Without Faith it’s impossible to please God. Now that we understand what Faith in God really means, let’s do it. Let’s join ourselves to Jesus and never let go. Let’s obey his commandments and produce the perfect fruit that can only come from the True Vine. Let’s love God and everyone else, according to his standards and not our own. Through the power of God, we can do it all and nothing is impossible for us.
Imagine how pleased God would be if we obeyed him. Imagine how happy we would be knowing, without-a-doubt that we were “right with God”. Imagine how the road of life would be if we trusted God to drive. The Father knows what’s best for us. Isn’t it about time we hand the wheel to him?
Imagine Christians who actually resemble the God they associate themselves with. Imagine how much better Christians would look if we learned to love and treat each other with respect.
Imagine healing Cancer and AIDS with just a touch. Imagine people flocking to us, because they know, when we place our hands on them, their arms and legs will grow back and their sight and hearing will return. Imagine freeing the street-roaming, so-called “lunatics” and mentally ill, from demonic oppression. Imagine giving the needy not only food and shelter, but a real relationship with the almighty God through Jesus Christ. We can be the change that we want to see in this world.
Imagine feeling secure and happy (all the time) despite your low bank account or the small amount of friends in your life. Imagine feeling God’s presence and hearing his voice of love and comfort; and knowing that everything will be all right, regardless of how the circumstances may look. We shouldn’t have to imagine any of this because this is the life that God predestined for us. We just need to start believing and taking advantage of it.
Envision your future in Heaven with God and other faithful people, for all eternity, never again experiencing pain, suffering, emptiness or death; but experiencing instead only fulfillment, joy and love forever. We can have all this through continual Faith in Jesus Christ.
How to start pleasing God
First, we must understand that this is a process. It takes time and it’s a big change to what we’ve been used to. The process will involve growing pains, but pain goes along with success. Pleasing God will take unity and encouragement among believers, devotion, humility and the teaching and power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we try to please God in our flesh we will fail. I don’t expect growth overnight, but as we come together with the desire to please God, we will see fruit. Here is how we get started:
Confess, repent and get washed.
We learned in the previous chapters what “confess” and “repent” mean. These are the first and most important things we need to do. We must humble ourselves and admit that we’ve sinned against God big time. We must acknowledge that we’ve been wrong about Faith and many other things. We need to take the time to consider how bad we’ve hurt God. This is no insignificant matter; we should be sorry. Only godly sorrow leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Next, we must repent from these dead works of unfaithfulness, ask for forgiveness and be washed in the blood of his Son (1 John 1:5-10).
Take it one day at a time.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34). Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7). Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).
The Word of God says not to worry about tomorrow. This doesn’t mean we become careless and not plan for future events, but our focus must be on what God wants us to do today. Christianity is a daily process. Don’t say, “I’ll follow God tomorrow”; tomorrow is not promised (James 4:13-15). Today, let’s make the choice to serve him. Today, if we hear his voice, let’s not harden our hearts, but obey and follow him. Today, let’s do what we know to be right. Today, let’s repent. Today, let’s stop sinning. Today, let’s love God. Today, let’s treat our neighbors the way we want to be treated.
Believe that God is for us.
You must understand the magnitude of God’s love. He wants us to come out of sin. He wants us to overcome the devil and our flesh through his Son. He wants us to win this race and spend eternity in Heaven with him. He’s not trying to screw up our lives. What he allows to happen to us, and what he commands us to do are for our own good. He’s not trying to condemn us. Our sin has already done that, but our Father made a way, through his son, so that we will be saved (John 3:16-21). Don’t listen to Satan and his negative connotations about God, the devil is a liar. God is for us. And if he is for us, who can stand against us?
Make the Bible your number one book.
The Word of God must become our rule book, our manual for life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We must learn to study the Bible and take the time to allow God to speak to us through it. The Bible is the light on this dark road of life, and food for our souls (Psalm 119:105; Matthew 4:4). God didn’t write sixty-six books just so we could reference them occasionally, or completely discard them as we come up with our own theology. The scriptures must become our foundation. The Word of God is the very tool for “getting Faith” (Romans 10:17). It helps us discern between righteousness and wickedness, and it gives us wisdom and encouragement (Hebrews 11:1). We must accept it as it is, even if we don’t like what it says at times and if we don’t understand it, we should ask the author himself (Proverbs 3:5).
Replace sin with Jesus Christ.
Now that sin has been cleared out, we must fill the empty space with Jesus Christ. The empty space is our life, the rightful place Jesus should have occupied in the first place; after all, we are owned by God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). To leave the space unfilled is a sure way for sin to creep back into our lives. When we are full of Jesus, our Father and the Holy Spirit, and when sin then comes back to tempt us, it will find no room to dwell because we are too full of God.
Learn to respect and admire God.
The Bible continually says, “Respect and obey the LORD! This is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom; your reward will be wealth, a long life, and honor” (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, 22:4 CEV). Among the many problems with Christianity today, I believe a lack of respect for God is one of them. Because of God’s grace and mercy, we think he’s “soft”; as if our sins are inconsequential to him; as if he doesn’t exist; as if he doesn’t see how we spit on everything he loves. Our sins are disrespectful to God, even the ones we deem as insignificant. We must respect him by abstaining from all sin and obeying his commandments.
Not only must we stop doing the things he hates, we must seek a close relationship with him, like king David did. David was “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22-23 CEV). David sang songs to God, he was in love with God. He chased after God because he adored and admired him. We must appreciate who God is and what he does for us. We must value the privilege to be called sons and daughters of God. We must praise God as much as we can. We need to learn how to fall in love with God. As time goes on, we will talk more about this.
Desire to be like Jesus.
Jesus is obedient, righteous and full of genuine love. Our Father’s desire is that we act like Jesus. This means we should love the things God loves, and hate the things God hates (Proverbs 8:13 CEV). This means we desire to treat others like Jesus would treat them. As we obey God’s commandments and strive for holiness, we will begin to change. The fruit will be evident and we’ll begin to shine and stand out from the world. Change only comes if we desire and endeavor to be righteous; it isn’t automatic. Without a desire for holiness we cannot please God.
Learn to hear directly from God.
God speaks to us through our brothers and sisters, but God’s desire is to talk to us directly, like he did in the beginning. Now that Jesus has bridged the gap and reconciled us to the Father, we have the same direct communication as before. We can hear the voice of God throughout the day, as we pray, and when we study our Bibles.
Today, Christians would rather hear from their pastor than from God himself. Christians treat God like the Israelites did when they told Moses to “talk to God for us, if he talks to us we will die” (Ex 20:18-21). Certainly they would not have died if God had spoke to them individually. They simply didn’t want to hear the voice of God in their heads. It’s hard to disobey direct orders when the Lord’s voice is convicting and encouraging you to do the right thing, but it’s easy to disregard what a Christian leader says.
On another note, it’s dangerous to always get your instruction from a man rather than God. Men cannot be trusted, they’re imperfect, and they lie. A man doesn’t know what’s best for you. Men make mistakes and misjudgments, and don’t fully understand your life or what the future holds. God has put leaders in our lives to help us, but they must be led by God in order for us to follow them (1 Corinthians 11:1). Do you know whether your leader is led by the Holy Spirit? If so, prove it; look at his character, look at his fruit. Do you verify what your leader teaches with the Bible? Men and women of God are great aids only if they are led by the Spirit of God. Ultimately, we must get direct instruction from God himself.
But we must test the spirits too. When you pray and listen for a response, you can’t accept all voices as if they’re all from God. The Spirit of God speaks and so do the spirits of evil. Demons talk and they impersonate God. Do you know how to test the spirits to see whether they are from God? 1 John 4:1-3 gives us a great way to discern good voices from evil. I realize that this is not something we learn overnight; we’ll talk about this more in the future.
Jesus reconnected the line of communication to our Father. Let’s take advantage of the privilege to talk to God personally and directly. By hearing God and obeying his commands, we’ll stay away from sin and we’ll please God.
Understand the life of a disciple.
“ If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)
Denying yourself is hard, it involves the pain of sacrifice. If we are going to be disciples of Christ we must be willing to deny anything contrary to God’s desires. When Jesus mentioned “taking up the cross” he meant: to take up hardship. Back in the Roman crucifixion days, it was hard to carry a heavy cross, up hill, while fatigued, after being humiliated and beaten while people reviled and spat on you. Likewise the journey to God will be extremely hard (John 15:20).
One hardship is persecution, which is a very ugly thing. You will be hated by the world, your own family and even professing Christians for being like Christ. You will be lied about, mocked, disrespected; physically, emotionally and verbally assaulted. You’ll be thrown into prison, even tortured and killed. People will insult your intelligence for your knowing and speaking the truth, and you’ll be called to love those who hate you anyway. Through it all, you must endure and never give up. Most people live to seventy or eighty years old. Suppose their Christian journey began at age thirty; that’s forty to fifty years of discomfort. Even though persecution may not be constant, that’s a long time to have the world against you. Are you willing to deal with that?
If that is not enough, you will constantly have to wrestle with demonic forces (Eph 6:12). Even though the devil is defeated, he still “runs his mouth” along with his fallen comrades whose mission is to destroy your life. They make suggestions and tempt us to sin. Then they make us feel bad about committing that very sin. They make us think we’re defeated, when in fact, it’s the opposite. Or they deceive us into thinking we’re in good standing with God, when in fact, we’re one inch away from death. They can’t harm us physically, but they can use others to do so. They are like flies who distract and buzz in our ears. But unlike insects, this nuisance is in the spiritual realm and the battle field is in our minds. Are you willing to battle an enemy you can’t see?
Last but not least, we have ourselves to deal with, the selfish and evil part of us that wants no part of a righteous God (Romans 7:18-25). Demons are the just the instigators, but our flesh is the one that engages in sin for a fight it will always lose. The flesh is weak and never satisfied, it is stupid and foolish and tries to persuade you to follow it. Are you willing to battle yourself on a daily basis?
While persecution, unseen enemies and our own selfish desires may seem like a bit much to overcome, luckily, the benefits of following Jesus outweigh the negatives. First, we have the authority of Jesus to defeat demons by audibly speaking the Word of God. Our own flesh can be overcome with the power of the Spirit. As far as persecution goes, we’re just going to have to take it, but thirty to forty years is a breeze compared to eternity in Hell.
But don’t get God wrong, there is much more to the Christian life than hardships and denial of one’s self. There is the capacity to experience indescribable joy, happiness and peace despite the world we live in. Miracles will be performed through us. Prayers will be answered and we will receive perfect gifts from a God that loves us. Coupled with these are: real love, pure relationships, empowerment, purpose and finally, eternal life with the our God in Heaven. Are you willing to deal with pain and opposition, for a short while, and then live the rest of your life in eternal love and peace? This is what you must consider if you are going to become a “God pleaser”, a disciple of Christ.
Come together in Love
Along with repentance, desiring God, and weighing the cost of being a follower of Christ, we need to come together; we need to unify. I believe that unity only works if we love one another. In my six-plus years with Christianity I’ve seen nothing but worldly, counterfeit love, not the biblical standard of love. Even though we all know the love scripture (1 Corinthians 13) we don’t follow it. It’s as if, along with Faith, we don’t understand love either.
Among other things, my mission is to teach what biblical love really is. Love isn’t prideful and arrogant, it isn’t selfish and disrespectful, it doesn’t rejoice in lies and in sin; yet this goes on in the Church every day and no one is rebuked; it has become common and insignificant. How can we unite when we disrespect, belittle, manipulate, deceive, lust-after, rob, hate, envy and gossip about one another? And when it’s brought to our attention, we cannot even take responsibility, and usually become indifferent to our wounded brothers and sisters. Without a proper understanding of love we cannot unite and encourage one another for the road ahead (Romans 12:9-21).
Love and Discipleship
The loving thing to do is to teach another person what you’ve learned about Jesus. For instance, a new believer is made. There are other mature, experienced believers who see him. Wouldn’t it be best for the old to show the new how to walk with Jesus? Do you think a new believer knows how to properly interface with a God he can’t see? What about their new mortal enemies, the hardships, the rewards and joys of being a Christian? Do you honestly expect the new Christian to open his Bible and magically know how to study and get the information he needs? Or would it be best to just leave him alone and let him work it out for himself? Would the new believer be successful on his own? Probably not.
This is what discipleship is for. Discipleship is about teaching another how to follow Christ. New Christians are like children. They need to be spoon fed, taken by the hand and shown the right way. The mature, faithful Christians are the ones they look up to and imitate. As we become mature in the things of God, we will have opportunities to do as Jesus commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:18-20). Through loving discipleship, all kinds of things will be discovered: spiritual gifts, offices and talents, the very tools that exist for the perfection of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16). I’ll be talking more about discipleship in the future.
Get in and stay in
Jesus is our salvation; we must stay in him in order to be transformed into his likeness and ultimately, to be saved. We stay joined to Jesus by obedience. We can’t stay in Christ without obeying him, and we can’t obey him without the power of the Spirit.
Along with a desire for righteousness, humility is imperative. We must believe Jesus when he said, “without me you can do nothing.” We can’t live successfully without God. We are weak and helpless and our only salvation is Jesus Christ. We are God’s property and we must be focused on his agenda rather than our own. When we sin, we must confess, repent and be washed every time; this is what the blood is for. Without daily cleansing, we cannot stay in Christ.
As we abide in Christ, the fruit will be evident: we will love with sincerity. The world will see our character and know we are genuine followers of Christ. Because of our unity, when we hear from God, we’ll all hear the same thing, and we’ll be awesome creatures of God, and the world will have to take notice.
Look forward to his return.
As we connect with Jesus in the spirit, let’s remember that’s he coming back in the flesh:
1 My dear friends, this is the second letter I have written to encourage you to do some honest thinking. I don’t want you to forget 2 what God’s prophets said would happen. You must never forget what the holy prophets taught in the past. And you must remember what the apostles told you our Lord and Savior has commanded us to do.
3 But first you must realize that in the last days some people won’t think about anything except their own selfish desires. They will make fun of you 4 and say, “Didn’t your Lord promise to come back? Yet the first leaders have already died, and the world hasn’t changed a bit.”
5 They will say this because they want to forget that long ago the heavens and the earth were made at God’s command. The earth came out of water and was made from water. 6 Later it was destroyed by the waters of a mighty flood. 7 But God has commanded the present heavens and earth to remain until the day of judgment. Then they will be set on fire, and ungodly people will be destroyed.
8 Dear friends, don’t forget that for the Lord one day is the same as a thousand years, and a thousand years is the same as one day. 9 The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.
10 The day of the Lord’s return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are. 11 Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live. 12 You should look forward to the day when God judges everyone, and you should try to make it come soon. On that day the heavens will be destroyed by fire, and everything else will melt in the heat. 13 But God has promised us a new heaven and a new earth, where justice will rule. We are really looking forward to that! 14 My friends, while you are waiting, you should make certain that the Lord finds you pure, spotless, and living at peace (2 Peter 3:1-14 CEV).
Luke 17:20-23 (CEV) says:
20 Some Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom would come. He answered, “God’s kingdom isn’t something you can see. 21 There is no use saying, `Look! Here it is’ or `Look! There it is.’ God’s kingdom is here with you.” 22 Jesus said to his disciples: The time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not.
23 When people say to you, “Look there,” or “Look here,” don’t go looking for him. 24 The day of the Son of Man will be like lightning flashing across the sky. 25 But first he must suffer terribly and be rejected by the people of today. 26 When the Son of an comes, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. 27 People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day when Noah went into the big boat. Then the flood came and drowned everyone on earth.
28 When Lot lived, people were also eating and drinking. They were buying, selling, planting, and building. 29 But on the very day Lot left Sodom, fiery flames poured down from the sky and killed everyone. 30 The same will happen on the day when the Son of Man appears. 31 At that time no one on a rooftop should go down into the house to get anything. No one in a field should go back to the house for anything. 32 Remember what happened to Lot’s wife. 33 People who try to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives will save them.
Let’s please God.