(God) has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace … (2 Timothy 1:9)
God saved you according to His own purpose – not yours. So, in considering our purpose, this must be our first question: “Lord, what is the purpose You have given me?”
The question is not: “What do I want to accomplish in MY life?” The question is rather: “How does God want me to glorify Him in my life?”
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:17)
God’s purpose will be understood by those whose first desire is to know God’s will and obey Him.
Many times we struggle with this. We ask God what His will is, and yet in our hearts we have not yet completely determined that we will obey Him if He asks us to do something we don’t want to do.
Thus, the revelation of His purpose for us comes at the “sacrificial altar” where we surrender our lives to God:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
It is as we present our lives to God as living sacrifices that we will understand His purpose. It is as we wrestle with our own wills and our own selfish purposes, and as God breaks us and crucifies us, making us like the Lord Jesus, bringing our wills into surrender to His, that we put ourselves in the place where God can fulfill His purpose through us (cf. Genesis 32:24-32).
Furthermore, God’s plan is not just that He shows us what His will for us is and then we go off and struggle to do it in our own strength and by our own wisdom. God’s way is through union with Jesus in His death and resurrection. In union with Jesus, His purpose truly becomes our purpose, and His life, strength and wisdom truly become our life, strength and wisdom. Then we will fulfill His purpose in His way, by His grace, in His strength, for His glory. That is what God wants.
Therefore, the purpose of God is a painful thing. It is not a pretty thing. It involves crucifixion and death. Fulfillment of His purpose comes through death: death to our own goals, our own ambitions, our own purposes, our own wisdom and strength.
The purpose of God is not found in a big public meeting when a world-famous prophet calls you out in front of everyone and tells you that you’re a great person and that you’ve got a spectacular calling and that the whole world is going to notice you and adore you. But the purpose of God is found in the quietness of your own inner life, in the pain of your own wrestling and agonizing with God as He deals with you at the center of your being and your will. The purpose of God is found as He deals with you about lordship, as He deals with you about the central issue of who will really be the Lord and God of your life.
When you were saved, you received a whole Lord Jesus Christ – an entire Lord Jesus. He gave Himself for you, holding nothing back, and He gave Himself to you completely and without reservation. When you fully surrender to the Lord Jesus, He receives a whole you. That is what He wants. Furthermore, that is all He will accept.
In taxation, the government asks us for a percentage of our income. But Jesus demands the entirety of our lives: all we are, all we have, all we ever will be.
He gave Himself completely to you. He requires that you give yourself completely to Him, as a living sacrifice.
The emblem of the Moravian missionaries was an altar and a yoke, with an ox standing between them. Underneath are the Latin words for, “Ready for either.” We are the ox between the yoke and the sacrifice. The choice is God’s. From our side, we must choose to be “ready for either.” We must be ready to die for God if He so chooses; we must be ready to live a life of service for God if that’s what He wants.
When Jesus redeemed you, He purchased you. He didn’t just purchase your freedom from sin and eternal destruction; He purchased you.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
God purchased you – all of you – and He did it once and for all. He has already purchased every aspect of your life. He owns your life, but He still wants you to lay it on the altar by an act of your will. He still wants you to bring it to Him, to give it to Him, keeping nothing back for yourself.
One young Native American man was at a Christian meeting. He saw people going up to the altar. He realized God was calling him to give everything to Him. First he offered his blanket, then his jewelry, and then his horse. Finally, he realized God didn’t want things, God wanted him. So he went up and offered himself to God, laying himself on the altar. That is the Gospel!
Many times we give to the Lord those parts of our lives that we really don’t want anyway. Modern evangelism doesn’t help in this regard. We tell people: “Come to Jesus, give Him your pain, give Him your hurts, give Him your sin.” But that’s not what the Gospel of the Kingdom is. The message of the Kingdom is: God demands you – not just your hurts or pains, or your debts, but you. Not just the things you don’t want anyway, but the things you do want: give it all to Him. Give yourself to Him.
Sometimes people – whose lives are in a mess – get saved when we tell them to give their hurts to Jesus. However, as soon as things in their lives look a little better, they turn around and take their lives back again, and we wonder why. But we weren’t honest with them in the first place. The Gospel is Jesus’ demand for all of you in response to His gift to you of all of Him. Jesus gave all of Himself for you and to you, that you may give all of yourself to Him.
Only you can do that – only you can make that decision. No one else can get married for you, and no one else can become a fully surrendered Christian for you.
We all must wrestle for ourselves. We all must answer the question for ourselves: whom will we serve – ourselves or God? Whom will we truly make the Lord of our lives? Not just the Lord of our pain and the Lord of the things we don’t want, but Lord of all?
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