Many people strive to believe God and have enough faith. They want to do everything well—even perfectly—so they can please God. However, they often find themselves worn out, discouraged, frustrated, and sometimes wounded trying to please what can seem to be an “unpleasable” God. The enemy, Satan, is ready to tell them they are not doing enough. They miss celebrating joys and victories because they do not understand God and His love. They don’t know Him, and because they have a misunderstanding of who He is, they will wear out spiritually trying to please Him. By knowing Him, you can come into a wonderful rest and fulfill your destiny.
The Pleasure of God Versus the Love of God
It was morning and I was laying on my bed feeling quite unsuccessful. I wanted God to speak to my insecurity and make me feel better, so I invited Him to my pity party for two. I cried out, “Lord, show me how I please you.” He answered, matter of factly:
“No?” I questioned. I could sense God distancing Himself, like a parent refusing to engage their child’s drama.
“No,” He said again.
He whispered clearly but firmly to my heart: If I told you every time you were pleasing me or not, you would be up or down and striving every day to gratify Me. My love for you is consistent, steady, and unchanging, despite your decisions. This is the foundation upon which I wish My people to build their lives. Your love for your children does not go up or down. It is consistent and never changes. Your pleasure may shift momentarily with their behavior, but your love remains and endures through those moments…But My love endures forever.
I understood. God loves me and takes pleasure in me, but I did not need to focus my life on shifting pleasure. His love alone is the steadying force of my life—and it is the steadying force in your life, too. God wants you to be able to say, like Paul, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV, emphasis added).
The reality is God is not that hard to please and He wants you to know this truth inside and out. It is hard to be steady, strong, bold, and at peace if the one you are in relationship with is up and down like a wave on the ocean. It can make you feel like you are walking on eggshells. But you do not have to worry about that with God. Learning about and understanding God’s desire to be merciful, compassionate, and forgiving when you are less than perfect will stabilize your ability to believe; you will thus fulfill your God-given assignments in a peaceful and restful way.
God’s Eternal Character
Even people in the Bible struggled with trying to please God. Moses, for example, longed to know whether he had found favor in God’s sight. He asked God to teach him His ways so that he could understand and know God more and continue to enjoy His favor. But God wanted Moses to know Him intimately, not just work to please Him, and agreed to show Moses His glory—the weighty fullness of His presence. God was pleased to show Moses Himself—His character—telling Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. I will show mercy to anyone I choose and I will show compassion to anyone I choose” (Ex. 33:14 NLT).
God’s goodness was the basis on which He wanted Moses and Israel to relate to Him. God wanted to be sure that as Moses experienced God’s goodness, he would act on it in prayer and spread the revelation like wildfire to the whole nation. He wanted to be sure that Moses knew He is abundant when a request comes in and He does not do things by halves. When He says “yes,” it’s a complete “yes.”
Not only did God allow all His goodness to pass before Moses, but He also declared His name, or His identity as a person. Consider one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture—when God proclaimed His very nature:
Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh.
The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.”— Exodus 34:5–7, NLT
God wanted Moses to know He does not just extend compassion and mercy, but He is the absolute source and life-flow of those attributes. He is compassion and mercy. He is forgiving and fair.
God described Himself again in the book of Jeremiah, so that His people would boast not only about knowing Him and understanding He is the Lord, but also that His rule, reign, and actions flow from His beautiful character of unfailing love, justice, and righteousness:
This is what the LORD says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!”— Jeremiah 9:23–24, NLT
Again, God declared Himself compassionate and merciful, and One who demonstrates unfailing love. Because He created man in His image, He created His people to represent this unfailing love to the world.
God revealed to both Moses and Jeremiah His goodness which included faithfulness that goes on forever. God Himself said He lavishes His love to “a thousand generations.” He was providing a picture of perpetual, faithful love to His children that would be released forever (Ex. 34:5–7, Deut. 7:9). God is eternal and His character continues to be good long after this generation or the next are gone from the earth—and even then, He does not stop being good to those He loves. Those who trust in Jesus will have an eternity to bask in His goodness.
Moses may have had some angst approaching God, but when he saw God’s compassion, mercy, love, patience, and faithfulness pass by him, he knew he—and the whole nation of Israel—could rest in the relationship. Because His character never changes; you can rest in that relationship as well and fulfill your destiny with peace.
The God of Mercy, Compassion and Faithfulness.
In the book of Exodus, God had rescued the Israelites out of Egypt in a display of His might and power, as an example of His love to the whole world. He had destroyed Pharaoh and his armies and had performed other miracles in His commitment to the Israelites. However, His heart was wounded, hurt, and angered by His people He had called to be a light to the world. But Moses knew that he, personally, was favored by the Lord and that it was time to press that to the advantage of the nation. He reminded God of this, saying:
You have told me, “I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.” If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.
The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”
Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”— Exodus 33:12–16 NLT
Amazingly, God assured Moses that everything would be fine for him. Moses wouldn’t leave God’s people and wouldn’t let God leave them. They were at crossroads, but God still agreed to reveal Himself. Moses would see how unfailing God’s love and faithfulness was and how He forgives sin, iniquity, and rebellion. Once Moses saw God’s very nature pass before him, he knew he could never let the knowledge of God’s character pass him by without applying it to those who needed it: God’s wayward children. He begged God to forgive the Israelites and make them His own. Moses had God on the ropes, but that is what God desired. He wanted someone to lay hold of and relate to Him in a way that understood that He wanted to forgive in the moment of sin, so that love could endure through every situation and forevermore.
When you believe God, and as you understand more and more of His goodness and steady love and come to know Him intimately, you will no longer be insecure. You will cease striving to please Him. It gives God pleasure to see you confident in His compassion and mercy and He is pleased with those who boldly approach His throne of grace. It means you understand Him and know what you will find there. His steadfast and unfailing love allows you to experience joy, peace, and rest as you believe Him. Like Moses, this truth should embolden you to take risks to obey His leadings and promptings in life without fear of what cannot be seen. God’s forgiveness, mercy, and compassion give you permission to fulfill your calling without striving for perfection, or fearing making mistakes, or being punished. It is there, ready for you, and authorizing you to grow.
Believing God Through His Word
I don’t think God ever intended His children to have faith without it being reasonable. Faith is to be anchored to something worthy of faith and commitment, and followers of Jesus are blessed that the substance of their faith is the character of God. The writer of Hebrews said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1 KJV). Let’s break this verse down for greater understanding. The Greek word elipso (Strong’s G1679, rooted from elpis (Strong’s H1680) means, “confident trust and expectation.” Faith is the Greek word pistis (Strong’s G4102) which means, “assurance, belief, believe, fidelity and truth itself.”
Paul taught that faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), and Luke wrote that the Word of God is a seed (Luke 8:11). When a person hears the Word of God and the Holy Spirit breathes His life on it, it is no longer just a random word, but a Spirit-filled word that has substance.
What is present inside an apple seed is a promise of an apple tree. It can grow, but it takes time and the right conditions. At first glance, only the seed is visible—not a tree. Nonetheless, there is a tree within the seed, as well as the potential for millions more trees. You know that apple seed will not produce a dandelion or a cucumber plant. You can confidently expect an apple seed to produce an apple tree that will produce apples in due time.
When you receive a word from God, you receive it in seed form along with the guarantee in your spirit of what you hope for and the confident assurance of what it will become. Waiting for the “due time” can be difficult but God says, “Let us not be weary in doing well for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9 KJV).
I am reminded of my son as a preschooler. He received a seed in a Styrofoam cup. At first it appeared as if nothing was happening. He couldn’t see a thing because the soil was blocking the view. But a lot was happening under the soil in the unseen realm, and in due time he could finally see the little green bump pushing forth out of the dirt. This is not unlike God. When He releases a word and a believer hears it, that child of God receives the little seed with the potential of something inside it growing. It begins working right away, but not in a way they can see.
I have a friend whose daughter wanted to be a mom from the time she was a young girl. Some medical issues surfaced, and the doctors told her she would have problems conceiving without drugs, or possibly not conceive at all. I heard Jesus speak to me that she would conceive naturally, so I prayed with faith and assurance with this great promise. I did not pray long—just confidently—and sensed God’s assurance in my spirit immediately that it was done. When the time was right, she became pregnant, but I learned that her placenta was in the wrong position and she would require bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy. Again, I heard Jesus speak; that was not His will. So, I prayed His will and received it with confident trust. I immediately sensed it was accomplished. The placenta miraculously shifted and the pregnancy and baby were fine. But I had to wait for the “due time” to see my little apple seed become a tree.
When someone asks me to trust them, I take a quick stock of that person’s character. Is this someone who keeps their commitments and word? Is this someone who is willing to put my best interests ahead of their own? What will my trust cost me? Will I turn up broke and disappointed on a matter, or is it a good investment?
God wants His children to take Him at His Word based on His character, which is faithful, unchanging, and true. He gave everything for those He loves, it costs them nothing. Those who believe come to know God more intimately.
Reflect with the Holy Spirit
- How does Your love versus Your pleasure affect my stability, trust, and peace?
- Show me Your love for me versus Your pleasure.
- How does Your compassion and mercy affect my confidence?
- How would You like it expanded in my life?
- Show me how You feel when I receive Your forgiveness.
This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith’s book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God’s plan for your life in a greater way.