When we trip over something that we didn’t see, or when we forget something that we need to do, or even when we yawn or sneeze, all of these things and more have something in common:
They are unintentional.
When we are unintentional, things happen to us.
When we are intentional, we are taking responsibility for how we respond to what is happening around us.
Jesus expects us to live intentionally.
That’s why He told us to “seek first the kingdom of heaven and God’s righteousness (Matthew 6:33).”
As well, Jesus taught us to be intentional in prayer, regarding forgiveness:
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” and Jesus explained “if we don’t forgive neither will we be forgiven (Matthew 6:12, 15).”
Jesus said, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you (John 15:4).”
Notice the intentionality of these three statements.
We cannot accidentally seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness.
We cannot unintentionally forgive someone.
We won’t remain in Jesus or abide with him naturally, as the World, our flesh and Satan, himself, does not want this.
We must be living on Purpose.
We must be intentional.
This month’s focus is
“LIVING ON PURPOSE,”
in other words,
being intentional disciples of Jesus.
As a local church body, River of Life is being intentional:
- Last week we had a “Love Your Neighbor” dinner, to which we invited several dozen people, and about one dozen accepted our invitation. J
- We’re INTENTIONALLY reaching out to them with phone calls, emails, physical letters and even visits.
- Last night we hosted a concert to be a blessing the Richmond community, and it was great.
Being intentional is important and good.
As Christians, we can either be intentional or we can be unintentional.
Being intentional takes work.
I thank all of you who worked hard last week helping with the dinner.
We plan to have an outreach to the bus drivers at Moody Middle School on Tuesday, March 14, and it will take work to do this.
WE NEED VOLUNTEERS
To be intentional as a Christian will take work.
I must clarify that work does not save us, but because we are saved, we must work.
God saved us because He loves us, and because He wants us to be productive (fruitful).
I want to be more productive
- as a Christian,
- as a husband,
- as a friend,
- as a citizen and
- as a pastor.
I invite us all over this next month to consider how we can be more productive as we apply ourselves to “Living on Purpose.”
Living on Purpose
Jesus said, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.”
Let’s read more from that part of the Bible.
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
- First Principle: Know Who’s Boss
When we take a new job, we must know who our bosses are.
Whoever has authority over us is the one that we must account to.
If we listen to the wrong person, then we will not necessarily please our boss, nor will we be productive.
Jesus explains the relationship that He and His Father have to us.
He is the Vine and
His Father is the Gardener.
We are the branches.
Knowing is not really enough, though, but it is the beginning.
We must know Him, and we must receive from Him.
This is a hard passage of Scripture, by the way, as it speaks of pruning and separating from the vine.
An unproductive branch, must be removed and a productive branch must be pruned.
Do we know who is the Vine?
Is Jesus our vine? Really?
Are we truly drawing strength and nutrition from Him and from what He declares?
During this focus, I want to give special attention to the gifts that God has given to the believer to help us live on purpose:
Three Gifts to the Believer
- Word (Revelation)
- Prayer (Spirit)
- Body (Church)
If we feed on these three, then we will thrive, but if we neglect them, then we are not remaining, TRULY, in Jesus.
When He was tempted to turn stones into bread, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy to Satan.
Here is the full verse from the Old Testament:
3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
-Moses (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Moses spoke these words to the second generation of Hebrews who came out of Egypt and were about to enter the Promised Land.
A whole generation had been removed due to their lack of faith (including Moses), and God allowed the second generation to enter the new land with the understanding that they remain in Him by His Word.
Who is the Boss?
The Gardener has authority over the Vine and over the Branches.
The Vine has authority over the Branches.
We must know and follow our boss.
- Principle Two: We Need Cleansing
In these verses, we see we are cleaned by the Word of God.
This term “clean” is a gardening term. It means to prune and even to remove.
Our Heavenly Father is the gardener (cleaner and pruner).
Language is funny, as I recall many years ago when I had an office/apartment in Almaty, Kazakhstan, at the foot of a mountain range called the Tien Shan.
I had three young men working for me. Two were interpreters, and one was learning English.
We had about 8 students who met with us several days, weekly, for prayer, study and growth. We ate together and grew together.
One day when we were considering what we would do for lunch, I said to the one who was learning English,
“please clean these potatoes.”
I said it in Russian and in English, and when I came back to the kitchen, I saw that he was peeling the potatoes. I asked,
“why are you doing that? I just said to clean them.”
Well, what I had meant was “wash” them, but in Russian when you ask someone to “clean” a vegetable, then that means to peel it.
What I should have asked was “wash” it.
When Jesus says to his disciples that they are already clean because of His word, He is speaking of something that we, too, can experience.
It is not necessarily comfortable, like a bath, but more like a hard workout in which our muscles throb as they are being stretched and used in ways we’ve not known possible.
The Word of God, the Spirit of God and the People of God are part of this cleaning.
While we pray, the Lord’s Spirit brings to mind His Word. God’s people are only such because His Word has separated us from what is unrighteous.
Baptism is a symbol of the cleansing work that happens in us as God’s Word separates us from sin and it’s consequences.
As we take communion, today, we are taking it as His body.
And we give thanks to Jesus for his cleansing action on the Cross. The supreme Word of God, the Final Revelation of God was nailed to a cross and resurrected on the third day.
[Dave to lead in a song: “You Are My King”]
- We Must Remain in Jesus
We remain or abide in Jesus by spending time with him in His Word, in Prayer with His Spirit, and in fellowship with His body, the Church.
I asked someone who is ministering on a university campus to tell me some good news that was happening with him.
He said that while praying he really believed that God told him to reach out to the hockey team at the university.
My friend is not very athletic, and certainly doesn’t know hockey, but he was obedient to pray.
When he was at the airport in December to fly to Virginia, he saw one of the hockey players waiting at the airport. So, he went over to him and struck up a conversation.
Then in January, he met him, again, and began to connect with two other players.
One of the players told my friend that he had been praying and asking God to reveal Himself to him, and then my friend began to reach out to him.
We don’t have to be missionaries in order to be LIVING ON PURPOSE, but we all can.
My friends have reached out to many students on campus, but notice that he listened to God’s voice, which is what happens when we pray and listen.
And God led him to someone who was open to hearing from God.
We must remain in Jesus.
As we consider this theme of Living on Purpose,
I want us each week to consider areas of our lives in which we need to Remain in Jesus.
Remaining in Jesus is not something that we do for a few minutes each morning and evening, OR ONCE A WEEK ON SUNDAY….
but it is something we must continue to do, moment by moment, and it will affect how we live.
It will help us to live on purpose, and not by accident.
We will live according to His purpose, and not our purpose.
We will produce for His Glory and not for our own.
I want us to focus upon several priorities in our lives:
These are priorities.
- We are to love the Lord Our God with all our heart, soul, strength and Mind.
WE MUST LIVE ON PURPOSE FOR GOD
- Family: Who else will love our families if we don’t. If we are not intentional about loving our families, then they will miss out, and they may even look for someone else to love them. I’m not excusing anyone, but the truth is, we must intentionally love our families.
WE MUST LIVE ON PURPOSE FOR OUR FAMILIES
- Jobs: We need to work well on our jobs, whether our employers are watching us or not. Our co-workers are watching us, too.
We need to be good examples when it comes to work and business.
Remember, we can be replaced with someone who will be more intentional. And when we find ourselves retired, or out of work for any reason, these are not times to relax, but to continue to be LIVING ON PURPOSE.
WE MUST LIVE ON PURPOSE FOR OUR JOBS, FOR OUR CO-WORKERS, FOR THOSE AROUND US.
- Community: We need to be good citizens. In fact, we should be model citizens.
Our next-door neighbors glad that we live by them, …or do they wish we would move?
I have a friend who prays with people on the job, and the government doesn’t like it, but they love this person so much, that they allow it to continue. And the rest of the staff is/are better for it.
If we are not good citizens, who will be?
Do we want a group that we disagree with to influence our communities?
WE MUST LIVE ON PURPOSE FOR OUR COMMUNITIES
- Church: This encompasses all of the above in that it is where we jointly worship God.
The church is a family for us, too.
The family of God.
It is where we are expected to work as disciples of Jesus.
It is a community, and in fact, the church should be a community center.
If we are not being intentional as the church or as members of the church, God will raise up someone else to take our place.
WE MUST LIVE ON PURPOSE FOR OUR CHURCH
Illustration: I heard a story on Friday that fits this.
A man drove to another city in order to purchase a piece of furniture that was on sale. It cost $700, so he gathered his cash and drove to the other town. He made a stop at a gas station, and there was a man standing outside who had a very mean look about him. Naturally, this man automatically avoided the mean-looking man. But he sensed in his heart the following word from God,
“you need to give him $100.”
“What, God,” the man thought? “I only have enough money for my furniture. How can I give him anything?”
And, of course, he felt uncomfortable around the mean-looking man.
But God wouldn’t let up. So, the he went over to talk with the man.
While they talked, he felt even less a desire to give the mean-looking man anything, but God kept speaking,
“give him $100.”
So, finally he gave the mean-looking man $100.
The mean-looking man asked, “why are you doing this?”
The man responded,
“because Jesus told me that you need it.”
“But I’m a Muslim,” the other man responded.
“That’s ok,” the man replied, “Jesus told me to give this to you.”
The Muslim man said, “No, I’m a Muslim and my wife is a Christian, and she told me I need to follow Jesus. A few minutes ago she dropped me off here and said, ‘Jesus is going to show you that He loves you, today.’”
What a wonderful story of someone who lived his life on purpose.
He continued on to the furniture store, and he found that his item to purchase had been reduced to $600.
How can we “remain in Christ?” by keeping His commandments and being with him…
“Abiding in Christ”
He calls us to remain in Him to bear fruit and to be productive.
We remain in him in prayer, Bible reading and in fellowship with His Body.
Next week we will go deeper.
But before we go any further, let me ask us to consider what we can do to become more intentional as disciples of Jesus.
Perhaps, reading, studying and memorizing the Scriptures, which are God’s Revelation to us.
Perhaps, it is increasing our time of prayer. I know we focused upon prayer in January, but as believers, we must always focus upon prayer.
Perhaps it is being more intentional in church.
We need more volunteers, but that is not all.
We need more worshippers.
We need more servants of God serving the community with us.
We need to reach more people.
Let us become more intentional.
Let’s live on purpose.
If you believe that God is calling you into a time of repentance, and giving your life to Jesus, we are here to pray with you.
If you are desiring the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, come and pray.
If you believe that God is calling you to venture into something that is not comfortable with you, come, let’s talk, let’s pray.
[Dave leads “Amazing Grace”]