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Please the Father

“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:19).

Children usually are highly motivated to please their fathers, especially if they have a good relationship with them and know their father’s love them. Next time you go to a kids’ sporting event, watch the interaction between the children and their fathers. They want to please their fathers more than the coach. Unless the father has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction or rejection to the point of producing hopelessness, children never outgrow the desire to please their fathers. Children long to hear from their fathers, “I love you, and I am pleased with you.”

The children of God are also passionate about pleasing their Heavenly Father. Nothing excites them more than to know they delight Him and bring Him joy. The desire to please God is shared by man-pleasers as  well  as  Father-pleasers.  What distinguishes one from the other is their foundational view of God and what they think pleases Him. Before we can consider how to please God, we must understand who   and what  God  is as well as what He has revealed to us about what pleases Him.  That’s why the previous Chariot of Fire articles are foundational.

 

Pride of man: I can do something to please God.

Man-pleasers think they contribute to God’s pleasure and displeasure by what they do and don’t do. It pleases the  pride  of man that he has the power to impact  God’s pleasure. This wrong thinking about God is common to all false religions. The worshipper offers sacrifices, prays, or adheres to a designated lifestyle so their god     will be pleased and then reward them. I hope you can see how pride lies at the root of man-made religion with its traditions and practices. Religious bondage can only be foisted on people who want to feel good about the things they do and don’t do before God.

Before one can be a Father-pleaser, he must understand that God has willed  and planned that he have absolutely no ability in himself to please God or add to His fullness, delight, or satisfaction. The following verses from Romans make this truth abundantly clear. “As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who  seeks  for God; all have turned aside, together they  have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one’”  (Rom. 3:10-13). “And those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). This truth  strikes  at  the  heart  of  pride  in  man-pleasers  and exposes their ignorance  of God’s word and His nature. The road to pleasing God isn’t paved with man’s good works.

 

Humility in Man: God does everything that’s good in me for His pleasure.

I can’t remember where I heard it, but I’ll never forget this definition of humility because  it gives such glory to God. Humility is recognizing that everything I have comes from God. God’s uncontainable fullness, generosity, and grace are implied in that definition. Any value or righteousness in man does not come because of free-will acts  of  dedication and commitment. The Apostle Paul nailed the truth when he wrote, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). This same understanding is contained in his statement to the Galatians. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it   is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (2:20). Paul declared it again when he wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

Father-pleasers get this truth because they have experienced it! They know they have nothing they can add to God’s fulness because He has revealed to them what   they are filled with: the spirit of the antichrist-self which is hostile to God. They can say with Paul, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18). Seeing their sinfulness and uselessness before God they humble themselves in helplessness and brokenness, casting themselves on God’s mercy and grace. What do they discover? That God never intended for them to be righteous in themselves. That God’s greatest pleasure is that His Son, Jesus Christ, satisfy Him on their behalf in  every way. His death is their death to themselves. His life is their life to God. The revelation to their hearts of God’s pleasure in Christ on their behalf absolutely transforms their thinking and their lives. As the Holy Spirit, the shared love of the Father and the Son, enters their hearts, faith is born and the seed of love is sown.

Another reality dawns when faith is born by the Spirit of the Father and the Son. They discover their standing before God in grace, having done nothing! They don’t consider their new faith in Christ as something they did to please God, because they didn’t do it-and they know it. Faith came and then worked, drawing them to the Father through Jesus Christ. That’s why Father-pleasers are characterized by humility. It’s not that they think they are nothing (false humility), but that they recognize every good thing they have in them is from God because it pleased their Heavenly Father to bestow it on them in His Son, Jesus Christ. You can imagine then why these transformed sons and daughters of God long to boast in God and are jealous for His glory through and in  Jesus Christ. They’ve learned that what pleases the Father is for His Son to be the source of their lives, and they love that and long for others to enter into the freedom of His life. The road to pleasing God is paved with the riches (the gold) of Jesus’ righteousness performed in life and at the cross on our behalf. Hallelujah! Is that the road you are on? Or are you working hard to build that road through the good things you do and the bad things you don’t do according to the traditions, standards, and commitments of the people with whom you desire fellowship?

 

Giving Jesus first place in everything pleases the Father.

I hope you can now understand why the previous articles about man’s spiritual emptiness, God’s fullness, the Father’s pleasure, and  the  Son’s  delight  are foundational and important. Before one can please God, one must know what pleases God: that all fullness that man experiences be derived from his relationship with God through Jesus Christ in the Spirit. God is pleased when the Son lives in us and we make much of Christ in our lives. To live in this manner requires an attitude of surrender to self-will and self-significance so Jesus is Lord of  all.

When you make much of Jesus in everything you do, you know you are pleasing the Father because it pleases Him that Jesus be first place in everything. How do you make much of Jesus in everything? When you govern your relationship with your spouse by thinking about what makes much of Jesus instead of what pleases you, you are putting Jesus first in your marriage. To fix your eyes on Jesus and ask for His perspective and grace before reacting to your children you are making much of Jesus.    It pleases the Father when you refuse to judge, gossip about,  or  ignore  others  because you recognize Jesus as their Lord and  creator  and your close companion. When you apply the  work  of Christ on the cross to the sins of your fellow man and  grant forgiveness, you please the Father by making Jesus the first consideration in the relationship.

When you go to the throne of grace through the work of Jesus Christ, your high priest, you are making much of Jesus for the joy of the Father. When your boast, confidence, and joy before God is Jesus’ righteousness given to you by grace, you’re making much of Jesus for the pleasure of the  Father.  Father-pleasers  draw  their identity and significance from their relationship with God through Jesus Christ  in  contrast to man-pleasers who draw their identity and significance from their adherence  to a list of standards common to their church or group. How actions and words reflect   on Jesus and His reputation concerns those who want to please the Father, however, man-pleasers are more concerned about their own reputation among  men.

The Apostle Paul expressed the way he made much of Jesus when he wrote,  “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Paul drew his significance from his inclusion in the cross-work of Jesus Christ. From what do you draw your significance? Do you feel good about yourself because of the things you do and don’t do, or is God’s love for you in Christ the source of your worthiness? What is the source of unity with your wife, husband, children, or friends? Is it Jesus and relationship with Him, which makes much of Jesus Christ for the pleasure of the Father, or is it a shared set of values or worship style approved by your circle of friends or church?

Our Father’s greatest pleasure comes from His relationship with His Son and satisfaction in His work. Believers in Jesus Christ please their Father by giving Jesus  first place in everything they do. Knowing Him, loving Him, and expressing His love and presence have captured their hearts. They know God has not expected them to come  up with a list of laws and rules to follow which they think makes much of Jesus. They praise God because it has pleased the Father to set them free from the Law and its bondage by transferring them into the Kingdom of His Son through whom they experience the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Application – Live to please the Father.

  1. Take a review of your life and ask yourself, “Is there anything I feel proud about doing or not doing?” Make a list and then go to the Father in worship and thank Him for enabling you to do them or not do them through the indwelling work of Jesus Christ. Confess to Him that you want to do everything you do for His pleasure through Jesus Christ for His glory.
  2. Go to the Heavenly Father in worship and make much of Jesus before Him. Colossians 1:12-20 provide a basis for such  worship.
  3. Meditate upon or discuss with your family this definition of humility: Humility is recognizing that everything I have is from God. How does understanding humility in this way impact your relationships with others? How does understanding humility in this way give you a better understanding of your faith and  salvation?
  4. How would you answer this question? If you were to be asked by God when you  die, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you  say?
  5. Did your answer make much of what Jesus has done and is doing or did you make much of what you have done or haven’t done?
  6. Ask the Holy Spirit to identify any area of life where you are not  surrendered, giving Jesus Christ first place.

 

Next month we’ll explore the relationship between pleasing the Father and our being filled with the Holy Spirit. The key to living in the fullness of Christ, free from religious bondage, lies in being led by the indwelling Spirit of  God.

 

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