Made With Purpose…

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Psalms 103 (KJV)

A Psalm of David.
1Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
8The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
15As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
17But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
18To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
19The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
20Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
21Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
22Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.

Do you ever wonder why you exist?

Day-to-day activities and worries pull us in so many directions that most of us seldom think about the goal of life.

But our Creator made us with a purpose: to glorify Him (Isa. 43:7).

In His Word, God is emphatic that we are to testify to His faithfulness and His mighty works. Jesus Christ considered this important as well—when teaching His disciples how to communicate with God, He began His well-known prayer with adoration of His Father (Matt. 6:9).

Why, then, do we tend to give so much attention to our petitions but so little to praising God?

Perhaps some believers consider themselves too time-constrained to spend “extra” prayer time praising the Lord. Others may feel awkward expressing their gratitude to Him. Yet no excuses are acceptable. Psalm 103:2 tells us to remember God’s benefits so we will humbly glorify Him.

This psalm also explains how to lift the Father up with our words—specifically, we should praise God for His character and for His work in the past, present, and future (Ps. 103:2-8, Ps. 103:19).

The Old Testament’s primary words for “praise” refer to spoken words, music, and gestures like raising hands and dancing. But we can also glorify Him in other ways, such as through actions, thoughts, and creativity.

Praise may be something foreign to you.

But it’s the very purpose for which you were created. Observe how the Father is exalted in the Psalms and throughout the Bible.

Then worship Him with praise as you spend time basking in His presence today.

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The Goal of Your Life…

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Acts 13:13-22 (KJV)

13Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
14But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
15And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
16Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
17The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
18And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
19And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
20And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
21And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
22And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

Have you ever visited a cemetery and seen a gravestone with a poignant epitaph of the person buried there?

It’s not uncommon to see descriptions like “Devoted Mother” or “Beloved Friend” on these markers.

In the distant future, what would you want someone to read etched on your tombstone?

What epitaph would summarize the best part of your life?

In the book of Acts, we discover how history remembered mighty King David.

In a sermon to a primarily Jewish group, the apostle Paul referred to David, who was well known to the audience. Remembering all of the king’s great accomplishments during his reign, how did Paul choose to describe him?

He declared that David was the one person whom God called “a man after His own heart.” (See Acts 13:22; 1 Sam. 13:14.)

What does it mean to be a person after God’s own heart?

For David, it required an intimate relationship with his Father (Ps. 63:1, Ps. 6-8). This entails much more than simply a regular routine of rote prayers and church attendance. Rather, such intimacy is founded upon an intense yearning to grow as close to the loving Father as possible (Ps. 42:1).

What would it take for you to be described as a man or woman after God’s own heart?

What activities, thoughts, or behaviors would need to be removed from your life? What would need to be added?

Ask God for His help in making these adjustments—and for the commitment to make this epitaph the goal of your life.

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A Hope That Anchors the Soul…

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Hebrews 6:13-20 (KJV)

13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Hope is a healthy attitude.

Anticipating good brings comfort to the mind and heart.

In contrast, a state of hopelessness is a terrible condition in which to find oneself.

It’s overwhelming and depressing to think that what you’re facing cannot be changed or resolved. For the person who has lost all hope, life looks like a long dark tunnel going nowhere.

Included in Proverbs is a verse that describes the result of this oppressive feeling: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12).

Emotional, physical, and even mental illness haunt a person who feels trapped in a bleak situation.

But I want to tell you, my friend, that as long as there is a God, no situation is hopeless.

In Him, we have the promise of the second half of that proverb: “Desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Believers have a hope that anchors their souls.

Our relationship with Jesus Christ brings us close to the throne of heaven, where we can cast all our burdens before an omnipotent God. Moreover, we can cling to Him through whatever trials are facing us.

Because of 13For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
15And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
16For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.e, He provides strength for weary bodies, peace for anxious minds, and comfort for grieving hearts.

In short, He lights that darkened tunnel and tenderly guides us through trying situations.

An anchor was a popular image in the ancient Mediterranean world. In an economy that depended on shipping, the anchor symbolized safety and steadiness.

The writer of Hebrews used the word to remind believers that God has given a hope that holds firm in any storm.

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Legally Declared Righteous…

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Romans 8:31-34 (KJV)

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Throughout life, there will be times when our sins and failures lead us to conclude that God is disappointed or angry with us. 

How can He still love me after what I’ve done? If I’m really forgiven, why do I still feel so guilty? 

At such tiimes, we need to fix our eyes on the truth of Scripture and ask the questions Paul posed in Romans 8.

If God is for us, who is against us

(v. 31)? Our heavenly Father proved His loyalty to us when He delivered His own Son over to death in order to save us. Without Christ’s atoning death on our behalf, we would face eternal separation from God.

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect (v. 33)?

No accusation against us can stand, since at the moment of salvation, the Lord justified us. This means we were legally declared righteous, while still in our sinning condition. No one can reverse this transaction and make us guilty again. To doubt our blameless standing in Christ is to declare His atonement insufficient to cover our sin.

Who is the one who condemns (v. 34)? 

Although Satan rails against us, Jesus’ death and resurrection are proof that we are right with God. Christ took our condemnation and gave us His righteousness in return. Now He sits at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us.

When doubts about the Lord’s love and faithfulness arise, focus on truth.

If we judge His loyalty to us by our circumstances or feelings, we will never get an accurate view of God.

True security lies not in our good performance, but in our relationship with Christ, and no one can take that from us.

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Fearful of Consequences…

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Isaiah 50:4-10 (KJV)

4 The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
5 The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
7 For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
8 He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.
9 Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.
10 Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.

Christians sometimes approach obedience as a way to avoid the negative consequences of disobedience.

When this happens, obedience becomes a heavy burden.

But God intended our walk of faith to be a thrilling adventure, motivated by our love for Jesus Christ and our desire to please Him.

Obedience is about discovering more of God, not avoiding negative consequences.

The reason we equate doing God’s will with burden is that we tend to think of all the weighty decisions we might need to make.

Yet the Lord doesn’t give us something He knows we can’t handle.

Our obedience in the smaller matters of life prepares us for bigger ones.

When we place trust in the omnipotence of the Lord and act on His prompting, life becomes exciting. We need not be fearful because God already knows the outcome of our obedience—and He promises that He does everything for our good (Rom. 8:28).

We know that if we take one step in obedience, we’ll be asked to take another.

That’s why walking in faith is so thrilling—each step is leading to a fantastic blessing from almighty God.

Though we sometimes think the situations are unrelated, the Lord continuously moves us through a variety of circumstances toward His overriding purpose for our lives.

If we become fearful of consequences and back off from obedience for the sake of safety, we deprive God of the opportunity to demonstrate His awesome power in us.

Small choices may seem insignificant, but they lead toward a lifetime of walking with God. As you walk into this new year, ask yourself, What is my next step of obedience?

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Our True Identity…

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Ephesians 1:3-8 (KJV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

When I hear a believer announce, “I’m just a sinner,” I feel like saying, “That’s what you used to be.”

A lot of folks cling to a view of themselves as a patched-up, slightly-better-than-before version of their old self. The Bible contradicts that opinion:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

In fact, according to Scripture, we’re dramatically different once we are complete in Christ.

The question is whether people will trust in what they feel or believe what God says about them.

His Word calls us saints (Rom. 1:7), disciples (Matt. 28:19), and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17).

If your opinion is that you are “just a sinner,” then you cannot fully experience and enjoy your identity in Christ.

Believing what God says about our new self is a choice.

Satan certainly conspires to convince believers that God’s Word doesn’t apply to them. He knows that people held captive by spiritual poverty back away from opportunities to share the gospel and serve the Lord’s kingdom.

It’s much easier to spiritually bankrupt someone who already thinks of him- or herself as “just a sinner” than it is to conquer a disciple who knows God is his loving Father.

Our true identity is defined not by our past actions but by the Savior’s.

Jesus purchased our lives with His blood and brought us into relationship with God the Father, who adopted us as beloved children.

We have every reason to hold our heads high, stand firm, and courageously proclaim the gospel.

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Incomprehensible Peace…

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John 14:27-31 (KJV)

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

“My peace I give to you” (John 14:27).

Jesus spoke these amazing words just hours before His crucifixion.

His peace isn’t dependent upon external circumstances, but rather, it transcends them.

Although He gives His peace to every believer as a gift, our experience of it is related to our faith in the following truths:

  • God is in control of everything. Without this assurance, the world is a scary place.

  • He loves me and will see me through every circumstance, no matter how difficult or painful it may be.
  • To have Christ’s peace, I must surrender my life to Him. When I hold onto my ways and plans, I’ll experience turmoil.

  • I have a limited perspective and understanding of my circumstances and God’s purposes for allowing them. His goals for me are greater than my immediate comfort.

  • The Lord promises to work all things out for my good. He is continually working to transform my character into Christ’s image.

  • I must live in sync with God, walking in the Spirit and promptly confessing and repenting of sin.
  • Scripture is my foundation for peace. It increases my trust in the Lord’s goodness, assures me that He keeps His promises, and reminds me of His sovereignty over every situation.

Sadly, many Christians live their whole lives without consistently experiencing this incomprehensible peace.

Perhaps faith and submission are the most challenging issues.

But only as we surrender control of our lives to Christ and trust in His plans for us will we discover tranquil rest for our souls.

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The Ultimate Act of Service…

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Matthew 20:25-28 (KJV)

25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

In the world’s thinking, great men are the ones with authority, prominence, and power.

Though Jesus Christ had all that, He gave it up to become a servant (Isa. 42:1).

Jesus gave Himself completely to fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption, even though the beneficiaries—namely, each of us—were undeserving.

God is holy and righteous, and He cannot be in the presence of sin. Therefore, He must separate Himself from those who are stained by wrongdoing. That includes all of humanity (Rom. 3:23).

Everybody is born captive to the desires of the flesh (Rom. 6:16-18).

When someone claims to be living on his “own terms,” he is actually serving whatever his human nature craves.

The penalty for that false sense of liberty is death (Rom. 6:23).

Jesus’ ultimate act of service was to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28).

The word describes the price paid to set a slave free—Christ voluntarily purchased our liberation. There was only one way our holy God could remove our guilt yet remain true to His own law: Someone sinless had to pay our sin debt for us.

Jesus’ sacrifice spared us the penalty we deserve.

Instead, we receive the gift of grace and have been declared no longer guilty. Moreover, we are elevated from slaves to sons and daughters of the Almighty!

Jesus served the Father’s purpose faithfully.

He gave up His righteousness to carry the weight of all our wickedness—and endured a crushing separation from His Father.

To meet our needs, the Savior held nothing of Himself back, and thereby set a powerful example of servanthood for us follow.

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