Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Week Four - What is Your Purpose?

Remember I said my word for 2022 is purpose - to live with purpose to make a difference? Well, a significant part of living with purpose is knowing your purpose! Because we have a natural bent toward self-centeredness, we tend to look for purpose within ourselves. But Henry Blackaby wrote, "Only the power of God can free us from our natural self-centeredness and reorient us toward the mission of God."

Sometimes I think people believe following God is dull, too hard, unrealistic, or too limiting. Maybe they feel God isn't interested in them or doesn't understand the world they live in. Perhaps they don't see life further than the end of their nose or have taken a few hits and want to draw into themselves for protection. But for whatever reason, some people do find it hard to trust God and leave self behind. 

When they do that, life's purpose becomes small and limited. Living life only to please self makes self a god. And self can be a daunting task-master who is never satisfied, constantly questioning, demanding, and volatile. Self changes with every whim and rarely finds satisfaction.

But compare self with God. God is huge and unlimited. He is The God and a loving Father who blesses His children with love and mercy. He is always faithful and giving and never changes. He fills our hungry soul and meets our every need with a deepness of understanding as only He can do. We could go on and on about the attributes of God, and in every case, we would see He is of incomparable greatness when placed beside ourselves.

Why does this matter? Well, if my purpose is to live for myself, I'm wasting my time. But if my purpose is larger than myself, I have more to look forward to, more meaning, more influence, and God can use me for His mission.

It isn't hard to see God's heart - His mission. He came seeking to save and is not willing that any perish. Missions is His mission. Yet, when we ask what aspects of the Christian life are most important, we sometimes fail to prioritize missions. That is because we have lost track of why God saved us in the first place. We were not saved from our sin to simply qualify for heaven. We were delivered from sin to have a relationship with Him through which He carries out His mission to redeem the lost world.

Henry Blackaby writes, "There is no need to pray that God would come in power. That is the only way He ever comes. We need hearts that are so responsive to Him that He will choose to demonstrate His power through us. Is your heart so filled with love for God that you are watching for the first opportunity to say with Isaiah, 'Here am I. Send me!'?"

So that defines my purpose - to be used of God in His mission. Some days, that might be speaking directly to someone about the Lord, or it might be just a kind word or a loving action on another day. It could be doing my job as unto the Lord or humbling serving with a giving heart. But however God designs each day to play out, my purpose remains the same - to be used of Him.  

So, what is your purpose? Are you looking for opportunities to serve? Are you willing to give of yourself to others? Do you see that God asks each of us to be involved? Are you living with purpose to make a difference in the world around you?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Week Three - Whoosh!

Whoosh! And just like that, Christmas and New Year are behind us, and we forge on into the unwritten days of 2022. This past couple of years seems like such a blur, and with no idea of what is ahead, sometimes we are tempted to look forward with dread. The other day, someone posted a short video about the size of the universe and the Hubble telescope's search to find what is out there in the vast expanse of space. I don't usually stop to watch these things, but I did watch this one because - little trivia bit - Edwin Hubble was from Marshfield, Missouri, my hometown!

Anyway, as the video proceeded to show the size of our earth by comparison to the size of stars ten times the size of our sun, and the little black spot found by the telescope that, after four months of searching, held 10,000 more solar systems, the size of one individual was reduced to total insignificance. Even our earth becomes just a fleck of dust compared to the size of the cosmos.

It is enough to bring things into perspective, isn't it? 

Then Scripture came flooding to the front of my thoughts. "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:3, 4). We are less than an insignificant fleck of dust, and yet, God loved us and sent His Son for our redemption. 

I know the scientists and astronomers are searching for more life in the great out there, and I have no idea if they will find it. But there is life here. Life ordained and created by a God of love with a vested interest in what happens on this tiny spinning sphere.

As I thought about these things, I recognized how we tend to think our world is so very important. We take all so seriously and come to believe we are necessary or like demi-gods, but we are nothing compared to our God. We are, as David said, but worms. (Psalm 22:6)

By Him, by Christ, all things consist - not by us (Colossians 1:17). We can't even count the hairs on our heads or increase our natural height, yet with Him, nothing is impossible. What a magnificent God we serve who knows our every movement, thought, and molecule while He waters every moment and thinks of us more times than the sands of the sea. We can't even calculate that! And yet we pass our days thinking only of ourselves, our world, and our importance. 

It is a humbling thought, isn't it? That the God of this vast universe would choose to know you personally. He would love you with His everlasting love and take all your cares if you cast them to Him. If you meditate on this yourself, I'm sure you will find a blessing. I came to one more thought.

If this great, expansive God cares so much about me, what does He want from me? Micah 6:8 came to mind. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"  

Walk humbly. We are just a speck of dust. Love mercy. God's mercy is shown toward us, and our mercy should be directed toward others on this minor crumbling planet. Do justly. Do what is right, knowing that our time is like a vapor, and whoosh, we are gone.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Week Two - Living With Purpose

Sunday's sermon was based on Jude 22 - "And of some have compassion, making a difference." And our Sunday school lesson was on slothfulness. You might ask, "How do those two go together?" Well, I was amazed at how God weaved the two thoughts to create for me a vision for the new year. Basically, I'm going from this phrase - Live with purpose to make a difference. So, purpose is my word for 2022. 

You see, purpose gives direction, meaning, and motivation to creativity and service. The slothful person is easily bored because they have lost or have no real sense of purpose. 

And, making a difference? Well, how we treat others matters. It makes a difference. Jude is telling us compassion is the key. If we want to see things change, if we're going to make a difference and live with purpose, we must exercise compassion.

Showing compassion takes many forms. It can be as simple as sharing a cup of cold water, a listening ear, or a loving word spoken in due time. Compassion might look like a good deed, a batch of cookies, or a helping hand. Compassion can be prayer or encouragement. But no matter what form it takes, it is always active. 

To make a difference, there must be action, which may require change. Compassion doesn't say bless your heart and remain inactive. No! Compassion gets off the porch and reaches out to meet the need. It gives without grudging; it cares deeply enough to take the initiative.

And when it is seen, it makes a difference in three ways. 1) There is God's blessing and the knowledge of obedient, loving service for the one showing compassion. 2) for the receiver - they see God's hand at work and rejoice with thankfulness for their need being met. Finally, 3) to the wider community - they see God in action, are drawn to love, and motivated by example.

It's time for all of us to get up and live with purpose - not the purpose of self. 2020-2021 has given enough of that. But it's time to move forward with compassion, reaching out to others, getting off our porch, and making a difference - on purpose. And watch God give the increase.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Week One - Fresh Eyes

Well, here we are in the first week of 2022, and we are still facing Covid. But with the New Year comes the opportunity to refresh our mindset, a reboot if you will, and the chance to rekindle hope and look at the future with fresh eyes. 

God opened my heart to a fresh way of thinking through a quote from my devotion book a few weeks ago. The author wrote, "We define our humanity as a cage from which we cannot escape. Jesus defines it as the image of the invisible God." (Chris Tiegreen)

I stopped right there and began musing on the difference. It is an amazing perspective. If I see myself trapped in human form, I will act accordingly. I will feel bound, defeated, small, and limited. But, if I use fresh eyes with Bible truth - that I am made in the image of God, created on purpose for His glory, and free in Christ - it is reflected in my actions, thoughts, and attitude.

My mind started drawing even more comparisons.

If I live seeing myself trapped in human form, I see myself as limited.  But if I see myself as in God's image, I know I am free, created for more, and the possibilities are limitless.

If I live seeing myself trapped in human form, I will feel bound by sin. But if I see myself as in God's image, I know I am free through the offering of Christ. Free, because He is my Saviour. The price of my sin has been paid.

If I see myself trapped in human form, I live full of guilt. But if I see myself as in God's image, I know there is now no condemnation. I am accepted and loved in Christ.

If I see myself trapped in human form, I will be worried sick to death, believing I must fix everything wrong around me. But if I see myself as in God's image, I walk by faith with thanksgiving no matter the circumstances because I know He holds tomorrow.

If I see myself trapped in human form, I tend to be angry - at who knows what! But if I see myself as in God's image, I can be forgiving and non-controlling because I know God is in control, and my anger is a waste of energy.

If I see myself trapped in human form, I fear tomorrow. But if I see myself as in God's image, I am restful and assured of His presence every day.

If I see myself trapped in human form, I continually grieve over the past. But if I see myself as in God's image, I leave the past behind and look forward with hope.

If I see myself trapped in human form, I am anxious and jumpy at every noise or newscast. But if I see myself as in God's image, I entrust my times to His hands, knowing His love continually surrounds and protects me.

You see, perspective is so crucial.  It colors every decision and creates the attitude by which we live. So maybe it is time we laid fresh eyes on 2022!

Let's read that quote again. "We define our humanity as a cage from which we cannot escape. Jesus defines it as the image of the invisible God."

I don't know about you, but I would much rather place my hope for 2022 in a God who loves me, has a purpose for me, accepts me, and sees me as His child. When I allow my mind to wallow in humanistic thought, I feel trapped, the light grows dim, and I begin to lose heart. But when the light of the glorious gospel shines, I see things with fresh eyes. 

How about you?

Wanna read more? Check out my blog Beside the Well and my other books at www.gailgritts.com