Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The steps of a good woman and man are directed and established by the Lord. He delights in (our) way and He busies Himself with (our) every step. Though (we) fall, (we) shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps (our) hand in support and upholds (us).”
Psalm 37: 23, 24
“Lead kindly Light, amid encircling gloom,
lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
the distant scene;
One step enough for me.
I was not ever thus,
Nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path;
but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will,
Remember not past years!
So lengthy power hath blest me,
Sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent,
Till the night is gone.”
John Henry Newman
Today’s Study Text:
So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, without producing any effect, but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose; and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55: 11
“Why I Love Studying the Bible” Part 10
“God’s Word Accomplishes His Purpose”
“So often our primary ambition is to escape pain or feel good or be delivered from a problem when instead we need to keep our focus on the big picture of what God is doing in our life and the lives of others through pain or problems. Our primary aim should be to glorify God, not to be honored or to be healthy or to be happy.”
Anne Graham Lotz
Trusting God When You Don’t Understand
As I review my life, what do I believe is the purpose of my life?
As I have studied God’s Word, have I asked God to open my eyes so that I will understand His purpose for me?
“We exist to exhibit God, to display His glory. We serve as canvases for His brush stroke, papers for His pen, soil for His seeds, glimpses of His image.”
“God is the only goal (purpose) worthy of man’s efforts; the fitting end of human existence is a loving union with God.”
Augustine of Hippo
Of all the notes which I receive here in Transformation Garden, emails which ask me, “How do I know what God’s purpose is for my life,” resonate most with me.
It is because I’ve asked myself this same question on many occasions in my own life. I remember wondering what I should do with my life when I was just 16-years-old and getting ready to go to college. First, there was the discussion about the college I would actually attend and tied closely with that challenge was the questions, “What classes did I want to take as my ‘major’”?
I’ll be very honest with you, I wanted to become a writer. Period. No discussion about it! My parents had other ideas. And since I had two substantial scholarships which provided all the funds I needed to get my education to become a Registered Nurse, I enrolled in a terrific nursing program and at the age of 19, I had passed the California State Nursing Board exam. At the time I graduated, because there was a growing need for R.N.’s, I had multiple job offers and thought I would probably be a nurse the rest of my life.
While I worked very hard and obtained additional education, even becoming a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, I knew down deep inside that I wasn’t satisfied with my occupation. I simply felt unfulfilled.
Not long after Jim and I met, I conveyed to him my feelings and he said, “Why don’t you try doing a different type of work?” Frankly, the thought had never occurred to me. At a young age, I had thought I was stuck in a hospital for the rest of my life. Now to all of you who are nurses – I say, “God bless you!” My sister has been a nurse for over 30 years, specializing in Labor and Delivery and I can’t tell you all the honors she has received as a specialist in her field. I would put her knowledge in her field of endeavor up against anyone I know. She was fortunate, she found her “calling” early on in life. I didn’t. At the age of 30, I was still floundering around with this “purpose” question. For the next 25 years, while I successfully headed-up an advertising agency, working with charities all around the world, I carried within me this nagging ache that I wasn’t “there” yet – wherever “there” was.
Maybe you’ve felt the same way. So you can identify with my conflicted desires. I’d see a book about finding your life’s purpose, I’d grab it, thinking “wrongly” that there was a magic formula – all I had to do was hunt it down. I want to be clear, some of the books I read during these many years of confusion were truly filled with sound advice. Several contained suggestions like, “Lay your plans before God; seek advice from those around you whose counsel you can trust; find out where your natural abilities lie and then move in the direction of what you love to do. I did all these things and more and still there was no clear “sign” in my life.
Sometimes I wished that God would meet me, like He did the Apostle Paul, on the Damascus road and say, “Dorothy, you are Mine now! Here’s what you are to do with the rest of your life.” Well guess what, God did meet me on a road. I got my wish! One day, on Interstate 10, God had eight units of firemen and paramedics work for over an hour to pull my mangled body out of a crushed wreck of a car.
What I didn’t realize in the coming weeks was that my heavenly Father was at work getting His “purpose” for my life in place. While it took another eight years for me to come home to my place of purpose, called Transformation Garden, looking back, I can see that God has been able to use every detour in my life to bring me to a Garden where I know without a question, that His purpose for my life is being accomplished every single day. Whenever I receive an email that says, “Today’s devotional was written just for me,” I say, “Thank You Lord for putting your purpose in my pen today.”
While I told you that there isn’t some miracle potion which will open your eyes to a perfect purpose vista laid out before you where ultimate happiness descends, I do want to give you two things I found were absolutely necessary in my life to get to the point on my journey where I could say, without a doubt, “Thank You Lord for giving my life Your purpose.”
First of all, I found that daily I must lay “my” plans before my heavenly Father and ask for His guidance over what I attempt. This is a daily process. It has taken me many years to get this fact through my thick skull. I’m imperfect and I still find myself running ahead of my Guide, rather than resting in His ability to “lead me along.” In the words of one of my favorite old hymns written by George Young in 1903:
“In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.”
The way God leads each of us isn’t the same. But if we daily let our prayer be, “Today, dear Lord, I give every second of my time and my energy to You alone. Please do with my life what is within Your will and Your purpose for me today,” He will answer your prayer.
Second, if I want to stay within the will of God, so that I’m fulfilling His purpose for my life, I must dig into His word, daily! In the book of Ecclesiastes we are told that there is a “purpose for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, Amplified Bible). This is a passage of Scripture that we would do well to read on a daily basis – just a heavenly reminder that everything that has happened to you has a “God-purpose” associated with it.
Let me tell you why this knowledge is so critical. When terrible things happen, and they will, if my viewpoint is one of cynicism and defeat, I’ll get mad at God and everybody else. But if you and I believe that God orders our steps and has a heavenly purpose for “ALL” that happens to us, it means that even when I’m wandering around, unsure of God’s plan in my life, I can say confidently with the Apostle Paul, “all things are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose” (Romans 8: 28, Amplified Bible).
I love studying the Bible because as I read it, page by page, I gain confidence for my own life that the Father who purposefully led His children along in times past, will daily do the same for you and me today. And “all” that happens in Dorothy’s world, when I commit my life to Him every day, will be used by my Father to bring glory to His name!
Author Erwin W. Lutzer, writing about the life of Jesus when He was on earth, paints a phenomenal picture of how we may also walk within the purpose of our Father as well:
“Jesus knew where He had come from, why He was here, and what He was supposed to accomplish. He came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. That determination controlled every decision He made. As a result He was not distracted with trivia. …(Jesus) clearly defined goals simplified His decisions.”
“My goal is God Himself,
not joy nor peace,
Nor even blessing,
but Himself, my God,
‘Tis His to lead me there,
not mine but His
at any cost, dear Lord,
by any road!”
“O Lord, I know not what to ask of Thee. Thou alone knowest what are my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I myself know how to love. Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me. I dare not ask either a cross or consolation. I can only wait on Thee. My heart is open to Thee. Visit and help me, for Thy great mercy’s sake. Strike me and heal me, cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence Thy holy will and Thine inscrutable ways. I offer myself as a sacrifice to Thee. I put all my trust in Thee. I have no other desire than to fulfill Thy will. Pray Thou Thyself in me. AMEN.”
Prayer of Geoergy Voznesensky
Known as Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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