Sunday, June 01, 2008

Seek God's Purposes

1:00 p.m. UPDATE: Church was wonderful today. Several visitors, a sense of joy and life and love, beautiful "living video/dance," uplifting music, humor and fun and inspiration in our OASIS 2008 video, and--even a short sermon! :-) The "Living Water" of God did indeed seem to be flowing among us today. Thanks be to God.

Monday Update: :-) I've added a few pictures to go along with the notes below. We had blue flags and streamers in the congregation (alas, no photos), and it was a very casual day, as you can see, but powerful as well.

Six weeks ago our church unveiled a beautiful new banner and I preached a sermon titled "How Deep Do You Want to Go" as we began a series designed to explore a theme based on Isaiah 43. In that beautiful prophetic chapter God promises to both "do a new thing" and to make places of water and refreshing in a dry land. Almost nine years ago, that passage came to my attention again and again as I served my new church as the interim pastor--and six months later the permanent pastor.

A while back, a vision team of eight began an intense process of discovering and then sharing a vision for our church. Along with that we were encouraged to find metaphors...and voila...the OASIS was laboriously birthed. If you care to look, I've linked to the previous topics.

O Offer Hope
A Advance God's Kingdom
S Share God's Love
I Invest in People
S Seek God's Purposes

Today's service is packed with wonderful things, the least of which is my sermon, so there's not much to it. I am mostly sharing scripture and adding a few things, as well as reviewing previous sermon themes with the people. I hope I will figure out how to share a video with you.

Meanwhile, this is not the video I am speaking of, but it is a You Tube version of the song the dance team was sharing with us.

Getting ready. The white crepe paper on the steps is supposed to represent a river bank, and that is also why all the trees and greens are on the platform.

In the dance, Aaron represents Jesus, praying for his people.
"Sometimes we don't see eye to eye" Kelly and Donna show us. They are dressed in blue and all are barefoot because they are coming down to "the river."

DeeAnna, one of our wonderful yong people, and Patti, invite us to
love each other and put our differences aside for the sake of Jesus Christ
Darren plays and Kelly sings a song she co-wrote, "I Lift My Hands to You, Almighty God."

"We are called to a life of purpose. You can't live on purpose by accident."


“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” Westminster Catechism

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

It seems God has plans and purposes for us! How do we live on purpose?

Let's take a look at Philippians 3:7-14 from "The Message."

The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I'm tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God's righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

Don't you love the way Eugene Peterson has rendered that passage?

And here are the same scriptures from "The New Living Bible."

6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

To live a life "on purpose" or a life devoted to discovering and living God's purpose and plan:

1. We must know Christ (v. 8) John's Gospel, chapter one, tells us that Jesus Christ came to reveal God to us. Do you hear the longing in Paul's words to the Philippians to "know" Christ? Like him, as we journey onward, pressing toward the goal we discover our purpose by discovering our Lord.

2. We must let go of the the past (v. 13)
Whether your past is good or bad, you can’t focus on it.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

If your past is bad, you can’t let it keep you from doing the Lord’s purpose. If your past is good, you can’t depend on it!

3. We must have a worthy goal (v. 13-14)
Have you ever noticed that if you do not have an agenda for your life (or even for your day) one will be provided for you either by the events of life itself or by other people. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals. Actually, it is essential to a purpose filled life, but our ultimate goal must be to serve the Lord. When we see Him, will He say “Well done…”?

4. We must realize that our purpose is eternal (v. 14)
Pleasure won’t last. In Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, Solomon (speaking of pleasure) says “as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”

Possessions won’t last. In I Timothy 6:7 Paul says “After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die.”

Prestige won’t last. In Matthew 19:30, Jesus says “... many who seem important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then.”

I will never forget the cheap, plaster plaque that used to hang in our dining room when I was a child. It was not the beauty of the plaque that stayed with me. I think one of my sisters may have made it at a summer Vacation Bible School. It read:

Only one life,
'Twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ,
will last.

Those words had a lasting impact on my childish heart. Life had eternal purpose! What would my Lord Jesus have me do?

You can’t live on purpose by accident. Will you join me in the journey of discovery?

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