God has a calling and purpose over each of our lives. Ephesians 2:10 is ample proof of that.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
But the lives of the scores of saints portrayed in the Bible (both New and Old Testament) is living testimony to this truth too. One stands out in particular – the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. Here is a clear example of calling and purpose over one man’s life that God initiated and concluded. However, once God had initiated the calling, its accomplishment or achievement in the apostle’s life was down to his response. It was his understanding of its significance, both to himself and others who would be impacted with his purpose, and wholehearted response and determination that brought it to a successful completion. At the end of his life the apostle was triumphant and victorious declaring that “he had fought the good fight …finished the race …kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7) as he was eagerly looking forward to that reward in heaven he was to receive from his Lord and Master.
The circumstances of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome from where he made this declaration were horrendous. Yet, as far as he was concerned, he gloried in the race he had managed to successfully run to completion and in anticipation of the reward he would receive from His Master.
Even though the circumstances of his imprisonment were the most unpleasant and the conditions the most unlikely in which to feel triumphant, Paul was still able to declare his victory in the race that he had been assigned, the course that was marked out for him. In the previous verse (2 Timothy 4:6) he even admits that his life is being poured out like a drink offering, he is soon to pass away but nothing, absolutely nothing was going to take away the joy and satisfaction he felt at completing his race, achieving God’s purpose in his life. He was able to do so because he valued God’s calling and purpose upon his life more than his very life and was subsequently determined to achieve it to death. It was while heading towards Jerusalem where he knew persecution and suffering awaited him that he poured his heart out to the Ephesian brethren in Acts 20:24 –
But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
This was his life calling he knew God had set him apart for from his birth, not even after his salvation but from his birth!
But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone.
Galatians 1:15 – 16
How we approach that calling and purpose will determine its successful accomplishment in our lives too. All God can do is to initiate it through our salvation and its revelation – initially (usually) in general and then specifically but in in most cases, progressively.
There are three basic elements our approach must encompass if we are to walk in these good works God has prepared for each one of us beforehand, if we are to complete the course He has marked out for us and fulfill His calling and purpose on our lives.
- The first is faith, to believe it.
Hebrews 11:6 quite simply says “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” God is not pleased from the get-go if we doubt what He affirms in His word about Himself and His plans for us – that He has in advance prepared good works for us to walk in because He created us and therefore knows us inside out, knows what we are best at and where we will flourish the most. He is the Master craftsman who is able to maximise the potential He Himself has instilled in us
We need to trust Him and His word when he says it (Ephesians 2:10) for only then are we able to enter into the reality of His promise, the reality of the truth.
Faith is the gateway into experiencing the promises and truths of God His word is awash with.
It is impossible to go anywhere with God (let alone experience anything) without pleasing Him because of a lack of faith. On the other hand, reward awaits those who trust and put their faith in Him for that is what is required in the first place in order to receive anything from God – faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6
It is hard, if not impossible, to get anything from God if we have no intention of ensuring His pleasure with our faith in Him and His promises.
- The second is patience.
God’s promises are there for us to be inherited.
His promises represent the Father’s heart and desire for each of His children. If God says that He has prepared good works for us to walk in, He means it. That is His desire and purpose for us on earth – to walk in these works he has prepared beforehand. He therefore expects us to discover them and walk in them.
However, this does not happen overnight or in an instant. Even though we may be used to demanding instant results and responses in the fast-paced world we live in, God, however, does not work that way. We need to exercise patience and not give up easily if we are to experience the realization of His promises in our lives. We should never expect God to come round and do things our way or even the way of the world. He alone is All-knowing, Perfect and whose understanding is unsearchable. He is never outdone or outwitted by anything or anyone as a result of a blind spot in His knowledge or understanding. We are the ones who ought to submit to His Omniscience and come round and learn to do things His way.
Hebrews 6:11-12 gives us the prescription on how we arrive at God’s promises in our lives.
Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and patience.
The twin elements of faith and patience are essential and inseparable requirements in accessing and inheriting (making your own) God’s promises in our lives. We must therefore determine not to allow laziness to creep in and get the better of us but position ourselves for the long haul. We need to develop endurance (alongside patience) in the race we have been called to run, the course the Lord has mapped for each one of us to complete.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…. Hebrew 12:1 – 2
- Third, is to seek.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Not only is faith required in order to be rewarded of God but acting on that faith by seeking God for that which he has promised. God not only rewards those who believe but those who act upon their faith by seeking His promise which demonstrates their hunger and desire for Him and His things in their lives. Our seeking demonstrates our faith in His promises and our hunger and desire to see them realised in our lives. It is those who seek in faith and couple their faith with patience who are assured of inheriting His promises.
In the next blog we shall address how we are to seek Him and the framework our seeking is to be conducted in, specifically in respect to Ephesians 2:10.
How do we discover and walk in God’s calling and purpose in our lives? How does this seeking translate in practical day-to-day living?