There is a book that has been circulating in Christian circles for a while written by Pastor Rick Warren entitled The Purpose Driven Life. I actually have two or three copies of this book as well as a devotional that was a spin-off of the book. I went through two different classes to learn about living a life of purpose. Many thought it was a wonderful book. I think that many Christians today are wanting to know how to live a more purposeful life because we are searching for where we belong in the Kingdom of Heaven. I am searching for purpose and meaning and fulfillment even though I do feel contented and blessed. What is our purpose in living this life in the here and now of today? As a Christian I know that all of my life is to be an offering of praise and thanks to God for allowing me every minute of breath, for sending His Son to save me, to share that Good News with the world, to live my life well as a servant. I know that my purpose is to praise God in everything. But what more is there? Let’s dig into the Word and see what we can find.
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing. Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever. For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever. Psalm 37:23-29, (English Standard Version or ESV).
First and foremost we must recognize that God is in control of our lives. We do all that we can to get a good education, to find a good job, to work and provide a home for our families and many of us think that we did all of this without any help. But Psalms 37 tells us that God sets us on the course our life takes. There are other scriptures to back this up, take a look at just a few.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9, (ESV).
A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way? Proverbs 20:24, (ESV).
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Acts 17:24-28, (ESV).
Now we understand that God sends us where He wants us to go in life. He must also bring certain people into our life at certain times as well as taking some people out of our lives. We have no real control at all, we do our best to make plans for our life and then we can trust that God will guide us where we need to go. He is trustworthy to be our guide because He is righteous and honest and kind but He is also one who will discipline us as our earthly parents did. I don’t know about you but there are times in my life when I think that the difficulties I am facing are to teach me something and I always feel the hand of God in that moment. So let’s look more into how God guides and disciplines us.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12, (ESV).
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:3-14, (ESV).
Who can argue with the logic that the writer of Hebrews states here. The verses before this passage are discussing the great cloud of witnesses that we have as examples of great faith and yet they did not live to see that faith fulfilled. Of course the faith the writer is talking about is Jesus bringing salvation to the entire world! He endured much for our sake. But sometimes it is difficult for me to see through the fog of life all the dots that are connecting in my life to mean much of anything. Do you ever feel that way? I mean I was born, and have lived a long time, and I have been through some really tough times in my life, loss of family members through either death or divorce, loss of good health for much of my life, loss of income and status; the gains in my life do not really exceed the losses. How can I understand the why of it all? Do you ever feel that way too? King Solomon wrote a book to teach his son’s all that he had learned from his own life. It is my favorite book in the Bible because it is so jam-packed with truth and wise observations about things we all face in life. Let’s see what he says about life and understanding.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. Proverbs 3:1-10, (ESV).
You see when we don’t understand why something has happened or why things went the way that they did in our life we can still praise God. We can trust that God is at work in our life for a purpose that will not harm us. We don’t have to understand why because we only see with human eyes and not heavenly eyes. God has a plan and we are a part of His plan and we are to live our lives with faith that He knows what He is doing. King Solomon was a wise man and was also a rich man, and these words he penned to his sons were good and filled with wisdom. It is sad that he and his son’s didn’t follow the advice. Even as smart and wise as Solomon was, even he could not explain why things happen the way that they do in life. He trusted that God had a reason for everything done in life, every good day and every stormy day. So what is our purpose for living? We go back to where we began, Psalm 37.
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:1-11, (ESV).
Do good and don’t worry about the evil in the world because God is in control of every situation. Make your plans for life but remember that God will take you where you are to go. God will have you meet the people you are to meet. God will bring people into your life that need to know the Good News of Jesus Christ. God will bring you to it and through it because He can be trusted to know what He is doing. I leave you with the comforting words of Jesus spoken to the disciples before His death and resurrection.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:1-4, (ESV).