God's Purpose for You
God's Purpose for You
Purpose in life is far more important than property or possessions. Having more to live with is no substitute for having more to live for. ‘The two greatest days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why’.¹
God has a specific purpose for you. In addition, God’s general will for all of us is revealed in the Bible. In the passages for today we see what God wants for you and for everyone.
¹ This is often attributed to Mark Twain but probably not one of his original quotes. It appears that the origin is anonymous.
To be known and to know himPsalm 139:1–10
God’s calling for all of us is to be known by him and to know him. ‘Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me’ (v.1).
Perhaps this is David reflecting in his old age on how God has guided him throughout his life. ‘You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me’ (v.5): this speaks of God’s loving and gentle hand pressing him along the path of his choosing.
You cannot escape God’s presence. He knows everything (v.2) and he is everywhere (vv.7–10). Look to him for guidance: ‘your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast’ (v.10).
Lord, I desperately need your guidance. Thank you for the promise here that your hand will guide me – your right hand will hold me fast.
To be loved and to love for ever1 John 5:1–21
The moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you were ‘born of God’ (v.1). You become the much-loved child of God who ‘is love’. God loves you far more than human parents love their own children.
We love our Father in heaven and, therefore, we should love all his children. Over the years, Pippa and I have noticed that, from the moment they are born, we have a special love for the children of our friends. This is because of the love we have for their parents. John writes, ‘everyone who loves the father loves his child as well’ (v.1).
Just as parents who love their children want them to be confident about their future, God wants you to be confident about your future.
The moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ you are ‘born of God’ (v.1) and receive ‘eternal life’ (v.12) – but how can you be confident of this? St John tells us that this is the purpose of his letter: ‘I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life’ (v.13).
In this passage we see three tests of a true Christian:
‘Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God... This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God’ (vv.1a,4–5).
A Christian is a person who puts their faith in Jesus. In doing so, you become a child of God.
‘Everyone who loves the father loves his child as well’ (v.1b).
The evidence of true faith is love – love for God, love for Jesus, love for others. Faith expresses itself in love.
‘This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands’ (vv.2–3).
This love is not just a feeling. It involves action – obedience to God’s commands.
John goes on to speak about three witnesses. How can you be sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? God has three witnesses (vv.6–8):
At the baptism of Jesus, God testified, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). The sacrament of baptism focuses on ‘the water’.
The blood Jesus shed on the cross for you is the second witness. Jesus ‘came by water and blood... he did not come by water only, but by water and blood’ (1 John 5:6). The sacrament of Holy Communion focuses on ‘the blood’.
The Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God (vv.6,10). The Spirit is the Spirit of truth (v.6). ‘And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life’ (v.20).
On the Alpha Weekend, for example, there is a chance for each of the guests to be prayed for, and to ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. For many people this is the key moment on Alpha – as they are filled with the Holy Spirit, they experience the reality of a relationship with God and assurance of his love for them. It is this experience of God that confirms and establishes their faith.²
God wants you to be confident that Jesus really is the Christ, the Son of God. He wants you to know that you have life in his Son (v.11). Indeed, you have ‘eternal life’ (v.13).
He wants you to have confidence in approaching God: ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him’ (vv.14–15).
Sometimes you know what God’s will is – it is clearly spelt out in the Scriptures. At other times, you may not be so sure. In whatever situation, you can add to your prayers, ‘Your will be done.’
If the answer is ‘yes’ he may be increasing your faith. If the answer is ‘wait’ he may be increasing your patience. If the answer is ‘no’, he may have something better in mind. Trust that his will is ‘good, pleasing and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).
John challenges us that those ‘born of God [Christian believers] do not continue to sin’ (1 John 5:18a). In other words, we must not wilfully carry on sinning just as we did before we turned to Christ. However, he also reminds us of God’s wonderful promise that ‘the one who was born of God [Jesus] keeps [you] safe, and the evil one cannot harm [you]’ (v.18b). You are safe in Jesus’ arms of love.
Father, thank you that you love me and keep me safe in Jesus’ arms of love. Help me to love all your children.
² The work of the Holy Spirit in confirming and strengthening our faith is also recognised in the more liturgical traditions of the church. In the Anglican Church, among other churches, the service of Confirmation focuses on the Holy Spirit.
To be blessed and to blessDaniel 11:36–12:13
God blesses you in order that you may be a blessing to others.
By the start of this passage, the mind of the writer has already turned from the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215–164 BC, who was the king who will do as he pleases, 11:36a) to the end times.
We have here one of the great Old Testament affirmations of life beyond the grave: ‘But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever’ (12:1b–3).
You have everlasting life. One day you will shine like the stars forever and ever. In the meantime, a purification process needs to take place. ‘Many will be purified, made spotless and refined’ (v.10). As well as leading yourself, lead others ‘on the right path to life’ (v.3, MSG). God’s purpose for you is not that you should sit around waiting for Jesus’ return to redeem the world. He wants your life to make a difference now. You are called to be a blessing to those around you.
We are called to help each other in our discipleship. I am very grateful for the encouragement, support and challenge over the years of close Christian friends, as well as of older, wiser mentors. It is so helpful to have mentors, and to be willing in turn to help those younger in faith than us. As we challenge and help each other we all grow in our discipleship.
Daniel was told, ‘And you? Go about your business without fretting or worrying. Relax. When it’s all over, you will be on your feet to receive your reward’ (v.13, MSG). What a wonderful promise this must have been for Daniel. He had worked so hard both in his business life and in his work as a prophet. Now rest would come and God had allotted to him an inheritance.
You too have this promise of everlasting life and you will shine like the stars forever and ever.
Lord, thank you that you have blessed me so much. Help me to bring blessing to others as I lead them on the right path to life.
Psalm 139 is my favourite psalm. It is the first place in the Bible I turn to when I feel troubled. Wherever I am in the world – whether near or far from home – however I’m feeling, I find great comfort in verse 10: ‘even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’
Verse of the Day
‘… your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast’ (Psalm 139:10).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.