Today is Thursday, the 2nd of February, 2023, in the season of Epiphany.
May the peace of Christ fill you today!
It is day four of the winter storm, and we haven’t left the house since Monday. I feel like I’m writing a diary that will be used in a horror film. There is a chance that I might venture out, this afternoon, but I don’t know. We have enough food in the house, but there are a couple of things we have run out of . . . sugar, shredded cheese, sour cream . . . but I have everything I need for tonight’s dinner. Bread is running short, as well. I figure that if I do go out and try to get some groceries, 1) the store will be crowded, and 2) the shelves will be pretty empty. I mean, the stores haven’t been able to get trucks, probably. It is currently 31 degrees, still below freezing, and expected to reach 37, later today.
The library is supposed to open at noon today, and stay open until 5:00 PM. I’m not scheduled to work until tomorrow morning at 9:15. It will likely be below freezing again, at that time, but the skies are supposed to clear up.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. (Psalms 119:109 NRSV)
Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you lead us on all our paths. Together we praise your name. We plead with you, stay with us, especially when the world grows darker. Stay with us and send down your power. Send your power in answer to our prayers. For all people we pray, “Father in heaven, these are our brothers and sisters in spite of their failures and sins.” Help them, O God. May they soon come to recognize who you are, what you do, and what you will still do, so that the whole world can be joyful and all people on earth may know the blessing of being your children. Amen.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:10 NRSV)
Today I am grateful:
- that we should get a break in our “winter storm” today
- that the Word became flesh and lived among us
- that God has a purpose and plan for each one of us
- that God watches out for us, much more closely than any of us are aware
- for the amount of beautiful music that there is in this world
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! (Psalms 97:12 NRSV)
A Prayer of David. Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; (Psalms 86:1-2 NRSV)
Blessed be the LORD, for he has heard the sound of my pleadings. (Psalms 28:6 NRSV)
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6 NRSV)
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NRSV)
You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Before I was humbled I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. The arrogant smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts. Their hearts are fat and gross, but I delight in your law. It is good for me that I was humbled, so that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Psalms 119:65-72 NRSV)
"My soul thirsts for the strong, living God and all that is within me cries out to him." (The Divine Hours - The Small Verse)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
"Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." (The Prayer Appointed for the Week - The Divine Hours)
Take care that you do not forget the LORD your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today. If you do forget the LORD your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD is destroying before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
(Deuteronomy 8:11-20 NRSV)
So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being.
(Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NRSV)
You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
(Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NRSV)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
(John 3:16 NRSV)
Does he not see my ways, and number all my steps?
(Job 31:4 NRSV)
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him.
(2 Chronicles 16:9 NRSV)
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
(Luke 12:6-7 NRSV)
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
(Psalms 139:16 MSG)
"Our lives are not puzzles to be figured out. Rather, we come to God, who knows us and reveals to us the truth of our lives. The fundamental mistake is to begin with ourselves and not God. God is the center from which all life develops." (Eugene H. Peterson, Run with the Horses, quoted in God's Message for Each Day)
I dare say if you were to go to the self-help section of a book store (if you can find a book store), you would find countless volumes of books that have been written about finding one’s purpose in life. Even in a “Christian” book store, I believe that would be the case, except that those books would have the word “God” or “Jesus” somewhere in the title.
We expend quite a bit of money and energy, in this culture, with this “puzzle.” But I believe Peterson’s words to be spot on.
It turns out that I read the referenced book by Peterson, back in 1992. I remember nothing about it. I will probably read it again, in the near future, but that would require me to come up with another copy of it, because I no longer have that one.
This all lines up with Scripture, though, that tells us how much God loves us and how much He cares for us and watches over us. Jesus’s teaching on how much more valuable we are than sparrows or flowers is stunning. Sadly, there are humans on this planet who don’t see humans being more valuable than other animals. Regardless of how stupid we can be, sometimes (and remember . . . God remembers that we are “dust”), we are the crowning piece of His creation.
God values us more than birds or flowers or cows. And He has a purpose in mind for each of us. We don’t find that purpose by beginning with ourselves, or by reading a book from the self-help section of the bookstore (even the “Christian” ones). We find our purpose by starting with God.
This may be a bit radical, but I fully believe that, if we follow the commands of Jesus, and being with loving God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, our purpose will come to us. We may not even be aware of it, but it will come and we will walk in it. This is similar, in my opinion to spiritual gifts. I have believed, for many years, now, that “spiritual gift inventories/tests” are a waste of time.
For one thing, those tests are easily manipulated to obtain the answer you would like it to give you. For another thing, I do not believe that we all have a “permanent” spiritual gift. Scripture says that the Spirit doles out these gifts as He sees fit. What this says to me is that you might have one gift one day, and another gift the next day, depending on your circumstances.
This does away with the excuse for not helping out in a certain situation by saying “That’s not my gift.”
I believe our purpose in life is similar. If we love the Lord, read and meditate on His Word, and pray regularly, I believe that we will walk in His purpose for us, and we won’t even have to be aware of it. It’s a matter of trusting in His will and His sovereignty over our lives.
So, if you’re wondering what your purpose is, start with God. Trust in Him and let Him guide you to it. And then simply walk where He guides you.
Father, I thank You for the way You have loved us and worked in our lives. You have made it almost easy for us to walk in our purpose, if only we follow Your will for us, which is to love You with all of our being, and then to love one another as Christ has loved us.
I thank You that Your love for us resulted in a solid way for us to be involved with and related to You. You have given us the means to participate in Your divine nature, and You have embedded part of that nature within us, that we might truly follow You.
I pray for each one who is struggling to find purpose in their lives, that You would show them that all they need to do is follow You and trust You, and then walk in Your kingdom.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.
3 thoughts on “Finding Purpose”
We live out our God-given purpose as we follow him. Good post.
Thank you so much! Blessings to you!
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