Pleasing God

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him” Hebrews 11:6

How ye ought to walk and to please God” 1 Thess 4:1

With such sacrifices God is well pleased” Hebrews 13:16

There are numerous places where we are told what pleases God. In his exhortation to the Thessalonians, Paul reminded them that holiness brings pleasure to God. Amidst the immoral and lax society of Macedonia, Paul told them that to walk counter-culture by a life of moral purity was pleasing to God.

The writer to the Hebrew believers, in encouraging them in a life of faith rather than law, encased in Hebrews 11 the maxim for life: faith pleases God. And then in summing up the truth of living by faith, he reminded them in chapter 13 that even though the work of Christ had put an end to sacrifices, there are sacrifices even today which bring pleasure to God. “The sacrifice of praise … to do good and communicate forget not for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb 13:15, 16).

Holiness, faith, thanksgiving, and doing good to others pleases God. While these exhortations are very practical and applicable to us, and while we need to grow and develop in each of them, there was a Man here Who embodied them all.

One great contrast is that He did not grow in His holiness, develop in His life of faith, be reminded of the need for thanksgiving, or learn to do good to others. All of this was abiding in Him and abundant in Him.

He gave thanks amidst the most negative of circumstances (Matt 11:25). In the upper room, He gave thanks for the emblems and for the reality of what they represented. He sang with His own as they left the upper room and worshiped the God Whom He served. “Thou art My God I will exalt Thee; O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good” (Ps 118:28, 29). And then upon the cross, there went up the spirit of worship from the heart of Christ: “But Thou art holy” as He justified the hand that was smiting Him.

He did not have to learn to do good and communicate. “He went about doing good” is the record of the Spirit of God. And again, “He hath done all things well.” There was never idle time, no “me-time” in His life. Even when weary, He would use it as an opportunity to reach a thirsty Samaritan woman at a well. Upon the cross, He continued to do good as He cared for His mother and for a thief. What pleasure that brought to God.

No refinement toward holiness was ever needed. He was “that holy thing” born to Mary. Demons owned Him as holy. A centurion, observer of countless crucifixions confessed, “This was a righteous man.” And the Spirit of God adds in Hebrews 7 that He is holy! His holiness brought delight to His Father.

In Hebrews 11, after establishing the principle that faith brings pleasure to God, and after parading before our view the great heroes and heroines of faith, every eye is turned to behold another. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith.” It is not “the finisher of our faith” as in our A.V. It is rather that He is the ultimate example of the life of faith. From the moment He left heaven’s portals with the words, “Lo, I come to do Thy will,” He lived a life of faith, putting into everyday life that principles of the Word of God in His life. He lived by faith every moment of His sojourn here below. Faith for Him was not, as some would claim a leap in the dark, it was living His life in the light of the Word and will of God.His holiness, faith, thankful spirit, and doing good all meant that here was a life to which the Father could testify: “This is My beloved Son in Whom is all My delight.”

Hebrews 13

The final chapter of Hebrews has many practical truths that confront us. We are seen in many different lights. As believers, we are to be supportive (vv 1, 2), sympathetic (v 3) sanctified (v 4), satisfied (vv 5-7), steadfast (vv 9-10) and at least four or five more “s” words which you can work out.

What I want to really bring before you are several which relate to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He is the Same (verse 8)

He does not change. As the eternal “I am,” He never “grows” or develops in His character. He never increases in His knowledge. But above all, He never vacillates in His love. The writer of Hebrews was writing to a people who were being persecuted. The thought might invade their minds that perhaps the Lord had forgotten them and was not with them in their trial. To drive any such thinking away, he reminds them that He will never forsake them (v 5) and that He never changes (v 8).

He is the Sacrifice and the Sanctifier (verse 12)

As the Sacrifice He has made us perfectly right in the sight of God. As the Sanctifier, He has placed us in a unique position of acceptance and favor with God. We have been set apart as God’s special treasure. As the sacrifice, He has dealt with the problem and penalty of our sins. As the sanctifier, He has assured our position before God.

He is the Shepherd (verse 20)

He is not only the Shepherd, but he is the Great Shepherd. In the context, there is probably a contrast intended with Moses (Isa 63:11). But we can also enjoy that He is the Good Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep (John 10). He is the Chief Shepherd Who is going to come again (1 Pet 5). And He is the Great Shepherd Who is also our sympathetic High Priest above.

The great purpose of our lives ought to be occupation with the Lord Jesus and the worship that it causes to arise to our Father in heaven for the amazing grace that has saved and linked us with Him in all the sufficiency of His Person.

He is your Shepherd. Why not ask Him, as you open your Bible, to lead you into green pastures and to enable you to lie down by waters of rest and calm amidst the panic all around us?