· What does God want me to do?
· What does it take?
· Why should I do it?
I have challenged my church (Faith Community Worship Center) to do these three things in the next week. I believe that if we do these things, they will totally revolutionize our lives and bring the changes that are necessary to draw us to closer to God, as a congregation, than we have ever been before.
· Set aside 15 minutes a day to read a daily devotional and the Bible.
· Make a commitment to attend Bible study.
· Memorize a weekly Bible verse.
Today we are going to look at life's three greatest questions:
· The question of existence: Why am I alive?
· The question of significance: Does my life matter?
· The question of intention: What is my purpose?
These questions are not exactly new questions. In fact, thousands of years ago, Jeremiah, a man in the Old Testament of the Bible, asked God “why am I here?”
Jeremiah 20:18 (NLT)
Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.
Most of us have felt this way before. We have probably asked the “why” question multiple times. God, why do I have to put up with all of these problems? Why do I have so much stress, heartache and grief?
For centuries, sages and philosophers have asked the “why” question: “Why am I here?” and the “what” question: “What is the purpose of life?” People continue to wrestle with these questions, they wonder what’s the purpose of life and is life worth living. We see this in the fact that the suicide rate in our society has gone up. It's now the No. 2 killer of teenage students. You see, if you take God out of the equation, you don't really have very many alternatives.
Where do we find purpose? Most pundits will tell you "look within and you will find your purpose." You know if that really worked, all of us would know our purpose. I’ve tried it and I bet you have too. It’s not there. It takes more than looking within.
Others have sought to find purpose in power, pleasure, fame and fortune. If this were the case, Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Kobain, and whole host of others would still be here. These people and so many of us here today are searching for meaning in things that cannot satisfy.
So, where do we go to find meaning and purpose in life? Most people end up in the self-help section at the book store. I’ve been there. Most self help books say the same thing: "You've got to invent your purpose." You've got to create your own purpose in life.
They all give the same basic approach - discover your dreams, go after your goals, have some ambitions, aim high, believe you can achieve, have faith, figure out what you're good at, never give up, involve other people. That’s all good advice. If you do those things, you will be successful in life.
But being a success and knowing your purpose in life are not the same thing. You can be a raving success in life and still never know, "What on earth am I here for?" What did God put me on this earth for?
You see, the purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment. It's far greater than your own happiness. Even your own peace of mind. You were made by God and you were made for God and you were put here for His purposes. Until you understand that, life is not going to make sense.
Okay, why does God want us here? Why are we alive? Why are we on this planet? Is there a reason? This is what Proverbs 16.4 says:
The LORD has made everything for his own purposes ...
Now God has never made anything without a purpose. Every rock has a purpose, every plant has a purpose, every animal has a purpose and if you're alive, you have a purpose. Over the next forty days, you will discover that God has five purposes for your life. Over the next forty days, you will be reminded over and over that God loves you and you were created to be loved.
Yes that’s right. God wanted to create something to love and so He created you. He didn't need you. He wasn't lonely. But He made you in order to love you. He didn't need you, He wanted you. And before we can talk about anything else, you have to understand this is what on earth you're here for - to be loved by God.
The Question of Significance
The second key question of life is the question of significance. Many of you have pondered the question, “Does my life matter?” Isaiah asked this question in chapter 49 verse 4.
.... my work all seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose at all....
You were made for meaning, and if you don't have a meaning and purpose in your life and you don't know why God put you on this planet, life doesn't make sense.
Most people live on one of three levels.
The Three Levels People Live On
The first level is the barely getting by. People just exist from week to week. They are not living. They just put in their time for the weekend. They are just surviving.
There is another group of people who have taken a step forward and they are living at the success level. This is where most Americans live. By the world's standards, you've got it made. You've got a comfortable living compared to the rest of the world. You have possessions, you have freedom, you have good health and you may have prestige and you may be quite successful.
But today there are a lot of books coming out that say things like, "If I'm so successful, how come I don't fill fulfilled?" The reason is, it takes more than success and it takes more than status to satisfy.
There’s another level of living that is called the Significance level. To live on this level, you must go through three things:
· Know the meaning of life,
· Know that you matter to God,
· Know God's purposes for your life and you're living them out.
Look at these verses from the Bible:
GOD who made you has something to say to you; the God who formed you in the womb wants to help you. Don't be afraid.
God made you and He wants to help you. Stop living in fear, but trust him with your life.
Is God playing games with us? Is God intentionally trying to confuse us? Does He keep us in the dark so we don't know why we are here? No, not at all. God wants you to know how much you matter to Him. God wants you to know the meaning of life. He wants you to know His purposes.
If you just stay with us the next 40 days, we're going to talk about that. Unlike the fruit fly, which does only live 24 hours, God has extremely long-range plans for you. What we will talk about over the next forty days will not only impact your life now, but it will influence you into eternity. God's purposes are eternal.
This life is the warm-up act, this is the dress rehearsal. There is another life just beyond the bend. One day your heart will stop beating and that will be the end of your body, but that's not the end of you. You're far more than a body. You were made to last forever.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
This life is not all there is. You are going to spend far more time on the other side of death, than you do on this side. Life is preparation for eternity. Over the next 40 days, we are going to talk to you about how you prepare for the future. You will find the key to the meaning of life, and that is, when you realize that life is preparation for eternity.
2 Corinthians 5:1
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
So the question of existence - why am I alive? God answers it by saying, "I made you to love you, that's why you're alive."
In the question of significance - does my life matter? God says, you matter. You matter so much that I intend on keeping you alive for the rest of eternity. You're no 24-hour fruit fly. You're going to be around for a long, long time.
The Question of Intention
So then comes the third question: the question of intention. What’s my purpose? What on earth am I here for? And that's what we're going to spend the next couple of weeks looking at.
God made you for a reason, and He made you for a purpose. The only way you're going to know your purpose is first looking to Him.
If you don't know something's purpose, it is likely to be misused or abused. Do you want to know why there are so many abused people today? Because we don't know our purpose. When you don't know the purpose of something, it is likely to be misused, or abused. That's the first point.
Now here's the second point, the only way you're going to know what some things are is either
· You talk to the inventor of it or the creator of it, or
· You read the owner's manual.
You will never discover the meaning of life by listening to philosophers, because even the best ones are just guessing. You've got to talk to the creator and look in the owner's manual. It's the only way you will ever know your purpose in life.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
In the beginning God created. It all begins with God. It all starts with God, it continues with God, it ends with God. "In the beginning, God created."
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Do you want to understand the meaning of life? Do you want to understand your purpose of life? You find your purpose by getting to know God. It all starts with God. The more you get to know God, the more you're going to understand the ways and the wisdom of God and the more you're going to understand the meaning and purpose of life.
You're not going to learn it on some talk show. You're not going to learn it in some séance. You're not going to learn it reading tea leaves, your horoscope will not tell you . You're not going to learn it going to a seminar. The only way you're going to learn the meaning of life and your purpose in life is to get to know God. It all starts with God, because it's all about God. "In the beginning, God." It's all about God.
Understanding God's purposes for your life does take time. It's not just give it to me quick, and it's over. That's why we're going to take the next few weeks actually 40 days. to look at God's purposes for you.
You may be asking, why 40 Days? Well, the Bible is very clear that God considers "40 days" to be a spiritually significant time period. In fact, in the Bible, any time God wanted to prepare people for His purposes, He took 40 days. For instance:
· Noah's life was transformed by 40 days of rain
· Moses' life was transformed by 40 days on Mount Sinai
· The spies were transformed by 40 days in the Promise Land
· David was transformed by Goliath's 40-day challenge
· The city of Nineveh was transformed in 40 days
· Jesus was empowered for ministry by spending 40 days in the desert and the disciples were transformed by 40 days with Jesus after the resurrection.
The next 40 days are going to transform your life. Today, I want you to make a commitment with me to embark on a journey that will change our lives.
We are all at different stages in our spiritual journey. Some of you are seekers, and you're saying, "I'm not even sure I buy this, but I'm intellectually honest enough to check it out."
Some of you are brand new believers. The next forty days are going to help you start your Christian journey off right.
Some of you are what I call "stumblers." You say, "I call myself a Christian, but I'm not really very close to God. And I've been really, honestly, living for my plans and not God's." Well this 40 days is the time to come home.
Some of you are strong believers, and you're going to go deeper with God than you've ever gone before and you're going to bring others along, too. Regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey, look at this last verse.
It makes no difference who you are or where you're from -- if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.