Pursuits

Coming off an election that cost nearly $14 billion, I was thinking of the general message underlying the ads and platforms. Many candidates promised variations on the rights promised in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And while these are good things, are they the most important things for us to pursue? Do they truly bring us far more life?

It is easy to focus on our own life, our own liberty, and our own happiness. Our natural human tendency is to pursue things that increase our individual freedoms and personal benefit. But compare that focus to the overarching message of the life we are called to pursue in Christ:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13, NIV)

Freely you have received; freely give. (Matthew 10:8, NIV)

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32, NIV)

 So when you give to the needy… (Matthew 6:2, NIV)

Our Creator and Savior wants us to be happy, but that happiness is not found in self-serving pursuits. Pursuing and fulfilling God’s purpose for us is what truly makes us happy. The verses above remind us that His desire, His purpose for us, is to love Him and love others through our choices and actions. By doing this, we bring God glory and make Him visible to people who do not have a personal relationship with Him, attend church, or read the Bible. We do this, in part, by pursuing personal growth so that we become more like Him. As we are filled with His character qualities (love, joy, peace, and more), those we interact with can see Him reflected in our words and actions. But we see even greater results and are even happier when we intentionally reveal God through our giving, sharing, living, and words.

God blesses us, so that all the ends of the earth may fear Him. (Psalm 67:7, NASB)

generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)

God has blessed us richly! Many of us put extra effort into reflecting on and acknowledging those blessings at this time of year. But God does not intend for us to hoard our blessings. Sharing our blessings with others honors God and brings far more life! The parable of the talents (money) in Matthew 25 illustrates this. The master gave some of his servants money to hold for him while he went away. When the master returned, the servants who pursued opportunities to increase their holdings were praised by their master:

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21 & 33, NIV)

Whatever “talents” God has entrusted to us, He wants us to invest in building His kingdom. Our “talents” could be money, leadership or organizational skills, influence, compassion, health, time, education, wisdom, or simply a willingness to do good wherever we see a need. We may pursue investments that benefit those for whom we feel special concern, whether that be those who are poor, abandoned, ill, mistreated, abused, neglected, or overlooked. We also have freedom to use our talents to pursue personal gain. But we will find far more life by using what God has given us to bless others, especially when we are sharing His love, grace, and truth with them.

The Apostle Paul writes it this way:

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (I Corinthians 3:11-15, NIV)

Accepting Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for our sins and entering into an eternal relationship with God is the foundation of far more life. That foundation is secure, no matter what we do with the rest of our lives. But we choose what we add to that foundation: will we pursue personal life, liberty and happiness? Or will we pursue God’s purposes and plans?

Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well. (Matthew 6:33, NCV)

Pursuing God is the guaranteed path to irrevocable life, inalienable liberty, and eternal happiness — far more life!

Sisters,
What do you desire most in this life?
Think of times when you have hoarded your blessings and times you have shared them: which made you happier?
What “talents” has God entrusted to you? How are you investing them in His kingdom?
How have you found far more life pursuing God’s purposes?
Thank Him for richly blessing you and offering you far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Finding Your Purpose

We all want to find purpose in life. God created us in His image; He is purposeful and instilled that desire in us. But finding our purpose can be hard. Some of us have explored many paths that ended in disappointment; we may have become discouraged and quit searching after several failed attempts. Others are so bogged down surviving life’s challenges that we don’t have the energy or desire to look for our purpose. Should we give up and settle for simply existing?

No! Remember the promise from John 10:10? “I came to bring them life, and far more life than before” (PHILLIPS).  Purpose — far more life — is waiting for you! But maybe not where you expect.

King Solomon sought the purpose of life, too. He journeyed multiple paths but deemed them all meaningless: wisdom; pleasure; work; advancement; riches; and more.  Along the way he saw God’s hand at work in the world. His ultimate finding: “After all this, there is only one thing to say: Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that we were created for” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, GNT).

This is echoed in New Testament Scriptures (GNT unless noted):

  • “You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
  • Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NCV)
  • “Whatever you do..do it all for God’s glory.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
  • “Yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.” (I Corinthians 8:6)
  • “This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.” (Galatians 2:20b)
  • “From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires.” (I Peter 4:2)

Some people think living for God means obeying lots of rules or commands. But what if those commands reveal our purpose and offer far more life?

The instruction manual for my kitchen range shares several rules, including: “Do not store explosives on or near the oven”; “Never modify or alter the construction of the oven”; and “Never leave surface burners unattended.” I can view these rules in one of two ways: 1) maximizing the purpose of the range or 2) limiting my freedoms. One view leads to good results and greater satisfaction. The other leads to frustration and serious injury or death.

The same is true for our lives.  God has given us an instruction manual that defines our purpose and tells us how to get the most out of this life and eternity. Would your life be more satisfying if you followed His instructions in Colossians 3?  (I am including The Message translation here because its directness made me think. Please consult your favorite translation if you prefer a different tone.)

“…Be content with obscurity, like Christ. And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy…make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life…
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”

Why does God expect us to do everything for His glory?  The short answer is in Revelation 4:11 (GNT), Our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory, honor, and power. For you created all things, and by your will they were given existence and life.”  Without God we would not exist.  As our creator, He gets to proclaim our purpose and instruct us on fulfilling it.

Following Your Creator’s instruction manual and the purpose for which He designed you is far more life. Reshaping your heart, mind, and actions to match His purpose for you will bring far more satisfaction than anything you can pursue on your own. We will build on this foundation in future posts as we examine how God created each of us with an individual passion — a personalized talent, skill, or desire — that energizes us and glorifies Him. But if you haven’t found far more life, start by embracing your primary purpose; “Whatever you do…do it all for God’s glory (I Corinthians 10:31).

Sisters,
Do you believe following God’s instructions bring you far more life?
Are you allowing His Word to shape your heart, mind, and actions?
Do you “do it all for God’s glory”?
If not, tell Him about it:
Tell Him what is holding you back;
Tell Him what you fear;
Tell Him what you think you will lose.
Give it a try: choose one instruction from His Word (the Bible) and commit to follow it this week.
Reap the benefits of far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso