Yes, it’s that time again. Another year has passed and I find myself asking, “where has the time gone and what did I do with it?” As I glance over at the grocery store newsstand, I see the various renderings of what 2018 has been about—politics, weddings, and celebrations of life.
As it is with the dropping of the New Year’s ball in Times Square, it is the tradition of In the Word Ministries to mark the start of the New Year by asking, “What did I learn this past year?” This year, I avoided looking back at 2018 WordBytes or my journal to give me a hint. Instead I simply asked the Holy Spirit to distill all I had experienced in 2018 into two or three areas I could share with you. The Holy Spirit (as usual) exceeded my expectations and gave me one word—PURPOSE. Although one word, my learning about purpose could fill volumes. I will attempt to be succinct. See if any of these resonate with you.
- It is critical to understand God’s purpose (Acts 17:28). Every New Year a dear friend asks me what I am believing and depending on God for in the upcoming year. The better question should be, “how can God best use me for His purpose in the upcoming year?” Key to understanding purpose is accepting the sovereignty of God—the “True Source” of our purpose. As we begin our year fasting and praying, we should seek to understand our purpose as a direct outgrowth of God’s divine plan (Eph. 2:10).
- It is important to pursue God’s purpose (Heb. 11:13). Not to follow God’s purpose is willful disobedience that can result in negative consequences. This year, God challenged me to undertake an area that did not “fit” the core competencies or strategic plan developed for the ministry. God had spoken this new direction to me in three separate prophetic messages over a four year period. I knew it was a mistake—mine! But God was patient. And yes, God has the authority to “change our direction” and do a “new thing” in our lives (Is. 43:19). I finally accepted the direction although I haven’t a clue as to where God is taking me. God, however, knows and that’s what is important (Gen.12:1-4).
- It is essential to position ourselves for God’s purpose (Heb. 12:1). In Isaiah 43, God shares His future plan to redeem His people, Israel, now living in captivity. They had historically rejected God’s purpose which was to reflect God goodness and glory to the world ultimately bringing them into His eternal Kingdom. But Israel pursued its own purpose (Jer. 17:23). They were not in position to accomplish God’s purpose, therefore they were sent into captivity for 70 years. Their disobedience and distrust of God deprived them of God’s glorious purpose.
Like the children of Israel, we as believers often miss God’s divine purpose for our lives because of a number of factors.
- We may operate out of fear. We are afraid of God’s purpose. We fear we may not have the skills and capability to what God desires. You may not have what you think you need, but God, through His Holy Spirit within us, will equip us for every assignment He gives.
- We may lack trust. We’re afraid God won’t give us what we want. God may not give you what you want but, be assured God will always give you what’s best for you. Learn more about the nature of God—His goodness and His greatness.
- We may be bound by sinful habits and relationships that we aren’t willing to release. Even King Solomon in all his wisdom was hindered from fulfilling God’s purpose because of willful disobedience and sinful patterns in his life. Confess, repent, and lay hold of the extraordinary purpose which God has for you today. Trade in what you think is “good” for the “best” God has in store for you.
The Westminster Catechism is a series of questions and answers (proof texts), on which Believers, affirm their faith in God. The first question (out of 107 questions), is this: “What is the chief end of man?” In other words, what is man’s purpose? The answer, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
“To glorify God” is realized when we represent His rule and presence on the earth. Created in God’s image, man can bring into reality the kingdom of God on earth and be in intimate relationship with Him. With and in Christ, we now can pursue God’s unique purpose for our lives (1 Pet. 2:9).
“To enjoy God forever” has begun with the presence of the Holy Spirit with us—a foretaste of the ultimate glory that we will experience in full when we next meet Jesus—in heaven (upon our death) or in the air (upon Christ’s Second Return) (John 14:3). The end will be the same—“eternal enjoyment.”
In 2019, I am living to understand, to pursue, and to position myself for God’s purpose. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen. ” (Matt. 6:10, 13)
What did you learn in 2018?