I have a bad habit of forgetting things the Lord has shown me before. I just wander off like a sheep and then wonder how my wandering got me so off track. This morning I read a devotional by Oswald Chambers that reminded me of my first goal and purpose in this life: “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2 Cor 5:9).
It requires us aiming for the target of pleasing our Lord, and requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, or a myriad of other tasks for God’s Kingdom. Our highest priority is “to be pleasing to Him”.
It’s not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1-2) Whatever work we are doing, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, which is pleasing to the Lord.
Any goal that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Tim 2:15) displeases our Lord; even if it is work He has given us to do. The other day I became frustrated, questioned if I properly discerned the work that I understood God had given me to do. I fretted, became weary and began to lose heart. Because the timing wasn’t coming along as I assumed it would, I doubted my work and the ultimate outcome. Basically, I grew “weary in doing good” (2 Thess 3:13).
As Oswald Chambers wrote, “I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?”
I know from His Word that I am “God’s masterpiece [for which] He created [me] anew in Christ Jesus, so [I] can do the good things He planned for [me] long ago” (Eph 2:10). As I was meditating on this Scripture, I was reminded that He created me anew in Christ; I’m not to behave or think the same as I did before I became a new creation.
Jesus’s words came back to me this morning, “You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.” (John 15:3-4)
He continued, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:5-8)
And then He explained how abiding in Him shows up as love: “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:9-12)
My weariness, crankiness, and fretting was poor fruit produced because I was NOT keeping my eyes on Jesus, but only on the things of the world. My joy wasn’t overflowing because I dislodged myself temporarily from the Vine (Jesus). And then His Words reminded me that He chose me. I imagine He chose me because when I’m on my own I’m a hot mess, but when I allow Him to shine through me the world is able to see His light. “You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:16-17) Thank You, Jesus, for choosing me and reminding me to keep my eyes on You!