Purpose in Your Palace
Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this. (Esther 4:13,14)
Humanity is on a perpetual quest to discover our purpose. We all have this innate feeling that we were made for something, that we’re supposed to do something important. But what?
This is one of the great struggles of modern society. Many people in our country believe the wold came from nothing and will return to nothing, that human beings are just like any other animals, that we are random clumps of atoms with no soul and nothing to follow this life. Yet these same believers in a secular worldview have a feeling, the same God-given feeling that resonates with all of us- that they have a purpose. Or, as we put it on our Difference Maker Declaration, that we were all made for more than watching.
As Christians, we know we have a purpose. God created us, so he, as Creator gets to define our purpose- lifting a heavy burden from us. We don’t have to fret or worry or stress trying to discover or create a purpose; we can just look in God’s Word and follow his voice as it leads.
I believe all Christians have two purposes: a general purpose and a personal purpose. Our general purpose is the same: to glorify God and to enjoy a relationship with him. That’s why he created all of us, and he wants us to live into that purpose by loving him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.(Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark:12:30)
But I also believe each of us has a personal purpose. When we look at the great difference makers of history, we see people with a specific purpose: Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Mary, Paul- all of these people had amazing personal purposes in the plan of God.
So how can you discover your personal purpose? Let me propose a simple math equation:
Character+ Skill+ Setting= Purpose
If you are going to live into your personal purpose, you must be a person of character and integrity.
We know that all our skills are from God. He gives us natural gifts and abilities. And he also gives us spiritual gifts for the edification of the church.(1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
You don’t have to be the best to make an impact or have the joy of contributing; just getting into the game of faith is what he is looking for.
The final component of our purpose is setting. Someone who lived in Boston in the 1820s would not have the same personal purpose as someone in Tokyo in 2020 or Rome in 310. If you live in a rural area, your purpose may look different than I’d you live in a metropolitan area. If you are a wife and a mother, your purpose will look different than a single person. None of these are better or more noble than others, but that are each unique, and each of them contributes to your personal purpose.
Our math problem could be redefined to:
Godly Character+ Your Gifts and Skills+ Your World= Eternal Purpose
Jeremiah opens with these words:
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], And before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own]; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, For I am [only] a young man.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am [only] a young man,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. “Do not be afraid of them [or their hostile faces], For I am with you [always] to protect you and deliver you,” says the Lord. Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, “Behold (hear Me), I have put My words in your mouth. “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To uproot and break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant.”
We read that God has a purpose for us even before we are born. Into each of us are planted gifts. Three types of gifts are available to every believer. First all of us have been given what we will call motivational gifts. These gifts are innate to all of us and each of us have all of these just in a different order of priority. You can discover these gifts through a gift survey. The secular assessment is the Meyers-Briggs Assessment. What you discover is where you excel and how you function. Each gift has the ability for good or evil. If a gift becomes corrupted from its God-given purpose then it becomes destructive rather than constructive. For example, one who has the gift of giving may become a miser. All givers are great money managers and they usually are frugal which gives them the resources from which to give but if the gift becomes corrupted, they become selfish, fearful hoarders. The same is true of the gift of administration. Administrators know how to lead and make decisions and delegate. When the gift is acting properly, they perform these functions for the benefit of others, taking into consideration the human kindness factor. When the gift becomes corrupted, these same skills creates formidable dictators who seize total control with no purpose other than that of their pun benefit. We could go through every gift and give the God purpose and the dark side, but I think these examples suffice. This set of gifts are given by the Father.
The second set of gifts, called Manifestation Gifts, are only available to born again Spirit filled believers. Nine of them are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:
“Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good. To one is given through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] the message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit; to another [wonder-working] faith [is given] by the same [Holy] Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of healings by the one Spirit; and to another the working of miracles, and to another prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues. All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Notice they are given, controlled and used by the Holy Spirit working through human beings. We have been offered the gift of the Holy Spirit and when he becomes the president rather than the resident of our souls, He brings and allows us the access and use of His gifts. Many believe that we are only given one gift and that some believers are given no gift, but that is not what the Bible teaches. It teaches that to all believers is the gift of the Holy Spirit made available.
“If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!”
“Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, and said, “And so it is written, that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance [necessary] for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 Listen carefully: I am sending the Promise of My Father [the Holy Spirit] upon you; but you are to remain in the city [of Jerusalem] until you are clothed (fully equipped) with power from on high.”
“While being together and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Of which,” He said, “you have heard Me speak. 5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized and empowered and united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now.” So when they had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”
These gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to believers who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The third set of gifts are the Ministry Gifts given by Christ to the Church. Notice, however, that both Motivational and Manifestation Gifts are given for the “edification” or building up of the church.
“He who descended is the very same as He who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things [that is, the whole universe] ). And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity]. So that we are no longer children [spiritually immature], tossed back and forth [like ships on a stormy sea] and carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of [unscrupulous] men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything [for personal profit]. But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ. From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.”
The Ministry Gifts are easily recognized by their very titles. We would probably identify them today as called, vocational gifts, but they were never intended to be so. Most churches actually only recognize two or three of the five; pastor, teacher, evangelist. These gifts are easy to remember if you think about them as the hand of God. The gift of apostle is represented by the thumb which can cover all the other fingers, therefore can function in any of the other roles as well as assisting them to function much the same way as your thumb helps your other fingers pick up objects. The index finger represents the function of the prophet. We use this naturally to point the way, to point out errors, and to direct attention to something much the same way as a prophet points the correct way, correction and drawing our attention to important things. The middle finger which is the longest represents the evangelist, for the evangelist heart is long-focused, looking beyond the borders of the church to see the lost who need a Savior and reaching out toward that need. The ring finger that I’m told is connected to the heart, is tender and is used to place the ring of the marriage represents the pastor. They are connected to the heart of God and His love for His people. They are shepherds with patience and kindness for the sheep and they are the earthly representatives of Christ the Bridegroom’s covenant with His Bride, the Church. Completing the hand and giving balance is the little finger which represents the teacher. While the teacher draws little attention to themselves, their role is powerfully important of teaching and showing others the ways of God, making Him known and revealing an understanding of His precepts.
When theres a unity of all these gifts, great things happen in the kingdom of God. Each of us are important and every gift is necessary. Unfortunately many of us fail to offer or use our gifts so the church never reaches its full potential. Sometimes we fail because our gifts have been corrupted by sin and Satan. If that’s your case, why not right now go before God, repent and ask Him to restore His purpose for your gifts. Sometimes we fail because we don’t believe the gifts are for today or especially for us. Again, I urge you to seek the Lord and seek His gift of the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. Open your heart, mind and spirit to the Holy Spirit. Make yourself available for His use and believe that God can use you, yes you to build up His church. Sometimes we fail because of wrong teaching and wrong knowledge. We remove from our range the ministry gifts for we have placed them into only the vocational category and feel since we aren’t credentialed, denominational recognized “ministers” these aren’t for us. I love the fact that our church lists in the category of ministers all the believers. Let’s begin to minister. I close with what some will call radical. I believe that every congregation needs, requires that every member discover their motivational gift and upon doing so, offer that gift to the work of God, whether in the church, on the job, or in the community. I believe that every believer should seek to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and operate in one or more gifts as the Spirit chooses to use them. I believe that it’s time to cease depending on the “experts” and that we all engage in being used by the Holy Spirit through His gifts. I believe that every church should have all five ministry gifts operating in it. I believe that these gifts are not just relegated to vocational ministers but to the body of believers locally. May it become so!
Dr. John Thompson