Purpose – Finding Him

Read with me, “Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall.  Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house.”-Nehemiah 3:38

Every believer, me included, has found him or herself at a place where they long for God to reveal His purpose for their lives. He works in us to want to do well and pursue His intents. Have you prayed prayers that sound like this, “Show me what you want from me God”, and “What is your plan for my life?”  There’s something about loving Jesus that invigorates the believer to do! We want to shake kingdoms, we get encouraged to change the world, and we desire to conquer all the evils. Only, often times we envision these great feats taking place in front of a multitude of witnesses. We assume that the assignment was issued with a designated platform.

There is a lie that has crept into the hearts of the chosen, the false idea that ministry is only effective if there is an audience to validate the minister.  The problem with such ideology is, though the calling of many are sure, we cannot all have platforms and audiences. I meet so many people, women especially that mourn seemingly losing out on their purpose because they have been relegated to the task of serving those around them, as if serving is an inferior calling. But let’s be honest, on a Sunday, no one adulates how well the stairs were stacked in the back of the building. It is human to want to be seen and recognized, but it is unwise to equate validation with successful ministry.  There is significant hopelessness that stems from the disappointment associated with unrealized dreams. If you feel this way about ministry and church life, I want us today to determine whether our dreams were reasonable to begin with. I say that because we have to ascertain if those desires in our hearts stem from God’s heart for and instructions to us or do we experience shame because church culture dictates what we are busy with is insignificant and what we should look like.

Washing dishes, cleaning floors, raising children (please add your own tedious responsibilities here), and building walls are generally considered mundane and ineffective, worldly, earthly, material and insignificant. (Because, you know, God is only interested in the saving of your soul, thereafter you better just behave and struggle on in a life of negligible obedience.) I know, because I used to beat myself with this particular stick half near death. There was a deep seated need for affirmation, exacerbated by the lie that until I was reeling in the thousands of new convicts weekly or raising the dead, I was missing God and He was just not pleased with me. The funny thing is that it was indescribably difficult for me to even hear God while being that self-absorbed. What I was missing was Him, right there with me. The issue was the fact that in my head I associated God’s presence with the platform. I created a distinct separation between God and my life. I couldn’t live for Him; because I was struggling so hard living towards Him, unconvinced that I would ever accomplish anything that would garner His attention.  Somehow in the mundane tasks of everyday life I lost hope of ever accomplishing His plan for my life.  The irony is that first step in doing the things we have been holding off on, waiting for the spectacular, is usually your launching pad into purpose. In Nehemiah 3 it was the priests who were repairing the gate. The priests! Can you imagine them not doing what was in front of them to do because it was considered an inferior task?

“Purpose is found in practice, not the platform. It is developed in the Secret Place, not the stage.” Bob Hazlett

It is imperative, when it comes to our purpose on earth, to always bear in mind that He is a good Father. He is not sitting back waiting for us to fail. He is not expecting us to suffer to deserve a destiny. Christ already suffered for you. Now, you get to live. You get to enjoy a good life, a full life, and purpose driven life. If today you feel God isn’t seeing your capacity or using you to your full potential, I want to encourage you to just be present with Him in the moment. He is right there with you. Just do what is in front of you.  Imagine Jesus praying,” Father let this cup pass from me,” consider the fact that He was confronted with a task that was inhumanely degrading.  I’m sure there were many other ways for God to prove His power such as lightning, miracles, gold falling from the sky, physical demonstrations that didn’t involve death. Imagine the trek up the hill of Calvary. He was in pain, suffering, humiliated. Still He kept going, 1 foot in front of the other. That’s the way to go. Do what is in front of you to do however mundane and tedious. 

The plan was to redeem you to a life of freedom. Every second of every day is redeemed. It all counts, even the mundane. Why? Because He died for your ENTIRE life, not just the extravagant parts that are witnessed by others, it all matters. Every thought, every second, every act, it all matters. Nothing can add to what He already did for you. You are already redeemed. Live like it. Honor God by doing what He says.  Do what is in front of you, however simple it may seem. Do what is on front of you, however insignificant it may feel. Do what is front of you, even if it is hard. Allow Him to shape your destiny according to His will and purposes.

I pray that God will establish your purpose today. Ask the Holy Spirit to point out the things in front of you that you can lay your hands to and do. Allow Him to direct you to purposeful living. He is always willing. Remember, His presence is the price.

Knowing the Holy Spirit

Read with me,I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Ephesians 1:17

The thing is, the Holy Spirit is not sin conscious. He is Christ conscious. He testifies of Christ. If, when spending time with the Holy Spirit you are only aware of your shortcomings, you might need to quiet the self. Why? Because once you are saved, and receive the Holy Spirit, He convicts you of righteousness, and testifies of Christ. He is not occupied with what you do wrong; He is concerned with what Christ did right. He consistently and faithfully testifies of this. His role in your life is to bring peace, comfort, and joy, not affirmation of your capabilities. While the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance, not the awareness of your shortcomings. There is no salvation in self-awareness, no amount of knowing yourself can help you become better, the flesh does not possess the power and authority to eradicate flesh, that is a work you co-labor with the Holy Spirit to accomplish. The more we know and focus on Christ and the price He paid for us, the more we look on Him, the more we will transform into His likeness. Transformation will be lacking if we focus on ourselves. When we are preoccupied with our faults, sins, and shortcomings, the end result is despondency. When we focus on the ability we now have to overcome, due to His provision of authority, we gain hope once again. Let me tell you it is hard to function in the Spirit if we only see Him as a tool for self improvement. He is the one who reveals Christ to us. So we can know who we are. He is not the tool we use for barely acceptable superficial adjustments of our souls. Knowing who you are in Christ is what invigorates your heart to live life to the full. Knowing that He has the power to overcome everything you struggle with makes hope arise as you realize you have someone reaching out a hand to help.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…’’ Ephesians 1:17-20a

It’s a dangerously self absorbed road to measure His goodness according to my badness. Is He this good only because I am SO bad? Then His personhood and goodness only finds expression in how well acquainted I am with my own flesh and its insufficiency. We have to KNOW HIM, not ourselves. The simple gospel is about Him. He is good, always.  It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance, not how bad I can feel, not how bad I can realize I am, but when the Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin and righteousness, reminding me of Jesus’ work and words, it is His goodness that makes my stubborn hard heart relent to His leading, yielding self to the guidance of His Holy Spirit, who testifies that He loves me and that I am accepted, good enough for good works. Because He IS GOOD.

The Holy Spirit has a function. That function is to remind you of Christ. To call to mind what He has done on the earth. What was that? He died for our sins. Now, for a minute just let’s not focus on our sins, but on His death. His death brings life and freedom, and oneness with Him. But somehow we have relegated the Holy Spirit to being the convictor only. Yet in John 16 we read that the Holy Spirit convicts us of righteousness. What does that sound like? That sounds like, because of Christ (because He testifies of Christ, not YOU) sin and death no longer are your main concern, because they no longer have power over you. You have the authority to overcome.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:26

 Pray with me, “Thank you Father, for every good and perfect gift that you have given me, especially the Holy Spirit. Thank you Holy Spirit for teaching and guiding me in all truth, the truth of who Christ is. I want to know You, I want to adore you, let me come to the full knowledge of Christ, help me to focus my thoughts on You.”

Knowing Him in suffering

Read with me, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:6

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.’’  1 Corinthians 2:2

Being faced with hardships such as illness, poverty, loss, and disappointment often times derail our thought life. Why’s and how’s and what if’s run rampant in our minds, wreaking havoc in our hearts. In the face of suffering, when our hearts become heavy, it becomes easy to look at our lives as hopeless, it becomes the norm to look at ourselves and see insufficiency, it can subsequently become a habit to look at our lives and feel only despondency. Lately, during illness and suffering the after effects of it, I so clearly hear God say to me, “What do you see?”  This reminded me of Jeremiah. God asked in Jeremiah 1, “Jeremiah, what do you see?”  Jeremiah responded “I see the branch of an almond tree,”, and God answered Him like this, “You have seen well, because I am watching over my word to perform it.”  God’s question came back to me, and all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with a holy desire to see well. I have such a pressing desire to see Him fulfill His word to me, to see Him be glorified in my life. Yet, in the face of oppression I leaned toward the idea that He was somehow distant and my prayers were out of reach of His hearing.  I was looking at Him, but I was not beholding. I was looking at Him, but seeing only my own needs.  While looking at myself I was measuring Him according to how well I was feeling and doing. Seeing well comes from knowing what we are looking at.

Knowing Him, really truly experientially knowing Him directs vision and direction.  We get to know Him through reading His word. Scripture is breathed on by God, and is a lamp for our feet so we can see where we are going. Scripture reveals Christ and the truth of His nature. When faced with difficulty, it is imperative to have a default thought pattern that yields itself to looking to Jesus. The instance hardship arises it would facilitate your faith process if you immediately turned your thoughts to the Word. The word is truth. Just as in Jeremiah, the answer is in front of you, what are you looking at? While looking at the mountain in front of you, do you know that He is still God? Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:2. I love this Scripture! Keep your eyes fixed and focused on the one who endured! The One, who endured opposition for joy, is the very one who authors and finishes your faith! Now, what do you see? Do you see that you can face anything? Look at Him, let Him initiate faith in you, and endure so your joy might be full.

What do you see when viewing your life and God? The answers to your needs are in what you already have. You have the Spirit!  The Spirit testifies of Christ and His suffering, His victory, and sufficiency. So, when hardship arises, we look to the Word. We look for Christ in the Scripture, we look for what He would have said or done, or we just rest in the knowledge of what He has already accomplished – He has won it all. He is acquainted with suffering, He is a man of sorrows, and we do not ever have to be ashamed of having to process through emotions and doubt. But continual suffering is a choice. We can rest in the finished work, knowing He has given us all things that pertain to this life, to a Godly life. We do not have to beg and plead, we just need to know. Determine today to know He is enough. Make the choice to know Him, in everything you face. Know He is present, He is kind, He is just, He is for you.

What are you looking at, what are you seeing? What are you listening to, what are you hearing?  What do you have? You have the fullness of Christ. You have Him. You need nothing else. Keep your eyes fixed and focused on Him, the author and finisher of your faith. He is the answer. When faced with difficulty, we do not look  for reasons to justify suffering. We know Christ. Determine to know Him. Determine to seek Him, to see Him, to Hear Him. Know him. In suffering, know Him, in want, know Him, in everyday life, know Him. Experientially know Him. Know He is good. Wait on Him, feel Him, and Know Him.

Pray with me, “Thank you Jesus that You have shown us that there is joy at the end of endurance. I pray that You will reveal Yourself to me in a new way. I want to know you, wholeheartedly. I acknowledge You as the most important part of my life. Direct my life, I want to live a life that reflects intimate knowledge of who You are. I love You, Lord. I adore You.”