THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” MARK 12:30

Mine deep enough in every heart and you’ll find it: a longing for meaning, a quest for purpose. As surely as a child breathes, he will someday wonder, “What is the purpose of my life?”

Some search for meaning in a career. “My purpose is to be a dentist.” Fine vocation but hardly a justification for existence. They opt to be a human “doing” rather than a human “being.” Who they are is what they do; consequently they do a lot. They work many hours because if they don’t work, they don’t have an identity.

For others, who they are is what they have. They find meaning in a new car or a new house or new clothes. These people are great for the economy and rough on the budget because they are always seeking meaning in something they own … Some try sports, entertainment, cults, sex, you name it.

All mirages in the desert of purpose … Shouldn’t we face the truth? If we don’t acknowledge God, we are flotsam in the universe.

from IN THE GRIP OF GRACE

Slaves to Goodness

Now you are free from sin and have become slaves of God. This brings you a life that is only for God, and this gives you life forever. ROMANS 6:22

How could we who have been freed from sin return to it? Before Christ our lives were out of control, sloppy, and indulgent. We didn’t even know we were slobs until we met him.

Then he moved in. Things began to change. What we threw around we began putting away. What we neglected we cleaned up. What had been clutter became order. Oh, there were and still are occasional lapses of thought and deed, but by and large he got our house in order.

Suddenly we find ourselves wanting to do good. Go back to the old mess? Are you kidding? “In the past you were slaves to sin—sin controlled you. But thank God, you fully obeyed the things that you were taught. You were made free from sin, and now you are slaves to goodness” (Rom. 6:17–18).

In the Grip of Grace

Limitations on God’s Promises

“Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:37)

The people of Israel, in spite of all God had done for them, continually rebelled against Him, even turning to other gods. One might think God would have destroyed them and started again, but He had made a promise first to Abraham, then to Isaac, and then to Jacob, that this nation would be His special people, and He would not break that promise.

In our text God reveals the “conditions” under which He would cast off Israel, but they are such that there is no possibility of their being met.

If heaven above can be measured: Neither Abraham nor Jeremiah could have had any concept of the number of stars or the depth of space. Now, with modern telescopes, we see unthinkable distances and even farther and farther as our technology increases. Estimates of the radius of the universe now stand at around 15-20 billion light years, and no end is in sight.

If the foundations of the earth [can be] searched out beneath: Sometimes scientists claim they know more about the sun than they do the earth. But in reality, only one percent of the earth’s radius has been explored. The pressures and temperatures which exist deep inside the earth are unthinkably great, and we don’t even know how matter acts under those conditions. The promise to Israel is secure.

Scripture is likewise full of “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) made to the believer. Our text indicates God’s attitudes toward His promises. We need not worry that He will keep His Word. JDM

The stormy winds wrought out their deliverance

“The Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts…. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste…. And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.” (Exod. 10:13, 19.)

SEE how in the olden times, when the Lord fought for Israel against the cruel Pharaoh, the stormy winds wrought out their deliverance; and yet again, in that grandest display of power—the last blow that God struck at the proud defiance of Egypt. A strange, almost cruel thing it must have seemed to Israel to be hemmed in by such a host of dangers—in front the wild sea defying them, on either hand the rocky heights cutting off all hope of escape, the night of hurricane gathering over them. It was as if that first deliverance had come only to hand them over to more certain death. Completing the terror there rang out the cry: “The Egyptians are upon us!”

When it seemed they were trapped for the foe, then came the glorious triumph. Forth swept the stormy wind and beat back the waves, and the hosts of Israel Marched forward, down into the path of the great deep—a way arched over with God’s protecting love.

On either hand were the crystal walls glowing in the light of the glory of the Lord; and high above them swept the thunder of the storm. So on through all that night; and when, at dawn of the next day, the last of Israel’s host set foot upon the other shore, the work of the stormy wind was done.

Then sang Israel unto the Lord the song of the “stormy wind fulfilling his word.”

“The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil…. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.”

One day, by God’s great mercy, we, too, shall stand upon the sea of glass, having the harps of God. Then we shall sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” We shall know then how the stormy winds have wrought out our deliverance.

Now you see only the mystery of this great sorrow; then you shall see how the threatening enemy was swept away in the wild night of fear and grief.

Now you look only at the loss; then you shall see how it struck at the evil that had begun to rivet its fetters upon you.

Now you shrink from the howling winds and muttering thunders; then you shall see how they beat back the waters of destruction, and opened up your way to the goodly land of promise.—Mark Guy Pearse.

“Though winds are wild,
And the gale unleashed,
My trusting heart still sings:
I know that they mean
No harm to me,
He rideth on their wings.”

No neutralities can exist in religion

“To whom belongest thou?” 1 Samuel 30:13

No neutralities can exist in religion. We are either ranked under the banner of Prince Immanuel, to serve and fight His battles, or we are vassals of the black prince, Satan. “To whom belongest thou?”

Reader, let me assist you in your response. Have you been “born again”? If you have, you belong to Christ, but without the new birth you cannot be His. In whom do you trust? For those who believe in Jesus are the sons of God. Whose work are you doing? You are sure to serve your master, for he whom you serve is thereby owned to be your lord. What company do you keep? If you belong to Jesus, you will fraternize with those who wear the livery of the cross. “Birds of a feather flock together.” What is your conversation? Is it heavenly or is it earthly? What have you learned of your Master?—for servants learn much from their masters to whom they are apprenticed. If you have served your time with Jesus, it will be said of you, as it was of Peter and John, “They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

We press the question, “To whom belongest thou?” Answer honestly before you give sleep to your eyes. If you are not Christ’s you are in a hard service—Run away from your cruel master! Enter into the service of the Lord of Love, and you shall enjoy a life of blessedness. If you are Christ’s let me advise you to do four things. You belong to Jesus—obey him; let his word be your law; let His wish be your will. You belong to the Beloved, then love Him; let your heart embrace Him; let your whole soul be filled with Him. You belong to the Son of God, then trust him; rest nowhere but on him. You belong to the King of kings, then be decided for Him. Thus, without your being branded upon the brow, all will know to whom you belong.

Love thy neighbour

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour.” Matthew 5:43

“Love thy neighbour.” Perhaps he rolls in riches, and thou art poor, and living in thy little cot side-by-side with his lordly mansion; thou seest every day his estates, his fine linen, and his sumptuous banquets; God has given him these gifts, covet not his wealth, and think no hard thoughts concerning him. Be content with thine own lot, if thou canst not better it, but do not look upon thy neighbour, and wish that he were as thyself. Love him, and then thou wilt not envy him.

Mayhap, on the other hand, thou art rich, and near thee reside the poor. Do not scorn to call them neighbour. Own that thou art bound to love them. The world calls them thy inferiors. In what are they inferior? They are far more thine equals than thine inferiors, for “God hath made of one blood all people that dwell upon the face of the earth.” It is thy coat which is better than theirs, but thou art by no means better than they. They are men, and what art thou more than that? Take heed that thou love thy neighbour even though he be in rags, or sunken in the depths of poverty.

But, perhaps, you say, “I cannot love my neighbours, because for all I do they return ingratitude and contempt.” So much the more room for the heroism of love. Wouldst thou be a feather-bed warrior, instead of bearing the rough fight of love? He who dares the most, shall win the most; and if rough be thy path of love, tread it boldly, still loving thy neighbours through thick and thin.

Heap coals of fire on their heads, and if they be hard to please, seek not to please them, but to please thy Master; and remember if they spurn thy love, thy Master hath not spurned it, and thy deed is as acceptable to Him as if it had been acceptable to them. Love thy neighbour, for in so doing thou art following the footsteps of Christ.