I have really appreciated the phrase,
“Living on Purpose,” and originally planned it to be the focus only for March.
Of course, such a theme, would continue through our lives as we live on purpose.
As I considered the month of April, in which we have
- Palm Sunday,
- Good Friday and
- Resurrection Sunday,
I see that this month we celebrate the work Jesus did on purpose so that we, too, could live on purpose.
Every day, we should live on purpose and with intentionality.
Daily, we should celebrate life and be excited for what He is doing.
When we live on purpose, we are better able to celebrate the purposes of God.
Honestly, there are times when we may feel as lone cheerleaders, even among other Christians.
Let’s not be troubled in this, but instead, let us continue to believe God and to trust Him.
In fact, I know that I am living on purpose
- when I am able to meet opposition with the opposite spirit.
- When I can treat
-chaos with order and
-anger with peace and love,
- then I know that I am living on purpose.
God’s Spirit is
- -not a Spirit of fear,
- -nor of complaints,
- -nor a spirit of indifference,
- -dread or
but the Spirit of the Living – Lord – God – Almighty is Holy, Powerful, Loving, Lovely and Honoring.
God’s Spirit wants to bring out those qualities in our lives, as
He drives us with Purpose in the direction of His perfect and pleasing will.
As we enter into a second month of this focus of living on purpose, let’s look at how we can do this, and let’s encourage each other toward love and godliness.
I want us to look at Jesus, who was the ultimate model of living on purpose.
I remember a time when I found myself being very resolute to pray for a need.
There was a family in our church when I was first serving as a senior pastor. The church had few resources, and I had to work a job for my salary (the church did pay my rent, thank God).
A family in the church regularly had financial problems. Even though both spouses worked, they still had trouble.
One morning the husband called to tell me that their electricity was going to be cut off at 5:00 PM. They needed $300, and I wished I could have given it to them. We had no funds in the church, and, personally, we had no funds.
As I mentioned, this family had financial issues, but this was the worst.
That day I was spending at home, working on my sermons.
I spoke with my friend in the morning, and told him that I would be praying all day.
We didn’t have cell phones, but he called my home number a couple times, just to check in.
That morning, while I was studying, I came across an article by a pastor named David Wilkerson.
You may have heard of him. He started “Teen Challenge,” and wrote the book The Cross and the Switchblade.
His articles were very rich and hard to read. They were very challenging.
The article that I was reading was about the difference between intervention and intercession.
He said that we need to be able to discern when we must intervene and when we must intercede
He said we needed to learn to hear God’s voice.
Since I was interceding, already, and had no way to intervene (remember, we were poor), I wasn’t sure how to apply this lesson.
I prayed, and said,
“Lord, I don’t have the money to help my friend, and I ask you to help him.”
About mid-day, the mail man came by and delivered a letter with a check for $500 that came anonymously through another organization.
They wanted to bless us since we were ministering in a difficult situation.
Immediately I thought,
“Now I can help my friend,”
and I praised and thanked God.
But God’s voice spoke to me,
“that money is for you, and I want you to trust in ME to intervene for your friend as you intercede.”
I was confused. I had been praying, and within a few hours, the answer came to me.
The initial check had been written about a week before, and then a second check in order to ensure anonymity was written and mailed. It took about three days for the check to arrive.
And it arrived a few hours after I had begun praying for my friend’s need.
I kept praying.
About 30 minutes later, my friend called.
He asked if I had heard from the Lord…
I said that God was encouraging me to keep praying and to believe.
It was hard for me to say that to him, when I, now, had the funds to help him, but God was teaching me to trust Him in a new way.
When Moses trusted God to provide water for the Israelites in the desert, God told him once to strike a rock with his staff. He did that and water flowed.
But on a later occasion, Moses was told by God to speak to the rock.
Instead, he said to the people,
“Must we bring you water from this rock?”
and then he struck the rock.
Water came gushing forth just as before,
It looked to all that Moses was still connecting well with God…for he had been able to perform a miracle…
…but Moses missed an opportunity to intercede, when he instead intervened.
For Moses, this meant dire consequences.
With that in my mind, for the rest of the day, I had to be resolute to follow what I believed God was sharing, and even though I could have gone to the bank, cashed the check and given my friend the money,
I had to remain resolute to live that day on purpose.
And Purpose was to follow God’s Will as He was showing me.
Let me share more of that story a little later. 🙂
We have been looking at John 15, and we could continue there,
but as I was considering this theme, I found myself drawn to a specific time in Jesus’ ministry.
You see, next week is Palm Sunday, and in Jesus’ ministry, this was a day, prior to the Passover in which Jesus entered Jerusalem, and was seen as king.
By the end of that week, Jesus had been betrayed, tortured and crucified to death.
We know that this was not a surprise to Jesus, but what was going on in his mind when he was on his way to Jerusalem?
In Luke’s account of Jesus, we have this paragraph that I want to consider today:
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him;53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.
Jesus resolutely set himself toward Jerusalem because the Cross was His Destination, and our redemption was His goal.
Today’s message is entitled, “Serving on Purpose.” Let’s pray.
- Living/Serving on Purpose Means to Be Resolute
Jesus came to earth to save us.
To save sinners.
The Scriptures teach this over and over.
In fact, in the Old Testament, we see the prophesies of the Jesus suffering for us.
Paul quoted a trustworthy saying:
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
1 Timothy 1:15
As well, the Scriptures teach that…
…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
He did not accidentally die,…
it’s not like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He was NOT a victim, in fact, there were many occasions when he could have been killed throughout his ministry, and even when he was a child, King Herod sought to kill him.
But, he was NEVER a victim.
Jesus was and always is purposeful in everything He does and did.
We would be hopeless, were it not for the purposeful living and dying that Jesus did for us.
When we are purposeful or when we are resolute, we usually feel fruitful, don’t we?
To be resolute is to be “unwavering,” to be “focused,” to be “determined,” “staunch,” “indefatigable,” etc.
When we determine to tackle a job around the house…
…Or when we have a deadline to meet, and we put everything else on hold in order to focus upon that task,
we may feel some anxiety, but we often find ourselves focused, and nothing can stop us from our task.
Jesus was resolutely traveling to Jerusalem from Galilee.
Jewish travelers often, resolutely avoided Samaria, although, that meant it took longer to reach Jerusalem.
This was not only because of their dislike for the Samaritans, but because the Samaritans didn’t want them passing through on their way to Jerusalem.
If they were on their way somewhere else, then that wasn’t such a problem, but since the Samaritans were not welcome into the Temple to worship alongside the Jews, then they didn’t want to encourage Jews on their way to the city of the Temple.
The Samaritans had been treated very badly by the Jews, so they held a huge grudge.
I mentioned in February how the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim, but, about 150 years before Jesus, the Jews sent an army to the Samaritan temple and destroyed it.
They were saying,
“you cannot have this temple,”
while at the same time they said,
“and you cannot worship in our temple as our equals.”
So, the Samaritans were resolutely opposed to allowing Jews to pass through their territory on their way to the Temple.
Jesus was resolutely on a mission to Jerusalem for their sake, for the sake of the Jews and for our sake, too. Nothing would stop him.
Enemies of Resoluteness
What are the hindrances to resoluteness?
What keeps us from Living and Serving on Purpose?
If only we, too, would be as resolute as Jesus in our service to God and to the community.
I find many things can stop me, or distract me.
One of our greatest enemies is procrastination.
I might think,
“I should spend some time praying right now,”
but then, Procrastination says,
“there will be plenty of time to pray, later, do something else, now.”
We can be very industrious for many useless purposes, but for the purposes of God, we might find ourselves to be lazy.
We’ve considered priorities during this time.
Let’s right now, reflect, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us with our priorities.
Have we put God first and sought His kingdom and righteousness, first, above everything else?
Let’s ask these
How healthy would my family be if they all acted like I act?
How successful would my company be if all employees acted like I act?
How attractive would my community be if everyone acted like I act?
How healthy would by church be if we all acted like I act?
Jesus was tempted by Satan to bow before him in order to save the world.
Jesus loved the world, and was resolute to reach the world without compromise.
Jesus served us on purpose.
Jesus’ friends and disciples rebuked him for declaring that he would be crucified…
…Jesus in turn rebuked them for trying to stop him.
The thousands who followed Jesus tried to force him to become their king after he had fed 5000 men, …
…but he was not resolute to establish a physical kingdom that would spoil, but instead he wanted to provide entry for us into a kingdom that was not of this world.
Jesus didn’t sin, and the temptations did not trip him up.
What temptations prevent us from being resolute?
Jesus was resolutely set to go to Jerusalem and to hang on a cross for us.
He did not let distractions, procrastination, laziness, wrong priorities or temptation keep him from serving on purpose.
Let us not allow them to keep us from serving on purpose, either.
This was politically incorrect, but Jesus didn’t care.
When a village would not allow him to pass through, James and John wanted to punish the village.
- Living/Serving on Purpose Means to Be Merciful
There are many things we can do in that are purposeful in our service, but there is a QUALITY that we need above all things. It is a quality that Jesus showed: MERCY.
Jesus was being merciful to visit the Samaritan village
James and John wanted to punish.
54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”
They were rebuked by Jesus
And Jesus went to another village.
James and John probably had no idea what was happening.
They had not long before seen Jesus transfigured before them.
They saw him in his divine state.
So, they must have thought that they had power and privilege to call down apocalyptic power.
Jesus, who could calm a storm and gave Elijah the power to call fire down from heaven, did not comply with James and John’s suggestion.
There are many things we CAN do, but they are not necessarily PURPOSEFUL in God’s sight for us to do.
We can rebuke the world, but they don’t care what we have to say, but when we love the world and show them the mercy of God, then we are indirectly rebuking the world, and giving them something better.
The Scriptures state that God sent Jesus to the earth because He loved the world so much…that is in John 3:16.
John 3:17 speaks to this moment in particular:
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
What has God called us to do? Are we to do what He was not called to?…
to Judge and condemn the world?
We are called to learn the will of God and to follow it. We are called to show mercy, which is the opposite of what the world decrees.
We are called to learn God’s voice and follow His direction, even when it hurts.
You remember my story about the young family in my church and how their electricity was going to be cut off.
The husband told me and asked for help, and I told him I had no money and the church had no money.
I promised to pray, and while praying, was challenged by an article from a pastor to learn the difference between intervening and interceding.
Then while praying, a check arrived in the mail, which was sufficient enough to help my friend, but God told me to keep interceding.
By the end of the day, God DID meet my friends’ need, and their power was not cut off.
It was incredible, and I realized that had I intervened, then my friend would not have seen God’s provision.
He would have seen mine.
Had I given him the money, it would have been like when Moses struck the rock, even though God told him to speak to the rock.
Now that doesn’t mean that we should not help someone in need, but that we need to be resolute to do what God calls us to do.
We are to be representatives and ambassadors of God’s mercy with others.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
How did Jesus face opposition?
In the opposite spirit, in a spirit of love in this case, and we too should meet this.
In this way, he served with purpose.
And because He served on purpose, we, too, can serve on purpose.
When Jesus cleansed the Temple, he wasn’t having a random outburst of holy anger, but he was cleaning house.
When he rebuked James and John, he must have told them that they needed to understand that he did not choose them to condemn, but to raise up.
He did not choose them to live according to their own purposes, but according to God’s purposes that are separate from the purposes of man.
Jesus has called us to serve on purpose, not to please ourselves, but to cause people to know who He is.
Jesus told us to do good deeds so that people would praise Our Heavenly Father!
And when we think of the adversaries around us, do we have the capacity to think of them being restored, and raised up?
How About When Jesus Wants to Come through Our Town?
Jesus and His Spirit want to invade our lives, are we open to receive him, or do we send him a different way?
How many times has Jesus wanted to come to you and me, but we didn’t welcome him?
Let’s Be Resolute and Merciful
Let’s Live on Purpose