Summary: This sermon gives Biblical guidelines to deal with the pressures of life successfully.
Lloyd J. Ogilve, in his book "Life Without Limits," tells the story of a pastor who in the space of one week heard the following comments from various people:
A woman said; “I’m under tremendous pressure from my son these days. I can’t seem to satisfy him, however hard I work. He really puts me under pressure.”
A young man said; “My parents have fantastic goals for me to take over the family business. It’s not what I want to do, but their pressure is unbearable.”
A college woman said; “I’m being pressured by my boyfriend to live with him before we are married. You know...sort of try it out…to see if we are right for each other.”
A husband said; “My wife is never satisfied. Whatever I do, however much I make, it’s never enough. Life with her is like living in a pressure cooker with the lid fastened down and the heat on high.”
A secretary said, pointing to her phone, “That little black thing is driving me silly. At the other end of the line are people who make impossible demands and think they are the only people alive.”
A middle-aged wife said; “My husband thinks my faith is silly. When I feel his resistance to Christ, I wonder if I’m wrong and confused. As a result, I’ve developed two lives: one with him and one when I’m with my Christian friends.”
An elderly woman said; “My sister thinks she has all the answers about the faith and tries to convince me of her point of view. I feel pressured to become her brand of Christian, but I keep thinking if it means being like her, I don’t want it at all. When she calls, I just put the phone on my shoulder and let her rant on while I do other things. A half-hour later, she’s still on the line blasting away, but I still feel pressure.”
A young pastor at a clergy conference said; “I hardly know who I am any more. There are so many points of view in my congregation, I can’t please them all. Everyone wants to capture me for his camp and get me to shape the church around his convictions. The pressure makes me want to leave the ministry.”
Can any of you identify with these pressures or ones similar to them? Is not life full of pressures? Let me remind you of something I hope you already know. Your faith in God-no matter how strong it is, will not take away the pressures of life. Sometimes being a Christian only increases the pressures we have to face. I hope no one ever told you that when you trusted Christ the pressures would go away.
I can relate to what most of this pastor said he had heard, for I too have people speak to me about pressures they are facing in life. I have my own pressures I face. My family has our own pressures we face. How do we handle these pressures in a way that we find success and that we please God in the process?
Herod did not do such a good job handling pressure. Herod as a leader was selfish, a murderer, immoral, and a political opportunist. There are not many people I would suppose who enjoy having their sins pointed out, especially in public. Herod certainly did not enjoy it. It seems that Herod was involved in an illegal marriage with his brother’s wife, Herodias. A man named John the Baptist came along and publicly pointed out to Herod that this was wrong.
John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus. He preached in the wilderness, and thousands of people flocked to hear him. Apparently it was no secret that he had rebuked Herod for this adulterous marriage. Herodias was particularly anxious to have John silenced. Herod’s solution to the problem was to put John in prison.
In John’s favor was the fact that Herod liked him. John was probably only one of a few people who spoke the truth to Herod. But the truth about the sin he was involved in was a bitter pill for Herod to swallow. He was between a rock and a hard place. He couldn’t afford to have John continually remind the people about their leader’s sin, but he was afraid to have him killed. Pressure, however, finally forced his hand.
Now when Herod heard about Jesus, he thought he might be John come back from the dead. As a sideline, Mark tells how Herod gave into the pressure to do away with John. Herodias wanted John killed, but she couldn’t do it without Herod’s permission. Finally, the opportunity came. It was Herod’s birthday, and he gave a big party for his palace aides, army officers and the leading citizens of Galilee. While they were all there having a good time, and no doubt drunk, Herod’s daughter came in and performed what was probably a lewd dance.