Daily Things of Christian Living
Review Chapter - Daily Purpose
In the late ‘90s, two books took the Christian world by storm. Decades later, The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, authored by Rick Warren continue selling at a swift pace.
Warren communicated that Christians could choose to live with a sense of purpose. To live with purpose is an imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ came to earth with a purpose.
Christ never lost sight of His distinct purpose.
Christ accomplished His purpose.
It should be the same for you.
An Inescapable Purpose
On March 13, 2008, Nnamdi and his wife Adaeze (for security purposes, not their real name) were called before Jordan’s secret police. This was not unusual. Nnamdi had been invited to the police station several times for what turned out to be routine questioning.
Always before, the secret police had only requested Nnamdi’s presence. But on March 13, 2008, Nnamdi was asked to bring Adaeze.
The questioning of Nnamdi and Adaeze lasted five minutes. Nnamdi and Adaeze were committed Christians. The two had been born again several years earlier while living in East Africa. Jordan’s secret police alleged that Nnamdi and Adaeze had been actively proselytizing Muslims.
Such evangelism is strictly prohibited in Jordan. Without seeing a magistrate, Nnamdi and Adaeze were immediately imprisoned. Without benefit of a trial or an opportunity to post bail, the couple would remain in jail. The Jordanian government eventually deported Nnamdi and Adaeze as enemies of the state.
During their weeks in prison, the couple suffered brutal torture. Nnamdi and Adaeze could only surmise that their imprisonment was because of their efforts to convert Muslims to Christ.
On his second day in the men’s prison, Nnamdi’s praying caught the attention of a Lebanese inmate named Joseph. Joseph asked, “What kind of Christian are you?” Joseph wondered if Nnamdi was Catholic or Protestant. The question opened the door of conversation.
The Lebanese man was interested in what Nnamdi shared regarding the gospel taught by the Apostles. So, the two men started praying together. One of Joseph’s prayer requests was to be released and sent home to Lebanon. Two days later, Jesus answered. Joseph was returned to Lebanon.
Other inmates sought out Nnamdi for prayer and advice. The best wisdom is drawn from the Word of God. The interest in what Nnamdi had to say was growing. Soon, despite having no Bible, a group of inmates led by Nnamdi was having morning and evening devotion.
The lack of a Bible was a problem. So, Nnamdi prayed for a Bible to miraculously be delivered to him while he remained in prison.
On the 5th day of their imprisonment, Nnamdi was visited by the Nigeria’s Ambassador to Jordan. The meeting between Nnamdi and the ambassador took place in the office of the prison warden. The Ambassador had been in a group Nnambi had been discipling before he and his wife’s arrest.
When the warden realized that Nnamdi knew people of influence, he instructed the guards to treat Nnamdi well. The improved conditions flowed over to Adaeze in the Women’s Prison.
When the warden asked if he could do anything to help, Nnamdi asked for a physical Bible. The warden responded! For the first time, Bibles were allowed in that Jordanian prison. The Bible study became more earnest. Many of the mostly Muslim inmates came to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was the one God.
The evangelism, that Nnamdi was imprisoned for doing in the community, he was now allowed to do freely. Making use of the Bibles the prison warden had permitted in. The inmates involved in the Bible studies and prayer meetings were from different countries and religions, but most were Muslim.
While Nnamdi and Adaeze were in prison, several men and women repented. Their in-prison influence was so significant that the Jordanian government expedited banishing them from the country.
Nnamdi and Adaeze did not try to avoid Christ’s purpose for them. They lived to accomplish His purpose regardless of location, comfort, the fairness of the world around them, or how well things were going. For Nnamdi and Adaeze, their purpose was simple, “We have the gospel and are in a setting where people need to hear.
Quietly and without arrogance, the couple began influencing others around them. After the nation of Jordan deported Nnamdi and Adzeze, a local teacher continued conducting Bible Studies in the prison.
Wherever you are, there is an opportunity to fulfill the purpose God designed for you.
Having a Clear Purpose
Nnamdi and Abaeve never lost sight of what they were in Jordan to do. Being in prison did not change their purpose.
Neither did Christ lose sight of His purpose. It would have been easy to do. The gospels detail thirty-seven miracles of the Lord Jesus. John wrote that the world could not contain what Jesus had done (John 21:25). But healing lepers, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead did not accomplish Christ’s purpose.
Christ also became known for speaking as one “having authority” (Matthew 7:29). But Christ Jesus’ most excellent sermons did not fulfill His purpose.
If the Lord had healed the sick and preached exceptional sermons, He would have made an impact, but would not have accomplished the purpose for which He became flesh.
Christ chose to focus on why He came. This was despite having other options:
- Some wanted to crown Christ as King, (John 6:15).
- Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem validated His popularity, (Matthew 21:25).
- Satan tempted Christ Jesus with other methods to accomplish prestige and honor, (Matthew 4:1-11).
None of these dissuaded Christ from His purpose.
Jesus’ Purpose = Crucifixion
The Son of God, God manifest in the flesh, had a single purpose. It was to redeem human beings from their sin and to take on Himself the penalty of their sin.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved.
That penalty required Jesus to deny Himself and submit to the painful sacrifice of death on a cross. Jesus’ purpose was not possible without the cross. The cross He started to carry up Golgotha’s hill was the instrument for completing His divine purpose.
Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, God manifest in flesh was God’s lamb. Christ’s death provided redemption for fallen man. Redemption was the purpose for which the Son of God was begotten.
- Christ’s experience with the cross was intentional.
- Christ’s death on the cross was painful and humiliating.
- Christ’s death on the cross was a sacrificial choice.
In Luke 9, Jesus taught that following Him would also involve a cross.
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Based on that single statement, are you a follower of Christ?
- Have you made an intentional decision to follow Him?
- Do you deny yourself in any way?
- Do you know your purpose in God’s plan?
- Have you taken up that purpose?
- Does your purpose affect how you live each day?
Christ was a master at concise speech. With one sentence, He said, “All my followers will deny themselves and take up their cross each day.”
That statement defines a Christ-follower. Christ-followers have an intended purpose, and they deny themselves to accomplish that purpose.
Calvary was Christ’s purpose. Death, burial, and resurrection define Christ Jesus.
Your cross is whatever specific purpose God intends to accomplish through you. It is your cause for existing. Christ-followers carry out their intended purpose daily.
- A decision to follow Christ is first. All else builds on that decision.
- As a Christian, you have a personal purpose God wants you to accomplish. This unique purpose is the cross you are to carry.
- You are to take up your cross (your purpose) every day.
- Accomplishing God’s purpose for you always involves self-denial.
Have You Decided to Follow Jesus?
The first question is: Have you chosen to come after Him? Christ’s follower makes a personal and intentional decision.
Following Christ always costs. Those who follow Him wear two badges of distinction.
- They fulfill Christ’s specific purpose through sacrificial service.
As addressed in the previous chapter, self will be the most significant obstacle to hinder you from fulfilling the purpose God has for you. Knowing this, Christ said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself . . ..”
Self is difficult to defeat. In war, a fifth column is a group sympathetic to or actively supporting its nation’s enemies.
Such a group makes all the mischief it can to be disruptive. During a war, nations spend much time and effort to flush out people with fifth-column sympathies. The enemy within is dangerous.
Samuel Rutherford, a theologian of the 17th century, wrote, "Every man blames the devil for his sins. But the great devil, the house devil, if you please, of every man, that devil that eats and lies in every man's bosom is that idol that killeth all - himself."
The cartoon character Pogo put it succinctly, "We have seen the enemy, and he is us!"
So how can you handle this monster called self? And monster is a good description, for the need to please self is destructive.
Jesus answered the question, “How do you deal with yourself?” He said, “Deny yourself.” Burroughs translated the Luke 9:23 term, deny himself as meaning "Let him cross himself out." Just X out all self-interest.
Some miss church when self says, "I have worked hard this week. I need to rest." Then, later in the day, they may go fishing or shopping. Did self get its way?
Self says, "I want to give more to God's work, but if I give this twenty dollars, we can't go to McDonald's later." Did self win the argument?
Self-denial is an abandonment of your rights. An example of such an abandonment would be regarding an estate. If an inheritance were coming your way, but you tell the executor, “Ignore my name in the will. I have decided to renounce my claim.” Your legal claim was guaranteed. The inheritance could be taken and used as you wished. But you refuse to accept what you have every right to own.
Self-denial is surrendering your rights by silencing your vote. God's Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit order the path of a man who denies himself.
Paths to Self-Denial
Denying self can happen in several ways.
Fasting. Christ expected His followers to fast. During the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “When ye fast . . . “ (Matthew 6:16). Fasting puts the desires of self under control.
Extreme Church Attendance. Some will be amused at this suggestion. Because what is here called “extreme” has in times past been the norm. Attend every gathering at your church for thirty days. Get on-site early for prayer. Don’t let weariness or having had a lousy day detract you. X self out!
Withdraw from all Media. Take a 3-day, 7-day, 30-day, or 60-day break from social media, the newspaper, television, the internet (except where essential for work), talk radio, non-gospel music, and streaming sources such as Amazon Prime and Netflix or Hulu. Don’t read casual literature of any kind.
Serve Beneath your Station. Christ Jesus washing the dirty feet of His disciples modeled this. At a national convention, a long-time leader set up a shoe-shine booth. There he would shine the shoes of any who wandered by. Of course, thousands held him in much higher regard than a shoe-shine boy, but he chose to put himself in proper perspective.
Ideas for consideration: wash someone’s car, be responsible for doing yard-care for an elder, take a little boy fishing, or do a “nasty” project nobody else wants to take on.
Serve Anonymously. The less recognition you get, the better when you are “x-ed out” of the equation.
Body Refresh. Much self-denial should begin with your physical body. Paul asked, What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, . . ., (1 Corinthians 6:19) .
- What kind of temple is your body? Is it a sloppy, out-of-shape blob? Deny yourself.
- Are you addicted to sugar and fast food? Deny yourself.
- Are you a glutton or winebibber? Deny yourself.
Can you serve Christ well when you are overweight and lack energy? Today, make a change. Deny yourself the carbohydrates you love and do regular physical exercise.
And Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself . . .”
Finally, we arrive at Christ’s instruction, "If any man will come after me, let him . . . take up his cross daily." In the first century, the cross was a Roman executioner’s tool. Capital punishment was a public spectacle. Being crucified on a cross was a painful death.
Anyone sentenced to such a death was humiliated. The degradation included public nakedness. In the Roman Empire, such cruel justice was entertainment for the masses. Christ’s taking up of His cross was not glamourous.
Nor does the Lord’s instruction, “. . . take up your cross daily . . .” indicate something glamourous for you. Nor does it suggest a trinket about your neck or a plastic Christ for the dashboard. Instead, His words “. . . take up your cross daily . . .” calls for thoroughly yielding yourself to His purpose for you.
The cross defined Jesus Christ’s mission. The cross fulfilled the purpose for the incarnation. In, Is There Not a Cause? Joseph Tosini pointed out:
“Crucifixion is the process of making choices that destroy selfishness and pride, allowing those traits to be replaced with love and humility. Salvation is not God's ultimate goal for us. It is not the finish line; it is the starting line.”
Have you made such choices? Have you taken up your cross? If not, will you now take up your cross? Accepting such responsibility is not easy. Nor is it automatic.
During His Passion Week, Christ’s acceptance became clear. The Son of God was “crossing” Himself out.
In those days, the Son of God had decisions to make. These are choices you must also make to accomplish Jesus’ purpose. Jesus’ “not my” statements showcase what it means to live out the will of God.
- Not my will (Matthew 26:39,42)
- Not my words (John 14:10)
- Not my works (John 14:10)
Have you made a similar decision regarding the competing interests in your life? Your will? Your words? Your works?
For what has God called and equipped you? You were fearfully and wonderfully made, (Psalm 139:14). Only one human has your exact qualities.
Jesus was clear. You have a cross, a purpose. And you are to volunteer to take up your cross. You will sacrifice, but it will not be in vain. Some examples:
- Soul winners sacrifice time and convenience to reach the unsaved. They study to learn the best ways to express the gospel.
- Effective Bible Teachers dedicate time that could be spent doing other things to study the Bible. And then work to learn how to communicate in a way that makes the Bible relevant and applicable.
- Those who minister to children and youth invest time and effort in gaining knowledge about the tendencies of the ages they serve. Hours are spent decorating classrooms and preparing to teach.
No Cross – No Crown
Fulfilling your purpose involves intentional effort. Many aspire to do something significant for the Lord but want to avoid a cross. But can it be done? Is there Christianity without a cross, without a personal purpose?
Let an unknown poet answer:
I counted dollars while God counted crosses.
I counted gains while He counted losses.
I counted my worth by the things I gained in store,
But He sized one up by the scars that I bore.
I coveted honors and sought degrees.
He wept as He counted the hours on my knees.
And I never knew 'till one day at a grave
How vain are these things that we spend life to save!
Do you have a purpose? Some pray, "God give me a burden." Perhaps the Lord does not give out burdens, but is instead pointing you toward a cross?
There are no crown bearers in heaven
that were not cross-bearers here below.
Just Do It!
- Begin defining your place in God's Kingdom. As every part of the physical body is essential and has a job to do; so, every member of the spiritual body has a role. Christ’s work has no bleachers. Everybody is in the game!
- Today, read 1 Peter 4:10 and Romans 12:6-8. Then, list the different motivational gifts in Romans 12:6-8. You have giftings that equip you to fulfill purposes in God's kingdom.
I recommend reading:
Discover Your God-Given Gifts
Dan and Katie Fortune.
My seven-lesson teaching series Fitly Framed is available as a download. In addition, Fitly Framed includes a gift test and resources to learn your passion.
- Today read Matthew 25:14-30. How important is it that you invest your abilities toward fulfilling God's purpose?
- On this day, make your abilities available to a leader in the church. Don't hit your spiritual snooze button and return to sleep. Your church needs YOU – now!
- Today, evaluate the hold self (flesh) has on how you conduct life. Think about how you spent yesterday. Ask yourself, “Is this making me more spiritual, or am I catering to self?” Read Romans 13:14 and Galatians 5:24.
- Listen to preaching and teaching that is more than inspiring. You need content that will give specific direction.
Such material will help you to practice the presence of the Lord.
In that light, the small booklet, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, is a worthy read.
After reading this chapter – you will be wanting to order Daily Things of Christian Living.
If you use the Kindle app/reader order a Kindle eBook
More Information Regarding the Author’s Material
The author has written over 35 books touching five different genres of Christian interest. Recent best-sellers:
Light in a Dark Place – Encountering Depression. This real-world discussion about depression is based on personal experience. The Amazon reviews are outstanding. When asked to speak on this topic, the Holy Spirit moves in a powerful way.
Bad Decisions – The Legacy of Lot. Lot’s wife made one memorable bad decision. Christ said, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Jewish families were already using this phrase when speaking to a disobedient child. But Lot made twelve decisions. Eleven of them were wrong. Lot’s decisions positioned every member of his family for failure. Bad Decisions – The Legacy of Lot is now used by year-long programs dealing with addicts. Again, the reviews are outstanding.
There are a number or free resources available at CarltonCoon.com
The author is available to speak training developing pastors, on leadership, spiritual warfare, followership, disciple-making, and depression. Contact: Carltoncoonsr@gmail.com