Uncover Your Purpose
When you receive Jesus, you will find your purpose.
Old but Not Outdated
Does a religion with 3,500-year-old roots have anything to say to us today? After all, those who wrote the Bible couldn’t have imagined the modern world with DNA sequencing, Blu-Ray players, iPads, smartphones, and cloning. Perhaps we've outgrown Christianity like a sprouting teenager putting on last year’s winter coat and finding the sleeves several inches too short. What do you think?
What is Unique About Christianity?
Many who think they’ve tried Christianity on for size haven’t. Some window-shop but make no purchases. Others settle for faith in a box that’s opened once weekly for an hour or two.
Many attended churches regularly as children but quit before understanding what it was all about.
In July 1990, my father and I packed powdered milk for our fishing trip to Lake Megiscane in Quebec. It had been around the house for a long time but wasn’t aged to perfection! Mixed with water, it would have caused a cat to swear off milk for the rest of his life!
My dad and I didn’t say, “I’m not drinking milk anymore!” We knew the powdered pretender was just that. Although most people in our country profess Christianity, many don’t know what it is or why they believe it.
During World War II, an American soldier was fatally wounded. Minutes before he died, he asked Leroy Eims, a fellow Marine, to help him get right with God. Leroy didn't know what to say to the wounded soldier. He had no idea what to tell him. It was a turning point in Leroy’s life.
Suppose you had been in Leroy’s place. How would you have felt? What would you have said?
Pop the Lid
Although Christianity applies to modern living, many never get it out of the can. A can of waterproofing paint rested on my basement floor less than 10 feet from a frequently leaked wall for at least two years. After I finally applied the waterproofing in April 1998, the wall didn’t leak again for the rest of the year.
Saying that Christianity can’t be applied is very different from saying it hasn’t. Like the paint, when Christianity is used, it works. That doesn’t mean it seals every financial and relational difficulty out of our lives. Sometimes it even brings new problems.
We won’t escape unexpected deaths of loved ones, financial issues, ruptured relationships, etc., this side of the grave, but we know we will never have to face them alone. What problems are flooding through the walls of the lives of the people you know?
Our culture is concerned about the shortage of fossil fuels. We should be, but a more pressing problem is the shortage of love in our homes and relationships. We all desperately need to love and be loved to be emotionally healthy.
Christina Onassis was an unwanted, unloved child. Her father insisted on aborting her. Her mother refused. Christina had the riches that many spent their whole lives pursuing.
Her father frequently gave her fabulously expensive gifts. None of them made her life fulfilling. He named the largest yacht in the world after her. It was one of her least favorite places.
She preferred her parents’ time and affection, but they were short-lived. She spent her whole life looking for the love they didn’t give her. She never found it.
At least four marriages ended in divorce. Her life had no apparent purpose other than looking for love and satisfying her every desire. She died before she was forty, supposedly of a heart attack, but perhaps of a broken heart.
Would you rather be the wealthiest or most loved person in the world? Why? God already loves us! Let’s read Luke 15:1-24 NLT.
1 "Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the religious law Pharisees and teachers complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?
5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later, this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.
15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home, even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.
23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,
24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began."
What is the main point in these three stories? (See especially verses 7, 10, and 24).
Let’s read 1 John 4:7-12 NLT, which describes how God’s love and our love are connected.
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
What is the connection between God’s love for us and our love for others?
Why Am I Here?
The late astronomer Carl Sagan believed we couldn’t discover a purpose for life outside ourselves, so we must make up our own. He also thought there is no Parent to care for us, forgive our errors, and save us from our mistakes. Let’s read John 10:7-11 NLT.
7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.
9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.
Do Jesus’ words support or contradict Carl Sagan? How?
Leo Tolstoy wrote War and Peace. The Encyclopedia Britannica called it “one of the two or three greatest novels in world literature.” In A Confession, Tolstoy described his search for meaning and purpose.
For a time, he drank heavily, had sex with many women, gambled, and led a wild life but found no satisfaction. He inherited money and made a lot through his books but found no fulfillment in wealth. He became world-famous, but that didn’t answer his basic questions.
He looked for purpose in a wonderful wife and thirteen children to no avail. He searched for meaning in his life in the cupboards of science and philosophy but found them bare. After looking in all the wrong places, he realized that Russian peasants, who had none of the finer things he had, found purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Bernard Levin wasn’t a Christian but perhaps his generation's outstanding English columnist. In “Life’s Great Riddle, and No Time to Find Its Meaning,” he confessed that he hadn’t yet discovered why he was born and doubted that he had enough time to do so before he died. He had to know why he was born because he couldn’t accept that it was an accident.
Many people have no reason to live, and we need one. Do you have a purpose that gives meaning to your life? If so, what is it?
Walking in My Purpose
Let’s read John 14:1-6 NLT.
1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
Jesus is the way to the Father’s house. Is that relevant? Why? If he is the truth, what relevance does that have today?
Jesus claims to give eternal spiritual life. Mother Teresa’s vibrant spiritual life sparkled like a diamond underneath her unimpressive outward appearance. Jesus offers us a spiritual life transfusion that reveals itself through attitudes and actions demonstrating love, joy, peace, putting up with others, gentleness, faith, goodness, strength under control, and self-control. The characteristics of Jesus’ life are called the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.
Prisoners No More
Let’s read John 8:31-32 NLT.
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
What sets people free?
George Hunter III asked believers who did not come from Christian families, “From what, if anything, did Christ set you free?” Almost all of them could point to something.
Some found freedom from a life governed by rules.
Others from an aimless way of life without restrictions. Some had escaped the negative influence of their peer group.
Or some belief system. Or idolatry. Some were freed from guilt. Others from sin's grip on their lives.
Some had diseases that were healed. Some were set free from emotional problems like worry. Many found victory over a too-low or too-high opinion of themselves. Some escaped the bondage of addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.
The haunting memories of child abuse were erased for some. Many no longer feared death or the future. Some were released from the chains of self-centeredness, envy, jealousy, hatred, prejudice, or the need to control everything. Jesus changes lives.
Do you know anyone who doesn’t have at least one out-of-balance area in their life? What are some addicting and enslaving influences in the lives of people today?
God's Assignment for Your Life
At one time, I didn’t understand the life that Jesus offered. My parents took me to church when I was a small boy. By the time I was a college freshman, I had considered myself morally superior to most people.
I took pride in never smoking or using alcoholic beverages. I knew much about the Bible and spent thousands of hours riding church pews.
One thing I didn’t have was Jesus’ life. My purpose was to excel in sports and school to win the love and acceptance of others.
The thought of dying scared me. A cloud of guilt hung over me. I believed in heaven but was unsure I’d go there when I died.
The preachers and church leaders in my church told me repeatedly that Jesus had died on the cross to pay the penalty for my moral and spiritual imperfections. The words didn’t make sense to me. I considered Jesus’ death a down payment on my passage to heaven, and I believed the good things I did were my regular payments.
Let’s read 1 John 5:11-13. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. The one who has the Son also has eternal life.
After hearing those verses in the fall of 1968, I understood I didn’t need to make regular payments. Jesus had paid the penalty for my moral imperfections in full. I received a spiritual life transfusion when I trusted in Jesus’ sacrifice alone to give me the right standing with God.
Because God loved and accepted me as I was, I wanted to do what pleased Him. Love, little by little, began to displace fear as a dominant motivator in my life.
My fear of death vanished. God lifted the weight of guilt for my moral failures when I trusted Jesus’ death as payment in full. I was assured I’d go to heaven because I could trust Jesus and His promises. The new life I received wouldn’t allow me to relate to God or others in the same old ways.
I felt a twinge of conscience after talking negatively about people who weren’t present—something I’d done repeatedly for years without thinking twice about it. God convinced me that my language needed attention. The blue language was a symptom of the anger and desire for control that swirled within me.
Gradually I saw improvement. Little by little, God’s love for and acceptance of me freed me to love and accept others. I slowly developed a strong desire to serve others that I didn’t have before the fall of 1968.
My goal was to know Jesus better and help others understand Him. Working toward that goal brought a measure of fulfillment I’d never known when doing my own thing.
Are You Satisfied with the Life You're Living?
Let’s read the description of the life Jesus offers in Galatians 5:22-23 again. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.
What scares you about a life with these characteristics? What attracts you?
You can find purpose through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Continue to find out more about your purpose in life, relationships, and the church.
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