Saturday, May 14, 2011

Living to please God

What are the things we do that give delight and joy to the LORD?  The Bible tells us that praising God's name and singing psalms to honor Him with thanksgiving, will please the LORD more than "the blood of bulls and goats":
I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving.  For this will please the Lord more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves.  Psalm 69:30-31
We also read that Samuel told King Saul the same thing, obedience delights the LORD more than animal sacrifices:  
Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Sam 15:22)
What we are taught in this verses is that the LORD delights in our obedience and careful attention to His Word and walking in them.  The Psalms and Proverbs also tell us that the Lord is pleased with those whose ways are blameless, who are trustworthy and humble, and with those who put their hope in His love : 
  • the LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. (Psalms 147:11)
  • For the LORD takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory. (Psalms 149:4)
  • He delights in those whose ways are blameless (Proverbs 11:20)  
  • He delights in people who are trustworthy (Proverbs 12:22) 
    In other words, as it is written in the book of Isaiah, the Lord favors and is pleased with those who are humble, confess their sins before Him, and trust and live according to His Word:
    These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)
    Love and obedience to God are the results of faith of who God is, believing that He is a faithful, merciful and a loving God who is always true to His Word and never changes His promises. When we have such an understanding and relationship with God, our love must be evident through our obedience.  As the Apostle John writes:
    Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:4-6)
    This the Lord Jesus had had also made manifestly clear, both positively and negatively, when he said: 
    Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.
    Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.
    (John 14:23-24)
    The Lord Jesus Christ's teaching is all the Bible: "the Scriptures testify about me" (John 5:39)

    It as been said that everyone lives to please someone: himself, his spouse, his parents, his child, his God, or someone else.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-10, Paul tells us that a Christian's motivation for correct living should be based on love for God - not a set of rules to be obeyed, or a list of restrictions to to avoid, but as the outworking of a loving desire to please God who has chosen us.  As such he exhorts us that it is God's will that we should:
    • be holy, abstaining from sexual immorality (1:3); 
    • learn to control our bodies in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God (1:4-5);
    • love our brothers and sisters - love all God's family (1:6,9-10)
    Let us pray daily that the Holy Spirit will help us live a life pleasing to the LORD, and that when we mess up, we have a forgiving Father and a High Priest:
    Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb 4:14-16
    All of the above requires one basic ingredient without which we cannot please God.  The foundation for pleasing God is faith, because:
    without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  (Heb 11:6)
    I will come back to a brief look about hope and faith next time.

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