SCRIPTURE TEXT: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” —Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
God didn’t create anything without a purpose. If you’re breathing, you have a purpose. In Christ, you have something to offer the world. When God made you, He wired you in a certain way and uniquely shaped you for a contribution. Nobody has been you in the past or will be you in the future. God doesn’t create clones or copies. Even identical twins are different in thousands of ways. Your thumbprint, voice, footprint, heartbeat, and eyes are unique. You’re not one in a million. You’re one in trillions. God custom-made you. And he wants you to be you. You may have heard all your life, “Why can’t you be more like [your brother or sister or friend]?”
But if God hadn’t wanted you to be you, then you wouldn’t exist. And, yet, you may spend your life trying to be somebody you’re not. When you do that, you miss your whole purpose.
God did not make you and put you here on this planet just to breathe air, take up space, and die. If you’re here, there’s a contribution that only you can make.“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). You are God’s masterpiece. Before you were born, God planned the good things He wanted you to do with your life. In other words, He gave you a ministry. Everybody has a ministry. You can find your ministry by looking at how God shaped you. He gave you unique spiritual gifts, abilities, and experiences to help other people.
When you see how you are shaped and use that shape to bless others, then you will find your ministry. And you will find your purpose.
Talk It Over
What do you think happens if you don’t fulfil your purpose? How does fulfilling your purpose or ministry affect the church? Think about how God has uniquely shaped you. Make a list of your spiritual gifts, abilities, personality, and experiences. How might God want you to use them for ministry?
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Don’t pay attention to everything people say.” —Ecclesiastes 7:21 (GNT)
What makes social media so addictive? Why do you have to go back and check a picture 50 times after you post? Why are you constantly checking your phone?
Everybody wants the approval of others. People desperately need to be liked! When you hear the “ding” of a notification, dopamine is released in your brain, and it’s extremely satisfying. Every “ding” feeds your need for approval, and it feels like you can’t get enough.
But the Bible says, “Dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith” (James 2:1 The Message).The truth is that public opinion doesn’t have anything to do with your faith. So don’t let public opinion decide what you believe, feel, or do. It will never lead you in the direction of Jesus Christ.The Bible also says in Ecclesiastes 7:21,“Don’t pay attention to everything people say” (GNT).Even when you make the wisest, happiest, most encouraging social media post, some people still will post comments that will not meet your expectations or may just be downright mean. If you make the post because you need a certain number of likes to feel better about yourself, then you are going to be disappointed.When you’re not living for the approval of others, though, what one person says on social media is not going to make or break you. Everyone wants the approval of others. But living for the approval of One will help you use social media as a useful tool and not a crutch.
Talk It OverWhat is your motivation when you post on social media?How does the amount of time you spend on your phone reflect whose approval you’re living for?In what ways have you let public opinion dictate what you believe or how you act?
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” —Hebrews 11:27
Either we live by faith or we live by fear. The Bible says of Moses in Hebrews 11:27, “By faith he left Egypt,not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (NIV). Moses teaches us that living by faith rather than by fear is a choice. He went to the most powerful man in the world and said, “You know those slaves that are building all your pyramids? I’m taking them, and we’re all leaving. You’re not going to have slave labour anymore.
Let my people go.”Moses had every reason to be afraid. He was going up against a powerful man who was considered a god, and whatever Pharaoh said, you had to do. What he said was the law. And here came Moses and declared, “We aren’t going to do what you say anymore. I’m not afraid of you because I report to a higher authority.” That took some guts! Do you want that same kind of faith in your life so you can overcome your fear?
The closer you get to God, the more you’re going to be filled with faith. The further away you get from God, the more you’re going to be filled with fear.I cannot overemphasize the importance of faith for the rest of your life. The Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin. How many times did you sin this week? A lot. So did I. Because anything I did that wasn’t done in faith but was done in doubt was a sin. The Bible also says that without faith it is impossible to please God. How many times did you please God this week?
Do you want something to change in your life? Instead of complaining, start believing. God is not moved by complaints. God is moved by faith, a truth we see in these words of Jesus: “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV). You get to choose what he does in your life. Here’s the key: What matters is not the size of your faith but the size of the God you put it in. A little faith in a big God gets big results!
Talk It Over
What do you need to do to get closer to God so that you can be filled with faith?How has fear kept you from achieving God’s best for you?What is the outward evidence that someone is a faith-filled person?
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Blessed is the man whom [the Lord] chasteneth . . .” —Psalm 94:12
God sometimes allows Christians to suffer, in order that they might learn the secret of obedience. The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67). It was not until after great sorrow and much affliction that David learned obedience to God.My dear Christian friend, if you are today suffering at the hand of God and you have asked a thousand times, “Why?” I beg of you to be patient and quiet before God, and listen to the still, small voice. Bow under His loving hand and recognize that above the clouds the sun is shining. God has a purpose and design for your life, and what is happening to you is for your good.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: The human in me says, “Why, Lord?” whenever I have to bear suffering—but the Spirit-filled me that was born again says, “I trust You, Father.”
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Has the Lord as much pleasure in your burnt offerings and sacrifices as in your obedience? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. He is much more interested in your listening to Him than in your offering the fat of rams to Him. For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshipping idols” —1 Sam. 15:22-23
We all love to be accepted by our peers and by society. However, if we do not take care it is these very people who would lead us down the paths of destruction through numerous compromises. In contrast to Saul’s behaviour, Daniel in the Old Testament stands out as someone who resolved to stand by his principles come what may. God rewarded Daniel with great wisdom and spiritual insight, favour with kings and emperors, prophetic utterances, a glimpse into the plans of God and eternal life.
Sticking to his principles did not always make life easy for Daniel but eventually he always came out top because God honoured his obedience. In Daniel 1:8 for example, Daniel resolves not to eat the food served from the king’s table even though to many that privilege in itself should have been enough to compromise on the Jewish principle of not eating certain types of meat (pigs and all meat sacrificed to idols). I can well imagine the troubles he would have had from some of his peers. They would have called him names and even accused him of “over-worshipping” God. He however stuck to his guns and in return, he reaped the following:
• the guard who was supervising them, liked him enough to give him (and the 3 others what they asked for – vegetables and water – Daniel 1:12; • God made him look healthier than those who were eating the “choice” food from the king’s table – Daniel 1:15; • God gave him high intellectual and spiritual knowledge – Daniel 1:17; • he was selected into the king’s high service and was found to be ten times better in every matter of wisdom and understanding than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom – Daniel 1:20.
Daniel made enemies by doing a good job and not compromising his principles. Perhaps you are going through a similar situation. At home, at work, even in the church, you are catching flak for being “too rigid.” If being rigid means you are refusing to join the crowd in doing wrong even when it has become the norm, then praise God for your “lonely’ life. Remember that whenever you stand for what is true and right, people will look for ways to hold you back and tear you down. They will cheer at your slightest downfall and even hasten it. They will try to wear you down with “emotional blackmail”. However, if you conduct your life above reproach, like Daniel you will have nothing to hide and your enemies will have a difficult time finding legitimate charges against you. Of course, you can rely on God to vindicate you by protecting you even from the “jaws of the lions.”
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “…The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” —John 6 : 63 To one of the most religious men of His day, Jesus said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Nicodemus could not substitute his profound knowledge of religion for spiritual rebirth, and neither can we. I have read a book on water skiing, and it did not take long for me to learn that I could never learn to water ski by reading a book-I would have to experience it.
I have read a number of books on golf, but none of them seems to improve my game; I must get out on the golf course and play. You may study theology and religion, but there comes a time when you must experience Christ for yourself.