4 Ways that We Get Off Track and Miss God's Purposes for our Lives

Beware of these errors and excuses when making your  life plans.

Let me share a fictional scenario:

Bob felt God had called him to an overseas mission field, and he prayed about it with trusted friends and family. Several hindrances stood in his way, but he felt God would confirm his call by removing those barriers, and God did just that. 

With these hindrances removed, he moved forward toward his plans with even stronger assurance that God was guiding him. 

However, just short of joining his sending agency, Bob fell in love with a young woman who was opposed to his overseas call. The two of them decided to pray about the situation, but they didn't ask friends and family to pray with them. They felt this was strictly their decision.

It was no surprise that their prayers convinced them that Bob's call was given when he was single and didn't apply to his married life. They felt free to marry and choose another ministry route.

When Bob's close family members questioned his decision, reminding Him of his "fleece" and the way God had removed the barriers, he explained that it wasn't really their business. Even though they had been some of his most trusted Christian friends, he felt they no longer understood him, and he began distancing himself from them.

Bob's first position as a married man was as a youth pastor, but within a few years, he resigned. He and his wife were not pleased with the focus of the head pastor and elders in the church. They had ministry ideas that the church didn't fully support, and they were sure God wanted them somewhere they'd be more appreciated.

After resigning, Bob rejected offers at several other churches because they were in locations he didn't want to live. 

Eventually, he got a job he thought he'd enjoy, but after a year, he realized that his superiors did not fully appreciate his ideas, so he resigned.

Beware of these errors and excuses when making your  life plans.

As years went by, he continued to distance himself from the people in his past who'd once prayed with him about overseas work. He began seeing them as small-minded and legalistic, and he saw no benefit in maintaining healthy relationships with them.

When he reached middle-age, he landed a pastorate of a small church where he was the only full-time pastor.

Over the years, Bob had relaxed his view of the importance of Scripture, and this church fit his criteria. He was excited that he would finally be in charge to do things as he wanted. 

In truth, Bob had been in charge from the moment he rejected God's plan for overseas missions. 

God's call

God's call is different for each person, based on our skills and opportunities. He doesn't call all of us to Christian work, but He calls all of us to His purposes. For many years, my call was to full-time motherhood, something we sometimes fail to see as a calling. 

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Whenever we reject God's plan A, we miss God's full purposes in our lives. But God doesn't give up on us. He offers us plan B, and plan C. But eventually, if we continue to ignore His guidance, our purposes become a shadow of what they were meant to be.

Most people don't make all of the mistakes that "Bob" made in this fictional account. So let's take a look at each of them separately:

1. Placing the desires of loved ones above our call.

This applies to anything God calls us to do, not just a lifetime calling like Bob's. God's clearest guidance comes from Scripture, but He also directs us individually in regard to our careers, our finances, our ministry, our parenting, etc.

Because honoring parents is part of honoring God, we must listen carefully and respectfully to our parents' advice, but in the end, we must choose God's call.

For a glimpse at someone who respectfully disagreed with a parent about his calling, see Reckless Abandon, C.T. Studd

In the well-known passage below, "hate" means esteem less than God. It's about putting God's priorities in proper perspective, above all others.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26

If God gives you a calling and confirms it in the ways Bob's calling was confirmed (i.e. after prayer, counsel, and confirmation), He will not have you marry someone who disagrees with that call, and if you are already married, you and your wife will jointly agree on that call.  

The fictional Bob in our illustration failed this enormous test in his life, and it affected every decision he made afterward. 

God calls a husband to love and protect his wife, but He also calls a husband to lead his wife. When Bob allowed his wife to lead in this important area, he set a precedence that could not help but cause continuing dysfunction in his marriage relationship. God's design benefits both husband and wife and brings fulfillment that the world can't understand. 

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." Ephesians 5:23

See Why Mutual Submission is Impossible.

Beware of these errors and excuses when making your  life plans.
2. Failing to seek "a multitude of counselors."

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22

This doesn't mean we seek numerous counselors until we find one that agrees with us. It means we seek counsel from mature Christians who are willing to tell us things we need to hear, not simply things we want to hear. We seek counsel from people who can make biblical judgements apart from feelings and preferences.

Bob not only didn't seek counsel in making his decision, he ignored previous counsel.

3. Failing to learn how to submit to authority.

Learning to respect authority is essential for fulfilling God's purposes. When we have trouble submitting to human authorities, we end up having trouble submitting to God's authority and visa versa. 

Once Bob rejected God's authority in his calling, he had trouble with all authority in his life.

"Obey your leaders and submit to them—for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account—so that they may do this with joy, not groaning; for this would be unhelpful for you." Hebrews 13:17

"You who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'" 1 Peter 5:5

See A Man Who Amazed Jesus.  

4. Rejecting Correction.

Instead of seeing the many important benefits in accepting correction, our modern culture teaches us to judge people by how they make us feel, and many healthy relationships are severed because one person refuses appropriate correction from another.  

"Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you." Proverbs 9:8

When we look back at godly correction, we usually can say with the Psalmist: 
"Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head." Psalm 141:5

 See The Sting of Correction and The Benefit of Constructive Criticism.

Any and all of these things "Bob" did can diminish our ability to hear God's voice. Instead of seeking God's purposes, we begin seeking our own purposes and justifying them with an outward form of godliness.

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people." 2 Timothy 3:1-5

If you have gotten off track, repent carefully, fully, and wholeheartedly. Reconcile with godly counselors you've shoved out of your life. Put God first, and don't trust "easy" answers to your problems. You will have to deny yourself if you want to get back on track with God. 

But He's waiting with open arms to take you back!

copyright Gail Burton Purath, 2022, Bite Size Bible Study, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com.

Privilege, Responsibility, and Influence in Marriage

Women who think submission makes them less of a person haven't understood the responsibilities of leadership and the power of their influence.

Before doing this Bible study, please read:

Many women who object to submission focus on the leadership of the husband and overlook the responsibility it carries with it. 

The Responsibility of Leadership

Women who think submission makes them less of a person haven't understood the responsibilities of leadership and the power of their influence.
Note this sequence of events:

Genesis 3:6: "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it."

Adam was standing next to Eve when she ate the fruit, but he didn't stop her. He joined her. I encourage you to read all of Genesis 3 to fully understand the context.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22: "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."

Romans 5:14: "Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come."

Women who think submission makes them less of a person haven't understood the responsibilities of leadership and the power of their influence.

Even though Eve was the first to sin and she tempted Adam to sin, Adam is always designated as the one through whom sin and death entered the world. 

He tried to blame Eve, but God held Adam responsible because he was the leader of his family and he failed to lead. For more perspective on Adam's blame game, see The Fourth Oldest Sin: It's Your Fault.

Don't misunderstand: Eve was fully responsible for her personal sin, but Adam carries the responsibility for the fall of mankind because he failed to lead. 

A good explanation from Answers in Genesis:

“As the leader it was Adam’s responsibility to protect and provide for his family. This leadership role was clearly demonstrated when God talked with Adam and Eve following their sin. Even though Eve sinned before Adam, God questioned Adam first (Genesis 3:9). This was because of the leadership role God ordained for husbands in marriage. Adam, as the leader of the family, was held responsible, not only for his own sin of eating from the tree, but also because he did not provide adequate protection for his wife, allowing her to sin. In the New Testament, Adam is clearly presented as both progenitor and representative of all mankind…Just as sin and death came through one man, Adam, it is also through one man, Jesus Christ, that grace and righteousness are given as free gifts to sinners. The naming of Christ as the Last Adam and the multiple comparisons of Adam to Christ would be invalid and nonsensical if original sin came through Eve…Interestingly, although Eve was the first to sin, the solution to sin came through “her Seed” (Genesis 3:15). The Seed, Jesus Christ, was born of a virgin named Mary. He paid the price for sin and will redeem those who receive the salvation He offers…Scripture makes it clear that that sin and death entered this world through Adam, and thus he is to blame for original sin.”

A Military Analogy

My husband was in the military for 22 years. When he was a company commander, each soldier in his company was held responsible for violating orders or breaking the law. However, if a soldier's actions affected a mission of the company, my husband was also held responsible. 

There's an acronym used in the military: RHIP, Rank has its privilege. But there's an acronym not used that is just as true: RHIR. Rank (leadership) has its responsibilities.

Personal Application

My husband and I recently made some important decisions about our future. We discussed these issues as equals. We debated different aspects, we prayed, and sought counsel. But in the end, my husband made the final decision, and he will bear the responsibility for that decision in a way I will not. 

I consider that a privilege and a protection husbands don't have. Adam was held responsible for the sin of mankind in a way Eve was not. And our husbands are held responsible for our families in a way we are not.

In addition, women are given an incredible position of influence with our children and husband, and that influence is every bit as important as the husband's leadership. Eve used it for evil, but we can use it for good. To read more, see For the Love of a Woman.

Copyright, Gail Burton Purath 2021, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com 

Bite Size Bible Study

Acting Maturely

Dear Christians, we need to deal with childish behaviors like pouting if we want to grow up in our faith and bless our relationships.

Before doing this study, please read the 1-minute Bible Love Note Pouting is Childish

Instead of behaving like adults, we sometimes revert to childish ways. It’s easy to recognize this childishness in others but not as easy to admit we sometimes do the same. 

Do you ever give your parents, children, spouse, or siblings the silent treatment? Do you huff off in the middle of a conversation? Do you yell, wallow in self-pity, or refuse to discuss things? 

1. When we act immaturely in our relationships, we are acting worldly. 

The passage below is addressing factions in the church in Corinth, but the principle applies to all relationships. 

1 Corinthians 3:1-3: "Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?" 

2. Our behavior reveals whether we are interested in growing up in our faith. 

Hebrews 5:12-14: "Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

3. We should be transforming. 

When we become Christians, God’s Spirit works in us to transform our patterns of behavior. 

2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

Dear Christians, we need to deal with childish behaviors like pouting if we want to grow up in our faith and bless our relationships.
4. If we aren’t transforming, we’re not yielding to God’s Spirit.

Paul’s instructions below are a concise explanation of growing in Christ. We work hard (“with fear and trembling”) at conforming to His will and His ways, but we don’t do it on our own. He is working in us. But there’s an important condition: if we are not seriously yielding our old selfish ways to Him and seeking His ways, we will not grow up in our faith. 

Philippians 2:12-13: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

Colossians 3:12: "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

So next time you start pouting, yelling, or acting in some other childish way, stop and ask God’s help to act like a grown-up Christian. 

For additional study, I recommend these collections of 1-minute devotions:

Overcoming Bitterness

Scriptures and Resources for Conquering Anger 


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