Pleasing God

          Lord Jesus cried out to God why have You forsaken Me for God had turned His face away from His only begotten Son to look and smile at all the other children that He was about to get into His Divine family. The Messiah suffered to make the Father take pleasure in His finished work on the cross. Have we ever contemplated upon the means by which we can make God rejoice or do we think it is beyond us to do so? A God who has inscribed us on His palms must be taking a keen interest in all that we do – sometimes feeling happy and other times sad.

         Does God have emotions? – The creation process ends with God taking a pile of dust and giving it the shape of a human being and then He breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). At every stage God saw or assessed all that He had created on that day and declared it to be good and on the final day He found everything to be very good. Anything that is declared to be good or very good must please the viewer and God for the first time expressed His emotions in this. We are created for the pleasure of God and to make Him happy. We are created in God’s ‘image and likeness’ and He has given us five senses to enjoy whatever He has created and to express these emotions and feelings in various ways. When in our fallen state we can rejoice on seeing the multiple colors in nature, how much more would the Creator of all this? We are to enjoy and not endure this journey of life on the earth and thus give joy to the Creator.

          The psalmist declares that “Lord is pleased with those who worship Him and trust in His love” (Psalm 147:11). For His Divine pleasure, God ‘The Father seeks true worshippers, who worship in the spirit and truth’ for He enjoys the fellowship of such people (John 4:23). Worship includes all that we do together in the Church to bring glory to the Creator and this would include singing, playing music, listening to and sharing His Word, joining others in Holy Communion and various other activities. Worship is not for my sake that I should enjoy the experience but it is for God and He must get pleasure out of all that we do.

    Lord Jesus repeated the words that Prophet Isaiah had received earlier from Him, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me” (Isaiah 29:13 & Matthew 15:8). Clearly God desires that we seek Him to give Him pleasure and our goal in life must be to please Him (2 Corinthians 5:9). Since this is expected of us, it is necessary that we try and find out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10). God does not need us but He desires our company/fellowship to bless us. Lord Jesus declared this emphatically, “I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father taught Me I speak these things…. The Father has not left Me alone, for I do those things that please Him” (John 8:28-29). When we give God pleasure He remains with us and guides us to do what pleases Him.

          How do we please God? – The idea behind the blessing of the High Priest ‘may the Lord shine His face upon you’ is basically about God smiling at the person to show His appreciation (Numbers 6:25-26). And then we learn the aim of this pleasure of God, “Shine Your face on Your servant and teach me Your ways” (Psalm 119:135) so that I may keep doing this in future too. The other side of this was that “God was grieved on seeing people’s sin…. But Noah pleased God and found grace” (Genesis 6:6 & 8). Therefore God decided that this fellow, Noah, brings Me pleasure and I will start with his family. What does Noah’s life teach us to please God?

        First, God is happy when we get close to Him – During that period nobody loved God and everyone was engrossed in sinful pleasures. Noah had ensured good teaching to His family and God found only them to be righteous on the earth. This was not achieved overnight but Noah consistently followed God’s will and commands and thereby enjoyed a close relationship with Him (Genesis 6:9). God desires a close relationship with us and even after Adam and Eve had sinned, He still came looking for them. In the parable of the lost sheep, Lord Jesus lays emphasis on His love for us. The sheep going astray is a willful defaulter for it has not followed the leader, yet the Lord goes looking for such sinners in us and on finding the lost does not rebuke but joyfully brings it back into His fold (Luke 15:3-6). God desires that we remain steadfast in close fellowship with Him for He does not desire our offerings more than a dialogue with Him to enable Him to forgive us our sins (Isaiah 1:11). The ‘shema’ command is to love the LORD your God with whole of the heart, soul and strength where loving is getting close to Him and in this God desires our wholehearted commitment.

        Two, God is pleased when we trust Him completely – Noah lived far away from the sea which he had probably never seen. Till then there never was any rain for watering of the plants was arranged by God from below the earth’s surface. Yet Noah obeyed God even when it seemed foolishness to others for “by faith Noah built a ship to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God who warned him of things that had never happened and acted on what was told” (Hebrews 11:7-9). Imagine God coming and telling Noah, ‘I am fed up of these people and am going to destroy them but I like you. Now build a ship large enough as per the specifications I am giving you’. Noah could have doubted God for, firstly he had never seen rain; secondly, he lived far away from the sea which probably he had never seen. And even if he did manage to build the ship how would he take it to the sea. Thirdly, how would he round up all the animals and birds etc that were living to get them into the ship and then care for them ensuring that they do not get into a fight. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Hebrews 11:6) and Noah trusted completely facing the taunts and ridicule of people around him for the entire duration of, some say, 120 years of ship building. But God takes pleasure in those who honor Him, in those who trust in His constant love (Psalm 147:11).

       Third, God is pleased when we obey Him wholeheartedly – Noah did not question God and secondly he obeyed the given instructions exactly without deviating, doubting, raising questions or any reservation. It was a difficult task and all such tasks require total obedience. ‘Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him – wholehearted obedience (Genesis 6:22).He did not delay with an excuse, ‘I will pray and then get back to you’ attitude for delayed obedience is disobedience. Understanding can wait for many things we understand only after obeying. There was no partial obedience also – I will do this much and no more – I will attend the church but not tithe or I will worship but not forgive someone. We are to obey God gladly (Psalm 100:2-4) and God’s commands need diligent obedience (Psalm 119:4). We please God by what we do and not only by what we believe (James 2:24) and Lord Jesus also emphasized obedience, “If you love Me you will follow My commands (John 14:15).

         Four, God is pleased when we praise and thank Him continually –  Noah offered sacrificial offerings to God immediately after surviving the flood (Genesis 8:20) to thank God. The psalmist being aware of this said, “I will praise God’s name with singing and thanksgiving and this will please the LORD” (Psalm 69:30-31) for we praise and thank someone to appreciate his efforts and to give him joy.

         Five, God smiles when we use our God given abilities – God blessed Noah for his obedience and be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth while using all that was given by God as food (Genesis 9:1-7). Before the flood mankind was allowed to use all fruit bearing trees and herbs as food but Noah was commanded to eat the birds and beasts as food. It is perceived that God is pleased with our spiritual acts whereas being fruitful and multiply is about starting a family. God wants to bless us in every part of our lives. in the parable of the talents, Lord Jesus reveals commendation and a promise to ‘enter into the joy of your master’ to the two servants who had used the given resource of money to double it. The third who was careless and lazy in his approach was condemned to ‘outer darkness where there is crying and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 25:14-30). God directs the steps of the godly and He is happy with their ways where even if they fall He lifts them up (psalm 37:23-24).

          In a school annual day function among a group of students on the stage, f one fumbles and forgets, his/her parent does not condemn the child but rather rejoices in the effort made. God as a Father rejoices at everything we do except the sins we commit and even when we fall He lifts us up. God has shaped each one of us and He watches over us from His dwelling place in heaven and takes interest in everyone’s work (Psalm 33:13-15). To please God the best alternative is to seek His help to understand His ways and ways to please Him by doing His will (Hebrews 13:21).

           Ways to please God – God has promised to be with a believer and to never leave us and we have to remain in His Divine presence every moment of our lives (Deuteronomy 31:6). God promised Joshua to be with Him (Joshua 1:7-9) and Joshua could command the sun and moon to stop till the battle was over. Lord Jesus before His ascension into heaven confirmed His authority over everything in heaven and on earth and then promised to be with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20). If HE is with me everywhere how should I behave? Apostle Paul provides the answer, ‘whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31). Every action, including eating, to please God would automatically exclude all excesses including gluttony. Then I will exercise to be fit and love others for His pleasure while maintaining a continuous conversation with God about everything. Then I will ‘put all cares on Him for He cares’ for me (1 Peter 5:7).  “The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in” (Late Dr R.C. Sproul). The Israelites cried out to God, ‘Lord, we are all sinners, How should we live’ (Ezekiel 33:10). Our prayer to God is to lead me to be what He has destined me to be and then wait in faith for He loves each one so much that He will answer and lead usfor His glory to help us “enter in to our Master’s pleasure”.

         God has not created anything on the earth in isolation but as an orchestra where every instrument plays its tune at the right time. He enjoys each the way he/she is today and not what will be in the future for He is the great I AM who enjoys the present despite fully knowing the future. Our role is to play our piece and then depart, vacating the place for someone else. When on the stage use all that you have got to give out the best performance while thankfully glorifying Him.

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