Sunday, November 26, 2006

Serving By The Will of God

In his "Living Your Life on Purpose" sermon this morning, Dr. David Jeremiah encourages us to ask ourselves a very pertinent question.

He started the sermon by pointing out that much of society may not recognize when they are in the midst of "flying upside down" in this world. The speed at which society functions today can cause people to not even recognize what it means to be flying "right side up."

With secular society dictating so much of what we are to think, choose, and believe; especially via the media, even Christians can fall into a trap of not putting up any resistance to the anti-God forces around us. Years of inaction and/or disinterest in what is going on in the secular world around us can cause much apathy, as well.

But we must ask ourselves, is this what God wants of us?

There was a survey done and the question was asked, "If you could ask God any one thing and get an immediate answer to that question, what would be your question?"

The number one answer might surprise you. The question brought up most often was:

"Why am I here?"

What is my purpose for life?

What am I supposed to be doing?

Dr. Jeremiah then mentioned that when he was 17 years old, his dad gave him the following "life" verse:

Acts 13:36 - For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: (bold mine)

The emphasis from this verse that was placed upon the boy from his father were the words "served his own generation by the will of God." Obviously, it had an enormous impact upon his life because Dr. Jeremiah is a living example of that kind of calling!

How do we learn to do what God tells us to do and thus, live our lives for Him? By knowing Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible.

The true joy of life is being used for a purpose greater than ourselves and for a purpose that is recognized for advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Jeremiah gave four examples of individuals who lived their lives on purpose. Two are from the Old Testament and two are from the New Testament. In each case, they lived on purpose and God used them to make an incredible impact on those around them.

I. Daniel - The Power of Purpose

You can read the details in Daniel Chapter 1, but briefly, Daniel and three friends where captured by the Babylonian king for the purpose (the king's own perceived purpose) of being representatives to the king. He tried to brainwash them. He thought that these Jewish boys could have their thinking changed to Babylonian society "thinking" and they wouldthen serve as a good "object lesson" for those already in captivity. In Daniel 1:7, we find that the first method leading them to such brainwashing was to change their names.

Dan 1:7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.

Daniel's name was changed to a pagan god-like name that pointed to the worship of Baal. His first test was that he was offered food from the king's table. Daniel knew that the food wouldn't be kosher. This would be his first temptation to violate the law. The wine served at the table was typically offered up to a pagan god which would have violated Daniel's covenant with the One True God.

Take a look at Daniel's reaction:

Daniel 1:8 - But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

What was the very first thing that Daniel did?

He purposed in his heart!

He refused to be led into violating the Law of God!

He refused to let worldly wisdom and a powerful king steer him in the wrong direction...away from his covenant to serve by the will of God.

He was young at the time (so don't let anyone tell you that you are too young to be used for God's purpose!) but he purposed in his heart first, in order to keep the covenant between himself and God going.

He could have taken the easy way. He could have succombed to the wishes and brainwashing of the king for several reasons:

1. Because he was a minority.
2. He was away from home and his culture.
3. If he disobeyed the king, he could have been killed! But Daniel would not submit to the lifestyle of the pagan world!

It is estimated that Daniel was between the ages of 14 - 18 years old. Daniel, the dearly beloved, played a huge role in God's plan!

In 2 Chronicles 12 we have a different story about a different man (Rehoboam, who became king) and his decision to live his life opposite of the Lord's will. In verse 14, we see his first mistake and how evil prevailed in his heart and life because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD:

2 Chronicles 12:14 - And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.

What do these lessons tell us? We need to step back and decide to be honoring to God and make a difference in this world...or not. We've got to make God's purposes the center of our thinking!

II. Ezra: The Preparation of Purpose

Ezra is known for the book by his name as well as portions of Nehemiah and Chronicles. God used the scribe Ezra to illustrate how to lead the people. Ezra's story includes how after 70 years, he came to lead the people into rebuilding the walls and temple. The people there had descended into decadent lifestyles. Ezra's role was to teach the people to worship God as they were called to do before, as God's own people, in the first place.

How did he achieve this?

For seven days, from 6 a.m. to 12 noon, Ezra read the word of God to the people. He, and the audience, stood up for the entire service! Ezra was skilled through the Holy Spirit's leading to interpret God's Word for the people and was able to get them to turn themeselves, as well as their culture, in the direction towards God's will for their lives!

How was he inspired to do this? When I share this next verse with you, I will guarantee that you will see a definite pattern developing!

Ezra 7:10 - For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do [it], and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

He prepared his heart!

Do you know of anyone who explodes into purposefulness without first preparing their hearts for the task at hand?

Ezra made the commitment to prepare his heart first. His focus was on the Word of God! Dramatic change took place within the culture because of Ezra's influence!

On to the New Testament examples.

III. Paul: The Performance of Purpose

Paul is often regarded as the most influential man of the New Testament after the Person of Jesus Christ himself! Paul exudes the power of testimony from the transformed life. We all know about his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. But did you know the secret of his influence?

Philippians 3:13-14 tells us exactly what that secret is!

Philippians 3:13 - Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Are those great verses or what! This was Paul's all-consuming goal. It was not just one "high moment" in his life. He made it the core of his life! The decision was made!

2 Timothy 4:6-8 tells us what that decision meant as he approached the end of his life and what it would mean for all eternity.

2 Ti 4:6 - For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

2 Ti 4:7 - I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith:

2 Ti 4:8 - Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

What beautiful verses! Paul got to the end and he could say that he "finished his course." Just as someone running a race finishes the course he was destined to run, so did Paul finish the course of his life that he was destined to run! On his day of departure, what was he most proud of?

Paul was ready to meet God!

We could look at Paul's life and think, "I can't do that." "I'll never measure up."

You may now be thinking that, " yes, God has put me on this earth for a purpose, but right now, I'm so far behind I'll never catch up!" (been there? done that?)

Well, it's never to late. You are reading this post for a reason! I have decided to type it out for a reason! The one central reason that we all need to answer is:

What do you think God wants you to do with your life?

Have you ever gotten around to answering that question? A lot of people haven't. The pressures and responsibilities of this life can prevent us from truly seeking out His will for our lives. Praying can help immensely. It is often where we find out how and where we should be serving God.

IV. The Lord Jesus Christ: The Perfection of Purpose

Jesus knew why he was here. At the tender age of 12, he went to the temple to talk to the rabbis. His parents left him there while they journeyed back home. When they returned to the temple during their search for him, they even began to chide him for being there and not with them! Jesus' reply?

Luke 2:49 - And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Notice the next verse:

Luke 2:50 - And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

Even his own parents didn't understand what he was trying to convey to them!

However, notice the rest of the chapter:

Luk 2:51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.

Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

During the incident where the disciples wanted Jesus to eat food, Jesus said:

Jhn 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Jesus' mission on earth, to finish God the Father's work for him, was even more important than food sustenance!

John 9:4 - I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

Each of these verses describe the fact that Jesus was driven by divine purpose.

All of the temptations (e.g. by Satan in the desert) and all the hostilities hurled at him (the Pharisees etc.) didn't affect him. He had God's purpose in his life and nothing would prevent that purpose from occuring. Jesus never lost his way.

What was Jesus' purpose? He came to die, that he would fulfill the will of the Father and establish the bridge for redemption!

Mark 10:45 - For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Luke 19:10 - For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

John 10:10b - ...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.

At the end of Jesus' earthly existence/ministry, we hear how his purpose was fulfilled:

John 17:4 - I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

We will never have anything close to what Jesus purposed in his life, but understand this... he has given every one of us a work to do!

He has equipped us with gifts, talents, abilities, positions in the work force, a place in the military etc. We are not meant to "just do them." We could go off course that way.

How easy it is for us to be led off course from God's will?

Satan tempted Jesus to abandon his work. How did Jesus refute him? With Scripture! That is the key, people! Knowing Jesus Christ and God's Word is essential to knowing our true, God-given divine purpose in this life!

Oh yes. We can follow other "purposes" in our lives that have nothing to do with God. We can get lost on occasion. Many often do. But we can get back on course! How? It always comes back to the question, "why am I here?"

Realizing that God has a divine purpose for each of us is awe inspiring! But when we forget our purpose for here, it is probably because we took our eyes off of the eternal destiny and goal for our souls!

If you have not kept your mind fixed on God's goal in you life, take a step back and see where God has touched you in your life. I'm sure that we can all list many issues. They would probably include the good, the bad and the ugly issues. But why should we expect heaven on earth? Even Jesus maintained his life's purpose through the suffering he endured (far worse than anything we could suffer) in this life.

The point is that you can discover true purpose in this life through knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!

Turning Point Ministries

I Choose You

Lyrics by Point of Grace

All our mind's attention
All our hearts affection
Every heart-cry, every rhyme
Everybody's worshipping something

All our life's devotion
Has been set in motion
Religions a dozen for a dime
Everybody's worshipping something

'Cause that's what we were made to do

And I choose You
All my attention, affection
And all my devotion's for You
If everybody's worshipping something
I choose You

You are beyond conception
Defying definition
And You knew me before time

Centuries of pagans
Idols fill the nations
But You are Lord to me and mine
Everybody's worshipping something

'Cause that's what we were made to do...oh oh


Before I chose You, You first chose me
I worship You, You alone are worthy

You alone deserve it-all of my worship
Lord I choose You


Faultline USA said...

Thank you for your always inspiring thoughts. I am particularly drawn to the question:“Do you know of anyone who explodes into purposefulness without first preparing their hearts for the task at hand?” That is such a good question. You provided the answer in Pauls’ experience in Philippians 3:13 – “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” “. . .not myself to have apprehended . . .” Of course, God apprehended Paul! God does have a purpose for each of us but we must prepare ourselves in prayer by asking God for forgiveness and direction and we cannot prepare or move ahead unless we are “ Forgetting those things that are behind!!!” Here’s a good point for me to stop and contemplate for the day.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Faultline USA,

Yes. I thought the same thing when I heard Dr. Jeremiah ask such a question during his sermon! As you stated, "here's a good point for me to stop and contemplate for the day."

Me too. It is a point that I need to continually contemplate, day by day, because the routines and demands of everyday life can take us off course on what I should be doing and of what is truly the purpose that God has planted within my own heart.

Isn't it true that much of what we do is first prepared in our hearts with regard to God and His will? Then, it is also a matter of motivation.

That's the way that I feel about the current culture war struggle going on between traditional warriors and the secular-progressives who want a totally different kind of America; mostly devoid of the mention of God or Jesus Christ.

Fighting such an ideology as the S-P's want to instill into the minds and hearts of our generation has been my goal over the past several years. It started with my website, then advanced to my discussion forum, now has further advanced through this blog.

I will be preparing a post about one segment of that culture war very soon.

Thanks for coming over and commenting!