What kind of purpose is really worth living for? A purpose can focus us in such a helpful way.
Look at Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzgibbons. We know what he wakes up each day to do. Day in, day out, deploying firefighters, troops and other resources to the fire fronts. No doubt rejoicing in this rain! Because he has barely slept for months, as the bushfires have got bigger and uglier. He said he has spent more time with the Premier than with his own wife. And you why he has such purpose? In the year 2000 his own father died in a tragic firefighting accident when a back burn in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park went horribly wrong. You can see how that would motivate you; Focus you! How he understands people’s fears, and the pain of a funeral. One firefighter said “We’d follow him anywhere, because he knows where he is going.”
But what is your purpose in life? What do get up in the morning for? I think we can often find purpose for a time. To get through the next big thing, bushfires, sickness, that deadline, a project, exams. But then what? What is the overarching purpose of my life? The big picture? Does my life really make a difference?
I’m not sure if you’re someone who thinks about this at all? It might be that for much of life we just put our heads down and try to get through. Just surviving day to day, making it to the next pay, trying to keep a smile on our face. Some of us have thought hard about it, we migrated across the world to a better life here! So we’re going to be really keen to make sure that was worth it. That our kids get a good education and succeed here. In fact maybe that’s it? Maybe life is all about family – doing the best for your kids? But lots of us are single or if we do have kids they grow up and move away. Then what?
Many live for the big trip or retirement like that’ll be heaven on earth. I watched a close friend of the family prepare for retirement. It was the big goal, he and his wife worked and worked, saved and saved, bought the caravan, they were all ready to go and then his health failed and he was dead within months.
And there is the big problem with our goals. They are not big enough! They don’t last, misfortune and death come along and they’re gone. We wake up in the middle of the night with our heart aching for some bigger purpose!
God’s answer is that we ARE built for purpose. We’re built to make a difference, to be a Commissioner Shane Fitzgibbons in our particular space in life, to know exactly what we’re waking up for tomorrow morning.
But here is the crucial bit, our purpose has to fit in with God’s purpose! You can’t work at cross-purposes with your Maker!
So let’s listen to Him. We’ll do this in two steps. We’ll look at
1. God’s purpose. For Himself and for our universe!
2. Our purpose. Because if it doesn’t match up with God’s purpose, we’re in trouble.
So let’s start with God. God’s purpose is very simple really, to fix up everything through Jesus for our good and for His glory. Let me show you that from Ephesians 1:9-10
And He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (NIV)
See that, blink and you’d miss it, but this is one of the clearest statements in the Bible of God’s purpose for our universe, our world, your life. A time is coming when God will bring unity to all things, reorder them and fix them up. And the mystery is revealed to us right now. We have the secret plans, we know what God is up to - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth.
There is disorder in the heavenly places right now. Satan fights against God, fallen angels await judgment for their crimes. There has been cosmic rebellion but God is overthrowing the enemy, bringing unity once more. That’s very good news! There is disorder on earth right now. We can see it with our own eyes. Nations can’t stop fighting, industry can’t stop exploiting, we can’t trust our leaders. We’ll soon overpopulate our planet, and overcook it. There is crime, injustice, inequality, greed, corruption and violence. There is unemployment, family breakdown, suicide, sickness, disease and death. And worst of all, we’ve put God offside.
Can we fix it? Hardly, we can see the problem, but how are we going to fix it ourselves? No, we’re stuck, caged and helpless. We’re on a treadmill, our planet spinning around and around under our designer shoes. So we just give up, entertain ourselves, stimulate ourselves, numb ourselves and then wake up tomorrow and do it again
But God has a plan, an answer, to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth and how? How? Through Jesus.
This new unity will happen under ‘under Christ’. He will rule. We saw a taste of that when He walked the earth, He fed the hungry, healed the sick and deliberately died on a cross as an act of sacrifice and love. I can’t wait till His good rule is seen everywhere, every street corner in heaven and earth. And it has started now, through a simple message in verse 13
“you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed…” (NIV)
God’s plan is already in action, He is already extending the rule of Christ, Heart by heart; person by person! Through the message of truth and of salvation. That’s all about Jesus dying on the cross to fix up our corrupt hearts, to bring forgiveness. And rising from the dead to offer us eternal life. It is a message that we are called to accept and believe. And in believing we cross over from disorder – into His new Kingdom. He wants to fix up your life.
So God’s purpose is to fix up everything, through Jesus is for our good. This is not something to fear. The reading started by telling God’s people that we have ‘every spiritual blessing in Christ’ If you have accepted Jesus you lack for nothing you really need. Our reading spelt it out for us.
The key words are
Love - he loved you and said ‘you are mine’, before time began.
Adoption - Into God’s family, with all the inheritance, and privilege and security that goes with that!
Gift - All this blessing comes by God’s kindness, we could never deserve it!
Redemption - Jesus buys our good through His blood shed on the cross.
The Holy Spirit is mentioned. God comes to live in us. As a down payment on a future where we live with Him for all eternity. Can you see how good this is! We have every spiritual blessing there is, in Christ.
Sandy Galea, our Kids Minister, was talking to a little girl last week, she said ‘Sandy, I had a great dream last night, I dreamt that I bought a lottery ticket, even though I’m not allowed, and I won. I won a million dollars. I’m rich!’ Sandy replied ‘Wow, you know that if you love Jesus you’re already rich. You have already won the lottery.’ She looked at Sandy and asked ‘how?’ ‘If you have Jesus then He shares everything with you. You have everything you need for this life and more. And in heaven He shares absolutely everything with you. So you are already a millionaire if you have Jesus!’
Part of the new order that Christ brings in, is that God will get the cred He deserves. Because right now at best, He cops disinterest from so many! When everyone sees His Son on the throne, when we see heaven and earth back in order, we will fall on our faces and give Him glory. We’ll want to! It is like watching your favourite sport, the excitement is in clapping and cheering a good performance, giving glory where due. When that ball goes into the hoop, or is hit for six, when a Red Bull Holden gets in the lead (that’s the one I get excited about at least). And most importantly, when Jesus is seen for who He is. When the whole universe comes under his rule, we’ll give Him glory!
So that is God’s purpose, to fix up everything, through Jesus, for our good, and His glory. That is the master plan. So what to we do then? What is My purpose then?
I have a photo of a beautiful old farm house. A great deal of the love and attention that has been put into the property. A home, outbuildings, fences with land cleared for grazing in this beautiful spot, next to good water in a peaceful valley. That is someone’ life work right there.
That farmhouse doesn't exist anymore. That valley where that property was is now Lake Burragorang, the waters held back by Warragamba Dam. That is our water supply! In the news lately, due to the fires and rate at which the water level is falling. If only those farmers had known the future. It’s sad isn’t it! We can see that water for Sydney is a good plan but imagine watching your life work go under! If only they knew the future plans for their valley, their home.
Can you see we’re in the same danger? Of building our lives with no reference to the Master plan?
But we’ve seen the future! We know the master plan! So surely my life purpose has to fit His or my life work could be swept away!
How do we make sure we’re on the right track? Firstly, we need to be fixed up, through Jesus, for our good, and His glory. That’s step 1.
I want to beg you if you haven’t yet come to Jesus to be saved, come! Let Him bless you, make you His child, redeem you, forgive you, fill you with His Spirit and give you a secure future into eternity! He is about to overhaul the whole Universe. Get with the program! Don’t be swept away by it. How to do that is not hard. His salvation is given not earned. But you need to jump out of the drivers seat of your life and let Him steer! Let Jesus save you, let Him rule you, let Him bless you with His love, He wants you safe with Him when He brings unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
But know this, those resisting Him will be overwhelmed, He won’t let the rebellion go on, just make sure you change teams to God’s side, and are not swept away with the devil and all who resist God. He wants to bless you so richly! To make you a spiritual millionaire. Can I urge you to embrace His love for you.
But first, listen in for a moment as I address those in the room who are already Christians, because this will help you to know what you’d be signing up for. Let me talk to them, what do you spend your time on? Your money on? What do you dream of?
We’ve all got different opportunities and gifts. We’re all going to be different, but here are three questions you could ask yourself to match your life up to God’s purpose:
1. Do I live for the new order?
God is bringing unity to all things in heaven and earth under Christ, so you’d want to be doing stuff that lasts into that new order that Christ is bringing.
So think for example about what job you might do, if you’re of working age and if you have the privilege of choice, but we don’t always have that. You’d want one that helps you serve the Lord and do good, so that your life counts into eternity.
For me personally, I wrestled with this when I was at school. I thought about who had helped me grow in my love for Jesus, and there were two groups, teachers who led the Christian group at my State school and pastors who taught and nurtured me. So I decided to do both. Get some life experience as a teacher and then become a pastor.
I wrote this down at the start of year 12 but then ignored this completely and enrolled in another course altogether. Something pretty satisfying and would have been a good money earner. Both of those things are not wrong, but God was stirring my heart to something bigger. He brought me back to my original plans. He challenged me until I changed course and enrolled in teaching like I should have in the first place.
I taught down Campbelltown way for a couple of years and watched God work through that. I got to start a lunch time Christian group, chat to so many students and staff about my Lord. Then I did start to train to become a pastor at a small church back then called MBM.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying other jobs aren’t as good, this is for me personally, given who God made me to be who I am.
A different example. Some of you may know Augustine from our 10.45 service, I was recently chatting to him about his job. He works in a factory situation, doing quality control. He could do other work, but he stays there for two reasons. He has a great team and heaps of time on the job to chat to them. He has got to talk about Jesus and the big questions of life with all of them over the years. He has great work hours. Long shifts, some overnight, but then heaps of days off which gives him time to serve the Lord and serve his family. In his choice of job he is living for the new order under Christ!
How has God gifted you? What can you do with your life that build into the age to come? A Christian has to ask that question, we are living not for ourselves, but for our Saviour and His future for the universe.
2. Do I live to see people saved through Jesus?
If you do then it will turn your priorities upside down! Augustine’s choice of job is a great example. Or it might mean the most important thing you do in your week is the Youth G-team you lead! Because you love those young people, pray for them and are helping them to understand Jesus. And that means knocking back other options for the weekend. Or perhaps it is being more serious this year about attending a G-team or Growth group so you can encourage those in your group?
What else? It might be how you use your annual leave, many of you here give a week to serve at July Holiday Club! Or your time use, some of you work one day a week less, or make time otherwise so that you can teach Scripture, or visit the sick.
Can you see what having Jesus as your life purpose does? It reorders everything.
3. Do I live for God’s glory?
Or is it really all about my own name, my own reputation, my own happiness? Someone shared with me this week that a friend of her Mum walked away from church “Because it was all about Jesus, not her” It seems like she understood perfectly! We live for Him! For His glory! How sad she didn’t see that as a good thing.
One of our brothers here has plenty of reasons why he could have been really upset on Christmas day because he wasn’t able to be with his family. He could have sat at home moping, complaining, you could understand that, but that would be ‘all about me’ really. Feeling sorry for ourselves can be an expression of selfishness too. So what did he do? He made Christmas all about God, he did something for God’s glory. He visited patients and staff in Blacktown hospital on behalf of the Christian chaplaincy department, handing out Chocolates and cheering them up. He got around to 250 people who would have been feeling sorry for themselves! It took 7 hours of his Christmas day!
Do I live for the new order?
Do I live to see people saved through Jesus?
Do I live for God’s glory?
Make your life count into eternity, that’s a life of purpose in tune with God’s ultimate purpose.