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Day Nine – What Makes God Smile?

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Day nine of The Purpose Driven Life begins with the statement, “The smile of God is the goal of your life.” And certainly Rick Warren has been building to this statement. Because pleasing God is the first purpose of my life, it is crucial that I understand how to do that. To illustrate how to please God, Warren uses the example of Noah. Noah was a man who pleased God and in his time was the only righteous man on earth. When God decided to wipe out the human race, he spared Noah. We learn five acts that make God smile.

  • God smiles when I love Him supremely. I need to love God more than anything else in the world. In this section Warren speaks about God desiring my love and longing for me to know Him and to spend time with Him. I am not completely comfortable with those types of sentiments, but am not sure if that is a legitimate concern or not. That is something I need to do some research on.
  • God smiles when I trust Him completely. Noah trusted God even though what God said seemed crazy. Noah had to build a boat hundreds of miles from the ocean. But he did it without complaining and without questioning. What an amazing example to me of obedience!
  • God smiles when I obey Him wholeheartedly. Noah obeyed God to the smallest detail. He did not try to do things His own way, but trusted that God’s ways were best. Any parent knows that delayed obedience or partial obedience is no different than disobedience. A paragraph in this section is the highlight of what I learned today: “God doesn’t owe you an explanation or reason for everything He asks you to do. Understanding can wait, but obedience can’t. Instant obedience will teach you more about God than a lifetime of Bible discussions. In fact, you will never understand commands until you obey them first. Obedience unlocks understanding.”
  • God smiles when I praise and thank Him continually. God loves it when I praise Him. It brings Him pleasure when I give Him the praise and worship He deserves.
  • God smiles when I use my abilities. This is similar to what has been discussed in past chapters. Every activity I do can be an act of worship. Every ability God gave me can be used to His glory. I enjoyed the reference to the movie Chariots of Fire (one of my all-time favorites). Eric Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” Even something like running can be done to God’s pleasure if we are using our God-given abilities for His glory.

The chapter closes by asking, “Is pleasing [God] your deepest desire?” When I live in the light of eternity I should come to the realization that the amount of pleasure I get out of life is far less important than the enjoyment God gets out of my life.

Bible Passages

Warren quotes the Bible twenty seven times using nine translations and paraphrases. I noted a couple of concerns. First, concerning Noah Warren says that God saved Noah from the flood because he brought pleasure to God. In support he quotes Genesis 6:8 which The Living Bible renders as, “Noah was a pleasure to the Lord.” The NASB reads, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” In the context of the more accurate translation we see that Noah found favor, which when coming from God always indicates unmerited favor, in God’s eyes. In the paraphrase it is made to sound like Noah deserved God’s favor. This is more than simply a different translation but a vast difference in doctrine. One speaks of grace and the other of works.

Hebrews 11:7 is quoted in The Message’s paraphrase and bears little resemblance to the original meaning. An accurate translation says nothing about “As a result, Noah became intimate with God.”

Warren speaks about Jesus’ sacrifice meaning the end of animal sacrifices. This, of course, is accurate. He then says that, among other things, we are now to offer “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” which David speaks of in Psalm 116:17. However, the sacrifice of thanksgiving David speaks of is just that! It refers to the regular sacrifice the Jews offered to God in the Old Testament. Though I agree that we can now offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, Warren chooses a strange way to back this claim.

Question To Consider

Today’s question to consider is “Since God knows what is best, in what areas of my life do I need to trust Him most?” For me, as for most people, I find that finances is a tough area to trust God. Though He has never let me down in this area, I still find it difficult to trust that He is in control and that He knows best. I often feel that He has overlooked something and that He really should be giving me more. Deep inside I always know that I can count on Him, but I do know this is an area where I need to develop trust.

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