If you want to abandon your ministry inheritance on earth and lose your rewards in heaven, then follow the bad example of the people of Israel when they arrived at Kadesh Barnea, the gateway into the Promised Land (Num. 13-14). Instead of claiming God’s promises that He would defeat all their enemies and give them the land, the people listened to the ten spies who convinced them that it was impossible for Israel to conquer the land.
But Caleb and Joshua believed God and told the frightened people, “If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us” (Num. 14:8). The problem wasn’t the giants in the land or the high walls around the cities. The problem was the unbelief in the hearts of God’s own people. And what was the result? The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for thirty-eight years until the unbelieving generation died off and a new generation took over.
During my years of ministry, I have seen individuals, churches and para-church ministries stand at the borderline of God’s great blessing, hesitate in fear and unbelief, and end up “wandering” for years, seeing no progress at all. The secret of blessing in Christian life and service is simply to live to please the Lord. If we do what He tells us and trust Him to give us success for His glory, He will not disappoint us. “If the Lord is pleased with us…” is the key.
But what is it that pleases the Lord?
Likeness to Jesus pleases the Lord.
The Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17; 17:5 NASB); and this tells us that the more we become like Jesus, the more the Father will be pleased with us and bless us. “And He who sent Me is with Me,” said Jesus. “He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:39). This doesn’t suggest that we can earn or even deserve God’s blessings because all that God does for us is a gracious gift from His loving heart. It simply means that “Trust and obey” and “Ask and you will receive” are two essential rules of kingdom blessing. This is why God’s children must constantly be “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 5:10). We must avoid the things God hates (Prov. 6:16-19) and major on the things that please Him most, especially being like Jesus.
If we read the Word daily, meditate on it and see the Savior in it, the Spirit will perform this incredible miracle by which we are “transformed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18). As we surrender and pray, the Spirit works in us “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). The Father loves His Son so much that He wants all of His children to be like Him! When Jesus returns, we shall be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29), but why not begin experiencing the miracle today?
Saintly Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote to a missionary friend, “It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” Are we like Jesus in the way we treat people or in the way we deal with trials? Christ is the one example we must always follow if we expect God to bless (1 Peter 2:1-25).
Living by faith pleases the Lord.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Heb. 11:6). “[A]nd whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). The story is told of a father who put his five-year-old son at the top of the basement stairs and then went down to the bottom of the staircase where he turned out the lights. “Jump, my boy,” he said, “and I’ll catch you.” When the boy jumped, his father stepped back and the child landed on the concrete floor and bruised himself. “Let that be a lesson to you,” said the father. “Don’t trust anybody!” Wouldn’t you hate to have a father like that?
By nature, children are trustful, but that foolish father turned his son into a cynic and probably robbed him of being trustworthy himself. The American preacher Henry Ward Beecher defined a cynic as “one who never sees a good quality in a man, and never fails to see a bad one.” Fathers and mothers of character are faithful in what they do and say because they want their children to trust them. This is the first step in teaching children to trust the Lord.
Faith is not believing in spite of evidence; that’s ignorant superstition. Faith is obeying God in spite of circumstances or consequences. Faith is living by doing God’s will, claiming His promises and patiently waiting for Him to work. If God turns out the lights, we can be sure he will catch us when we jump. Faith, fellowship with God and familiarity with the Scriptures are bound together in the life of faith. King Solomon said that “not one word has failed of His good promise” (1 Kings 8:56), and he was right. We do not live by explanations; we live by promises.
(Copyright 2010, Warren W. Wiersbe. All rights reserved.)
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).