Summary: Living to Please God. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: email@example.com)
How to please your father
Reading: 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 1-12.
At his father’s funeral,
• American sprinter Carl Lewis placed his 100-meter gold medal;
• From the 1984 Olympics in his father’s hands.
• "Don’t worry," he told his surprised mother. "I’ll get another one."
• 12 months passed & Karl Lewis was once again, in the 100-meter final at the 1988 games,
• Lewis was competing against Canadian world-record-holder Ben Johnson.
• Halfway through the race Johnson was five feet in front.
• Lewis was convinced he could catch him.
• But at 80 meters, he was still five feet behind.
• As Johnson crossed the finish,
• Lewis was still behind him, he had failed to win another gold medal.
• Ben Johnson stared back at his great rival Karl Lewis;
• He thrust his right arm in the air, index finger extended and made an obscene sign.
• Lewis was both shocked and amazed by Johnson’s reaction;
• Lewis said later.
"I didn’t have the medal,
but I could still give to my father by acting with class & dignity,"
• He shook Johnson’s hand and left the track.
• Very soon came an announcement that would shock world athletics.
• Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids.
• And he was stripped of his medal.
• The gold medal went to Karl Lewis,
• A replacement for the medal he had given his father.
Our title for tonight’s passage is:
• How to please your heavenly Father?
• The emphasises is not on what we achieve but more on how we behave.
• This passage divides nicely under three headings.
• Heading number 1: walking in holiness.
(1). Walk in holiness:
(a). to please God (verse 1).
1”Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.“
• Everybody lives to please somebody.
• May be a wife/husband or boyfriend/girlfriend,
• May be a child or parent or someone else
• Many people just live to please themselves.
For the Christian:
• Pleasing God ought to be the major motive of their life.
• The Christian faith is a relationship and not just a set of religious beliefs!
• Earthly: children (listening Kathy & Arlo!) should live to please their parents.
• Spiritual: children should live to please their heavenly father.
• Jesus said, (John chapter 8 verse 29):
• “I do always those things that please Him”
• Pleasing God means much more than simply doing God’s will.
• It is possible to obey God and yet not please Him.
• Jonah - he eventually obeyed God and did what he was commanded to do,
• But his heart was not in it.
• God blessed His Word but He could not bless His servant.
• So Jonah sat outside the city of Nineveh angry with everybody, including the Lord!
• Little boy on a long car journey,
• “I may be sitting down in my body, but in my mind I’m standing up!”
Question: How do we know what pleases God?
• The same way we please an earthly father?
• By listening to him and spending time with him.
• As we read the Word, and as we fellowship in worship and service,
• We get to know the heart of God; and this opens us up to the will of God.
Paul tells the Thessalonians in verse 1:
• “You’re doing great!”
• He goes on to say; “Don’t settle there! Excel!”
(b). To obey God (verse 2-3).
“For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3It is God’s will that you should be sanctified;”
• You can phone up the Ritz hotel in London and reserve a room.
• But you cannot phone up and book a room at 10 Downing Street.
• 10 Downing Street has been sanctified,
• That means: ‘Set apart for a special use’.
Question: What special use?
• That we use our bodies and the gift of sex rightly.
• Verse 3b: “That you should avoid sexual immorality”.
Paul instructs the Thessalonian Christians:
• That if they want to please their heavenly Father,
• They need to play or live by the rules!
• Ill: Football: want to please referee you play by the rules.
• Ill: In school or work if you want to please your employer…… the rules of employment.
If the Christian wants to please their heavenly Father:
• They too need to play by the rules;
• The need to abstain from every form of sexual practice;