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Monday, July 18, 2011

Living to Please God

Do you ever stop to think about what pleases God and what doesn't please God?  In a world that shouts out to all who are in it, "Do your own thing!"...."Do what it right for you and only you!" and other self-sufficient-type motto's, thinking about what pleases God isn't the norm.  However, in the life of a Christian, we must constantly strive to live our lives to please Him.  That is His will for us - that we will live a life pleasing to Him.  That doesn't mean that we will or can live a perfect life.  None of us are perfect and never will be, but as a Christian, it should be our mission to try to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, the heading in my NIV Bible says, "Living to Please God".  Paul was writing to the church in Thessalonica, but these same scriptures are for Christians today, as well. 

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,  and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

So, what can we learn from these passages about living to please God? Let's look at four things we can learn:

1.  First of all, Paul commends the Christians for living to please God, but urges them to do it more and more.  So, in our lives, we shouldn't be content with our spiritual walk, but always strive to do more.  We can strive to be more like Jesus.  We can strive to please God more and more. 

2.  God wants us to be sanctified.  He wants us to be holy.  Both of these words (sanctified and holy) mean to be set apart.  Sanctification is the process of making holy.  So, as Christians, God's Spirit at work in us and the blood of Jesus cleansing us of sin sanctifies us and makes us holy.

What is part of that process?  The above passage says that by fleeing sexual immorality, we will be sanctified.  This is a huge way Christians can be and should be set apart from what the world believes is right.  The world says sexual relations before marriage and outside of marriage is okay.  God's Word says that it is not.  The world says it's normal for teenagers to be sexually promiscuous.  God's Word says that is sin.  The world says homosexuality is acceptable and in some places even idolized.  God's Word says this is sin very plainly.

3.  God wants us to live self-controlled lives.  Specifically these passages are dealing with sexual desires, but they can also carry over into other areas of life. Anything that we put in place of God or in front God becomes an idol to us.  The Israelites worshipped statues made of gold.  Our idols may come in different forms:  money, careers, entertainment, hobbies, shopping, etc.

4.  God expects His children to act like His children.  It seems that many Christians believe that once they have received salvation and have been freed from the bondage of sin, that they can live any way they chose to live, but God's Word says this is not true.  In fact, Paul, through the inspiration of God gives this warning in verse 8: Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was given to help us and when we reject His teachings and His commandments, we are rejecting Him.

Living to please God always matters.  It should matter to you.  It should matter to me.  Living a life that is holy is living a life that is pleasing to God.  And though we may be living that kind of life, as the scriptures above point out.....we should strive to continue doing it more and more.
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