Living for Gods Pleasure

We come together with different people for church services, meetings, life-groups, counselling and many other interactions in the day to day activities of church.  All these are good things.  But when we leave those ‘spiritual’ interactions, what is the reality of our lifestyles?  Are we authentically living Christian lives or are their subtle differences from our public, private and personal lives?  What do we do when no one is watching?  What do we watch when we know no one will find out and we are alone?  Does our language change?  Do our actions reflect biblical values lived out with integrity and love to those who are closest to us? true_north_egg_2

I read this phrase and have had it rattling around in my mind, “living for God’s pleasure” But what does it mean to live my life for Gods pleasure?  Could it be that we live biblical authentic lifestyles with ourselves, our Father, and our neighbor? That our inward journey with ourselves, our relationship with our Father and our engagement with the people around us reflects Jesus.  The fact that Jesus is central to our identity. If Jesus is central to our identity, He is Who we would value, which would lead to certain priorities in our lives.  Those priorities would lead actions and a lived life which reflects Jesus to the world around us.

How can we begin to put this into action in our lives? Paul writes to us saying, “… Since you are now joined with him, you must continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” And further, continues, “So then, refuse to answer its call to surrender your body as a tool for wickedness. Instead, passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to him as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for his pleasure, ready to be used for his noble purpose” (Romans 6:11, 13)

Once we begin to understand that we can view ourselves differently, we are aliens and ambassadors of Jesus on this planet, our home is not here but with Him.  And we begin to make correct choices, our habit will begin to change, and sins appeal will begin to wane.  Slowly as we say no to sin and surrender more and more to Jesus things will begin to shift in our lives.  We will not live for ourselves and the things of this earth which enslave us but rather for His pleasure which empowers, equips and brings purpose.

The choice to live this life does not mean that ‘everything is coming up roses’ and our 4 D’s being, Dollars, Double Cab, Double Story and Data are perfect. Rather that in this life we will go through trials and struggles but we have a purpose beyond all that.  And if you read the original manuscript you will find that in the end you are on the winning side.  Peter encourages us this way, “Since Christ, though innocent, suffered in his flesh for you, now you also must be a prepared soldier, having the same mind-set, for whoever has died in his body is done with sin. So, live the rest of your earthly life no longer concerned with human desires but consumed with what brings pleasure to God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2) Read that again be ‘consumed with what brings pleasure to God’  I wonder how different our lives would be if our hearts desire was to be consumed with what brings pleasure to Jesus?

Can you see it, repeatedly we are encouraged to live our lives for God’s pleasure?  John, put it this way, ‘And whatever we ask of him we receive, because we keep his commands. And by our beautiful intentions we continue to do what brings pleasure to him.’ 1 John 3:22

When we think over our lives and imagine what they would be like without Him, living for our own selfish desires, where does that leave us?    Do we look to social media, Hollywood and sitcoms for what we believe the standard of life should be?  What is normal life?  The reality is the ‘Normal’ is a setting on a washing machine.  We go through up and downs in our lives on this earth, and we always will. I wonder how many people’s lives are as fulfilled as they are portrayed on Facebook and social media? I suspect if we just scratch below the surface, we will be surprised but what we will find.  I love the truth in the title of John Ortberg’s great book, “Everybody is normal until you get to know them” Yes, we will have struggles in this life, nowhere in scripture do we see that we will have perfect life, perfect marriages, perfect health, perfect relationships.  I will often tell couples who are entering marriage that there are no prefect marriages.  Not in Hollywood, sitcoms, reality and not even in the bible.  But we are called to persevere, and that marriage is the refining process that God would use to help us become the men and women he has called us to be.  But I digress.

Think about living your life for God’s pleasure, making that decision in this moment and persevering in it until it becomes a habit and your default response to the world around you.  If that is the lens you see through, the standard you hold yourself to, and the desire of your heart, I believe that you will find that ever elusive joy and contentment in all circumstances.  We may not get this right all the time but it’s most definitely worth a try and ‘by our beautiful intentions we continue to do what brings pleasure to him!’ And then we find purpose, contentment and joy, and our actions and lives will echo through all eternity.

What the answer?

We are living in a desperate world, people are craving so much more all the time.  Desperate for the Hollywood dream.  Desperate to get to that Black Friday sale to spend money they don’t have to save money on something they don’t need. On Friday, Annah my daughter and a friend wanted to go to Cresta Shopping Mall after their exam to get few things.  I took them at 11h30 and it was complete pandemonium.  The place was a madhouse, cars parked everywhere, in the streets on the pavements and the thousands of people, my goodness the people. And all of this at 11h30 on a Friday morning?

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The world tells us that if you get to this sale, get this cell phone, wear these shoes and wash your hair with this shampoo, you will find happiness. And the reality is that we judge people on what they have, where they live and what they look like.  You may be reading things thinking, “Not me Andrew!”  Well, keep reading.

There were three moms sitting catching up after many years.  The first mom boasted, “My son is married to a wonderful lady, he is a doctor, and has done so well that he managed to buy a new BMW for his friend for his birthday.”  They were all stunned.  The second mom said, “That’s nothing, my son is married to an amazing lady, he is a lawyer and has done so well that he bought his friend a beautiful penthouse in the Michael Angelo towers” The third mom said, my daughter dropped out of varsity, has become a prostitute, stripper and is hooked on drugs.  But her best clients have bought her a new BMW and a penthouse suite in the Michael Angelo…

Were you impressed by the first two moms?  And then the third mom brought reality into focus, didn’t she?  We reach and stretch, we dress to impress, we strive for more, because we believe it will bring happiness to our lives.  We want our 4 S’s all sorted; Subaru, house in Sandton, Samsung and South African Rand’s and we believe if they are, we will find that ever elusive happiness. But it is all masks, smoke and mirrors.  We end up ultimately living narcissistic lives which are about the profane trinity of me, myself and I.  We use and manipulate people and situations for our own benefit. Because if I am happy, then who cares about the rest.

Could I respectfully suggest that there is more to this life? That the only one who brings happiness, contentment and fulfilment in our lives is Jesus?  And what brings this reality into our lives is living for something beyond ourselves?

People are always grasping for something to help them in their daily lives. It may be some supernatural or destined power in some crystals or in the astrology of stars above or in some magical person on earth. In their grasp for help in life, they keep seeking everywhere except in Christ, the Son of God Himself. They hope and put their faith in everything except Him.

How many people are there today who are superstitious about good luck in a four-leaf clover, horse shoe and rabbits foot. Have you ever heard them say, “Knock on wood”? or “Good luck”? Let me read this book, buy this lotto ticket, do this latest fad diet. Perhaps go to Montecasino and put some money in a slot machine in the hope of winning the jackpot.

Or perhaps they come across like victims and the world owes them, coming to every person they encounter with an expectation that they will be their rescuers.  Seeking out those that they perceive to be successful in the worlds eyes. You know the type, the one’s whose 4 S’s are all sorted; Their Subaru, house in Sandton, Samsung and South African Rand’s; and look to them for their answers. 

So, let me ask you a question, “What can’t you do for yourself?”  What can’t you seem to get right in your life, and you have looked for help in all sorts of places?  Research, people, Google, can I add that none of these are inherently bad? But have you looked to Jesus?  Have you searched everywhere except scripture?

Jesus is the one who can help and get you through.  Jesus has the answer you have been so desperately looking for. Look up from the people, superstitions, magic, some supernatural or destined power in some crystals or in the astrology of stars and look to Jesus.  Stop looking for help and answers in the wrong places.  Look up from your difficulties and look to Jesus.  Put your faith in Him, He is the answer.

 

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