Living on Purpose

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31-34; NKJV)

But Daniel purposed in his heart (Daniel 1:8; NKJV)

There are couple of thoughts rattling around in my head this morning.  One points to Jesus and His teaching in Matthew and Luke (12:31) regarding worry and the importance of choosing Him.  The second points to Daniel and his example as a man (child of God) who above all else chose God and purposed in his heart to do what God required of him.

There is a prayer I often pray, especially when I am struggling with something in my life and/or I am talking to God about the man I need to be and calling on Him to help me be that man.  It has to do with purpose.  It has to do with putting things into perspective.  It deals with focusing on what is important and working on what really matters.

My prayer:  “God and Father in Heaven, please help me to be the man you have called me to be…to be a good husband, father, brother in Christ, and evangelist of the truth.  Please help me to make Your work my most important work.  Please ground me in Your love which never fails so that I will be filled up with Your love for others and be a blessing to them as You have called me to be and serve in the kingdom with the talents, abilities and experiences You have blessed me with.  Amen”

Disciple–Husband–Father–Brother–Evangelist.  That is what I want to be focused on.  What is not in that list are all the other things that can get in the way…my job, my health and fitness, my “stuff”, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, there are other things that are important in life and things to be enjoyed…but they are not the most important (see 1 Cor 15:3-4) and Jesus doesn’t want me worrying about them.

He wants me to seek Him first and to purpose in my heart to be faithful and be working on what matters.  He wants that for you too and as we focus on Him, our families, our brethren and sharing the gospel with lost souls…we will feel purposeful and the worries of the day will be eclipsed by the promise and every spiritual blessing of Jesus.  May He fill you up and lift you up in the life and purpose you are blessed to live.

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 4

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,

God called David from shepherding sheep in order to shepherd the people of Israel. What in the world did David know about leading a nation? Not much, but what he did have was valuable to God. David had the right heart, and you can’t teach heart. God could teach David and would teach David everything he needed to know about being a king. But David had the right start…a great heart.

Think about some simple things David learned as a young man in the field shepherding sheep:

  • He learned to meditate upon God. David from the very beginning had a heart that was devoted to God. You can tell from his Psalms that he spent time outdoors looking up and around at the amazing creation of God. This started young for David. Would this come in handy later as David was fleeing from Saul, facing giants, planning wars, managing all the minutia of being a king? Absolutely!
  • He developed great musical talent. Not only did this soothe David and his animals, it would later bring David into a king’s palace to soothe troubled KIng Saul. These talents would also be used later as David wrote worship music and created many instruments to go along with that worship music. Those Psalms are still being used in worship 3,000 years later.
  • He learned about faith and facing adversity. As a shepherd, he had to face cold and heat, life and death. Read about the other shepherds in the Bible, a shepherd has to think about pasture, dark valleys, robbers, weather, good water, sickness, predators, etc. Would those skills come in useful later in life? Sure, he was learning how to multi-task, even when life and death were at stake. But he showed great care and devotion to his sheep, and God knew David would show that same care and devotion to the people of God (Psalm 78:70-72).
  • He learned to be faithful in a few things. If you are not devoted to your job at McDonald’s, why do you think God will bless you with being CEO of a corporation? If you are not dedicated to sweeping the floor at work and you cut corners and lie about how much work you did, you will do the same thing when managing billions of dollars. It’s that simple. Jesus said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12). David was faithful with his father’s few sheep, and God gave him the kingdom of Israel.
  • He learned how to use a sling. Do you think that will come in useful later with Goliath? Shepherds by necessity became deadly with a sling and stone, and David’s skill he learned keeping sheep would one day take down a giant.

Sometimes we minimize and discount the little jobs and little lessons we are learning on a daily basis. It’s like the college student that wonders why he has to take a certain class that has nothing to do with his desired career, and then maybe later he realizes he did learn something in that class that was valuable to him later in life. It is easy to forget that God is preparing us for future work in His kingdom. The work you are doing now, and the faith lessons you are learning now will someday be used in a powerful way later in life. That’s just the way it works. David didn’t know that being a shepherd was training him to be king, but God did.

 

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 1

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 2

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 3

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 3

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,

We continue our dive into the life of David and that he served God’s purpose in his own generation. At a practical level for David that meant as a young man he focused on being a shepherd of his father’s sheep. Even when he knew his next job was going to be king of Israel, he still did his everyday job of tending to the sheep. As an older man, while serving as king, David wanted to build a temple for God. God blessed David for his desire, but said, “No…Solomon your son will build the temple.” How did David respond? He devoted the rest of his life to preparing Solomon and Israel for the building of the temple.

Let’s summarize it this way:

  • When David was young, he didn’t focus on the job he was GOING to do, he focused on the job he CURRENTLY HAD.
  • When David was older and king, he didn’t focus on the job he ASKED God to do, he focused on the job God WANTED him to do.
  • Are you and I like David?

Here are a few points to consider about God’s purpose for you:

  • Let God DECIDE what your purpose is. For David as a young man it was shepherding, as an older man it was mentor and temple-preparer.
  • Let God DEFINE what a great purpose and work is for you. David could have gotten a big head as a young man, saying I’m going to be great someday and be king. Instead, he knew greatness at that period in his life was serving God and keeping sheep. As an older man he wanted to do this great work of building the temple, but God’s great work for David was preparing Solomon to build the temple.
  • Let God DETERMINE the right time for you to live out that purpose. David didn’t know when he would become king, so he just kept doing his job and living for God until God revealed the right time for him to be king.

 

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 1

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 2

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 2

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,

If you were working at a fast food restaurant, and a prophet of God came to you and said that none of the current candidates would become President of the United States (I would say, hooray!!). But then you are told by the prophet that YOU will be the next President. On January 20, 2021, you will be sworn in as the next President and move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Would you leave your headset at the drive thru and tell your boss you quit?

Most would. But the young teenager David didn’t do that, did he? Nope, he went right back to work as a shepherd in the field watching his father’s sheep.

For today’s briefing, I want to walk you through a few verses and ask some simple questions along the way.

What was David doing BEFORE he was anointed to be the next king? He was “keeping the sheep” of his father Jesse (1 Samuel 16:11).

What was David doing AFTER he was anointed to be the next king? When David was called to play music for King Saul, it was said that David was “with the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:17-19).

What was David STILL doing while he worked at the king’s palace to play music for the King? He went “back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep” at Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:14-15).

What did David make sure to do WHENEVER he was sent back to the king? David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper…and went.

Now, men, that is a sermon left for us from a young teenager. He wasn’t entitled, he was humble and grateful and dedicated to his job. Even when he knew that he would soon live in a palace and be the king of all Israel, he still did his “lowly” job of shepherding sheep. He wasn’t even shepherding his own sheep, they were Daddy’s sheep. Look at that attitude!

Do you want to know why God called David to be king? Here is a great reason why, David didn’t get too big for his britches. His heart was humble and dedicated to God, his job, and his family.

Psalms 78:70-72 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

More to come on this.

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, part 1

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation

Acts 13:21-22 “Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'”

Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,”

David served God’s purpose and God’s will in his generation. But what does that really mean at a practical level? For David here’s what it meant: He wanted to build a temple for God and His glory, but God said, “No…your son Solomon will build it for Me.” So at a practical level for David, he spent the rest of his life preparing Solomon and the nation for the temple-building project. This was God’s calling for David.

God gave David a clear “to-do” list, and David went about that job with “all his might” (2 Chronicles 29:1-2). He defeated the enemies on every side, creating peace and national security. David organized the priesthood into divisions so they could divide up responsibilities in leading temple worship. He also did the same for the military, so it would be properly organized. During his reign, he collected a TON of money through his military victories and he took a big stash of his own cash to put in the treasury to help build the temple. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, he also drew out and wrote out the building plans for the temple. Again, with God’s guidance, command and inspiration, he designed musical instruments for worship and he wrote all kinds of worship music to be used in the temple. David was one pretty busy dude during his reign! On top of that, David gave first importance to the spiritual training of his young son Solomon and helping him see the value of God’s wisdom.

This was God’s purpose for David in David’s generation. God said “No” to building the temple, but “Yes” to helping get all the preparations together to build that temple.

I’ll leave you with this thought: You may not get to do the job you think you should do for God, but what can you do for God? How will you, like King David, dive in to help prepare the next generation of God’s people so that they can be ready to build God’s house in their generation? Are you serving God’s purposes for you in your generation?

I myself am going

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'”
(Zechariah 8:20-23)

We all need someone to follow. God says we are sheep. Really, whether or not we like it and accept it, we are following someone. The passage above from Zechariah shows us that when someone is walking confidently and humbly toward God, that there will be others who will grab on to your robe and want to go with you. People will follow someone, sadly even if that leader is going in the absolute wrong direction (Matthew 15:14). Are you and I leading others to the house of God in Jerusalem, meaning are we leading others to Christ, to truth, and to His family?

God wants us, as His men, to walk purposefully, confidently, passionately and humbly toward Him and toward His house. When we do that, others will follow. Not everyone will follow, in fact, Jesus tells us that most won’t. But we need to have a Joshua-like attitude that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We are going to God. We are going to God’s house. Do you want to come with us? That’s the mindset God’s men must have.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
(Revelation 22:17)

Be Careful How You Walk

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16

My lower back has caused me problems for well over ten years.  When I was younger it would just flare up every now and then and remind me of my mortality.  I know this is cliché, but ever since I turned forty I’ve had a constant ache that won’t go away.  Somedays are better than others but every morning I’m immediately reminded of my weakness.

Saturday I worked all day in the yard clearing part of our property and cleaning out the flower beds in the front of the house.  I spent about eight or nine hours bending over swinging a machete, shoveling old mulch and pulling out plants and weeds.  I also loaded 47 bags of mulch (30 pounds each) in and out of the car and into the flower beds.  Not surprisingly, I’ve been in pretty severe pain since Sunday.  Just about any movement hurts and I almost pass out when I try to bend over and put on my socks.

Now my movements are very deliberate.  If I drop something I don’t just bend over and pick it up, I position myself properly, making sure there is something sturdy around in case I need to pull myself back up.  Then I bend at the knees, focusing on keeping my back straight the entire way down and back up.  If I’m sitting at my desk and I need something just out of arms reach, I don’t just stretch and reach.  I make sure to roll the chair closer so I can keep my back straight and avoid leaning forward.  When walking up or down stairs my focus is on each step, being sure to keep my foot in the center to avoid slipping or jarring.  Anytime I get in a hurry and fail to pay attention I have an instant reminder in the form of sharp pain in my lower back that will take my breath away.

The letter to the Ephesians focuses a great deal on our “walk”.  Chapter two verse two refers to our former walk, focused on sin according to the course of this world.  In verse ten, Paul tells us that we are His workmanship, created for good works so that we can walk in them.  In chapter four verse one, Paul implores us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling and goes on to describe the characteristics of that walk.  In verse seventeen, we are told to no longer walk like the Gentiles, darkened, ignorant, callous and focused on sensuality, greed, and impurity.  Chapter five verse two encourages us to walk in love just like Jesus and verse eight tells us to walk as children of Light.  And sort of like a summary, verse fifteen tells us to be careful how we walk, making the most of our time, understanding the will of the Lord.

God has gone to great lengths to teach us how to walk.  He has described what a life dedicated to Christ looks like and He has provided encouragement as we leave behind our life of sin and rebellion and start walking with Him.  He has also, in His great wisdom, provided painful reminders when we take a wrong step, head down the wrong path, or try to revert back to walking with the world.  The consequences of sin should provide those sharp and pointed reminders that we are not in line with the will of God.

Our job is to be careful, to be watchful, to be observant in our walk.  Who do we surround ourselves with in this life and what kind of influence do they have on us?  What do we fill our minds with and is it leading us closer to God or farther away?  What are we pursuing?  How do we spend our time?  What are our priorities?

When we get up every morning and start our day, what deliberate steps do we take to ensure we are walking with God?  Do we direct our paths or do we allow the world around us to push us along in whatever direction it happens to be heading at the moment?  Are we living life at such a rapid pace that we fail to consider the consequences of the decisions we make and the path we are taking?

Slow down.

Walk with a purpose.

The Calling and The Walk

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,”  Ephesians 4:1

I’ve been listening to a series of lessons by Andy Cantrell on the letter to the Ephesians.  I’ve provided the link below if you’d like to take a listen.  Among other things, Andy did a tremendous job in identifying and simplifying the structure of the letter.  I believe that if you can get an overall picture of a book it allows you to understand, and apply, the more specific instruction in a powerful way.

Andy looked at chapter four verse one as the pivot point in the letter.  Paul implores the Christians to “walk…worthy of the calling.”  Chapters one through three describes the “calling” and chapters four through six describe the walk.

When you think about the “calling” of the Christian, what do you think of?  Do you think of our behavior, our language, our attitude?  Do you think of being kind and generous and loving?  Maybe you think of the things we are not to do, avoiding sinful behavior.  That is how I used to think but in reality I was thinking of the walk.  Paul implores us to walk worthy of the calling, meaning the walk and the calling are two different things.  The calling is the “why” behind our walk.  In other words, our behavior, our language, our attitudes, avoiding sin is because we have been called.

So how does Paul describe our calling?  Well, we’d have to discuss all the amazing things in Ephesians chapters one through three and we don’t have time for that in this short article.  I’d like us to consider one of the recurring themes or phrases from the first three chapters.

“to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  1:6

“to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”  1:12

“who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” 1:14

In addition, notice how often God’s glory is referenced.

“the Father of glory” 1:17

“according to the riches of His glory” 3:16

“to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” 3:21

One of the essential attributes of our calling is God’s glory.  The Greek word for glory (doksa) literally means “what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth.”  The mercy and grace and kindness and love that God has lavished upon us should result in praising God’s glory.  The planning and execution of our redemption should result in praising God’s glory.  Our entire purpose is to generate praise of His glory.

So why do I walk a certain way?  Why is my behavior and language and attitude different than the world around me?  Why are my relationships with my wife and kids and co-workers and neighbors different?  Why should I try to live up to a certain standard, trying to understand what pleases God?  Because I’ve been called to bring praise to the glory of God.

This understanding of my purpose, of my calling changes things.  All that I do in my walk is not about me.  It is not about being better than those around me.  It is not about avoiding eternal punishment or securing my place in heaven.  My walk is about God’s glory and when I conduct myself in a worthy manner I will help generate praise to God.

As we get up and get ready to go out and face the world this morning, let us consider what our walk says about our Father in heaven.  Do our lives praise the glory of God?

http://www.casonlanechurch.org/sermons?title=&y=0&se=0&sv=0&sp=80

Household Idols

“So Michal let David down through the window, and he went out and fled and escaped.  Michal took the household idol and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goats’ hair at its head, and covered it with clothes.”  I Samuel 19:12-13

This is one of the many occasions when King Saul is trying to kill David.  Michal helps David escape and uses the “household idol” to deceive her father.  It must have been a fairly large object for it to pass as a full grown man.  This is one of those passages that is frustrating in its lack of detail and generates more questions than answers.

What is this thing?  Is it supposed to represent Yahweh or some false pagan deity?

Why does God’s anointed King have a household idol?

Why does godly David allow this thing to exist?

Is this household idol evidence of the extent of Saul’s departure from God?

I don’t have the answers but this passage got me thinking about my family.  Do we have any household idols?  Are there things that we prop up and put on a pedestal, knocking God out of His proper place in our home?  Entertainment, hobbies, a comfortable lifestyle are always a focus in my home.  These are things that might be harmless on the surface but can quickly start to suck up our time and resources and pull us away from God.

The scary thing is that even family its self can become a household idol.  We have all seen the destruction that a broken home causes and the culture around us bears witness that there is a great need for fathers to be more involved.  But what is the focus of our involvement?

I spend time with my wife and kids.  I’m involved in their lives and their interests.  I support their dreams and provide the foundation and skills so that they can be successful and become productive members of society.  But to what end?  Is all my time and attention and effort simply so they can be good citizens, secure a good living, and continue in the lifestyle that I have provided for them?  Is my goal to love them so that they are psychologically healthy and don’t have to spend a fortune on therapy in the future?

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”  Psalm 127:3-4

When a warrior shoots an arrow, where does it go?  Exactly where the warrior wants it to!  What am I aiming at with children?  What are my goals for my family?

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4

“Bring them up” means to nourish, to nurture, to “feed to the desired outcome”.  What am I feeding my kids?  What is my family growing up to become?

The solution is not to cut all the entertainment, recreational, educational, and sports related activities out of your family life and replace them with around the clock bible study.  The solution is to more fully understand our purpose.  We were created to bring glory to our God.  That purpose should be reflected in everything we do.  Every family activity can focus on who God is and what He has done for us.

The ride to baseball practice can be a discussion about the wisdom of God and how he designed such an amazing body.  The family vacation can involve the power of God reflected in creation and the importance of rest as we remember the story of creation.  Cleaning up and doing chores can focus on the blessing of being able to work and satisfaction of doing all our work for the Lord.  Struggling over school work can be combined with a short bible study to emphasize the education with eternal rewards.  Dealing with the heartbreak of boyfriends/girlfriends and broken relationships is an opportunity to show God’s comfort.  Waiting at the bus stop is the perfect opportunity to thank God for the goodnight of sleep and pray for a productive day.  And showing love to our wives and our children in so many different ways should be a reflection of the love the Father has shown to us.  In all things we can bring glory to God.

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”  Deuteronomy 6:7

Out of all the gifts and blessings that God has bestowed on me, my family is one of the only things that I can take with me into eternity.

For when dreams increase

Because much talk comes from dreams and things of no purpose. But let the fear of God be in you.
(Ecclesiastes 5:7, Bible in Basic English)

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.
(Ecclesiastes 5:7, English Standard Version)

You and I may have all kinds of ideas and “dreams” that come to our mind, but that does not mean they are all good ideas or great directions we should travel. Those ideas and dreams can lead us in a thousand different directions, and we have to develop discipline in how we deal with those ideas and plans.

There are many directions we can go in our business and in our homes, and many new things we can buy or try. What can happen is that we can dive into 20 or 3o things that sound like a great idea to do, and we end up not doing anything well at all.

We could learn a lesson from Nehemiah. It seems that in chapter 1-2 he spent months praying and developing a plan for rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. And when he returned home, he did several days of surveying Jerusalem with just a few people (Nehemiah 2:11-15). He wasn’t talking to a lot of people. He developed a firm plan, and then spoke to the leadership.

Nehemiah didn’t just stroll into Jerusalem, stand on the rubble, and confidently proclaim to all that he had an awesome idea about rebuilding the walls. He was disciplined and formulated the details of the plan in prayer before he started talking much about it.

Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode.
(Nehemiah 2:12)

Again, just because you have a good idea that pops into your head doesn’t mean that it is a good idea to share with others. That good idea might take you and others in the opposite direction from the last great idea you had. Take time to be silent, take time to pray, take time to plan. Ask wise counsel from a very select few.

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
(Proverbs 16:1-3)