Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 (NRSV)
On July 12, 2022, NASA released the first full-color images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. Since that momentous occasion, we have seen extraordinary photos that stretch our minds with the vastness and beauty of the universe. As I gaze upon those pictures, I remember the words of the psalmist: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4) How could it be, I wonder, that the God who created the awe-inspiring universe actually cares about me? (NASA photo from Webb telescope. Public domain.)
Scripture teaches us that God does indeed care about us. More than this, we’re told that we actually make a difference to God. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:1, we have the ability “to live and please God.” If we choose to live according to God’s ways and for God’s glory, then God will be pleased. Isn’t that amazing? God is not only paying attention to you and how you live. You can actually live in such a way that God is pleased.
Given this amazing news, we are apt to wonder how we can please God. Paul and his colleagues will provide some answers in the fourth and fifth chapters of 1 Thessalonians. They’ll mention things we might expect, like sexual holiness and love for others (1 Thessalonians 4:3-10). They’ll also mention things we might not expect, like living quietly and working with our hands (4:11). Yes, one way we can please God is by working with the gifts and abilities God has given us.
Sometimes Christians assume that pleasing God is mainly a matter of doing obviously “religious” things. If I feed a hungry person, seek justice for the oppressed, share the gospel with friends, or support my church financially, God is pleased. We can easily forget that doing ordinary things – like working with our hands – also pleases God.
A moving reminder of how we can please God is found in the 1981 classic film, Chariots of Fire. One of the main characters, Eric Liddell, knows that God has called him to do missionary work in China. Yet he is also a fantastic runner and has the opportunity to represent England in the 1924 Paris Olympics. As he wrestles with what to do, his sister, Jennie, is eager for her brother to go to China. In a moving scene, Eric explains to Jennie his decision to run in the Olympics before going to China: “Jennie, Jennie, you’ve got to understand, I believe that God made me for a purpose – for China. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” As he is portrayed in the film, Eric Liddell understood that God takes pleasure, not only in his missionary work but also in using the exceptional physical gifts God had given him.
So, if you find yourself marveling at the vast splendor of the universe and wondering how God could be mindful of you, Scripture has good news. Yes, God does pay attention to you. Even more than this, God cares about you so much that you have the ability to give God pleasure. When you live according to God’s guidance, when you seek God’s glory, when you use well the gifts God has given you, God is pleased.
Do you ever find yourself wondering, like the psalmist, how God could care for you?
What difference does it make to you that you are able to please God?
What will you do today that gives God pleasure?
The Choir and Bell Choir rehearse every Tuesday night in the choir room, with Bell Choir at 4:30-5:30 and Choir at 5:45-7:00. Unsure about joining? Feel free to sit in on a rehearsal any time before deciding. All are welcome – no experience is required!
Small Groups & Adult Sunday School
Our Adult Sunday School and Tuesday Small Group are going through a bible study on the Gospel of Matthew. Sunday’s group meets at 9 am in the A-Wing Conference room. The Tuesday group meets at 1 pm in Fellowship Hall. We encourage everyone who decides to participate in this study to pick up a copy of the Matthew Immersion Bible Study. Freecopies can be found in the church office.
Brainstorming Bicentennial Logo
Our bicentennial committee is looking to create a logo for our 200th anniversary and could use your help! If you have ideas, or an actual design, of what an inspiring or effective logo might look like, please feel free to share your ideas with Bruce or Beth LaPenta.
Dr. June’s Recital
Dr. June will perform a piano recital on October 30th at 3 pm. All are invited to join us in the church sanctuary as we listen to Dr. June’s beautiful musical performance.
NJ Woman’s Song Concert
On Saturday, October 22nd, at 4 pm, the NJ Woman’s Song will be performing a concert at our church. So join us for this special afternoon and invite a friend.