Defined by Destiny
Study Guide, July 19, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
Because of the times we are now in and the extra challenges we all face because of them, we thought it was time for a heavy dose of God’s hope. What do you think? You can’t purchase ‘hope’ at your nearest pharmacy, but it is one of the most powerful drugs in the world.
Recently I was reviewing an update on one of the most remarkable people our family has ever met. He is now a pastor and evangelist in Los Angeles. He’s originally from Australia. Some of you may know of him and may even follow his ministry. The thing is, he was born with ‘tetra-amelia syndrome’, which causes a person to be born without any limbs…without arms or legs. I remember listening to his story and thinking, “And why am I griping about anything?” But what Nick Vujicic has done with he has been given is beyond inspiring.
Not only is he a remarkable Christian communicator, he is a remarkable Christian man. For by the grace of God, he doesn’t focus on what he doesn’t have. For what he does have enables him to deal with what he doesn’t have. He has Christ as his Savior and the indwelling Holy Spirit growing the fruit of joy and peace and love, which enables him to deal what he doesn’t have. In fact, the guy has so much joy that he says he’s a hugger. He can’t shake hands, so he gives hugs. The only thing about that though is he says he’s always a little worried that someone might pick him up and take him home.
But he often reminds people, “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!” And he tells others, “When you don’t get a miracle, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be one for someone else.” Isn’t that great? Actually, we are each a miracle, and, yes, we can also be a miracle in someone else’s life…especially as we share the miracle message of the Gospel of the New Birth in Christ. And you see, this is something that we each need to particularly focus on in these confusing times, because we so often wonder what’s going on, and why are things so hard, and so on. But the helpful focus, the hopeful focus is to think, “In the midst of all the mess, how can I be of service to God today?” And be assured of this: If you ask that question day after day, God will show you day after day, and God will then use you day after day to be a blessing to others day after day, because it has always been part of your destiny to be of great service and of great use and of great blessing to God and others, day after day. Remember, you are His masterpiece and you have been appointed for such a time as this. Eph 2:10- “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” NLT
One of the things Pastor Nick said that he has learned is that although there were things he could not grow, like arms and legs, there were things that he could grow, like the fruit of the Spirit and the character of Christ. Although, he said that he does keep a pair of shoes in his closet, just in case God does miraculously give him some arms and legs and feet. But either way, he says he is going to serve God with all he has.
I was thinking of that great quote by William Boothe, the founder of the Salvation Army. After thinking of how Christ gave His all to save him, he said he was going to live his life in such a way that Christ would have all there was of William Boothe. Have you ever said something like that to God? “Lord, whatever there is, and however much there is, You can have all there is of me.” Give that a try, day after day, and watch what happens!
These are the kinds of commitments that cause changes in your life, changes for God’s glory, others’ blessing, and your gain. When you decide that your life is going to be all about letting God have all there is of you, you have then decided your best destiny. Remember, it’s not how much you have to put on God’s altar; like how much talent or ability or capability or anything else…no, it’s how much you give God of whatever it is that makes you – You! How much of ‘you’ have you placed upon God’s altar for Him to use as He wills?
Sometimes we ask: “What does God want of me?” Answer? He wants whatever there is of you that you call ‘You’. The best use of your life is your willingness to be used by God. When that becomes your attitude, success becomes your destiny! Success equals usefulness to God. Remember that? Listen to what the Apostle Peter says about that: 2 Peter 1:8, 10-11- “If all these things are in you and growing, you will never fail to be useful to God. You will produce the kind of fruit that should come from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ….My brothers and sisters, God called you and chose you to be His. Do your best to live in a way that shows you really are God’s called and chosen people. If you do all this, you will never fall. And you will be given a very great welcome (an abundant entrance) into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, a kingdom that never ends.” ERV
The pressures of life can be very distracting and confusing. But you never have to yield to the pressures of life by having to figure out all of the things that are going on around you. Plus, you don’t have to succumb to the pressures of all of the things going on within you. No, all you ever need to do is, like the Apostle Paul, just focus on the ‘one thing’ that God has put before you: Phil 3:13-14- “…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” NASU
How encouraging, how refreshing, how inspiring to know that every day, any day, you only have ‘one thing’ to do; and that’s to just ‘press on’ toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ And what’s the prize? Surprisingly, the prize is not ‘Heaven’, because, remember, Heaven is a gift. Your forever home of Heaven is Jesus gift to you. Praise God! So what’s the prize? The prize is all about what you are now giving to Jesus in your worship and service for Him because of His great gift to you. And that is what makes up your ‘destiny’. The prize is the plan of rewards and Kingdom service privileges that God has prepared for those who like Paul, like Peter, like Nick, and like any believer…that now seek to be and try to do what God created them to be and to do. The ‘prize’ is your ‘destiny’ of your rewards and service in the coming Kingdom of Christ. Plus, it’s in this process of preparing for your destiny that the Holy Spirit then grows His fruit in you and you then experience more of Jesus’ joy that He wants you to experience, right in the here and now.
By nature and by cultural pressures and by Satan’s deceptions we tend to focus on what we don’t have and we get down and defeated and go off track. But all the while the victory lies in dedicating all that we do have to God’s service and glory! That’s how you get up in your spirit…that’s how you get victory over defeats…that’s how you experience the growth of spiritual fruit and strength…we repeat – by letting God have and use whatever there is of you, in your body and soul and possessions; to serve God and live for His glory with whatever you do have.
Satan wants you to look at what you don’t have and says, “there’s not much to you…not much to offer…why bother?” But that’s a lie! When God looks at us do you remember what God sees? What did He say? God sees a masterpiece, and says, “You are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.” So now, you just need to offer some of these blessings in your earthly places, and then watch what God does with them through you!
Have you seen what God can grow from the seed of an oak tree? Do you remember what God can grow from a mustard seed? You don’t need lots of things in order to serve God and bless others…you don’t need lots of talents and gifts and abilities to serve God and bless others. No, All God needs is whatever you’ve got. Again, you just have to put what you’ve got on God’s altar…offer whatever you have to God, even if it’s a mustard seed…and God will grow things with it that will bless others and you throughout eternity.
So don’t focus on what you don’t have…give God whatever you do have, and then get ready to be amazed…for “God is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think—according to the power that works in you.” Eph 3:20 Holman Bible
Plus, as we have often pointed out, God always compensates His children for the hard things they have had to endure in this life. And one way He compensates is through His comforting and equipping ministry in you, so that you can have a comforting and equipping ministry to others who are having to endure similar hard things in this cruel world. Look at 2 Cor 1:3-7- “Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God. Just as we have a share in Christ’s many sufferings, so also through Christ we share in God’s great help. If we suffer, it is for your help and salvation; if we are helped, then you too are helped and given the strength to endure with patience the same sufferings that we also endure. So our hope in you is never shaken; we know that just as you share in our sufferings, you also share in the help we receive.” TEV
So remember, troubles are normal; problems are the norm in this troubled world. But our problems become our platform from which to testify to others of the grace and promises of God.
Now, here’s another help and reason for great hope in the midst of all the messes going on around us. The way you see yourself is the way you will pretty much see everything else around you. Some of the lines of a recent Contemporary Christian song go like this:
“You lifted my head up, I was keeping my head down
I didn’t know love, But I do now;
‘Cause you stood right there and then you broke apart the lies
You told me I had something beautiful inside
You brought to life the part of me I thought had died
‘Cause you stood right there until I saw me…I saw me through Your eyes.”
(song by Britt Nicole)
In order to really see what is real, even about our own lives, we need to develop the habit of seeing life and even ourselves through our God’s eyes. We need to determine our value not by what we have produced or by what we have achieved, but by what God conceived when He created us for Himself. Remember this – Your value does not lie in what has happened to you or what you have been through. Sometimes when the world has dumped on you and others have thrown words of dirt on you or the disappointments of your life have discouraged you, you can easily lose sight of your true value to God and your value in God’s world.
Perhaps you’ve seen this illustration of the $100 dollar bill. Now if I offered to give it to you, but I first crumpled and mangled it all up, would you still want it? What if I stepped all over it and mashed it up, would you still want it? What if I rubbed dirt all over it or even got mud on it, would you still want it? Why? Right, because regardless of what has been done to it, the value of this $100 dollar bill is still the same in our government’s eyes. It’s still worth a hundred dollars no matter what has been done to it.
Regardless of what has been done to you in your life…if your ideas or plans or feelings have been crumpled and mangled by people around you…or if you’ve been stepped on by others at school or at work, or if the world has thrown dirt on your hopes or dreams or reputation…your value is still the same in the eyes of God. Your value remains the same. Actually, your true value is even more than you can imagine. Really, do you know how much you are worth to God? God gave His only Son in order to buy you back…and His Son is priceless. That’s how much you are worth! ‘Priceless’ You are of more value than all the treasures of the world put together. The treasures of the world are like a handful of change compared to the value of ‘you’. Nothing else even in all creation can compare with the value of ‘you’.
Many people struggle with a sense of self-worth, with their value in this world. I often hear from conscientious Christians, especially if they have become physically or mentally unable to do what they wish they could do, that they just don’t feel like they are of much worth or value to anyone anymore, especially to the Lord and His service. But that’s not how God sees them. Your value cannot be taken away by time or by trials or by hardships or by suffering or anything else. Your worth is beyond description. God created each of us as a unique masterpiece even among all the stars of the heavens. We are meant to rejoice in our intrinsic value, rejoice in our God given value. And we are also then to pursue and to press on to live out our God given destiny. And by the grace of God and your daily commitment to give God whatever there is of you, you can rejoice in that fantastic destiny that awaits you.