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Showing posts with label The Purpose Driven Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Purpose Driven Life. Show all posts

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.


Monday, March 23, 2015

3. Get Rid of Distractions

Copyright March 16, 2015 by Chris Mullis
John 2:13-16

            Life is hectic.  There are so many demands on our attention.  Work demands our attention.  Telephones ring.  Kids need to be fed and shuttled to and from school and practice.  The church and PTA need volunteers.  We have appointments to make and deadlines to meet.  All these distractions make it difficult to focus on what’s really important.
            God knew our lives would be hectic.  That’s why He gave us a special day to rest and worship—the Sabbath Day.  In the beginning, the Sabbath was on the seventh day—Saturday—for on the seventh day of creation in Genesis, God rested.  But Jesus rose from the grave on a Sunday, which came to be called “The Lord’s Day.”  And it didn’t take long for almost all Christians to choose Sunday as their primary day for worship.
            So we come here to the “Sanctuary,” a place that is safe and holy, a place designated to worship God.  We seek to forget the cares and concerns of the world for a time and focus on Christ.  And as we do, we hope to find some clarity about what’s really important in life so we go back out into the hectic world centered and balanced once more.
            Many things distract us—things that aren’t really important, things that lead us astray, things that might be good, but just are not right for us at this time.  Most of us don’t take time to examine our lives close enough to determine what our priorities are.  So today I want to focus on getting rid of distractions in your life and focusing on the priorities God has set for you.  Let’s go to the Bible and look at a time when Jesus got rid of the distractions in the Temple.

John 2:13-16
13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.
  • Jews all over the world in Jesus day dreamed of going to the Passover celebration in the Jerusalem Temple.  People came from all over the world.  It was not uncommon to have over 2 million people in the holy city for the Passover.  Throngs of people hoping to worship God on this sacred occasion.  Yet when they arrived,  they found a ruthless system designed to exploit them.  Every man 20 years and older had to pay a Temple tax, which was about a day and a half’s wages for the average man (roughly $150 by today’s standards) [i].  The money was used for the upkeep of the Temple and ongoing construction projects.  That’s not so bad.  It did take money to maintain the Temple.  But it got worse, because the tax couldn’t be paid in foreign money. The Roman, Greek, and Egyptian coins most people carried had to be converted to Temple money—the Shekel.  There were money changers stationed all over the Temple for this purpose and each one charged for their services.  What it all boiled down to is it could cost you an additional $100 just to change your money to the right currency!  It angered Jesus that such a heavy burden was laid upon these already poor, working class people.
15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
  • As if the exorbitant fees of the money changers weren’t bad enough, it got even worse.  You see, most people visiting the Temple would need to sacrifice an animal during worship.  If you were poor, you could buy a pair of doves to sacrifice for about $100 if you bought them outside the Temple (or you could bring your own).  But all animals had to be inspected by the Temple authorities to make sure there weren’t any blemishes (and it cost $25 to get the inspection).  And (who would’ve guessed) almost all animals bought or brought from outside the Temple would inevitably fail inspection.  Not to worry though.  You could buy a replacement inside the Temple—at an additional cost.  The same pair of doves that cost $100 outside the Temple cost $1,875 inside the Temple[ii]! (And you thought the markup on movie theater popcorn was bad!)
  • And of course all this buying and selling and the inevitable arguments and angry people being ripped off was an unbearable distraction to worship.  And it took place in the Temple in the court of the Gentiles—which was the only place Gentiles were allowed to worship God.  Jewish people had other places to worship, but Gentiles only had this raucous outer courtyard in which to pray.  Jesus was filled with righteous anger and he chased everyone out.
Distractions and Purpose
            Our world is full of distractions and if we’re not careful, our lives can become consumed with things that have little or nothing to do with why God put us here.  Like the noisy, busy money changers and livestock sellers in the Temple, these distractions rob us of our time and money—something of which we already have too little.  Perhaps it’s time to purify our lives just as Jesus cleansed the Temple.  You have to decide:  Do you want to waste your precious resources on things that ultimately aren’t important or do you want to spend your time and money on things that really matter?
In 2002, Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California, wrote an amazing book called The Purpose Driven Life that lays out the 5 main purposes for your life.  If you aim for these, you will do things that matter and you will find great fulfillment as you live out God’s purposes for your life: [iii]     
1.     You were made to worship God.  You weren’t put here for your own pleasure.  You were  How much of your time and money do you spend worshipping God? put here to glorify God, to love Him, and to be amazed by Him.

2.     You weren’t meant to be alone.  You were made to be part of God’s family, where you are loved, accepted, encouraged, and held accountable.  You need good people in your life and they need you.  How much of our resources are devoted to relationships with the family of God, the Church?

3.     You were created to become like Christ.  You are here to learn and improve your character.  This life is an incredible training program to prepare your soul to be the image of God.  Don’t pretend to be perfect.  Be real about your shortcomings and be willing to work on them.  How hard do you train to become more like Christ?

4.     You are here to serve.  Even Jesus said he came into the world to serve and not to be served.  How much more true it is for you!  It might seem counter-intuitive to find happiness by serving others, but you were designed to serve; and in doing so you will find great fulfillment.  How much of your life is devoted to serving other?

5.     You were made for a mission—to tell people what Jesus has done for you.  Jesus commanded us to do this and promised to help.  You don’t have to be a preacher or Sunday school teacher to do it.  You just have to be honest and share your experience.  If Jesus has changed your life, tell people.  If he hasn’t changed your life (or if you don’t think he will), why are you even here? 

Examine Your Life
            I think Rick Warren nailed it with these five purposes.  Maybe you don’t agree, but have you ever really examined your life to see what it’s all about?  What on earth are you here for?  You have a purpose.  What is it?  And are you doing things that move you closer to your goals or distract you from them?
Most people never take the time to consider these things.  They just float along the river of life, going wherever the current leads.  It’s sad to think of all that could be accomplished if people would just wake up from their slumber and start living out their purpose.  If only people would come alive and choose to live for a higher purpose, the world would be forever changed.

            The violence Jesus demonstrated as he cleansed the Temple often disturbs people.  It upsets our image of Jesus as a meek, peaceful holy man.  We like the Jesus who gently welcomed children and carried lambs in his arms.  Who is this Jesus who angrily chased the money changers from the Temple while cracking a whip? 
            When it comes to things that distract us from God and thus do damage to our soul, we need to be more like the Jesus carrying the whip than the Jesus carrying the lamb.  The story conveys the seriousness of distractions.  They need to be dealt with now.  Chase away those things that rob your life of significance.  Turn over the tables of anything that keeps you from God’s purposes.  Drive away the animals that cannot help you fulfill God’s plan.  Reject a fallen world that tells you to get in line with everyone else that’s wasting their life.  Turn instead to the Lord who created you who wants to free you to live a life full of meaning.  For if you don’t you will surely spend your whole life doing things that don’t really matter and will have no lasting value.  You will come to your end full of regrets, wondering how time slipped away so fast, and lamenting that your life didn’t really matter much.
            Thus far in this series, I have given you 2 challenges:  1) Start in the Gospel of Matthew and read one chapter every day and finish Matthew by Easter.  2) Last week, I challenged you to make a list of all the things you typically do and your motives. 
            Today, I give you a new challenge to help you purify your life.  This week, I want you to prayerfully consider your priorities.  What are you trying to accomplish in life?  What’s your purpose?  Write down the 5 most important purposes of your life.  (A form is included at the bottom of the blog to help you.)  And then for each one, write down things you can do that will help you fulfill those purposes.  Then pray and ask God to help you make these top priorities in your life—the things to which you devote the majority of your time, money, and resources.  Then zealously get rid of anythings that distract you so you will have enough time to do more important things.

            The most important thing you can do to start is ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.  If you haven't done that already, why don't you do that today?  Pray to Jesus and ask Him to forgive you for your sin and for trying to do things you won way.  Ask Jesus to come be the Lord of your life--to be in charge.  And ask Him to lead you and help you follow Him from this day forward.

I Challenge You!
Step One.  List the 5 Most Important Purposes of Your Life:
Purpose 1 _____________________________________________________________________
Purpose 2 _____________________________________________________________________
Purpose 3 _____________________________________________________________________
Purpose 4 _____________________________________________________________________
Purpose 5_____________________________________________________________________
Step 2.  Now, go back and under each purpose list some things you can do to help you fulfill each purpose.
Step 3.  Pray and ask God to help you make these top priorities in your life—the things to which you devote the majority of your time, money, and resources.

[i] William Barclay – The Daily Study Bible Series, the Gospel of John Colume 1 revised edition; page 109
[ii] William Barclay – The Daily Study Bible Series, the Gospel of John Colume 1 revised edition; page 109
[iii] Based on Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life