“So our aim is to please Him always, for we must all stand before Christ.” 2 Cor 5:9 NLT
This past weekend I was the speaker at a women’s retreat in Lake Tahoe, CA. This was my third time with this group in the past 8 years, so the topic was not what I normally speak about. And, though I did teach a series on “Living to Please God” several years ago at my home church Cornerstone Fellowship, this new opportunity turned out to be more than a refresher course for me. The preparation and delivery turned out to be a life changing reminder of what God’s word says on the subject.This reminder was a personal call to change direction, seeking to live to please God above all other pursuits!
After spending some time this morning reflecting and pondering it again….I asked God to forgive me for the many times I live to please people rather than Him. The awareness of my people pleasing, approval seeking heart, became so big and so real to me, that the only thing I could do was close myself up in a room for awhile for a time of prayer, confession and reflection on God’s Word. As I opened those office doors to start the day, I realized that my 2011 theme “JOY” was certainly in play. For God himself, through correcting my focus and encouraging me in the “re-direction” of my aim, filled me with unspeakable JOY!
“Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” Isa 51:3
Naturally, I want to share some of what God is showing me with you….
Living to Please God promises results that are hard to refuse…
“For without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man (or woman) who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness...” Ecc 2:25-26
People have been searching for all three of these things for a long, long time…But, they are ultimately found in full form by the people who live to please God. The world around us is searching, and it is our tendency to be conformed to the culture around us, a culture that is on a search…
- The search for wisdom…is the New Age Movement…everyone wants to be enlightened
- The quest for knowledge…is the Self Help Movement…everyone is an expert on something
- The pursuit of happiness…is written into our constitution…
Desiring all three is not wrong. Obviously God’s desire is to give us all three. The means to the end is what needs to be looked at. We seek to find fulfillment in ourselves, our things, or in other people. God desires us to find what our hearts long for by living in His Design for our lives, by learning what it means to live to please Him.
The truth is, we all live to please someone:
Others, God or Self…and often a combo of all three.
In order to live to please God, we must redirect our aim. Our goal must be different. Our focus changed from self made plans and desires to God’s plans and desires for us. And contrary to how it sounds, living to please God is not a list of perfection and performance, nor is it a ladder to earn God’s favor and love. The truth is, each of us is already favored and loved by God. The key is finally living in response to that love rather than reacting to life out of our insecurity and perfection based, performance driven, people approving tendencies. If we understood the love of God, we would gladly want to relinquish all of our own “ways” in favor of living in His love, responding to His love by a completely surrendered and dependent life.
Sadly, we gaze at the Scriptures that declare His love, and then live as if we don’t really believe them. We live based on self effort, strength and ability. We manipulate our situations in order to feel confident with the outcome. We become a culture of co-dependents, clinging to empty cups and desperate for someone or something to finally fill them.
In the church we can fall into the trap of serving people in the name of the Lord to win friends, approval and accolades. Or we can serve others to meet a personal need of significance…wanting to believe we have purpose. And, in the end, we can be burnt out and empty. We lose the heart and passion for God that once began our journey. There is a way to turn this around!
Living to Please God has atleast 4 requirements:
- A new attitude…coming into agreement with God
- A new path…turning in His direction, situation by situation
- A new dependence…living in His strength, not my own
- A daily sacrifice…laying down my “rights” and “my wisdom”, in favor of His Truth
Today I will leave you with one last Truth Thought:
“So we make it our goal to please him…” 2 Cor 5:9
The word “please” here is the Greek word, aresko. It means to be agreeable with or seek to be so. Or to come into agreement with. Now, let’s say the verse in full meaning…So we make it our goal to come into agreement with him….
What does coming into agreement with God look like?
It is alinging our life with Biblical Truth. It is submitting to agreement with His ways, even when they seem unreasonable and even when we don’t understand them. The truth sets us free. The truth was given to us for a specific purpose.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correctina nd training in righteousness, so that hte man or woman of God may be throughoughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17
Scripture is not a bunch of life lines or suggestions. It is God breathed…with a purpose. I encourage you to sit with this. Ask God to show you a recent time when you had the opportunity to agree with God on something…but instead just did your thing ( practical areas like…gossip, judging, being unkind, over spending, witholding truth, meddling, controlling, not seeking Him first, worrying, taking his goodness for granted…etc, etc….) Confess your shortcoming in purpose and aim to God, ask Him to forgive you. REALIGN with the Word of Truth.
God’s Word teaches us:
- What works for us
- What won’t work for us
- What God’s will for us is.
Scripture lines us up to what is agreeable to God our Father!
We live to please God, by coming into agreement with Him.
More later this week…stay tuned as we go down this path together.
Learning to Please God,