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Living to please God

The title of my message today is "Living to please God". I was reading the New Testament book of 1 Thessalonians this week and the heading from chapter four grabbed my attention. I think as Christians we should want to live in a way that pleases God. Jesus gave His all for us and living the right way is one of the ways we say thanks. It is a right response to the actions of a loving God.

It is interesting that when you read through chapter 4, and in particular verses 1-18, it naturally breaks into four paragraphs. These natural breaks can be given four headings that give us a clue of what it is to live in a way that pleases God. Today I will be reading from the NIV.

Bible Reading

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, 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. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 It is Godís will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.[b] The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of Godís family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,

11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lordís word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Message Points

As I said before there are four natural breaks in the text. I have assigned four headings to them to help us break the text apart and give us points we can remember and apply to our lives.

1. Live in purity

Verses 3-8 tell us that we should live a sanctified life (set apart for God). It says we should avoid sexual immorality, be controlled and not take advantage of our neighbours. Verse 7 tells us why. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life".

Holiness and living in purity is a ongoing theme in the Bible. One of the main ways God describes Himself is Holy. Holiness is a quality of perfection, sinlessness, and inability to sin that is possessed by God alone. For us as Christians we are made holy in God's sight by the work of Christ on the cross, but we are also called to live a holy life. 1 Peter 1:15 says, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. " If you want to please God, aim to live right in all you do. It is a right response for all He has done for us.

2. Show brotherly love

Verses 9-10 tell us the importance of brotherly love. It says that we should try to love each other more and more. At the heart of brotherly love is caring for others, helping them when in need and showing respect.

The idea or theme of Love on another is mnetioned many times in the Bible. God tells us to love one another in 1 John 3:23, 2 John 1:5, and 1 John 4:7. 1 Peter 3:8 tells us to "live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble". Love, be caring, compassionate and humble. This is what God wants for us and what is best. Jesus said that people will know we belong to Him because of our love for one another. If you want to please God, then love one another.

3. Be a good testimony

Verses 11-12 talks about living a quiet life and minding your own business. It also says that we should work with our hands so we are not dependent of anyone. If we do these things we will earn the respect of others and have a good reputation in our community.

I have heard it said that for many people our lives are the only Bibles people will read. The way we live in an important testimony to those around us. The Bible calls us to be salt and light in Matthew 5:13-16. Simple things like having a positive and encouraging attitude and really living out what we believe is at the heart of being salt and light. Treating people with love and respect and then helping them when they are in need makes a huge difference. A good testimony is all about really loving God and really loving our neighbour. If you want to please God, then be a good testimony.

4. Have hope

Verses 13-18 talks about Jesus return and those who have already died in Christ. It says we should look forward to the future with hope and expectation that we will be with the Lord forever. Verse 18 reminds us that we should encourage each other with these words.

One of the great truths of Christianity is that Christ died for our sins and on the third day He rose to life. Because of His resurrection we have a great hope that we too will be raised to life when we die. As we live in this sometimes chaotic, fallen and unfair world we need to have hope. Knowing that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us and that He is coming back for us gives us hope (John 14:3). We will be with Him forever. We need to cling to this hope and encourage each other with these words (v18).

Living to please God more and more

Just before I finish I want to draw your attention to one more thing. The phrases found in verses 1 and 10. Verse 1 says, "Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more".  In verse 10 it says, "we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more".

The Greek word "Mallon" is used here in both verses for "more". It means "more, much more, to a greater degree, better or in a greater way". Verse 1 is about growing and improving at living right and living to please God. Verse 10 is about growing and improving in our love for one another. I just found this really interesting. Paul didn't want the Thessalonians to be content and feel like they have made it, but he wanted them to keep striving to grow and improve in love and living right.

Closing

If you want to live a life that pleases God, this passage gives us four things you can do.

1. Live in purity
2. Show brotherly love
3. Be a good testimony
4. Look forward to Christ's return with hope.

And also remember not to be content at where you are, but to continue to grow in your faith, knowledge and purity. Really continue to live right in a deeper way each day.

Let us pray.

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