Tag Archives: purpose

Meaning and Purpose (Ecclesiastes 1-6)

Solomon is a bit of a “Debbie Downer.” Is he right to say life is meaningless, a chasing after the wind? Should our focus be on living life to the fullest, to eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we die?

The thing about old Sol is that he was trying to give life meaning by his own effort. I’m sure if there had been self-help books back in the day, his library would have been full of them. Solomon tried using his intellect, his riches, his connections to try to find the meaning of life. And he came up short.

What Solomon found is that you can’t buy happiness. You can’t think your way in to a meaningful existence. Sadly, the king was very right to say his life was merely a meaningless puff of smoke.

But the truth is, we humans are created in the image of God, which gives our lives meaning. We were created to fellowship with our Creator, which gives our lives purpose. We are blessed by our Father with love, joy, peace, and we know that this puff of smoke we call life is only the beginning.

We were born for eternity. No bank account can come close to what awaits us. No power, or applause, or spouse, or comfort, or a feeling of self-worth compare to what is ours through the blood of Jesus.

No life is meaningless. Every one of us is living our choice for eternity. You might think like Solomon and choose to eat, drink, be merry and die tomorrow. But you will find yourself face to face with the One who died for you. And you will give Him an account about what you did with His grace. At that moment you will realize just how meaningful your choices in this life really were. You’ll have eternity to realize the purpose of your life on earth was to prepare you for forever.

Stop trying to “find” meaning or purpose for your life. When you submit to God, He gives you meaning. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, He shows you His purpose for your life. Life is a blessing! Life is precious and purposeful when you know the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)

I pray that each of us will take a moment and thank God for this amazing gift of life. And I pray that we will live today in sweet fellowship with our Creator, a glimpse of what heaven will be for eternity.

If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, I pray that you will confess your sins today and allow Him to forgive you, to give your life meaning and purpose that will bless you beyond what you can imagine.

Just know that your life has meaning and purpose. It is the vehicle that will usher you into eternity. Choose well, my friend.

 

Ecclesiastes 6-9; Life Doesn’t Have To Be Lived “Under the Sun”

Wow. If you need some cheering up today I wouldn’t read these chapters in Ecclesiastes. Life, as Solomon describes it under the sun is bleak, depressing, futile. Solomon’s pessimistic, fatalistic view of life is certainly a downer.

I am reminded what he describes is life without God. A non-believer’s view of God contains no hope. But, dear one, there is life above the sun!

That life is full of hope, and joy, and purpose. That life stretches on into eternity where we who know God will live with Him forever. That life is worth living.

Do you know God through His Son Jesus, and by reading His Word? Have you experienced the joy that comes from knowing your sins are forgiven, never to be remembered ever again? Do you recognize God’s generous hand in your life apart from circumstance, as well as in the midst of them? Do you see Him in the warm summer sunshine, the refreshing spring rains, the sounds of birds, of children laughing, of the wind rustling in the trees?

You don’t have to live a life void of meaning. There is One who died so you could have life, and have it to the full!

Regardless of what Solomon expressed in his attempt to find meaning to life apart from God, there is joy in this life. There is purpose and value, hope and peace.

His name is Jesus!

Feb 10 – Let Me Do That

Exodus 33-35

Did you think of your church fellowship when you read these chapters in Exodus today? God moved people to action. And they obeyed. Some gave of their material possessions. Some gave of their time as they used their talents for sewing, building, carving, designing…

The Tabernacle would be made by hundreds of people, working together, following God’s leading. This is what being a church is all about.

There is a dear woman in my church who loves to sew. God laid on her heart to start a sewing ministry, not knowing how many women would even be interested. But she was faithful. Once a month from five to twenty five women gather in the fellowship hall. Some bring sewing machines, some have scissors, some bring irons. They have made Salvation Dolls and sent them to a missionary who uses them to introduce children in Africa to their Savior. They made draw string bags to put in the boxes for Operation Christmas Child. They’ve made walker bags for a nursing home in our neighborhood. They’ve made neck pillows, bookmarks, snuggle pillows for a children’s hospital, blankets, and they’ve only been meeting for about a year.

My sister feels led to minister to elderly women in her church who live alone. (Happy Birthday, Peggy. I love you!) Through her church’s visitation ministry, she visits about five women every month, takes them to the grocery if they need, takes them to lunch or the doctor, prays with them, or just sits with them. She sends them cards, and calls them just to say hi.

There is a church where a few retired men got together and formed a committee that will pick up used appliances, clean and repair them, then give them to needy people in the community. They fix furniture for the same reason.

I’ve shared that my church provides a free meal every month for the community. There are several people in this tiny fellowship who organize, cook, serve, and clean up month after month for about 100 people who enjoy a hot meal with all the fixins.

Some people are called by God to teach Sunday School, work in the nursery, mow the church lawn, cook, clean, sing, work with Youth groups, give financially.

And when these people follow God’s lead, great things can happen for our churches in Jesus’ name.

Do you feel God’s call to some ministry in your church? Don’t depend on someone else to obey your call. Step right up and say, “Let me do that!”

Feb 1 – Plagues and Purpose

Exodus 7-9

If God wanted the Israelites to move to Canaan, why didn’t he just kill Pharaoh and his army? Why didn’t God just turn the Israelites invisible and let them walk right past the enemy? Why bother with all the plagues? Does God like to play games?

The answer is in Exodus 9:15-17:

For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go. (I added the bold)

Yes, God used Pharaoh’s response to the plagues to fulfill His promise to Abraham, to free the Jews and send them toward the Promised Land. But, according to the verses we just read that’s not the only reason God sent those plagues.

God gave the Egyptians, including Pharaoh, multiple opportunities to bow down to Him. He demonstrated His power through every plague so the whole world would recognize He is the One True God. God, who is not willing that any should perish, put those plagues out there because of love.

I know because we read what happened after the fact, we might come to the conclusion God orchestrated the events, pulled strings to make Pharaoh reject Him. But that implies God wasn’t interested in Pharaoh’s soul, and that’s not consistent with God’s nature.

Had Pharaoh believed in Israel’s God after recognizing God’s power, we would be reading a different account. And someone would assume God pulled strings to make that happen, too.

Reading about the plagues today reminds me that God will stop at nothing to reveal Himself, to draw people to Himself. And I am also reminded that everything that happens in this life happens for the sole purpose of saving souls.

That’s the message here. It’s not in the details of the plagues. It’s in the love of God who is in the business of showing Himself to a world that needs Him.

I pray none of us will miss His purpose in the events of our own lives.

Jesus’ Answer For The “Why’s” of Life

A godly man suffers with ALS. A teenager who loves the Lord loses her battle with cancer. A baby is born with his stomach outside his body. A godly woman buries her 22 year old son who died in an auto accident. ISIS murders hundreds of people who name the name of Jesus.

Jesus met a man born blind. His disciples asked him: Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

John 9:3 says, “Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.‘”

Sometimes we dig way too deep to find the answer to the “why’s” of life. Is there some special purpose for suffering? There certainly is! And here it is:

So Jesus can be revealed to a lost world.

Everything – E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G – that happens in this life happens for that reason. Your best day reveals God’s blessings. Your struggles reveal his strength. Your mourning reveals his comfort. Your changed life reveals his grace.

Next time you are tempted to ask, Why is this happening to me?, read John 9:3 again. The question you should be asking is, What is it about Jesus that is being revealed through this circumstance I am facing?

Dear God, thank you for being intimately interested in everything that happens to us in this life. You are ever present, all knowing, sovereign. Forgive us when we concentrate so much on the day-to-day that we lose sight of your perfect plan. May your children, in all walks of life, in all circumstances, be faithful to reveal YOU as you would have us do. Help us to remember that this life is about You, and your passion is that every man, woman, and child will come to know you as Savior and Lord. Help us to look at our circumstances as opportunities to share you with those who are lost without you.

Building the Temple

The people threw a celebration when the foundation of the Temple was finished. (Ezra 3:10-13) There was a lot of work ahead of them. But that first, and important piece was finally in place. And they stopped to worship God there.

A couple of things come to mind as I read Ezra 3, and as I apply this account to my life. Scripture tells me I am God’s Temple. (I Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16) He lives on earth in me. 

The New Testament talks a lot about foundations. Jesus told a parable about building houses on sand, compared to building on solid rock. (Matthew 7:24-27). In Luke 14:28-30 Jesus speaks about how important it is to finish building on the foundation. Paul names the Foundation in I Corinthians 3:11. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is the sure foundation and he grounds me, supports me. If I build my life on him, he can take it. But the Temple wouldn’t have been worth much if the people we read about in Ezra had just left the structure as a foundation. If they had continued to celebrate and rejoice and worship God over the foundation, the Temple would not have been able to be completed or to be used as it was intended.

So here’s what I’m thinking. I, as the Temple of the Living God, have a solid foundation in the person of Jesus Christ. He is my Savior. I went to him and confessed my sin and asked him to forgive me… and he did. That’s cause to celebrate!

But it doesn’t have to end there. There is work to be done. I want to grow in my relationship with him, build on my salvation by studying his Word, surrounding myself with Christians who will hold me accountable, and by praying. 

If I attend church on Sunday for a “worship experience” and come away from there feeling spiritual, I’m celebrating on the foundation. If I don’t study my Bible or pray, don’t talk about Jesus to others, live a life that looks no different than my unsaved neighbor, this Temple isn’t being built. I’m living on the foundation without a useful structure through which God can work.

Dear Foundation, I thank you for being that solid rock beneath my feet. I thank you for forgiving my sins and the privilege of having you living in me. I want to sing your praises, celebrate having you in my life. But I pray that I, like the example we read about in Ezra, will be motivated to build my life on the Foundation you have provided. Give me discernment to know the Truth of Scripture, give me opportunity to share Christ with others, let me be strong enough to resist temptation and rise above the world’s influence. May I be a Temple you deserve, holy and useful for your kingdom, built on the Foundation of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Healing Stream

As I read Ezekiel 47 this morning about the Healing Stream, I was reminded of Jesus, the Living Water. The angel in Ezekiel’s vision described water that would freshen the Dead Sea, cause fruit trees to thrive so that they wouldn’t go dormant, and produce fish of every kind for fishermen to catch.

Fruit trees, fish, a useless body of water restored, blessed, “life will flourish wherever this water flows”. (verse 9)

Shouldn’t that describe the life of a believer in Jesus? Sometimes we don’t really know how dead we are in our sin until we are faced with the Truth of Scripture. Accepting Christ’s gift of forgiveness causes our worthless lives to have meaning. We, too, become fishers of men, we bear fruit that reveal Jesus to those around us. And none of this comes from our effort, our frame of mind, or even our faith.

Just like in Ezekiel’s vision, our transformation comes when the Healing Stream, the Living Water, Jesus Himself, flows through us. Which makes me wonder.

“Life will flourish wherever this water flows.”

I wonder if I haven’t built a dam that prevents the water from flowing freely. Would a sin I hold onto, harboring hatred or jealousy, neglecting my time with God in his Word and prayer, cause the Holy Spirit, that Healing Stream, to hit a snag?

I want my life to be like that which the angel showed Ezekiel in his vision. I want the Healing Stream to flow freely through me. I want to bear fruit, feed hungry souls, and be an example of the power of God to a world that needs him. 

Dear Father, Forgive me when I begin to build a dam that would prevent you from flowing through me. You are the Healing Stream, the Living Water. What a privilege it is to know you. I pray that I will be that vessel through which you can flow freely to draw others to you, too. Give me the ability to recognize the beginnings of dam-building, may I quickly repent, and may you use me today. Refresh me. Flow through me. And may Jesus receive the glory.

Longing

I read several psalms this morning, and as I did something in Psalm 130 convicted me. It reminded me how important is my focus, my longings, my purpose. 

I am saved. I accepted Jesus’ work on the cross and when I did, he washed my sins away. I can stand before my Holy God because he has placed his own holiness on me. That, in itself, should cause me to live a life of gratitude.

But things seem to pop up that would take my focus off my Savior. My longing may shift from wanting more of him, to wanting something else: a career, a spouse, health comfort, a bigger house, or a better car. 

As I read the psalms I am reminded to long for that which is eternal. The other things will fall into place if I look to Jesus every minute of every day. I may never have that ocean front condo, or have the privilege of sharing life with a husband. But if my focus is on the Lord, on loving him and being loved by him, on obeying him, and serving him, my longing for other things will morph into what God himself longs for me.

May my prayer always be: More of you, Lord. More of you! Whatever I have on this earth fades in comparison to knowing you, loving you, serving you. 

Like Chasing the Wind

I had the privilege of holding my newest great-nephew yesterday only a couple hours after he was born. Tiny fingers and toes, perfect little ears, when he opened his eyes and looked at me my heart melted.

Ok. I know he didn’t recognize me, maybe didn’t even see me other than a fuzzy blob staring down at him. But I’m pretty sure I recognized love there. Right?

Then today in my devotions, I read Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes. You know the one, the one that laments over life itself. All is meaningless, like chasing the wind. Solomon tells us he’s tried everything to find meaning to life. He’s tried wealth, education, entertainment, sex, power. And all of it fell short of what he was looking for. His conclusion was: we all live, we all die. Life is hard and often unfair. It would be better if we’d never been born.

So I look at my nephew’s son. Is it better if he’d never been born?

You’ll never convince me of that. Because, you see, little Carson is a gift from God. He was fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator. Will his life be easy? Probably not. Will he be treated unfairly some time in his life time? Undoubtedly. Will he sin and face consequences for poor choices? He’s human so I’d say, yes. 

But I pray that he will come to know Jesus as his Savior at an early age. I pray that he will love God his whole life and serve him. I pray that he will grow to be a man who touches the lives of people for Jesus’ sake. And I pray with confidence that no matter what paths he takes, no matter in what circumstances he finds himself, God will be with him.

You see, Solomon was looking at the wrong things to find meaning to life. In fact, looking at “things” will never result in the kind of joy knowing God can bring. Looking at “self” will only bring disappointment. Jesus, however, never fails. That void in our lives can only be filled by the One who put it there in the first place.

I pray baby Carson will allow God to fill that void in him, that Carson will live his life with the joy of the Lord, that people will recognize God in Carson and be drawn to Jesus because of him. And I pray that when his life is over, Carson will spend eternity with his Savior.

Life doesn’t have to be like chasing the wind. It can have meaning and purpose. There can be peace in storms, strength in weakness, joy in sorrow because of Jesus. I hope you know him.

Dear God, thank you for Carson. Thank you for his Mommy and Daddy who love you and who are intentional about encouraging their children to love you, too. I pray that Carson will accept Jesus as his Savior as soon as he understands what sin is and his need for forgiveness. May he be a child who has you on his heart. May he grow into an adult who loves and serves you unashamedly. May he find the true meaning of life, which is Christ in him, the hope of glory. Use him, dear Lord, to draw people to you. Bless him and make him a blessing to others for Jesus’ sake.

October 5

Mark 3:1-19; Matthew 12:9-21, 4:23-50; Luke 6:6-16

I am so glad God inspired Matthew to record Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. There is something for us in every sentence. Do you want to be blessed by God? Jesus tells us how.

Be humble, meek, merciful, hunger for righteousness. Be a peacemaker. And rejoice when you are persecuted for Jesus’ sake. God blesses his children with all we need… comfort, mercy, eternal life.

Jesus tells us we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Do you realize your value? As God’s children we have the privilege of representing him and pointing lost souls to the Savior. Nothing is more important in this life time. And nothing more precious to our Lord.

Although Jesus was very careful to hide his true identity to the masses, he began to explain his ministry here in Matthew 5:17-20. God gave the law to Moses centuries before and Jesus wants us to know that law is still in effect. The bar was set and remains too high for us to reach. Holiness is still God’s standard and his demand. But Jesus explains that it is his job to fulfill all the requirements of the law for you and me. 

You see, he can reach the bar!

And what he is going to do will enable us to stand before God with a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees. We will be able to wear Jesus’ righteousness.

Dear one, as we read Jesus’ words, know that they were said with you in mind. Let Jesus speak to you as we revisit the Sermon on the Mount. Let him share his heart with each of us. And may we be encouraged in our walk with the Savior.