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Living to please God

Powerpoint for sermon (100kb)

The title of my message today is "Living to please God". I was reading the New Testament book of 1 Thessalonians this week and the heading from chapter four grabbed my attention. I think as Christians we should want to live in a way that pleases God. Jesus gave His all for us and living the right way is one of the ways we say thanks. It is a right response to the actions of a loving God.

It is interesting that when you read through chapter 4, and in particular verses 1-18, it naturally breaks into four paragraphs. These natural breaks can be given four headings that give us a clue of what it is to live in a way that pleases God. Today I will be reading from the NLT.

Bible Reading

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2,7-18

1 Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.
2 For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus…

7 God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.
8 Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
9 But we don't need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God Himself has taught you to love one another.
10 Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.
11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.
12 Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet Him ahead of those who have died.
16 For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.
17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
18 So encourage each other with these words.

Key verse

Verse 1 - Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.

  • Continue to live in a way that pleases God
  • You already do, but…
  • We encourage you to keep growing in it.

Message Points

As I said before there are four natural breaks in the text. I have assigned four headings to them to help us break the text apart and give us points we can remember and apply to our lives.

1. Continue to live in purity

Verse 7 tells us why. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life".

Verses 3-8 tell us that we should live in a way that pleases God. It calls us to live in purity or a sanctified life, which means set apart for God’s holy use.

Holiness and living in purity are an ongoing theme in the Bible. One of the main ways God describes Himself is Holy. Holiness is a quality of perfection, sinlessness, and inability to sin that is possessed by God alone.

For us as Christians we are made holy in God's sight by the work of Christ on the cross, but we are also called to live a holy life. 1 Peter 1:15 says, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. "

Now when we talk about being sanctified or sanctification there are two tenses –

  • Past – When we stood before God and He declared us righteous when we were saved.
  • Present - An ongoing change that takes place as we think and become more like Christ.

When I came to Christ 30 years ago today. God declared me righteous in Christ. I was made holy in His eyes as He looked at me through the lens of Christ. However, in my everyday life, I did not always think like Jesus, I didn’t always speak like Jesus and I certainly didn’t always live like Jesus. I needed the ongoing sanctification process through the Word and God and the Spirit of God to bring change.

If you want to please God, aim to live right in all you do. It is a right response for all He has done for us.

2. Continue to show brotherly love

9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more.

Verses 9-10 tell us the importance of brotherly love. It says that we should try to love each other more and more. At the heart of brotherly love is caring for others, helping them when in need and showing respect.

The idea or theme of Love on another is mentioned many times in the Bible. John, in particular, talks about loving one another a lot.

God tells us to love one another in 1 John 3:23 - “And this is His commandment: We must believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”

In 2 John 1:5 it says, “I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.”

In 1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.”

In 1 Peter 3:8 Peter joins in and tells us to "live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble".

From these verses we see the importance to be loving, caring, compassionate and humble. This is what God wants for us and what is best. Jesus said that people will know we belong to Him because of our love for one another.

If you want to please God, then continue to love one another.

3. Continue to be a good testimony

11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Verses 11-12 talks about living a quiet life and minding your own business. It also says that we should work with our hands, so we are not dependent of anyone. If we do these things, we will earn the respect of others and have a good reputation in our community.

I have heard it said that for many people our lives are the only Bibles people will read. The way we live in an important testimony to those around us.

The Bible calls us to be salt and light in Matthew 5:13-16. It says, “"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. "You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Church that is the life I long to live. Simple things like having a positive and encouraging attitude and really living out what we believe is at the heart of being salt and light. Treating people with love and respect and then helping them when they are in need makes a huge difference. A good testimony is all about really loving God, obeying His commandments, and really loving our neighbour.

If you want to please God, then be a good testimony.

4. Continue to have hope in Christ

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

Verses 13-18 talks about Jesus return and those who have already died in Christ. It says we should look forward to the future with hope and expectation that we will be with the Lord forever. Some of the people in the early church were thinking Jesus was coming back very soon. So, they were worried that family and friends that had died had already missed out. But Paul, Silas and Timothy wanted to encourage the people their loved ones had not missed out. That they could have hope they would see them again.

One of the great truths of Christianity, that I have shared many times before, is that Christ died for our sins and on the third day He rose to life. Because of His resurrection we have a great hope that we too will be raised to life when we die.

As we live in this sometimes chaotic, fallen and unfair world we need to have hope. Knowing that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us and that He is coming back for us gives us hope (John 14:3). We will be with Him forever. We need to cling to this hope and encourage each other with these words as verse 18 reminds us.

If you want to please God, live with the great hope of Christ’s return.

5. Living to please God more and more

Just before I finish, I want to draw your attention to one more thing. The phrases found in verses 1 and 10. Verse 1 says, "Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more". In verse 10 it says, "we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more".

The Greek word "Mallon" is used here in both verses for "more". It means "more, much more, to a greater degree, better or in a greater way".

Verse 1 is about growing and improving at living right and living to please God. Verse 10 is about growing and improving in our love for one another. I just found this really interesting. Paul didn't want the Thessalonians to be content and feel like they have made it, but he wanted them to keep striving to grow and improve in love and living right. And this ties in with the idea of ongoing sanctification – becoming more like Christ is the way we think and in the way we live.

Closing

If you want to live a life that pleases God, this passage gives us five things you can do.

  1. Continue to live in purity
  2. Continue to show brotherly love
  3. Continue to be a good testimony
  4. Continue to look forward to Christ's return with hope
  5. Continue to please God more and more.

Let us pray.

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