1 What Doest Thou Here, Elijah?
"And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a vioce unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?" I Kings 19:9-13
Do you ever look over your life and ask yourself, "What am I doing here?" Elijah had done a great work for the Lord on Mount Carmel against the prophets of Baal, but Jezebel threatened to kill him, so he ran and hid in the wilderness. He sat under a juniper tree and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (I Kings 19:4) God sent an angel to feed him and after he rested he went on to Mount Horeb. God asked him this question not once, but twice, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" I think God was trying to tell Elijah that He had better things for him to do than to hide out in a cave. Are you in hiding? Can the world see Christ in you? We are all here for a purpose. Let's take a few days to ask ourselves, "What are we doing here?"
2 You're Not The Only One
"And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." I Kings 19:14
When Elijah stood on Mount Carmel against the prophets of Baal, he asked the people, "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men." (I Kings 18:21-22) No one stepped forward with Elijah and confessed that he was on the Lord's side. On Mount Carmel Elijah was left to do the Lord's work alone. You may go to school, or work in an environment where you feel like you are the only one serving God. There may be no one to stand with you to fight the Lord's battles. But, let me assure you, you are not alone. The Lord is always with you and no matter what kind of problem you are having, you are not the only one to go through that storm. Look at Mark 4:36-37, "And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full." The disciples went to Jesus and said, "Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" (Mark 4:38-40) Jesus calmed the storm, but notice the little sentence,"And there were also with him other little ships." The disciples were not the only ones in danger of the storm. There were other little ships. When you feel like you are the only one with problems, look around you and you will see that there are many going through the storms. When you are the only one taking a stand for God, remember that the Lord is with you always.
3 Which Side Are You On?
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." I Kings 18:21
We began this series by asking the question, "What are we doing here?" Before you can answer that question in your life, you need to see who's master of your life. If you are a Christian, then you need to make up your mind to serve God and follow the Lord. But no matter how hard you try, you can't live a Christian life without Christ. You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and repent before you can follow Him. Not only can you not serve the Lord if you don't know Him, you also can't serve the Lord and Baal, or other false gods. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24) Exodus 34:14 also tells us, "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:" There are many people who are afraid to take a stand for God. They may be saved, but if asked about it they would answer "not a word". What are you doing here? Where do you stand? If you are on the Lord's side, then serve the Lord. If you don't know the Lord, please find room in your heart to be saved and follow him.
4 When The Journey Is Too Hard
"But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” I Kings 19:4-7
Many times we come to the place where the journey is too great for us, the way is too hard and we feel like giving up. We can see three aspects of Elijah's despair which may also contribute to our periods of depression. First we see in chapter 18 that Elijah had worked hard and had a very tiring experience, on top of which he outran a chariot. (I Kings 18:46) He was physically exhausted. Our problems seem so much larger when we don't feel like we have the energy to face them. Next, it is imperative to remember that Elijah has just had a mountain-top experience. Valleys are at the foot of the mountains. We don't always live on the mountains. Many times our victorious gains are followed by bitter defeats. Elijah became defeated by the threats of Jezebel. Last, and maybe more significant, Elijah sent his servant away and went on alone. (I Kings 19:3) We can gain much needed support from our Christian friends and family. What was the cure for Elijah's depression? The angel fed Elijah and let him sleep. We too, can benefit greatly from getting enough rest and eating sensibly. Also notice that the angel did not reprimand Elijah. Give your friends an emotional and spiritual lift when they need it. Last of all, we see in I Kings 19:15, God sent Elijah on another mission. We need to stay busy. The best way I have found to get over feeling sorry for myself, is to help someone else. We all may go through periods of depression, but God can give us strength and help us through it.
5 A Call From The Burning Bush
"And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;... Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain." Exodus 3:7, 10-12
Before you ask God, "What am I doing here?" or "What is my purpose in life?" make sure you are ready for the answer. Moses was on the backside of the desert and he had a lot of time to think about his reason for being. One day God called to him from the burning bush and explained that He wanted him to go back to Egypt and lead the children of Israel to freedom. Moses knew that he could not do this on his own, but God promised to be with him. It is good to seek God's will in finding your own purpose. No matter what the task, remember that He will be with you to perform it. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)
6 Who Am I?
"Then went David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O LORD God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. and is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?... Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears." II Samuel 7:18-19, & 22
Before I can find my purpose in life, I need to know who I am. Moses asked, "Who am I?" when he did not feel capable of doing the task that God gave him. Here we read that David also asked, "Who am I?", but it was because he did not feel worthy of the blessings of God. God promised, "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." (II Samuel 7:16) Christ, the King of Kings, was born in the lineage of David. When we stop and see how great God is, we see how small we are. I can say with David, "Who am I?" when I think that Jesus, my blessed Lord, came and shed His precious blood on a cruel cross to give me life. "Who am I?" that God allowed me to be born in the Bible belt of America to Christian parents where I was raised in church and a good home. "Who am I?" that God has blessed me with health and given me a warm home, and I don't have to worry about food and clothing. "Who am I?" that God has given me a loving husband, children, daughters-in-law, and a precious granddaughter. "Who am I?" that God has given me the opportunity to worship and serve Him in a Godly church. One of my favorite Psalms begins, "O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens... When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy finger, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." (Psalm 8:1, 3-4) As night falls, look out into the vast skies at the moon and the stars and take time to consider, "Who am I?"
7 A New Creature
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." II Corinthians 5:17
A coworker was talking this week about a couple who used to cuss at their children, but now they've changed. Someone asked what made them change, and she said that somebody invited them to church and that made all the difference. She said that their lives have changed and it is apparent in their walk and their talk. That should give us encouragement to keep on giving out tracts and inviting people to church. It is easy to get discouraged when we don't see our friends and family come to know the Lord. But we must keep on living a Christian life around them and keep on praying for them. God is the only One who can turn their lives around and give them new life. Only God can take our sinful desires and give us a hunger for His Word.
8 Is There Not A Cause?
"And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?" I Samuel 17:29
If you have never been prone to seek your purpose in life, let me ask you this question posed by David. "Is there not a cause?" David's older brothers were in Saul's army and Jesse, their father, sent David with some food to the camp. When David got there he saw the Philistine giant, Goliath, defy the men of Israel. "And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and take away the reproach form Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him. And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?" (I Samuel 17:26-29) We know how the story ends... David uses his sling and a stone and kills the giant. Let us look back on his question, "Is there not a cause?" The defiance of the Philistine giant against Israel angered David. It is okay for us to become angry when the world defies our God, and ridicules a Christian brother or sister. We need to take a stand for the cause of Christ. David was small, but he had faith in the God he served. "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands." (I Samuel 17:46 & 47) Then David ran to meet the giant. One way we can fulfil our purpose in life is to rise up and face the challenges against our faith. Join in the ranks for the cause of Christ.
9 A Job Fit For A King
"And Jokin, and the men of Chozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who had the dominion in Moab, and Jashubilehem. And these are ancient things. These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work." I Chronicles 4:22 & 23
I was reading in I Chronicles through the genealogies, from Adam, down through each lineage of the sons of Israel. After reading name, after name, after name, I came to these verses which described the work of these men in this line of Judah. Several words in these two verses, "ancient", "potters", "plants", "hedges", and "king", reminded me of one of the Seven Ancient Wonders Of The World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. I tried to find more verses about these men so that I could put them in a time-table and tell which king they worked for, but this is the only place these men are mentioned. I looked online about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and although there are differences of opinion, many of the references say they were believed to have been built during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and slaves were used to turn the wheels and chains that carried water up the vast heights to water these plants. Without any other information, I kept reading in Chronicles as the different lines of Israel were noted. I prayed that God would show me more from His Word, and I came to I Chronicles 9:1 and saw that maybe these were the potters that built the mountainous, stairstepped, gardens of Babylon. "So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression." There is no way to really know which king these men worked for, but the significance of the verses is that they did their work so well, it is commended among these lists of names. Their work was fit for a king, as "...they dwelt with the king for his work." We have been searching the scriptures to find our purpose for living. You may feel that all your work and energy is being used to promote your company or boss and that you are a slave to your job. Don't despair. Do the best job you can. Do a job fit for a king.
10 The Right Purpose But The Wrong Plan
“And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the LORD our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, ... And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people... And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart... And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God." Portions of I Chronicles 13:1-10
The fourth chapter of I Samuel tells us about the ark of the covenant taken by the Philistines in the time of war. Chapters 5 - 7 tell how the Philistines were cursed and how they sent the ark back on a new cart pulled by two milk kine to Kirjathjearim and afterward, onward to the house of Abinadab. Did you notice in our verses above that David consulted with everyone, except God, in bringing the ark back home? Also, notice that he brought the ark back like the Philistines sent it, instead of the way God had commanded. There are times when we have good intentions, and we talk with other people and they think our ideas are great, but we don't pray about it and follow God's will. We look to the ideas of the world and try to use them in our Christian work. How many churches try to get new people to come by worldly means? How many try to organize and operate the house of God like a business? David later realized his mistake and in I Chronicles 15 he told the Levites to sanctify themselves and carry the ark with staves on their shoulders as the Lord had commanded in the beginning. It is not enough to have good intentions, or the right purpose in mind. We must seek God's will and follow through with the right plan.
11 A Good Plan But The Wrong Man
"Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remaineth under curtains. Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee. And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in;” I Chronicles 17:1-4
The children of Israel had assembled the tabernacle and carried it with them through the wilderness. David wanted to build a temple for the Lord. He told the prophet of his plans and Nathan agreed, "Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee." But God said, "No." David had big plans for the house of God and God told him, "No." God told David that his son would build the temple. There are times in our lives when we have a great idea, and we may go to our preacher and he thinks it is a good idea, but somehow it just doesn't work out and we realize that God said, "No." We feel hurt and disappointed. We may even feel angry. But God knows what is best for us and God knows which direction to lead us in. If you come up with a good plan and you see that someone else gets to carry it through, don't be jealous or upset. Be thankful that God knows just what you need, and let Him lead.
12 Daniel Purposed In His Heart
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Daniel 1:8
Having a purpose driven life doesn't just happen. Daniel "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself..." We must follow his example if we want to be in God's will. When someone first comes to know the Lord he or she tries to do everything right. New Christians want to go to church, and they want to live for God. After a while, I am afraid that many of us lose our zeal. We need to purpose in our heart that we are going to live for God and not let the world, or the things of the world, hinder us. Daniel honored God in his living and God blessed Daniel. "And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." (Daniel 1:19 & 20)
13 Supposing They Had Obtained Their Purpose
"Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete." Acts 27:9-13
Paul was on a ship to Rome and he tried to warn of the dangers ahead but the men in charge didn't listen. They had already come through some stormy weather, but when "the south wind blew softly" they supposed "that they had obtained their purpose." The man of God tried to warn them, but they did not listen. As you search for your purpose in life, seek God's will. Listen to your pastor, and read your Bible. Don't guide your life by soft blowing winds of other doctrines. Paul told the believers at Ephesus "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ;" (Ephesians 4:14) Let Christ establish your purpose. Make sure you are on the straight and narrow way to heaven. Our story continues, as the ship was "exceedingly tossed with a tempest" in verse 18. "And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not Paul..." (Acts 27:20-24) They lost all hope, but God sent an angel and said "Fear not..." You may have followed the wrong purpose in life and now find yourself in troublesome storms. Don't lose hope. Turn your life over to God and let Him guide your ship.
14 You're Not Too Young To Be An Example
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." I Timothy 4:14
I started this web site to give daily devotions to my sons as they went away to college. God has allowed people of all ages to visit this site, but this verse is for the young people. Paul told young Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers..." His advice is to be a good example in how you talk, in how you live, in your love to others, in spiritual things, in faith, and in purity. Sometimes older people look down on young people, and "despise" them. If you will be an example of how true believers should live, they won't have a reason to despise you. You may still be seeking your purpose in life. You may not know where God is leading you, but let this verse be an encouragement to you. Write this verse on an index card and place it where you can read it daily. Let God's Word remind you how you should live day by day. Knowing your purpose in life is not just about planning your future, but it is how you live day by day.
15 When We Have Too Little
"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?" John 6:5-9
Children always like this story, but even adults can learn from this lesson. Many times we come to the place where what we have is not enough. When our children were young I stayed home to raise them and we lived on my husband's salary. He made just enough to reach from paycheck to paycheck. When we had necessary car repairs, or doctor bills, we didn't know where the money would come from, but God always provided our needs. The money always came from unexpected places and we were always thankful. When hard or difficult times come we sometimes question God, but God always knows what is best for us. Our verse above says, "And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do." I think God sends things in our lives to prove us, and see if we will seek Him and put our faith in Him. We can also look at this little lad in the story. He could have kept his lunch and said that he needed it for himself. He could have said that there was not enough for everyone else. But he gave all he had to Jesus. Because he was willing to let go of what he had, Jesus was able to multiply it and feed 5,000. When times are tough and you can't stand on your own, give all you have to God and watch Him work miracles in your life.
16 Where Are You?
"And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" Genesis 3:8 & 9
We have been looking at the question, "What am I doing here?" In searching for Biblical answers we also looked at David's question, "Who am I?" I think an equally important question is "Where am I?" When we try to find our purpose in life it is good to stop and see just where we are. Are you seeking God's will for your life, or are you hiding among the trees? Do you spend each day in prayer to God above, or does God have to come looking for you? Adam and Eve had sweet communion with God in the Garden of Eden, but they sinned and broke their fellowship. If we want to know God's will and if we want to walk and talk with God we must confess our sin. David prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23 & 24) You may be able to hide the sin in your life from those around you, but God knows even the sin in your heart. Ask God for forgiveness and you can restore that sweet fellowship you once had with the Lord and He will guide you and lead you all the way.
17 Jonah Ran From God's Purpose
“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken." Jonah 1:1-4
Adam and Eve hid from God because of sin in their lives. Jonah tried to hide from God because he didn't like the plan God had for his life. God told him to go and preach to the wicked city of Nineveh. These were enemies of the children of Israel. We see this confession in Jonah 4:1 & 2 after God turned away from their punishment when they repented. "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." Jonah did not want God to forgive his enemies. Jesus said, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?" (Matthew 5:44-46) Jesus also told the disciples "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34 & 35) As you seek God's purpose in your life, remember to show God's love to those you meet along the way.
18 Mary And Martha
"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Where are you? Are you cumbered about much serving, or are you sitting at the feet of Jesus? Jesus taught the disciples to serve one another. He took a towel and washed their feet as an example to them. Martha was serving. She had guests in her house and was trying to make sure everyone was fed and comfortable. I think the problem Martha had was in judging Mary. Every time she walked through the room she saw Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus and she felt like she was left to serve all alone. As you look for your purpose in life, you may feel like you are giving all you have to serve the Lord. You may be overwhelmed by the load you bear. It may be time for you to listen to these words of our Lord and sit at His feet. We read in Mark 6:30-31, "And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." We serve a loving Savior who cares for us. He understands that we need time in our lives to sit at His feet and feast on His Word.
19 He Came To Himself
"And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Luke 15:13-20
I want us to look at those four little words, "He came to himself." This son took his inheritance and left home and wasted it all. He used up everything he had and ended up in the pig pen. Then "he came to himself". Where are you at today? Did you leave the Father's house and run to a distant land? Are you spending and wasting your life, along with all the money you have? Or, have you already spent more than you have and find yourself sinking lower and lower? I have often heard the old saying, "Sin will cost you more than you want to pay, take you farther than you want to go, and keep you longer than you want to stay." How much farther will you sink before you come to yourself? Look at what the son said, "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee..." It's time to get up out of the pig pen. How long has it been since you bowed on your knees before God? When was the last time you went to church and worshipped the Lord? Go back to your heavenly Father and confess. He loves you and He will forgive you.
20 For Such A Time As This
"And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries." Esther 3:8 & 9
If you don't know much about the little book of Esther let me encourage you to read it. The story takes place in Shushan the palace. Ahasuerus was king and when Haman was promoted to be his "right-hand man" he demanded that the people bow down to him. Mordecai, being a Jew who had been carried away captive from Jerusalem, refused to give Haman reverence, so Haman became very angry and set out to kill all the Jews. Esther was Mordecai's cousin, whom he had raised because her father and mother were dead. She had won the beauty contest and become queen and she sent to Mordecai to see why he sat in mourning in sackcloth and ashes. "Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knowest whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 3:13 & 14) Where are you today? Do you feel like you are in a strange and foreign land? You may feel like you have lost all the family you had. Or, you may have been promoted to a high position or place of honor. Where ever you are, serve the Lord. You don't know all the lives you will brighten right where you are, by letting your light shine. When troubles come your way, turn to God and see if you can help others because you may be right where God wants to use you in "such a time as this." Read the book of Esther and see what happened when the law to destroy the Jews could not be changed.
21 Where Is The Lord God Of Elijah?
"And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over." II Kings 2:8-14
Elijah asked, "There is the LORD God of Elijah?" I once heard a preacher ask, "Where are the Elijah's of the Lord God?" I know five sweet Christian ladies who have gone on to heaven in the past month. The older generation is going home to glory and we need strong, young Christian men and women to take their place. In the book of Ezekiel the Lord said, "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." (Ezekiel 22:30) We need to take a stand and fill in the gap so that Christianity will stay strong in our land.
22 When We Don't Know Where We Are Going
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Hebrews 11:8-10
The time has come once again for students to schedule their classes for next year. Some know exactly which college they want to attend and some are trying to decide if they want to go to college. Many will be graduating in the next few months and will be trying to find jobs. With all these decisions, it is sometimes hard to know where you are going. It is in those times that you have to walk by faith. Abraham did not know where he was going, but he went out by faith. I have often said that life would be easier if we had a pillar of cloud that went in front of us and showed us the way that God wanted us to go as He did for the children of Israel in the wilderness. This chapter begins, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 12:1) We can't see our future, but we can walk in the light that God gives us and walk in faith and the blessed hope that we only have through Jesus Christ our Lord. We have been talking about who we are, and where we are and our purpose for living. You may not know where you are in God's plan for your life, but be encouraged that you can walk by faith, just like Abraham.
23 Who Shall Prosper?
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3
Many books have been written on how to be prosperous, how to influence people, and how to make it to the top. This Psalm tells us how to be blessed and prosperous. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." These are things you should not do. You don't need to follow the counsel of the world to be successful. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." Read and study the Word of God. The Holy Spirit can teach you and open your eyes and heart as you read and give you understanding for daily living. Drink from the well of living water and bring forth fruit. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Do you remember the story of the Samaritan woman? "Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:13 & 14) Meditate on His Word and be fruitful.
24 An Unexpected Cross
“And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross." Mark 15:21 & 22
Preacher Gerald Miller preached of "An Unexpected Cross" Sunday night at Pine Grove Baptist Church. In Matthew 16:24 & 25 we read, "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." We can choose to "take up" our cross and follow Jesus and that is what we should do, but, sometimes we are compelled to carry an unexpected cross. When disease and sickness comes on those we love, sometimes even to our children, we have an unexpected cross to bear. We don't understand why things like this happen in our lives, but we have to put our faith in God and know that His ways are best. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Luke's gospel tells us, "And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus." (Luke 23:26) Simon was made to bear the cross of our Lord, following in His steps. Notice that Mark makes a point to tell us that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. He had children that would most likely follow in his steps. There is always someone watching us. People watch to see our reaction when we are given an unexpected cross to bear. When trials come that you don't understand, just remember that God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts, and keep following in His steps. There are those who are following in your steps and looking to see if your faith is real. Don't quit on God. Keep trusting in Him.
25 A Man Born Blind
"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” John 9:1-3
I have never understood the question posed by the disciples here in the book of John. Did they really think this man sinned before he was born and that caused him to be born blind? Or, did they feel like some people teach today, that if you have a disease or handicap it is because you are paying for sins you have committed? We do not live in a perfect world and we don't have all the answers to life's questions. The answer Jesus gave was, "...that the works of God should be made manifest in him." You may have been born in situations that you can't change. God created you and me just the way He wanted us to be. We can sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, that we don't have more money, or we aren't beautiful, or taller, or shorter, or smarter, but complaining doesn't help us change our situation. We need to praise God anyway and keep on serving Him and let His work be manifested in us.
26 What Does God Require?
"Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:6-8
The children of Israel were commanded to give offerings to God to pay their sin-debt. Praise the Lord, Christ came to give His life to pay our sin-debt once and for all. We don't have to offer lambs because Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God. This verse does tell us what God requires of us. We would do well to remember this verse and try to live by it daily. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" As you search for your purpose in life, don't overlook the basics of everyday living.
27 Stand Still And See The Salvation Of The Lord
"Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? ...Then upon Jahaziel... came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation; And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not your's, but God's... Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high." II Chronicles 20:2-7 & 14-19
As I read this chapter this morning God blessed my soul. Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah and the Moabites and Ammonites went up against him in battle with a great multitude. So Jehoshaphat took his problems to the Lord. First he remembered who God is ("art not thou God in heaven?) and what God had already done for the children of Israel. ("Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land... and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?") He reminded God of His promise to "hear and help". (II Chronicles 20:9) And God heard and answered his prayer. His answer to Jehoshaphat is one that would help us if we would remember it. "Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not your's, but God's." How many battles have I lost because I tried to fight them on my own? We need to call out to God in our times of need and let God fight our battles. Once Jehoshaphat gave his problems over to God, he bowed down and worshipped the Lord. The next morning when the army started out to battle they sang and praised God on their way to the battlefield. God fought the battle and they spent three days gathering the riches and jewels of the slain enemies. We have been looking for our purpose as we go through life. Today let me exhort you to look back where God has brought you from and remember how great our God is. Trust in His promises and look up to Him for salvation. Don't wait until the battle is over to worship and praise Him, but start out each morning with praise to our wonderful Lord and awesome God. And when it seems as though the whole world has come against you, "stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD..."
28 Ye Must Be Born Again
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." John 3:5-7
One of the first themes I used on this web site was from the verse, "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children." (Ephesians 5:1) You may wish to look at some of the Bible verses we used to Be Followers of God. God tells us to be holy, be kind, be content, be patient, and there are many more. His Word also tells us what not to be, such as be not proud, and be not afraid. The most important of all the "be" verses we studied is found in these five little words of our Lord, "Ye must be born again." You will never find or fulfill your true purpose in life until you come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Romans 10:13 tells us plainly, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." The same chapter tells us "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9 & 10) Turn to Jesus today and begin a new life in Him and find your true purpose for living.
29 Does My Life Really Matter?
"Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel." II Kings 5:1-4
Our pastor, Jeff Woods, preached from this passage in a Youth Rally Service Friday and it was really good, not only for the young people that were there, but for the adults also. Many times in our lives we wonder, "Does my life really matter?" "Does God really care about me?" First let me tell you that, "Yes, Jesus cares." He suffered and died a cruel death on the cross to save you from an eternity in hell. He cares for you. Now, back to our scripture above. This little maid was a captive who had been carried away, against her will, from her home and family. You may feel like a captive in the situation you are in, in your home, your school, or your workplace. Don't let that hinder you from serving God. She was also little. Don't feel like you are too little to matter to God, or to others. God can use you, no matter how young or old you are, just as He used this little maid, and as He used young David to kill the giant. Also notice that she kept her faith as she worked for Naaman's wife. Many times Christians mope around, and complain, and that's not a good witness for our Lord. As we finish this theme on our purpose in life, let me encourage you to give all you have to God. Where ever you are, serve Him. Use the talents and abilities He has placed in your hands and take advantage of the opportunities He gives you to be the best Christian you can be. Tell others what Christ has done for you and what He can do for them. This little maid told simply what God was able to do. God has commissioned us to tell others, and that may be the greatest purpose we have on this earth.