|Vol. 14 No. 7 July 2012||
It has been said that the purpose of life is a life with purpose. The Bible contains the accounts of numerous people who were willing for God to work through them to accomplish His divine plan and purpose. It also tells of all those who were unwilling to submit to God, and they were used despite their obstinacy. None of us will ever be able to interrupt God’s plan and purpose, which is the redemption of mankind through the cross of Calvary. Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’S counsel — that will stand.” Speaking of God, Job declared, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job 42:2).
The Old Testament is filled with nobodies who became somebodies when they fulfilled God’s purpose for creating them. Noah found favor in God’s sight, and his life was changed forever. He obeyed God’s commands to the letter when God told him that a great flood was coming to destroy the world. Mrs. Noah and the rest of the family were definitely in support of him in his obedience to God.
Abraham was called the friend of God. He left his country and his family at God’s command, and his life was changed forever. Abraham was 75-years-old when God called him. His wife Sarah was by his side, being 65-years-old at that time. God used their attempt to run ahead of His timetable when Sarah’s Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, bore Ishmael, fathered by Abraham.
Jacob’s early life did not remotely resemble what was approved by God. His mother Rebekah, in her selfish scheming, was unwittingly used by God to accomplish His purpose. As a result, once He gained Jacob’s attention, Jacob became one of God’s chief and most choice of servants. Twelve sons were born to him. God worked through the lives of those sons to accomplish His will.
The king of Egypt had commanded the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah to kill all the males that were born. However, they feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, and saved the male children. The result was the entire family of Moses became willing subjects in God’s divine plan. His parents Amram and Jochebed hid him for the first three months of his life. His sister Miriam was instrumental in the preservation of his life when he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. His older brother Aaron was by his side when the children of Israel were delivered from Egyptian bondage. Moses became the great deliverer of God’s people even though when God called him, he was totally inadequate for the task.
Three of God’s outstanding servants in the New Testament are the focus of this article: Mary, the mother of Jesus; John the Baptist, the son born to Zacharias and Elizabeth; and the apostle Paul.
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth to tell Mary that He had the most special purpose for her life. Luke 1:28 says, “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women!’” Mary was troubled by what Gabriel had said and what he meant. Gabriel immediately told her precisely what he meant as he explained further. “Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:30-33).
Mary had serious doubts about what she was told. However, when Gabriel gave details of the plan of Divinity, and that nothing was impossible with God, her response was noteworthy. Luke 1:38 records, “Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” God’s plan for our lives has been revealed to us through the Bible. Do we know our purpose for being here, so that we too can say, let it be to us according to His word?
Mary went to visit her relative Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Both women rejoiced at Mary’s wonderful news. Luke 1:46-50 tells us how Mary felt about this most precious, impending life experience. “And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.’” We would do well to embrace Mary’s attitude of submissive thankfulness when we willingly fulfill the purpose God has for our lives.
Gabriel had also visited Zacharias and told him that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son, and his name would be called John. Unlike Mary, Zacharias did not believe what he was told. Gabriel told him that he stood in the presence of God and had been sent to speak to Zacharias bringing the good news of a child being born to him and Elizabeth. Gabriel also told Zacharias that because of his unbelief, he would be mute until the child was born (Luke 1:1-20).
After John’s birth, all of these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. All those who heard them wondered what kind of child John would be. In Luke 1:76-79 Zacharias is very specific in what had been revealed to him about the purpose of John’s life. “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.” Verse 80 reads, “So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.” John’s entire life was devoted and directed by the will of God.
None other than the Lord Jesus Christ told Paul what his purpose in life was to be. Paul, who was Saul at that time, was persecuting the church. He got his wakeup call on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-30). In Acts 26, Paul recounted his conversion before King Agrippa. He told the king exactly what the heavenly plan was that had been made for him. Paul told him how the Lord had asked him the penetrating question: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 26:14). Verses 15-18 convey the specific purpose for Paul’s life.
So I said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”
What a calling! The remainder of Paul’s life was lived in total dedication to God in preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. He spoke to this end in Colossians 1:27-29. “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”
How will we fulfill the deepest purpose for which God has created us? How are we to live to make certain we have properly prepared ourselves to spend eternity with God? Do we realize that we only have a short time to fulfill His purpose for creating us even if we live to see 100+? The answer lies in our reverent submission of self to God in prayer and Bible study. We must be fervently asking Him to be filled with the knowledge of His will for our lives in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Walking worthy of Him, being pleasing to Him, and being fruitful in service to Him absolutely demands living with purpose!
God has and always will be there for us in pursuit of this goal. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
There was a poster that was quite popular in the 1980’s, and some Bible class teachers for children had it hanging in their classrooms. It was a drawing of a little boy with his arms folded in front of him with this most confident yet mischievous look on his face. The caption read, “I know I am somebody, ‘cause God didn’t make no junk!’” Amen to that. God created us with purpose!
Paul told the Corinthians that they were the temple of the living God. God had said He would dwell with them; He would walk with them; He would be their God; and they would be His people (2 Corinthians 6:16). Verses 17 and 18 say, “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,’ says the LORD Almighty.” What higher calling and purpose for our lives could there ever be?