Thursday, January 15, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 9

Day 9 What Makes God Smile?

There is nothing that makes God smile faster and bigger than when we say “Yes, Dad” with a smile on our face and eagerness in our voice—and then go off to do what God asked us to do.

We know that obedience is important because it is such a big theme in the Bible. There is a reason it is such a big deal. That reason has to do with covenant. So, let’s take one more step in our understanding of God by understanding more about covenant.

Last week we learned a number of things about covenant. Once we understand the importance of having covenants, we can begin to look at the way God chose to make them. Basically, God put together a formula for covenant with four parts:

  1. Parties – those who take an oath to abide by the terms of the covenant.

  2. Terms – the responsibilities of the parties to keep the covenant.

  3. Promises – the benefits of keeping the covenant.

  4. Consequences – the cost of failing to keep the covenant.

Every covenant had each of these four parts, although the details could differ from one covenant to another. (And God made quite a few covenants, as you can see in the Old Testament writings.) The covenant that we are invited to take part in is the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

A summary of the New Covenant and its covenant-keeping formula looks like this:

In Christ + Like Christ = With Christ


(those included in the covenant)

In Christ


Those who choose to be “in Christ” (part of the body of Christ, the church) through accepting God’s offer of reconciliation and adoption


(requirements of covenant keeping)

Like Christ


Those who live like Christ (loving God and one another) find that the requirements of the covenant are, by definition, being kept


(for faithful covenant keeping)

With Christ

All the faithful (those “in” and “like” Christ) share with Christ all he is and has – now and forever


(of rejecting God’s covenant offer)


Those who reject God’s offer of reconciliation through Christ live apart from his presence – now and forever

(Don’t panic—we’ll unpack the details of this formula before the end of our Journey together!)

We know that obedience makes God smile because the New Testament records that it made God very happy that Jesus was completely obedient. There were, of course, many difficult things that God asked Jesus to do. And so Jesus may not have always been a picture of outward cheer and joy as he went about his duties. But there was never a hint of rebellion—he never put his will before the Father’s will. He knew what he had to do—and for him, that included becoming our covenant-making sacrifice by his death on the cross. Because he was fully human, he got tired and was hungry and lonely—the same stresses we all experience. And because he was also fully God, he never lost sight of the goal or stumbled on the path to accomplish that goal.

That means that it is our attitude that makes God smile. It is our willingness to do what he asks us to do that makes him happy. It is the “If I ask you, will you?” question that we face every day. And as long as we keep answering “Yes, Dad” and then do what he asks us to do, God will be smiling.

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 2:12-17 again (you’re getting the hang of it). While you’re reading, look for the signs of the attitudes God wants to develop in us.

Keep Breathing!

When you invite God to spend the day with you today, tell him that you really do want to include him in every conversation and activity. What will that look like? Well, it won’t be like having an imaginary friend you talk to out loud (like Harvey the rabbit in the classic story).

It probably will feel more like knowing your mother can hear what you’re saying when you’re playing with your friends. The difference is that, while your mother may yell out the window for you to play nice and use kind words, God speaks quietly into your heart. He asks if you will remember his presence. His gift of free will allows you to ignore him. You have to choose.

Don’t let that feeling stop you from including God—let it transform what you say and do! The sooner we admit that God sees and hears everything we do—whether we invite him or not—the further down the road to obedience we’ll get.

Hey, this is a workout—you’re supposed to sweat!

But listen to the coach say, “Come on—take a deep breath. Now exhale all the way. There, isn’t that better?” That cleansing breath is critical for moving forward.

When you get to that moment of choice, take in a big breath of God’s presence. Then exhale your doubts and look over at God. He will be smiling.

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