Christian, don’t seek to please the world.

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 Jn 3:13)

The world is not our friend. The world hates us. That is strong language, I know, but it is true.

Hate is a word that is tossed around without much thought of what it actually means. To hate someone means you wish they never were or that you wish they would disappear, never to return again. You want them to cease to exist. Not only do you want that person to cease to exist but you want their ideas and actions to disappear as well.

When John tells us that the world hates us, he means that the world wishes Christians ceased to exist, which means the world is not our friend. The world would rather we not be around.

The world has a disdain for Christianity because they believe we limit their freedom. Any institution that does not agree with complete and utter freedom of expression is an enemy of the world. Their power must be removed so that the individual can operate without any restriction.

These ideas might sound eerily familiar. They are being played out in our nation as I write this post. But they are not new. Man has hated the things of God from the beginning, seeking to throw off God’s rule in one way or another since Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden.

If we have learned anything over the millennia it is that God’s people are not friends of the world. We cannot give a little and be ok with those in the world. Complete and utter capitulation is the only action that will do. This is why those who try to please the world, like the progressive liberal church or those in the liberal camp themselves, constantly find that the goal posts are moving. One day they are progressive enough and are celebrated. The next they are being cancelled because they haven’t moved far enough fast enough. They are not on the right side of history, as some would say.

As Christians, we should not be surprised the world hates us. Knowing that must not get us down. Instead, we must continue to trust in Jesus, resting in His sacrifice on our behalf, experiencing joy in our restored relationship with the Father, and finding hope in Jesus’ return.

Christian, don’t seek to please the world.

By the Grace of God, you are a gift for Jesus’ glory

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,” (2 Thess 1:11)

We need the prayers of the saints for our growth. As believers, we are to look after and encourage one another. We should desire to see the best for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. What could be better than their growth in Christlikeness.

Becoming more like Christ means we become more like the people God originally designed us to be. When we live according to God’s designed, life generally goes well for us. Even if we experience difficulties such as persecution or set back, we can have joy. Joy because we have hope. Hope for a future when we will see Jesus in all His glory. Joy because even in the difficulties we are able to accomplish our purpose in life, which is to glorify God. In verse 12, Paul reveals the end to which he prays,

“so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess 1:12)

The end is Jesus glory in us and us in Him. Jesus is ultimately glorified in us, not by our work, but by the grace of God. In this way, we are a gift to Jesus for His glory. What a privilege it is to be used by the Creator of the world, the King over all, the All Sovereign Lord as a gift to His Son for His glory and our own.

God is doing an amazing work in our day!

“‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'” (Acts 13:41)

Paul, preaching to the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, tells the Jews that they should expect the Lord to do a work that they would not believe. The work is that their wise men will perish (Is 29:14). In other words, God will do something among the people that will astound them – He will save the Gentiles. He bring those who they thought could not experience salvation to Himself. He will do it through their belief in a crucified Messiah. While at the same time, He will give the Jews over to their enemies (Hab 1:5-6).

After the Jews rejected their teaching, Paul explicitly tells them the work God is dong in verse 47 when he says,

“For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” (Acts 13:47)

Again quoting from the prophet Isaiah to show that this has always been God’s plan. A plan that was hidden but is now revealed (Col 1:26-27). Salvation has come to the Gentiles. God’s plan has always been to unite them as one man in Christ (Eph 2:11-22).

Through Jesus we are all united to one another – Jew and Gentile, poor and rich, slave and free. In Christ, we are all equal. We are all brothers and sisters. We are adopted into the same family through the death of Jesus for our sins and the forgiveness extended by the Father and the work done by the Spirit to draw and regenerate. Because of the Work of God, an amazing work we cannot even fathom, we all experience salvation in Jesus alone.

God is doing a work in our day. A work no one would believe if told beforehand. God is uniting us all in Christ. He breaks down divisions. If we want to experience unity, we must turn to Christ. We must recognize that at the foot of the cross all men and women are equal. No one is greater than another. No one is loved by God more than another. We are all one, a new humanity, a new people in Christ.

God, help us delight in your Word

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” (Ps 119:37)

The Psalmist asks the Lord to turn him from those things that are worthless. The things that will not bring joy, satisfaction, and life. Those things that are contrary to God’s will. In place of worthless things, he asks that God would give him life, which is found in God’s ways.

As you read through the remainder of the section, you realize God’s ways are found in God’s Word. His ways are found in His law (Ps 19:34). They are found in His commandments (Ps 19:35). They are found in His rules (Ps 19:39) and his precepts (Ps 19:40). While each of these words have nuanced meanings, they all essentially point back to God’s Word. It is His Word that provides life as we live according to his law, commandments, rules, precepts, teaching, and wisdom found therein. It is no wonder the psalmist says that he delights in God’s Word (Ps 19:35).

We should delight in God’s Word as well. And our prayer, our ask of God should be for Him to help us turn from those things that are worthless to life which is found in His ways.

Spend some time this morning asking the Lord to help you delight in His Word.

A righteous life stems from a righteous heart

“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!”

(Psalm 112:1)

God’s promise for us in Psalm 112 reveals that those who fear the Lord, who live in reverent awe of God, seeking to align their life with God’s will receive blessing from God.

The remainder of the Psalm goes on to highlight what it looks like to live as one who delights in God’s commandments, as one who is upright.

  • They are not greedy but generous (5a)
  • They are not unfair or unjust. Rather they deal justly in all their affairs (5b)
  • Bad news does not move them. Rather they continue to trust in the Lord (7).
  • They are not afraid of their enemy, instead they continue to trust in the Lord to vindicate (8).
  • They freely give to the poor, seeking to care for the marginalized and disadvantaged in the city (9).
  • They are able to give of their wealth and resources because they trust the Lord to provide for their needs, viewing their resources as those given by God whom they are to steward and use to meet the needs of the community in which God has placed them (9).

The psalms ends with a word about the wicked, who doesn’t desire the Lord’s commandments and thus is angry when he observes the righteous in action. The difference between the two characters is not external action but an internal desire. Those who fear God live a life aligned with God’s will and those who disdain God reject the will of the Lord.

The point being we can’t manufacture righteous actions. They do not spring forth from a heart that rejects the Lord. Our heart, our desires, our affections must first be given to God. Only if we have turned to the Lord can we truly live a righteous life. To say it another way, a righteous life cannot spring forth from a wicked well. The well must first be made righteous.

We cannot make ourselves righteous (Rom 3:9-20). Only the Lord can change our heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh that desires to live under His rule.

Ezekiel writes,

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

(Ezekiel 11:19-20)

Has the Lord changed your heart? Do you desire His rule? Are you living a righteous live in the power of the Holy Spirit or are you trying to live for God in your own power and strength?

If you are seeking God in your own power, it is most likely because you want something from Him or the community in which you live. You don’t want God for God. You are using God to meet your own desires. The righteous don’t use God. They are satisfied with God alone.

It is never too late

He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.

2 Chronicles 33:13

It is never too late to turn to the Lord. Manasseh was one of the most wicked kings in Judah. He reversed the reforms of his father Hezekiah, leading the people away from the Lord and to worship false gods.

The Lord humbled Manasseh. From captivity in Babylon, Manasseh prayed to the Lord and the Lord forgave him. He actually did more than forgive him. He brought him back to Judah restoring Manasseh’s reign as king. Manasseh then led the people to worship and follow God.

It is never too late to turn to the Lord in repentance and belief. He is the one true God who provides salvation to those who humble themselves by recognizing they can’t save themselves. Only through Jesus can we experience a reconciled relationship with the Lord and accomplish our God given purpose — to bring God glory.