Summary: This message looks at how faith is the only way to please God and everything flows from this.
Genuine complaints received by Britain’s travel operators
No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled.
We had to queue outside with no air conditioning.
The brochure stated "No hairdressers at the accommodation". We’re trainee hairdressers, will we be OK staying here?
It took us nine hours to fly to Jamaica from England - it only took the Americans three hours.
I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends’ three bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller.
We booked an excursion to the water park but no one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels.
We found the sand was not like the sand in your brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white.
And finally, from a holidaymaker in Spain .....
There were too many Spanish people. The receptionist spoke Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners.
Some people are hard to please aren’t they? No matter what you do/say they will always be dissatisfied. Whatever they buy, wherever they go – there is always something just not right. You know the saying “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” I’ve got an addendum: “You can’t please some people any of the time!” Not that that could ever be true of anyone here! What about God? What’s he like to please? These verses in Hebrews 11 are a lot about pleasing God. The writer has already used Abel as an example now he uses Enoch. Unique in that only he and Elijah never saw death. Throughout Scripture recognised as a special individual. They show us the way to please and walk with God.
1. Faith is the way to please God
How do you please someone who is actually, genuinely perfect, 100% perfect? He’s knows everything, sees everything and can do everything! Add to that that he is morally perfect, pleasing God could be very tricky. When it comes to pleasing God some people are like the little sparrow I told you about last week. Lying on its back with its scrawny legs thrust upward. When asked why he was lying on his back with legs pointed towards the sky he said that he had heard a rumor that the sky was falling, and so he was holding his legs up to catch it. When asked, "You surely don’t think that you’re going to hold it up with those two scrawny legs, do you?" He replied, "One does the best he can." That is the approach many have to God. They think it is matter of doing the best you can. I am amazed at how people still are locked into this way of thinking.
It is impossible to please God without faith we are told. The faith the writer is on about here is faith that not only believes that God exists, but is a specific faith in the God who has revealed himself finally in his Son and made promises which are yet to be fulfilled. It is believing that God will deliver on his promises. It is an eager anticipation and hope. Faith is about focus. What is your focus, is it on God? It’s like Peter when he was walking on the water (Matt.14:25-31). Full of faith his focus was on Jesus. In the storm he walked on the water. But once he lost his focus he began to sink. He was no longer trusting, he was worrying about the waves and began to sink. Jesus was there to catch him of course. Jesus said “"You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"”. Faith and focus are pretty much the same thing. That focus can be distracted by the storms as with Peter. Are you in the middle of a storm? Keep your focus on the Lord, don’t look down at the wind and the waves. If you already have the Lord is always there for us. It can also happen when life is easy and we take our eyes off the Lord.
Faith is much more than just ticking boxes, it is maintaining our focus on Jesus. This is all you need to please God. Faith. Not faith + prayer, faith + being good, faith + service – just faith. When are we going to stop being like the poor sparrow just doing the best you can and resting in what Jesus has done, just keep our focus on him?
2. Faith is the door to a walk with God
Faith is the gateway to walking with God. Enoch walked with God and he walked with God because he had faith. Walking with God in intimacy proceeds from faith. When you are keeping your focus on God walking with God is much simpler. Our focus is there, it is on him, He is there all the time. He is always on our minds. Walking with God is about focus. If we are living for God then walking and talking with God is natural. God is central to all that is happening in our lives. Some people who desire a closer walk with God try to work themselves us to it. They read about great Christians who spent hours in prayer. "Amid all his arduous labours, his innumerable engagements, his coming and going, Wesley lived a hidden life of intimacy with God. When worn out with overwork he often found new strength in answer to prayer." It was Wesley’s strict habit to daily spend one hour in prayer in the morning, and then another hour in the evening. The read that & try to emulate it, but are frustrated. Why? Because a walk with God is the fruit of someone’s faith and focus. It wasn’t about discipline or duty, it was their heart’s desire to spend time with God because he was the greatest focus. The more we focus on God the easier it will be to pray, it will be quite natural.