I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
“Life is a series of experiences each one of which makes us bigger even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” (Henry Ford) If only we could view the concept of life in its entirety from a single vantage point, only then could we see that every moment and each step a culmination of God’s Perfect Plan. Each moment holds purpose. Every step leads to blessing. In each opportunity, there is a chance to experience new life. Life is hard. Each day seems to bring the unexpected. It doesn’t seem to fill us with satisfaction as one might that it would. We get bad news. We trip and fall. We make mistakes. After all, we are only human.
“So I run with purpose in every step.” Today I wonder what might happen if we changed our thinking to test the idea out – that each step has purpose woven in it. I no longer believe in leaps of faith but walking by faith. Leaps skip important steps laden with purpose, provision and prosperity that the Lord placed there for me. I leap when I am fearful and do not believe that He is with me each step of the way. It is my inability to accept that He goes before me and follows me with His Hand of Blessing on my head. (Psalm 139:5) When I was a child and my dad was trying to direct me through a crowd of people, he would place his hand on the top of my head to gently guide me along from behind. I naturally would not pull away or buck his direction, but would allow his hand to guide me along. I trusted my dad. I knew that he was holding on to me because he did not want to lose me along the way. What an awesome Father in Heaven that we have who desires to do the same for us each day?
Life and all its experiences are not random, but carefully orchestrated by the Hand of God. He recorded all of our days and moments before our birth or first breath. God has promised that He knows His Plans for us. He promises that each contains a future and hope. An all-inclusive opportunity for those who choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) The Lord also makes two additional important promises in the Word of God for those who choose to answer His Call and walk in His Ways – He will perfect that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) and He will make good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) When you take all of these precious promises and put them in a pretty package with a humongous bow, what do you get? Purpose requiring character and endurance to achieve. I can have a tremendous amount of potential hidden inside of me by God (and we do) but until I activate potential by allowing God to develop my character, it will never become purpose.
Deuteronomy 8:1-3 (NLT) “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
My purpose is completely dependent on God’s Plan. Why? He created me. The Lord predesigned me for the purpose that He would place in my heart. To fulfill it, I must be willing to obey all of His Commands. What about freedom? We are free. Christ set us free indeed. Freedom is not forced, therefore the Lord cannot make us choose His Way yet offers it to us day by day. He also gives us new mercies so that if we mess up (which we will) that we will not be defined by our inability to walk perfectly through but our willingness to get up and keep trying no matter how many times we fall.
Each wilderness wandered into is an opportunity to know God more. To increase our trust and commitment to Christ. It allows us to test the contents of our heart, mind and soul while disciplining our body to keep up. There is purpose in the wilderness that you may be wandering in today. You don’t know if you are going the right way because things don’t look like you thought they would. The details of your life are not turning out as you expected. There has to be more so you keep pressing to find your way through. Our experiences increase our endurance especially those that do not make sense. We press harder to get to the other side. We push on the doors of heaven with our prayers and petitions to the Lord. Humility is stumbled upon in the wildernesses of life. It is apprehended by faith when God’s People see that there is nothing worth having apart from the Lord.
Psalm 105:17-22 (NLT) Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions. He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased and teach the king’s advisers.
Joseph was a dreamer. He was convinced that the Lord would do as He suggested in the visions the young man was having. It was all the fuzzy details in between that Joseph did not see ahead of time or understand while he was going through them that would be the problem. Fulfillment has an appointed time that cannot be rushed or purpose is aborted. Joseph had to go to the pit to get to the palace. But note, Joseph did not own the palace but had all power, dominion and authority over it. This is our life in Christ. It may resemble the natural. We may not own a thing. But we have the Power of God inside of us to overcome the world.
God does not thrust the weight of the world on our shoulders but has handed it over to Jesus Christ. This is an important detail. God builds our character to rule and reign with Him but doesn’t always give us the promise as a possession. Joseph enjoyed all the benefits of the kingdom but did not bear full responsibility for it. Joseph served the Lord in every position. He surrendered his life to God no matter where he ended up. What about you? Are you looking to serve God completely somewhere else? Do you think certain situations or conditions have to change for fulfillment to come? Friend, the Lord has placed you right where you are for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14)
Psalm 103:7-8 (NLT) He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
Do you know the character of God? We are made in His Image so it is important in our development of purpose and character that we know God’s Character. When Moses asked God to show him His Glorious Presence, the Lord obliged saying, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” God is characterized by unfailing love and commitment to each of us. In Psalm 103, the psalmist reminds us of God’s Character. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He does not constantly accuse us and is not mad at us. God does not punish us for our sins and does not deal harshly with us thanks to the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. His Unfailing and Unconditional Love for each us has no boundaries. He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. He is our Father filled with tenderness and compassion for the plight of His Children on their pilgrimage home. The Lord knows we are weak. He gave us His Spirit to help us in our weakness. This is the character of God. It is the moral and mental attitude toward each of us. We must believe in the Character and Nature of God to be just that to trust Him with our heart, mind and soul for forever.
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” (Helen Keller) Helen Keller literally had to walk by faith and not by sight due to blindness from birth. Yet, she still struggled. We all do. Character is not easily achieved in life but one of our most valuable assets. No one rejoices when trouble comes especially if it is more than we can bear. Yet it is through life’s experiences that challenge us when endurance develops strength of character. We cannot see our character until it is expressed in life. Our ability to believe and trust the Lord when life is not favorable or we become increasingly more uncomfortable indicates that we have godly character. However, disbelief is evidence of a wayward soul and a lack of divine inclination. (John 8:42-45) You will resemble your master…whoever that may be.
Our character produces actions consistent with our true belief. Genuine faith will be expressed by God’s Fruit productivity in life. If we do not believe, we will not sow. If we do not sow, we will not harvest. If we do not grow, we will die in famine. Famine can be defined as any condition that keeps us from growing and producing in life. Godly hope never leads to disappointment. Hope is for those who choose to have faith and trust in God no matter what their condition may be. Complete confidence and trust in the Character of God and His Reliability come from a daily walk with Him.
We will adopt the mentality and assume the identity of the company that we keep. (I Corinthians 15:33-34) Be mindful, alert and aware of those around you. The influence and impact of others is important. “Bad company will corrupt good character.” If godly character is important to you, it will require immersing your mind in the Word of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill your heart, and surrendering each and every step to God’s Will every day. It takes just one step in the wrong direction to change one’s destination.
Hebrews 1:2-3 (NLT) And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
We are in the final days. There is no denying that Jesus is making His Final Decent. Prophecy is being fulfilled day by day. Time is running out. I need to make this time count. Jesus has provided us with the Father’s Inheritance once forfeited by sin. Godly character allows us to move deeper in the Presence of God for our life fulfilling the purpose found there. It is up to me whose identity I will assume. When pressure is applied to my life, what is expressed? This is a clear indication of what fills my heart governing my mind. I need to know. I want to know. I desire to have godly character. The kind that endures to the end so I will be saved. Jesus has given us the power to choose the life that we live and the character allowed to develop in our life. I want to understand what really matters. I want to live in such a way that God sees me as pure and blameless. His Grace is enough for me. I must believe in God’s Goodness and Grace enough to trust Him in the wildernesses and broken places in life. We must desire righteous character and live to attain it. This is the purpose found in each step.
Philippians 1:10-11 (NLT) For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.