The Prophet Is Called
4 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
5 “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.”
Our English word purpose derives from an old Anglo-French verb meaning “to propose.” When a man proposes marriage to a woman he says, “It is my purpose to spend my life with you and with none other.” The advantage of such a proposal, as it transitions to a life purpose, is that it eliminates a multitude of decisions that might present themselves. Anything that conflicts with one’s purpose in life is not even considered—or shouldn’t be.
When young Daniel was taken as a captive to Babylon, he purposed in his heart not to defile himself in that pagan land. So he proposed to the one in charge an alternative to the diet he was offered. He didn’t have to wonder, “What should I do?” That decision had been made before God many years before. His purpose was to live a life of purity and obedience to God.
How would you describe your purpose in life? Make your future easier by declaring a clear purpose today.
Man forgets his purpose, and thus he forgets who he is and what life means.
~ Francis Schaeffer
The Hours of Jesus
Recommended Reading: John17:1-5
Jesus Christ entered into time so that we might enter into eternity. As God, Jesus is infinite, timeless, eternal, and from everlasting to everlasting. But when He descended into our world through the virgin birth, He subjected Himself to the limitations of time. He often spoke in John’s Gospel of “His hour.” He passed most of His years in the small town of Nazareth, then devoted about three years to ministry. The six hours He spent on the cross is a period of torturous death we can’t even imagine, despite all the pictures we have seen and sermons we have heard. Then He spent three days in the grave, followed by forty days on earth following His resurrection.
These years, days, and hours provided our gateway into eternal life. He prayed in John 12:27: “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” And in John 17:1 as He was about to be arrested, Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come.”
Because Christ came to earth for a specific time, we can be with Him in heaven for ages unlimited. What an incredible thought! Treasure every moment as you prepare for your eternal home with Him one day.
Romans 10:14-15 [NKJV]
Israel Rejects the Gospel
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
When John the Baptist began his ministry: He preached (Matthew 3:1). And when Jesus followed on John’s heels, He did the same thing: He preached (Matthew 4:17). After Jesus ascended to heaven, His followers in Jerusalem did what they had been taught: They preached (Acts 4:2; 5:42). And after Stephen’s martyrdom, when the Church was driven from Jerusalem, Acts 8 is evidence of their single-minded focus on preaching (verses 4-5, 12, 35, 40). Then Paul was converted and “immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).
Regardless of who, when, or where, the early followers of Jesus preached! In the early stages, John and Jesus declared or announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand. After the resurrection, preaching became more focused: proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s identity, death, burial, and resurrection for the sins of the world (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Why was there such a focus on preaching? Paul answered that question with another question: “And how shall they hear [and call and believe] without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)
Wherever you go today, be ready to preach the Good News (2 Timothy 4:2)!
Preaching is the chariot that carries Christ up and down the world.
~ Richard Sibbes
A funnel has a wide end and a narrow end. Those two ends can represent how different people find their life’s purpose. Some enter early in life at the narrow end, knowing exactly what they want to be or do. Others enter at the wide end and narrow their focus and activity over time. People are different and progress through life in various ways.
Man, made in the image of God, has a purpose—to be in relationship to God, who is there.
The Abandoned Apostle
9 Be diligent to come to me quickly; 10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. 12 And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. 15 You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.
16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.
The Lord Is Faithful
17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
A few years before he died, the Free Will Baptist evangelist John Colby was feeling the effects of poor health. He didn’t want to end his ministry, but he was sometimes too tired to continue. On Thursday, February 25, 1813, he wrote in his journal: “I preached at Esquire Green’s. The house was much crowded, and I was under the necessity of speaking louder than usual, in order that the people might hear in the different apartments. The Lord strengthened me far beyond my expectations, and as a dying man, I spake to dying creatures. Many of the dear youth wept and mourned, and I humbly trust, that day will not be soon forgotten. When I closed the meeting, I felt as though I had come about to the close of life. I retired to my chamber, and lay down where I continued till the next day.”
The next day, he got up and kept going.
We often become tired in the service of the Lord, but not of the service of the Lord. The apostle Paul, also near death, spoke of how the Lord stood with him and strengthened him. Our Lord will do the same with us. Let’s get up and keep going—in His strength!
God’s strength can only work in weakness.
~ Andrew Murray
Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).
One of the most helpful aspects of a social media platform is connectivity. Many neighborhoods have online groups that allow members to ask and share information like, “Does anyone know of a good plumber/electrician/landscaper/remodeler that you would recommend?” In other words, the most valuable form of advertisement is a satisfied customer who will recommend a service provider to others.
When the prophet Zechariah ministered in the post-exilic world of the Jews who had returned from captivity, he saw an amazing development: The day would come when people from all over the world would ask a Jew to lead them to the house of God. That kingdom vision hasn’t happened yet, but will, likely during the Millennium when Christ rules over all the earth. And it can certainly happen when people discover our hope in an eternity with God.
12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
It’s probably the most-frequently used reference in modern American politics—the reference to America as a “city upon a hill.” Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Obama all quoted it, as well as many other leaders. It’s a reference to the words of the Puritan John Winthrop based on Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14-16).
The core of Jesus’ words on this subject are found in verse 14: “You are the light of the world.” The paradox of these words is that He later says that He is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). What He meant was that when His light is in us, we too become the light of the world. He lightens the world through us! We become like a brightly lit city on top of a hill, a guide and source for others. In the streets, our light is revealed by our good works which causes others to offer praise directed to God.
Do you want to be a light to the world? Make sure there is no cloud of sin or darkness blocking the light of Jesus Christ in you.
Light reveals righteousness, and it also reveals sin.
~ Theodore Epp
17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
A medical research study analyzed post-traumatic responses of cancer patients, one of which was found to be “stronger faith in God.” One participant in the study said, “I am a Christian, believing that everything that God has allowed to happen in my life has a purpose. Since I was diagnosed with cancer, I was at first very confused and sad as to why it should happen to me. But I can only do what I can control and surrender the rest to God. Since then I really experience the real meaning of knowing how much He loves me and makes me worthy in His eyes (Ephesians 3:17-19).”
There are only three places to look in life: inward, outward, and upward. And trials can help us (cause us) to look in all three directions. Looking inward, we can check our response to the trial. Looking outward, we can see how our response is impacting others. And looking upward, we can renew our faith in the One who causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
If you are going through a trial or test, look in all three directions. What you discover may become a blessing, or possibly a correction, you hadn’t anticipated.
Temptation provokes me to look upward to God.
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slainTo receive power and riches and wisdom,And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
More than one person was raised to new life in the Bible, but not permanent new life. Their earthly bodies were reanimated (they were resuscitated) and they were probably immediately recognized by people who had known them before their death. This was not the case with Jesus and His resurrection body.
After His resurrection, the two disciples Jesus joined on the Emmaus road didn’t recognize Him. His resurrection body must have looked human to the two travelers, but somehow different. Also after His resurrection, Jesus appeared in a locked room where the disciples were gathered. In other words, He “materialized” in the room rather than opening the locked door. But there was one thing about His resurrection body that was the same: the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. Those wounds will eternally mark Him as the Lamb who was slain for us.
Worship Jesus Christ today as the Lamb slain for your eternal redemption, and prepare to recognize Him by His wounds.
The Divine glory shone more out of his wounds than out of all his life before.
~ Robert Murray M’Cheyne