His Purposes and Our Priorities

What goes through your mind in the morning before your feet hit the floor? Is it a mental listing of all that awaits you this day? Is it a lingering rehash of the today that ended as you fell asleep last night? Perhaps it is a stir-pot of emotions, whether they synergize into empowering optimism, conspire toward debilitating fear, or blend in some measure of both. Personally, a fresh to-do list and an urgency to conquer its demands greet me anew each morning as the alarm falls silent. Eager to accomplish, it is easy to bound out of bed and beeline toward first-things-first, pursuing my passions in my strength. Some such days end with the satisfaction of completion, while others draw to a close with too few checkmarks on the checklist, yet in all self-directed days, these two most vital things I carelessly and regrettably leave behind—God’s purposes and His power.

To a people stirred to faith by the fresh news of the gospel and imploring, “What shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”1 This Holy Spirit, this gift from God, elevates our perspectives and straightens our priorities. He guides us in all truth, for instance, making known to us the words and ways of Christ,2 so we can live our days effectively in newfound wisdom. When we open ourselves to the Spirit, He puts God’s desires in our heart3 and in our mind4, then His purposes become our purposes, and our life has meaning. He blesses each one of us individually with Spiritual gifts5—wisdom, knowledge, faith, discernment and others—and we go forth collectively in His power.6 Through the Spirit, God pours out his love into our soul7, and throughout a lifetime of todays He steadily transforms us into the likeness of Christ8 with ever-increasing glory9. Our days change, for we ourselves are changed, and our lives bear fruit that lasts for eternity10. In the Spirit, God’s purposes become our purposes, and before our feet hit the floor, our days become His.

Father, slow me down today and redirect me, that your purposes would supersede my purposes and my plans be subjected to yours. Grace me to see your Spirit at work all around me and deep within me, that I would join Him and bring you glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is wisdom.

1 Acts 2:37, 38
2 John 16:13-15
3 Ezekiel 36:26, 27
4 Romans 8:5
5 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
6 Acts 1:8
7 Romans 5:5
8 2 Thessalonians 2:13
9 2 Corinthians 3:18
10 John 15:16

GOAT

“How can someone be so much better than the best?” my brother mused one day. We were talking about Wayne Gretzky, hockey’s “Great One,” who remains without question the best who’s ever played the game. The GOAT (greatest of all time) debate is a bit less settled in some other sports, though many would single out basketball’s Michael Jordan or football’s Jim Brown as standouts over and above an unabridged listing of their peers, and when it comes to the weightier matters of world leadership, the GOAT designation is even more elusive.

Israel’s King Solomon—glorious as he was in wealth and wisdom—looked forward to a Ruler so great as to be without peer. “All kings will bow down to him and all nations serve him,”1 he wrote. What would elevate this Sovereign above all the others? “He will deliver the needy who cry out … the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak … and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.”2 It would be His divine nature to love and His eternal power to act on such love that set Him apart from all others. Who wouldn’t want this Royal?

The King has come; His name is Jesus. He came first to deliver us from our sins—a merciful scapegoat, bearing our justice—and to build His kingdom “not of this world.”3 And herein lies another difference between the heavenly King and all earthly rulers: our risen King does not rule by external decree, but by inner transformation. He changes our hearts to rescue the oppressed, and His love overwhelms us to the point of overflowing to others. We give to His kingdom not through heavy-handed taxation, but through open-handed generosity; we fight His enemy not as a people conscripted into battle, but as a people convicted of His cause.

Jesus will come again, this time to rule over all. Sin will be vanquished, and all will be new. At that time—and at His name—“every knee [shall] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”4 There will be no GOAT debate; everyone from great to small will honor Him. So, why wait? Let’s worship Him with submitted lives now.

Father, thank you for loving us so much as to send your Son. I confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Send your Spirit to lead me in your way today, that this life would bring glory to you. Amen.

1 Psalm 72:11
2 Psalm 72:12-14
3 John 18:36
4 Philippians 2:10-12

Holy Ground

Christmas changes us. We join family and friends in festive celebration, of course, and we take time to ponder the reason for the season, but Christmas marks the advent of “God with us,” and both we and our place in the world are forever changed because of Christ.

The Bible teaches that wherever the Lord is, is holy. This is why in the Old Testament Moses and, later, Joshua were told to remove their sandals, for they found themselves standing on “holy ground”—in the presence of God. But now that Jesus has come and redeemed us as His own, He is both with us and in us. We are, says Paul, “a temple of the Holy Spirit.”1 Wherever we are, He is; wherever we go, He goes; wherever we stand is holy ground, for God is present.

So, we live and move and breathe with newfound purpose. Ours is to embrace the grace we have received and to share the love and truth of God wherever we are. For the Lord is present and where He is, is holy.

Ask yourself:

  1. Does sharing Christ feel like an obligation I have to do for God, or a privilege I get to do with God?
  2. Can I just for today offer myself to the Spirit and trust Him to work through an imperfect and awkward me?

Father, thank you for making me a dwelling place for your Spirit. I am humbled by such great love. Where I am, you are, so use me as you will for your purposes and your glory. Amen.

Christ in me is holiness.

1 1 Corinthians 6:19