Living to Please God

November 6, 2022 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Great to Good

Topic: Faithful Passage: Romans 12:1–3

Great to Good

Allen Snapp

Grace Community Church

Nov. 6, 2022

 

Living to Please God

As I was reading Rom. 12, the Lord brought something to my attention that I want to share with you this morning. Let’s start with Rom. 12:1-2

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.PRAY

Five times a day Muslims all around the world pray facing in the direction of Mecca. Recently it was discovered that a mosque in Turkey was built facing the wrong direction so that for nearly 40 years the Muslim worshippers have been praying in the wrong direction.

As Christians we are told to pray and live facing a certain direction. Paul says it in verse 1: in view of God’s mercy. We pray and live and serve the Lord facing the direction of God’s mercy given to us freely through Jesus Christ our Savior.

I want to talk to you this morning about living to please God. The Lord brought that word to my attention and I think this is an important message for us to hear. Paul says as we (facing God’s mercy) offer ourselves as living sacrifices, in other words, live for Jesus in everything we do, it is holy (set apart) and pleasing to God. In the next verse Paul says that the will of God is good, pleasing, and perfect.

The Bible tells us that there are things that please God, that bring pleasure to God’s heart. And just as the desire to worship God is built into us, the desire to please our Creator is also deeply ingrained in our hearts.

The other day as I was walking through Walmart I happened to walk by a mom and her little girl just as the mom said to her daughter, “I love you!” That little girl hadn’t done anything amazing, it was just an outburst of affection from the mom and it got me thinking how important it is to a young child to hear that he or she is loved by their parents. That mom and dad are pleased with them. I thought of the emotional damage of a child growing up never hearing mom or dad say “I love you”. Never feeling like they are able to please their parents. Over the years I’ve had many people tell me, “my dad never told me he loved me. I never felt I measured up to his expectations.” So let me pause here and say, moms and dads, tell your children you love them often. Let them know you are pleased with them. They need to hear it!

I’m convinced that a lot of believers live with the feeling that God disapproves of them. God’s not pleased with them. You’re not doing enough, you’re not holy enough, you’re not obedient enough, you’re not this, you’re not that, you’re not the other thing…

What if that’s not the case? What if when we think that God is always disappointed with us, never pleased with us, always frowning over us, we’re praying in the wrong direction? We’re believing in the wrong direction? We’re thinking in the wrong direction?

I hope in this message to change the direction of our conception of God’s view of us. But it is always in view of God’s mercy. This is for those who have trusted in Christ. If you aren’t a Christian, or aren’t sure, I want to share an encouraging word with you in a few minutes.

  1. The Father’s heart is inclined to be pleased with you

Jesus radically redirected our relationship with God when he encouraged us to call Him our heavenly Father. I know some fathers are impossible to please, but our good Father’s heart is inclined to be pleased with His children.

That mom in Walmart was expressing a parent’s heart that finds joy in the smallest steps and achievements because she loves her daughter. That daughter draws the ugliest stick figure ever drawn in the history of mankind and that mom is awing and ooing over it! Her heart is inclined to be pleased with her little girl.

As a father I know my heart is inclined to be pleased with my kids. Pleased with who they are, pleased with their accomplishments, no matter how big or small. That doesn’t mean I’m pleased with what they do no matter what it is. If they go in the wrong direction or do something that messes up their lives and my heart is grieved. But if they take even a small step in the right direction I’m excited and pleased!

When the prodigal son left it grieved his father’s heart, but that father was poised to be pleased as soon as his prodigal took steps in the right direction. He was so pleased he threw a party to celebrate! Even as he waited day after day, his heart was inclined to be pleased – just come back, son! Just take a step in the right direction and I’ll run to meet you!

If you’re going in the wrong direction – caught up in some secret or serious sin – you’re right to think that it doesn’t please the Father’s heart. It can’t because He loves you too much. If that’s the case, the way to please God is to repent! Turn away from that sin and towards God and there will be joy in heaven and a lot of that joy will be coming from the Father. His heart is inclined to be pleased with you.

If you’re not a follower of Jesus, there’s nothing you can do to please God before you give your life to Jesus and trust him as your Savior. That’s the first and most important step, but here’s a promise from Jesus. He said that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. If you surrender your life to Jesus and follow him, the Father finds great pleasure in giving you the kingdom. What’s His is yours. So won’t you believe in the Lord Jesus today? Why would you not when He is eager to give you His eternal kingdom?

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you know what that means? You’ve brought double pleasure to the Father when you received Christ as your Savior! When you prayed and said, Jesus come into my life and save me, the Father was so pleased because a sinner repented and came to His Son in faith and He was so pleased because He could now give you the kingdom of His Son as your forever home! You have already pleased the Father’s heart.

  1. Know that God is pleased with who you are

Back to Romans 12:

…be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.For (This tells us that what Paul’s about to say is an expression of God’s will) by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

God’s will is that you be who you are. Don’t try to puff yourself up and be something you’re not. Don’t put yourself down and wish you were something you’re not.

God’s transformational work in us is making us more like Jesus, but becoming more like Jesus doesn’t obliterate who you are or who I am. If anything, it empowers us to be more of who God created us to be. Sin has not only corrupted the image of God in us, it has marred our personality and throttled our potential.

Being transformed from glory to glory means recovering the you God created you to be.

This is different than the “you do you” message so popular today. There’s some merit in that message but this goes deeper, it’s not about you doing you, it’s about God being pleased with who you are. Before you do anything.

We are prone to connect our identity with what we do and achieve. “I am a such and such.” “I studied at such and such university” “I make such much salary a year” (obscure tip of the hat to Casa Blanca).

When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, the Father’s voice was heard saying over him, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Jesus hadn’t yet done a single miracle. He hadn’t preached a single message. At this point all he’d done is help his earthly father make furniture and sweep up sawdust.

Yet the Father was “well-pleased” with him. Who Jesus was pleased the Father’s heart.

We’re not perfect like Jesus. We are flawed by sins we’ve committed and sins committed against us. We are broken and weak and self-absorbed little creatures.

And God loves us just the way we are. And God loves us too much to leave us the way we are. But again, His work on us doesn’t obliterate who we are, it reclaims our beauty and potential.

My wife, Janice, has a refurbishing business called Refreshed. She takes old, beat up furniture and refinishes it. Recently we picked up a mid-mod dresser from some college kids in Mansfield. It was nothing special to look at. Janice stripped it and sanded it and stained part of it and painted some of it and it is beautiful.

It’s the same dresser, structurally. Same wood, same workmanship. But it’s been transformed. It’s full potential has been realized.

That’s what God wants to do with us. When you repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus, heaven partied and God’s heart was overjoyed! The Father was pleased because He could give you the kingdom. You’ve already pleased the Father’s heart.

Like an earthly father, God loves you as His child and He is inclined – eager – to be pleased with you. If you are heading in a self-destructive direction, that grieves and displeases His heart because He loves you and as you turn to move towards Him, even small steps please His heart.

As Phil. 2 encourages us, we are to work out our salvation because it is God who works in us both to will (want) and work (energized) for what? For His good pleasure.

  1. God is pleased when we serve Him with the gifts He gave to us

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesyin accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

The word “for” tells us this train of thought still connects with doing God’s pleasing will. A part of God’s will for our lives is that we use the gifts and talents He gave us for His purposes. To build up His church. To help those who don’t know Christ find Christ.

“Our talents are the gift that God gives to us... What we make of them is our gift back to God” ? Leo Buscaglia

Olympic sprinter and missionary Eric Liddell famously said, “when I run I feel God’s pleasure.” God gave him the gift of running fast. That’s not all Liddell was made of, his life didn’t revolve around running, but it was a part of how God shaped him and as he used his talent he could feel that it pleased God.

God has given you gifts and it’s God’s will that you use them for Him. But don’t face in the direction of guilt or pressure, face in the direction of faith: God has given you an amount of gift, He has given you an amount of opportunity, use them to that amount!

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