Daily D – John 8:29
“The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him.”
JOHN 8:29 (CSB)
I was in college when I heard a pastor say he had two rules for living:
1) To please God
2) To keep rule number one
So impressed with this idea was I that I put it on an application at a radio station. The general manager, who himself is a Christian, enjoyed asking me about it.
For a long time, much longer than I care to admit, my approach to pleasing God was a doomed attempt at perfection. I was better than average, maybe, but never approached the perfection I sought.
If you have not figured it out by now, you and I are never ever going to achieve perfection. Thankfully, Jesus was able to do that for us and to apply his grace to our faults.
How do we live Rule Number One and Rule Number Two?
God told Moses to give Aaron and his sons a blessing for the people of Israel. We find it in Numbers 6:24-26:
may the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
may the LORD look with favor on you and give you peace.
The blessed life, a life that pleases God, is a life of determined dependence. We acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven (James 1:17).
We acknowledge that God protects and defends us as we walk the path he has laid out for us (Psalm 23).
We acknowledge that it is by his grace alone that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
We acknowledge God with praise for who he is and thanksgiving for what he does (Psalms 100 and 150).
We acknowledge that acceptance and peace are God’s gifts to all who turn to him in faith (John 15 and 16).
Another term for acknowledging is conscious awareness. As Brother Lawrence put it, we are to “practice the presence of God.” That is, we seek to know and experience God whether we are washing dishes, applying makeup, examining spreadsheets, listening to podcasts, or teaching lessons. We pray without ceasing. Our lives are lived in constant conversation and contemplation with Jesus.
Inconveniences like flat tires are much less frustrating as we learn to ask, “What does this make possible?”
Doctor appointments where bad news is on the line become opportunities to minister grace to those who provide the care we require.
Traffic bullies provide opportunities to exercise restraint and to seek God’s blessing on the offenders.
We spent a few days with our granddaughter and her parents late last week. Every time I looked at that child, I smiled. You know the feeling. She did not have to do anything special to earn my smile. Living in her presence was enough to make me shine with the good kind of pride.
One other helpful idea regarding living a life God can smile upon is found in what we call the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Rather than making this a prayer to pray or to guide our prayers, let’s turn it into a life to live.
See God for who he is. Adopt his desires as your own. Do what he would do if he were you. Do his will his way in his timing. Receive his provision with thanksgiving and joy. Live as freely forgiving as we have been forgiven. Flee temptation. Depend on God for protection from all evil.
These ideas are not legalisms to check off our list each day. These are moves of loving response to what God has been doing in our lives since conception and will continue for eternity. Not only will this meet the requirements of Rule Number One and Rule Number Two, we will soon discover that where the greatest of love pervades and saturates our lives, we do not really require rules.
I will live a life that pleases God.
Our Father, I want to please you. I want to live a life upon which you can smile. Deliver me from mechanistic and legalistic attempts to earn your favor. Instead, teach me the rhythms of grace, the delights of dependence, the joys of joining you in your work. Transform my rules into a lifestyle of grace, mercy, and peace. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.