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What's the difference?

Sometimes we think we have things figured out…and other times, it’s glaringly obvious we don’t or at the very least, there’s a fair amount of confusion.

You may look around at your current situation and wonder how you got where you are. Often it’s by divine appointment and sometimes we can feel like the appointment has been rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances (aka a wrong turn or a confusing turn).

Rest assured, even if you aren’t sure what significance your current assignment plays in God’s overall picture, and maybe you’ve even veered from the path He’d have you on, He’s never far from you. In fact, He’s right there with you...that’s right, in this moment – able and ready to be called upon!

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) says Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.

The New Living Translation says it this way: Seek his will in all that you do and he will show you which path to take.

I was listening to a message the other day and the question was asked: “Aren’t the terms “assignment”, “calling”, “purpose”, and “destiny” all pretty much the same thing?”

I’d never really thought too deeply about it because I know, in my heart, everything revolves around serving the Lord with all my heart and helping others come to know Christ – case closed. I know often the words are used interchangeably. Well, the reality is, while living on this earth, we find ourselves in so many situations and in the midst of different interactions in our relationships. We have our home and family, our jobs, co-workers and customers, our friendships, and even strangers that we communicate with in our day to day. We are flooded with content – everything from social media, tv, billboards, emails, podcasts, books grocery store conversations, bumper stickers, irate people, happy people, sad people, downright goofy people, logical thinkers, irrational “opinionators”...just thinking about how much goes into my mind over the course of a day is enough to make me want to jump off the road all together!

It’s important to note that God has a “destiny” for each one of us...a plan and also a purpose. He does allow us free will (what a gift) so our decisions and thinking can take us so off course, that we could select another destiny. How common it is to have our mood and our effectiveness affected by all that is coming at us.

In quiet times (and that’s pretty key from all the previously mentioned noise around us), He will show you why you’re where you are for this time and what needs to be accomplished in the season. If you don’t hear answers right away, keep asking, keep escaping to the quiet. You may get answers quickly and clearly and other times, answers may not be so evident.

Keep seeking.

Many times scripture shows that Jesus got away from the crowds to spend time with the Father. In Matthew 14, after Jesus had dismissed the crowd, He went up on the mountainside to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. God will accomplish all that He sets out to do. We have the opportunity to make ourselves available to do what He embrace the calling and charge ahead towards the assignment. So the key, is in the listening, the hearing and the acting upon His direction.

How often do we allow what’s happening around us, to take our focus off what God may be asking us to do? It’s in the chaotic times, that it becomes all the more important to spend time talking with the Father. Allowing ourselves to be quiet enough to hear what He may be wanting to show us.

The obedience of Jesus allowed to stay focused on the DESTINY... To provide the way of Salvation for all of mankind who would put their trust in Him. His ASSIGNMENT was to go all the way to the cross, and to give His very life blood for you and for me.

Imagine if you can, that Jesus had taken a shortcut on His path...He could have...returned in an instant to His place of honor at the right hand of the Father. But His CALLING was to take on the role of a servant and in doing that was able to stay focused on His PURPOSE, to connect with humankind in a way that forever would change lives.

Once we’ve come to understand that our ultimate destiny is to live forever with the Creator of all, our purpose becomes helping as many others as possible to come to know Christ. Those things don’t really change throughout our time...But we may find our calling and assignments are only for certain seasons.

Maybe you’re in a time where you’re struggling to share the gospel with others, or in a job that won’t allow you to. Maybe your current assignment seems more than you can handle. Maybe you love your assignment so much that you neglect spending time with the Lord...and maybe, you feel you are able to do so much more that what you’re doing right now. Seek the Lord and ask for His wisdom and guidance and then be quiet long enough to hear or see what He may be speaking to your heart.

Scripture doesn’t tell us much about the time between Jesus being born as a baby and the beginning of His ministry...but he was called to be a student in the synagogue, a carpenter...maybe the assignment was to learn how to build a door in the midst of a solid wall. Because He was clear on His destiny and purpose, no doubt, he carried out His assignments during what He was called to do extremely well (He was God in the flesh after all!). We know He was called to be a Teacher among other roles all the way to finally taking on the ultimate calling to be the sacrificial lamb assigned to ultimate humility with each answer to His calling in complete alignment with His destiny and purpose. Praise God, the obedience of Jesus was perfect!

In Philippians 2:5-8 Paul says, Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

As you consider the differences in your destiny, your purpose, your calling and your assignment, the first steps are to get very clear on your destiny and your purpose so that when you explore what you are called to do, you can carry out the individual assignments (which could change in the midst of that calling but fit so beautifully in with our purpose and our ultimate destiny). Ask the Lord for strength to complete the assignment you’re in the midst of and to be ready for the next one...knowing that it is likely for a season.

If we took a snapshot of the time of the ministry of Christ especially as it relates towards the end of his ministry, it would look a bit like this:

(Who and When) Assignment – to give his life for any and all who would come to Him – in his early 30’s

(How and Where) Calling – to take on the form of a human on earth and become a servant, to become a prisoner with an execution date

(Why) Purpose – to show others the love and will of and obedience to the Father

(What) Destiny – to fulfill the Father’s plan to reconnect with His children

His entire life in the flesh was leading to His destiny as Savior of the world.

Nothing takes God by surprise and it all fits into His ultimate plan for us. He knew us before we were formed and sees all the way down through our days...and when we humble ourselves and seek His will for our lives we begin to see how the circles all fit together. The interchangeable words actually would be our Destiny and God’s will for our lives and it’s also important to note that nothing, not in heaven or on earth, can thwart God’s purpose being accomplished.

Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


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