How to Know and Fulfill God’s Plans for Your Life

by Roger Barrier

Dear Roger,
Please help me understand God’s purpose for my life. It seems that all of us at one time or another ask the question, “Why am I here?” When I stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ, I want to be sure that I understood clearly what He wanted me to do and I carried out His calling. Tell me, what is God’s purpose for my life?
Thank you! Jackie

Dear Jackie,

God’s purpose for our existence is the same for everyone. He wants to put Christ on display in our lives for entire the world to see. And God fulfills His purpose by molding us into the image of Christ.

So, let’s search the Scriptures together, looking at seven different ways that we can know and fulfill God’s purpose for us.

1. Be certain that you understand the “good” of Romans 8:28-29.

In this letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul was teaching the church how to live the Christian life in a very secular culture. He explained that we will experience difficult painful things. We will suffer. But even then, we can be assured that:

All things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For Those that he foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his son.

How often do we hear these verses claimed by Christians in times of trial and tragedy! The trouble is that too many misunderstand what God means by “good.”

Aunt Suzie is in the hospital dying of cancer.

A Christian friend arrives to encourage her, saying, “Don’t worry; you are a Christian, and the Bible says that all things work together for good to those who love God. And you do love God. So, don’t worry, God keeps his promises. You’re going to be fine.”

Shortly thereafter, Aunt Suzie dies.

Tommy is in a horrible car wreck, and his parents are in agonizing pain as their son lingers between life and death.

Some well-meaning friends come to comfort, saying, “Don’t worry. God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love God. And you love God, don’t you? Everything will certainly work out well. Tommy is going to be all right.”

Three years later Tommy is still in a coma.

“Good” is NOT a blanket promise that every situation in life will work out well for those who love God. “Good” is God’s promise that He will use every circumstance, good or bad, for the purpose of molding us to look like Christ.

2. Understand that the image of God is now visible all around the world.

God created Adam in His own image (see Genesis 1:26). If we want to know what God is like, all we need to do is look at Adam before the Fall.

Unfortunately, Adam sinned. That means the pure, real image of God was no longer available to be seen in the world. Man is now made in his own image.

But then, baby Jesus entered the world in the manger. Once again, the image of God was on display.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by side his son, . . . The Son is the exact representation of his being. (Hebrews 1:3)

To see God’s image, study Jesus during his three-year ministry:

Philip said to Jesus; “Just show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus said, “Oh, Philip, have I been so long with you and you still don’t understand. He that has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9)

In the upper room, Jesus said something that caused great consternation among the disciples. He proclaimed, “It is good for you that I go away.” They couldn’t imagine anything worse!

But when He was limited by His earthly body, Jesus could only physically be in one place at one time. When He was healing people in Galilee, He couldn’t be talking to the Pharisees in Jerusalem.

But, when filled with the Holy Spirit, His followers could be in multiple places… they began to fulfill God’s purpose all over the world.

So, on the day of Pentecost, 120 followers of Jesus were together in one place. Suddenly, “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from Heaven… All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4).

If we want to know what God looks like, we can see the image of God in a Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit. In other words, the image of God is the life of Jesus lived through the lives of His followers.

3. Pray to become a spiritual mother or father at any price (1 John 2:12-14).

The greatest tragedy in the Christian church is the spiritual child who refuses to grow up. Our first-born child was full-term and weighed just three pounds at birth. Severe genetic issues were incompatible with life. She couldn’t grow up. She died when she reached 5 pounds.

We were heartbroken. I imagine this is how God feels when one of His newborn spiritual children doesn’t grow up… when we never show His image, when He never has the opportunity to mold us into the image of Christ.

Find hope and challenge in this: asking to become a spiritual mother or father at any price is one prayer that God guarantees He will answer. It will cost you everything. And in the process, you will discover and fulfill His ultimate purpose for you.

4. Seek to emulate the personality of Jesus Christ.

Only once in all of Scripture does Jesus give us insight into His character. He told the disciples, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).

What a goal! This reminds me of David’s prayer in Psalm 131 (paraphrased):

My heart is not proud, Lord, and my eyes are not haughty.

I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a child quieted at his mother’s breast, like a child that is quieted is my soul.

It IS possible to cultivate gentleness and humility.

5. Deeply ingrain fellowship, prayer, and Bible study into everyday living.

I regard these three pursuits as the fundamental basics of the Christian life. Used generously, these three divine activities are the primary tools that God uses to mature us into the image of Christ.

Don’t miss this; we can only develop into the image of Christ in the context of other Christians. We experience intimacy with God through prayer. We absorb the teachings of Jesus with our Bibles.

6. Beware of distractions that obstruct God’s plans to make us into Jesus’ image.

Pay careful attention to this declaration from the apostle John; “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).

Many Christians are distracted by a lazy materialistic love for the world!

Others simply move on to other things. Many try briefly and see little change. They consciously or unconsciously decide that it really doesn’t matter whether they grow up spiritually or not.

Following Jesus is far down their list of priorities. And in that, they refuse to seek, know, and fulfill God’s purpose. How sad they will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ!

7. Walk in the spirit and not in the flesh.

Paul’s command, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), isn’t the simple “no alcohol rule” many have preached.

In essence, Paul is calling us to be sensitive to spiritual things while carefully avoiding anything that would distract us from following Christ. Cultivate a strong, consistent focus on the things of the Spirit.

I would take time to consider each of these keys. How can you implement them? Where are you struggling? What is keeping you from following Jesus with your whole heart and life?

Then consider this; How much do you look like Jesus? Or what do people think of when they think of you?

I keep that question in front of my mind all the time. I don’t want people to look at me and think, “What a good man!” “He preached great sermons and wrote great articles.” “He loved people.”

All of those things are wonderful! But they don’t fulfill the ultimate purpose God has for my life.

I want people to look at my life and say, “Ah, Jesus, what a wonderful Savior!” Don’t you?

Love, Roger

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