Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week Thirty One - Please


“When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” 
Proverbs 16:7

Paul admonishes us in Romans 12:18 to do all we can to live peaceably with others.  This verse in Proverbs gives us a good indication of how to accomplish that.  Please the Lord.  Sounds a bit general, so let’s do a little investigate by coming up with a shortlist of pleasing ways.

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart.
  2. Love others and treat them like you would want to be treated.
  3. Have sound doctrine and live by it.
  4. Have the right motivation and live by it.
  5. Keep your life “flesh-free”.
  6. Use common courtesy.
  7. Be a person of kindness and integrity.
  8. Be ready and willing to forgive.
  9. Mind your own business.
  10. Help those in need.

The list might go on and on, but it can be summed up by the great command to love God and to love others rightly.  Enemies will have a hard time arguing with a life that does right.  They may not be happy with us, but there can be a measure of peace between us, even if we disagree.  We can agree to disagree and yet not be un-agreeable.  We can gain the respect of others and bring glory to the Lord if our life exhibits His ways.

What about you?  What would you add to the list of things that are pleasing ways? Does your life make for peace around you?  Can you disagree without being disagreeable?  Are your ways pleasing to the Lord?


“…or do I seek to please men?”  Galatians 1:10

Sometimes, as God’s servants, we become “people-pleasers” and forget that above all we should be pleasing the Lord.  Seeking to please men does not lead us into the will and favour of the Lord.  It usually leads us away and into an unhappy trap characterized by discouragement, disillusionment, exhaustion and confusion.

Like in this verse, Paul is admonishing the Galatians to return to the gospel.  It seems they have been torn away by others who wanted them to stray to another gospel.  Paul reminds them of where they should stand and warns them about forsaking their doctrine in order to please another.  He goes as far as to say, “for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”  (vs. 10)  Those are pretty strong words.  There is no real place for compromise.  Either we are serving Christ, or, by trying to please others, we are not serving Christ.
Standing faithful to solid Bible doctrine will sometimes bring us into direct conflict.  Jesus faced this and so did every apostle and disciple in Bible times and believers through out history as they stood for the truth of God’s Word.  The warning against being a “people-pleaser” is a real warning.  God requires whole-hearted devotion, not a fair weather faith.  But he never said it would be easy or unchallenged.
When you are called upon to choose between pleasing men and pleasing God. Which do you choose?  Can you stand true?


“…not as pleasing men, but God which trieth our hearts.”  I Thessalonians 2:4

Again, the comparison of pleasing men or God is brought to our attention.  Here in the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul continues in the following verses to rehearse character qualities he adhered to as he worked among men.  He did not use flattery (v 5).  He was not self-seeking (v 6).  He was gentle (v 7).  He was generous and giving (v 8).  He worked hard (v 9).  He lived with integrity (v 10).  He was an encourager and comforter (v 11). 

These all sound like qualities that would please men, and surely they would, but Paul’s motivation did not lay there, but in a higher accounting.  He lived by this standard because he knew the final account for his life and ministry would be before God alone.  God would try his heart.
Christ again is our example.  Jesus did everything right in order to please his Heavenly Father.  And, though he was without sin, some men were still offended.  Guess it is true, “You can please some people some of the time…...” 

However, we can please God as we live with this truth in focus.  We will all give account of ourselves unto God. (Romans 14:12)  We need not compare ourselves by any other standard, or by what we see as the actions of others, because in the end we will all answer solely for ourselves – not our children, not our spouses, not our friends or enemies, but for ourselves alone.

What standards do you apply to your life?  Are they pleasing to God? Do you judge yourself by God’s standard or men’s?


“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  Romans 8:8

If our goal and motivation is that of Paul – to live so as to give a pleasing account to God – then it must be understood that the flipside would produce the contrary result.  A life lived to the will of the flesh would result in an unpleasing account.  To please God means to live our Christian life – yes, every area of our life – acceptable before God.
A quick study on the works of the flesh straight away defines and illustrates what works and actions are considered unacceptable before God.  Have a quick read of these from Galatians 5:19-21: Adultery, Fornication, Uncleanness, Lasciviousness, Idolatry, Witchcraft, Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresies, Envying, Murders, Drunkenness, Revelling.

And Romans 1:29-31: Unrighteousness, Fornication, Wickedness, Covetousness, Maliciousness, Envy, Murder, Debate, Deceit, Malignity, Whispering, Backbiting, Hating God, Despiteful, Proud, Boasting, Disobedient to parents, Covenant breaking, Without natural affection, Implacable, Unmerciful.

It is amazing to see things we consider ordinary sins and big sins included in the same list.  That is because ALL of the works of the flesh are not pleasing to God.  Allowing them to be a part of our life emphatically means that we are not pleasing and cannot be pleasing to God.
Stop and think.  What fleshly attitudes and sins are resident in your life?  What if you had to give account of your life this moment? Would you be able to give a pleasing account?  What needs to go so that you can be pleasing to God?


“But without faith it is impossible to please him…”  Hebrews 11:6

To please or be pleasing is to prove oneself useful to the good of another.  It is to win favour with others by our actions.  Pleasing God by our life of faith brings Him the glory.  He is pleased, as we trust Him fully.  Truly, if we do not trust Him, he is not pleased.

We’ve been talking about actions that are pleasing, but it does go deeper than just our outward actions.  There is to be an inward source for those actions else we might seem to be manipulative person or an “eye-pleaser” – one who does right on the outside while others are looking and then resort to the works of the flesh when we think no one will see.  God is not pleased with this because He knows the heart – he sees the hypocrisy.  We cannot hide from Him…all things are open to Him.

God wants us to do our dealings from a heart of faith.  A heart that says, “I will do right…no matter the cost…out of love and trust in my Saviour.” He wants our motivation to be pure – not self-seeking.

The verse goes on to say that God will reward those who diligently seek Him.  A heart and life that is pleasing to God is one that is right on the inside and that does right on the outside based solely upon the pure desire to honour and please God.  “…with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  Hebrews 13:16  It is a life of integrity lived by faith.

Are you pleasing in your inward motivations?  Do you act by faith and love without thoughts of manipulation or hypocrisy?  Is God pleased with your true motivation in life and in service?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Week Thirty - Patience


“...let patience have her perfect work...” James 1:4

The Greek word “hupomone” means literally “an abiding under”.  So, there must be pressure applied for patience to be exhibited.  Paul tells us that tribulation worketh or produces patience.  (Rom 5:3)  So, patience is an acquired skill - the fruit of testing and pressure.
Patience can be passive - as we merely endure recognizing trials as from the hand of God.  And, it can be active - by persistence and perseverance as we patiently work through situations.  Either way it produces Christian character that can only be brought about by levels of pressure and testing.
None of us relish affliction or tribulation.  We really don’t enjoy exhibiting patience either.  We would prefer the easy path and most things to go our own way.  Yet, if we really desire Christ-likeness we must see pressures as necessary to our growth and as the loving hand of God teaching his child maturity.

Allowing patience to “her perfect work” also produces further fruit.  Romans 5:3-5 says that it brings on experience, hope and confidence.  James says it makes us mature and complete.

Are you “abiding under” a trial? Do you see the benefit of trials?  Are you willing to allow patience to do her perfect work in your life?


“...the trying of your faith worketh patience.”  James 1:3

“The trying of our faith”.  As we move nearer to the time of the trumpet, our faith is bound to be tested more intensely.  We will need all the patient endurance and perseverance that the Holy Spirit can produce.  We will need the wisdom and confidence that God has taught us through experience and past trials.  And, again, we will need to recognize that such trials of our faith will not destroy us, but will produce more patience and, yes, stronger faith.
Our faith can be tested many ways.  Sometimes we face scoffers, sometimes, fools, occasionally we may be confronted and have to speak up for Christ.  Or, we may see and feel the falling away of those around us and hear the voice of the deceiver tempting us to do the same.  He can plant doubt and discouragement.  He can distract and annoy.  But, if we have learned patience we know that he can only do so for a season.  The victory is ours and by patient faith we can endure.

How do you face trials?  If you were facing them patiently, what do you think that would look like?  Do you need to make any adjustments?


“the patience of the saints...”  Rev. 14:12, 13:10

The saints are described as those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.  Or – who trust and obey.
This is patient endurance.  It is simple solid faith that says, “God is right and it will all be done according to His Word.  I will just be patient and wait!”  It is also patient active perseverance that says, “God is right.  I will simply obey His Word and keep my eyes on Jesus.”
II Peter 3:4 records those who will ask, “Where is the promise of his coming?”  These have lost patience.  They have turned to their own way and forgotten that God created the world by His Word.  He will finish the world by His Word.  The day of the Lord will come.  Evil will be punished and the saints will be rewarded.  This is the patience of the saints.  It is that settled confident trust and knowledge that God is right and he will set everything in order in His time.  The saint says, “I will patiently wait.”

Reading Isaiah was bringing me down.  I was tired of reading of all the woes and judgments placed on the different nations and on Israel themselves.  As I was reading, my mind was saying this very thing, and then I came to chapter 35 where God began to show me the “patience of the saints” and the promise of His restoration.  Words like “rejoice”, “blossom”, “singing”, “recompense” were scattered throughout the chapter and it closed with, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Verse 10)

Are you willing to wait for the Lord to make all things right? Or, do you go about meting out justice?  Do you look for the promise of His coming with joy and anticipation?


“In patience possess ye your souls...”  Luke 21:19

To possess your soul is to gain mastery over your passions or to not lose self-control in the face of adverse circumstances.  Sounds like our definition of patience – pressure!
Patience here might be defined as the ability to not lose self-control, to accept delays, annoyances and frustrations without complaining or fighting back.  It is the ability to calmly accept that some things we cannot force.  They come in their own time.  And, in God’s providence that will be the right time.

We need to recognize that God is in control.  If I am providentially hindered on my path, I need to calmly yield and wait for my Father to make the way plain before me.  I need to count to ten and control myself!

Jesus gave this instruction. It came right after he described the sufferings his followers would face.  He knew the temptations they would face.  He knew that Peter would speak before the thought.  He knew that some would fall away because of the pressure. 

It reminds me of the two verses in Proverbs – 25:28 – “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”  16:32 – “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”  Not to have possession of our souls – spiritual self-control – is to be vulnerable to every attack.  Ruling our spirit, however, brings strength.

Can you control yourself in the face of delays and annoyances?  What is your normal reaction?  What reactions need to be brought into line with Scripture?


“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Heb 10:36

Ye have need! – It is a necessity.  Patience is a necessity.  We need it in so many areas of life.  We need it in relationships, in finances, as we drive and shop, in life decisions, in business, in child rearing.  It is a necessity.  It starts the moment we are born.  We wait to eat and wait to be changed.  We scream and cry, but eventually learn that we will be fed and clothed.  Seems we always want our needs to be met faster.  And usually, we want to put little effort in ourselves.
But this verse says we need to patiently do right first, and then the promise of reward will not fail. This patience is active.  We are to be about the Father’s business and we must do it patiently.  The reward it here, but only for those who trust and obey.  We don’t get to eat dessert first!  The good stuff comes after the main meal!

So, the question is, “Are you a screaming baby Christian? One that doesn’t want to wait for anything or anyone?  Or, are you a demanding toddler stomping your feet and throwing temper tantrums?  Or maybe you are a stubborn teen?  One who is always questioning why things aren’t going your way or trying to do things you are not prepared for or mature enough to truly understand.  Or, maybe you are in open teenage rebellion! 

Are you willing to put in the effort necessary to grow?  Then remember this verse…..patience…do God’s will…then the reward!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Week Twenty-Nine - Order


“Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of the Lord.”
 Psalm 50:23

Order…..meaning organized, set into a certain path, prepared aforetime.  Praise brings glory to the Lord, and here we are told that a life (conversation) that is well planned will see benefits from the Lord.

I don’t know how many times friends have come concerned that their lives were out of control.  They just could not see how they had wound up in such a mess or with so tangled a web.  But looking from the outside one could see that they were not living according to any plan. They spent when they did not have adequate funds, they made hasty decisions based on emotion without regard to the consequences, they made poor life choices in marriage, business, and acquaintances and then wondered why life wasn’t rosy.

On the other side of the coin, I have met others who live their lives by such rigor that there is no joy left.  Everything had a place and everything had to be in place no matter what - this included their children and spouses. Their lives also produced a stress of their own and very little happiness found it’s way into the situation.  They too wondered why life wasn’t what they had hoped for and their praise of the Lord was limited.

An ordered life is a balanced life where there is room for fun, room for spontaneity, room for discipline and room for planning.  Such a life will see the hand of God and be able to flex with the demands of life based on the fact that God is in control.  You see, for some people there was no control, for others there was only their own control.  A godly life is one where God is in control – and He is the one who orders the universe!

What about you?  Are you “flying by the seat of your pants” in life and winding up in messes?  Or, are you trying to control every facet of your life and the lives of all those around you, but to no avail?  God has a much better plan – why not try it His way for a while?


“….and if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation and the rest will I set in order when I come.”
 I Cor 11:34

Paul is sending instruction to the Corinthian church on the order of the Lord Table.  He has given them the basic instruction and then closes with, “and the rest will I set in order when I come.”

It reminds me of our Lord.  He came to earth and set the ball rolling, first in creation, then in the crucifixion and establishment of His church…but there are things still yet to settle!  He is going to return to set the rest in order!  Praise the Lord!
I John 2:28 says, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”  When the Lord returns to call us home may it be our prayer that our lives are so ordered in Him that He has little or nothing to “set in order”.  It means we must take time now to look to see that we are living in Him..abiding in Him.

O, sure, we won’t have everything right…but we can be making an effort to be doing the things we know we ought.  I like Deuteronomy 29:29 because it gives me comfort and order about what things I should be doing and it also give me space to deal with the things I don’t understand.  Moses wrote:  “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”  See it?  I am only responsible to do the things God has revealed unto me.  If I do my part, as instructed or ordered by the Lord, then He will take care of the rest.

So, the question is – are you doing what you know to be doing according to the Word of God?  Or, will God have to set some things straight in your life?


“For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”
 Colossians 2:5

Raising children is always a challenge, and, a joy – sometimes!  Kid will push the boundaries as far as they can and you just never know when they will decide to have a go!  It is always funny to me to see how children act when their parents aren’t around.  I have found it can go two ways.  Either they are good as gold when away from their parents, or complete scoundrels!

My sister and I were only fifteen months apart and my parents were young parents.  Consequently, we spent a lot of time with our grandparents.  We would have a great time with Grandma and Grandpa and hardly ever were scolded.  We loved them and didn’t want their displeasure.  But, the moment our parents would arrive, for some reason, we just lost all decorum and would wind up in trouble embarrassing our parents and befuddling our grandparents.  I remember them making comment that we had been so good and they didn’t know why we changed when our parents arrived.  I don’t know either!  Never figured that one out!

I was on the receiving end of the opposite type of behaviour when I was child-minding for some friends.  They left their two pre-teens with me for a couple of days.  No problem since I had children their age and knew these kids well.  They had always been polite and well behaved when we had visited in their home, so I had no thought of concern.  However, once the parents were out the door these children changed!  Their language was hateful and they were totally disrespectful of authority.  It was quite a strain on our whole family.

The verse says, “beholding your order”.  Our testimony goes before us, it is something people look for and see even when we do not know they are looking.  Paul was proud of the Colossian church because even when he was away, he knew that they were faithful and orderly in their lives.  They were not acting as little children trying boundaries and bringing embarrassment.

And you?  Are you the same on Monday as you were on Sunday?  When you think no one is looking do you revert to poor language and poor behaviour?  Do you realize that this is the definition of a hypocrite?


“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting…”  Titus 1:5

Paul had left Titus in Crete to do a job for the church – to ordain leaders and help this church get on it’s feet functionally.  He was to look and see where the church needed to be strengthened and put into place the things necessary for proper administration.

When there are things in our lives that are missing (wanting)…we, too, need to be about filling that void, or, setting our house in order.  This is a part of the process of sanctification – the growing in Christ.  This is not a morbid looking at every crack or failure in our life.  That type of introspection is not healthy.  What we are being instructed to do is to ask the Lord to show us areas where we are lacking and then learn to yield to Him in growth and change.

Philippians 1:6 remind us, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 2:13 says further, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  Both of these verses are precious promises that assure us that our “cracks” will be filled by His working in our lives.  He left His Holy Spirit here with us to do this work and as we yield to this instrument of His peace we can find that a holy work is being done!

So – if you see cracks, if you feel voids, if there are things “wanting” or lacking in your spiritual life, you can be assured that God is aware of them and has made plans to set them in order!

Are you willing to yield?


“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”  Psalm 119:133

Order – to establish.  Psalm 37:28 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way.”  Steps in our lives that are made on the sure foundation of God’s Word produce security and strength, a confident stride, and a directed path.
We do not have to go through life wondering or wandering.  God’s Word is our guide and we can move securely through life even when the pathway seems obscured.

There is a poem I once read and one line went - “I stepped out on the seeming void and found the Rock beneath.”  I love this mental picture!  Stepping forward into a misty place and feeling the security of the rock beneath one’s feet!  This tells me that even steps of faith, steps when we may not understand the path can be assured of the solidness and steadfastness of the Lord’s provision when we are living according to the Word.

It is also comforting to note that the Lord is involved in every step.  He orders our steps.  He prepared the way.  He provides the map.  And he secures the journey.  “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow!”

Are you following?  Are your steps being made securely?  Do you feel the Rock beneath your feet?