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Archive for July, 2010

So first, what is God’s purpose for your life? This past Sunday I preached on John 15:1-17, and God is clear on His purpose for us in this passage.

Verses 8 and 16 are crystal clear.  In verse 8, Jesus says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”  In verse 16, Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.”  God’s purpose for our lives is to glorify Him by bearing fruit as His disciples.  God chose us, God elected us for the purpose of going and bearing fruit, fruit that abides.  This is our God-designed purpose in life.

Jesus had just spent all of chapter 14 comforting His disciples regarding His coming death and departure out of this world after being with them for three years.  Jesus had comforted them with who He is as the way, the truth, and the life.  Jesus had comforted them with the assurance of being united to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Jesus had comforted them with the promise of another helper, the Holy Spirit.  And Jesus had comforted them with His heavenly and sovereign peace.  But, Jesus’ purpose in comforting them is not comfort for the sake of comfort.

Jesus comforts His troubled disciples not so they can now sit back and relax and say, “Wow, I feel much better now.”  No, Jesus comforts His disciples so that they can be emotionally and spiritually ready to receive His power to accomplish His purpose, to bear fruit for God’s glory.

So one very important question is this, “What is this fruit?”  If our overarching purpose in life is to bear fruit for the glory of God, what is this fruit we are called to bear?  Simply put, this fruit is everything Jesus is and about, Jesus’ character and mission.  In John 15:1-17, Jesus is using vine imagery where Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  Since Jesus is the vine, the Jesus vine produces Jesus branches that bear Jesus fruit.  This fruit is reflecting Jesus’ character, life, and priorities in this world.

What this truth means is that all work is sacred.  My work as a pastor is no more sacred then the work that you do.  When I pastor, I am to pastor for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  If you are a teacher, when you teach, you are to teach for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  If you work as an assistant in an office, a law office, a medical office, or any other office, when you assist, you are to assist for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  Even if you are a doing a job that the world considers “menial,” your work is such as sacred in God’s eyes and significant, so when you work, you are to do so for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  If you are a student, when you study and interact with other students, you are to do so for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  If you are a stay at home wife or mother, when you care for your family, you are to do so for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  All work is sacred.

And all of life is sacred.  When we eat and drink, we must do so for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  When we exercise and work out and play sports, our purpose is not simply to get buff or win a game, our purpose is bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  When we rest or just hang out with friends, we must do so for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.  If we are looking for a job or housing or going through suffering, difficulties, and trials in life, we must do so for the purpose of bearing Jesus fruit for God’s glory.

All work, all of life is sacred.  Everything is under God’s rule.  Everything is to be done and used and enjoyed for God’s glory.  There are no mundane moments in life.  Every moment has heavenly significance.  God’s purpose in your life is to bear much fruit whatever you are doing, wherever you are, and at whatever time of day.  Living to bear much fruit for God’s glory doesn’t necessarily mean changing things in life.  It may mean that (for inherently sinful activities.)

But a big and often neglected part is considering how to bear much fruit for God’s glory in the things we are already doing in life, and just doing the same things differently, doing the same things with a different attitude, with a different perspective, and with a different purpose, God’s purpose.

In addition, Jesus’ emphasis on going and bearing fruit is remarkably similar to His Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.  A central focus of bearing fruit is making disciples as we go and do anything and everything in life.  Bearing fruit is never focused on ourselves.  Yes, God is molding us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ as new creations, to display the fruit of the Spirit.  But, His fruit within us never stops with us.  It is to overflow to others, making disciples who make disciples, bearing fruit that should abide and produce more fruit.

This is God’s designed purpose for us as new creations.  May we be on our knees pleading with God to help us not waste our lives and to use every moment of every day to bear much fruit, to make disciples, all for the glory of God!

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In high school, my group of friends and I loved bowling, and we would go bowling almost every single day.  So we would go to the bowling alley, get our bowling shoes, go to our lanes, put our stuff down, and then we all venture out to pick out the perfect bowling ball for the day.

But when we come back together each with our own bowling balls, the strangest thing often happens.  We begin looking to see what ball everybody else picked out.  In our minds we are thinking, “Do I have the heaviest ball?”  Then we begin our verbal jabbing.  “Who chose this ten pound ball?  Are you serious?  Are you a wuss or something?  Be a man and pick something heavier.”  If we are that person, we ourselves wonder, “Why am I so weak?  I can do a heavier ball.”  And so we take our ten pounder ball and get a sixteen pounder to “show them.”

And that is just the beginning.  When the bowling begins, there is more competition.  Who can throw the heaviest bowling ball the fastest?  Who has the fanciest footwork?  Who has the most beautiful bowling motion?  Who can spin the bowling ball the most?  Even if somebody hits a strike, knocking down all the pins, if they just bowled straight, we say, “Don’t you know how to spin the ball and make it curve?”

Let’s step back and see what is going on here.  What is going on here is that all of us have missed the main purpose of bowling.  The main purpose of bowling is not any of these things, having the heaviest ball, the highest velocity, the fanciest footwork, and the most spin.  The main purpose of bowling is to knock down the most pins.  Each of these things may help accomplish the purpose better, but they are not the main point.  Because at the end of the day, the person most admired is the one with the highest score on the board, and everything else is insignificant.

Now the overall significance of bowling is not much, but the principle remains.  If we don’t understand our purpose, then our pursuits in life are meaningless and potentially dangerous.  Let’s consider one more example with higher stakes.  Suppose you get into a bad car accident at 3 AM in the morning, and have life threatening injuries.  You are rushed to the Emergency Room for a surgery to save your life.  What kind of surgeon do you want?  Would you want a surgeon who wants to be known as the best-dressed surgeon in the world, who gets the call that you are coming in the ambulance, and immediately jumps into the shower to freshen up and look the best, calling his photographer to come to take pictures for Surgeon Magazine?  Would you want a surgeon who wants to be known as the fastest surgeon in town, whose primary goal is to always get faster and faster in completing surgeries, having his main medical assistant holding a stopwatch and calling out time?  Or would you want a surgeon who knows that his or her purpose is to save lives, who will do whatever it takes to save your life?

When the stakes are this high, and your life is on the line, it makes perfect sense that we want someone who knows his purpose.  YET, the stakes of living in God’s universe are infinitely higher.  They are eternal.  Do you not realize that heaven and hell are on the line?

Why then are so many Christians confused about their purpose in life as God’s children?  Maybe a more important question: do you know your purpose in life as a new creation?

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Acts 9-10

God saves only through Christ and the preaching of the Gospel.

Cornelius was a Gentile who was a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

Yet, he still needed the apostle Peter to come to him to preach CHRIST for him to be truly saved.

Good intentions does NOT save.  JESUS SAVES.  God is the sovereign one who calls His people to go to the unreached to proclaim CHRIST so people can be saved.  People who are “sincere” in their faith, without JESUS, are not saved.  Could God be calling you to GO preach CHRIST to the unreached?

Don’t just blow off the question.  Think about it.  Could God be calling you to GO preach CHRIST to the unreached?  What is weighing on you to stay?  If nothing, why not go?

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1 Chronicles 23-27

These chapters basically list a bunch of names and duties of those people.  And there are a LOT of duties and names!

There are priests, singers, temple guards, judges, administrators, assistants for many things, accountant type folks, and many others.

As my eyes glazed over the names, unable to pronounce many of them, these chapters hammered home the point in my mind and heart something I have  been thinking about more in-depth lately, and that is the sacredness of ALL WORK.

ALL WORK is sacred in God’s eyes.  The point is not the nature of the work and its relative value in the eyes of the world.  The point is the man or woman behind the work and his or her focus, dependence, and purpose.  All work is sacred in God’s eyes and to be done in full dependence upon God in prayer, all for the purpose of bearing fruit for the glory of God.  So let us not focus on whether the actual “work” satisfies our inner souls.  Let us focus on how we can use every aspect of our work to grow in the image of Christ and to share the glory of Christ with others around us.

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