Are you in the middle of a journey trying to find your purpose? Obliterate the excuses today as we learn how to live with purpose in each and every day. God has a plan for you that brings you fully alive. Are you ready to embrace it?
If this resonates with you, please rate, review, and subscribe where you listen to podcasts. For updates follow me @jessejbradley on all socials and for the latest videos check out my YouTube channel Jesse Bradley. The best is yet to come!
- Presence and purpose
- Your story is not over
- My Way, no way, your way
- Eliminate excuses
- Linger and listen
- Run with reliance
- Tackle injustice In general purpose and personal purpose
- Call to unselfishness
- The C’s: conviction, clarity, courage, compassion, and collaboration.
God’s greatest gift to you is His presence. Welcome to The Bonfire, my name’s Jesse Bradley. Thank you so much for joining today. We’re going to dive into the topic of purpose. We are all designed to live with purpose; a full purpose daily. And how do we discover that? For some people, maybe you’re in a position where you’re just trying to find your purpose. And really, what are your talents? What are your gifts? Why are you here on earth? For others, you’re distracted, and you know what it is, but you’ve gotten sidetracked. It’s just like when you pick up your phone, you think you’re going to go one direction. The next thing you know, you’re watching some Shorts that have nothing to do with why you picked up your phone. You get distracted, off track, and you realize, “My priorities are off, my purpose is not what I’m really living out.” And we come back to purpose. And for some of you, you’re very devoted. You’ve identified it, you’re living it, but today you’re going to fan the flame. And for all of us, we can live full of purpose.
What I want to start out by saying is that presence and purpose are connected. Don’t separate, sever, don’t divorce those two, presence and purpose. Some people compartmentalize faith, and it’s really sad when you try to put faith into one box, or God into one box, saying it’s just one place, one day, one hour. It’s only church. This is a relationship with God 24/7. And as you draw near to God and you get close to God, God’s going to reveal purpose. Sometimes it’s going to be bigger picture, long-term; others, it’s going to be moments where it’s very specific during the day.
But our God loves us and guides us, Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we need to receive purpose and walk in purpose, and God’s going to make it clear, but we need to lean into the relationship. Don’t pursue purpose apart from presence, because if you’re not abiding with God, you’re going to come up with your own version of purpose that might not align with heaven. So the relationship, make that your top priority. Seek first God, seek first His kingdom, and then all else will be added, including purpose. It’s relational. Purpose is relational. Closeness with God is primary with your purpose.
So, how do we live with a fullness of purpose? We all face obstacles. Sometimes we get discouraged. How do we overcome those challenges? We’re going to walk through that today. My hope and prayer today is that by the end of our time together, you’re going to be walking in a fullness of purpose. And you’re going to realize, gain some skills, how you can do that every day.
We’re going to look at the life of Moses, and I want to start there. For Moses, a lot of people will put his life, 120 years, into three separate zones. The first one, 40 years, and Moses had a calling on his life, and this calling included helping to set people free who were in slavery. The reality is that Pharaoh and in Egypt, he held the Israelites captive. It was bondage, it was cruel. Slavery is always wrong. God’s against slavery. God heard the cries of the people who are suffering and God raised up Moses. God hears our cries when we’re in pain, when we need help, when there’s oppression and there’s an injustice, we cry out to God. God raised up Moses.
And Moses had that clear call, clear purpose, but he messed up. He tried to do things his own way, and he ended up killing someone he shouldn’t have killed. He was frustrated, he was angry. His temper got the best of him and he killed an Egyptian. So Moses, if you categorize the first 40 years, Moses tried to do it my way. It was the right purpose, but the wrong way. None of us want to have the right purpose and do it the wrong way. We can relate. Moses’ life, it’s relevant for us today. That was his first 40.
Then his next 40, he knew he messed up, there’s probably some shame, some guilt, a sense of failure. Maybe you’re there today. And Moses was done with that purpose, and he started taking care of sheep. He went agricultural, working with animals. And he just kind of drifted. Where, instead of confronting Pharaoh, setting people free, he found something else to do. Now, there’s nothing wrong with an agricultural lifestyle, taking care of animals. It’s very noble, it’s helpful, it’s solid. If that’s your lifestyle, it’s no dig on that. The point is Moses, after some failure trying to do things his own way, still had the same calling on his life, and his response at that point, the next 40 years was, “No way.” Can you relate to that? First, my way. God, thank you for the direction, now I’m going to take it from here and do it my way. The next 40 years, I realized my way didn’t work out so well. No way, God, I’m done. It’s over.
And Moses felt like his story was over, until he experienced the fire. This is the fire of a burning bush. He was 80 years old. What does that tell us? Your story’s not over. It’s not too late. You might feel like it’s too late, you missed some key years, you were sidetracked, or you blew it in some areas. Listen, the story’s not over. If you’re still breathing, alive on Earth, you still have a heartbeat? God’s story in your life is not finished. We worship a God who redeems, who restores, and He can reset things. He is a God of not only second chances, but multiple second chances. And Moses saw the fire, and it representative… We have God’s presence, a burning bush that continues to burn. And then he heard God’s voice. God will show up personally. And when God gives you purpose, it’s a gift. God’s presence is a gift, God’s presence and purpose go together.
And Moses is at a key point in his life where he knows my way doesn’t work. Now he’s going to discover no way is not what God wants, and he’s going to shift, his final 40 years, God’s way. To go from my way to no way to God’s way. And that’s a shift that all of us can make. And as we turn to God, we say yes to God. On the other side of yes, you don’t know how all the results are going to play out, but faith is when you say yes to God and trust God with the results.
And in this personal conversation, Moses hears from God. And in this conversation there’s a commissioning as well. God is calling Moses to help be a deliverer, confront Pharaoh, tackle injustice, set people free, so the people can know and worship God. Your purpose is going to be linked to those things; tackling injustice, courageous conversations, using your gifts, helping people experience God, helping people find hope, helping people be set free from some of the burdens and the traps. And when you think about purpose, consider it this way. There’s general and there’s personal.
General, that’s true for all of us. To love God with all our heart, strength, soul, and mind. To love our neighbor. To use our talents. Those are very general. And then there’s very personal, which are specific. Moses was called to go tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” And you’re not going to go to Pharaoh. There’s no pharaoh alive. You’re not going to use that sentence, “Let my people go,” because you have a personal purpose that’s going to look different than Moses. But there’s a golden thread, there’s some general purposes that are true for all of us. Moses steps into his personal, specific purpose, and as he does that, he has reluctance. Have you felt reluctance when God calls you, when God leads you? And do you have excuses? One of the major barriers for Moses is working through his excuses, and he starts to bring up five excuses with God. If we’re honest, we might be carrying five excuses.
And the first one in his conversation with God is simply, “Who am I?” He has an inferiority complex. Who am I? I’ve got failure. Who am I? Why would you choose me? That sense of inferiority. And God, if God chooses us, God selects us, we can’t argue with God, right? There’s a pot and there’s the clay. And He shapes, He guides. It’s our role to be faithful. There’s no greater calling or purpose than to be faithful to God. That was the first excuse for Moses; who am I?
The second one is, “Well, God, who are you? What if they ask me who you are?” And God reveals His name, a powerful moment in scripture. “I am who I am.” He’s the great I am. I am. He’s self existent, He’s self-sustaining. He always was, He always will be. This is God Almighty, our creator, sustainer, maker, redeemer. And that’s important; who God is ties into your purpose.
And then from that, Moses says, “Well, what if they don’t believe me?” And God gives him signs, miraculous signs. Signs will be visible, tangible evidence so everyone can see that God is with him and that will validate the message. Throughout scripture, God gives signs that validate the message.
And then Moses says, “I’m just not very gifted. I’m not eloquent. When it comes to speaking, I stutter. I shouldn’t be the one speaking.” And that’s a common excuse as well. I hated public speaking, literally, until God started to work into my life, and it was something I didn’t see coming. But listen, in our weakness, we all struggle. I get nervous every time I speak. I was nervous starting this podcast. It’s God’s help, God’s power on our weakness, and we rely on God. And God heard Moses, He cares, and He raised up Moses’ brother Aaron. So there’s another person who’s going to help with some of the speaking.
After these four excuses, the fifth one’s, it’s comedy, and there’s stuff in the Bible that just makes me laugh. It’s so relatable. Moses says to God, “God, could you just find someone else?” Now, after all the other excuses, and God’s walking through, excuse by excuse, equipping, empowering Moses, Moses finally just says, “Can you find someone else? Can you ask someone else?” Have you wrestled with that purpose conversation with God? Where you want to back out and just say, “Not me. No thank you. Could you find someone else?” And at that point, the Bible says, God began to get angry. Why? Because Moses was not trusting God. At the core of your purpose, it’s going to be trusting God. Remember, this is relational, not just a task to do. It’s not just your to-do list. This is about a relationship where there’s trust.
And when you trust God, you say yes to your purpose. But if you’re not trusting God, you’re going to say no to your purpose. God is trustworthy. God doesn’t change. It’s our faith that increases and decreases. It’s our faith that wanders. But God doesn’t change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And you can trust Him. What He reveals in His Word, He’s faithful to keep His promises. There’s wisdom in His Word. His Word is truth.
So you have to decide what’s your truth source? Is it your feelings? Is it the culture? Is it your friends? Is it tradition? Or is it scripture? There’s going to be moments where God makes it as clear as can be, and you just know that next step is from God. There’s going to be other times where it’s pretty clear. And there’s going to be some times where it’s not super clear. In all those instances, you’re choosing faith. And when you boil it down, you’re saying, “As best as I can tell, God, this is what you want me to do. If I’m off-track, redirect me. But I’m trusting you, and by faith, I’m going to take a step forward.”
I encourage you today to move past excuses. Do you know what your excuses are? Have you identified them? That might be a first step, is just to take a few minutes today and think, “What are my excuses? Why don’t I trust God? Is it because I feel inadequate? I feel inferior? I don’t feel gifted enough? Is it because I’m not confident in God’s faithfulness? What’s at the core?” And identify that. And then you need to obliterate that. You can tear up those excuses. If you wrote them down, you can put them in a fire and they can burn up. But we’ve got to move past excuses. All of us have excuses. All of us are wrestling with faith, and faith is a choice. So I encourage you today with your purpose, it’s tied to your yes with God. It’s tied to moving past excuses.
And listen, it’s going to be a life of reliance on God. There’s no way that Moses himself can drive out Pharaoh and free people from slavery. There’s no way. When God gives you a purpose, it’s an invitation to rely on Him. And this relying is going to be continual. God, I’m going to rely on your Word, I’m going to rely on your people, I’m going to rely on the spirit. I’m going to rely, God, on, just the whole way through, praying, relying on God. And that’s really healthy. Listen, spiritual maturity is fully relying on God. Spiritual maturity is not self-reliance. You’re going to use every gift, every part of your intellect, all of your talents, you’re going to use your resources, you’re going to be fully alive, but you’re not doing it on your own strength. And Moses, the only way, the only way people are going to be set free is if he relies on God. So in your purpose, rely on God.
Before we continue with today’s episode, I want to tell you about my friends at World Concern. The fact is, for generations, children and families have struggled to find clean water, food, and a chance for a brighter future, and this includes the world’s poorest places. But this can all change in this generation, and you can be a part of the transformation, including villages that are far beyond where the road ends. Visit worldconcern.org today, and find out how you can bring change and the love of Christ to children and families that are forgotten by most of the world. To learn more and to get involved, go to worldconcern.org.
I want to give you a couple of inspiring stories when I think of purpose. And one of them, there’s a couple that’s opened up their home and welcomed over a hundred foster kids in their home. See, I believe every child needs a forever family. I believe every child needs that love. And a lot of kids don’t have that option. But if you open up your home, it’s not about what’s in your home. Hospitality is but what’s in your heart, not your home. That impact for the child to feel that love, that warmth, and to have a home where they’re known, loved, and accepted, it’s part of the healing process. So when I think about that couple, it moves me to tears, it inspires me, and it motivates me to care for kids that don’t have families.
Here’s another one. During COVID, there was someone I know who looked around his neighborhood and there wasn’t enough food, so he started to access different resources, bring food together. And over 15 million pounds of food distributed. When I think about that, that’s something I’m never going to forget. And again, it’s purpose. It starts with listening to God. Both of these, they are people who are listening to God.
You say, well, what else? I think of another couple that runs a compassion clinic, and this is physical therapists, dentists, doctors, and people can come in and just get care, the care they need for free. Another ministry that I think of is human trafficking, and literally providing for those who’ve been trapped, helping them be set free and get a new start. And human trafficking, listen, we can’t be passive. We’ve got to make a difference. As I share these stories, I hope that you will take these to God and say, “God, is my name on it? How should I be involved in these causes?” And maybe this will stir you and your purpose. But it’s incredible to see people set free, in terms of human trafficking, and the healing journey and the restoration and drawing close to God. And then, in that healing, even being married, having a family, it’s incredible that kind of turnaround, and that’s needed both locally and globally.
These examples, what can we take away? People listening to God. It starts by listening to God. Make yourself available. It’s more about your availability than your ability. It’s more about your availability than ability. Very few people make themselves fully available to God. You won’t have a fullness of purpose until you’re fully available to God. I want to highlight listening for a minute, and it’s something that Moses had to learn. Again, he’s a man of action, starting out doing the wrong stuff, and then he gets discouraged and he steps back, and he goes from my way to no way to God’s way. What you see in terms of Moses’s growth is with listening. Listen and linger. They have something called the attentive meeting, and Moses would intentionally spend time there and linger.
The person he mentored, Joshua, would linger as well. Lingering in the attentive meeting, lingering in God’s presence, not rushed, not just talking all the time, but listening to God. That listening. Moses fasted for 40 days and 40 nights to listen to God. He got alone to listen to God. He climbed up a mountain to listen to God. A lot of people go outdoors into nature and they listen to God, they spend time with God. And he received the Ten Commandments as well. God reveals to those who want to listen. I know with my own kids, if they’re listening to me, I want to keep talking. But if they’re not listening, do I really want to keep talking? If they’re more interested in what’s on their phone, am I just going to keep talking and talking? But when they’re tuned in, and I can tell they’re teachable, and they’re asking me questions and we’re talking, I’ve got all day. I want to share more with them. With our Heavenly Father, when we truly stop and slow down and listen, He shares more.
And He guided Moses. There were 10 plagues, there were 10 challenges with those. It’s kind of like going 10 rounds. And then there were other times he was leading the people. Sometimes the people were making the right choices, but then he led them, and in the wilderness, they just kept going in circles, even though God blessed them with manna in the morning and led them at night. And during the day, the cloud, the fire, God’s presence in the fire again, there was still hard hearts, and they didn’t make it to the Promised Land. But Moses had to lead through that. And the only way Moses stays sane is he’s listened. The only way Moses stays on track is he’s listening. And listen, rely on God, and linger in His presence. Enjoy God’s presence, and lean in and rely on God. I just want to be clear that your purpose is linked to relying on God. It’s not just something you say, “Oh, I’ll take it from here, God.” And we see that throughout Moses’s life.
I want to share from my own journey for a couple minutes about purpose. And I didn’t grow up as a Christian, I came into the Lord, came into Jesus at Dartmouth College, didn’t see that coming. Played professional soccer. And in Africa I took a medication to prevent malaria. Sadly, that tragic illness, it ruined my childhood dream, because at two years old, I wanted to play pro sports. I was fighting for my life for one year, took 10 years to fully recover. It was brutal, it tested me to the core, and I was struggling to find my purpose. I was struggling to find my identity. “Well, who am I and what am I going to do?”
Because my vision for 20 years had been professional soccer, and now it’s gone. Now my health is gone. Now I’m battling just to stay in my right mind, and my faith is struggling. And what do you do in those moments? You might be at a low point right now where you’re struggling, like, what is your purpose? And you just don’t feel it. And it was a journey for me, and I just started volunteering. So it doesn’t always have to be your job, necessarily, but I just started volunteering as I had strength. And God continued to redirect me. I ended up going back to school because I didn’t study the Bible. And I just want to share a couple of key points for me.
One is that after I recovered, 10 years later, I ended up being a college pastor, and I was able to come alongside of people, just like me in college, who had dozens of questions, didn’t know God, or were trying to figure out this relationship with God and come alongside of them. I highlight that because your purpose, oftentimes, is going to be linked to coming alongside of people who are going through something that you’ve gone through, that you can relate, that you understand. And even the low points of my recovery, that became a bridge with so many people. So your low points, don’t discard them. They can be part of the way you minister and connect with people, and that’s part of the purpose. God will redeem the hardest moments of your life, and turn that around so that you will inspire and encourage other people, and what God teaches you in those moments, you’re going to pass on to other people. Because fruit doesn’t grow on the mountaintops, it grows in the valleys.
We don’t always see everything that’s coming. Sometimes your greatest blessings with purpose in life are going to be things that you can’t plan or anticipate. They’re going to be during the day, an interruption that you didn’t expect to have, or they’re going to end up being a career that you didn’t think you’d go into, or working in a company or a ministry that you didn’t see coming. And God doesn’t reveal everything around your purpose. But He placed me in these churches where there’s a low percentage of Christians, high percentage of people that are unchurched and de-churched. And again, I can relate, because I didn’t grow up in a church. And so as I reach out to these people who don’t know Jesus or don’t know God, and they just think it’s dead religion, I know how they think, I know what they’re talking about. I had to kick the tires and look at the intellectual evidence before I was going to trust and believe, and then that’s helpful to share with them.
So all that to say, God’s in control. You can trust Him. Make faithfulness your goal. And God would bring me to places where there were very few Christians, and it’s part of God’s purpose. God’s going to place you in the neighborhood, the job, the city. You just have to say yes to God and continue to be teachable. We’re going to be lifelong learners, we’re never going to have it all figured out. And even during COVID, there was another shift I didn’t see coming, where, going to where people are. And I realized people on their phones, they’re on television stations, that’s what they’re watching. So, I’ve ventured into ABC, and NBC, and this podcast. Why? Because we need to go to where people are. And I highlight that because in your purpose, don’t expect everyone to come to you. Passive is not going to get it done with your purpose. God doesn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but power and love.
So you’re going to need to take risks. You’re going to need to, a lot of times, feel stretched, like this is bigger than you. You’re going to have a sense of joy. There’s going to be a sense of compulsion, like I need to do this. And you’re going to be relying on God, and God is going to open up new doors that no one can shut, and it’s going to be you walking by faith. If there’s people on your block right now, let’s say there’s someone that’s elderly that can’t do their yard work, go to their house and offer to help with their yard work. Or if there are people, let’s say, in your city that don’t have food, well then, go to where they are, and then provide the food and start to build relationships. If it’s overseas, you might need to go to another country, or you might need to help provide clean water overseas. It really comes down to going to where people are.
And that points back to Jesus, who comes to us, serves us, died for our sins. He’s risen. Look how God lives out purpose. And it’s one of sacrifice and unselfishness. It’s the unselfish people that are going to bring healing to America, and are going to turn things around in our country right now. A purposeful life is an unselfish life. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for men.
We got a few more minutes, and I want to think through these Cs with you. What are the Cs of purpose? One is conviction. God convicts, and it’s a good conviction. It’s not a pressure, stressed out conviction. This is a healthy conviction, like I need to do this. My name is on this. I’m compelled by God’s love. So look for that conviction. Another thing to look for, and you’re going to need, is courage. And ask God, “God, give me boldness. Give me courage.” It’s not that feeling scared is totally going to go away. There’s going to be times where you still feel very scared, but God’s boldness and courage is going to be greater than that feeling of being scared. So conviction, courage.
Another one is compassion. Some people have truth but no love. We need truth and love. Your purpose involves loving people, loving your neighbors, nothing greater than love. So a lot of compassion with your purpose. Another C is collaboration. You can’t do it all alone, so find some people with a shared passion and commitment, and then do it with them. This collaboration, it’s going to bring out the best. So those aspects, because some people say, “Well, what does purpose… What does it look like?” Think about those things. Clarity, God’s going to give you clarity, conviction, compassion, and love for other people. There’s going to be collaboration involved.
And when you think about how God’s shaping your purpose, today, right now, if someone said, “What’s your purpose?” How would you answer that in one sentence? Spend some time and think through, how would you answer that? What’s your purpose? The general purpose; love God, love people. But what’s your specific, personal purpose? And it’s a journey and a discovery process to enjoy. See, I believe the more you step into your purpose, it’s linked to empowering other people who are going to step into their purpose. When Moses said yes to God, he empowered more people, and he raised up more people, and it’s going to be a multiplication. That’s God’s design. So, your purpose is linked to blessing other people, and part of the blessing that they’re going to receive is being inspired. And as you set the example, they’re going to step into their purpose even more. And your purpose is linked to their purpose, because purpose is not just individual, there’s a community aspect to purpose.
So today, again, what have we covered? I want to recap this for you. Presence and purpose are together. They’re not isolated or compartmentalized. And don’t say my way, don’t say no way, say yes to God’s way. It’s about being teachable, listening to God. You are designed to be full of purpose every day. Don’t settle for anything less. You might need to uncover some of those excuses, and then obliterate those excuses, because God doesn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but power and love.
The Holy Spirit’s going to help you reveal purpose, and then confirm and affirm. You’re going to see fruit. There’s going to be people around you who are building you up and saying, “Yes, God made you to do this. You’re going to come alive. You’re going to have energy. You won’t even feel like you care if you get paid or not, in one sense.” Now, money’s important, I’m not saying that, but this is just what you want to do. This is what you’re all about. God has wired you. This is why you’re on Earth right now and not in heaven. There’s purpose. And this purpose is going to be blessing other people locally and globally. It’s going to be using your talents. You’re going to see transformed lives. That’s more important than any position.
And when you see people’s lives transformed, that’s why we’re doing The Bonfire podcast, and it all comes back to this, God’s greatest gift is His presence. And when you linger in His presence, you discover your purpose. And when you embrace that purpose, you realize every day you can live full of purpose. Review Moses’ life. If you want to read the Book of Exodus and dive in, that’s a great scripture, and just start in the Book of Exodus and read through that. Let’s move past excuses. And the bonfire that God wants to create is the embers, not spread out, not isolated, not silent, passive, restricted, intimidated, discouraged, that’s not the picture, but unselfishly coming together in love, in God’s presence, and a bonfire grows. God will start out small, don’t despise small beginnings, but then He will empower, and it’ll accelerate and it’ll expand. It’ll be greater than anything you could ever plan. Your greatest purpose is far beyond what you could plan, because God’s thoughts and ways are higher.
Thank you so much for meeting up at The Bonfire today. I’ve enjoyed our time together. If you could rate, comment, subscribe, share this with other people, I’d really appreciate it, because what we want to do is build up the community. We want to grow in our faith, seek God’s presence, and the embers come together and God lights the flame, and we want to be on fire for God. We can’t do it alone. We’ve got to come together and we got to rely on God. The Bonfire is all about God’s presence. Look forward to seeing you next week. Thanks again for being part of The Bonfire.