By Pastor Ay Nee Ng
Last week we try to better understand God’s purposes for our lives, which is vital for our very existence. We looked into God’s eternal and universal purposes.
In a nutshell, His eternal purposes are to have an intimate relationship with Him so we can live abundantly in His presence and know Him and to glorify Him because when we do so, we are the happiest. On the other hand, His universal purposes are redemption and fruitfulness. Redemption is about knowing Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. Second Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”. Fruitfulness is about edification (spiritual growth) and evangelism (spiritual reproduction), knowing and making Christ known. We live to grow our faith in Him, which will give us an eternal perspective so that we will have a passion to give our lives in exchange for the things that God tells us will endure.
When we invest in people, we are investing into their future and preparing them for eternity.
Now, I want to relate Jesus, who came to this earth to redeem us from sin, rebellion, works of darkness, and eternal hell, with Rick Warren, also known as the man with purpose and author of “The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?”
Jesus was relentless, persevering, and focused on His mission—to sacrifice His life so that we have eternal life. He was investing in the human race, sending us off for eternal purposes, and making history that writes our own chapters as we go along with life in Christ Jesus.
Excerpt from “The Man With the Purpose” from Beliefnet
Described as a “groundbreaking manifesto on the meaning of life” in the book’s marketing materials, Purpose-Driven Life has sold 20 million copies since it was published in October 2002. By January 2003, it was on the New York Times best-seller list, where it has spent 99 weeks – several as No. 1. What more can Jesus do for us when we understand His purpose for us and our purpose in life as children of God reflecting His image?
On March 14, 2003 a dramatic story was added to the book’s lore. Ashley Smith picked the book off her nightstand and began reading chapter 33 to Brian Nichols, who earlier in the day had murdered four people in a shooting spree, sought shelter in Smith’s apartment, and then took her hostage. On Day 33 of the book, Warren writes, “We serve God by serving others. The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.”
As the hours rolled on, she read him portions of the book–and convinced him that his life had a purpose, given to him by God. Smith suggested to him that God’s vision for her life was to help Nichols see his own purpose–evangelizing in prison. (Retrieved from http://www.beliefnet.com/news/2005/03/the-man-with-the-purpose.aspx#aHKEXj4lB6ZZfD6K.99)
How Rick Warren’s best-selling book saved a hostage’s life is just one aspect that if we live purpose driven lives we can turn the course of history for ourselves and somebody else. Church, are we ready to turn the course of history for ourselves and somebody else? Then let’s look further into what our purpose in life is.
Our Life Purpose
It requires having a greater understanding of His love, His Word, and a higher living standard.
Let’s read Psalm 37:21-34.
21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.
27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death;
33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
34 Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
As children of God, our purpose in this life has an eternal and spiritual connotation. It is living out what God requires us to do! Some of these things are:
- To do justly, and render to all their due because it is a great sin if we can pay our debts and don’t do it, bringing misery to others;
- to be truly merciful and receive mercy;
- to leave our sins;
- to learn to do well and cling on it, not giving up hope;
- to do all this above is true religion;
- to seek Godly contentment and not earthly possessions.
Church, the blessings of God are the spring, freshness, sweetness, and security of all earthly enjoyments. When we are sure of this, we will focus more on God and be satisfied with what we have, not craving for earthly possessions or what this world offers.
God’s blessings are benefits in our lives.
Church, there are blessings when we walk in His will and purposes.
1. God directs the thoughts, affections, and designs of good men and women by His grace and His Holy Spirit.
2. God overrules events to make our way plain by His providence.
3. God does not always show us His way for a distance but leads us step by step, as children are led.
4. God will keep us from being ruined by our falls, either into sin or into trouble, though such falls into sin will still be sorely hurt.
5. God neither forsakes His saints in affliction nor leave us in enemy hands. A good man may fall into the hands of a messenger of Satan and be sorely buffeted, but God will not leave him in his enemy’s hands.
6. God has prepared an everlasting habitation and in heaven only the righteous shall dwell for ever. Read Psalm 37:22-24.
7. We know when to turn back to God. As followers of Jesus, it’s never too late to turn back and get right back track. There is a source that can tell us what life is really about—the Scriptures—particularly the wisdom literature, which gives directions not just to “live and learn” but to “learn and live.”
The promise of skilful living is made to all those who will “listen to advice and accept instruction” (Prov. 19:20). God has revealed truths about life; the Bible is a guidebook, a blueprint to living, the foundation of a well-built life, and a roadmap through the maze of confusion that our days often resemble. There is purpose and meaning, clarity and fulfilment in this life. But it is only found as we navigate by the wisdom contained in the Word of God.
Am I directing the course of history for myself and somebody else? What am I doing with my life? Is it purpose-driven for the glory of God or for my own achievements and gratification? Am I practicing what I belief? Do I walk my talk? If not, what priorities need fixing?
Cognitively, there is affirmation that God has a better purpose than anything I could come up with, but does it show in our practice? Practice reveals priorities and beliefs. Often enough our priorities, beliefs and practice differ over time, over circumstances, over different time zones!
Church, we need to understand this. Contrary to public opinion, in releasing ourselves to God’s purposes and giving ourselves wholeheartedly and unreservedly to him, we’re not sacrificing anything other than the illusion of self-sufficiency. We’re embracing something altogether wonderful and life changing.
We have to juggle our work, ambition and resources and find a balance so that God’s eternal and universal purposes for my life will not be in limbo but be prioritized for my growth, without compromising the everyday life of bills to be paid and food and shelter to be provided. As our commitment to family, community, and faith shrink, we begin to look to our careers to provide us with meaning, identity and esteem.
We must be ever watchful to keep our calling (something we do for God) from becoming a career (something which threatens to become god). My purpose is to reflect the glory of God, not be a poor reflection of Him, and to build lives strong for Jesus. “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
Church, what is your purpose on this planet? Don’t settle for a purpose that only includes excellence in the temporal arena but a purpose that has a transcendent context of a spiritual dimension to why we’re doing what we’re doing. Then we can be sure we’re embracing the things that are worth embracing. In this way, our life will be a meaningful existence and we will make history for ourselves and someone else.
Church, we need help to grow build lives and a strong Church. We need you to have ownership that this is our Church, a Church that reflects His glory. If your life reflects God’s glory, you will be able to attract the person next door to come to church or make them curious about what is so different about you. Be that purpose-driven person!