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Summary: Choosing to live lives pleasing to God, and what that will involve and look like.

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For some it would be a big slice of chocolate cake, for others a bowl of yogurt. For some it would be mountain climbing, hang gliding or para-sailing, while others would prefer to stay indoors, working on their computer or watching television. For some it would mean playing sports, for others reading a good book. For some it would be a vacation on a beach, soaking in the sun, while others would choose to vacation by skiing down a thickly powdered ski slope. While some would prefer to be deep sea fishing, others would prefer to be sleeping in a soft bed.

In other words, what is PLEASURE to one person might be PAIN to another, and what might be called TERRIFIC by one might just as easily be called TORTURE to another person.

Our focus today, and our focus for the whole year...WHAT PLEASES GOD?

What does God delight in? And how do WE delight Him?

Open a Bible and turn to Romans 7.

After much prayer, I believe God wants us to focus our attention this year on the theme: "PURSUING GOD’S PLEASURE," and so each week we’ll be learning how to do that and examining IF we’re doing that.

*KEY: I suggest that our PERSONAL goals should be that we each lives our lives in such a way that we are able to look at ourselves in the mirror at the end of each day and be able to honestly say to the person in the mirror, "I know that I pleased God today."

There are two Scripture passages that will make up our theme and I encourage you to put them to memory:

1) 2 Corinthians 5:9 -- "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him."

----"whether at home or absent" means our focus is not to be so much on the end times, but THIS time, not thinking only of the day when we’ll finally see the Lord face to face, but THIS day, as we pursue His pleasure through our surrender to the Holy Spirit within us; not to be wondering about who the Anti-Christ is, but living lives that are clearly pro-Christ, pleasing to Him.

2) Ephesians 5:8-10 -- "...walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."

----"children of light" means we have a mission: to bring light to a dark world. Or, as our church motto states it, "We live to bring living water to the desert."

----"learn what is pleasing to the Lord" means our focus is to become aware of what pleases God, then to choose to commit ourselves to pleasing Him.

As the year goes on we’ll look at the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11 and learn from the heroes listed there in how they pleased God.

But our starting point today is to look at...

FOUR INGREDIENTS INVOLVED IN PLEASING GOD:

1) KNOWING THE FATHER’S HEART

--Ephesians 5:8-10 -- "walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."

--Jeremiah 9:24 -- “But let him who boasts boast of this, that he undrstands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the Lord.

<>Simply put, the REAL KEY to pleasing God is found in developing an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.

*ILL>Becky & I know what pleases each other and how to please one another, because we know one another intimately.

----Becky knows it would not be pleasing to me to be served a fish dinner. I know not to prepare her a batch of peanut brickel.

2) FOLLOWING JESUS’ EXAMPLE.

--*John 8:29 -- "He Who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."

The best snapshot of what it will look like when we’re pleasing the Father is observing what Jesus did.

*ILL>The bracelets which say, "WWJD?," have taken a lot of criticism over the years, but they actually DO have the right idea.

3) DELIBERATELY DECIDING TO PLEASE GOD.

<>Once we know what pleases the Father, then we have a choice to make: what will we do now?

--a) We can choose to live our lives simply as we please...seeking our own fulfillment, our own pleasure, without regard to others, without regard to our relationship with Christ.

----That would be choosing to live a life ruled by, guided by, making decisions based on our flesh, what feels good at the moment.

----But it’s a choice that guarantees we will not be pleasing God.

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