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Monday, May 11, 2015

I Have a NEW Purpose!

Copyright May 10, 2015 by Chris Mullis
Mark 16:15-18
           I thought I married a lady named Kelly.  But ever since we had kids, I keep hearing her called by different names.  First it was mama.  But then I started hearing her called other strange names that almost sound like African names.  It started with:  mama-can-I (Mama-can-I have a snack?  Mama-can-I go to my friends house?) And then came Mama-buy-me (Mama-buy-me an ice-cream.  Mama-buy-me that toy.)  And then there another I even use a lot:  Mama-wheres-my (Mama-wheres-my shoe?  Mama-wheres-my car keys?).
             A mother’s roles change throughout her life.  There is the mother of a yet unborn baby trying to do everything she can to nourish the child she has not even met yet.  There is the mother who gets so little sleep because she is taking care of a newborn baby.  But these motherly roles change so quickly.  Children grow up.  Then the mother must find herself as the mother of a teenager or a young adult.  Eventually, the mother may grow older and learn to let her children take care of her more and more.  Some mothers deeply grieve the passing of their rolls.  It must be difficult for a mother who pours so much time and energy into their children at little leagues baseball games and then sees their children grow out of that stage of life.  A mother's identity sometime becomes closely linked to the stage of life they are in with their children and when the role most change their can be an identity crisis.  (We have not even touched on other mothering roles like foster care mothers, step mothers,  mother-in-laws, or mothers who have lost a child.)
            And it's not just women or mothers who define their identity by the roles.  Men’s define themselves as: son, athlete, student, worker, husband, father, provider...  And both men and women are often shaken to their core when their role changes.  They can feel as though they have lost their identity. 
            God wants to give you a NEW purpose that transcends your roles, your stages of life, where you live, how much you earn, your standing in the community, etc.  What is your NEW, transcendent purpose? 

Mark 16:15-18
15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

Explain the Passage
            This passage explains the NEW purpose Jesus gives each of us.  His words are known as the “Great Commission.”  After Jesus rose from the grave, before he ascended to heave, he commanded his followers to preach the Good News to everyone in the world.  The Good News is that God loves us and wants to save us from our sin.  And if people repent and believe the Good News, they will be saved.
The most common version of the Great Commission is found in the Gospel of Matthew, but I really like the way the Gospel of Mark puts it.  Mark is very simple, straight forward, and even blunt.  What Jesus expect is very clear.  Go preach the Good News to everyone.
·       Go – You don’t necessarily have to go far.  Some will go around the world in order to make sure everyone hears the Good News.  But there are plenty of people right here in Dalton (even here in our church, even in our own families) that need to hear the Good News.  Are you willing to go to them?

·      Preach – This doesn’t mean you have to stand up in a pulpit in church and preach.  You have to get up on a soap box on the street corner either.  To preach means to proclaim.  It has been said, “Preach the Gospel at all times.  Use words if necessary.”  You should use words, because they communicate ideas most clearly.  But don’t just stop with words.  Use everything method you can to convey the Good News.      
            This week at the church, we've been hosting students from Coahulla Creek High School in our fellowship hall. They needed a place to take their AP exams. After completing a year of AP studies in various courses, they take the examine. If they score high enough, they can get college credits. As they were coming in Monday morning, I thought 'What can I do to "preach the Gospel" to these students?' The answer was simple. I made a sign to hang on the door as they entered that said "Welcome to Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church. God Loves You! Good luck on your AP exams." You see, you don't have to hit people over the head with a Bible to preach the Gospel. You just help them see how much God loves them.
            Some people don’t feel qualified to “preach” the Good News. If you believe in Jesus, you are qualified to proclaim the Good News, you have the authority because Jesus authorized you.  You are qualified because—if you are truly a Christian—you know Jesus personally and He has made a difference in your life.  You have the right to share what He has done for you.  In fact, no one is more qualified to tell your story than you.  And if you don’t tell it, part of the full testimony about Jesus will be missing.

·       To Everyone – to children, to teenagers, to young adults, to older adults, to seniors, to Mothers and Fathers, to co-workers and friends and neighbors and the strangers you meet in a store.  To people who are easy to like and people who nobody likes.  To gay people, straight people, married people, single people, good people, bad people, and people just don’t care.  To people who look like you and people who look nothing like you.  To people who speak your language and people who can’t understand a word you say.  Everyone includes a lot of people—it’s everyone!

·       Verse 16 – The stakes are very high so Jesus is very blunt.  Anyone who believes the Good News will be saved.  But anyone who does not believe will be condemned.  Heaven or Hell…

            I almost omitted these verses 17 & 18 from our study because I didn’t want you to get distracted from the point of the passage. The point is to Go, Preach, the Good News, to Everyone. But, we need to address these difficult verses because people often misuse them, abuse them, or misunderstand them. Mark says we will cast out demons, speak new languages, handle snakes, drink poison, and heal the sick with the touch of our hands. We don’t have to spend too much time on this. I don’t want you to get wrapped up in these verses wondering if we’re supposed to be doing all these specific miracles. (You know there are “Snake Handling Churches” who have gotten this all wrong and think we need to bring snakes to church. Others like some Pentecostal church think you aren’t a real Christian if you can’t speak in tongues.) The point is when we believe, amazing things will happen.
             For instance: It says we will cast our demons – I have seen men and women cast aside many demons through faith in Jesus—the demons of alcohol and drug abuse, overcoming mental illness, transformations of a selfish, egotistical spirit to one of a caring, giving spirit. Are these not true miracles in themselves? I think they are as miraculous as any exorcism we read of in the Bible. Whether or not we are talking about real demons is beside the point. Talk to anyone who has been freed from any demon—literal or metaphorical—and it won’t make any difference. 
             Do I need to go through this whole list of miracles and explain how we see each of these actually happening? I don’t think I do, but just in case let me touch on a few. Speaking new languages—a couple years ago we took a mission team to El Salvador.  None of us spoke much Spanish and Jason Denson probably spoke the least of all.  And yet, Jason communicated the love of Christ to the people of El Salvador who didn't speak English with a smile, a hug, and a helping hand.  Love is a NEW language.
              And I could go on about the miraculous power of Christ.  how many of us have not sometimes had to handle "snakes" at work--people who wanted to do us harm?  How many of us have visited sick people in hospitals or homes and our presence, prayers, and touch were a healing influence?  Were these not miracles worthy of God's glory?  The point of all this is there is remendous power in Jesus name. And when we follow our God-given purpose, we have all the power of Jesus at our disposal.

Live a Purpose Driven Life
            My hope for you today is for you to recognize this wonderful NEW purpose Jesus gives each of us when we believe and choose to follow Him.  Our NEW purpose begins to drive everything we do.  You will become a better mother, a better father, a more loving wife, a more faithful husband, a better teacher, a better provider, a better employee, a better boss…  You see our NEW purpose goes beyond the changing roles we have in life.  It makes us more devoted in our various roles, but it also frees us to find our true identity in Christ and not in our “titles.”  Whatever we do, we do it as if we are serving Christ and not people.  Furthermore, everything we do becomes an opportunity to love God and love our neighbors as we Go, preach, the Good News, to Everyone.

            Jesus Christ has changed everything.  He left the glory of heaven and came down to this corrupt world.  He lived as one of us; He knows all the good, the bad, and the ugly this life can bring.  He walked faithfully with God while living here on earth and taught us how to follow His path.  In the end, because He loved us so much, He laid down his life on the cross to make a way for us to repent and be reconciled with God.  He died and on the third day, He rose from the grave making NEW life possible—even eternal life in Heaven.
            Today, Jesus invites you to trust in Him--to surrender and let Him be the Lord of your life.  And all who do, He will make them NEW.  He will Give you a NEW heart full of godly desires.  He will give you a NEW mind that thinks like Christ.  He will give you a NEW purpose that guides you to live your whole life full of meaning.  And ultimately, He will give you a NEW destination—even after this life on earth is over, you will be at Home with God in Heaven.
            Today, I have preached the Good News to you.  The stakes are high.  Jesus was blunt.  He said, “Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.”  How will you respond to the Gospel today?  I urge you not to put off your response.  No one knows how much time they have.  It may be that tomorrow will be too late.  Today is the day you need to decide.  Go ahead and take hold of the NEW life and NEW purpose Jesus wants you to have.


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