VIDEO The Compelling Purpose of God

He…said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem…” —Luke 18:31

Jerusalem, in the life of our Lord, represents the place where He reached the culmination of His Father’s will. Jesus said, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). Seeking to do “the will of the Father” was the one dominating concern throughout our Lord’s life. And whatever He encountered along the way, whether joy or sorrow, success or failure, He was never deterred from that purpose. “…He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…” (Luke 9:51).

The greatest thing for us to remember is that we go up to Jerusalem to fulfill God’s purpose, not our own. In the natural life our ambitions are our own, but in the Christian life we have no goals of our own. We talk so much today about our decisions for Christ, our determination to be Christians, and our decisions for this and that, but in the New Testament the only aspect that is brought out is the compelling purpose of God. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…” (John 15:16).

We are not taken into a conscious agreement with God’s purpose— we are taken into God’s purpose with no awareness of it at all. We have no idea what God’s goal may be; as we continue, His purpose becomes even more and more vague. God’s aim appears to have missed the mark, because we are too nearsighted to see the target at which He is aiming. At the beginning of the Christian life, we have our own ideas as to what God’s purpose is. We say, “God means for me to go over there,” and, “God has called me to do this special work.” We do what we think is right, and yet the compelling purpose of God remains upon us. The work we do is of no account when compared with the compelling purpose of God. It is simply the scaffolding surrounding His work and His plan. “He took the twelve aside…” (Luke 18:31). God takes us aside all the time. We have not yet understood all there is to know of the compelling purpose of God.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We have no right to judge where we should be put, or to have preconceived notions as to what God is fitting us for. God engineers everything; wherever He puts us, our one great aim is to pour out a whole-hearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” My Utmost for His Highest, April 23, 773 L


Luke 18:31-34 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

When Prayer Shakes the Earth

The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God.

Revelation 8:4

Dr. Gary Greenberg has magnified and photographed sand from beaches around the world, often revealing surprising, vibrant splashes of color from the minerals, shell, and coral fragments contained within. 

He’s discovered there’s more to sand than meets the eye. In arenology (the study of sand), the microscopic analysis of sand’s mineral content can reveal much about erosion, shore currents, and their potential effects on coastlines. Even a little sand can yield information of great worth! 

A single prayer, like a grain of sand, can be a weighty thing. Scripture indicates prayer’s powerful role in the coming of God’s kingdom. In Revelation 8, John sees an angel standing at the altar before His throne holding a golden censer containing “the prayers of all God’s people.” “Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (vv. 3, 5). 

Immediately after the angel hurled the censer filled with fire and prayer, seven angels with seven trumpets “prepared to sound them” (v. 6), heralding this old earth’s last days and Christ’s return. 

Sometimes we may not feel like our prayers add up to much, but God doesn’t miss one. He so values them that they somehow even play a role in the consummation of His kingdom. What may seem like the smallest prayer to us can have earth-shaking weight with Him!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

Why do you think Jesus wants us to pray for God’s kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10)? In what ways can you stay faithful in prayer today?

Heavenly Father, please help me to be faithful in prayer today.

To learn more about the act of prayer, visit https://odbu.org/courses/sf120/?

Living Life to the Glory of God

Ecclesiastes 12:1–14

Today, we are finishing our brief excursus on the glory of God and many practical issues related to it. As we have seen, the Bible in many ways presents the glory of God as the chief end or purpose of human beings. He made us in His image to reflect His glory and to enter His glorious presence through Christ (Gen. 1:26–28Heb. 12:18–29). Moreover, the Lord redeems us so that we will finally see Him face-to-face (1 John 3:3). In light of God’s purpose for us in creation, redemption, and worship, then, we should have as our ultimate aim to live our lives to the glory of God. If we want to bring ourselves in line with our Creator’s loving purpose for us, then seeking His glory is the way to do it.

Consequently we must ask this question: Since the meaning of life is the glory of God and living in such a way that we aim to know and make known that glory, how do we accomplish that goal? As the church has recognized for generations, Ecclesiastes 12:13 gives us the answer: “Fear God and keep his commandments.”

Ecclesiastes is a fascinating work that is often ignored in the Christian community today. Perhaps it is because the book has somewhat of a reputation for being depressing. Some might even say that Ecclesiastes teaches that this life is meaningless. After all, the author of Ecclesiastes frequently comments on the vanity of life.

However, Ecclesiastes is not teaching us the meaninglessness of life. Instead, it is emphasizing the transitory nature, the impermanence, of life in the present order and is calling us to live in light of that reality. We are, in fact, to enjoy the earthly gifts that the Lord has given us, including such things as loving spouses, worthwhile labor, and good food (9:7–11). However, we must do this with reference to God, recognizing that the best things of this life will pass away but that only He endures forever. We go astray when we make the good but temporary things of this life the ultimate things to which we aspire.

To keep us from doing this, Ecclesiastes 12 tells us to orient our whole lives toward the Lord. We are not to wait until the end of our lives to remember Him, for a life well lived entails remembering our Creator in the days of our youth (v. 1). Above all, seeking His glory means fearing God and seeking to keep His commandments (vv. 13–14). It involves living all of life coram Deo—before the face of God. In other words, we are to live ever aware that the Lord is always watching us, and so we ever aim to please Him.

Coram Deo

Because the Lord does not often reveal Himself in spectacular ways in our everyday lives, it can be easy to forget that His gaze is always on us. How differently would we live if we were to remember that He is ever with us and sees all that we think, do, and feel? Let us seek to remember that God’s gaze is always on us so that we will be motivated to honor Him with our lives.

Fishers of Men

And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” — Matthew 4:19

One of the greatest needs of the human soul is the need for adventure. We long to be a part of something big, a grand epic, something beyond us. This is what Jesus offered Peter.

Jesus said to Peter, “Do not fear. From now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10). No more slimy, scaly, smelly fish for you, Peter. You shall catch men—such men as you never even dreamt to speak to in your life you shall catch, for I will give your life a meaning and a significance and a purpose that you can’t even dream about. Your life with Me will be an adventure, not a humdrum, because you have taken Me at My word.”

The Lord offers us a part in this great adventure. He has a purpose for our lives. What He has for us is way beyond simply going to work and coming home. He wants us to be kingdom-builders. God will reveal Himself to all who seek Him diligently.

Question to ponder: How can you open your heart to God’s big adventure? How do we find our purpose?

Appraise, then Act

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.1 Thessalonians 5:21

Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God….This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit.

Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be.

“Try the spirits” is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church (1 John 4:1). We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine….To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world. SOS025

Can you renounce everything which is inconsistent with the glory of God and the highest good of your fellowmen? DTC149-150

Joy—More Than Pleasure

Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.—Psalm 90:14

One of the reasons why so many Christians do not experience the delights of spiritual joy is that they do not expect to. A woman who came into the experience of Christian conversion said: “Strange, but I never associated joy with God before.” How sad that many do not expect their faith to make them basically and fully joyful now. They think that joy is reserved for the hereafter. Our Lord pointed out to the disciples that it was for the present.

We can better understand this supernatural joy if we distinguish it from the pleasures of life with which it is sometimes confused. Spiritual or supernatural joy is quite different from pleasure or happiness. A worldling can experience pleasure and happiness, but he cannot experience supernatural joy. Indeed, worldly people often pride themselves in knowing how to experience pleasure.

Yet pleasure and Christian joy cannot be equated. Look with me at some of the differences. Pleasure depends on circumstances. It requires a measure of health and wealth. It demands that the life conditions be kindly, and thus it can be stolen from us by things like lack of money—or even a toothache. Christian joy is completely independent of circumstances. It is there in the believer even when “strength and health and friends” are gone; when circumstances are not only unkind but savage. Out of all the miracles I have witnessed in my life, none is more wonderful than the miracle of seeing Christ’s exuberant joy burst forth in those who are caught up in pain or persecution. The springs of Christian joy are deep within and can exist, no matter what the circumstances.

Prayer

O Father, how can I thank You enough for imparting into my sadness Your unconquerable gladness? No matter what happens—all is well with my soul. I am so grateful. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 16:17-33; Ac 5:12-42; 15:23-25; 2Co 6:10

How did the apostles respond to persecution?

How did Paul express it?

Asking for Mountains

“Now give me this hill country the Lord promised [me] on that day, because you heard then that the Anakim are there, as well as large fortified cities. Perhaps the Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord promised.”Joshua 14:12

Caleb’s faith in God never wavered though everyone around him doubted. God convinced Caleb that the children of Israel should enter the Promised Land, but the people were intimidated by giants and fortified cities (Num. 13:28–33). Their disbelief forced Caleb to wait forty years in the wilderness before he finally entered the Promised Land. Even after all those years, Caleb was as confident as ever in God’s power.

When God was dividing the land among the Israelites, the people were asking for the lush valleys and grassy plains. Caleb asked for a mountain. The Israelites had driven their enemies into the mountains, where they had built fortresses. This did not intimidate Caleb—he asked for a challenge! He did not trust in his own strength but in God’s presence. Caleb longed to see God work in power, and he knew he would be less likely to rely on God if he dwelt in the easy places. He chose a situation in which he would have to trust in God. Caleb knew his inheritance from God was on the mountain. He refused to allow the difficulty of gaining it to stop him from enjoying all that God had promised him.

If you always choose the easy way, asking for the peaceful valleys, you will never see God’s power displayed to enable you to take a mountain. Seek out the mountains, and you will witness God doing things through your life that can be explained only by His mighty presence.