WHAT PLEASES GOD?
What does God delight in? And how do WE delight Him?
Turn to Romans 7.
There are two Scripture passages that will make up our theme and I encourage you to put them to memory:
1) 2 Corinthians 5:9 -- "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him."
----"whether at home or absent" means our focus is not to be so much on the end times, but THIS time, not thinking only of the day when we’ll finally see the Lord face to face, but THIS day, as we pursue His pleasure through our surrender to the Holy Spirit within us; not to be wondering about who the Anti-Christ is, but living lives that are clearly pro-Christ, pleasing to Him.
2) Ephesians 5:8-10 -- "...walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."
----"children of light" means we have a mission: to bring light to a dark world. Or, as our church motto states it, "We live to bring living water to the desert."
----"learn what is pleasing to the Lord" means our focus is to become aware of what pleases God, then to choose to commit ourselves to pleasing Him.
As the year goes on we’ll look at the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11 and learn from the heroes listed there in how they pleased God.
But our starting point today is to look at...
FOUR INGREDIENTS INVOLVED IN PLEASING GOD:
1) KNOWING THE FATHER’S HEART
--Ephesians 5:8-10 -- "walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."
--Jeremiah 9:24 -- “But let him who boasts boast of this, that he undrstands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the Lord.
2) FOLLOWING JESUS’ EXAMPLE.
John 8:29 -- "He Who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."
The best snapshot of what it will look like when we’re pleasing the Father is observing what Jesus did.
3) DELIBERATELY DECIDING TO PLEASE GOD.
<>Once we know what pleases the Father, then we have a choice to make: what will we do now?
--a) We can choose to live our lives simply as we please...seeking our own fulfillment, our own pleasure, without regard to others, without regard to our relationship with Christ.
----That would be choosing to live a life ruled by, guided by, making decisions based on our flesh, what feels good at the moment.
----But it’s a choice that guarantees we will not be pleasing God.
------*Rom.8:8 -- "but those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
<>We can choose to live our lives simply to please others, with the hope that they will like us more and/or treat us better, or honor us in some way.
--*Gal.1:10-14 --"Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?...am I striving to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ."
----This is a choice that is tempting, and yet if we truly are choosing to please God, then many times it will put us in direct opposition to what is "politically correct" so far as the world views our actions.
----To truly choose to please God means we’ll make some choices that are very unpopular in political arenas or even among some other "believers."
----Note: The idea of being man-pleasers, being politically correct or holding only socially acceptable view is not new.
----Likewise, the temptation for preachers to refrain from preaching that which is unpopular or controversial or unpleasant but Biblically accurate and what God wants preached/proclaimed by bold messengers is also not new.
----Paul said it this way, in 1 Thessalonians 2:4: "but just as God, Who examines our hearts."
OR we can choose to live our lives with a single ambition: a life that is pleasing to God.
Our key verse: 2 Corinthians 5:9 -- "...we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him."
This, of course, is the right choice...but it won’t be easy. It is the most difficult choice of the three.
It’s comforting to me to know that the Apostle Paul, arguably the greatest Christian who ever lived, wrestled with making the choice that would please God.
(Read Romans 7:15-25 here)
No, the choice won’t be easy, and sometimes we’ll not even know for sure what it is we should do, but again we can follow an example and heed the instruction of one who’s already been there. This time it’s James, Jesus’ earthly brother:
James 1:4-5 -- "And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
The choice might be hard, but, in the end, as a by-product of choosing to please the Father and following throughon a day to day, moment by moment basis, in living a life that pleases Him down here, He will, in turn, be able to say about us: "This is My beloved son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well-pleased."
4) FOLLOWING THROUGH & DOING THAT WHICH BRINGS PLEASURE TO GOD.
There are some SPECIFIC CHOICES, some SPECIFIC ACTIONS, ATTITUDES that are PLEASING TO GOD.
God is pleased when our life gives evidence of these things:
a) If we desire to please God, we will humble ourselves and yield to Him.
2 Chronicles 7:14 -- "and (if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Philippians 2:13 -- "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
Romans 12:1 -- "...to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable (pleasing) to God, which is your spiritual (rational) service of worship."
----Humbling ourselves before God is a conscious, rational, intentional choice. It is deliberate, and by it we demonstrate our devotion, we worship and please Him.
----Simply put, pleasing God begins in recognizing that He is God and we are not...He is the Potter and we are merely the clay...He is the Shepherd and we are His sheep...He is Lord, and we are His subjects.
----It is the first commandment that teaches us we are to exalt Him, not ourselves, and the beginning point of pleasing Him.
--b) If we desire to please God, we will praise Him.
----*Psalm 69:30 -- "I will praise the name of God with a song, I will magnify Him with thanksgiving...This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs."
----God delights in our sacrifices of praise. He delights in, dwells within the praises of His people.
c) If we desire to please God, we will obey Him.
1 Sam.15:22 -- "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to heed than the fat of rams."
1 Jn.3:22 -- "and whatever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight."
d) If we desire to please God, we will trust Him.
Heb.11:6 -- "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."
Rom.8:7 -- "those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
James 1:6-8 -- "...for the one who doubts is like the surt of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
"Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
e) If we desire to please God, we will proclaim Him.
1 Cor.1:21 -- "It pleased God through the folly of what we preached to save those who believed."
We are to declare His majesty, declare how great is our God...so all will how great, how great He is.
----But we’re also to proclaim His truths, even if those truths might not be popular or not readily received by others.
f) If we desire to please God, we’ll respect and minister to others.
Col.3:20 -- "Children, be obedient to your parents...for this is well-pleasing to the Lord."
Matthew 25:40 -- "...Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least them, you did it to Me."