Summary: We please God when we follow God’s plan of salvation
Last week I spoke of pleasing God and indicated that for some the word pleasing is a negative term due to life experiences. As I prepared for this morning, I determined to define the phrase pleasing God before we go further into this series because sometimes the same phrase or word has a different meaning to someone else than it does to ourselves.
This is illustrated in a story that Pastor Steve Malone tells of a rather old-fashioned woman who was quite delicate and elegant with her language and was planning a couple of week’s vacation in Florida. She wrote a letter to a particular campground and asked for reservations. She wanted to make sure the campground was fully equipped but didn’t know quite how to ask about the "toilet" facilities.
She just couldn’t bring herself to write the word "toilet" in her letter. After much deliberation, she finally came up with the old-fashioned term "Bathroom Commode," but when she wrote that down, she still thought she was being too forward. So she started all over again; rewrote the entire letter and referred to the “Bathroom Commode" simply as the "B.C.". “Does the campground have its own "B.C.?" is what she actually wrote.
Well, the campground owner wasn’t old fashioned at all, and when he got the letter, he couldn’t figure out what the lady was talking about. That "B.C." really stumped him. After worrying about it for several days, he showed the letter to other campers, but they couldn’t figure out what the lady meant either. The campground owner finally came to the conclusion that the lady must be asking about the location of the local Baptist Church.
So he sat down and wrote the following reply: "Dear Madam: I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take pleasure of informing in that the "B.C." is located nine miles north of the camp site and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away if you are in the habit of going regularly but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along, and make a day of it..... They usually arrive early and stay late.
The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that right now, there is a supper planned to raise money to buy more seats.....They plan to hold the supper in the middle of the B.C., so everyone can watch and talk about this great event.....I would like to say it pains me very much, not to be able to go more regularly, but it is surely not for lack of desire on my part....As we grow older, it seems to be more and more of an effort, particularly in cold weather.....
If you decide to come down to the campground, perhaps I could go with you the first time you go...sit with you...and introduce you to all the other folks.... This is really a very friendly community. (It gives the term church pew new meaning doesn’t it?)
So, what does it mean to please God? I suggest this working definition “to please God is to follow God and His purposes as stated in the Bible with a motivation of love and obedience.” The important words to think on are “follow,” “God,” “purposes,” “Bible,”, “motivation,” “love,” and “obedience.” This series will incorporate all of these terms in one way or another and I would challenge you to look for them whether or not they are stated implicitly or explicitly.
Our main text for this morning is Ephesians 1 and we will be looking at several different verses from that chapter this morning as it relates to the importance of pleasing God through following God’s plan of salvation. Our first stop is verse 5, “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.”
Last week we learned that we please God by regularly examining our motives and priorities against God’s standards. Those standards are clearly listed in the Bible and tie into the second way that we please God, when we follow God’s plan of salvation.
This first verse, our main verse for this morning, makes clear that God’s plan from the very beginning was to bring us into His family by adopting us through Christ. We are not born into the Christian faith we are born-again into it. Jesus makes that clear in John chapter 3 in His discussion with Nicodemus:
Jesus replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”