Archive for the ‘purpose’ Category

What is your purpose? (John 18)

February 28, 2018

37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. John 18:37

I can still remember my Junior year of high school.  It was the moment when the pressure of what will you do with your life kicked in.  I had to take the ACT test. I needed to decide what was next for me.  There were many options.  The Army said, “be all you can be in the army.”  The Vocational program said, “You would be great in a trade.”   College cried out, “We can prepare you for anything in life.”  Then there was my old nature which pulled at me every day with the same theme, “Do what you want to do.”

Thankfully, there was one more voice speaking to me.  The voice was God’s voice that kept saying, “I have a purpose for your life.”

In John 18 we read of no less than 5 individuals who found themselves in a place where they had to make decisions that all tied to purpose:

  • Judas made a decision to betray Jesus fulfilling the purpose of being God’s betrayer.
  • Peter made a decision to both cut off the servants ear and to deny the Lord three times in the same night.
  • Both the sitting High Priest and the real High Priest made a decision to both trump up charges against Jesus that would lead to His death.
  • Pilate made a decision to give into the will of the corrupt crowd.

Each of these people made decisions that affected their lives.   Only Peter recovered from his wrong decision.  The reason he was able to recover was because he realized his purpose.

Question: Are you struggling with your purpose or maybe you are trying to guide someone who is struggling with purpose?

If your answer is “Yes,” I would encourage you to look at the example of Jesus.

Jesus clearly understood the very purpose for which He came to the earth.  He was disciplined to stay focused on the purpose.  He was mindful of the weight of all He was purposed to do.  He fulfilled His purpose knowing that He was birthing and building a kingdom.

Each person must decide, what is my purpose.  In the decision process, we must understand there are only two purposes in life:

  • God’s purposes.
  • Our own self purposes fulled by hell.

I pray that you take the time to understand the implications of both.

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A Front Row Seat (Revelation 6, Isaiah 36)

June 4, 2014

“Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a loud voice like thunder, ‘come.!'” Rev. 6:1

Just before we moved back to Georgia a dear deacon and his wife invited Sherry and I to attend one last UK basketball game.  It was a great joy to spend time with this couple and one other couple.  We have been several times over the years with these people.  But one thing always amazes me, “We have almost a front row seat to watch the games.”

This day I was reminded of the front row seat that John was given as he was able to look ahead in time to see the events that will be the beginning of the end for our world.  Two things stand out:

1.  The announcement of Judgment, Vs: 1-14

We see a leader (given authority by God) arising to promise peace to the world.  Eventually (3 1/2 years later) this leader will show his true colors (red) as war comes to the world.  The world will then suffer from economic chaos in which the world leader will benefit (666).  This leader will see the wrath of God being poured out on 1/4 of all mankind.

In this moment we see in the fifth seal the cry of God’s people, “How long, oh Lord.”   To this the angel replies, “Rest for a while.”

Next we see seal number six which evokes fear in the hearts of the kingdoms of this world.  But notice what then happens.

2.  The attitude of the judged, Vs: 15-16

The word will hide from God hoping to regroup to overthrow the God who is on the throne.  But they will not be able to do so.  Here is John’s commentary at the end of the chapter, “For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Think it through:

There is coming a day when the world will be judged for her rebellion.  Even now we see the day approaching as we move closer and closer to a one-world government.

John is given the task of writing this down and you and I are given the task to share what he saw!!!

Our response:

This is where it get’s intense.  Sherry and I had a front row seat to the UK game, but we could do nothing to change the outcome of the game.  Only those on the court could determine the outcome.

Consider this fact, “The saints of old can do nothing to take the gospel to the world.  Now it is our time.  We can make a difference if we will awaken to our call.”

George Whitfield was one told to slow down before he killed himself preaching so many times.  Here was his response, “I would rather wear out than rust out!!!”  May this be our resolve in the church to wear out instead of rusting out!

It did not turn out (Isaiah 5, Hebrews 12)

May 7, 2014

“…And he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes,” Isaiah 5:2

Once in a very unusual occurrence  my wife prepared a main dish for our meal that was, let’s say, “one that did not turn out.”  The fact is, we turned it out to the garbage.  This was very unusual for our family.  My wife is an excellent cook.  She followed the instructions to do exactly as said, “The dish itself was not very fruitful.”

Consider the nation of Israel.  Here in Isaiah 5, she is being compared to the vineyard of the Lord.  In her present state, she was not producing as God intended.  The fact is, “She was very unfruitful.”  God was in the process of removing her from a place of influence.

Question: “Why was she not turning out as God intended?”

Think it through:

1.  This vineyard was created with a purpose:

She had been placed on fertile soil (So the ground was good).  She had been selected by God (the seed was good).  God was in her midst (A watchtower to protect and to guide).

2.  The vineyard was corrupted by its people:

The people chose to rejected God’s instructions.  The people chose to change the recipe of God.

3.  The vineyard was crushed by His power:

God removed her through the hands of her enemies.

As I sat in my chair, “I could, in my mind, still taste the meal that did not turn out.”  At the same time, “I could almost taste the sour-grapes coming from Israel.”

Question: “Why is life not turning out for you?”  Could it be that you have gotten in bad ground?  Could it be that you have chosen to follow a different recipe than God has for you?  Could it be that you have forgotten why you have been brought to the Kingdom?

Our response:

1.  Father, clean up the vineyard of my life.

2. Father, remove any thorns that could be keeping me for living in your vineyard.

3.  Father, redirect me to the very purpose for which you have brought me to your vineyard.

Consider Jesus (Hebrews 3, Song of Solomon 3)

April 28, 2014

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,” Hebrews 3:1

The very statement, “consider Jesus,” brings rest to my mind and heart.  Each day is filled with activity and assignments that flood my life with both weight and weariness.  But there is something better…

Question, “Do you find yourself often weary from the day or maybe weary as you approach each day?”

Paul writing to Jewish believers in the first century, clearly understood their situation.  Notice to whom he pointed them to back in chapter 2, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  

Paul is pointing these believers (and you and I) to Jesus who is superior to the law, the rituals, and religion.  In chapter three we see two things:

1.  The joy of considering Christ:

As one considers Christ he or she discovers a God who was both faithful to his assignment and is superior to Moses who spoke of the day when Jesus would come, Deuteronomy 18:15, 19.

2.  The sadness of the consequences of those who do not follow Christ:

Israel (in the OT) failed to obey the voice of God.  She went astray in her heart and she became alienated in her heart.

How did this happen?  She allowed the deceitfulness of sin to harden her heart which led to her being unable to enter the rest of God.

Think it through:

Have you and I entered the rest God has for us?

The only way this can happen is if you and I have opened our heart to God through Jesus Christ.  Once we open our heart we must continue to place him first in our hearts every day.  The rest we experience is the rest in knowing that Jesus is in charge of our lives.

Our response:

Each day we must examine our hearts to make sure that nothing has taken the place of God in our hearts.  Each day we must spend time considering him in what he has done and who he is.  Each day we must place his agenda above our agenda.  In this we face each day knowing we are entering his rest!!!

The Fool’s Problem (Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2)

April 23, 2014

“Through sloth roof sings in, and through indolence the house leaks.” Ecclesiastes 10:18

Growing up in an obsessive household had it advantages and disadvantages.  One of the advantages was in that we were always on time and we were always living a well-ordered life.  But on the flip-side there were seldom time for just fun things!

Here in Solomon’s writing we see a person who is the opposite of compulsive.  They are foolish in their approach to life.  Such people dig a hole and then fall in it.

Question, “When it comes to our spiritual lives, are we foolish or diligent?”

In Titus 2 we find the following words, “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works,” 2:14.

As I read these words I began to understand the difference between a foolish person and a diligent person:  “A diligent person understands they are to be a people for his own possession.”

Think it through:

1.  The grace of God has captured His own people, Titus 2:1-10

God has given grace to all kinds of people, “older, younger, men, women, boys, and girls.”

2.  The grace of God is changing His own people, Titus 2:11-15

God’s people develop a resistance to sin, Vs: 12

God’s people dedicate themselves to a righteous stand, Vs: 12b

God’s people desire to see the return of the Lord, Vs: 13-14

God’s people do not live a foolish life!  God’s people live a diligent life.

Our response:

Each day God is calling those who have been captured by grace to live a changed life that is still changing every day!!!  This must be seen and priority number one in our Christian life!

Finding True Happiness (Ecclesiastes 2, I Timothy 5)

April 15, 2014

“For apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment.”  Ecc. 2:25

Last week I had the honor of addressing a group of senior adults about the subject of true happiness.  As I prepared for my message, I thought, “I will be speaking to a group of people who have already lived much of their lives.”  The question that dominated my mind came from Ecclesiastes 2, “Have they found true happiness?”

Solomon is on a search for true happiness in life.  Here is a king who has the resources and the intelligence to apply himself to all that life offered.  Surely this man can find true happiness.

Think it through:

1.  Solomon sought happiness in the pleasures of this life, Vs: 1-11

Solomon gave himself to 4 things in life: 1. Wine 2. Work  3. Wealth  4. Women

Here is what Solomon discovered, “And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them, I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in my toil, and it was my reward.”  As Solomon sifted through what he had acquired, he came away with an empty feeling.

2.  Solomon sought happiness in the wisdom of this life, Vs: 12-17

Solomon came away from this experience realizing that both the wise and foolish in this life have the same ending.  Here is how he summed it up, “So I hated life.”

3.  Solomon sought happiness in the legacy of his life, Vs: 18-23

Solomon began to wonder what would happen with all he had acquired?  In the end, he had no control over what would happen.

Our response:

Solomon concludes: “The only true happiness in life is a life lived for God!”  Vs: 24-26

Brothers and sisters, Only in Christ do we find labor with purpose.  Brothers and sisters, Only in Christ do we live with a settled peace that what we do counts for eternity.

It is my prayer that you and I find true happiness in Christ!!!

Overlooking The Obvious (Proverbs 26; I Th. 5)

April 8, 2014

“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.”  Prov. 26:12

Each day seems to go by so fast in my life.  I get up early, spend time with God, work on my blog, do a devotion with Sherry and John, off to church, and then before I know it, “The day is complete.”  One thing is for sure, “Life can become an endless merry-go-round.”

This morning I was reminded while reading I Thessalonians 5 of how that it becomes easy to overlook the obvious.  Here is the obvious: “For you are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night,” I Th. 5:2.

You and I have to be very careful in making sure we live each day with a settled purpose.  If we fail to live with a settled purpose we will overlook the obvious.

Think it through:

1.  Paul speaks about our awareness of the day, Vs: 1-2

Because we belong to Jesus, we are aware of his coming.  But we know there are multitudes who are not aware!!!  They live as people who are saying, “peace and safety, when sudden destruction awaits.”

2.  Paul speaks about our alertness because of the day, Vs: 4-8

We are those who have belong to the day!  Our Lord has taken the blinders from our eyes.  We are those who have the ability to live with a settled purpose, if we choose to listen to God’s Word.

3.  Paul speaks about our amazement of the day, Vs: 9-11

We are amazed when we recognize what awaits us, those who are Christ followers. We are obtaining salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

4.  Paul speaks about our alignment before the day, Vs: 12-28

Because of what is ahead we live with a mindset that says, “I will obey the imperatives of God!”

Our response:

I do not want to live my life, overlooking the obvious.  I want to live in a way that truly knows that I have no wisdom on my own.  I want to have a life that is aligned with God.

Such a life will be extremely busy, but it will be lived with a settled purpose of “Living in light of the day!!!”

The Beginning (Ezra 3; Acts 3)

January 3, 2014

“And Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsman, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity…” Ezra 3:8

Wow, getting off the couch is not easy after spending a few days on the couch.  This is my confession as a person who is used to being busy!!!  Admittedly a few days of rest is always a good thing as long as it does not become the norm of a person’s life.

Certainly, being on the couch did not describe the people of Israel who were coming back to their homeland.  The last 70 years had been spent in captivity.  Now God was favoring them with the blessing of being able to return home.  This was a new beginning!

As they returned home they discovered their beloved city of Jerusalem in ruins.  They also discovered their beloved temple leveled to the ground.  Immediately these people do two things that form the beginning of the rest of their lives:

1.  They rebuild the altar of God, Vs: 1-7

On this altar they offer sacrifices to their God.  We see repentance and we see restoration.  But we also see them sacrificing their resources for the second thing that they are going to do.

2.  They rebuild the foundation of the temple, Vs: 8-13

I am amazed at their work.  When the foundation was laid the people gather together to worship.  We read, “Some were rejoicing and some were weeping.”  

Think it through?

We see both people who were looking back and people who were looking ahead.  In this moment there is something crucial for us to think through:  For some of these people it was the beginning of the end (They would slip into discouragement and even discontent because the days ahead were not as glorious as the days gone by).  Still for others it was the beginning of a joyous journey (They would worship the Lord in ways they had never worshipped before).

Our takeaway:

Brothers and sisters, as we begin a new year we must decide whether this will be the beginning of the end or the beginning of a joyous journey.  The best way to decide is to go before the Altar of the Lord and offer your life as a sacrifice to Jesus.  Say to Him, “Use me any way you choose!!!”

A Grace-filled response (II Chronicles 1; I John 1)

December 2, 2013

“Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for can govern this people of yours, which is so great.”  II Chronicles 1:10

Recently while flying back home from a mission trip I found myself seated next to a businessman from New Hampshire.  Both he and I had a very pleasant plane ride as we shared in conversation. I was greatly impressed at his humility concerning his work.  He has been at his present company for many years.  He has risen through the ranks to a very high position.  But he still retained the humility of one who realized, “He was where he was because of the grace of God.”

I believe this was the same mind-set of Solomon in the early years of his reign as King of Israel.  II Chronicles 1 recounts those early days.  Follow the path of his life in the early days:

1.  Solomon is in his present position for one reason, “The grace of God,”  Vs: 1

“And the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.”  Solomon understood that he would not have been king without God’s grace.

2.  Solomon response to grace is simply worship, Vs: 6

“And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the Lord, which was at the tent of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.”  Solomon response should be the response of every recipient of God’s grace.  Each of us should give worship to the one who has supplied grace in our lives (Ephesians 2:4).

3.  God’s response to worship is to give more grace, Vs: 7

God always honors those who honor Him.  We honor Him not to gain wealth but because we love Him.

4.  Solomon’s response was to ask for wisdom to carry out his duties in God’s work, Vs: 10

Solomon was focused on doing the will of God in his God-given position.  This was a grace-filled response that is refreshing to every true grace-filled follower of Christ.

Think it through:

1.  Are you and I living a grace-filled life?

2.  Are you and I longing to fulfill the purpose of grace in our lives?

Taking it out for a test drive:

Spend this day focusing on the grace that has been given to you.  Write down as many things as you can that reflect God’s grace to you.  Next write down as many things as you can that reflect your responses to grace.  Finally, seek His wisdom to walk in grace every day (Colossians 2:3-4).

A Spiritual Campfire (II Kings 10-11; II Timothy 1)

October 29, 2013

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”  II Timothy 1:6

A few weeks ago, I wanted to have about an hour of just quiet reflection.  I went outside after a home-Bible Study.  We have in our backyard a fire-pit for simply building small campfires.  It was already dark.  I cut the wood and built the fire.  The temperature was getting colder.  But the fire felt warm and calming to my spirit.

In this moment I looked out the corner of my eye to see John coming and Sherry considering coming.  Together we had about an hour of joyous quietness around the fire.

As Paul wrote to Timothy, there were many spiritual campfires in their past ministry together.  As Paul writes he hones in on a problem in Timothy’s spiritual life.  The flame of his spiritual fire was smoldering.  (There were any number of reasons why this was happening).  These reasons had left Timothy in a state of fear.

This fear was acting as a spiritual flame quencher.  Paul’s response is amazing.

Think it through:

1.  We must always keep the gospel in the fore-front of our thinking, Vs: 8-11

As we think correctly we are encouraged by the love of God and the power of God.

2.  We must always guard the gospel-from attacks from without, Vs: 12-18

Timothy needed to stay alert to those things and to those people who would put out the spiritual flame of the gospel.

As I sat before the fire, there were moments when I had to place more wood on the fire (This is keeping the gospel in the fore-front of your thinking).  Then there were moments when I had to stir up the fire because it needed to have fresh wind for the fire (This is the labor of guarding the gospel).

Question:

“Are you feeling spiritual fatigued?”

Solution:

Be reminded of all you have been given in the Gospel.  Spend time focusing on what your response should be to all you have been given.