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Posts Tagged ‘pleasing God’

Lifestyle Issues

March 11th, 2015

“We urge you to live in a way that pleases God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NLT.

Trying to please everyone is as futile as trying to never offend anyone.

My thoughts and comments today are about “lifestyle issues.”

EDL pix walking with God

If you try to please everyone, you will ultimately please no one and make yourself miserable in the process. Trying to please everyone is as futile as trying to never offend anyone. Neither is practical or achievable. Life is simpler when you finally decide who you are going to please. And the worst possible alternative is to live to please no one but yourself. The Bible warns, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead be modest in your thinking.” Romans 12:3 TEV.

Many things pressure you to conform to others’ demands and expectations. Resist the temptation of doing so. The Apostle Paul offers a practical self-inventory, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV. Obviously, Paul recognized a previous time when he was “still trying to please men,” and the inconsistency that resulted.

The proper conclusion is this: when you can serve both God and man, do so. When you cannot, serve and please God above all others. “Our aim is to please Him always . . for we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NLT. Never forget the One to whom you owe first allegiance.

The surrounding culture may press you to conform your attitudes, values, and conduct in less than exemplary ways; live as unto the Lord. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV. Current circumstances might seem to impose an urgency of attention they may not warrant; live above your present circumstance. An unhealthy family history may have enslaved you in habitual behaviors, struggling to please people who simply refuse to be pleased; live free of unjust expectations. Some have had the unfortunate experience of working for a boss you could not please, a relative from whom you never gained their approval, or a parent or spouse who never affirms you. That is sad, but not uncommon. Such experiences present lifestyle issues.

Ultimately, the only hope of pleasing others is to confidently know that you have first pleased God. Here is the Bible’s definitive guideline: “Finally, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You are doing this already, and we encourage you to do so more and more.” Read 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:1 NLT. After struggling unsuccessfully to please others, maybe your question would be, “How then can I please God?” Pleasing people is complicated; pleasing God is not. “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 NIV. See Romans 14:17-18 NIV.

The task is not yours alone; God gives you all that is required; you supply obedience. “May God equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 13:21 NIV. Paul’s answer was this, “. . we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way . .” Colossians 1:9-10 NIV. Paul then elaborates on what pleases God, “. . bearing fruit, growing in knowledge, strengthened with power, having endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks, brought into the Kingdom, and having redemption and the forgiveness of sins.” Read Colossians 1:11-14 NIV.

I love the simplicity with which the Bible described ancient Enoch, a man that walked with God, “Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Read Hebrews 11:5-6 (See Genesis 5:21-24).

Today, my prayer for you is that at life’s end, His testimony and yours will be that you pleased God.

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Purposeful

November 13th, 2013

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.”  Daniel 1:8 NKJV.

Consequential decisions are best made well before moments of immediacy.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “purposeful.”

Life will present situations confronting you with decisions which can impact and shape your future, for better or worse. Life is simpler when you predetermine what options are acceptable or unacceptable to you. Wise decisions are rarely made in the emotions of a challenging circumstance. Consequential decisions are best made well before moments of immediacy. There are issues of integrity, honesty, and morality that are best settled well before they are pressured by expediency.

After the siege and subsequent defeat of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, along with most of the best and brightest of his nation, were taken as captives to Babylon. See 2 Kings 24:10-16. Everyone has heard of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” There is much about prospering in adverse circumstances that can be learned from Daniel. There were subtle yet more dangerous things than lions that Daniel would face in Babylon. Daniel prospered without compromising either his faith or personal integrity. How did this young Israelite, taken captive in his youth, become a trusted counselor and confidant to multiple rulers of Babylon? Read Daniel 1:3-7 NKJV.

(1) Daniel experienced displacement – separated forcibly from every place familiar and everyone supportive. Nebuchadnezzar instructed, ”Bring young men . . who had ability to serve in the King’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” Vs. 3-4. Your sense of place and person are significant. The intent was clear – eradication of Daniel’s history and radical re-education of his beliefs and behavior. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV/Romans 8:28-29 NIV. The issue is influence; stay connected to the people and places you know best and trust most. Wise decisions are best made in good company.

(2) Daniel refused to modify his appetites – provided with tastes and extravagance he could not provide himself. “And the King appointed for them a daily provision of the King’s delicacies . . and three years of training, so that . . they might serve the King.” Vs. 5/9-16. The issue is dependence; be wary of strong desires independent of Godly provision. The enemy will promise you what you don’t have; only later do you discover it was really what you don’t need.

(3) Daniel resisted a compromised identity – his name, connecting him to his family and religious heritage, was changed from Daniel to Belteshazzar. Vs. 6-7. The intent was diabolical, to alter his security in who he had been and establish a Babylonian identity. The issue is allegiance; do not be confused about your identity and destiny in Christ.

Faced with pressures to conform greater than will likely confront you or I, Daniel held a firm conviction, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself . .” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. Compromise is never an acceptable option. See 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV. To succeed in your spiritual life, you have be purposeful. When you “purpose in your heart not to defile [yourself],” every other decision becomes simpler. As a teen, I learned to sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” There is nothing behind – or ahead of me – that I desire more than Jesus.

My prayer for you today is that your heart will be set fully on pleasing God.

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Do the Right Thing

September 20th, 2013

“Don’t get weary and give up.”  Galatians 6:9 NLT.

Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.

My thoughts and comments today encourage, “do the right thing.”

Everyone gets tired eventually. You try to do the right things, but the wrong things result. You believe the best of others, but are invariably disappointed. You let yourself be vulnerable and you get hurt – again. You can get tired of doing the right thing, especially when disappointed thoughts whisper that no one else does, which is untrue of course. Cry out to God as did David,“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me . . Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:10/12 NLT.

Do the right thing, because that is always the right thing to do. You may grow tired, but doing the right thing is never the wrong thing. “The ways of the Lord are right . .” Hosea 14:9 NIV. Be certain of that. And they are right for you, every time. “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice . . Listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes . .” Proverbs 21:2-3/Exodus 15:26 NIV. There is satisfaction in doing what pleases and honors the Lord.

Do the right thing, because a blessing is promised when you do. God is faithful to honor obedience.The law of harvest dictates that, “Those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” Read Galatians 6:7-8 NLT. Yes, there are people and times that make that difficult, but the path of least resistance never leads to blessing. “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone . .” Galatians 6:9-10 NLT.

Imagine how sad it would be to tire of doing the right thing just before, “reaping the harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” To Noah, God promised, “As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest . . will never cease.” Genesis 8:22 NIV. If you sow righteous seed, you reap a righteous harvest.

Do the right thing, because doing so pleases God. Be assured, this is no small matter to God. There will be moments when you feel like you just can’t do what’s right “on your own,” and you would be exactly right; nothing in your Christian life was ever intended to be done in your own strength. Learn to lean on the Shepherd. ”The Lord is my Shepherd . . He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.” Psalm 23:3 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you discover the joy of righteousness.

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Purpose and Priorities

October 8th, 2012

“I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be.” Philippians 3:12 NLT.

Defined purpose and priorities are fundamental for maximum accomplishment.

My thoughts and comments today are about “purpose and priorities.”

It is easy to live simply for the moment, but not best. You have to live in the moment, but you need to live for the future. Today is the fruit of yesterday but also the seed of tomorrow. How purposefully you live today has so much to do with the opportunities and joys available ahead for you. Without a sense of purpose and priorities, life becomes occupied with lesser things. Clear purpose determines direction, decisions, and ultimately destination; defined priorities accomplish maximum achievement. Without clear purpose you are adrift. Without priorities, you waste valuable time, resources, and best efforts – good replaces best; urgent supplants important; temporal displaces eternal.

Consider Paul’s confidence and single-mindedness, “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be . . I am focusing all my energies on this one thing.” Read Philippians 3:10-14 NLT. Paul had conviction of purpose and firmly established priorities. You know from what you were saved; more importantly, understand for what you are saved. Spiritual growth does not just happen on its own, nor is it simply a calendar event. Christ-likeness is the result of single-mindedness, in a deliberative process whereby you cooperate with the Holy Spirit to become all the Father purposed for you to be and do.

Jesus lived with singular purpose. Even as a young boy, Jesus had a single-mindedness of purpose. He lived with this conviction, “I must be about My Father’s business.” Luke 2:49 NKJV. Later, neither the crowd’s adulation nor criticism could deter Him. He could not have been more clear, “I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me . . [I am] come to seek and to save that which was lost.” John 6:38/Luke 19:10 NKJV.

Jesus chose Godly priorities. “The One who sent Me is with Me . .  for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV. There is no greater joy than the sure knowledge that your life is pleasing to God. Paul’s prayer was: “to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God . .” Read Colossians 1:9-12 NKJV. “Filled . . worthy . . pleasing . . fruitful . . increasing!” How are you doing in all those?

But therein is to be found this good news. “May the God of peace Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him.” Hebrews 13:20-21 NLT. God equips you “with all you need for doing His will.” God produces in you, “all that is pleasing to Him.” How can you be confident of this, you may ask. Consider carefully His past record. Your God has unequalled power; He is the One “who brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus.” How does your little need stack up to that impossibility? He accomplishes this “through the power of Jesus Christ.” See Ephesians 3:21 NIV.

Long ago, I made this dedication, “I will live daily with an eternal perspective and Kingdom priorities.” There it was – clear purpose and defined priorities. Two understandings guide my personal discipleship, “Keep the main thing the main thing” and “First things first.” In a practical way, I think those two guidelines clarify the dedication I made some years ago. My Dad taught me those basics; I heartily commend them to you.

My prayer for you today is this: be clear about who you are and what you are to be.

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A Life Pleasing to God

November 16th, 2011

“By faith Enoch . . had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 NKJV

“Pleasing God is not about perfect performance, but is about complete trust and obedience.”

My thoughts today are about a “life pleasing to God.”

Be prepared; you will occasionally come across people that are difficult to please. That is unavoidable. People that are unhappy and not very pleased with themselves, or much of anything or anyone else, can be difficult. Somewhere in the real life reality of such experiences, an unfounded fear creeps in that God may be hard to please as well. After all, His expectations are pretty high, and His example is without parallel. He is perfect, never failing, never faltering. So how could any of us please God?

A very sad day occurred when our son was a young high schooler. After a serious discussion about his grades which were average but I believed less than his capability, I realized the conversation had been a stern monologue rather than a discussion and more intense than I meant. For his sake and future, I could not accept his allowing less than his best effort. Yes, his grades mattered to me, but not as much as he mattered. I found him in his room. My heart broke as I heard him say, “Dad, there’s nothing I do that pleases you!” His pain became my pain, and sitting down beside him on his bed, I tried to reassure him that my discontent with his grades was by no means my displeasure with him. Do you ever feel like God is a parent you cannot please? I think God also feels as I did when we think He cannot be pleased.

Jesus models and teaches exactly the opposite. His Father testified to all, “This is My beloved Son; I am fully pleased with Him.” 2 Peter 1:17-18 NLT. Fully pleased! What more need be said? Jesus models a life in the certainty that God is pleased. Jesus had unquestioned confidence; “I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV. When you know that God is pleased, there is freedom that is hard to explain and courage to live life with boldness. But you might say, “Of course, Jesus pleased God; He was the Son of God. But what about me? I deal with mine and others’ humanity every day.”

The Bible records this remarkable statement about a man: “By faith Enoch . . had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 NKJV. If Enoch did, you can! Simple faith pleases God. Hebrews 11:6. Sincere obedience pleases God. 1 John 3:22-23 NIV. A worthy life pleases God. Colossians 1:10 NIV. Doing good and sharing pleases God. Hebrews 13:16 NLT. Those are a sample, but are non-negotiables.

Pleasing God is not about perfect performance, but is about complete trust and obedience. Here is the secret. “And now, may the God of peace . . equip you with all you need for doing his will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him.” Hebrews 13:20 NLT. Read that again. Observe that God equips you with all He expects from you. You can do what God asks! And God will produce in you what is pleasing to Him. He enables you to do what you otherwise could not.

My prayer for you today is that you give God your best and trust Him for the rest.

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