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What pleases God?

 
Love the Lord your God
 with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and find out what pleases the Lord.
 
Matthew 22:37 & Ephesians 5:10
 
 
 
Loving somebody and wanting to please them go hand in hand.  This is a natural connection — a relationship connection that the Lord wants to have with us.  Recently, I have been noticing many verses that mention some form of the word “please,”and I would like to share some of them with you:
 
We have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.  And this is his command: to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. (1 John 3:21-23)
 
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8:8)
 
Jesus said, “The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”  (John 8:29)
 
I urge you in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
 
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. (Romans 14:17-18)
 
My righteous one will live by faith.  I will not be pleased with the one who shrinks back. (Hebrews 10:39)
 
We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:1)
 
Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all
spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)
 
And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus  33:17)
 
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
 
“Is this pleasing in your sight Lord?” is a question that should filter our thoughts and actions.  A great love for the Lord is the motivation for wanting every aspect of our lives to be pleasing to Him.
 

God’s Words

“… my words remain in you …”
 
~Jesus
 
 
During this first month of 2013, I have been talking to my children about ways that we can keep more of God’s words in our hearts and minds.  We have also been talking about why it is important to do so.  My goal for my family is this: each day we will hear or read one or more verses from the Bible.  The phrase from John 15:7, “my words remain in you,” has shaped this goal.  To reach our goal, we have to make deliberate behavioral choices.  Ideally, I would like to read my children a Bible story each day, but often (for various reasons) it doesn’t happen.  However, I try to create a climate where hearing God’s word is natural part of our day.  We talk about different verses throughout the day, and when we are in the car, we sometimes listen to a recording of the book of Psalms.  After dinner, sometimes we read from one of the gospels or from the book of Proverbs.  I try to provide a variety of ways for my kids to interact with scripture so they won’t feel like it is a burden or boring.  If we have had an extremely busy day and they haven’t heard any of God’s words during the day, I like to add a scripture to our traditional bedtime song and prayer.  Having this goal of hearing and reading God’s word each day helps me keep my children, and as well as myself, receiving daily spiritual nourishment.
 
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciples. John 15:7
 
 
Dedicated to my mom, Charlotte on her 70th birthday.  I have wonderful memories of my mom reading me Bible stories, reading me Little Visits with God at breakfast, and reading family devotionals after dinner.  As I was growing up, my mom helped me hear God’s words every day. 
 

More in 2013

 
Bring joy to your servant,
 
for to you, O Lord,
 
I lift up my soul.
 
Psalm 86:4
 
 
 
New Year’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year.  On January 1, 2006, my youngest son Sterling was the first baby born of the new year in Nashville, Tennessee.  We made the news on four television stations and were highlighted in the area newspaper.  It was a fun time, but what made it even more special was that the date of his birth was an answered prayer.  I had prayed that he would be born on the birthday of my dear friend Dianne.
 
Another reason I love New Year’s Day is that it is a time for making a fresh start.  Even as a child, I liked making New Year’s resolutions, and once I even laminated the resolutions.  (I still have the list!)  This year, I am not making resolutions; I am choosing a “focus word”.  For me, a focus word defines how I want to grow, what I want to accomplish, and what I want to be like in the upcoming year.  My word for 2013 is “more”.
 
 – I want to be more aware of God’s presence.
 – I want to be more organized.
 – I want to exercise more.
 – I want to be more patient and kind.
 – I want to have more joy and more peace ….
 
I know that I cannot have “more” by my own effort.  In John 5:30, Jesus said, “By myself I can do nothing.”  So I am praying that God will “be merciful to me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:2) and grant my request for “more“. 
 
I would like to invite you to choose a focus word or words for 2013.  If you would like to share what you chose, you can e-mail me at spacious4@aol.com or leave a comment.  Happy New Year! 
 

God heals the brokenhearted

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But you, God, see the trouble of the

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afflicted; you consider their grief

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and take it in hand. The victims

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commit themselves to you …

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Psalm 10:14

 

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The Lord builds up Jerusalem (and those who are grieving)

He gathers the exiles …

He heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous

and His ears are attentive to their cry.

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Cry out to God Most High …

He sends from heaven and saves you, …

God sends His love and His faithfulness.

He does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.

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Whoever who dwells in the shelter of the Most

High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

He will cover you with his feathers,

and under His wings you will find refuge

His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 147:2-3; Psalm 34:18,15; Psalm 57:2-3* slight change

Psalm 9:12; Psalm 91:1,4

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Dedicated to the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School

 
“If you had only known on this day
 
what would bring you peace.” 
 
— Jesus
 
 
As Jesus was crying, looking at Jerusalem, he said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls.  They will not leave one stone on another because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”  Luke 19:41-44   
 
Are there ways that we are like Jerusalem?  Does Jesus look at our lives and weep because we do not accept the peace he is offering?  Does he cry because we do not recognize the time of God coming to us?
 
The path of peace is being offered to
 
us, but we have to choose daily to
 
walk on it.
 
Thank you to Larry Cline, whose sermon inspired this post.  He posed the question, “What does Jesus find when he looks at my life?” and made the statement, “I pray that Jesus doesn’t cry when he looks at my life.”
 
 
This post was edited early this week, and was scheduled to post today.  In light of today’s tragedy in Connecticut, I almost didn’t post it.  I decided to go ahead, because especially today, we need to know the peace and comfort that Jesus is offering.  When people turn away from God, evil is increasingly apparent.  In the above verse, Jesus was predicting the consequences of the people of Jerusalem’s behavior.  Our country is experiencing the consequences of our godless ways.  Violence is continually erupting in our land.  Our only hope is to “recognize the time of God coming to us.”  My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
 

Praise: The Path of Peace

 
Through Jesus let us continually offer
 
to God a sacrifice of praise.
 
Hebrews 13:15
 
 
As we enter the Advent season, let it be a time of sacrificial praise. 
 
Praise be to the Lord because He has come to rescue us and enable us to serve us Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.  Praise be to the Lord, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.  Adapted from Luke 2:68-79 
 
 
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You,
who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord.
Psalm 89:15
 
 
What counts is whether we have been
transformed into a new creation.
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Galatians 6:15
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My sons enjoy playing with “Transformers”, so I like to tell them that God is the Master Transformer.  I explain that God doesn’t change, but He transforms us by changing the way we think (Romans 12:2).  This transformation is a radical process!
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God wants to transform each of us into people who:
These things are only possible through God’s creative power.
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On Ash Wednesday, I shared a YouTube video about butterflies to a group of children.  We talked about how butterflies can be a symbol for Easter and how Lent is like being in a chrysalis (a time that God can change us) and how Easter is a time for celebrating God’s life-changing power.  I think the butterfly is the most incredible example of God’s ability to transform.  The caterpillar has to be broken down and reconstructed before the beautiful butterfly can be created.
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Please take a moment to watch this video clip about butterflies. My hope is that by watching this video, you will be awed at God’s power to bring about change and reminded that an astonishing metamorphosis can also take place in your life.
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Let God transform you into a new person
 by changing the way you think.  Romans 12:2
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Dedicated to Lea and Melanie, my book club friends, who inspired this post and shared this video at the Word Made Flesh Advent 2011 Retreat
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