What Have We Learned?

posted in: Messages | 0
If you are just joining us today, maybe for the chili cook-off after service, or if you are new in the past couple weeks. Today is momentous occasion as many of us have just completed the 40 days of purpose. We, as a church and as our individual Life Groups spent the last 42 days finding out “What on Earth Am I Here For?”
For some, this was nothing new. Many have gone through the Purpose Driven Life before. For others it was their first time and for many it was eye opening. I’ve had the pleasure of reading the stories that some of you have shared with me this past week, and it warms my heart to see what God is doing in our church.
And let me just say this real quick…if you think today is a big deal…then you REALLY NEED TO BE HERE NEXT WEEK! ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A MEMBER!! I cannot stress enough just how important next Sunday is, and no we are not going to be asking for money (I have to clarify that because traditionally when a pastor stresses a particular Sunday, it can generally be assumed it’s going to be the start of some kind of push for funds – that is not what next Sunday is about) SO PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO BE HERE, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A MEMBER AND CARE ABOUT WHAT WE ARE AS A CHURCH AND WHERE WE ARE GOING.
Enough about that, let’s get back to today. Week 8 of 8 of “What on Earth Am I Here For?”
And the theme for today is “What have we learned?” I’m going to do a brief summary of all that we have learned together and also share some of your stories.
So, what have we learned?
1.  It’s all about GOD, NOT ME.  (fill in)
Hebrews 2:10
God is the one who made all things and all things are for His glory.  He wanted to have many children share His glory.
I’ve said this in almost every single service during the 40 Days.  The purpose of your life is far greater than your personal fulfillment.  The purpose of life is far greater than your own happiness.  The purpose of life is far greater than your own comfort or your own success or your dreams or your ambitions or your goals.
The purpose of your life is not about you.
You were made by God and you were made for God Until you understand that life isn’t going to make sense.  God doesn’t exist for you.  You exist for God.
This is a fundamental truth that we all have to learn.
Colossians 1:16
Everything got started in Him and everything finds its purpose in Him.
You’re not going to find your purpose in a self-help seminar, book, or website.   You’re not going to find it on a talk show. Oprah and Dr. Phil dont know!
The only way you find your purpose in life is in talking to the creator who made you.  It’s in God.  You exist for God.  And when you understand this that life’s not really about you does it change everything!
STORY
As a result of following along in the book and attending every week, I have gained such a better understanding of what my purpose is. Although I know I have a long way to go, I know I’m on the right path and it feels great! I have such comfort in knowing that this isn’t it for me…there’s so much more not only to the life I’m living, but beyond. Just knowing that this is only temporary, releases so much stress and pressure. I remember feeling the weight of the world, just lift off my shoulders.
It’s a beautiful thing to finally realize that it’s not all about me. That you and I are not the main characters in the story. That it’s really all about God. Kind of takes some of the pressure off, doesn’t it?
But not only is this life not about me, but about God. This life is also not all there is, nor is it permanent.
2. Life is preparation for eternity. (fill in)
This one, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned every single week. It is the simple and profound answer to the meaning of life: It is preparation for eternity. Our few short years on this planet are only a blink compared to our lives in eternity. But what we do here in this short time will echo throughout eternity.
What happens when you slack off during the workouts and the practices on whatever sports team? Well, you are not prepared for the game when there’s no more time to prepare. And you either lose, or, more likely, you sit the bench while those that did put in the time and effort are out there soaking up all the glory. Well, it’s going to be similar in heaven. The theme is clear throughout the New Testament. We will be judged according to how we live our lives. If you are in Christ, you will not be condemned, but we will be judged – as in the parable of the talents – and will be rewarded or not rewarded according to what we did with the resources God has given us.
3. How we prepare for eternity is by fulfilling our five purposes.
We’ve talked about these again and again.  They’re at the center of what we talked about in The Purpose Driven Life.
Proverbs 16:4
The Lord has made everything for His purpose.
We devoted a whole week to each of these purposes. They are that important. Let’s go over them one more time.
1. PLANNED FOR GOD’S PLEASURE – WORSHIP
It’s not just music. Worship is a lifestyle. The proper form of worship is not about pleasing YOU – it’s about pleasing God. And God is pleased when we live our WHOLE LIFE for Him.
Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. (NIV)
For all that God has done for you, t is only reasonable that we should offer our whole lives to Him. And the great thing about it, is that when we do – that is when we become truly alive. And THAT is what pleases God the most.
This one comes down to a choice. It’s not a specific thing that you do. It’s an attitude of the heart. It’s a daily choice to live for HE – the one who saved me, who died for me, who loves me unfailingly –
It’s choosing to live for HE instead of ME.
And honestly, when you do that. The rest of these come easy.
2. FORMED FOR GOD’S FAMILY – FELLOWSHIP
Fellowship is doing life together in authentic community. It’s one of our two missions here at Reality. We believe – no WE KNOW – that life change happens in true fellowship of believers. We are not meant to do this alone. And it is how we behave as a family, how we treat each other that is the greatest witness to the world of who our God is.
John 13:34-35
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)
And remember this is not the love you see in the world. This is agape love – sacrificial, put others first kind of love.
LOVE IS NOT A FEELING, IT’S A CHOICE.
It’s a choice to treat each other with patience, kindness and so on. And when you get in a community like this, there’s nothing better on earth.
As I said this is a big focus of what we do here at Reality, and it is evident!!
Here are a few things I heard about the family here at Reality…
Joining a Life Group has, in a way, “forced” me to take time for myself (and God) to be part of a small community of Christ followers who instill a sense of togetherness and family. My immediate family is no longer with me, so I am finding new ways to build a closer family through connecting with my “adopted” church family.
I also find that sharing thoughts, ideas, experiences, needs, etc., has allowed everyone to become more aware of each others’ lives, their struggles, their stories, their heartaches, their joys, their successes, etc. We learn to focus on someone else in a personal environment, and we get to share in each others’ struggles and joys. I am getting to know my church family more through fellowship, and I get to pray for specific needs in my church family. AND I get to be held accountable. 🙂
We have grown so much closer as a Spiritual Family. We have learned to be open and transparent with one another as we shared our deepest hurts and needs and have seen some miraculous answers to our prayers for one another – broken relationships being restored, getting unexpected almost immediate answers to prayer needs, feeling the closeness and comfort that our fellow members are praying for and sharing prayers throughout the week with each other. Now we are praying for one another’s unchurched neighbors specifically by name that they might respond to our reaching out inviting them to church with us.
All the pressures of this life can be so overwhelming and simply being part of the Reality family, has helped me in so many ways over the past few years, but this series has brought a whole new light to what I need to be doing.
One thing that I noticed in my years here at Reality is the recent increase in Fellowship.  We are honoring God through loving each other.  I know that if the bottom dropped out right now on something in my life, my church family would be there in a heartbeat, NO MATTER WHAT, and that is a comforting feeling my friend.
FAMILY – That’s what family is supposed to be. Blood family is one thing, but the family of God is where it’s really at!
An YOU and I are FORMED FOR GOD’S FAMILY. It’s one of the reasons we exist.
The first one was more of a choice of the will…
This one requires a little initiative on your part to at least get started. But most people find that once they get over that get-started hump, the attraction of good fellowship now makes it hard to stay away.
3. CREATED TO BECOME LIKE CHRIST – DISCIPLESHIP
We learned that a specific often taken out of context verse does not mean what most think it does. It actually means something even better!!
Romans 8:28-29
In all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.
For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to Him, and He knew who would, should become like His Son.
The “good” that is referred to here is not the absence of trouble. It’s not the comfortable life where nothing goes wrong. Again, its not about you. It’s still about God, and God works all things together for the good of making you like His son, Jesus. Everything that happens in your life is molding you into the image of the one and only perfect human being, the one person who exemplified what a “fully alive” human is, and thus was most pleasing to God.
IT’S ABOUT CHARACTER, NOT COMFORT.
God is building your character, not your comfort level. And when you understand and embrace that, it will give you a whole new perspective on life.  Like this:
I learned through this journey, that the more time I devoted myself to church, and to God, the more mature I became as a Christian.  I learned to trust God, whole heartedly, and when things seemed bad in my life, I began to notice a paradigm shift. I began to stop asking “Why God?  Why did this happen?  Why did this happen to me?”  and began to ask God, “What can I learn from this?  How can this help others that I know? ”  This is a concept that is hard to grasp, but I learned that even when things are bad, that God always, ALWAYS, has a good reason for allowing it to happen.
And that good reason is that He wants you to be prepared for eternity. Remember its training, preparation, practice. God is molding you into a superstar like His son.
Fulfilling this purpose is similar to the first in that it mostly requires a choice on your part. Yes, there are some practices we discussed like Bible reading and prayer – but the most character shaping occurs in response to the trials, temptations, and trespasses that come your way. In those times you have a choice in how you will respond. And that is what makes all the difference.
4. SHAPED TO SERVE GOD – MINISTRY
God didn’t give you all of your talents, your personality, your skills for just your own benefit. You and I exist as a part of something bigger. And if you are a Christ Follower, you are a part of the Body of Christ. And every part of a body has some kind of function.
Romans 12:4-5
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
This is further echoed in
Ephesians 4:16
He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
We serve each other IN the Body of Christ
We serve the world AS the Body of Christ
As a part of a body – like a human body – you have role to play. You are designed to perform a function. You are gifted to perform a function.
Do you know what we call parts of the human body that do not perform their function? A problem!
What happens if you heart decides it doesn’t want to do it’s function? You got a problem.
What happens if your left bicep decides it doesn’t want to flex? You got a problem.
What happens when your bowels stop working? You got a problem!
It’s no different in the body of Christ. If you aren’t doing your part, we have a problem.  A person who is just hanging out and “getting fed” is behaving more like a parasite than an actual part of the body. Along for the ride. Soaking up the resources. Contributing nothing.
Don’t be that.
This purpose, like the others, is vitally important and not to be ignored. Failing at this one is not just bad for you – it hurts the whole body.
We are shaped to serve God. It’s NOT about us. It’s all about Him.
This one is a lot like fellowship. It requires some initiative from you, but once you get over the hump of “I can’t”, or “I don’t have time”, or “I don’t have any skills”, or “I don’t want to” – and you start performing your designed-by-God function – you will find that it is a great JOY to serve the king, and you won’t want to stop.
5. MADE FOR A MISSION – EVANGELISM
The first four purposes have mostly to do with your spiritual maturity and your relationship with other believers. This one is all about others. Specifically, this is about those not yet in the family. We are called by God to spread the good news.
Acts 1:8
You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
We learned that a witness is not an expert at anything other that their own story. You don’t have to defend Jesus, or be a biblical scholar. You just share with others what God has done in your life. I once was lost…but now I’m found. I once was blind….but now I see.
But we also learned that it’s not enough just to TALK about Jesus – you have to SHOW them Jesus in how you CARE. Because..
People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.
It’s hard to hear a lot of talk on a growling empty stomach.
So, as witnesses, we are to do what we can to LIVE a WITNESS of what God has done in us. Care about people the way Jesus did. Meet their needs. Love them with a genuine agape love. And when people see there’s something different about you because you genuinely love people and care for their needs. Then they will want to know why.
1 Peter 3:15
Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you.
And you know what? If you are purposeful in fulfilling the first four purposes – this one will practically be automatic.
  • If you are giving your life to God, surrendering to His will, on a daily basis, in worship.
  • If you are participating in strong authentic fellowship.
  • If you are working toward renewing your mind and letting God mold you into the image of His son.
  • If you are serving God as a functional part of Christ’s Body.
Then you will indeed have a hope inside of you that you can’t get anywhere else, and you won’t be able to hide what God has done in you, and it will effect everyone you meet.
If you are a Christian, a Christ Follower – it is not OK to just keep the eternal cure for sin to yourself. You must share Him with others. Someone shared with you. Do the same.

So, that is what we’ve learned.
1. It’s not about ME – It’s about God.
2. This life is preparation for eternity.
3. How we prepare for eternity is by fulfilling our purposes in this life.
Which are:
1. Worship – Choose to live for HE instead of ME.
2. Fellowship – Loving each other in authentic community.
3. Discipleship – Becoming like Christ in character.
4. Ministry – Serving IN the body and AS the body of Christ.
5. Evangelism – Loving others enough to share Jesus with them.
SO NOW WHAT?
This process started with a question. What on Earth Am I Here For? We have looked into God’s Word and found the answer. So, now what do we do with it?
Start living what you’ve learned.
You have to put it into practice.  It’s true that it’s a lot to take in in 40 days. It goes fast. You may want to dig more. I recommend reading the book again, slower. Study the scriptures he uses.
The truth is that it takes time. It will take each of us our whole lives to accomplish these purposes. Some you will get faster than others. Some will be more or less difficult for each one of us,
but none of these things excuse us from still being accountable to our creator for fulfilling the purposes for which He created us.
Remember, it’s about HE, not ME.
But it’s not like we get nothing out of it.
John 13:17
Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.
We get blessed when we do what God tells us, in fulfilling our purpose. The blessing does not come in knowing the purposes of God.  The blessing comes in doing the purposes of God, putting your hands and feet into action.  It’s doing it.
Ephesians 5:15
Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do.
You now have more responsibility because you know. You are now more accountable because you know. Jesus once said that HE would not judge us but rather the WORDS He said would do the judging. Knowledge is both power and responsibility.
Now, you can’t go back and live a selfish life – a life that is all about ME.  “That was great but now I’m going to go back and live for my retirement.  I’m going to go back and live for success.  I’m going to live for pleasure.  I’m going to live for sex.  I’m going to live for being popular.  I’m going to live for making a lot of money.”
You can’t do that now, because now you know better. Well, I suppose you could…but I wouldn’t recommend it. Now that you know the answer to the question, you can’t just act like nothing ever happened.
And why would you want to? Because along with all the purposes, we have seen over the past 40 days that they all come with great reward – both in the eternity to come and in the here and now. Remember, the greatest pleasure we can bring God is by being a human being fully alive! Who wouldn’t want that?
So, now that you know – you have the opportunity, the tools, and the know-how to live the kind of life that God specifically designed just for you.
And there is simply no better way to live.