The Heart of Our Faith

“The Purpose Driven Life: What on earth am I here for,” is a book written by Pastor Rick Warren from the Saddleback Church located in California. The Purpose Driven Life was first published in 2002 – and just since 2007, over 30 million copies have been sold. Think about that…30 MILLION Copies!

Do you know what that tells me? People are searching and wondering what is their purpose in this life!

It tells me that people are not happy doing what they are doing.

It tells me that hearts are aching to live their lives in such a way they make a difference.

It tells me that they don’t understand why they were created in the first place – Why did God put them here on this earth.

People are searching for answers – longing for a purpose and a reason to get up in the morning.

Did you know that the suicide rate in the United States jumped up by 24% – being the highest that it has ever been before? Thirteen (13) out of every 100,000 people commit suicide. That plays out that approximately 42,773 people have died from suicide in one year – compared to just over 29,000 in 1999.

And, the number continues to increase.

Depression is the no. 1 cause of suicide – but, there is something that usually happens in their lives that trigger that depression –

In my research, here is what I found:
Loss of hope, guilt, regret, lack of acceptance, abuse, loss – loss of a family member, spouse or child, or loss of a home, or job…and disappointment…And, these are just to name a few.

But, the biggest loss – Their purpose in life. When people lose the things that give them purpose to live, (such as a family member – child, job, etc…) they then lose hope – They feel helpless.

The Purpose Drive Life was written for people to find that purpose in their lives that will bring them joy. And, Rick Warren has successfully reached millions of people to help people to understand and know that purpose.

In fact, his church is probably one of the largest mega churches in the country. I read at one time that he would baptize 100’s on a given Sunday and people came in droves to join his church.

But, there is something that I have been wondering. So, here is a question I would like to pose:

Is it our ‘purpose’ in life? Or, is it God’s ‘purpose’ for our lives?

Do we often look at life in the wrong way? Because I believe that is whole different way of looking at how we are called to live.

And, here is why I think That:

In our text today, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. It was the day of the Resurrection – Easter morning. Mary Magdalene and another Mary had gone to the tomb that morning when Jesus appears before them. Jesus tells them to go and tell the disciples that He has risen – And, by the way, do not be afraid.

So, they go and tell the eleven disciples – only eleven now because Judas had already committed suicide for having been responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.

The eleven disciples go to the mountain where Jesus would appear before them – and Jesus does. And, even though Jesus was standing right there before them, some still doubted that He was the Messiah.

And, Jesus commissions them: Go! Go and make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all that I have commanded.

And then He gives them a promise: I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. Jesus doesn’t say, I will be with you; or I might be with you; or I should be with you – BUT I AM WITH YOU! It’s present tense –

Right now, right here, and every day forward…

This sounds simple enough, right? Obey Jesus’ commandments, make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, no worries…because Jesus will be with you. It’s a promise!

I wonder how many people read this scripture known as The Great Commission and let it roll right over their heads – In fact, if I were not a pastor – I may would not even pay it much attention. I might would think, I can’t baptize people into Christ! That’s the pastor’s job.

So, what is this really all about – How does this affect me today?

Well – I want you to know that this is your purpose in life – This is God’s purpose for you!

Jesus says: Obey my commandments and teach others to obey them.

What did Jesus command his disciples to do?

In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus commands, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

But, I think it goes even deeper than this…

Today, just before the reading of the Gospel text, we heard the creation story. God created everything – this world we live in – the trees, the grass, the mountains and the valleys – the sun and the moon. God makes it rain, sleet, and snow. This earth provides everything that we need to live.

But, God also created YOU! And, God didn’t just create you without a purpose in this life. God didn’t just throw you into the world and say, “There you go – have fun!” While for many people that is exactly what they do –

God created you so that you have a loving, caring, and fulfilled life through a relationship with Him!

It is a relationship that we have with others in the sense that we spend time with God – through worship, prayer, and in the Word.

God created you – so that through your relationship with Him, you find PURPOSE in your life. And, that no. 1 purpose in your life is to bring others to Him that are searching, longing, and aching for the love that our Lord offers. And, we do that by “LOVING” others.

We do that through forgiveness.

We do that by reaching out…

We do that by being INTENTIONAL about our efforts. And, while worship is crucial in our relationship with God – it cannot be the only the thing we do this week to build our relationship with our Lord. A relationship with God takes work and effort just like any other relationships we have in our lives.

Think for a moment of those who have committed suicide:

Loss of hope, guilt, regret, lack of acceptance, abuse, loss – loss of a family member, spouse or child, or loss of a home, or job…and disappointment…And, these are just to name a few.

But, the biggest loss – Their purpose in life. When people lose the things that give them purpose to live, (such as a family member – child, job, etc…) they then lose hope – They feel helpless.

How could having a relationship with Jesus Christ in their deepest and darkest moments changed their lives?

I believe through a relationship with Jesus Chris – With a relationship with our Lord, our thoughts and actions are suddenly turned towards others and away from ourselves.

Think about it…If Judas had just hung in there a few more days, he would have realized and known what Jesus just did for him on the cross – He would have known that his betrayal against Christ that – God forgave him.

So, I ask again…

ls it our ‘purpose’ in life? Or, is it God’s ‘purpose’ for our lives?

Here is the thing…We belong to God. You are God’s child. God is a part of your DNA. You were created from God…And, God’s purpose for you is to have a deep, loving, and caring relationship with Him.

Start today to begin to think about how you can build that relationship. We all are busy and have to make adjustments to make the time.

Get up a few minutes earlier each day to be in prayer.
Begin writing in a journal to see how God is working in your life and mapping out your purpose.
Get on a committee and help build His kingdom.
Listen for the Holy Spirit to guide you and pay close attention to those little nudges.

God does have a purpose for you!

In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren states,

“It’s not about you – It’s about God.”

It is not about what is our purpose in life – It is about What is God’s purpose for your life.

There is only one way to know what God’s purpose is for you – You MUST KNOW GOD! It is through that relationship with our Lord, and Savior that will give you the discernment to know what God is calling you to do in this world.

It can start today with obeying Jesus’ commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And, love others as you would love yourself.

Put God first in every decision you make and in everything that you do.
Love others by forgiving them and finding ways to bring them to their baptism – in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And, one last thing that you can know for sure –

Jesus says, “And, I am with you always.”

Amen.

About pastorterrihttps://pastorterri.wordpress.comI serve as the pastor at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Augusta, GA.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.