Welcome to the first week of this new series: What on Earth Am I Here For?
Over the last five weeks, I took you through a series on the first pages of the Bible. I showed you week after week how it is that you can trust what those pages say, despite what the skeptics and scoffers and even the whole world want you to believe. But my purpose in all of that was not just to show you some interesting scientific and historical facts that prove the Bible to be true. My true aim was to help you see the obvious conclusions you must come to based on what you believe about our origins.
If you buy into the billions of years / big bang / evolution / uniformitarianism mindset then there is only one conclusion you can come to. That you are simply an accident. That your body and brain are just the end result of lots of time and random chance. You are merely a collection of molecules that somehow ordered themselves and came alive, which means that you really are not alive. You are nothing. Your life has no meaning, no purpose, and no value. You will never be significant…ever. And there is no hope for you. All your bad emotions, sadness, fear, anxiety – you’re stuck with them. It’s just how your chemicals work. And the same is true for your children and the people your brain thinks you love. In the end it’s all an illusion and completely pointless. And trying to scrape meaning from it all is like building a sand castle as the tide comes in – it may look pretty for awhile, but it’s still just sand.
Sounds pretty depressing. Well, that is what MUST BE TRUE if the bible is not.
But as I showed you for several weeks, the Bible is true, and that means that you and I are anything but random, anything but worthless, anything but hopeless. The God who created the universe with a word also uniquely and purposefully created you….
This means your life has purpose. Because everything that is intentionally made has an intentional purpose.
And that is what this series is about. What is our purpose?
In case you are joining us for the first time or have been gone for awhile, we are not only beginning a new series, but we are beginning Life Groups as well. And we are all going through the Purpose Driven Life together. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a book by Pastor Rick Warren that has been around for awhile and millions have read it. It’s a daily reader over 40 days that explains the biblical reasons for why it is we exist. In fact, the updated title for the book is “What on Earth Am I Here For?”. Many of you have probably read it before. I’ve read it several times, and it really made an impact on me. Which is why I want to share it with you.
The groups will begin meeting this week, but it’s not too late to sign up for one. I strongly encourage it to get the most out of the next 8 weeks. Because as I preach about this over the next 8 weeks, the groups will be following along and discussing it when they meet. We will all be going through it together.
Today, I am not really starting with the book content but giving you more of a reason why you really should join us in this. We will start reading the book after next Sunday. Also, we are giving out the books for free to everyone who joins a group. If you have the means and would like to pay for one, you can do that in your group, but it truly is free to whoever joins a group. I hope you will consider joining one.
Also, before I continue, I want to make an important point. While this book really is very good and has helped a lot of people, it is no replacement for reading the Bible itself. Yes, this book contains many many references to scripture and all of it is based on scripture, not just opinion. But, there is just no substitute for eating the bread of life – God’s Word directly. I encourage all of you to continue in your daily reading of the Bible and ADD this book. It’s probably 10 or 15 minutes per day, so you will need to plan on expanding your reading/devotion time. Trust me it’s worth it.
With that said, I want you to know that even though I’m speaking about the content of the book throughout this series, I am not preaching from the Purpose Driven Life. I will be preaching from the Bible along the same lines as the book.
I hope that distinction is clear. It’s never adequate to only read ABOUT the bible or something BIBLE BASED. Those are good, but they are no replacement for the real words of God.
- So, why should you join us in this?
- Why does it matter if my life has purpose?
- What if I don’t want to know what it is?
- What if I do know what it is, but I don’t think I can live up to it?
- What if I just want to keep doing what I’ve been doing?
- Isn’t coming to church enough?
- Why is it important to know my purpose?
Those are all good and valid questions. Perhaps what I’m going to say for the rest of our time here today will answer some of them.
As I stated already and explained to you over five weeks of creation talks is that you are created and because of that you have a purpose. Because everything intentionally created has purpose.
But even before you have purpose, you have value.
Everything that is created also has value, especially to the creator. Imagine anything you have made – you don’t make things on accident or without purpose. And anything you make, does it not have value to you because you invested time and energy in making it?
Let’s think about that for a minute. Where does value come from? Is value inherent? No. Something is only as valuable as a person thinks it is. Something may have value to you because you made it. Because you spent a lot of time, energy, emotion, and perhaps money to make it. And the more of that you had to give, the more valuable the thing is that is made.
So, since God is all powerful and created everything with a word – just how valuable could you and I be to Him? Well, a few scriptures can tell us that.
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
Before God made the world. Before Genesis 1:1. As He was making his plans to make all of this, He thought of you and me first. Wow! The infinite, immortal, all-powerful God gave more thought to creating you, than he did to creating the universe. How’s that for value?
Or how about this?
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How many of you knit? Is that a quick or a slow process? How long do you think it takes to knit together a baby…about nine months?
An interesting thing about this process – going to get scientific for a minute – it is generally assumed that your DNA is what makes you the shape and structure that you are. And while that is mostly true, it is also true that every cell in your body has the exact same DNA. Yet, even though that is true, not every cell in your body is the same. You would think that the same DNA would result in the same cells, but it doesn’t. Why is that? It’s called specialization.
Take a look at this video to see how it works.
Cue BODY PLAN VIDEO
Fascinating isn’t it? Do you know what that looks like to me? Knitting.
Think of it. In knitting, you take a ball of yarn – all the yarn is the same, but as you begin to knit it takes shape. Some parts of the yarn are used here, and some of it there, and so on.
It’s almost as if God is literally knitting our bodies together in the womb. Telling each cell what to do. As it said in the video – scientists don’t know exactly how this happens. Could it be that again you can take the bible literally?
Now think about the implications of this. We all know that God is outside of time and space. He is not trapped here like we are. He can see the beginning and the end, which is why he knows all the days of your life. But God also interacts in time. Jesus was born a human and lived for 33 years. He didn’t warp through it. He trapped himself in time and space. Could it also be that God literally inserts himself into time in order to knit us together in the womb? I don’t know this for sure, and I’m sure it could be debated. But what a concept!
Let’s say that it is true. That God literally knits us together. Talk about spending some time doing something. And I imagine God’s time is quite valuable, therefore what God spends time and thought making must have some rather high value.
And maybe you’re thinking of the fact that He must do the same with the animals. Well, not only can we see our value by the effort God puts forth in making us – but Jesus, God in the flesh, actually tells us we are different.
26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?
He says the same of the flowers. You and I, human beings, are quite valuable to God.
But we don’t only know that by the fact that He made us. We also know it by the price He paid for us.
There’s a saying: The value of a thing is the price it will bring. Things not only have value because they are made. They also have value by what someone is willing to give for it.
In our world, art and entertainment is something that is generally of high value. Movies make millions of dollars. Musicians as well. Also, some paintings are worth quite a bit depending on who painted them. Not all of them are for sale, and thus are called “priceless.” But there are some works that have been sold for high prices.
Such as Dora Maar au Chat by Pablo Picasso sold for $111 M in 2004.
Also, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch sold for $123 M in 2012.
Here’s one “The Card Players” by Paul Cezanne sold for $272 M in 2011.
And the most expensive: “Nafea faa ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)” by Paul Gauguin sold for over $300 M this year.
Honestly, only one of those would I want in my house. But, these paintings are ridiculously valuable because at least someone was willing to fork over millions of dollars to have them.
What do you think you are worth?
What price would be paid for you?
Actually, it’s not how much WOULD be paid for you – it’s how much has ALREADY BEEN PAID for you. Before you were even born.
And that price was more than we can imagine.
You and I have infinite value because the infinite God was willing to sacrifice his infinite son just so He could be with you forever.
Basically, it doesn’t get any more valuable than that. You and I have infinite value to an infinite God. Amazing isn’t it. And we didn’t even do anything to deserve it.
Kind of like those paintings. They are really only valuable because of who painted them, and what people are willing to pay for it. Same with us. We are valuable because of who made us, and because of what He paid to have us back.
And because of that high value – you and I do not have the right to waste our lives.
Think about the paintings. They were painted for a reason. They were all created for basically the same purpose – to be seen. To be admired. To be beautiful. A painting kept in a closet for no one to see is not living up to it’s value. It is wasted.
Likewise, as human beings – if we do not fulfill the purpose for which God created us – then our lives are wasted. We may still have value, but what a waste to not do what you’re made to do.
Now that goes for all human beings, but it especially goes for those of us who have accepted the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus offers.
If you are a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, then you do not have permission to waste your life.
1 Corinthians 6
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Here Paul is specifically referring to sexual purity, but the same reason applies to all the things we are to do:
You are not your own. You were bought at a price. And a price too high for us to ever repay.
Jesus paid the ultimate price to have you, and once you are His – you are no longer your own.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
That word ‘confess’ is from the Greek word ὁμολογέω (I actually know how to read this now)
It means “I promise, I agree, I confess”.
The English word “confess” means “to say something true about yourself” often in the context of admitting your guilt.
So here you are not just asking Jesus to forgive you and let you go to heaven, you are making Him your Lord. Your Master. Your King. You are surrendering control of your own life over to him.
If you’ve never done this, or didn’t realize you had done this, that might sound a bit scary. We don’t like submitting to anyone. Maybe you thought salvation was just a get out of hell free ticket.
Well, don’t fret.
There’s a reason why so many completely understand this and do it anyway. Because giving your life to Jesus is way better than trying to run it yourself.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Making Jesus your Lord is not burdensome. In fact He carries your burdens for you.
That concept of the yoke is foreign to most of us, but a yoke is something you put over oxen so that you can harness their power to plow the ground and also so you can control them. Jesus is saying, let me use you. Let me guide you, for I am gentle and humble in heart.
And that statement about the yoke being easy is more like the yoke is custom fitted so that it won’t chaff as you work. In other words, Jesus has a very specific task that is just for you. Fitted just for you. It’s easy and the burden is light.
Doesn’t that sound better than plowing on your own through life? It certainly does to me.
Making Jesus my Lord, my Master, and my King was the best decision I ever made. Not only am I promised heaven when I die. I have a great guide, father, and friend while I still live. And he gives my life meaning and purpose and it is my joy to serve Him.
It’s this interesting paradox – that I am both required to serve Him because I am bought at a price and it’s my joy to serve Him because He is a great master.
I’ve shared with you the joy. Now let me share with you what happens to those who think we can get by with not fulfilling our purpose.
14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
What does this parable of Jesus tell us? Well, who are the characters. The man going on the trip is obviously Jesus and the servants are us. Just as scripture tells us, we are each given certain gifts, abilities, and such. Not all of us get the same, but we are clearly expected to do something with what we are given. In the parable, it was money and they were expected to make more money. That was their purpose. That’s what they were supposed to do.
Then the master comes back and only two of the three did anything with their money. They were commended and given more. But the one who decided to waste his time and do nothing with what he was given is punished.
What does that mean for you and me? Does it mean that if I am a Christian and I don’t live up to my purpose – if I waste my life – that I will not go to heaven? I thought you couldn’t earn your way to heaven?
You are correct. What this parable illustrates is another important aspect of the faith. That a true Christ Follower is one that obeys his master.
Jesus said this several times:
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.
15 “If you love me, keep my commands.”
21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.
23 Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.
24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.
In short, whoever “confesses that Jesus Chris is Lord” will obey their Lord.
But not under your own power! Obeying Jesus is not something you can do on your own. It requires the help of the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul says..
5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.
If you are in Christ – then you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit. Which means that you will desire to please God.
If you are controlled by your sinful nature, and have no desire to please God then it means what verse 9 says “Those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.“
It is undeniable in scripture that when someone becomes a Christ Follower that they cannot help but to desire and do the things that please God because they have a new nature.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!
If that change never occurs – how is it possible that Christ is really in them?
I’m not saying this to scare anyone, but to educate you on the reality of what it truly means to be saved. It is not a one time transaction where you get your free pass and go on your merry way. When Christ comes into your life He fundamentally changes it and you CANNOT be the same. Your life is changed and there is no going back.
And it’s wonderful. It’s forgiveness. It’s freedom. It’s love. It’s joy unspeakable and full of glory. It’s beautiful. And many of you have experienced that. But it is also an obligation to live the rest of your life for your new savior, your master, your Lord. The one who paid the ultimate price to have you.
You are not your own. You were bought at a price. You have been designed and created for a purpose and your heavenly father, the God of the universe expects you and I to do what we are designed to do.
And if you have the Sprit of Christ inside of you then you will desire to do His will too.
Does it mean you will always be perfect? NO.
Does it mean you will never mess up? NO
Does it mean you won’t sometimes want to do things your own way instead of God’s way? NO.
It simply means that instead of being a slave to your old self, you now have a new obligation.
Paul says it specifically just a few verses later:
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.
You see, my friends, IF you are in Christ you are indeed obligated to live for Him. But it’s not a dreary obligation. Not a burdensome obligation. It is a joyful obligation that brings with it only good things. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self Control.
It comes with it the promise that God will never leave you, never forsake you. It comes with a love like a hurricane that you can never escape.
But He will not accept only part of you. He wants all of you. He has great plans for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future filled with hope.
But that all hinges on your cooperation with His plan.
Jesus said it plainly.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
This is why we are going through this. If you are a Christ Follower, you do not have the option of just shrugging off your purpose in life. You are not your own. You were bought at a price. And just “saying” Jesus is Lord is not enough. You have to back it up with action.
If you are not a Christ Follower yet, then hopefully I have shown you that following Him is far better than trying to squeeze meaning out of your life as an accident. And I hope you will consider accepting His forgiveness and making him your Lord.
For all of you, I hope that you will take the next 8 weeks seriously as we discuss what our purpose in life is and where you fit in. If you do, this could completely change your life and ways you cannot even imagine.