you know Jesus Christ as your Savior,
139. you do not live by the popularity of others, but by the authority of Jesus Christ.
140. Remember the crowd in Jerusalem
141. at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion?
142. One day they said, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord…”
143. and, then, a few days later, they said, “Crucify him! Crucify him! His blood be on us and our children.”
144. The very people who wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas now wanted to kill them.
145. In fact, at one point, they thought Paul was already dead.
事实上， 有一段时间， 他们以为保罗已经死了。
146. They stone him so hard that everybody left;
147. but Paul gets up
148. and he leaves a trail of blood from Lystra all the way to the city of Derbe;
149. and, there, the Bible said he preached again.
150. My listening friend, please listen carefully, as I conclude.
151. The desire for approval can be so strong that some people will do strange things to gain it;
152. and, spiritually speaking, many of us are guilty of pursuing popularity;
153. but the only approval that you should be striving for
154. is that of the only One who can say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
155. Let me ask you this, as I conclude:
156. what is the goal of your life?
157. Is the goal of your life the glory of Jesus Christ?
158. If it is not, will you make that to be the goal of your life today?
159. Because any other goal that is not anchored in this one
160. will bring misery and grief;
161. but, when your goal is to bring honor to the name of Jesus Christ,
162. the world may be falling apart all around you, but you will emerge victorious.
163. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.