Listen to this devotional
This devotional is part of a series entitled “How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary: Lessons from the Book of Acts.
It was springtime, and I was working my part-time job at the UC Berkeley business office. I had my headphones on listening to my Sony “Walkman” cassette player (pre-iPod/smartphone days) to pass the time.
My “friend” Amy at the time had given me a “mix-tape” with specific songs she recorded on it to encourage me. In the weeks leading up to this, close friends of mine were trying to help me overcome my blinding denial about how much I really liked Amy, but I was too afraid to face and deal with my insecurities.
Curious to know what songs she selected for me, I eagerly started listening to the tape, and suddenly I heard Celine Dion’s classic, “Because You Loved Me.” Not to sound too sappy, but it was as if Amy were singing those lyrics right to me, expressing her heart. At that moment, at my work desk, I was speechless and awe-struck, realizing, “I think Amy likes me.”
From that moment of discovery, everything shifted. My mind changed about our relationship; my faith in God grew exponentially in how he answered my prayers to make things clear. I felt compelled from that point on to get over my cowardice and insecurities by choosing to love and give my heart.
It became ever more apparent that God had a greater purpose for Amy and me beyond Celine Dion’s song. That purpose was that we’d help build and change the lives of others together, just as God had done for us.
Thankfully, with God’s help and many spiritual friends coaching me along the way, here we are today, married over 22 years with two amazing kids, living out our dream together.
That moment of discovery in the business office was unforgettable and forever changed the trajectory of my life and Amy’s. The University Center office building took on a whole new meaning to me from that day forward.
Discovering God’s purpose
God is continually moving and orchestrating our lives behind the scenes to lead us to those discovery points in which he reveals his love and purpose for us.
We may not think much about the city or neighborhood we live in or the school or town we came from. Nevertheless, these are uniquely part of God’s plan — his purpose is always around the corner, waiting to be easily discovered if we’d just choose to have the faith to open our eyes and look for it.
26 From one man, Adam, he made every man and woman and every race of humanity, and he spread us over all the earth. He sets the boundaries of people and nations, determining their appointed times in history. 27 He has done this so that every person would long for God, feel their way to him, and find him—for he is the God who is easy to discover!Acts 17:26-27 TPT
These verses describe how God is continuously nearby, determining our very times, moving us to be closer in proximity to discovering him, and revealing his purpose to us.
God’s ultimate destiny and heart for each of us is affectionately described in Ephesians 1:4-5:
4 God chose us to be in a relationship with Him even before He laid out plans for this world; He wanted us to live holy lives characterized by love, free from sin, and blameless before Him. 5 He destined us to be adopted as His children through the covenant Jesus the Anointed inaugurated in His sacrificial life. This was His pleasure and His will for us.Ephesians 1:4-5 Voice
Our faith in God grows when we discover how passionate and determined he is to be in a relationship with us and understand what it cost him to make this possible through the cross.
This is the ultimate example of love. When we are certain of and compelled by God’s love for us, our faith becomes unstoppable.
This faith is what compels us to love others — inspiring us to give our hearts, serve, and sacrifice to help others discover and experience this same love and relationship with God. This was considered the greatest good news anyone could discover, and why the New Testament Christians were unstoppable, tirelessly determined to share this same good news of God’s love and purpose with every individual — and the world.
41 “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”Acts 5:41-42 NIV
How do I know when I’ve discovered God’s purpose for me?
There are three ways to know when we’ve discovered God’s purpose for our lives. We see this as the apostle Paul describes his personal discovery of God’s purpose to King Agrippa while on trial for his faith:
12-14 “One day on my way to Damascus, armed as always with papers from the high priests authorizing my action, right in the middle of the day a blaze of light, light outshining the sun, poured out of the sky on me and my companions. Oh, King, it was so bright! We fell flat on our faces. Then I heard a voice in Hebrew: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me? Why do you insist on going against the grain?’
15-16 “I said, ‘Who are you, Master?’ “The voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you.
17-18 “‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’
19-20 “What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn’t just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world.Acts 26:12-20 MSG
I’ve pursued many different “purposes” in my life that weren’t part of the destiny God had for me, and each of them was short-lived. However, there are three ways to definitively know when we discover God and his ultimate purpose for us:
- It’s irresistible: Just as Paul couldn’t walk away from the vision from God for his life, we cannot walk away from it either because it changes the course of our life. This is when God and our need for him keeps coming up in our lives, gets in our way, is brought up in conversations by others, or when we’re constantly longing and desiring for a greater meaning and purpose in our lives beyond our occupation or circumstances.
- It’s immediate: Paul shares how he “became an obedient believer on the spot.” He responded to God’s Word and changed immediately once the truth was revealed to him. It radically changed his priorities from living for himself to living to change the lives of others God was concerned for.
- It’s insuppressible: Paul shared how he couldn’t hold back from sharing how God and his vision for him changed his life. He was compelled to preach and share this with the rest of the world so that as many others as possible could experience a relationship with God and the transformational life change God inspired.
During my freshman year at UC Berkeley on January 31st, I had just gotten baptized and returned back to my dorm room when it all hit me. For the first time in my life, I felt completely free – free from my past sin, my guilt, and the burden of pretending to be someone I was not.
I picked up the phone and began calling all my close friends back in Southern California and in the dorms, telling them what had just happened to me, how for the first time I discovered a relationship with God and the purpose God had destined me for all along.
By the following Sunday, I had several friends from college join me in coming to church. Later, in the semesters following, I shared with each of them how the Bible had totally changed my life, and many ended up wanting to study the Bible as well to discover this for themselves.
My entire purpose entering college immediately shifted from just trying to build my own life and graduate, to wanting to help build the faith of others so they too could experience the freedom I had with God.
God’s purpose was irresistible, having an immediate impact in changing all my priorities. It was insuppressible, as I couldn’t help but let other people know that there was a much greater purpose and dream God has for them, far different from the mundane and superficial ones the world offers.
The New Testament Christians were convinced and clear that God was determined to not only change their lives but to change the world through their collective and individual relationships with him. They were unstoppable because they had such an unwavering faith, convinced of God’s purpose for them and their personal experience of having their lives transformed by God and his message:
18 So they had them brought back in before the council, and they commanded them to never teach the people or speak again using the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “You can judge for yourselves—is it better to listen to you or to God? 20 It’s impossible for us to stop speaking about all the things we’ve seen and heard!”Acts 4:18-20 TPT
How can we fuel our faith to become unstoppable in living for God’s purpose?
Unstoppable faith begins with conviction.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1 ESV
There are two essential daily decisions we can make to build and live with a powerful faith such as the faith that made the New Testament Christians unstoppable:
Feed your faith, not your fears
16 Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.
17 For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],
18 Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.2 Corinthians 4:16-18 AMP
Often I become near-sighted (2 Peter 1:5-9) and miss the bigger picture of what God is doing and how he is moving in my life because I’ve fed my fears rather than my faith. To develop an unstoppable faith, we must first change how we build and increase our faith in our times with God.
Rather than trying to assuage our fearful emotions, we must “renew our faith day after day” from the Scriptures by obeying the Bible, striving to deepen existing convictions, and discover new convictions that embolden our faith. In this way, we become compelled to take specific action to share our faith and lives with others.
- What specific fears do you need to be honest with God about, and choose to let go of by entrusting them to God?
- How can you change your daily times with God so that you come away having renewed your faith and resolve to take action?
Choose conviction over self-absorption
14 For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, 15 so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again.
16 So then, from now on, we have a new perspective that refuses to evaluate people merely by their outward appearances. For that’s how we once viewed the Anointed One, but no longer do we see him with limited human insight.2 Corinthians 5:14-16 TPT
When I live my life focused more on my desires, ambitions, and emotions, it’s a sure indicator that I’ve lost my grip on God’s purpose for me.
In these times, I need to turn back to the Scriptures and refocus my heart on the cross to reset my motives — specifically who I’m living for and why I do what I do. Self-absorption makes me vulnerable to becoming distracted, deceived and then drifting away from God and his purpose for my life.
It’s vital that in our prayers and conversations with God we reset our focus off ourselves and onto God and those whose lives God wants us to change.
- Each day in spending time with God, do you walk away from praying and reading the Bible “absolutely convinced” of God’s love and purpose for you?
- How is self-centeredness blinding you from seeing and pursuing God’s purpose for your life? From loving and changing the lives of others?
- What Scriptures can you hold onto each day to feed your faith and build new personal convictions?
When we resolve to make the daily spiritual effort in our relationship with God to feed our faith and deepen our convictions daily, our lives become an inspiring advertisement to the world around us of God’s power moving and changing lives.
19 I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power 20 that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realm!Ephesians 1:19-20 TPT
Ultimately, faith makes us unstoppable. God makes his power available to us through this kind of faith when we choose to embrace God’s irresistible, immediate, and insuppressible purpose for our lives.
This unstoppable faith was the distinct quality of the Christians in the New Testament, which set them apart from the rest of the world. Today, we can still live with this same dynamic faith.
Just as the New Testament Christians were transformed and fueled by God’s Word and his love for them, we too must choose to live with this same passionate faith as they did, to help others discover God’s purpose for them. In this way, we can change the world!
Explore the series
- Part 1: Need Emotional Strength? Here’s How Prayer Can Help.
- Part 2: Be Teachable: How a Heart for God Should Make You a Learner
- Part 3: How Devotion to God Makes You a Loyal Friend
- Part 4: How to Make Turning to God a Lifestyle and Not An Event
- Part 5: How God Uses Ordinary People To Do The Unexpected
- Part 6: Unstoppable Faith: The Power of Knowing God’s Purpose for Me
- Part 7: 5 Practical Ways Everyone Can Be a Spiritual Leader