Living To Please God

Matthew 16:24-27(NIV): Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Our society is completed infatuated with celebrity and many other entertainment idols. More people will read entertainment magazines or follow celebrities on Twitter, instead of spending daily time in the word, listening for God. They won’t even open up their Bible during the week and they wonder why their life is not what it should be. God can and does speak to us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit.  However, God gives us the free will to decide if we will follow His ways or the ways of the world.

Many in our world long for more and more material possessions and yet those things never satisfy for very long. We tend to define ourselves by the material things of life and we measure success by what we have managed to accumulate. God judges success quite differently. God looks inside us, at our heart, and He judges us based on how we follow and obey Him in being the very presence of Christ to a lost and perishing world.  God views us differently than the world does. God doesn’t judge a person based on their appearance or their standing in the world – God looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7: But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 

It seems that so many people today are consumed with themselves. We take selfies to bring attention to ourselves and we go to social media to let everyone know our most random thoughts and feelings. Many in our world today have become prideful, instead of being humble, and thinking about serving and putting the needs of others first. The things of this world only seek to pull us away from God and from time spent in listening and praying to Him. And that’s not surprising, because who is the ruler of this world – The spirit of the air? Ephesians 2:1-2: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Begin today by living to please God and seeking Him daily, instead of the material and temporary things of this world. Pay special attention to those around you that God places in your life. Try to be more humble and focus your attention on those around you and less on yourself. Strive to put the needs of others first, instead of yourself. And most importantly, we are to take up our cross daily in order to follow Jesus. Will you live to please God or to please other people? Ask God to open the eyes of your heart so that you may live only to please and bring glory to God.

 

 

Giving Thanks to God

Psalm 100 (NIV)

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

2     Worship the Lord with gladness;

    come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the Lord is God.

    It is he who made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving

    and his courts with praise;

    give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

This is a very special Psalm to me for several reasons. First of all, Psalm 100 helps me to remember how I should first approach God – by always giving thanks. God is so very worthy of all our praise and we should begin our prayers to God by continually giving thanks for our many blessings. Do you begin your prayer time with God by giving thanks to God or do you immediately ask God for what you think you want or need? If you are like me, you also try to “help” God by telling him how to best accomplish those wants and needs. Remember that God knows what we need before we even ask. Focus on beginning your prayer time with God by simply giving thanks for all that God has done for you and for all that God will do for you.

The Apostle Paul writes, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Paul didn’t list any exclusions or exceptions for giving thanks; rather he said to give thanks in ALL circumstances. That is a difficult concept for many people to grasp but it is one that we should strive to follow, if we truly trust God and believe that “we are his people.” We must remember that “the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” God will take care of those who are faithful, trusting, obedient, and thankful.

Also, this Psalm of grateful praise helps me to remember a very special Christian lady who passed away several years ago. This was her favorite scripture and I was honored to use this text at her funeral service. She taught many of us how to be thankful for what we have and how to begin our prayer time with God, by giving thanks for God’s mighty hand upon our lives. Being thankful to God was her message to everyone she came into contact with. Her deep faith and trust in God was so evident, that it encouraged many others to be more intentional about first approaching God with grateful praise.

I encourage you to make this Thanksgiving Day (and every day) a day of praise and thanks to God. Take the time to slow down and reflect upon the many blessings that God has given you. Even in difficult times, we can be thankful of God’s presence with us and his help in dealing with and overcoming life’s challenging moments. As we approach the Christmas season and the buying frenzy that it has become, take the time to begin each day by first giving thanks to your creator God for your many blessings.

 

Meditating on God’s Word

Joshua 1:7-8 (NASB): Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Ask yourself an honest question: How often do you open up your Bible and read it? Most of us probably pick up our phone, or use our laptop or I-pad, to read or look at something other than the Bible. It’s not our fault, right? There are so many other things that compete for our time and our attention. We live in a fast paced world where we want to do anything other than to be still. You may promise God that “one day when things slow down” or when “I get in a better place,” I will sit down and be still and read my Bible and listen for you God.

Well, time passes and your daily pace of life doesn’t slow down. You find your life becoming increasingly difficult and perplexing, and you wonder why. You continue to wait for that “better place” in your life to listen for God. The truth is – you will never get to that “better place” in your life unless you allow God to lead you to it. And God can lead you there through His Word. You will not find that “better place” until you find and follow and obey God. If you are struggling with life at this very moment, you need to immerse yourself in the Word of God. And how often should you open up your Bible and read it? The book of Joshua tells us that we are to not only read the Bible – but meditate upon it – day and night!

I know what you’re thinking: I just don’t have enough time to spend meditating day and night upon the Bible. If that is your response then I would say this to you. You have 24 hours in a day – you can find plenty of time to meditate on scripture – IF it is important to you in your daily walk with God. The Bible can guide you to many truths that could help you with specific circumstances that you will face in the day or days ahead. God, through the Holy Spirit, can speak to you through daily time in the word and can guide you into making the right decisions that you are confronted with in your daily life. With so much uncertainty in the world today, you simply cannot afford – not to connect with God – on a daily basis, by meditating upon His Word.

 

 

 

God’s Strength or Self-Pity

2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV): For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV): So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

My week thus far has been tiring, stressful and has drained almost all of my energy. I feel my physical body getting tired and weak, and I find it takes more time to recover after a long and exhausting day. This week I have been forced to face physical limitations and that is something that I am having difficulty dealing with. So I came home this afternoon, content to wallow in self-pity and complain about my 52 year old body. (This was a week after my yearly checkup which was outstanding).

I began the morning praying to God for strength for the day and receiving it, but I wanted more. I wanted more time in the day, more energy, less physical limitations and more strength like I had 20 years ago. God must have laughed at my silly prayer – asking for more of my own strength. But I am human – and a man – and I should always be strong on my own! Well God said – “Darryl, you are so wrong. I am your strength! You should know that by now.”

So I just had to get still before God, stop complaining, and let God give me an attitude adjustment. I opened my Bible and began to read and search for scripture on God’s mighty strength. And by the way, there’s a lot of scripture on God’s mighty strength, in case you didn’t already know. I also began to listen to inspirational Christian songs that would help me to get in the right place with God, to be still, and to listen to Him.

Through this quiet time with God in the middle of a hard and difficult week, I found just what I needed to continue on. The God that I worship, praise, and serve is at this very moment searching throughout the earth for his people who are seeking him and committing their hearts to him. And he will graciously give us the strength we need for each day, in order that we will continue to rely upon him and look to him daily for renewed strength. I will trust and depend upon God for what is needed for each day –  and so must you!

Close your eyes and get still before God and listen to this beautiful song  from Hillsong United. Draw your daily strength from our mighty, powerful and strong God.