Fulfilling Your Purpose

EMILY WICKHAM began her writing and speaking journey in 2005. She writes for Lifeway Christian Resources and enjoys serving the Lord as an author, speaker, and podcaster. She teaches via Indestructible Life, a podcast where women discover the life Jesus is and treasure the life God's Word gives. Emily also shares brief messages about the return of Christ on her YouTube channel. Please connect with Emily by subscribing below to her blog, Heart Stirrings.


Fulfilling Your Purpose

Dear Readers,

Sometimes we struggle with purpose, wondering why we’re here on earth and what God desires us to do for Him. Meet John the Baptist. He understood his God-given purpose, and he exemplified how to fulfill your purpose.

Fascinating details like John’s miraculous birth, life in the desert, and diet of locusts and honey don’t even compare to the extraordinary way God used him to prepare people’s hearts for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist inspires us to love and serve Christ more.

When it comes to fulfilling your purpose, do you feel passionate or powerless? May God use this lesson about John the Baptist to guide you more clearly on His chosen path for you. Because you have a purpose only you can fulfill.

In Christ’s Love,

 

NOTE: You can listen to this episode of Indestructible Life with Emily Wickham via your favorite podcast app. Or, you can tune in by clicking the player above.

John the Baptist: Witness, Voice, Friend

Did you know that in Christ you have an indestructible life? That’s fantastic news all the time, but it’s especially encouraging when life gets hard or feels uncertain. Don’t give up! Satan can’t have you, the world can’t overcome you, and the challenges you face can’t stop you! In Christ, you’re indestructible.

Welcome back to Indestructible Life, a podcast where women discover the life JESUS is and treasure the life God’s Word gives.

I’m Emily Wickham, a wife and mom plus an author and speaker—but most importantly—I’m a woman loved by God, just like you.

Well, it’s hard to believe, but today’s episode marks the end of season two.

And I want to thank you for faithfully tuning in and making this podcast a worthwhile endeavor.

Because without you, I wouldn’t regularly engage in teaching God’s Word like I do here on Indestructible Life.

So please know how very much I appreciate you and value your part in this ministry.

Alright, let’s go ahead and focus on the story of John the Baptist.

He truly is an interesting person to study, and learning more about him has inspired me, so I’m trusting his story will inspire you, too.

Now, I want to mention an interesting detail right here at the outset.

In every single gospel—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—information about Jesus and John the Baptist are next to each other.

For instance, Matthew 1-2 is about Jesus, Matthew 3:1-12 is about John the Baptist, and Matthew 3:13-17 is about Jesus.

We see a similar pattern in Mark, Luke, and John: where it’s Jesus and John, Jesus and John, and so on.

In this way we see Jesus and John the Baptist together even though it doesn’t appear they actually met in person until John baptized Jesus.

That being said, there was a special time when they were together before then, and that was when each one grew in his mother’s womb.

You see, John’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, were related.

The King James version says they were cousins, but a number of other translations identify them simply as relatives.

So  all we know for certain is Elizabeth and Mary were related in some way.

Also, Elizabeth was an older woman whereas Mary was young—probably a teenager.

And when Mary became pregnant, she traveled 80-100 miles[1] from Nazareth to a city in Judah so she could visit Elizabeth, who was already six months pregnant with John.

Now, Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John was miraculous in its own right because she was an older, barren woman.

Luke 1:6-7 says she and her husband “were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.”

It’s clear Elizabeth and Zacharias lived godly lives, and both of them descended from a priestly line.

One day the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Zacharias while he served the Lord as a priest in the temple.

And from what I understand based on research, Zacharias’s service in the temple was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so the fact he was there to begin with was a pretty big deal.

But on top of that, this angel Gabriel appeared and told Zacharias his wife would bear a son, and he would name the baby John.

Of course, God always fulfills His promises, and Elizabeth became pregnant after they returned home.

I can only imagine their amazement and excitement throughout her entire pregnancy.

So, John the Baptist was conceived around six months before Jesus, and when the newly pregnant Mary visited Elizabeth, the Bible says baby John leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Mary ended up staying with Elizabeth for three months, and in that sense, you could say John the Baptist and Jesus were together before they were born.

With this detail in mind, please listen as I read John 1:1-34…

Let’s pray…

John the Baptist held a clear purpose in life, and he maintained a laser focus on fulfilling this God-given purpose.

It’s easy to get distracted by details of his life, such as his miraculous birth to older parents, his dwelling place in the desert, and his diet of locusts and honey.

Oh goodness, I just can’t get around that diet of locusts.

But, at any rate, that’s not the aim of this message because I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to pay careful attention to John the Baptist’s purpose.

From the picture Scripture paints, John spoke very directly to others about sin, and he did not shy away from communicating hard truths.

I admire that so much because I’m so weak in that area.

God had uniquely designed this man to accomplish a specific goal, and his life on earth was geared toward doing what God called him to do.

He could have wandered off in his own direction, he could have lived life his own way and for his own purposes.

But he didn’t.

John the Baptist honored God and fulfilled his purpose.

How about us?

Are we aware of the purpose God has called each of us to accomplish?

Of course, God has purposed for every Christian to learn more about Him, grow closer to Him, share the gospel, make disciples, and so on.

Yet I believe God also holds a specific purpose for each one of us …  a specific type of Christian service that relates to who He created you and me to be.

The Lord entrusted each of us with at least one spiritual gift when we were saved, and He did so for a purpose.

It might not be glamorous or even noticeable, but then again, it might be highly visible and prominent.

It might be somewhere in between.

Whatever the case, the Lord has uniquely created each one of us to fulfill a purpose no one else can.

I just want to encourage you to persevere in your God-given purpose.

And keep in mind: your purpose can change at different stages of life, so it’s entirely possible God is using you in a way now that you didn’t even anticipate 10 years ago.

The Lord is so pleased when we serve Him with a whole heart, plus, our service fits into His master plan of everything He’s doing in the world.

You and I are like small puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly for God’s glory.

As for John the Baptist, his purpose was to be a witness.

John 1:6-7 tells us God sent John as a witness of the Light, Jesus Christ.

And, I just want to emphasize how God’s Word tells us that God sent John.

It’s so interesting because later on in our passage that I read, it talks about how the Pharisees sent certain people to question John about his identity.

On the one hand, we have John the Baptist who was sent by God, and then on the other hand, we have these people who were questioning John, and they were sent by the Pharisees.

So there’s a real difference in the purpose of these people. 

Back to John.

John possessed the express purpose of testifying to the Person of Jesus Christ.

He didn’t exist for himself—his sole job revolved around making Christ known to others.

And like I mentioned earlier, John was about six months older than Jesus, and his public ministry began before Jesus entered public ministry.

Scripture refers to John as a forerunner to Christ, and as a witness, he invested time and energy in preparing people’s hearts for Jesus Christ.

He called them to a baptism of repentance because the Jewish people had drifted far away from God and were mired in sin.

You see, John was a prophet—in fact, he was the last Old Testament prophet.

God had remained quiet for about 400 years since the time of Malachi the prophet, but then He spoke again through John the Baptist, who pointed people to His Son, Jesus Christ.

This leads me to my next point: John the Baptist was a voice.

Verse 23 records him as saying, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD.’”

God communicated with His people through the prophet John, and I have to say, it was not an easy life for John.

He preached in the wilderness, a lonely and desolate place.

He lived in the desert, ate locusts and honey, and wore a garment of camel’s hair.

People probably categorized him as an odd fellow, but their opinions did not deter him.

John maintained a serious focus on his purpose, and he poured himself out preaching and baptizing.

His dedication and unswerving commitment really speak to me.

How about you?

I can get so distracted by what seems like a multitude of feelings, fears, and worries, and lots of other things.

In addition, there are so many time-wasting activities that often hinder me from fulfilling my purpose in daily life.

Can you relate?

I think it’s a valuable practice to stop every now and then and reflect on how we spend our time.

Are we using the time God provides to work toward His purpose?

This includes the many hats we wear as wives, mothers, family members, friends, neighbors, employees, and so on.

But in particular, it includes our role as a Christian woman.

Are we growing closer to the Lord, or are we so wrapped up in busyness that we don’t have time to spend with Him in His Word and in prayer?

Let’s stop and consider these things, knowing life is a journey.

We’re not going to arrive at the pinnacle of our relationship with God or anything else overnight, but God holds our hand as we walk with Him each step of the way.

I think that’s so encouraging—just to kind of close your eyes and picture the Lord holding your hand and leading you and guiding you and walking you on the path of life.

Because I aim to encourage you with this message, and so I just want to highlight our Christian life is a journey.

We’re not going to arrive at all we want to be and all we should be in a moment.

It’s a lifetime.

But God is so faithful, and He stays right with us, and He tenderly leads us on His pathway.

So, let’s be like John the Baptist because he listened to God.

He listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, which enabled him to recognize the Lord Jesus Christ.

You know, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to point us to Jesus.

That’s what He’s about in our lives, and so, He stirs our hearts and moves us toward Jesus.

And so we need to be sensitive to the Spirit if we want to be closer to the Lord.

And, if we want to be a voice for the Lord in this dark world, we need to listen to the Spirit’s guidance just like John did.

We cannot pour out for the Lord if we aren’t filled up with Him first.

And as we ponder John’s example, I’m struck by Jesus’ words of praise for him.

In Matthew 11:11, the Lord said, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Wow! Think about all the incredible people in the Old Testament: Abraham, Moses, King David, and more.

Yet the Lord emphasized John the Baptist’s greatness.

The way this man devoted his life to Christ and ultimately gave his life for Christ impacted the Lord.

Wow, that is so powerful, and it should impact us as well because here was a man who gave everything for Jesus.

He pointed people to Jesus, and he always placed himself in Jesus’ shadow.

John the Baptist didn’t seek attention for himself—he always lifted Jesus up.

He modeled what it means to be a true friend.

But before I elaborate on John being a friend, I want to mention the remainder of the verse I just read: Matthew 11:11.

Jesus declared John the Baptist was the greatest of all who lived before him, but he was less than the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven.

So, who is this one who is least in the kingdom of heaven?

I believe that’s a reference to every Christian—every person who is part of the bride of Christ and part of the church.

And that means you and I are included in this category.

In other words, as great as John the Baptist was, every Christian from the time of Christ forward is greater than John the Baptist.

I’m pretty sure I learned this truth from my husband, Mark, a long time ago.

But it’s really affecting me in a new way now because learning more about John the Baptist in today’s lesson has caused me to feel sort of like I’m not really doing much of anything for the Lord.

Maybe you know what I mean.

This man served God in such extraordinary ways—he exuded amazing boldness, clarity of purpose, humility, and so much more.

Yet since you and I are part of Christ’s bride by virtue of our faith in Christ, we are considered greater than John the Baptist.

I think that’s extraordinary, and it’s further evidence of all our Lord Jesus has accomplished for us.

It’s all credit to Him.

Alright, let me begin closing this message by highlighting John the Baptist’s purpose of being a friend.

John 3:29-30 reads, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John the Baptist understood he was not included in the bride of Christ.

He knew he fit into the last of the Old Testament era by preparing the way for Christ, who is our bridegroom.

And John was not disgruntled or dissatisfied with his position as a friend.

He appreciated this honor of friendship and rejoiced in hearing the bridegroom’s voice.

John delighted in the Lord.

We can learn so much just from that simple statement and reality.

And then, John went on to express his desire for the Lord to increase while he decreased.

What an amazing heart—I’m so touched by his passion to exalt Christ in every possible way.

And I have to ask: are we committed to lifting up Christ in every area of life?

It’s hard, my friend.

You know, it’s one thing to talk about these things and think about them and even to pray about them.

But when the rubber meets the road, and we’re just living daily life, it’s hard.

And I can speak for myself in sharing my battles with pride, and vanity, and selfishness, and the fear of man, and much, much more.

I know John the Baptist wasn’t perfect, but he surely left us with an excellent example of how to fulfill your purpose.

He knew who he was and who he was not.

John realized he was unworthy to untie the thong of Jesus’ sandal, and he recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

He was a witness, a voice, and a friend who lived and died for Christ.

His example inspires us to grow in our love and service for the Lord, fulfilling our purpose for God’s glory.

Let’s pray…

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Thanks again for tuning in to Indestructible Life.

Please take a moment to leave a review, and until next time, this is Emily Wickham.

Remember, God loves you!

In Christ, you’re indestructible.

You have a purpose only you can fulfill. #purpose #podcast Share on X

 

[1] https://www.logos.com/grow/explore-the-life-of-mary-this-advent-season/

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