Monday, April 13, 2009

He Had This Testimony...

Perhaps you recognize this piece of Hebrews 11:5, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Another man, perhaps not quite as well-known depending upon your age, with this testimony was Eric Liddell. Eric ran the 400m for Scotland in the 1924 Paris Olympics. His fame at the time was worldwide for many reasons. First, he was a great runner and won the gold. Second, he refused to run on Sunday during the qualifying heats because he did not want to disobey God's commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. Third, the year after the Olympics, Liddell went to China and served his remaining 20 years of life on this earth there as a missionary in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps Eric's most enduring quote was this, "When I run, I feel His pleasure." All that Eric did, he did to the glory of God.

What can we as Christians, the Body of Jesus Christ, do to please God in these last days?

The answers of course are in the Bible, right down to the "how-to". Let's start there.

God says in I Thessalonians 4:1, "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more." The apostles thoroughly wrote a set of holy letters for us so that we could know with certainty how to live a holy life pleasing to God. The list is expansive and worth your time as you read the Epistles.

We also know that there are certain prerequisites to this life. God says in Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Here it is good to know, just as Eric Liddell recognized, that pleasing God is not without reward or emotional response. God lets us know when He is pleased.

One of the key ways to ensure this state is to of course be One with Jesus. Because He is also One with the Father, we know we can likewise please the Father as Jesus did. He said so in John 8:29, "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

This fact is reiterated in Luke 3:22 and Matthew 17:5, "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."

What sorts of things can we do that please God that are of a more spiritual nature? God shows us a few examples in Hebrews 13:15-16 and Psalm 51:16-19.

"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

"For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar."

This subject is of course not without warning. There are things we are to avoid, that we may please God. Just as we are to be One with the Father and Son, so must we be entirely void of the flesh. God says so in II Timothy 2:4, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." He strongly reiterates this in Romans 8:8, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

Now as for the specific things in your life that please God, those are between the two of you. How do you find out? Go to the throne. Go there with Jesus as One. Then ask as it is written in Romans 11:36-12:2, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

If you know His will and do it, surely that is pleasing to Him and you as well. This is a daily thing, sometimes a thing for the moment. It depends upon what God tells you to do. But if He tells you in Jesus' name and you are One with Him, be sure to do it. These verses should not be treated, as Christians so often do, as the answer to the question, "What is God's will for my life?"

Just imagine of the apostle Paul treated it that way. He'd be stuck not knowing what to do or where to go. But notice instead his sensitivity to the Spirit of God in these verses:

Galatians 5:25 - "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

Acts 20:22 - "And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:"

Of Apollos it was written in Acts 18:24-25, "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John."

Acts 18:5 - "And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ."

George Mueller purposed to start each day of his life in the joy of the Lord. No matter the circumstance, he would do nothing until he was certain of this. That's a good path to follow.

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