Have you ever felt like God has more for you than you are currently experiencing, but there seems to be some kind of barrier keeping you from fully achieving your Divine destiny? The Bible tells us that God has plans for our lives. God told Israel, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Likewise, David wrote in Psalm 37:27, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” In the New Testament, Jesus invites us to follow Him because He has come so that we might have life and that more abundantly (Jn 10:10).
Studying this, it occurred to me that even when things in our lives can feel like frustrating inconveniences, whether required by our place of employment or dictated by our own government, God has already factored these things into our preferred future. Therefore, instead of complaining (like I too often do), it would be better to excitedly anticipate what God has in store for us next in our journey.
Matthew doesn’t tell us how or when Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant. Still, it must have been shocking news resulting in many sleepless nights as he wrestled with his love for Mary on one hand, and the letter of law on the other hand, which said he could make a public example of her and humiliate her for what appeared to be her unfaithfulness. Verse 20 says that as Joseph was wrestling with his emotions and the decisions he had to make, he had a dream.
Studying this passage, the first step I see in the path to purpose is “be prepared.” The Prophet Isaiah said the Messiah would be born to a virgin (Is 7:14), and Mary had maintained her purity. If she had compromised her purity for a moment of pleasure, she would have forfeited the honor that was to be hers. Once we embrace the idea that we have a God-given purpose, we need to prepare.
What is the longest you’ve ever prayed for something before God answered your prayer? When year after year goes by and it doesn’t seem like God is moving, at what point should we stop praying? I’d say if our prayers are in agreement with the Word of God and we are pursuing the will of God, then we should never stop praying. You may ask, “What if it takes years and it seems like time is running out on the possibility of an answer?” So what? Is anything too hard for God? Is God limited by time or distance?
We call the Friday following Thanksgiving “Black Friday” because retailers open their doors with big sales intended to lure in Christmas shoppers. These sales are a major source of annual income for retailers, and can be the difference between getting their finances in the black (meaning they made a profit for the year), or ending the year in the red (having a net loss). However, the first black Friday was when Jesus died on the cross at noon and the sun refused to shine. God’s gift was our gain, and because of the red that Jesus bled on that Friday, we can end our lives in the black, in the positive rather than the negative. Jesus paid our debt with His own blood and ransomed us from sin.
When it comes to knowing one’s purpose, Jesus knew that He was born to die for the sins of the world and rise from the grave three days later. He knew victory over death was ahead of Him and that He would be restored to His full glory at the right hand of His Heavenly Father. But He also knew that the path to the empty tomb and His exaltation would lead Him through the shame and humiliation of the cross.
Roman soldiers had no affection for the Jewish people, so being given permission to mock and crucify a Jewish man was an opportunity they relished and took a sick pleasure in executing. As such, they intended to fully humiliate Jesus before nailing Him to the cross. Part of the humiliation involved mocking Jesus as a king. This is why they clothed Him in a purple robe or cloth, which was the color of royalty, and made a crown of twisted thorns, which was intended as a mock crown but also to inflect pain when they pressed it down upon His head.
That was Friday … but Sunday’s coming. Sometimes things go from bad to worse before they get better. Sometimes innocent people suffer and life seems cruel and unfair, but hang on because the story isn’t over. You may feel like things have gone from bad to worse, but God isn’t finished writing your story, and you’re just getting to the good part.
As believers, we have been forgiven and continue to be forgiven as we confess and repent for our failures. We have been forgiven because through the cross, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Is 1:18). If we believe the promises of God, and if we have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on an old rugged cross, then we should not allow Satan to beat us over the head with our past. I once heard someone say, “When Satan tries to remind me of my past, I remind him of his future.”