Ephesians 5: 14-18
This is why it is said:
‘Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit….
Psalm 139: 13-16
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” (Mark Twain)
As human beings we have an innate craving for meaning and purpose in life. We long to know why we are here, what our unique contribution is to the world, how we can make a difference. As we spend our lives in the pursuit of money, pleasure, status and power – what we are really searching for is significance. We want our existence to matter.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. We are made in the image and likeness of a God who is purposeful in His nature and intentional in His actions. Everything He created has a purpose. Nothing He does is an accident. Our purpose, therefore, isn’t something we get to invent or make up – it is a gift from God that we discover and then develop.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that God created us on purpose and for a purpose:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2: 10 NKJV)
Elsewhere Paul proclaimed that God had even carefully planned where and when each person would exist:
“From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live…” (Acts 17: 26 NRSV)
No matter how planned you were by your human parents, Psalm 139 makes it clear that you were carefully planned and meticulously designed by God.
When a company like Apple design a new iPhone, they don’t just throw a lot of components together and hope for the best. They begin with the end in mind. They ask questions like: ‘what do we want the phone to do?’, ‘how do we want it to look?’; ‘how will it improve people’s lives?’ They then reverse engineer the new product according to its specific and unique purpose.
In something of the same way, I believe God looked into the future, to this place, at this time, and determined that your personality, gifts, abilities, sense of humour, passions and so on, were exactly what was needed to make this place flourish and thrive. There is something that this community needs that only you can express. And it’s only as you discover what that is and release it, that you will walk in your purpose and find true satisfaction and significance.
It is possible to waste your life in passionless pursuits that accomplish little. Consider these verses about one man’s life:
“Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and begot Lamech. After he begot Lamech, Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.” (Genesis 5:25–27, NKJV).
That’s all we know about Methuselah. He lived for a very long time during which he had some children, then he died.
Compare that with this one sentence summary of David’s life:
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried…” (Acts 13: 36)
David fulfilled all that God had prepared for him, he achieved all that was planned for him, he died having accomplished the purposes God had ordained in advance for him. That is both a good life and a good death.
The Apostle Paul also lived life on purpose:
"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air." (1 Cor 9:26)
As the week progresses we will be thinking about how we discover our unique purpose and how we grow and develop in all that God has placed within us. For today, let me leave you with the wisdom of the late Myles Munroe:
“In more than twenty-five years of working with people in businesses, universities, governments, churches, schools, marriages and families, I have met countless individuals who have achieved an incredible degree of success but have found themselves struggling with an inner hunger that revealed a deep need for personal fulfilment and a yearning for individual significance. This feeling of emptiness and internal failure even after a significant measure of material and social success is a direct result of the failure to discover purpose in life and a reason for being born. Until this direction is discovered, life remains an experiment that is based on assumptions and hypotheses.”