Rom. 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." All believers in Jesus Christ, who have His Spirit dwelling in them, are called according to God's purpose. We have given up our own purposes, ambitions, and lives ruled by our self nature, or flesh, and given ourselves up to God accepting all He is as our Savior to the uttermost. This should be the continuing attitude then, of every child of God.
What is your purpose? Is it to find a mate, live happily, raise children, have a career, maybe have a ministry? What is your goal in life? What is God's purpose in calling you?
Rom. 8:29-31 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being) What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us?"
Rom. 9:23 "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,"
1 Peter 2:9 "But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light"
2 Thess. 1:10-12 "When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.",
There is a joy to be found in the midst of every single thing we go through or whatever path we walk every day of our lives if we remember our lives are given up for His purpose, and not our own or any human being's. No matter what we find ourselves in the midst of, it is for His purpose of glory, honor and praise to be fulfilled in us and that we be conformed to His image. This is why "all things work together for good" for those of us who are His. It is He that continually works them together for the fulfillment of that purpose of His in our lives in Christ.
How can anything harm us then? If God be for us who can be against us?
Rom. 8:28 is a verse that is often quoted and misused by many believers, leaving out the last half of the verse, "who are the called according to His purpose. They think it to mean that God turns everything around for good somehow to make their lives in this earth a little better according to their purpose. Sometimes, however, we do not see anything in this natural life that seems to look good that comes out of the hardships we endure, or what good can come of doing tedius, mundane, or unpleasant work every day just to make a living. In fact at times we seem to be weakened, brought down, and even in some ways destroyed by them. But if we remember to surrender ourselves, in faith, over to God's purpose being fulfilled in us during all, then it is to this we find a joy in seeing this fulfilled in our lives as time goes on.
Try one thing and see if it doesn't bring a new sense of awareness of God in every part of your life. Every morning consciously surrender up your life that day to God's purpose, and His honor in your life, in whatever your day brings. That will mean you will find yourself in circumstances where you may find "self" put down, weakened, humiliated, and so forth, but as in each case you surrender yourself, (give up your own way and by faith accept His), to His purpose and His honor, self is overcome, and God is magnified not only in your heart, but to those around you. This isn't some formula to follow, this is a walk of faith in all God has done in us through Jesus Christ, and all He has called us to. It is so easy to be distracted from God's purpose in our lives in search of our own in this world. But God calls us to a life of faith, such as our list of heroes of the faith in Heb. 11, and such as Jesus Christ Himself, given up to one purpose in this world, the glory of God His Father:
Heb. 12:1-3 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
Every weight, every obstacle, every distraction, is to be layed aside. The cares of this world can so easily become a heavy weight to that purpose in Christ. But if in those cares we are surrendered in faith to the purpose of God, they can no longer hold onto us, and keep us in bondage to them, though we have no control over them. They are merely part of God's plan, part of all that He is working out for good according to His purpose in us. They are a part of our being glorified, raised to a heavenly state of being and dignity with Christ, seated with Him in the heavenlies. We are more than conquerors through Christ Who loved us and nothing can separate us from His love or His eternal purpose being worked in us now, and in eternity with Him. The only way to "lay these cares aside", these "heavy weights", is not to take them up ourselves and care for them, but to keep our eyes on the prize set before us and His eternal purpose in them.
The life of the apostle Paul is one that has always fascinated me. What an example of turning every single circumstance, and every persecution, and every moment of trial and suffering into an opportunity for God's glory to be revealed! Can anything stop God's purpose? And He is the one who brings us this beautiful chapter of Rom. 8 for our joy in every one of these things of life we walk through. How can we really rejoice in all our trials??? Only as we see ourselves given over to God's purpose and give up all of our own. Only as we see that by faith alone in His finished work can this purpose of His be worked in us and through us and not by any human means of goal setting, performance, or covenant keeping, but only as daily we give ourselves up by faith in every circumstance to His purpose He is constantly working in you by His Spirit.
One of the greatest mistakes churches make is trying to fulfill God's purpose by means of the flesh or human effort rather than giving themselves up in faith to God's purpose being worked in them through the Spirit. But slowly and surely, God is daily working out His own purpose inspite of our trying, not because of it, by His own power. The sooner we accept all He has done by faith, the sooner we are able to walk in it.
"Straining, driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives a man to do; we must partake of Christ so fully that He more than fills the life. It will then be not overwork but overflow." - From the Hungry Heart Devotional
"The purpose of God is that through the conditions and sufferings of my life should develop in me the features of His Son. On the one hand, the features of the old creation may be seen to be more and more terrible and horrible, as I recognize them in myself; but over against that God is doing something which is other than my old self. He is bringing into being Another, altogether other, and that is His Son, my new life. Slowly, seemingly all too slowly; nevertheless something is developing. The sonship is not very much in evidence yet, but it is going to be manifested. What God has been doing will come out into the light eventually conformity to the image of His Son." -T. A-Sparks
May each day be a day of joy and God's glory in our lives as we walk in faith in His purpose!
2 Cor. 4:15-18: “15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Strong’s definition for “look”: 1) to look at, observe, contemplate 2) to mark 3) to fix one's eyes upon, direct one's attention to, any one 4) to look to, take heed to thyself
The kind of looking Paul is talking about in v. 18 is to gaze steadfastly not just a casual look. The physical world we see around us, according to quantum physics, is the virtual reality, while the one we do not see is the real reality. Paul understood the true reality. What a shame when we live according to the temporal and fail to keep a steady gaze on the eternal – the real and lasting. Paul was able to call his trials “light and momentary” only because he knew the true reality in Christ and kept his gaze on that. We need to know that reality, to gaze steadily on it, and to walk in it continually. All that Jesus accomplished and fulfilled on the cross and worked in those who believe – that is the reality we must learn to walk in.
Colossians 3:1-3: 1 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Those who walk by faith do so because faith gives true sight to that reality that is hidden from the rest of the world. When we hold a steady gaze on that reality, we are more than conquerors in Christ. We rise above this world and see with true sight. We overcome every obstacle. God’s Word is our reality. All heroes of the faith have held this gaze of faith into eternity in order to overcome the circumstances and live beyond them.
Heb. 1:1-3: “1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
Moses faith enabled him to escape Egypt, “for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27)
By faith in the reality of the unseen, we are able to gaze on the face of Christ through every situation. We know His face is ever before us, gazing on us, at every moment, waiting for us to call on Him for the grace needed. Yet so often as Christians we can treat the reality in Christ as though it were all make-believe, and if only we can imagine strong enough that these things we read in God’s Word is truth, than we’ll have them. Yet God’s Word is the reality, not anyone’s imagination or a product of someone’s fantasy.
When Elisha’s servant saw a host of horses and chariots surrounding the city he saw doom. But Elisha saw reality as his gaze remained on God –
2 Kings 6:16-17 “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
Let us pray that God will open our eyes to the reality of heaven, and our eternal inheritance, to all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ Jesus, and the power that is at work within us daily as we walk this earth in this earthen vessel, that we may hold a steady gaze on that true reality and not on the temporal things of this earth that will soon pass away. There is no greater power at work in the universe than that which is at work in our hearts to save us from daily sin, to bring us victory through every trial, to raise us up with Christ, seated in the heavenlies, to come to our aide for every need, to guide us through what looks like the greatest darkness to our eyes, to lift us above the highest mountains, and carry us on eagles wings to where He wants to bring us in His perfect plan, in His love, in His holiness.
If God be fore us who can be against us!
Jdg 7:2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
Time and time again, we see in the Bible, God using the “weak things of the world”. He uses the small, the weak, the cast out, the poor, those the world looks down on and despises. Again and again, God’s message to us is that He is God and nothing is too hard for Him – if we but trust Him.
Life throws so many things at us that are overwhelming, and overpowering. We, all our lives, seek to be strong, and to make our own way. Some of us start out in life with weaknesses or handicaps that make life an extra challenge. And some of us are endowed with strength, health, and gifted with many talents and abilities. It doesn’t matter in Christ. All belongs to Him. The first type of person is perhaps at an advantage, having learned he cannot depend on himself alone. The latter has to learn that, many times the hard way. Nevertheless, both – whether weak or strong – must learn that to do God’s will, and to accomplish His work, one must be nothing in themselves but depend on Him alone to be everything in us.
Phi 3:4-10 “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”
Paul had everything going for him as far as the world is concerned. But he learned to count it all loss that he may gain Christ. Gideon new he was a small weak man in the eyes of his enemies, yet God made him bold and stouthearted with His strength. He made sure he did not put his hope or faith in the numbers of men who would fight with him, but that he would know it was God, and not the strength of men.
Is anything too hard for God? What difficulty do you face?
Many times we seek to set our own goals and climb our own mountains. We find they are indeed too hard. God never gave them to us to climb or to reach. So He lets us fall. We find ourselves helpless and disillusioned. How often men set up their own goals and plans and simply ask God to help them achieve them. How many times men seek to climb their own mountains and move them, asking God to help them. Yet when one has given their life to God, and walks by faith that He is in control now of every mountain, every challenge, then we can rest in His power to bring us through. In fact, in Christ, every mountain, every challenge, every task is His. But we must set aside all human achievements, goals, and dreams to take on His and find what He has for us. We then are able to walk by faith in His plan for our lives and His purposes. We are able to rest in His ability to carry them out and not ours or in any advantages we may think we have.
Many churches work hard to “build” their church, by their own means and in doing so they seem outwardly blessed with growth and numbers, but inside the church, is leanness of soul, and God’s life is not there.
God, Himself, is always building His church. It is full of those who are weak, those who are unimportant in the eyes of the world, and those who simply trust in Him alone every day of their lives. They have found no advantages in this world, only Christ as their life.
Does life seem too hard for you? Many times I’ve said that – “Lord, life is just too hard.” Life is in Jesus Christ, not in anything we have or lack in this world. Put down your own burden – choose His yoke instead.
Mat 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
“…so now also will Christ be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:20b-21
I’ve read that verse many times with the emphasis on “and to die is gain” thinking of that gain, especially in my times of hardship, sorrow, fear, insecurity, etc. How much easier it would be to just die and be with the Lord! For the Christian to die is gain. Our toil is over, and we are at last in the presence of the Lord we love! Yet, the main message Paul is giving is on the first part…”For me to live is Christ”. We say that…yes to live is Christ. We enjoy all the blessings we have in Him here, and rejoice in His promises and salvation. He is our source of life. We find Him the source of our peace, joy, etc. But…there’s more here. For me to live is Christ. I’ve often felt that my life was drained out of me by the cares of life. I lost my energy for living and felt truly that to die would be gain! My energy of life…of wanting to work, accomplish anything, even to serve Christ was diminished by a weighted down heart of grief, or the burden of insurmountable problems in our family, or sickness; worry about the future, and the insecurity and uncertainty of what lies ahead and what I may have to face. Even though I loved the Lord and considered Him my life, I felt weighted down by this world and this body I have to live in.
“For me to live is Christ.” Is it really? Am I really understanding what that means? Is perhaps there still some of “my life” I am clinging to? Look at Paul’s attitude.
“For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” Phil. 1:23-26
For me it would not have been any contest…hard-pressed? No! I would have said, after suffering all that Paul did and going through all the grief with false teachers, and lies being told about him, and being beaten and shipwrecked etc. etc…. no contest! I would have said, “to die is gain! Take me home Lord! Deliver me from this messed up world that refuses to listen to You!” Even though I do consider my life to be for Christ… at times it seems I’m just waiting for it to be over so I can be with Him.
What was the energy of Paul’s life that made him continue on, and even desire to continue on? It’s easier to die for the Lord I think sometimes than to live for Him. What is it that causes many Christians, like Paul to continue on in living for Him even in the face of suffering and persecution? What is the energy – the driving force of their life? Why not just wait it out until the Lord finally takes us home and delivers us? Why not just get through this life the best we can with as little conflict as possible until the Lord comes for us and delivers us?
For me to live is finding happiness, security, significance, freedom from fear, and having a fulfilled social life – with Christ in there of course making all that possible for me. This is truly at the heart of many a Christian’s attitude that has not truly given up their life, for Christ to be their life. Many think it’s all about them. I have to confess that as I read this verse I saw this was the attitude I needed to be completely freed from. I thought I was. I believed I was crucified with Christ and risen with Him. But there was still a part of this life I wanted in this world I did not know was still having a bit of a way with me. When we are called on to lose any of those things… happiness, security, significance, freedom from fear, fulfillment in life, etc., it causes distress, anxiety – a weighted down feeling. I kept asking the Lord, “What is this thing inside that weighs me down and makes me weak and tired on the inside”? As I read this verse the Holy Spirit made me aware more than ever, that, mingled in my heart with a desire to please God… there was still this part of my flesh clinging to this life. It was robbing me of strength. It was hindering my service to the Lord.
Do you think it noble to be able to say, “to die is gain”? Yes, it is wonderful that in Christ we do not have to fear death. We look forward to being with the Lord. But can you say “for me to live is Christ?” Can you really? Is He your motivating force? Your driving energy? Your ambition in life? Do you get up in the morning with anticipation in serving the Lord and how He will use you to show someone His love today? Or do you wake up with a sigh…”another day of hardship to get through, no energy for it, no money for the bills, each day is such a struggle”?
Paul was driven by love. Love never thinks of itself and it’s own comfort or cares so much as it thinks of what its object needs. Paul’s driving force, his ambition, his energy, was the love of Christ. “For the love of Christ compels us…” 2 Cor. 5:14. This love is only from God. It is never possible to attain it in our flesh. It is given to us already through God’s Holy Spirit. (Rom. 5:5) When you study Paul’s writings, and the life he lived you see he had a total dependency on Christ for His life, for everything that happened to him…Rom. 8:28… and saw everything only as another opportunity for Christ; whether he was on trial or in prison or shipwrecked, or wherever he was.
The thing that keeps that love quenched in us is our flesh. When we hold on to our “life”…that is our flesh, our own purpose for living, our own ambitions, even our own needs, (they are all under God’s care if we belong to Him), love is quenched in us and cannot flow from us, nor can it be our energy source. We must recognize it for what it is, take it to the cross and there, by faith, reckon it dead with Christ and ourselves alive, raised with Him to newness of life. This life is a life full of energy – the energy of love, motivating us, driving us, filling us, and flowing through us to spread to others. In this the Lord promises our joy is full.
“For me to live is Christ”. That is – all that Christ is, and lives for. He, Himself living in me and through me - His purposes for His love and glory. It matters not whether we are alive of dead! In Christ all that matters is His life in us and working through us. This is our life. If your life is weighed down, and there is no energy on the inside, no joy – examine before the scripture with the Holy Spirit, just what truly you thought your life was. What is the reason for burn out? Perhaps it is failing to see what our life is, and holding on to what it is not, working in our own strength and not the energy of the Spirit of His love in us.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:1-2
Lord, fill us with the energy of Your love to live for Your glory and be Your light and life for others around us.