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How You Can Truly Please God | Revive Our Hearts Episode

How You Can Truly Please God | Revive Our Hearts Episode


Denise: Hi, I’m Denise from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I’m a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner. One reason I support this ministry is that I’ve listened to it since its beginning—initially on the radio in my car as I drove kids to and from school; now by podcast as I run and walk in the mornings or drive to take patients to physical therapy. It is an invaluable program to me because it is so timely, biblical, relevant, and practical to my daily walk. Thank you so much, and enjoy today’s episode of Revive Our Hearts, brought to you in part by the Monthly Partner team.

Dannah Gresh: Do you want to please God? That’s a noble goal, but Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you there’s a problem.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You cannot please God by trying harder, by performing, by being perfect because you can’t be perfect. We are fallen. …

Denise: Hi, I’m Denise from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I’m a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner. One reason I support this ministry is that I’ve listened to it since its beginning—initially on the radio in my car as I drove kids to and from school; now by podcast as I run and walk in the mornings or drive to take patients to physical therapy. It is an invaluable program to me because it is so timely, biblical, relevant, and practical to my daily walk. Thank you so much, and enjoy today’s episode of Revive Our Hearts, brought to you in part by the Monthly Partner team.

Dannah Gresh: Do you want to please God? That’s a noble goal, but Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you there’s a problem.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You cannot please God by trying harder, by performing, by being perfect because you can’t be perfect. We are fallen. We are broken. We are sinful. So how can we please God?

Dannah: She says that, thankfully, there’s an answer.

Nancy: God is pleased when you believe Him.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms, for Wednesday, March 22, 2023. I’m Dannah Gresh.

We’ve been going through the series, “Walking with God: The Life of Enoch.” Nancy is inviting a special guest in the audience to give us an illustration of what it means to walk with God. This is Dr. Erwin Lutzer.

Dr. Erwin Lutzer: Walking with God is a place of honor. You have young people who want to be photographed with their favorite athlete and so forth, but here’s the illustration, and it’s a true one.

Rothschild, the great financier that we’ve all heard about, a young man came into his office there at the New York Stock Exchange and said, “My business is slumping. It’s not doing very well. I wonder if you could help me, Mr. Rothschild?”

Rothschild said to him, “Put on your jacket, and let’s walk around the New York Stock Exchange.” So they did.

They came back to Rothschild’s office, and the young man said, “If you could help me, that would be wonderful.”

And Rothschild said to this young man, “I already have.”

After that this young man had so much business he couldn’t take care of it all because people had seen him walking with Rothschild. They said, “If he’s with Rothschild, he’s the man we want to do business with.”

Walking with God, Nancy, as all of us know, is a place of honor. It’s a place where God empowers us, and what a privilege to walk with God. There is no higher privilege than that.

Nancy: Amen.

So that reflects on the last session. We were just talking about on the life of Enoch. You walk with God, people will see. They may not know your name, but they will see Him, they’ll see His power, they’ll see His grace and His goodness. So, just an encouragement there to walk with God and know that God will honor and bless you. As we said in the last session, to walk with God is a blessed life.

Well, we’re talking about the life of Enoch, and today we come to another characteristic of this servant of the Lord. Let me go back to Genesis chapter 5. If you have your Bible, you will want to be in Genesis 5 and Hebrews chapter 11. We’re actually going to skip around a number of Scriptures today, springing off of the life of Enoch.

Let’s start back in the text—Genesis chapter 5, beginning in verse 21, and then we’ll move to Hebrews 11, verse 5. Genesis 5: “Enoch had lived 65 years.” Now, you remember, Enoch was seventh from Adam through the line of Seth, the godly line, the seed of Adam through which ultimately the Messiah would come. Enoch lived in an ungodly world, but he walked with God. When he had lived 65 years, “he fathered Methuselah.””

And apparently something happened at the birth of that first child, because the next verse tells us, “Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years.” This was not a stop-and-start relationship with God. This was a consistent habit pattern of his life. He walked with God 300 years, “and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (vv. 21–24).

Now, as we skip over to Hebrews chapter 11, we see in the great hall of faith, men over whom much ink was spilled in the Old Testament to tell their stories—Abraham and Moses and David. But nestled in there is the life of Enoch. Verse 5 tells us all these men and women who were known for their faith, but,

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death [we’ll talk about the end of Enoch’s earthly life in the last day in this series], and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. (v. 5)

Some of your translations may say, “He was approved as having pleased God.” The New King James says, “He had this testimony, that he pleased God.” That’s a word that means to be well-pleasing, to be spoken well of. He was well-pleasing to God. He pleased God. And this was his testimony.

Now, you stop and think about that. I’ve been meditating on these verses, these little gems about Enoch for the last several weeks here. What an incredible testimony to have. Enoch walked with God, and this pleased God, and all by faith. That’s what we’re going to look at today.

In everything he did, Enoch asked, “Will this please God?” Not, “Will this please me?” Not, “Will this make me happy?” Not, “Will this advance my career?” Not, “Will this make me look good?” But, “Will this please God?”

It is a whole different way of looking at life. When you walk with God, you’re going to care about pleasing God. And at the heart of this walk that pleased God was faith—faith.

Hebrews 11 goes on to say in the next verse,

And without faith [by which Enoch did these things—without faith] it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (v. 6)

So here, Enoch believed God. He believed that there is a God, that God is real. And he believed that God rewards those who seek Him, that if you seek, you will find. He believed in God’s promises. He believed in God’s character.

So, to walk with God, to please God, and to believe God, these three things are inseparable. If you walk with God, you will want to please Him. And you must have faith in order to walk with God and to please Him. So God gives the faith so we can walk with Him, so we can please Him. To walk with God is to please God.

In fact, in Genesis chapter 5, it tells us that Enoch “walked with God.” But in the Septuagint, which is the Greek version of the Old Testament, it translates that verse that Enoch “pleased God.” He walked with God. He pleased God. These are one and the same, and both require faith.

You cannot walk with God, you can’t please Him if you don’t believe Him. To walk with God is to please God, and it is to walk by faith because this pleases God. You just come back and forth to all three of these things. They’re interwoven in this man’s life.

So, here’s a question: Do you find yourself wanting to be closer to God, wanting to walk with Him in a more intimate and close way?

Let me tell you, as we look at Enoch’s life, that walking with God is not a matter of feelings. It is a matter of faith. You must believe that God is who He says He is, that He does what He says He will do. And as you believe Him, you, by faith, will walk with Him and please Him.

Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 5, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

So many people in their Christian lives have up-and-down roller-coaster Christian experiences because they’re walking by sight. When they think they can sense God’s presence. It might be some really great music at church or some really stirring preaching they hear or some moving experience, and they say, “Oh, God feels so close. I’m going to walk with God.”

  • But what about when God doesn’t feel close?
  • What about when you experience loss instead of gain?
  • What about when there’s temptation?
  • What about when the people you thought you could trust prove not trustworthy?
  • What about when everything you can see looks bad?
  • So what happens to God? He doesn’t go away.

That’s when we still must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who seek Him.

Peter talks about this in 1 Peter 1. He says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him” (v. 8).

So how do you love Christ when you can’t see Him? How? By faith. He goes on to say, “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (v. 8).

It’s a faith walk. You walk with God by faith. And as for pleasing God, do you want to please God? How many of you would say, “I want to please God?” Let me see some hands here. Okay, every hand pretty much in the air.

Now, I want to ask this question, but don’t raise your hands. Just think about how you would answer it: Do you believe that you are pleasing to God? I suspect, if I asked for a show of hands, not as many hands would go up as, “I want to please God,” but a lot of us would say, “I’m not sure I really am pleasing to God.”

We’re reminded, as we look at Enoch’s life, that you cannot please God by trying harder, by performing, by being perfect—because you can’t be perfect. We are fallen. We are broken. We are sinful. So how can we please God? God is pleased when you believe Him, when you act on that faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” You know what that says to me? By faith, it is possible to please Him and to be pleasing to Him.

We are pleasing to Him because of the work that Christ has done on our behalf to make us pleasing to God, not because of anything we have done or could do or would do or should do or might do, but by faith.

Enoch was a sinner, as we are. He needed forgiveness and pardon, as we do. He was made pleasing to God by faith, as we are. And if Enoch could walk with God by faith, so may you and I as well.

You see, we know that we are justified by faith, that we come into relationship with Christ through faith, but then somehow we start to think, Okay, I was born into the kingdom of God and the family of God through faith, but now I’ve got to make this work. Now I’ve got to be a good Christian. Now I’ve got to walk with God. I’ve got to please God. Now I’ve got to buck up and do this. I’ve got to fight temptation. I’ve got to live this holy life.

No! We were justified by faith in Christ, and we are sanctified by faith. We continue to walk with God, to please Him by faith in Christ—not because of any inherent goodness or power of our own, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). It’s God who works in us to make us pleasing to God.

We’re pleasing to God as Jesus was pleasing to God. You remember that amazing scene at Jesus’ baptism when a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”? And then again at the Transfiguration?

Matthew 3 tells us, “A bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matt. 3:17).

Jesus said in John 8, “I do always the things that are pleasing to him” (v. 29). Jesus pleased God. Jesus was well pleasing to God. The beloved Son who never did anything—ever—but please God.

And through our union with Him, with Christ, if we are in Christ, through our faith in Him, we are made pleasing to God. He makes us enough. We could never be enough, good enough. We could never please God.

All the rest of the religions of the world are man’s efforts to please God, to become pleasing to God. And God says, “No! You can’t please Me, but Jesus has pleased Me. Believe in Him. He is My Son with whom I am well pleased. If you believe in Him, you are pleasing to Me.”

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last several days about some different Scriptures that tell us what pleases God. Now, we know we do this by faith. We know we do this by faith in Christ. But let me just walk through a handful of Scriptures here that tell us what pleases God.

Scripture tells us that obedience pleases God: 1 John 3:22, “Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” Obedience pleases Him.

A holy life pleases God: 1 Thessalonians 4,

We ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. [Now, how do you walk and please God?] For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification [your holiness]: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. (vv. 1–5)

What pleases God? A holy life.

He says the same thing again in a similar passage in Ephesians chapter 5 where it talks about being imitators of God, as beloved children, walking in love. Sexual immorality, impurity or covetousness should not even be named among God’s people. No filthiness, no foolish talk, no crude joking. Instead, thanksgiving (see vv. 1–4). And he says,

You may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not [become partners] with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light . . . and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (vv. 5–10)

See, he tells us a holy life is pleasing to the Lord. Sexual immorality is not a holy life. It is not pleasing to the Lord. It is astonishing to me and grievous—it should be to all of us—how many within the local church today think nothing of sexual activity outside of marriage. It’s like the norm.

You can’t walk with God and love what God hates. God has something better for us. It’s His holiness. It’s His goodness. It’s His righteousness. And it’s His light walking in the light rather than in the darkness. God is pleased by a holy life.

Hebrews 13 tells us something else that pleases God. Verses 15 and 16:

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

So sacrificial praise, the sacrifice of praise, and sacrificial generosity please God.

Can you see that when we please God, it’s not about us? It’s about Him. It’s about what pleases Him.

It’s not about my way, but His way.

It’s not about holding on to my stuff, but letting it go, giving it away.

It’s not about holding on to my griping, my complaining, my murmuring, but instead offering a sacrifice of praise even when my eyes are filled with tears. This is pleasing to God, these sacrifices.

Here’s another one: In Ezekiel 18, God says, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (see v. 32). God is pleased when sinners repent and turn from their wicked ways.

God is pleased when we ask Him for wisdom. We see this in the case of King Solomon. God said, “Tell Me what you want.” And Solomon didn’t ask for riches. He didn’t ask for honor. He didn’t ask for stuff. He asked for wisdom. And the Scriptures says, “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this” (1 Kings 3:10).

God is pleased when we have right family relationships. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Col. 3:20).

Adult children honoring and caring for the needs of our parents and our grandparents.

If a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. (1 Tim. 5:4)

Here’s another thing from Psalm 147, beginning in verse 10—we cannot please God through our own strength or ability. Psalm 147 says,

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,nor his pleasure in the legs of a man [not human strength, not human ability], but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. (vv. 10–11)

You say, “I feel so weak. I need the Lord so much.” Can I tell you: that pleases God. He’s pleased when we fear Him, when we trust in His love.

Here’s another insight from Galatians 1: we cannot please God if we are trying to please people. You can’t please both. Paul said in Galatians 1, verse 10, “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? For if I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

If you want to please the people around you, if you want to live for their adulation, their admiration, their affection, their adoring, then you’re not going to be thinking about how to please God. But when you please God, nothing else really matters.

Those who are not in Christ cannot please God, no matter how good they may seem to be. That’s what we learn in Romans, chapter 8. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (v. 8).

If you’re not in Christ, you can’t please God. I don’t care how often you go to church. I don’t care how hard you work. I don’t care how generous you are. I don’t care how much you pray. If you’re not in Christ, if you’re not trusting Him . . . Remember, Enoch believed God. That faith is what was pleasing to God.

Those who are in the flesh instead of in Christ cannot please God. They don’t have the power or the ability to please Him.

And then the Scripture tells us that those who belong to Christ will make it their aim and their goal to please Him, and that’s enough for them. If He’s pleased, nothing else matters.

Paul talks about this in 2 Timothy chapter 2. He says, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (v. 4). It’s not about me. It’s not about my pleasure. It’s about God’s pleasure, His glory. My aim is to please the one who enlisted me. That’s my goal.

And Paul says this again in 2 Corinthians chapter 5.

We know that while we are at home in the body [here on this earth] we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home [here on this earth in these human bodies] or we are away [with the Lord], we make it our aim to please him. (vv. 6–10)

There was a powerful motivation in Paul’s life for pleasing the Lord. He goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

Our goal, our aim is to please Him because we know that one day we will stand before Him. We will give an account. There will be rewards based on our faithfulness here in this body on this earth. So we say, “Lord, when we wake up in the morning, the first thing is, ‘How can I please You?’”

My husband and I look at each other often in our marriage, and one of the things that makes it such a sweet marriage is we’re both always looking for ways to please the other. And you know what in the process? We both get a lot of joy.

We’re not looking for, “How can you make me happy”—okay, some days we’re thinking that. (laughter) But when we think, How can I make you happy? How can I bless you? How can I please you? What can I do to serve you? then we find not only is our mate blessed and happy, but we’re happy as well.

You know, when you look around at what’s going on in our work today, and you listen to the news . . . Some days I just think, I’ve got to . . . I can’t take any more of this. It can tank you. It’s so negative, so discouraging.

But I want to tell you this . . . and I’ve been thinking about it as I meditate on the life of Enoch: To walk with God, to talk in faith is to not to be tanked. It’s to have joy. It’s to have hope. It’s to have confidence. You know why? Because we know the outcome! We know this life is not ultimate. We know this is not it. We know there lies ahead of us a prize: Christ Himself.

And so, if you’re discouraged and your head’s down, there may be a lot of reasons why. There may be a lot of good reasons to be discouraged or depressed or down or tanked. But lift your eyes up. Walk with God. Walk with faith. Seek to please Him in the midst of this broken world. Pray with the psalmist: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).

Paul prayed a prayer for the Colossian believers. It’s my prayer for me and for me as well. He says in Colossians 1:

We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [as Enoch did], fully pleasing to him. (vv. 9–10)

It’s all I want. That’s what I want for me. That’s what I want for our marriage. That’s what I want for you—to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him.

And so, here’s a benediction from Hebrews chapter 13, that puts a bow on this prayer.

Now may the God of peace equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. (v. 20)


Dannah: Do you ever hear people say, “We need to please God”? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has shown us how we truly can please God because of Jesus. Once our hearts have been changed by Him, then we get to walk with Him day by day.

To help you stay close to Him, we want to send you a book by Colleen Chao. She was a guest on Revive Our Hearts just last week. Colleen’s life was brimming with hope. Full of possibility. She was a talented, confident, and ambitious young woman.

So Colleen never imagined that she’d walk through two decades of anxiety and depression. She didn’t guess she’d marry late, suffer years of chronic pain and illness, and give birth to a child with health complications. And never in her life did she imagine hearing the words: “Cancer. Stage four. Terminal.” In the Hands of a Fiercely Tender God is a book that comes out of Colleen’s suffering.

She says her pain has opened her eyes to eternal realities. It’s produced in her a deep and abiding joy. So if you’re wondering, “How can I suffer long and well?” “What should I do when I feel cheated?” or “How can I face the darkness that feels like it’s pressing in on me?” Colleen’s devotional book is a precious gift for anyone who’s suffering. It contains 31 days of wisdom, hope, and encouragement. Again, the title is In the Hands of a Fiercely Tender God. It’s our gift to you in appreciation of your donation of any amount to help support the outreaches of Revive Our Hearts.

Ask for the devotional by Colleen Chao when you make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959. 

Okay, Bible trivia time: Who is the oldest recorded person who ever lived? Think you know the answer? Come back tomorrow and find out. You’ll also hear why Nancy thinks this particular individual’s life is an example of God’s rich mercy. See you tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted,

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.



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