Have you ever asked yourself, what is
my purpose, why am I here, why was I born, why was I created?
Many folks ask these questions, if not publicly certainly
privately. And I think most people at some point throughout
the course of their lives have asked questions such as these,
I know I have.
Today we begin a four-week series of
messages focused on helping us discover our life's purpose. I
believe if we better understand what God's purpose is for us
as individuals, and then as a community at large, it will be
easier for us to follow Christ, it will be easier to deal with
the things of this world, it will bring a new excitement to
our lives, and it will keep the fire of hope burning in our
Today I want to begin this 4-week
journey by stating up front, that life is not about us. The
past couple of weeks you've heard me use the phrase a couple
of times, "It's not about us." Well today I want to explore
that a little more as we begin to discern what our life's
purpose really is then.
Rick Warren has written a book
entitled, The Purpose Driven Life, which I have read and will
use as one of my resources throughout this sermon series.
So lets begin with the idea that life
is not about us, meaning life is not about our personal
gratification, our peace of mind, or our happiness. Life isn't
about our family, our professions or jobs, our goals, or our
dreams. My goodness, what else is there? Why were we created
and what is our purpose?
The quick answer to this question is
that God created us, and we are created for God's purpose.
Nobody asked us if we wanted to be born, but in his infinite
wisdom God has created a mosaic of his kingdom, and in that
mosaic there is a hole, a hole for each of us, a hole God
created for us to fill. God created you and me to fill this
special hole, thus making his kingdom more complete. You might
remember two years ago the confirmation class created a
mosaic, a puzzle if you will, that was incomplete unless they
each fit their piece of the puzzle in the special slot
designed specifically for them. Well the same is true of the
kingdom of God, we each have a special hole to fill, we each
have a purpose.
We heard in our reading from
Colossians this morning these words, "For by God all things
were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and
invisible…all things were created by God and for God."
So to find our true purpose in life we
need to stop looking within ourselves to find the answer, but
rather turn to God, the God who created us. It's only in God
that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our
purpose, our significance, and our ultimate destiny. Trying
another path to obtain this understanding leads to a dead end,
or at best short-term satisfaction.
Many people try to use God for their
own self-actualization, but that's just the opposite of the
natural order. We were made for God, God wasn't made for us.
So life isn't about using and asking God to help us with what
we feel is our purpose, rather life is about letting God guide
us and use us for his purpose.
So if this is the case, how do we
discover the purpose for which we were created? And to further
complicate this process we are all different so my purpose is
probably different than your purpose. Also, throughout our
course of life our purpose may change, God may have multiple
plans for us.
To begin, we have two options we can
choose from to accomplish this task. Our first option is
speculation, which is the option most people choose. We
speculate on what the meaning of life is based on books,
discussions with friends, our own reflections, and so on. And
sometimes we deal with our life on a trial and error basis. We
try something, if it doesn't work or seem right we try
We all probably know people who live
their life trying different things, simply seeking their
purpose in life. Or perhaps, some of us here have tried
different things trying to figure out how we belong in this
creation. I know I have been on several journeys myself
seeking purpose and understanding.
The second option we have for
discovering the purpose of life is revelation. We can turn to
what God has revealed about life in the Bible. The truth is
the easiest way to determine how something works, or what its
purpose is, is to ask the creator of it. Well the same is true
of discovering life's purpose; we need to ask God, our
creator, what our purpose is. The Bible is our owner's manual
and explains why we are alive, how life works, what to avoid,
and what we can expect in the future. And the Bible is very
clear that there are five purposes to our lives. Today we will
explore the first one, which is we were planned and created
for God's pleasure.
The moment we were born into this
world, God was present to witness his miracle. God wanted us
alive, and our birth gave him great pleasure. The truth is God
didn't need to create us, but he chose to for his own
enjoyment. We all exist for God's benefit, his glory, his
purpose, and his joy.
Now intellectually I understand this,
but the one thing I struggled with is that it also sounds
self-serving, and I never envisioned God as a self-serving
being. God creating us for his pleasure sounds so
self-serving, doesn't it? Somehow it makes God sound like a
slaveholder, or a caustic ruler. But as I reflected on this a
while, I realized I was letting my human understanding of
providing pleasure define what God was doing.
In reality by being created for God's
joy and purpose, God is telling us how important and valuable
we are to him, not as servants or puppets, but as beings able
to have a relationship with God. If God wanted slaves or
puppets God would have created robots with no ability to
reason or think.
The fact we were created for God' joy,
benefit, and purpose tells us that to God we are significant
and are valuable enough that God wants to keep us for all
eternity. The Bible says, "God destined us for adoption as his
children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure
of his will." (Eph 1:5)
One of the greatest gifts God has
given us is the ability to enjoy pleasure. He wired us with 5
senses and many different emotions so we can enjoy life to its
fullest, not just to endure and experience it. We are created
in the image of God, God enjoys life, and so as his creation
we also are created to enjoy life.
You know God has emotions too. The
Bible tells us that God gets jealous, he grieves, he feels our
deepest pain, and he feels compassion, pity, sorrow, and
sympathy. God also feels joy, rejoices, laughs and gets
pleasure. So as God expresses emotions we too, by virtue of
being created in God's image, are able to experience emotions.
The act of bringing pleasure to God is
called worship. Anything that we do that brings pleasure to
God is an act of worship. And worshiping God takes many
different forms. Worship isn't just music, it's every aspect
of a worship service and beyond, it's anything done to bring
God glory and praise. Martin Luther once said, "A dairymaid
can milk cows to the glory of God."
How is it possible to do everything to
the glory of God? The answer is, by doing everything as if you
were doing it for Jesus and by having a continual conversation
with him while your doing it. This is also the secret to a
lifestyle of worship - doing everything as if you're doing it
for Jesus. Think about a time when you fell in love with
someone, I mean head-over-heels-I -can't-live-without-you kind
of love. Didn't you think of that person constantly? A minute
didn't go by that you didn't think about or talk about that
person. You just knew they were created to be with you. And
you made sure everyone else knew that to, whether they wanted
to know or not. You know what I'm talking about don't you?
Well by constantly thinking and
talking about this person you were abiding in their love. We
need to fall in love with Jesus in the same way, and abide in
his love as well. Then you can't help but be in constant
worship of God.
Next time you're folding clothes,
making a meal, cutting the grass, or tending the garden, talk
to Jesus, or sing a favorite hymn. Worship God in what you do
in a way that appeals to you. And you know what when your
worshiping God in this manner the task your performing seems
to go all the faster, no matter how tedious it was when you
Have you ever wondered what makes God
smile? Well since the first purpose of our life is to please
God, than one of our most important tasks is to figure out how
to make God smile. The Bible says in Ephesians "find out what
pleases the Lord and do it." (Eph 5:10) And fortunately the
Bible gives us a great example of a life that pleases the
Lord, in the story of Noah.
In Noah's day the world had become an
immoral mess. Folks were living to please themselves rather
than God. God was really ticked off because he couldn't find
anyone interested in him; they were only interested in
themselves, so he began to regret creating humanity. But
finally one person did emerge as the one who could make God
So God basically said, I'll start all
over again with Noah's family. The truth is, because Noah and
his family brought pleasure to God, you and I are here today.
Without Noah we may never have been created. Noah was blessed
because he made God smile. And from Noah's life we learn the
five acts of worship that brings a big 'ol smile to God's
face. ˘ Loving God more than anything else ˘ Placing our whole
trust in God ˘ Obeying God in the details of our life ˘ Using
our God given gifts and talents in a Christ-like way in all
aspects of our lives ˘ Giving thanks and praise to God always
because we know our purpose in life
In the days following Noah, God also
brought forth a remnant of good and faithful people several
times and saved them from the wicked world. We see this played
out again in the words of Jeremiah, which were read this
morning. God declares that he will gather a remnant of the
faithful, he will place shepherds over them and they will no
longer be afraid. Those, whose purpose is to love the Lord,
and to please him, will be protected for all eternity.
Another way we bring pleasure to God
is by becoming good friends with God. God wants a relationship
with us. Yes God is our creator, redeemer, sustainer, judge,
savior, and so on, but mostly God wants us to be our friend. I
reminded of the hymn, "what a friend we have in Jesus." "All
our sins and grief's to bear! What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer." As we receive Communion this
morning Rachel (Shiela) will play this hymn for us. And I
invite you to reflect on the music as you wait or as you
receive the bread and juice, the body and blood of our friend
In the Garden of Eden we get a first
glimpse of what God's ideal relationship with humanity was
meant to be. Adam and Eve enjoyed an intimate relationship
with God. They walked and talked with God. There were no
religions, rituals, ceremonies, or worship services, just a
simple loving relationship between God and the people he
We were created to live in God's
continual presence. But after the fall, that ideal
relationship was lost. And we can see in the Bible, during the
Old Testament times, where only a few people had the privilege
of friendship with God: Abraham and Moses were called friends
of God, David was called a man after God's own heart, and Job,
Jacob, and Noah had intimate friendships with God. But as you
read the Old Testament, fear of God was more common than
Well our friendship with God today is
made possible only because of the grace of God and the
sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Knowing and loving God is our
greatest privilege, and being known and loved is God's
So how do we foster a relationship, a
friendship with God? We need to be in constant conversation
with God. We will never grow close to God just by attending
church once a week, or by doing devotions every day. These are
all important experiences, but a friendship with God is only
developed by sharing all our life experiences with him.
Everything we do can be quality time with God if we invite him
to participate, and if we stay aware of his presence.
Prayer is one of our key
conversational tools. Pray as often as possible, not some
formal prayer, just have a conversation. I find myself talking
to God in the car, when I'm cutting the grass, or just walking
around the neighborhood. Sometimes as I seek conversation with
God I come up with an idea for a ministry, a vacation,
resolutions to a problem, or I get help making a decision.
It's not uncommon for me to say, "Well
God what do you think?" And when I feel I have the answer I
thank God for helping me resolve the question. But ensure your
motive is to communicate with and honor God, not to control or
manipulate God for your purposes, and this is an important
distinction. This discipline, continually communicating with
God, takes time to develop, so early on you may need to have
some reminders posted all around the house.
I have little notes posted in places
that say things like: "Remember it's not about you" "Did you
thank God today" "Your breathing, give God thanks," and other
similar notes. And I try to have some fun with it.
Now having a friendship with Jesus
does require us to do several things: ˘ Being honest with God
about our faults and feelings. God doesn't expect us to be
perfect, but God does expect us to be honest. ˘ Choosing to
obey God in faith, whether we completely understand where God
is leading or not, we are to obey and be faithful. ˘ Desiring
to have a friendship with God above anything else. A
friendship with God is not one of convenience but one of
devotion and commitment.
There is nothing more important in
life than developing a friendship with God. It is a
relationship that will last forever. Paul in affect told
Timothy, "Some of these people have missed the most important
thing in life - they don't know God." (1 Tim 6:21) I know one
thing I am a much happier person knowing I have a friend in
Jesus! So know that one purpose of you life is to please God.
It's not about us, it's about God.
Over my life I have traveled the world
and have met many people from all walks of life. And I can say
that the happiest people I saw were NOT "Professing
Christians," but rather were "spirit-filled Christian's" who
lived to please God.
As you receive Communion today seek
God's friendship, begin a relationship, make pleasing God your
purpose in life, and feel the radiating joy of God's smiling
face come upon you.
Read Part 2 of
Discovering Life's Purpose: "We