What does it take to make God Happy?

Numbers 6:24 records may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you. images

What does it take to make God happy? What does it take to make a parent happy? Asking this question helps us answer the first question for our God has identified Himself as our Father Who is in heaven.

Our children make us happy simply by being who they are but our faces light up, become radiant, when they come to us to love on us, when they honor us before others, and when they do the right thing with our without our presence or encouragement. When children do good and are good they really make parents happy.

So does our Father in Heaven respond any differently to us? Those who are in Christ, who have been adopted by God through Christ as a result of their humble submission to Christ in repentance and the seeking of His forgiveness, have become children of God and are therefore a source of great joy to Him.

But how much more radiant does He become when we obey His commands and seek His glory in the world where men and demons live who deny, ignore and rebel against the Father of all?

Is our goal the pleasure of our God?

Should it be? Small children have a propensity to want to please their parents and bring them joy. This is why they are quick to show us their coloring and drawing. Why they feel bad when they have done wrong.

Depending upon the relationship a child maintains with his parents will determine for how long and to what degree that child wills to continue pursuing their parents pleasure.

Perhaps our failure to make pleasing God our highest priority is due to our lack of relationship with Him?

If there really is a God shouldn’t we live to please Him?

Two easy steps make bringing Him pleasure more consistent.

First, spend time with God reading the Bible and praying. This is the coming to Him to love on Him part of our relationship.

Second, whatever you see in the Scriptures as a command to obey, just do it. Make God bigger in your life by making Him more evident through your life.

Great joy has the Father when His children introduce Him to their friends by the things they do and the words they speak.

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Brave Christians

Psalm 27.14 commands be brave, stouthearted and courageous. th

For what purpose does the American Church need to be brave, stouthearted and courageous? Life is easy for us in comparison to all other nations.

Among Christians we are the most free to worship God in the way we choose though public displays of Christianity appear to be less favorably tolerated than in days past.

While many who turn to Jesus as Savior in the world suffer loss of home, job, limb or life due to the animosity toward Christianity in Dictatorial and Islamic countries, North American Christians have no such concerns.

The North American Church has become predominantly passive, trying to be accepted by the culture rather than change the culture by calling it to repentance and obedience to God through Jesus Christ.

This passivity is leading to greater animosity against Christianity and not greater numbers of disciples of Jesus.

God does need brave, stouthearted and courageous Christians in North America. God is looking for those who are not ashamed of Him, who will identify themselves openly with Him and who will declare by life and word the true ways of God.

God needs courageous Christians in government where laws consistently ignore Him, in media where God is consistently denied, in the university where God is consistently mocked and in the marketplace where God is consistently disregarded.

If the Church of America is to have influence again upon the culture then the people of the church must stop cowering and compromising and instead live bold and courageous lives of flagrant love for God and commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord of all.

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Friendship with God

Psalm 25.14 declares friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him.images

How well do we know God? Is He our best friend, our Father with Whom we share our deepest thoughts and receive His comfort? Is there any person to whom we are closer than we are to God? Is God really our friend?

We struggle with the distance we feel with God. We don’t understand why He seems so far away so much of the time. Yet as we remember our closest friends during our childhood and college days who are now little more than fond memories what has changed?

Our distance is what keeps us from intimacy with others and from continuously growing relationships.

While God is everywhere we distance ourselves from Him when we fail to seek Him and when we fail to serve Him.

While God has given us everything we need to know Him intimately through the written record of Himself we commonly call the Bible, and the presence of God is always in the world through Whom we call the Holy Spirit, few are those who make Bible reading and study along with prayer a daily habit.

This reality compounds our distance because by not knowing Who God really is and what He truly requires we live lives in constant disobedience to His character and His commands thus widening the gap we feel with Him.

We believe we are good but we are ignorant of Him Who really is Good and the ways He defines as good which results in the little of His goodness we regularly experience.

God is friends with those who make Him their first priority and first pursuit.

Those who spend time with God then live to honor God in the world find God to be that powerful Friend Whose love and presence fills them with the deepest possible joy.

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How to Get to Heaven

Titus 2.12 records God wants us to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures.images

Christianity is an anomaly among all of the world’s religions. It is the only religion that teaches people they can never do enough good or be good enough to get to heaven based upon their behavior.

All of the other world religions regardless of their gods or practices have this one thing in common: if you would go to heaven you must do all of their requirements.

Christianity invites people to heaven by God’s grace not through man’s works.

God Himself, living among us as Jesus, lived the perfect life God requires and is willing to exchange His earnings of heaven for our earnings of hell since no person has ever lived a perfect life as God requires.

Those who admit to God that they need pardoned and receive Jesus as their Savior will be accepted by God but those who try and work their way into heaven will be denied for they reject God’s gracious offer in Jesus the Lord.

Yet the Christian God is holy, perfect, pure and righteous and demands that those who love Him, who receive His grace, live lives reflective of His character and in obedience to His will. God created humanity in His image so requires humanity to live reflective of their Creator.

Those who truly love God, who have been reconciled to God, embrace this command of God to live lives pleasing to God.

Obedience to God is the result of a relationship with God and not the means to God.

Living a God pleasing life reflects loyalty to God and not an attempt to earn God’s favor. God is to be obeyed because He is loved not to earn His favor in order to get us into heaven.

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Earth Day: Let’s Celebrate Together

Psalm 19.1 declares the heavens proclaim the glory of God. th

The earth leads us in declaring the glory of God, His magnificence, His majesty, His power and His beauty.

God made the heavens and the earth to declare and to reflect His awesomeness and to testify before stubborn humanity that God does indeed exist, is all-powerful, immensely complex, grand beyond measure yet detailed to the size of an atom.

When God holds each person accountable for living also for His glory He will point to the wonder of creation as a witness against those who in their pride and rebellion pretended He did not exist.

Earth with all of creation is to be joined in celebrating He Who made all things and by His good pleasure holds all things together.

Earth day should be enjoined by Christians as a special day of worship of the God Who declared both earth and its inhabitants good from the beginning but now in need of salvation.

The earth groans in anticipation for the coming King for it too is not able to do all it wants for pleasing God. It yields thorns and thistles when it was designed only to produce good fruit. It kills those made in the image of God with its uncontrolled winds, waves and quakes.

As those who love God will be given a new body to live with Him forever so too a new earth is coming that will exist forever and together with all humanity the Great God, the Only True God, will be worshiped, praised and honored forever and ever.

Let the celebration begin!

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Where is the Judgement?

Ecclesiastes 8.11 explains because God does not punish sinners instantly, people feel its safe to do wrong. images

We are fools to think the Watcher of our souls does not see the evil we do. We are fools if we think the Righteous God will not judge us equally for the evil thoughts and feelings we have held against others in the same manner as the evil deeds we have actually done.

God is not appeased by religion nor fooled by our appearances of being good. The Creator and Judge knows the depth of our thoughts and sees into the hidden regions of our souls and will hold us all accountable for living, thinking and doing according to His good commands.

So why does He then allow so much evil to be done in the world and to exist within our own hearts?

His patience awaits our repentance for He is not willing to cast even the most vile sinner to hell if he would repent and seek the mercy of God.

The Creator and Father of all grieves over the suffering of His people but He has prepared a place of eternal bliss for those who love Him. That place cannot be entered by the evil person but only by those who have been cleansed, forgiven and restored to God the Father through Jesus the Son.

This place, this fallen planet where people rebel against God daily is where we must begin our journey of restoration.

Evil people continue their evil deeds but are allowed to do so in the hope that they all will one day seek forgiveness so that they too can live with the Father forever on the new earth.

God will hold each person accountable for all their evil unless they have been pardoned through Jesus the Savior; these have been set free from the judgment to come but may face the consequences of a lack of judgment today.

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Building Treasure

1 Timothy 6.19 promises by doing this you will be storing up real treasure for yourself in heaven. images

When God lived with us in Jesus He urged people not to live for the obtainment of even food and clothing but instead to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Jesus encouraged people to trust God for His provision of their daily needs, even food and clothing, and to use their money to earn treasure in heaven where neither rust nor thief can destroy it.

The Lord Jesus warned people that we cannot have both God and money as our first priority without loving one more than the other. People have wrestled with this competition for their soul from the beginning with the result that many have forfeited their souls to hell in order to achieve worldly wealth today.

While the Lord Jesus encouraged our pursuit of heavenly treasure the Apostle Paul teaches specifically how to accumulate it in this chapter.

First, people are to be rich in good deeds.

Good deeds defined by God are those things that cause people to recognize Him more easily and love Him more deeply. Good deeds that God rewards glorify Him among people such that people want to know God better and serve God more. The result we are seeking in our doing of good is for people to follow Jesus more closely.

Second, if we want to build treasure in heaven we must give generously to those in need especially to those in the faith and those sharing the faith.

The Church’s priority of care is first for its members including those vocationally serving it and then the world with the objective of bringing people to faith in Jesus.

Treasure in heaven is accumulated by doing good and giving generously toward the work of making Jesus known in the world.

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Seeing the Risen Jesus

Mark 16.9 records the first person to see Him was Mary Magdalene. images

Who was the first person to see Jesus after He was crucified, buried then arose from the dead? A woman from whom seven demons had been cast out of her body.

No doubt this woman, Mary Magdalene, had a sinful sordid past so as to have been pursued by so many demons and as a result was probably not someone with great financial means or influence. . Yet Mary will be forever recorded as the first person to have seen the resurrected Jesus.

Why did Mary see Jesus first among all people?

Not because of her past nor because of her future potential but because of her rising early in the morning to go see Jesus.  Mary was brokenhearted at the death of Jesus and went to His tomb to honor Him only to find Him absent from the tomb but alive in the garden.

Why didn’t Jesus first appear to His beloved disciples who were closest to Him?

The disciples did not believe Him that He would rise from the dead on the third day and so sat wringing their hands about His crucifixion. When Jesus does appear among them for the first time it is with a rebuke for their unbelief rather than as a reward for their loyalty to Him.

Many people want to encounter God but they look at the world and the mess that it is in and wring their hands of hope doubting God cares or is planning to act. Those people don’t see God and wonder why.

A few people pursue God, they make Him their first priority early in the morning, they are brokenhearted at the thought of living life without Him and so are rewarded by God coming to them, revealing Himself before them and living among them as their Lord and Savior.

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What it Means to be Holy

Leviticus 18.24 commands do not defile yourselves in any of these ways for these are the things the heathen do.images

God is holy, His ways are holy and obedience to His commands makes people holy.

Holy means set apart and when applied to people it means set apart to God. God’s ways, God’s thoughts, God’s motives are not like man’s but are always loving, always good and always noble.

Those who follow Jesus demonstrated by their obedience to His commands will begin to separate themselves from the rest of the world for the ways of God and the ways of men are not the same at all.

The things that defile people listed in the passage today are incest, homosexuality and bestiality. Age old behaviors people have exhibited but behaviors the people of God were to despise because God despises them.

Sexual perversion is as old as humanity but God designed man and woman to be joined together as one in order to procreate and to give sexual expression a safe and secure context. All of nature demonstrates God’s intent yet humanity through its various perversions has rebelled against God and His good ways resulting in abuse, disease and brokenness among men, women and children.

No relationship is more healthy than a man faithfully committed to a woman and woman faithfully committed to a man raising children together.

The Church must return to its priority of living as the people of God.

The people of God are to be holy as God is holy. This will mean not compromising with the world and its rebellious standards that ignore God but living set apart, demonstrating the health and wisdom of living in obedience to God’s commands.

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The Purpose of Work

2 Thessalonians 3.6 commands we stay away from any Christian who spends his days in laziness. images

The Lord Jesus, the King of the universe, the One Who will determine the eternal destiny of all who have ever lived whether in heaven or in hell, commands people to work.

Indeed the first purpose given to man after being formed out of the dust was to work in the garden of Eden. What was this work Adam was to do? It was to care for his world to the glory of God.

The world God made for Adam would supply his physical needs so that was not his primary purpose for work. Adam was to work the world in such a way as to make it more glorious and wonderful in honor and praise of the God Who made him in His image.

Work was not meant to create personal status or its fruit for personal consumption but to give people a practical means for glorifying God.

The Church has likewise been commanded by the God of the universe to work for the glory of God and to make friends with only those who are also engaged in this purpose.

Work is not about us but about God.

The fruit of our work should be an offering to God not a means for personal consumption or glory.

The world and all it contains will supply our needs with little effort on our part. If we seek glory for ourselves our work will increase in difficulty for our insatiable appetite for gain will mean we will work more and more for increasingly bigger houses and greater treasures.

When the focus of our work is the glory of God and our best means for bringing Him honor then our work is full of peace, joy and contentment.

This kind of work focuses primarily on God’s pleasure and then the people around us discovering Him while we work and through our work and by our work.

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