‘For this reason, I was born.’ John 18:37 NIV
When you know what your God-given assignment in life is, and that God is on your side, you become virtually unstoppable. Will you make mistakes? Of course, but God loves you enough to correct you, redirect you, and get you back on track. ‘How do I go about discovering my assignment?’ you ask.
Here are fourteen helpful questions to ask yourself:
(1) What desires have been living in me most of my life?
(2) What motivates me to work hard and be productive?
(3) What keeps me going forward when I’m worn out?
(4) What makes me refuse to quit when I meet with resistance?
(5) What do I do that doesn’t seem like work?
(6) What do I do that brings a positive response and support from people?
(7) What am I doing or what’s happening in my life when doors seem to open automatically and effortlessly?
(8) What do wise leaders and godly counselors think about my work?
(9) What makes me feel good about being who I am?
(10) What makes my creative juices flow? (11) What am I willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish it? (12) What am I doing that I’d be proud to offer for God’s approval? (13) What would I do without being paid for it if I could afford to? (14) What would I be willing to withstand Satan on, in order to accomplish? Prayerfully consider these fourteen questions, and they will shed light on your God-given assignment in life.
‘Righteousness exalts a nation.’ Proverbs 14:34 NKJV
The well-known atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair once said, ‘Nothing good has ever come from Christianity. And if Christianity hasn’t, in fact, done good and produced good we must reject it.’ Even Christ Himself said, ‘You shall know them by their fruits.’ (Matthew 7:16 NKJV) But with every word of Christ that’s been preached, lives have been transformed and incredible good done for society. Take science, for example. As one expert pointed out, science could never have originated in any other culture. It couldn’t possibly have originated in the Muslim culture because of its belief in fatalism, which absolutely prevents any concept of scientific progress. Nor could it have originated among the Buddhists, or the Hindus of Asia, because of their belief that the physical world is an illusion and that our separation from the divine is merely imagination. Only through Christianity could science have come to be! Think about those who have gone into the slums to rescue the derelict, like the Salvation Army, the City Mission, and the YMCA. Christians have given themselves to such people as these. Today with the removal of Scripture from much of our culture, we’re seeing decay and corruption set in. So what’s the answer? Jesus said, ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ (Matthew 5:13 NKJV) So get your salt shaker out and start spreading the life-changing truth of God’s Word! Jesus also said, ‘You are the light of the world.’ (Matthew 5:14 NKJV) There’s not enough darkness in the whole world to extinguish the light of one small candle. So let your light shine.
‘Shamgar… struck down six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad. He too saved Israel.’ Judges 3:31 NIV
Because the Israelites disobeyed God, they ended up enslaved to the Philistines who ruled them with fear and intimidation. But Shamgar refused to be intimidated. He decided to disrupt the status quo, and he did it with an ox-goad—a long stick used by farmers to prod animals. He refused to let what he could not do keep him from doing what he could. After all, you plus God equals a majority. And if God is for you, who can be against you? (See Romans 8:31.) So Shamgar grabbed his ox-goad and charged six hundred Philistine soldiers. The enemy probably chuckled at his makeshift weaponry until he started wielding it. Then the look in his eyes struck fear into their hearts. Courage doesn’t wait until the situation favors you, or the plan is perfectly formed, or the tide of opinion turns. Courage only waits for one thing: a green light from God. And when God gives the go, it’s full steam ahead, no questions asked. It’s about attacking the problem with whatever ox-goad God has given you. It’s an all-out assault on the forces of darkness, by deciding to become ‘salt and light’ where God has placed you. It’s more than pointing out the problems, it’s committing yourself to be part of the solution. It’s more than just having a heart for Christ, it’s deciding to take action and become His hands and feet. Instead of sitting on the side-lines because you believe others are more qualified, it’s using what God gave you and asking Him to bless it. As the songwriter said, ‘Little is much when God is in it.’
‘Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks [for the privilege].’ Colossians 3:17 NKJV
When it comes to serving God, and others, set your heart on being faithful instead of trying to be prominent. The Bible says, ‘Promotion and power come… only from God’ (Psalm 75:6 TLB), so don’t try to promote yourself. Few things in life are worse than being in a slot to which you were never called and are ill-equipped to fill. Josh McDowell, who has spoken to millions of university students worldwide and authored scores of books, began his lifetime of service to Christ in a humble fashion. His first assignment at the headquarters of Campus Crusade for Christ was cleaning the main entryway floor. He wasn’t meeting with ministry leaders; he was busy scrubbing up the dirt from their shoes. Josh’s introduction to ministry was equivalent to the guy in the Old Testament who carried the tent pegs when they moved the tabernacle from place to place. Not exactly a high-profile position! Without a proper perspective on the motivation for ministry, it’s easy to get our feathers ruffled when we’re given an assignment we feel is beneath us. So how do we stay motivated about serving God? By remembering the promise that one day we’ll reap what we sow (see Galatians 6:7). God has promised that at the judgment seat of Christ He’ll reward our faithful service. So if He has called you to serve Him by serving others, keep your heart focused on faithfulness—not pride of place. Live by this Scripture: ‘Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks [for the privilege].’ (Colossians 3:17 NLT)
‘You find families for those who are lonely.’ Psalm 68:6 CEV
A woman, recently divorced, moved to a town where she knew nobody. When she finally got up the nerve to visit a church, she prayed, ‘Lord, let me fit in. Surround me with friends.’ The Bible says, ‘A man who has friends must… be friendly.’ (Proverbs 18:24 NKJV) So she asked two ladies if she could sit with them, and they ended up going out to lunch together. Turns out, all three women lived alone and were feeling isolated. So they started a Bible study group and named it G.A.L.S.: God’s Amazing Love Sustains. Ruth Senter said, ‘When you’re truly joined in spirit… you work for the good of each other,’ and years later this little ‘family’ is going strong, sharing their ups and downs, praying, and looking out for each other.
Thomas Blackaby observed: ‘One of the good things God does is provide godly friends. This is one of His ways of giving us encouragement, support, advice, and companionship. Paul couldn’t have physically survived many of his trials and persecutions without companions (see 2 Corinthians 7:6–7). It’s sad when God’s people don’t spend time developing friendships, and instead go off on their own in ministry… no wonder they often burn out… or come home disillusioned or bitter because they didn’t have the support and encouragement their ministry demanded… Thank God for those He’s chosen to be encouragers and supporters. Who are you being a friend to right now? Who has God put on your heart to strengthen and walk alongside? Ask Him to help you be a faithful friend… that together you can rejoice in what He does through your combined efforts.’
‘A real friend sticks closer than a brother.’ Proverbs 18:24 NLT
The Bible says, ‘Some friends may ruin you, but a real friend will be more loyal than a brother.’ (Proverbs 18:24 NCV) Gloria Gaither points out that real friends are concerned about what you’re becoming. They look beyond the present and care deeply about you as a whole person. Solomon writes, ‘A man who has friends must himself be friendly.’ (Proverbs 18:24 NKJV) And while building and maintaining that kind of friendship takes time and energy, the rewards far outweigh the investment.
(1) Give you a hand up when you’re down. ‘Two people are better off than one for they can help each other… If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.’ (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 NLT)
(2) Take the pressure off. No matter how much they love you and want to help, sometimes your family is just too close to be objective and it’s easier to open up to somebody you’re not related to. At such times, the Bible says, ‘The sweetness of a… friend gives delight by hearty counsel.’(Proverbs 27:9 NKJV)
(3) Make you laugh. Somebody said, ‘If you’ve no wrinkles, you haven’t laughed enough!’ When a good laugh is just what the doctor ordered, friends help you find humor in your situation—usually because they’ve been there! As Hazel C. Lee says, ‘Laughing at ourselves as well as with each other, brings a surprising sense of togetherness.’
(4) Hold you accountable. Ever notice when you’re acting contrary to God’s Word, it’s easy to fool yourself? That’s when ‘the slap of a friend can be trusted to help you.’ (Proverbs 27:6 NCV) So thank God for good friends who love you enough to be honest even when it hurts.
‘You prepare a table before me.’ Psalm 23:5 NKJV
When the psalmist said, ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1 NKJV), he was affirming that he had a very personal relationship with God; one that was unique. God has given each of us a one-of-a-kind personality, gifting, purpose, and calling. And He wants a relationship with you that is unlike the one He has with anybody else. Just like your fingerprints are unique, so also is God’s interaction with you. Therefore you need to learn how to hear His voice and to know when He is speaking specifically to you. The psalmist goes on to say, ‘You prepare a table before me.’ Think about it this way. When you’re waiting for a table in a restaurant and your name is on the waiting list, sometimes the hostess will give you a pager to hold. Then when it’s time to be seated, the pager will vibrate or light up. In the meantime, you have every confidence they are preparing a table for you and that, if you’re patient, when it’s ready the pager will vibrate and let you know. Are you getting the idea?
As you read God’s Word and spend time with Him in prayer, something begins to vibrate and light up in your spirit. That’s ‘God’s pager’ leading and guiding you and preparing the circumstances just for you. Paul writes, ‘And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:19 NLT) How many of your personal needs will God provide? All of them! So stop worrying so much and instead put your trust in Him!
‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.’ John 13:17 NIV
Reading, receiving, researching, remembering and reflecting on God’s Word are important, but we must respond to it and be ‘doers of the word.’(James 1:22 KJV) This is the hardest step because Satan will fight you on it. You can be so busy going to the next church meeting, that you forget to put into practice what you learned at the last one. Jesus said, ‘Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.’ (Matthew 7:24 NIV) God doesn’t bless you because you know the truth but because you obey it. ‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.’ We’re inclined to avoid personal application because not only is it hard—in some cases it’s downright painful! Jesus said, ‘The truth will set you free’ (John 8:32 NIV), but first it may make you uncomfortable. God’s Word reveals our motives, exposes our flaws, rebukes our sin, and demands change. That’s why it’s good to discuss your personal insights with others. We learn truths from other people that we’d never learn on our own. They help us to see and apply what we miss. They hold us accountable. One of the best ways to become ‘a doer of the Word’ is to write down an action plan. It should be personal (involving you); practical (something you can do); provable (with a benchmark or deadline). In the words of D.L. Moody: ‘The Bible wasn’t given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.’
‘How I love your teachings! I think about them all day long.’ Psalm 119:97 NCV
You treasure God’s Word in three ways:
(1) By researching it. This calls for writing down your thoughts about it. It also calls for asking the right questions, like: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? In other words, your Bible study should give you insight, not just information.
(2) By remembering it. You may think your memory is poor, but you’ve already memorized millions of ideas and facts. The truth is, we remember what’s truly important to us! And there are enormous benefits to memorizing Scripture. It will help you resist temptation, make better decisions, reduce stress, build your confidence, stretch your thinking, and enable you to share your faith with others. Your memory is like a muscle; the more you use it the stronger it becomes. Start by writing down a verse that has helped you, then carry it with you on a small card. Review it aloud while you’re working, exercising, waiting, and before going to sleep. The key to memorizing Scripture is – review…review…review!
(3) By reflecting on it. No other habit will do more to mature you spiritually than reflecting daily on God’s Word. As you do, you’re literally ‘transformed into His likeness.’ (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV) God called David ‘a man after My own heart.’ (Acts 13:22 NIV) And how did he earn that distinction? Because he loved to reflect on God’s Word: ‘How I love your teachings! I think about them all day long.’ The key to successful Christian living is yours when you treasure God’s Word.
‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.’ John 8:31 NKJV
John writes, ‘I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.’ (3 John 1:2 NKJV) In order to ‘prosper’, reading God’s Word must be one of your first priorities each day. Jesus said, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.’ To ‘abide’ means to reside in a certain place. It makes us think of home, the place where you find joy, acceptance, encouragement, support, protection, purpose, identity, and rest. To ‘treasure’ God’s Word means to accept it as your highest authority, your compass for direction, your counselor in making decisions, your benchmark for evaluating every relationship and action. In other words, the first and last word in your life. Many of our troubles occur because we base our choices on unreliable authorities, like:
Culture – ‘Everybody’s doing it.’
Tradition – ‘We’ve always done it this way.’
Reason – ‘It seems logical.’
Emotion – ‘It just feels right.’
All these are flawed because they come from within us, not from God. What we need is a perfect standard that will never lead us in the wrong direction, and only God’s Word meets that criteria. Solomon wrote, ‘Every word of God is flawless.’ (Proverbs 30:5 NIV) That means when His Word tells you to do something, you need to do it whether or not it makes sense to you, and whether or not you feel like doing it. You must say like Paul, ‘I believe everything that… is written.’ (Acts 24:14 NIV)