Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
God has a plan and purpose for us; one we can find by following His plan for our lives. Learning how to follow this plan is the reason for these series of studies. In the second and third lessons we studied His Original Plan – to have dominion (Genesis 1:26), and what He expects of us, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly (Micah 6:8)
And in the last four, we have looked at four vital plans He has for man. Abundant Life (John 10:10), Health & Wealth (3John2), Fellowship, to love Him and love people (Matthew 22:37-39) and finally, Eternity, to be with Him in heaven (John 14:3)
Why these topics are important as a foundation is that they keep us aligned and guided in His will. And it is true that by looking into what God’s original plan for mankind, and walking in it, many have found their purpose in life!
In today’s study we are taking a closer step to following His plan for our lives by looking at ways of identifying our purpose in life. There are several different examples in the Bible of the many ways people have found and fulfilled their purpose in life. One of them is by making use of the gifts and talents you have been blessed with and getting the Lord’s approval as we see in today’s text.
1. MAKE USE OF YOUR TALENTS/ABILITIES
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. . .” Matt 25:21a
From this text we can also infer that this parable teaches that some of us are five-talent people, some are two-talent people and some are one-talent people. Matthew 25:15 says: “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability”
And even more importantly, that a “no talent” category does not exist. So you and I have been blessed with at least one talent, or an ability.
In Genesis 1:28, when God blessed Adam and Eve saying “Be fruitful and multiply.”, He empowered them to prosper. God’s plan for us is to be productive! And in no small measure!
He did not make anyone "empty". He created and wired us to be fruitful and implanted the ability we need to multiply in us by pronouncing His blessing!
We can be fruitful in one or all of the following
• Our Mouths - The fruit of our mouth (Prov. 18:20)
"From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied." (E.g. Motivational speakers, and other orators)
• Our Lips - The fruit of our lips (Heb. 13:15)
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (E.g. worshippers and singers)
• Our Minds - The fruit of our thoughts (Jer. 6:19)
“Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it." (E.g. Inventors, designers, etc.)
• Our Hands - The fruit of our hands (Prov. 31:31)
“Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (E.g. Everyone who works!)
This list is not exhaustive. Can you mention any?
a) HOW CAN I IDENTIFY MY TALENTS/ABILITIES?
There are two types of talents: Inborn and Learned
Inborn: This comes naturally to people; like running, singing, drawing, painting, etc. Exodus 31:1-6, Bezalel and Oholiab gifted craftsmen, Daniel 1:17b “And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds”
Learned: Abilities acquired by learning; the ability to learn is also God given. Daniel 1:17a
“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.”
Some gifts that do not come naturally, can be learned; in that case, it becomes an ability.
Your talent represents your gifts, skills (inborn or acquired), time, energy, education, intellect, strength, influence and opportunities. So everyone definitely has something to offer to God.
There several ways to identify your talents; but for the purpose of today’s study we will consider just three.
• Identify Your Interests
• Identify What You Love to Do
• Identify What You Find Easy to Do (what feels like second nature)
2. DIFFERENT WAYS OF IDENTIFYING ONE’S LIFE’S PURPOSE
In our quest of identifying our purpose in life, history has proven time and time again that there is no one size fits all approach that is remotely applicable. So in this section, we will consider a few
a. By Prophecy
Some people may have theirs spelt out to them right from birth and they simply walk in it.
• Samson, in Judges 13:2-5 gives us this account
“2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. 5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
• John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25)
• Jesus (Luke 1:30-33)
b. By Divine Intervention
• Saul of Tarsus who was yanked from his self-appointed life purpose onto his God given purpose. Acts 9:1-6 gives this account
“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
• Abraham was pulled away from his uneventful way of life in Genesis 12:1, 4
• Cyrus king of Persia in Ezra 1:1 was moved by God Himself to make a proclamation
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
And then the Lord declared of him in Isaiah 44:28 & 45:1
“who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid."’
“This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:”
c. By Following the Lord
There were others who found theirs by simply following Jesus. Peter and the other faithful disciples of Christ. Matthew 16:17-19
“17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
d. By Serving the Lord
Others still by simply serving the Lord diligently.
• Joshua, Moses’ aide who served faithfully in Joshua 1:1-5
“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
• Elisha who served the prophet Elijah in 2 Kings 2:9-10
“After they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken away from you?” “Please, let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. 10“You have requested a difficult thing,” said Elijah. “Nevertheless, if you see me as I am taken from you, it will be yours. But if not, then it will not be so.”
e. By Revelation
God revealed His purpose for Joseph through his dreams. Genesis 37:6-7, 9
6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
f. By Asking in Prayers
Saul of Tarsus, when he encountered Jesus on the way to Damascus asked in Acts 9:6a; And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
And the response was in Acts 9:15
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel”
And confirmed in Rom. 1:1
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God”
g. The Wild Card
If at this point there is still no clarity of your purpose in life, don’t despair! Just go ahead and continue to serve the Lord with sincerity of heart; not religiosity or show off but instead in uprightness and fairness (Amos 5:24). This is important because there are many that have walked in their life purposes without realizing it because they served the Lord with sincerity of their heart! The story unfolds of Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus in John 12:1-12 & Matthew 26:6–13
“6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. 8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Finding one’s purpose is one of life’s greatest blessings. It helps a person live a guided, focused and purposeful life. But the quest for it should not be treated as a “ticking the box” exercise or completing a check list. Because it is not about knowing God’s plan and purpose alone, but walking in it, fulfilling it and finishing well!
The Bible gives us examples of those who knew their life’s purposes but didn’t finish well; Samson, King Saul, King Solomon, just to name a few.
There are many today that have also missed the mark because what they want is to be in the lights, they want the front row seats, to be applauded, to be seen, and to be known; but this pursuit of life’s purpose is not meant to be an exercise of being in the lights but being the light
Matthew 5:16 “. . . let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
So the light we shine is not for our glory but for His! You have been created for His Pleasure (Revelation 4:11). What greater way then is it to fulfil one’s purpose in life other than to give Him pleasure?