How to Find Your Purpose in Lent
Lent is a season of renewal. In many ways, it is a time when we can start again. The word Lent means ‘spring’ and spring is a time of new life. We also associate spring with spring-cleaning, and in a sense, Lent is an opportunity to do a bit of spring cleaning in our life.
Whilst we can think of Lent as very serious, it can also be a time of great joy. As we draw closer to God in this season, I want to have a look at a passage of Scripture that I think will greatly speak to us. It is from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 16, and we are going to start reading from verse 13.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
Jesus asks the disciples, “Tell me, what is the gossip about me. What are people saying about me?” The disciples turned to Jesus and say, “Some people say that you are John the Baptist, some people say Elijah, one of the great prophets.” Jesus said, “That’s all well and good but who do you say that I am?” Peter steps out and says, “You are the Messiah, the savior. You are the son of the living God.” Jesus says to Peter, “Well done Peter. This has not been revealed to you by anyone else, but by my Father in heaven.”
Can you imagine being asked that question by Jesus? Peter must have wondered if it was a test.
Lent is about increasing the revelation of God in our life. It is coming face to face with God and the action of God to draw people to Himself and to make sure that there is no barrier to our relationship with God. God gives us free will to choose and yet our open hearts can cry out to God and say, “God reveals this in me.” And it is God that reveals it to us.
Peter has an encounter with God and because of that encounter, Jesus then tells Peter,
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven
Because of God revealing himself in Peter, he gets three blessings. Firstly, he gets the blessing of identity. ‘You are Peter and upon this rock, I will build my church.’
When God has revealed Himself in us, He always reveals who we are. The second is the blessing of purpose because God has been revealed in him. God reveals to him his role or his purpose. It’s the same in each of our lives. When God reveals to us who we truly are as his sons or daughters, God then often reveals to us our purpose. Thirdly, he experiences the blessing of authority, or you might say the blessing of ability, this is what you’ll be able to do. You’ll be set free on earth as well as in heaven. ‘What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.’
God gives Peter authority and in the same way, when we establish our identity in God, we get our purpose in God. We have authority in our life that the things that God is revealing to us we will be able to do. If you are a single person and God has called us to be single, we have the authority and ability to live that life. If God has called us to be married or God has called us to be a parent, God gives us authority and ability to be able to do those things. The questions we should be asking ourselves in light of the fact that I know who I am, because I’m a son or daughter of God, and God has revealed that within me, is what is God asking of me and then we can ask what has God given me the ability and the authority to do?
When we discover our identity in God, we discover our purpose in God and we have authority and ability to do what God is asking of us.
Lent is about hearing God within our life. It’s about hearing God afresh and sometimes just when we think we’ve made it, we come face to face with the reality that we have not.
Peter gave the right answer and Jesus goes on and tells them in plain language, “This is why I’ve come, and this is what they’re going to do to me. They’re going to beat me up.”
Peter has been all excited and then he hears this from Jesus, and he asks, how can they do this? Peter says to Jesus, “I’m not going to let anybody do the evil against you that you say is going to happen.”
In verse 22, Jesus takes Peter aside and began to rebuke him saying, “God forbid that Lord, this must never happen.” And Jesus speaks bluntly to Peter’s reasoning, because Peter is saying “they won’t kill you.” And in verse 23, it says,
But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
Peter does three things. He begins to work according to his plan, according to his thoughts, rather than saying, what is God’s plan? Jesus is saying, I’m going to Jerusalem and they’re going to a kill me. Jesus is working for a different plan but Peter says, no, you must work according to my plan. Peter is operating out of what he can control. Peter is operating out of human thinking.
Lent is about turning to God. When we come to God and we have a revelation of God and God reveals himself like He did to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock, I’ll build my church,” Peter discovered his identity. He then discovered his purpose and he discovered that he had the ability, the authority to do what God had asked him to do.
It didn’t take much for him to lose all that and so in Lent, we have got to make sure that we keep in tune with God. How do we keep in tune with God through Lent?
- Daily Prayer – we must give God time. We need to pray every day without fail.
- Consistent prayer – ‘Lord, your will be done, not mine.’
- Openness to change our heart to what God wants.
- We must understand the love of the Father in sending his son for you and for me. God is seeking a relationship with us.
- Set up patterns of behavior and thinking that give God permission to lead us. “Lord I’m available. I’m listening. I want your will.”
This scripture is enormously powerful. God wants you to know your identity. God will reveal your purpose to you and God will give you the authority and the ability to do what He’s calling you to do.
Lent is about discovering that at a deeper level from the place you are today.