Before we discuss pleasing God, I just want to share something personal.
It is my goal to encourage and inspire millions of people to seek God through the Spirit and regular Bible reading. Will you join me in this vision? If I haven’t shared this before, my passion is to help people develop their own faith.
2 Corinthians 1: 24 But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.
Do you stand firm in your faith?
In other words, it’s like teaching people to fish rather than serving baked fish. Instead of inviting people to church, why not invite them to get to know your God personally by reading the Bible and prayer? Why wait until Sunday (or Saturday) when there’s something you can do today?
The main question is not “Are you living without sin?”, “Are you serving in a ministry?”, or “Are you in a Bible study?”. The main question is “are you pleasing God?”
What is essential to pleasing God?
Hebrews 11: 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
So at the very least, we know that we need faith. I can personally testify that you can play the part of being a Christian, say all the right words, and go through the motions without having faith. I’ve done it.
Here’s my favorite example of faith…
Daniel 3: 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Can you imagine? This is amazing! God did not promise that they would live but they stood firm in the face of death.
Let’s discuss how we can stand firm in our own faith, are you ready? This is the first of at least three messages on how to grow your own faith.
Are you eating enough?
If you buy a plant and the plant expert tells you to water it every day, what will happen if you water that plant only one or two days out of the week? What results would you expect? Will the plant be strong, able to withstand the sun? Will it develop a strong root system so that a strong breeze won’t affect it?
In order for anything to grow, we need to take the time to care for it and give it nourishment. Time is something that we can control, and we recently spent 3 messages discussing time. Care is treating it carefully or being serious about it. This is commitment.
Nourishment is feeding it. Let’s see what Jesus had to say about this:
John 6: 32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.
In verse 34 the people said, “give us that bread every day”. Jesus then makes it clear what that bread is in the next verse. So how do we consume this bread and living water?
What other word describes Jesus?
John 1: 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
To summarize this I think that we can say that consuming the Word of God, whether it be through reading or listening to it is how we feed ourselves in order to grow spiritually. It is my opinion that daily devotionals, Christian books, and sermons are NOT substitutes for the daily Bread. They may contain a crumb or two or maybe even a half a slice, but is that enough? Even if it is enough, it is relying on the sermon, devotional, or book which are human sources. Add to that those sources are not necessarily divinely inspired (they might not be Spirit-led). There are plenty of “universalist” churches out there that serve up heaps of garbage on your plate. Sure it will fill your stomach, but with what? Did you ever eat a whole package of Twinkies?
Learn to feed yourself.
The real problem with other people spoon feeding you is that you are relying on a fallible person to process the bread for you and they put their own “spin” or perspective on it. While this may provide you with nutrition, I believe that when we choose to go directly to the Source and eat the organic Word of God with enough faith that He will speak through His Word, then it becomes a feast. When we’ve developed a habit of feasting on a daily basis, what started out as “I need to read the Bible” turns into “I’m really hungry and I strongly desire to read the Bible”. But let me explain something so that you are not misled. This growth that we are talking about is not visible from day to day. Growth takes months and years and it’s not always obvious.
Keep reading or listening!
The foundation we are building takes time and this is why we need a commitment. When we get to a point when we’ve been reading daily for a long period of time, the sermons, the books, the devotionals no longer satisfy. They are not enough. Our appetites have grown and we are hungry for more, day in and day out. The growth of this daily habit is seen here:
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.
What side of this equation are you on right now? Are you delighting in the law of the Lord every day? Notice that the trees bear fruit all season as their roots are getting fed from the river. (See also Josh 1:8, Ezek 47: 1-12)
Compare that to this passage which basically says the same thing:
John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
Are you a true disciple?
“Dear Lord, I choose to be your disciple. I will commit to seeking you with every fiber of my being. I know that I do not feel spiritual and that I am mostly a casual follower. But you’ve called me to love you with all my heart and that’s what I would like to do. Please forgive me for not taking your Word seriously. Thank you, Jesus, for what you have in store for my future, for I believe that you will lead me to truth and everlasting life as long as I continue to follow you. In Jesus’ name, Amen”
Would you like to get the most out of your reading, check out the website for reading tips: theBibleTeam.com/Tips.asp