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Knowing Our Purpose In Life

Text: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before You were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." (Jer. 1:5).






Introduction:


God's purpose for us is as simple as what He created us to be : to live a life of fulfillment . Hence, for every purpose, He has created a pathway for its fulfillment even though as humans, we tend to drift away from this divine scheme, either intentionally or out of sheer ignorance. Simply put, God's purpose for us is 'His will for us.' Anything other than this is permissive will-that which is granted by God to satisfy the desires in the hearts of believers. More often than not, such desires are obviously and outrightly outside of God's will. Nevertheless, such desire to derail from His will is not without its attendant consequences, on the long run, "and they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy" (Ps.78:18). This is what James referred to as "asking amiss" (Jam.4:3).


Essentially, our text above is more of a conversation between God and Jeremiah. It took God to reiterate His plans for Jeremiah. God in this particular instance walked Jeremiah through the process of his preconception, birth and ultimately his ordination as a prophet to the nations. With this in mind, it became obvious to Jeremiah that he could not do otherwise. God in timeless prehistory and in His Almightiness had always graded His plans for each of His creature in their various areas of endeavors, on a symbiotic level: to flourish, on our part and do His mind / will, to His satisfaction. A sort of a win-win situation.


Knowing and staying true to this goes a long way saving humans the stress and loss of wandering about, wasting years and resources unnecessarily. To this end, He tailors each of us in that particular area that will satisfy His needs and ultimately makes us fulfilled as well. Hence, it is not a mistake if He decides to place us in different vocations, disciplines, and callings, other than we have etched in our minds. Such vocations include, but are not limited to: Sports, Accounting, Medicine, Law, Engineering, Pastoral & Theology, Business, Architecture, Technology, Academia, Banking, Agriculture, Transportation, Real Estate, Music, Health & Wellness, and a host of other subjects and professions.


{Note: This discourse will lend a little bit of bigger weight to ministerial calls, tasks, and assignments as against other disciplines of life}.


Jeremiah : Our Launching Pad:


With our text from the book of Jeremiah as a springboard for this discourse, it is an eye-opener that our response to God's plan can even be interactive in some cases. And not only that. It's really an exposition of the fact that being our Maker, there is no way we can hide from Him. For Jeremiah, it was a strange encounter much as it was real and true ! With God sending His word twice to Jeremiah in verses 2 & 3 of chapter one, then it translated that God meant business with him. Also, it is a pointer to one of the numerous ways God reveals Himself to, and engage the called. Our God not being rigid, always leaves line of communication open between Himself and the called. Talk of fairness on His part , then you are right ! Doors and channels of communication with the Supreme Being are shut ONLY when sin and rebellion become dominant in the life of the concerned, "...your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Is. 59:1-2). Reason it was not a pleasant experience for Saul the king towards the end of his life, "and when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim, or by the prophets" (1 Sam.28:6). The called, and the chosen need to be extra careful to not run foul of the ethics of the calling. The consequences can be grievous.


Few Other Biblical Examples Called For Purpose Fulfillment:


Moses:


God's call of Moses was once, even though his name was mentioned twice. And whenever God calls, it means there is a need to meet, and He reserves the prerogative on how to meet the need and how to deploy such. The need in this case was to send Moses as a deliverer of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. And usually God would introduce Himself, as He did for Moses here, "I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Gen.3:6). Out of curiosity, Moses in response, asked God two pertinent questions. What name would he give his Israel family as his sender should they attempt to debunk his claim that God really appeared to him. Regardless of how positive God's responses to Moses' questions were, he (Moses), still went into defensive mode, like most of us do even in present days. He, (Moses), reeled out series of personal disabilities and shortcomings that would make him unfit for the enormous task, as if God was not aware of these limitations. {The LORD WILL GIVE US VICTORY OVER ALL LIMITATIONS IN OUR CALLINGS. AMEN !}


At the end of the day, the back and forth discussions cum argument, between the duo, saw God prevailing over Moses , albeit in anger. In effect, Aaron, Moses' brother was brought into the loop, as a spokesman to the Israelites and Moses a God to him, (Aaron), "so he shall be your spokesman to the people...and you shall be to him as a God." (Ex.4:16). And by extension, Moses' rod will be the major tool to do signs in Egypt, "and you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs" (Ex.4:17). With this, the onslaught against the lord of Egypt was initiated, spearheaded by a mere stammerer, and an ex-murderer...


From Moses' encounter, it is very obvious that whenever God calls, He equips the called, regardless of the limitations and shortcomings of the called. This He does at His discretion. His discretion does not have to make sense to human reasoning. Reason why He fed Elijah with bread and water twice a day, using ravens, for three and a half years, (1 Kgs.17). How this came to be did not add up by any human comprehension. And the moment the Brook Cherith dried up, God did not run out of alternative to sustain Elijah. He never does. (This in a sense is a way of letting us know that in a situation the chosen proves too unwilling to yield to the divine beckoning, He raises someone else). His next stop for Elijah was the widow in Zarephath.


So, on the mission to Egypt, God equipped Moses with a human being (Aaron), and an inanimate object, his rod. With these duo, Pharaoh could not fathom the workings behind a mere stammerer routing him in his domain. As long as we know God's purpose for our lives in a particular direction, the issue of equipment is settled, and the task becomes more or less a walk over. It's just for us to know this and tap into it.


Samuel:


Baby Samuel was a novice in hearing and discerning the voice of God. He grew under the tutelage of the prophet that foretold his birth, prophet Eli. He was called to warn Eli to heed the impending doom coming upon his lineage as a result of his children's waywardness in the things of God. After three failed attempts at recognizing the heavenly voice, he was "equipped" by the same Eli with the methodology to discerning the voice of God, which was a major tool for him by the time he later metamorphosed to the prophetic proper, "therefore Eli said to Samuel, go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, speak, LORD, for Your servant hears", (1 Sam.3:9). This was the template used by Samuel to launch into clear and audible interactions with God. And in a broader sense, Eli kind of mentored Samuel in the nitty-gritty of ministerial ethics. Essentially, Eli played a dual role in the life of Samuel : discerning the divine voice and mentored him in the day-to-day running of the temple affairs.


The need to seeking a mentorship in fulfillment of our purpose should not be relegated to the background. This was a major tool in catapulting Samuel in ministry. We should not be too big or anointed to embrace this as needed as the case might be. It might be necessary for us to read current journals, books of notable and successful published authors, attend knowledge imparting seminars and conferences, be curios to know why things are the way they are. Jettison obsolete ideas and parochial thinking, be open minded, be teachable, regardless of our spiritual attainment or age. Put rigidity behind you. All of these put together broaden our horizon. Times and seasons are fast changing. We should be loaded and equipped enough to disseminate to our curious audience both at the local and on the international scenes. The simple rule is, learn, unlearn, and re-learn. It makes us relevant and keeps us abreast of time. And above all, do not take the place of the Holy Spirit! These are the hallmarks of a purpose driven- life.


Saul of Tarsus:


Not knowing his original divine purpose in life, he became menacing, and got busy for the devil, persecuting christians and christianity. He was a one-man-riot-squad in the unenviable task, with a full backing by the authority of his days, until the day the LORD met him on what was supposed his last destructive trip to Damascus. By the time the chips were down and he got himself together, God did not let him alone. Putting the humilation behind him, He immediately connected him to a mentor in the person of Ananias. And in a jiffy, the LORD reeled out to the 'frightening' Ananias, Paul's purpose in life, part of which are:

God's chosen vessel to bear the name of the LORD before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, and that he must suffer many things for the LORD's sake. Both were accomplished in his life to a great extent, and with the passage of time, Paul pursued his life purpose with more than double zeal and vigor, than he persecuted the gospel. Submission to mentoring is a good way to navigating our pathways to fulfilling our purpose in life- regardless of whether our mentor is younger than us, less educated, or whatever, he has an edge in the interpersonal skills, endowment and gifting. Little wonder, at the peak of his challenges in ministry, Paul upheld his willingness to lay down his life for the gospel, "...for I am ready not only to be bound but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the LORD Jesus." (Acts 21:13).


Some Guarantees About God's Purpose In Our Lives:


Preservation:


For us to fulfill our purpose, God will always preserve us and cultivate our paths to fulfilling that purpose, regardless of how much reluctance we exhibit, either by a way of making up excuses, like Moses and Jeremiah did. And if we choose to be at large, like brother Jonah did, it does not matter the turbulence on our way as we flee, He will preserve us until we come to a point that we cannot run away from His presence any more. Jonah would be able to explain to us better, what his "protected experience and time", in the fish, were, "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jon.1:17). How much has God preserved us in the days we were playing hide and seek with Him? Thank You God!


Contestable Period:


There at times, is a window frame for this. It is not unusual, but NOT necessarily a MUST, to contest our purpose in life with God. It is not a crime to do so, either. This happens when in most cases the person concerned has, in his mind fashioned a particular course of life with lofty dreams and ambition, with all passion. It becomes practically uneasy to want to accept anything contrary and not juicy, as it were, to his set mind. This happens most time in our contemporary times when someone that seems to be doing well in his chosen career is confronted with the subject in line of ministerial call. Moses, Jeremiah and a host of others, in the scriptures went through this contestable period before finally yielding to God. Gideon was not an exception in this wise. He asked the Angel, "O my LORD, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the 'least' in my father's house." (Jud.6:15). With the backing of God, Gideon succeeded in his assignment. You I and shall succeed ! Amen .


With particular reference to this point, I was a lead culprit. A great contester I was, in all its meanings and interpretations. I could not come to terms with why He wanted me go against my wish of becoming a brilliant Lawyer. So passionate was I in my ambition that becoming a college Professor, if studying Law would not work, was listed on the list of my life ambition, in that order. Ministry was never going to be for me. Yes, not for me... These personal visions and ambitions, I had pursued, like several other ambitious folks, with vigorous passion over the years, with all seriousness it required! Studied hard, burned the midnight oil...enmeshed myself in rote learning... read quite a lot of literature texts- my favorite of all subjects, read a hard copy of a 42 page court judgement or thereabout, way back in 1980, at about age 13, wherein my late father (the plaintiff) was favored in a land tussle that lasted seven years, (1973- January 20, 1980) ! The judgement delivered by Justice Sonoiki, at the High Court, Iyaganku, Ibadan, South West, Nigeria, equally fined the defendant the sum of 1,000 Naira, (a huge amount then), in favor of the plaintiff. I embraced the paths of my brilliant professors, home and abroad, took something of value from them all, "here a little, there a little" (Is.28:10), and made it whole. The applause from my professors and classmates in this direction was loud to the heavens and favorably so, that a young Lawyer cum Professor was budding. Went over and beyond mere class work and assignments... contributed to academic journals as a student, got familiar with research methodologies, writing theses and dissertations, bibliographies, annotations, and references, acquainted myself with some academic and legal verbiage in their appropriate contexts. I was set sail for either profession. Truth be said, I was NOT the most brilliant in my days. No, far from it! There were some egg heads, geniuses that shook our world, and they still do today. I was just an average student with large ambitions...in my lane.


It was in the years internet and its rider, google, were not part of inventions so "we all did it mentally, aided by our well-stocked traditional brick & mortar libraries." Oh how can I forget the heavy, bulky and archaic but resourceful publication, called 'encyclopedia.' Oh my, how times have changed ! I intentionally steered clear of plagiarism- that monster that is probably the highest crime in academia, globally, even as we talk. Having armed myself with all these nuances, (conspicuously void of the GOD factor, and His leading... so unfortunate..call me the young fool, and you are right), with a little stint in soccer as my favorite extracurricular activity, though at the local level... It was humanly unthinkable and impossible for me to come to terms that He wanted me in the ministry! Why me of all people on the surface of the earth? For thirteen years, I contested my calling, like Moses and other biblical characters, and for thirteen years, He didn't let me alone, (I believe someone reading this can as well relate). Call me the Jonah of our days, you are right. And for those thirteen years, He took all options and alternatives from me. However, in all these, I admit that the word of God in 2 Tim.2:15, holds true forever, "study to show yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." In other words, for all we have labored for in studies and vocations, they go a long way in our ministerial assignments, on the long run. Hence, we should not be ashamed of our 'genuine' calling. More so, not everyone comes to the ministry for meal-ticket, like prophet Amos corrected this wrong impression in Amaziah, the priest at Bethel.. And in whatever profession or vocation He has placed you, study, study, and study, to remain relevant. Times are fast changing... Nevertheless, through it all, He has been faithful. People of God, this our GOD IS REAL ! He's not to be toyed with...

{ Details to come in my autobiography in a couple of years from now}.


However, for every doubt and contest about our purpose in life, either in the secular or in the ministry, God has made a provision for foolproof, because God cannot lie, "certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar" (Rom.3:4). And He never loses the contest. Never !


Redirection:


In some cases, when it is time for God to launch us into our divine purpose, He redirects us in no time. It does not matter how best we perform or excel in whatever we were doing, when it is time for Him to redirect us, He wastes no time. And He prepares the ground for the new direction. This implies that for every genuinely called vessel, especially in the ministry, he more than likely had something worthwhile doing before the redirection. Hence, people like that resist God vehemently, the most, at least at the initial stage. Examples abound of such people in our contemporary world. Prophet Amos fell in this category among the biblical characters. He gave a brief insight of his initial profession, when he was accosted by Amaziah, the priest at Bethel, "I was not a prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a Shepherd and a dresser of sycamore tree. Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel." (Am.7:14-15).


At the end of his altercation with Amaziah, he gave him the mind of God thus: "your wife shall be a harlot in the city, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, your land shall be divided by survey line, you shall die in a defiled land, and Israel shall be led away captive from his own land" (Am.7:17). I consider it a spiritual risk to stand in the way of he the LORD truly called...


Doubt:


It does not matter how convincing or genuine our divine purpose and callings are, do not expect everyone around you believe in you. As a matter of fact, until it materialises, the called might even doubt himself. At the same time, no human validation is required to enter into your divine purpose. Remember, "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Phil.2:13), & "He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it."(1 Thess. 5:24).


Conclusion:


For us to enter into the purpose of God for our lives, we have to first, intentionally depart from the pedestrian of permissive will. Permissive will takes us no where. It is a point at which it appears we are achieving something tangible, rather it is just satisfying our selfish desires our hearts are nursing. Permissive will only makes us walk in circles, or at the best makes us to "mark time." The best rule of thumb is to simply submit to the Higher Authority that knows all, and also knows the end from the beginning. Human reasoning does not work in this space. And the fact remains that our initial situation may totally be at variance with the glory ahead of us. As long as we can persevere and trust Him, then the lines will fall in pleasant places for us in due course of time.


Walking away from the plans of God for our lives is likened to a man who is traveling in the wrong direction of his destiny "for a man traveling in the wrong direction, speed is NOT an advantage." Jonah, after traveling in the wrong direction, eventually came to terms with the God that sent him on assignment. He had to travel back in the initial direction God sent him. He did not only lose the initial speed, he put his life in jeopardy for disobeying the right instruction. Was Balaam also not traveling in the wrong direction until he encountered the wrath of the Angel of God?


Prayer: LORD, help me that I don't travel in the wrong direction of my purpose in life. Amen!


And in addition, "if God wants to help a man, he takes all options away from him." Until Saul of Tarsus was deprived of the option of persecuting Christianity, he did not realize he was threading on the wrong path that took his attention from his divine purpose. What options do we hold on to, tightly too, to our disadvantage? Let us prayerfully look into such options that can easily derail us from our purpose in His plans for us. May God help us. Amen !


Prayer: LORD, please take away from me and deliver me from every option that will derail me from fulfilling my purpose in life. Amen !


Happy 2024 Easter !


© April 2024.


Being A Monthly Scripture Bulletin

From The desk Of

Olusegun A Emosu

The Redeemed Christian Church Of God,

Rehoboth Parish,

2244, Panola Rd, Suite 2, (3 D Complex),

Lithonia GA 30058. 404 644 4127


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