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What does it take to please God?

08 Sep

All of us long for approval. We seek approval from parents, teachers, coaches, employers, and friends. We want to know that we are pretty, that we are doing a good job, that we are excelling at our task. We want to know that we measure up.

And yet, we also know that some people are difficult to please. You bring home a report card with four A’s and one B, and you are scolded for being a dummy. You go three for four in a baseball game and all you hear is that you struck out. You work overtime to bring a project in under budget and before the deadline and don’t receive a “thank you” from your boss.

When it comes to spiritual things, we struggle to believe that God actually likes us, let alone approves us. It begs the question, what does it take to please God?

In Hebrews 10:38-39, the author of the book explains that we are to live by faith. In 11:2, he states that a lifestyle of faith is the only way to receive God’s approval. In the rest of chapter 11, he gives numerous examples of ordinary people who chose to believe God’s promises and to live by faith. The life of Enoch (11:5-6) demonstrates that the key to pleasing God is to walk with him on a daily basis.

Who was Enoch? (Hebrews 11:5-6; Genesis 5:21-24; Jude 14-15). Though he barely makes a cameo appearance in the pages of Scripture, we know several things about Enoch. First, he was a godly man in an ungodly world. Enoch’s cousin, Lamech, killed a man and wrote a song about it (Genesis 4:23-24). In his prophecy in Jude 14-15, Enoch uses the word “ungodly” four times to describe his culture.

Second, the transforming moment in Enoch’s life was when he became a father. The grammar in Genesis 5:21-22 indicates that he walked with God after his son, Methuselah, was born. Also, Methuselah’s name means, “When he dies, it shall be sent.” If you do the math, you discover that Methuselah died in the same year the flood began in Noah’s time.

Third, once he was transformed, Enoch became a preacher of righteousness and judgment. As a result, fourth, Enoch received God’s approval. One day, Enoch was walking with God and never returned. Fifth, Enoch was the man who did not die but simply walked with God into eternity.

The Characteristics of a Life that Pleases God. Through his life, Enoch demonstrates how to please God. It starts with believing in God—believing that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. While there are many critics who argue against the existence of God, there are several natural laws—the law of cause and effect, the law of entropy, the law of design—that lead one to conclude that there must be a God. If you read through Colossians 1:15-20, you discover that Jesus Christ is the creator and sustainer as well as the goal of creation. To please God, you must believe he exists. You also have to believe it is possible to know God. 1 Chronicles 28:9 points out that God rewards those who seek him with the knowledge of himself.

Believing that God exists, we must seek him, walk with him, and tell others about him. These are the very same things that Enoch did. As Enoch learned, faith is the key that unlocks God’s approval.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on September 8, 2019. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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