We’re in Day 22 of our 50-Day Adventure. We’re looking at all the ways our lives would change if we really believed Jesus were present with us. Today we’re going to look at God’s purpose for my life. God has a purpose for you on this earth. Today we’re going to find out how we can accomplish God’s purpose in our lives.
As I look around, I see people making three mistakes. The first mistake that people make is that they doubt that God has a purpose for their life. This leads to a lot of other problems that show themselves throughout our lives – aimlessness, boredom, depression, and disillusionment. What’s the use in living when you have no purpose?? Do you remember the lines from Alice in Wonderland?? “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the Cat. “It don’t much care where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”? When you lack purpose, you lack direction in life. We’re going to discover how you can find and live God’s purpose for your life today.
The second mistake I’ve noticed people make is that they think God’s purpose is negative. I’ve made this mistake dozens of times. Many of us are afraid that God is going to make us do something that will make us miserable. God says to us in Jeremiah, “‘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'” (Jeremiah 29:11). I remember the first time I read that verse. I thought there had been a misprint in my Bible. I thought, “Surely God’s plans for my life couldn’t be a good thing. He’s going to make me a missionary to some country that I hate. He’s going to make me do something that will make me miserable.”? I don’t know where I got this idea, but I somehow believed that God’s purpose in my life would be negative rather than positive.
The third mistake that people make is that they don’t live out God’s purpose. If you don’t live out God’s purpose in your life, you’ve just wasted your life. The key to happiness is finding your purpose in life. The key to inner peace is focusing on your purpose in life. The key to success is fulfilling your purpose in life. Why did God put me on this planet anyway?? What is God’s great purpose for my life?
Jesus told a story that helps us live and discover God’s purpose for our lives. The story is found in Matthew 25. It’s about a man who went on a trip, but before he left he called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone. Servants in those days were very different from the servants that we think of. They were given a great amount of responsibility and authority. These three servants were partners in the affairs of this business, and they could expect to benefit from any profits made.
Jesus loved to tell stories to make a point. Jesus was saying, “I’m not going to be with you physically for a while. I’m leaving this earth, but while I’m gone I’m putting you in charge. I’m giving you a purpose to live for. And when I return, I’m going to look at what you’ve accomplished with all I gave you.”
How can we accomplish God’s purpose in your lives?? Four ways:
1. REMEMBER THAT GOD’S GIVEN YOU AN INVESTMENT
Matthew 25:14-15 reads, “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a trip. He called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone.”? Jesus began the story by making a point: God has made us partners in his business. He’s made us partners in what he’s trying to accomplish in this world. God has a purpose for my life. He made me to know him, to be like him, to serve him, and to live with him. One of the reasons God made us is so that we use his resources – the things that God made and owned – to make a difference in this world. God has given you an investment, and he wants you to invest your life to make an eternal difference.
If you study the Bible and all through history, God has always had jobs for people to do. Always. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, he said, “Tend the garden, take care of it, manage the garden, name the animals.”? God has a job for you. He has a place for you.
What I’m trying to say is, being comfortable is not the goal of life, as much as advertisements would like us to think that. It’s not the goal of life just to be comfortable. God has a plan and a purpose for your life, and he has a job for you to do while you’re here on the earth.
Not only has God given you a job while you’re on earth, but God has also given you resources. They’re tools that you can use to invest while you’re in this life. These resources go far beyond your talents. The King James Version in this story says that the master left them talents. You’ve probably heard sermons say, “The point of this passage is that God has given you talents – natural abilities, spiritual gifts – and you had better use them.”? But Jesus wasn’t just talking about talents. In fact, the word that Jesus used has nothing to do with talents. It was a measure of money – in fact, a very large sum of money. The equivalent today would probably be into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The point is that God has given you tremendous resources that you can use to accomplish the work that God has put you on the earth to accomplish. God has given you a purpose, and he’s also given you the resources that you need to get this work done.
What are some of the resources that God has given me? ?What are the tools, the investments, the resources that I can use to live out God’s purpose in my life?
SPIRITUAL GIFTS – One of the resources that God has given you are spiritual gifts. The Bible says that every believer in Jesus Christ has been given them. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts.”? It’s possible that you may not know what your spiritual gift. That’s okay. Chances are you’re using it – at least a little. If you have the gift of mercy, you’re probably already being merciful. If you have the gift of service, you probably pitch in and help out when necessary. God has given you some supernatural abilities – gifts – that you can use to make a difference in this world.
HEART – God has given you certain interests. He’s made you interested in certain things, right from the time you were born. You can see this even in kids. Some kids love to talk. Some kids love to take things apart. Some kids love to clean. Some kids love to paint. Some kids love to run. God has given you a heart, a passion, an interest. God wants to use your interests, your passions for his purpose.
ABILITIES – God has given you natural abilities. These are natural talents, vocational skills. What natural talents has God given you?? What vocational skills have you developed?? These can be used by God to accomplish his purpose.
PERSONALITY – I love how God has wired us all differently. I love to watch people in a crowd. Some are extroverts. The more they’re around people, the more they come alive. Some of us are introverts. We look for the corner of the room. We look for friends that we can hang around. We don’t want to talk to strangers. Some of us are thinkers. Some of us are very intuitive. Some of us are structured. Some of us are spontaneous. God has wired your personality specifically for what he wants to accomplish through you. You’re not wired by accident. God can use your personality to do exactly what he wants to do through you.
EXPERIENCES – God has brought you through experiences for a purpose. He’s brought you through spiritual experiences, painful experiences, educational experiences, and ministry experiences. Nothing has ever happened to you without a purpose. God has been using the experiences in your life – good and bad – to make you into the person that you are today.
It’s not just about talents. It’s about who you are. It’s about the freedom you have in this country. It’s about the job, the family, the relationships that he’s given y ou. The first way that you can accomplish God’s purpose in your life is to remember that God has given you an investment. What has God given you?? What interests, strengths, personality traits has God given you that can make a difference?? God has made you who you are, and has placed you where you are for a purpose.
2. REFUSE TO COMPARE MY INVESTMENT WITH OTHERS
Matthew 25:15 says, “He gave five bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities—and then left on his trip.”? The amount of money we’re talking about here is astronomical. Some scholars think that it refers to about twenty year’s worth of labor for the average person. But notice that not everybody received the same amount of money to invest. There were eight bags of gold to be invested. The master didn’t divide by 3 and give each person an equal portion. One got five, one got two, and one got one. Why?? Because the money was distributed in proportion to their abilities. God never gives us more than we can handle. God has given us exactly what we need to get his work done. One of the biggest mistakes that we can make is to begin comparing what we have to what other people have. The result is that we end up frustrated, jealous, or insecure.? We don’t need to. We’ve all been given astronomical amounts of resources – some more, some less, but all of us a lot. We never need to compare, because we have just the amount that God wants us to have. We need to make the most of what God has given us.
Last week, after the service, someone came up to me and said, “I’ve already listened to four preachers this morning. I’ve listened to Charles Stanley. I’ve listened to Steve Brown. I’ve listened to the People’s Church. And I’ve listened to you.”? When you listen to that many preachers, there’s going to be some comparisons taking place. “I liked this one better.? This one wasn’t bad. I don’t know what I think about this one.”? But comparisons are always a mistake. I’m not going to be judged according to what God has given another person. I’m going to be judged on what God has given me. Never make the mistake of comparing yourself to what God is doing through another person. God wants you to be you. He doesn’t want you to be anyone else. He wants to accomplish his purpose for your life through you.
There are two problems with comparing what God has given you to others. The first problem is that you’ll find people who have more. That will lead to jealousy. No matter who you are, you will always find someone who is smarter, richer, more talented, or better than you. Always. When we look at other people and what God has given them, we don’t appreciate what God has given us. Proverbs 27:4 says, “Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but who can survive the destructiveness of jealousy?”
The other problem when we compare what God has given us to others is that we will always find people who have less. We’ll always find someone who’s not as smart, rich, talented, or connected as we are. When we compare ourselves to them we’ll experience pride. And God never uses a proud person. James 4:6 says, “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.”? So never compare yourself to anyone else. Comparisons are odious. Focus on what God has given to you, because God can accomplish exactly what he wants to accomplish in your life with the resources that he’s given you.
Remember that God has given you an investment. Refuse to compare that investment with others. There’s a third way we can accomplish God’s purpose in our lives:
3. RISK YOUR INVESTMENT
Matthew 25:15-18 says:
The servant who received the five bags of gold began immediately to invest the money and soon doubled it. The servant with two bags of gold also went right to work and doubled the money. But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money for safekeeping.
Whenever you have an investment, you have a choice of what to do with it. Two of the servants invested the money right away. Before very long their investment had doubled. They set up some business and let the capital grow. But there’s no such thing as return without risk. One servant decided to just hold onto the money. Why?? Matthew 25:24-25 says, “Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, ‘sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.'”
Why didn’t this man invest the money for a greater return?? Fear. Fear is number one reason why we don’t accomplish God’s purpose in our lives. Like this man, we say, “God didn’t really give me a lot to work with. He’s given others a lot more. I think I’ll just play it safe. I won’t get much done in life, but on the other hand I won’t lose much either. Let’s just play it safe. I won’t do anything with what God has given me.”
The main mistake that this man made is that he misunderstood his master’s character. He imposed his own qualities on his master’s. He thought that his master was a hard and viscous man who hated risk-taking. We make the same mistake about God. We think that God loves it when we play it safe. We think that God wants us to be conservative with our lives – tiptoeing through life without making any mistakes or taking any risks. I don’t know where we get this idea. Look at anyone that was used by God in the Bible. Read the book of Acts. They took lots of risks. They even made mistakes. They refused to play it safe. And God blessed them. One pastor said, “How come everywhere the apostle Paul went, they started a riot, and everywhere I go, they serve me cookies and tea?”? A lot of us are playing it way too safe. We don’t understand that God wants us to take risks for his kingdom.
If God is going to use you, you may look like an upstart. You may look like a trailblazer. You may even make a lot of mistakes. But don’t ever settle for playing it safe. Jesus said:
“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! You think I’m a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn’t plant and gathering crops I didn’t cultivate? Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest. Take the money from this servant and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:26-30)
One author says these words:
Make sure that you generate a reasonable number of mistakes. I know that comes naturally to some people, but too many executives are so afraid of error that they rigidify their organization with checks and counterchecks, discourage innovation, and, in the end, so structure themselves that they will miss the kind of offbeat opportunity that can send a company skyrocketing. So take a look at your record, and if you come to the end of a year and see that you haven’t made any mistakes, then I say, brother, that you just haven’t tried everything you should have tried. (Fletcher L. Byrom)
John Maxwell says, “Risk must be evaluated not by the fear it generates in you or the probability of your success, but by the value of your goal.”? Accomplishing God’s purpose in your life is worth the risk. Refuse to play it safe. I went skating with my daughter the other week and the teacher said, “She started skating fine as soon as she let go of the boards.”? Let go of the boards. You may fall a few times, but it doesn’t matter. Risk what God has given you. You’ll get a greater return.
Remember that God has given you an investment. Refuse to compare your investment with others. Risk your investment. There’s one more way to accomplish God’s purpose in your life:
4. REJOICE OVER THE RETURNS
The best part of an investment is when you enjoy the returns of the investment. It’s when it comes to maturity. It’s when you look at what you’ve invested and you see the returns. When we invest our lives according to God’s purpose, we get to enjoy the returns.? What’s the payoff for living out God’s purpose in our lives?? Matthew 25:23 says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”?
There are three rewards for living out God’s purpose:
FIRST – THERE’S GOING TO BE A COMMENDATION. If you discover and live out your purpose in this life, and invest it to serve God and others, then the first thing reward is that when we get to heaven, we’ll hear God’s commendation. The Master will say, “Well done.”? Can you imagine getting to heaven and have God say that to you?? He looks at your life and says, “Good job!? You did it. You didn’t just live for yourself. I didn’t put you on earth to be a selfish little clot. You used your life to help other people. Right on!? Good job. You accomplished my purpose in your life.”
SECOND – THERE’S GOING TO BE A PROMOTION. “You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.”?? Many people think that when they get to heaven they’re going to wear white robes and have wings and play harps. Wrong!? None of that is in the Bible. Angels may have wings but you’re not an angel. You’re not going to have wings in heaven.
What are we going to do in eternity?? What are we going to do all that time?? The Bible says there’s going to be more to do, more responsibilities and God says that He’s going to look how faithful you were with what he gave you on this earth and you will be rewarded with greater responsibility for your faithfulness on earth.
When you get to heaven, God is going to ask you two questions. First, “What did you do with my Son?”? You’re going to be asked, “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?? I sent him into the world to save you from your sins. The only way that you will receive eternal life is if you received the gift of eternal life my changing your mind and making him the master – the CEO – of your life. What did you do with my Son?”
The second question he’ll ask is “What did you do with what I gave you – the gifts, talents, abilities, brains, education, the freedom I gave you to do whatever you want when other people didn’t have any of the kinds of opportunities you had?”? If we fulfill God’s purpose for our lives on this earth, then we will receive a promotion in heaven. We will be given greater responsibility for our faithfulness on earth.
THIRD – THERE’S GOING TO BE A CELEBRATION. “Let’s celebrate together!”? God’s going to throw a party for you in heaven. Can you imagine God throwing a party? You made your life count. You didn’t build it on selfish success; you built it on significance and helping others.
1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”? No matter what you have to invest, if you live out God’s purpose for your life – be that as a mother, a teacher, a pastor, a businessperson – if you’re faithful in serving God using your gifts, abilities, time, skills, and passions to build his kingdom, then nothing you do is useless. God can use all that you’re doing and all that you to make an eternal difference.
People magazine did an article on Tom Monihan, the guy who invented Domino’s Pizza. He’s a multimillionaire – worth about 400 million dollars. It says:
Each day in his briefcase Tom Monihan keeps two spiral notebooks, the kind that school children use. One is red like the devil for material things. The other is blue like heaven for spiritual things. Until recently entries that would have belonged in the red book played the larger role in Monahan’s life. Second largest pizza chain in the nation next to Pizza Hut. These days the only notation scribbled in the red cover has to do with a dream house he’s building near Ann Arbor, Michigan. He spends most of his time in the Blue Book. He’s had a midlife change of heart.
The article talks about now how he’s investing his whole life serving the Lord. It said he spent time this summer overseeing construction of a church in Honduras. “We have 5000 pizza outlets. My goal now is 5000 churches.”? He said, “I’ve always felt the most important thing for me is getting to heaven. When I die I don’t think St. Peter is going to ask me how many pizzas I sold.”
What are you doing with your one and only life?? What eternal investments are you making with what God has given you?? What risks are you taking to build his kingdom?? What are you doing so that one day you can enjoy the reward of the returns that you have generated for God?
Some of you may not have given your lives to Christ. You haven’t discovered God’s purpose for your life because you don’t know him yet. Reader’s Digest says that says the three keys to happiness are someone to love, something to do and something to hope for. That is what we’re talking about. Someone to love and be loved by – God. Something to do – serve the kingdom of God, there’s no greater cause. Something to hope for – heaven. You can receive all three today.
Would you pray these words:? “God, I want to get to know You. Jesus Christ, as much as I know how, I ask you to come into my life. I turn away for my sins and claim the forgiveness that comes because Jesus died for my sins. I’m going to start serving you wherever I am. I’m going to find a place that I can give back.”
God didn’t create you for your comfort. He didn’t create you for success, fame, or fortune. He created you because he wanted you to look after his affairs while he is gone. And when he returns, he’s going to look at how you’ve invested all that he’s given you. He’s going to look at the risks that you’ve taken to build his kingdom.
Some of you need to sign up for Class 301 to learn how you can be used by God. Some of you need to rededicate your career to God. You’re not doing what you do to make a living. You’re doing what you do to make an eternal difference.
Would you pray, “Lord, help me to live your purpose. Thank you that you’ve given me what you have to invest. Thank you that you’ve made me who I am, and you’ve placed me where I am. May I invest my one and only life so that at the end, I will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”? In Jesus’ name, amen.