“…exhorted…that with purpose of heart
they would cleave unto the Lord.” Acts 11:23
This word, “purpose”, means setting forth a plan, will; to arrange or appoint. It is a conscious decision based on a desired outcome.
For example, God set forth with a purpose to create and then, to restore his creation through Christ. His purpose is fully revealed in Scripture.
God purposes to work all things for good (Rom 8:28) and to give us an inheritance (Eph 1:11). These purposes of God will stand (Romans 9:11), are eternal and are in Christ (Eph 3:11) to save and call by grace (II Tim. 1:9).
He has not hid his purpose (II Tim 3:10). His ultimate goal is that man would glorify Him.
Man’s purpose is therefore set forth. We are to live unto Him by whose purpose we exist. Daniel exemplified this as he “purposed in his heart”. The Psalmist said, “My heart is fixed”. To purpose is to, by deliberate intention, accomplish a goal.
I like what Oswald Chambers wrote: “When God gives a vision, transact business on that line, no matter the cost.” It reminds me that God’s leading in my heart has a purpose. The visions and dreams He gives me are on purpose. They are there to spur me on; to give direction and motivation. I am not just pawn…I am a piece of the whole...I am here on purpose! And – I have a purpose!
What goals do you believe would be set by one seeking to fulfil God’s purpose in their life? How about you? What is your purpose in life?
“And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.” Ruth 2:16
Love does amazing things. Boaz is so infatuated with Ruth. He makes a gesture that all those around him recognize as he orders the men to purposefully drop grain so she can pick it up. She is probably just counting her good fortune or thinks this is just part of the culture. But as she returns home and tells her mother-in-law of the day’s events, she is made aware of the fact that Ruth has captured the attention of a kinsman.
How many times do we go through a day thinking we have been lucky or just had a good day and failed to recognize that the Hand of the Lord was leaving good things for us to collect along the way? He loves us and makes gestures throughout our days to show us that love. Yet, many times, we don’t even recognize it until someone else points it out.
The next time you hear the word, “lucky” in your vocabulary, stop and look to see what handfuls have been left on purpose for you to collect and remember to acknowledge the Hand that left them there.
“Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.” Proverbs 20:18
This usage of the word, “purpose”, means a thought, plan, scheme or plot. It has the idea of a well thought out plan with parameters.
Matthew Henry comments, “Ask counsel of God, and beg direction from him. What is done hastily and with precipitation (acting rashly with the idea of throwing down) is repented of at leisure. It is especially our wisdom to be cautious in making war. Consider, and take advice, whether the war should be begun or no, and, when it is begun, consider how and by what arts it may be prosecuted (carried out), for management is as necessary as courage.”
I really like that last phrase, “for management is as necessary as courage.” I have had colleagues who pride themselves on living life by the seat of their pants. (with rash abandon) But their end does not justify their means. They usually end up with more heartaches and difficulties. On the other hand, I have known colleagues who simply cannot live without tight parameters. Their life seems to be lacking lustre and joy as they try to control and define every area of their lives.
Surely these are two opposite ends of the pole. I think the real teaching is that we are to be wise and thoughtful in what we do and we are to seek advice in order to make sure we have thought through our plans. When we know our direction we are much more confident. Wise management creates freedom, joy and safety.
Our plan might be quite adventurous. It might hold some dangers and difficulties, but with the support of godly advice and the counsel of God, we can be established in our goings and successful in our ventures.
What about you? Do you “fly by the seat of your pants”? Or, do you keep such tight control that life is joyless? Can you see that balance is somewhere in between?
“…for every purpose of the Lord shall be performed…” Jeremiah 51:29
This is the same word meaning thought, plan, scheme or plot. God has a plan for the ages. His plan is intricately thought through to every detail, yea, every moment is watered and tended by him so that his eternal purpose will be accomplished.
We can read in Ecclesiastes that there is a purpose to every thing under heaven. The passage in chapter three goes on to list many of the ordinary everyday things that we experience: weeping, laughing, dancing, mourning, embracing, sewing, silence, speech, love, hate and even war. Not one thing that we experience is outside the purpose of the Lord.
As we then read in Romans 8:28, that all things work together, we should come to understand that all of our life’s experiences are a part of God’s bigger plan. Sometimes we can forget that life is not really about us. The whole world does not revolve around our lives. There is a much bigger picture and we are but a part of it.
That random person behind the counter has a purpose - God may use them to encourage or challenge you, or, He may be using you to encourage them. That unanswered prayer that keeps you on your knees has a purpose. That child in your home that really tries your patience is teaching you patience. God began a work in you and as Philippians tells us, he will perform it.
When I allow my mind to dwell on this fact, which is called the sovereignty of God, I find myself relaxing. I find myself less het up about controlling my life and I begin to simply enjoy the fact that someone else is in control; someone who has thought of everything and knows exactly how to make it all work.
Oswald Chambers wrote: “I will never think of anything my Father will forget, so why should I worry?” How comforting!
Can you relax in God’s sovereignty?
“…Daniel purposed in his heart….” Daniel 1:8
This usage of the word has the idea of resolve or to set in place, to be established. If we cast our minds back to the Bible story of Daniel and his three friends, we will see that they were captives in a strange land. There was no hope of returning to their home, but these young men were of strong character and though there might not have been anything unlawful about them eating the food put before them, they were acting from conscience. They were Jews and lived by a strict dietary code. They also knew that to eat with someone was a form of a bond in their culture and they did not want to lessen their stance or put themselves in a place where they might be tempted further. Also, they knew that their kinsmen were in dire straits and for them to enjoy the king’s food would be as if they had forgotten the suffering of their people. For these reasons, possibly, or for whatever other reasons, Daniel decided that he would not partake. He was strong in his faith, and God blessed him.
Standing for the Lord in hard situations takes resolve. It requires us to stand upon what we know to be truth and to fully trust God. The outcome for Daniel was positive. For others who have stood for their faith, the outcome was martyrdom. Yet, as we read about them in Hebrews 11 we can see that God recognizes their purposeful hearts and does not discount their sacrifice.
In this day of doing whatever we want, it is rare to find someone who actually sets their lives apart for God and who refuses to allow the world to manipulate them. Christians should be people of high character. Christians should be living by purpose, on purpose, and for a purpose.
What is your purpose in life? What is your purpose in your Christian life and service? Are you willing to stand for what you believe?