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Pleasing to God

 

Have you ever really sat down to consider the goals in your life? Counselors and efficiency experts for businesses, as well as individuals, continually proclaim the importance of setting goals in our lives. Just think of your individual circumstances. There are first the physical basics of food, clothing and shelter. Are you secure in those most essential of physical basics?

 

The Basics

In Matthew 6:24, Christ said that if we have faith, or trust in God, he will provide for our needs.

(Mat 6:24-34 NKJV) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. {25} "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? {26} "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? {27} "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? {28} "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; {29} "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. {30} "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? {31} "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' {32} "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. {33} "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. {34} "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

In certain areas of the world, it may be a day-to-day struggle just to meet the most basic of physical needs. Thatís important; but we shouldnít be so consumed with meeting the physical needs that we neglect the spiritual side of life. When we set goals in our lives, we should make sure we are anchored first in the things that count most in the eyes of God. We are to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." If we do so, we are promised our needs will be fulfilled by God. What does it mean to seek Godís righteousness? Where can we go to learn how to please our Creator? In Romans 15:4, Paul gives us direction.

(Rom 15:4 NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

 

Scriptural Examples

Letís look to the examples in scripture of those who lived before us in a manner that was pleasing to God. Who was the first to be deemed pleasing to God? Do you know? It wasnít Adam or Eve because they both rebelled against the authority and rule of God. Besides that, after their initial creation with the rest of the animals on the sixth day which was deemed as "very good" in Genesis 1:31, nothing is written to show that God thought of them as righteous or pleasing to him. Hebrews 11:4 speaks of the first man deemed to be righteous in Godís sight.

(Heb 11:4 NKJV) By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

Even though he is long dead, the righteous deeds exhibited in the more excellent sacrificial offering made by Abel still speak to us today. His deeds confirm to us that he was pleasing to God.

In Luke 11:45, after blasting the scribes and Pharisees for being hypocrites, Jesus turned to the lawyers.

(Luke 11:45-51 NKJV) Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, "Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also." {46} And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. {47} "Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. {48} "In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. {49} "Therefore the wisdom of God also said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,' {50} "that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, {51} "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.

Christ held up Abel as being a positive example of righteousness and even included Abel among the prophets of God killed by the forefathers of the unrighteous Israelites. So, clearly, Abel lived a life pleasing to God; but were there others? Go back to Hebrews 11 to find the answer.

(Heb 11:5 NKJV) By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

There it is: a flat-out, plain statement that Enoch led a life pleasing to God. In fact, Enoch led a life so right and so pleasing to God, itís plain to see by the verse we just read in Hebrews that Enoch passed the challenges and tests of this life and qualified for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Therefore, God cut short his life while still in a state of righteous qualification. Enoch made the grade and there is reserved for him a righteous office in the coming Kingdom of God. In Jude 1:14, the apostle Jude spoke of the righteousness of Enoch in warning against sinful men.

(Jude 1:14-15 NKJV) Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, {15} "to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

To learn more about that righteous man who was pleasing to God, go back to the book of Genesis in chapter five.

(Gen 5:18-24 NKJV) Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and begot Enoch. {19} After he begot Enoch, Jared lived eight hundred years, and had sons and daughters. {20} So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years; and he died. {21} Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. {22} After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. {23} So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. {24} And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Youngís Literal Translation of the Bible brings even more life and depth to the life of Enoch. Look again at verse 24.

(Gen 5:24 YLT) And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.

That sheds even more light on how and why Enoch was exceptionally pleasing to God. It was because he walked with God habitually. Godís ways were an integral part of Enochís life. It was his habit. Worship of God was not just a casual or sometime thing with Enoch, as it is for most people today. Worship of God was an everyday habit with Enoch. That was one of the keys for why Enoch was deemed to be pleasing to God.

 

The Friend of God

What an example of steadfastness and diligence! Enoch was not alone, however, in his consistency of pleasing behavior toward his Creator. Look at the one to whom "the promises" were made. In Galatians 3:16, look at the fulfillment of one of the promises made by God to our father, Abraham.

(Gal 3:16-18 NASB) Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ. {17} What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. {18} For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

In Psalms 105:6, David spoke of another of the promises God made to Abraham and confirmed to his descendants.

(Psa 105:6-13 NASB) O seed of Abraham, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! {7} He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. {8} He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, {9} The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac. {10} Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, {11} Saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan As the portion of your inheritance," {12} When they were only a few men in number, Very few, and strangers in it. {13} And they wandered about from nation to nation, From one kingdom to another people.

David spoke of Godís promise to give the land of Israel to Abrahamís descendants. We know God made this and other promises to Abraham, such as the promise to greatly multiply his descendants and to make Abram the father of many nations when he changed his name to Abraham.

We need to dig a little deeper, though, to find out why God made the promises to Abraham. Was it because Abraham was smart or because he had a beautiful wife, Sarah? No, as we can see in James 2:21, it was because of what Abraham did.

(James 2:21-23 NASB) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? {22} You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; {23} and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God.

How did Abraham come to be regarded by God as his "friend"? We just heard James say it was because Abrahamís faith (or trust) was working with his works. The deeds or actions, which Abraham daily performed, showed God just how much Abraham trusted that God would deliver on the promises he had made.

In Genesis 26:4, in confirming the promises to Abrahamís son, Isaac, God testified of Abrahamís diligence and faithful obedience.

(Gen 26:4-5 NASB) "And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; {5} because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws."

So, Abraham obeyed God and kept his charge. The Hebrew word for "charge" is mishmereth, Strongís# 4931. It means: a watch, the act or the sentry, the post; observance, or duty. Abraham diligently kept watch over his own behavior and that of his household by keeping Godís charge: that is, Godís commandments, statutes and laws.

How do we know that Abraham enforced Godís commandments, statutes, and laws both on himself and on his household? We know it because, in Genesis 18:17, God said he would.

(Gen 18:17-19 NASB) And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, {18} since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? {19} "For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him."

It was through the daily actions of diligent and consistent obedience that Abraham became the "friend of God."

 

Preachers of Righteousness

Earlier we read how Enoch was called "a preacher of righteousness." Were there other preachers of righteousness besides Enoch? Letís go back to Hebrews 11:7.

(Heb 11:7 NKJV) By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Noah did much more than just heed the warning of God and deliver his family from death. In 2 Peter 2:4, we can see that Noah actually was a preacher of Godís righteousness to a world filled with ungodliness.

(2 Pet 2:4-5 NKJV) For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; {5} and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;

Look at verse five again, in Youngís Literal Translation.

(2 Pet 2:5 YLT) and the old world did not spare, but the eighth person, Noah, of righteousness a preacher, did keep, a flood on the world of the impious having brought,

In Genesis 6:7, we can read about how God felt toward Noah in comparison with the rest of the evil society among which he lived.

(Gen 6:7-9 NKJV) So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." {8} But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. {9} This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

As it was written of Enoch, so it is said that "Noah walked with God."

In Ezekiel 14, Noah is listed among the greatest of the righteous servants of God.

(Ezek 14:13-20 NKJV) "Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness [notice that the land or nation sins against God through its persistence in unfaithfulness], I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. {14} "Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness," says the Lord GOD. {15} "If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts, {16} "even though these three men were in it, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate. {17} "Or if I bring a sword on that land, and say, 'Sword, go through the land,' and I cut off man and beast from it, {18} "even though these three men were in it, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but only they themselves would be delivered. {19} "Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, {20} "even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness."

The great righteousness of God exhibited by the lifelong deeds of these three men would only be enough to save their own lives. Those three men were persistent in obedience to God but even such great lives of righteousness would not be enough to save others when the nation exhibits persistent unfaithfulness.

So, we are certain to acknowledge the righteousness of Noah as being pleasing to God. What about the other two men, Job and Daniel, who were just mentioned by God as being the great men of righteousness along with Noah? Letís briefly examine their lives to see what made them pleasing to God. Weíll start in Job 1:1.

(Job 1:1-6 NASB) There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. {2} And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. {3} His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. {4} And his sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. {5} And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually.

Look again at the end of verse five because thatís the key: "thus Job did continually." As we saw earlier with Enoch who habitually served God and did what was pleasing to God, Job made offerings of repentance continually to God. Job was consistent. Continue in the next verse to see what our great Father had to say about Jobís consistent behavior.

(Job 1:6-8 NASB) Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. {7} And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it." {8} And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil."

What a statement! How would you like your Creator to say that of you? "For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." Job was definitely pleasing to God. Now, what did God think about Daniel?

In Daniel 4:27, after Daniel had been promoted in King Nebuchadnezzarís court as a governor of the province of Babylon and the ruler of the wise men of Babylon, we can see the kind of wise counsel Daniel gave to the King. It, undoubtedly, was counsel reflecting the way Daniel consistently led his own life.

(Dan 4:27 NASB) 'Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.'

Daniel advised the great King Nebuchadnezzar to "break away now from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor." He told him to flee from sin and to do righteousness and to show mercy to the poor. Those are words for us to live by, as well.

What else can we learn about Danielís righteous behavior? In Daniel 6:10, we can see Danielís behavior even when under the threat of death by the new King Darius of Persia. High officials had conspired against Daniel and had tricked the king into signing a death penalty decree for anyone who made a petition to any god or man besides King Darius.

(Dan 6:10 NASB) Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.

Look again at the end of that verse. Daniel did not fear the Kingís decree when compared to Godís righteousness. Even after Daniel knew the decree had been signed and was now law, "he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously." Daniel was consistent in his service to God. Those are words for us to live by, as well.

Even the wisest man, Solomon, knew the value of living a life pleasing to God. Solomon didnít live according to his own words of wisdom; but those words were recorded for us in Proverbs 16:7.

(Prov 16:7 NASB) When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

 

The Destiny of the Righteous

What is the destiny of the great men and women of righteousness and faith? Hebrews 11:13 tells of their goal and the priorities in their lives.

(Heb 11:13-16 NASB) All these died in faith [notice, that includes even righteous Enoch who was "taken" by God], without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. {14} For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. {15} And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. {16} But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

There are many other examples of Godís people of righteousness in the scriptures. We have only touched on a few of the greatest ones. Continuing in verse 32, the writer of the book of Hebrews tells of the vision they all had of their lifeís goal. They continually strove for it but they did not yet receive it.

(Heb 11:32-40 NASB) And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, {33} who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, {34} quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. {35} Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; {36} and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. {37} They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated {38} (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. {39} And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, {40} because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

 

Look at verse 39 again, "And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised." Through the faith they exhibited toward God in leading lives of righteousness, they gained approval. Yes, they made the grade; they cut the mustard; whatever your expression, they achieved the goal. They did not yet receive it, however; and thatís where we come into play. As verse 40 states, the fact that they did not receive it was for our benefit "because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect." God held out the reward to them and certified their qualification for the reward but he held up the time of bequeathing the reward on our account.

God postponed things for them because of us. That should make us feel very special. Have you ever thought of that? Well, with privilege comes obligation. We have, likewise, been given the opportunity by God to qualify for the reward, just as the great ones of righteousness and faith have already qualified. Are you up to the challenge? Letís see what God now requires of us.

 

Avoid what God hates

To understand the positive things God desires of us, we also must learn to hate the things that God says he hates. In our society today, it is not "cool" to hate evil. Itís acceptable and even preferable in society to make all sorts of accommodations to tolerate evil behavior. There are many things throughout the Bible that God says he hates. Proverbs 6:16 lists some of the most grievous items.

(Prov 6:16-19 NASB) There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: {17} Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, {18} A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, {19} A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

Do you have an arrogant attitude? Do you lie? Do you murder? Do you devise wicked plans against others? Rather than fleeing evil, do you seek to do evil? Are you a false witness who utters lies and does not give an accurate accounting of the true facts? Do you spread strife among your physical or spiritual family? If so, be warned that God hates such actions. Do not continue in a lifestyle that God says he hates. You need to repent. Turn from doing such things and seek Godís forgiveness. Live according to the righteous standards of Godís commandments.

There are also many things listed in scripture as abominations that God hates. Ranging from the worship of idols to homosexuality, to incest, to the eating of unclean meats, to sorcery, to profaning Godís name or profaning the Sabbath day. With his own being, God sets the standards of righteous, acceptable behavior. Deviation from those standards is what God terms "abominations." If you do such things, do not continue in a lifestyle that God so plainly says he hates. You need to repent. Turn from doing such things and seek Godís forgiveness. Live according to the righteous standards of Godís commandments and be consistent. That seems to be the intent behind the whole book of James. In James 2:1, we can read for ourselves his criticism of such lifestyles of hypocrisy and inconsistent disregard to the standards of Godís righteousness.

(James 2:1-12 NASB) My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. {2} For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, {3} and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," {4} have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? {5} Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? {6} But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? {7} Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? {8} If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF," you are doing well. {9} But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. {10} For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. {11} For He who said, "DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY," also said, "DO NOT COMMIT MURDER." Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. {12} So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

Notice the last verse again, "so speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty." In other words, be consistent in obedience to Godís righteous standards.

In Titus 1:15, Paul also addresses those people who persist in doing what is evil in Godís sight.

(Titus 1:15-16 NASB) To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. {16} They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.

Do we deny knowing God by our actions? We need to keep from doing the things that God says he hates and do the things God says are pleasing in his sight.

 

Do What Pleases God

What things please God? The prophet Isaiah knew. In Isaiah 42:21, he got right to the heart of the issue.

(Isa 42:21 NASB) The LORD was pleased for His righteousness' sake To make the law great and glorious.

The word for law is torah, which means teaching. So, it was for the sake of his own righteousness that God was pleased to make the torah great and glorious.

In Psalms 104:33, David spoke of proper meditation as being pleasing to God.

(Psa 104:33-35 NASB) I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. {34} Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD. {35} Let sinners be consumed from the earth, And let the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!

Davidís son, Solomon, whom David established as King over all Israel began with the same fervency of desire to rule Godís people according to the righteousness of God. At the very beginning of his reign in 1 Kings 3:5, he had his priorities straight. Even when given the chance to be selfish, he displayed the proper desire for the better priorities of God in asking for wisdom to rule the nation.

(1 Ki 3:5-13 NASB) In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, "Ask what you wish me to give you." {6} Then Solomon said, "Thou hast shown great lovingkindness to Thy servant David my father, according as he walked before Thee in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward Thee; and Thou hast reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that Thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. {7} "And now, O LORD my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. {8} "And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people who cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. {9} "So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Thine?" {10} And it was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. {11} And God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, {12} behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. {13} "And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.

The wisdom given to Solomon by God is evident in Ecclesiastes 7:26 where Solomon spoke of righteous, pleasing, behavior as being able to deliver a man from the tempting woman. Again, itís interesting to note that even the great and wise King Solomon didnít act on his own advice and live according to the wisdom given him by God.

(Eccl 7:26 NASB) And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.

So, Solomon knew that God sets the standards of righteousness and that God is the author of wisdom and proper decision making. Solomon knew it but he didnít finish the course living by what he knew. On the other hand, Jesus both preached and practiced what he preached. He knew, he lived by, and he taught that God is the source of "hidden knowledge." In Luke 10:21, Christ spoke of the hidden knowledge revealed to us as being pleasing in the sight of God.

(Luke 10:21-22 NASB) At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. {22} "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."

We have been privileged to receive the hidden knowledge of Godís kingdom and plan for mankind. We should act as children of privilege, not as being arrogant possessors of hidden knowledge but as having a special opportunity to serve others.

In 1 Corinthians 1:20, Paul confirmed the special privilege of our revealed knowledge and how it was with purpose that God chose to be selective.

(1 Cor 1:20-21 NASB) Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? {21} For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

In John 8:28, Jesus told of the privilege, the obligation, and the responsibility we now possess to do the things that are pleasing to our Father.

(John 8:28-29 NASB) Jesus therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. {29} "And 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 Pleasing Heart

Do you always do the things that are pleasing to God? We all slip up from time to time but we can see, by the example left to us by our elder brother, that it should be our continual intention to always do the things that are pleasing to our Father.

In 2 Corinthians 5:6, Paul similarly stated that pleasing God should be our continual ambition.

(2 Cor 5:6-10 NASB) Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- {7} for we walk by faith, not by sight-- {8} we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. {9} Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. {10} For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul continued to speak of living lives pleasing to God. In order to do that, we must study the scriptures continually to learn those things that are pleasing to God.

(Eph 5:8-10 NASB) for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light {9} (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), {10} trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

Specifically, though, what things can we do? The writer of Hebrews answered that question in Hebrews 13:15.

(Heb 13:15-16 NASB) Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. {16} And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

So, we can continually offer up sacrifices of praise to God through the fruit of our lips in giving thanks to God and by continually doing good and sharing.

As we strive to continually learn to do what is pleasing to God, we must go beyond the mere "letter" to the real intent contained in the scriptures. We must learn them by heart and make them a very part of our lives. In 1 Thessalonians 2:4, Paul tells us that it is God who examines us and knows our very hearts.

(1 Th 2:4 NASB) but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.

The King James Version renders verse four as "God, which tries our hearts." The Greek word is Strongís number 1381, dokimazo. It means to test or to approve. So, God knows whether the things we do are done with mere "lip service" or done from the heart with sincerity.

Not only are we to strive to live lives pleasing to God, so are our children. In Colossians 3:20, Paul instructs children just how to do that.

(Col 3:20 NASB) Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

We well remember the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 6:1.

(Deu 6:1-7 NASB) "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, {2} so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. {3} "O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. {4} "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! {5} "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. {6} "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; {7} and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

What a consuming task! Thatís hard to remember to do. We know we should but do you always remember to "talk of [Godís Commandments] when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Godís righteousness should always be on our minds.

In 1 John 3:22, the apostle John connects the matter of pleasing God with the keeping of his commandments and he even links them to a promise.

(1 John 3:22 NASB) and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

Yes, it is our responsibility to live lives pleasing to God but the author of the book of Hebrews gives us the insight to see that it is really our Father who is the source. It is God who actually is doing the work in us.

(Heb 13:20-21 NASB) Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, {21} equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

A minute ago, we said how difficult it is in our hectic lives to think and talk of Godís righteousness at home from morning to night but now we see how itís possible. As God is the source of righteousness and godly standards of behavior, so it is our Father who is actually doing the work of performing his will in us. We should continually be mindful of that and make ourselves malleable in his hands in order to do what pleases him.

In 1 Peter 3:8, it is the apostle Peter who brings it all together.

(1 Pet 3:8-12 NASB) To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; {9} not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. {10} For, "LET HIM WHO MEANS TO LOVE LIFE AND SEE GOOD DAYS REFRAIN HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING GUILE. {11} "AND LET HIM TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; LET HIM SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. {12} "FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE UPON THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL."

 

 

Conclusion

So, remember the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 10:12.

(Deu 10:12-13 KJV) And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, {13} To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?

That is our duty. We have been given a precious opportunity to know and to act on the hidden mysteries of the knowledge revealed to us by God the Father through our master, Jesus Christ. Letís act in a manner worthy of that precious gift and habitually do the things that are pleasing to God. Only then may the words be spoken of us that we long to hear, "well done, good and faithful servant."

 

 

Sermon given by Philip Edwards

August 18, 2007

 

 

Studies in the Word of God
 

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