Summary: Worship as enjoying and bring joy to God--the purpose for which we were made.
Making Your Father Smile
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: One of golf’s most interesting moments came in the 1870’s when a Scotchman came to America to promote the new game. To publicize the effort, his company arranged a demonstration with President Ulysses S. Grant. Grant watched curiously as the golfer carefully placing the ball on the tee. The Scotchman wanted to impress the president so he took an extra hard swing. Not a good idea!
The club hit the turf. Dirt flew everywhere. Every thing, including President Grant’s beard, was covered with tuffs of grass. When the dust cleared, the ball remained on the tee, totally unmoved. Again the Scotchman swung his club. Again he missed. The President waited patiently through six tries. Finally, Grant gave a sigh and then quietly stated, "There does seem to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.”
Unfortunately that also describes a lot of people’s lives—a lot of action but no purpose! For many, life is a merry-go-round. The same old-same old day after day! Sometimes we feel like hamsters racing around and around in our whirly-gig wheels but still in the same old cage. Is there a better way? Can life, real life, have direction and purpose as well as busy-ness? That’s what our Forty Days of Purpose are about. For the next six weeks we are exploring the Bible’s answer to the question “What on earth am I here for?” We are looking at five biblical purposes outlined in the Creator’s Handbook for Life, the Bible. We will be using the terminology coined by author Rick Warren in this bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life. The wording is Warren’s but the principles are the Bible’s. Here are those five purposes: 1) we were planned for God’s pleasure, 2) formed for God’s family, 3) created for Christ’s likeness, 4) shaped for God’s service, and 5) made for God’s mission.
Let’s explore that first purpose today—we were planned for God’s pleasure. Pleasure may seem like a strange word to use in reference to God. We associate that word with sensuality, with purely physical things or appetites. None of those accurately relate to God.
Think of it like this. The Bible often speaks of things that please or displease God. That’s the heart of pleasure—something that pleases. Also, scripture says God delights in his people. The Bible also describes God as our Heavenly Father. Note how our text begins with that concept and then adds to it our adoption as his children.
Picture a parent and child. Mothers and fathers, grandparents, know what it is to delight in their children. Little ones especially can bring a smile to a parent’s face with the smallest word or action. A child doesn’t have to do anything or give anything to the parent. It may be quite the opposite. Some of a parent’s greatest delight comes in doing for their children. Just watching their joy or surprise is a source of priceless pleasure. That’s what we are talking about when we say we are planned for God’s pleasure.
So this is my question today. What brings delight to our Heavenly Father? What makes him smile? I think it happens the same way it does for human mothers and fathers. I can think of lots of things that can bring a smile to a father’s face. Today I will mention only two. Both are at the heart of our text.
The first and most basic thing that brings a smile to the Heavenly Father is our acknowledgement. All of us who are parents know what its like. When our young are little they want to be with Mom and Dad all the time. Anybody who has worked in the church nursery knows how hard it is for some little ones when their parents leave. A few are worrying about that right now.
Fortunately or unfortunately, our kids soon outgrow that problem and develop another one. About Jr. High age, a lot of kids suddenly develop an allergy to parents. I am sure no one here knows what I am talking about so let me explain. You say “hi” to them at a ball game. They turn to their friends as if to say, “Who was that old person?” They insist on walking two blocks ahead when you go shopping. When you ask them why, they just roll their eyes.
Most teenagers outgrow this too. But imagine if they didn’t. Nothing could be more heartbreaking to a parent than being rejected by your own child. On the other hand, nothing brings a smile to a parent’s face quicker than having a son or daughter acknowledge them and proudly introduce them to a friend. “Joey, here’s my dad. I want you to meet him.” Or imagine the smile on a parent’s face when a child that has rebelled, ran away, and not come home for a long time, finally comes back!