(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Day 7, 8 and 9 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comments section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
One thing that has consistently helped me in dealing with difficult people is asking God to reveal Himself to me through them. When I pray for this, God will then place this person on my heart in a new way. I begin to see them as He does, sometimes I can see their pain or suffering, sometimes I can see their kindness or goodness, which I may have overlooked. In Day 7, The Reason for Everything, Rick Warren reminds us that everything we perceive brings in some way. All things were created to glorify God. It blesses me so much when I am able to see my son with autism the way that God does, and is such a confirmation of God's goodness when others see these things in him as well. We bring glory to God by appreciating His creations great and small and by fully being who He created us to be. When we take the time to appreciate the little things we learn to see His Glory. When we change the way we see and use our lives to help others, we reflect His glory in the world we live in.
Day 8 and Day 9 bring us into the first Purpose for our lives, that we were planned for God's pleasure. On page 63, Rick Warren states, "God did not need to create you, but He chose to create you for His own enjoyment. You exist for His benefit, His glory, His purpose and His delight." We bring pleasure to God when we worship. Worship can involve beautiful, powerful music that evokes an awe of God and brings us into His presence. As Nicole mentioned, a great worship CD can do wonders for you! Every part of a church service a form of worship. Worship can also be as simple as reading to our children or even doing our housework with a sense of love and purpose. Anything that we offer with a heart of love and grattitude to God is an act of worship.
Another way weis in our thought life. I've heard it said that in our thoughts we are either talking to God or talking to ourselves. Self-talk can often be negative and can undermine our . For me, this shift began when I began to increase the "God-talk" so that the self-talk could be more positive and productive. This started with just praying in my thoughts, while driving, at meetings, wherever. Many times this involves asking for His help, it is also to remind myself of all He's done for me and of His promise to be with me always. Inviting God into every area of your life and looking for His presence changes the way you see your life. It also makes you more available to Him to work through you and reflect His glory and goodness to others.
The example of Noah's life really spoke to me, especially in light of the times we are living in. Noah's life is given to us to show what it means to live in a way that pleases God and brings a smile to His face. On page 69, Rick Warren writes, "In Noah's day, the entire world had become morally bankrupt. Everyone lived for their own pleasure, not God's...The Bible says 'Noah was a pleasure to the Lord'... Because Noah brought pleasure to God, you and I are alive today. From his life we learn the five acts of worship that make God smile." Throughout Noah's life, he loved, trusted and obeyed God completely and unconditionally. God decided to save Noah and his family and use him to start over and build a better world. This was so powerful to me, especially when I look at the world we are living in today. If we all offer ourselves and our families to living lives that make God smile, he can use us to help build a world where His glory is reflected in everything we see and do. The first thing Noah did after surviving the flood was to build an altar to God where he would express his thankfulness to God. When we thank God for what He has done, we are filled with happiness and grattitude and God is pleased with us too. On page 73, Rick Warren states, "We enjoy what God has done for us, and when we express that enjoyment to God, it brings him joy-but it also increases our joy". After the Flood, God instructed Noah to "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth...", to use his abilities as God intended (p. 74, paraphrase of Genesis 9:1,3). God created us all to reflect His glory in different ways. We make God smile when we use our gifts and our lives for His purposes.
Day 9, What Makes God Smile?, really focuses on the fact that our God takes delight in us; when we were born, when we're sleeping, regardless of where we are or what we are doing. We are always at the top of His priority list and He wants us to put him at the top of our list too. Just as we are so dear to our God, I believe that our precious children with special needs are even more dear to His heart. These are His most vulnerable ones, who can sometimes allow His glory to shine the greatest; in their accomplishments, their will and their resilience. Think of how vulnerable God's son Jesus made himself for us and the glory of God made perfect through Him. It is a great compliment from God to be entrusted with any child, and a great comfort to know how He loves them.
You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.
1 Peter 4: 10-11
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
The Lord is pleased only with those who worship him and trust his love.
Psalm 37: 23-24
If the Lord delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.