Tag Archives: pleasing God

Moment of Choice

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.
Romans 8:12, NLT*

The 1996 version of the NLT puts it even plainer:

you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

Paul is writing about how those who belong to Jesus are to “no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4b, NLT*) He says we’re free from our old ways. Now we have to choose: will we stick with those destructive patterns, or will we obey the Holy Spirit?

As well as the “big ticket” sins, there are a lot of little things our sinful nature urges us to do: things we either don’t notice as sin or that we think are just part of who we are. Things like grumbling or self-pity.

Even things that aren’t really sin but aren’t good for us. Like that second—or third—chocolate chip cookie when we’re trying to lose weight. Or “just one more chapter” when it’s past bedtime.

you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

We’re told there’s a moment of choice between stimulus and response, but I often respond before I can think. Since finding this verse, I’ve sometimes felt a pause, as if I’ve been pulled aside, and sensed a friendly and confident whisper: “You know, you have no obligation whatsoever to do that.”

Usually I agree. (Sometimes I say “No, but I want to.” Still working on that!)

God of grace and mercy, who ransomed us from sin and makes a way for us to be clean and holy in Your presence, open our eyes to the temptations to be less than You’ve designed us to be. Remind us that because of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection we have no obligation whatsoever to do what our sinful natures urge us to do. Give us willing hearts, and help us to choose those things that please You. Thank You for setting us free.

It all comes down to “who’s ruling—God or self?” Here’s Brenton Brown singing “Lord, Reign in Me.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Pleasing God

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24, NIV*

I’m still thinking about “seek God first” and how that applies to my life. These verses talk about seeking His approval first—before that of others.


Why am I doing what I do, or not doing what I don’t? For His glory and praise, or to please myself or others?

If I raise my hands in worship at church… is it to please Him? Or to defy those who stay still? If I keep my hands down, is it sensitivity to my neighbour… or fear of what someone might say?

That’s a silly example, maybe, but we all know about small things and small minds…. Seriously, the little choices can matter as much as the big ones, because God sees the heart.

What am I thinking about when I’m slicing strawberries for jam? Grumbly thoughts about how such tiny berries make the job take longer, or thankful ones about fresh strawberries and how sweet the small ones are?

When I’m tired at the end of the day, does it please God if I slip into a mental pity party? Or does He still want me praising Him?

Father God, You know me better than I know myself. You see my heart and deepest thoughts. Help me to seek Your approval first—to want to please You most. Help me take every thought captive and to examine it to see if it’s pleasing to You. I can’t help what thoughts come in, but in the strength of Your Spirit I can evict those that aren’t welcome to stay.

Here’s a song that’s new to me, from a new-to-me Canadian group called Christ Our Life: “Search Me, Oh God.” This song and others from the same group are available for free download at Free Godly Christian Music.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Rebuild the House

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.”
Haggai 1:7-10, NIV*

God is speaking through Haggai to the Jews who have returned from exile. They’d started to rebuild the temple, but how could what they put together out of rubble compare with the remembered glory of Solomon’s temple? Building homes didn’t seem as impossible, and it was a legitimate need too.

Christians today don’t have a temple to rebuild, but we’re each temples of the Holy Spirit. And we’re not to neglect meeting together as congregations of faith.

We’re sure busy with our own “houses”: work, household duties, busy schedules… nobody has much time for church events. It’s hard enough to fit in time for Sunday worship.

The last thing we need is another church group or committee meeting. And people can burn out or weaken their families by being too busy in the church.

But this idea of building… rebuilding….

If we are the body—the church—then maybe the rebuilding isn’t about formal meetings or events. Maybe it’s about relationships. Some of that can happen in structured settings, but it can also happen one-on-one as we take the initiative.

This isn’t the pastor’s job. It’s up to each of us. And it’s what will cause observers to know we belong to Jesus.

Father, some things from my own “house” will need to move aside to make time for Yours. But doing things Your way is always better than pushing for mine. Please help me to seize the opportunities You give to connect with my spiritual brothers and sisters—so You may take pleasure in us and be honoured.

An appropriate song-prayer is “Bind Us Together”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

What Will Jesus Say?

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:1-2, NIV*

I’ve read these verses before, and always focused on Paul’s charge to Timothy. This time, I saw the word “judge”.

My first response was a sense of reassurance: it’s Jesus as Judge. I trust Him. 1 John 1:9 and other verses promise His verdict for those who’ve accepted His salvation will read, “paid in full”.

On second thought, I realized it won’t stop there. Will I hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? (Matthew 25:21, NIV*)

Or have I been wasting my time, coasting, doing my own thing?

So many things take me back to Proverbs 3:5-6. Be sure God is directing. Spend time with Him daily. Trust and obey.

I can’t let the fear that I might mess up make me not step up, when there’s an opportunity. Nor can I believe the lie that pictures a stern God shaking a finger.

I need to trust His grace and forge ahead. Out of love, not out of dread or obligation.

Father God, thank You for reminding me I am accountable to You. Sometimes I forget I have limited time and opportunities, and I waste them. Thank You for Your grace that forgives and empowers. Grow in me a willing, trusting, obedient heart. Help me be a good, faithful child of the King.

Jason Gray’s song, “More Like Falling in Love,” points us back to the motivation we need if we’re going to serve our King.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.