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Summary: To optimize our effectiveness and maximize our faithfulness to God we must live with purpose.

SERIES: NEW THINGS FOR A NEW YEAR

LESSON: IDENTITY AND PURPOSE.

INTRODUCTION:

It is inconvenient at this time of year to make new plans, both personal and corporate. We call them “New Year’s Resolutions.” We desire to do better in the future than the past. Allow me to suggest three areas of focus for 2008:

1. IDENTITY. Each one needs to know who he or she really is. The pivotal point here is that WE ARE GOD’S CHILDREN. While all are God’s offspring by creation, Christians are God kids by new birth. Listen carefully to these verses from the Word of God, “He came to his own (His own prepared, Jewish people) and those who were his own did not receive him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”- John 1:11,12. While there were and always will be different kinds of people, men, women, slave, free, in Christ we are all one, because we are God’s Children. Galatians 3:26 and 27 tell us “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Also, we have died to the old things and all things are now new. See II Corinthians 5:17. As God’s Child you are now light and salt and leaven.

The question is, “What do people see in you? Or us?” Jesus never indicated that living for him would be easy. In fact he said just the opposite. Those who are aware that we have made a profession of faith in Christ and are striving to live as Jesus desires, are watching us closely. “But that’s not fair,” you say. Perhaps, but then, there is the cross! It’s time to reconsider fairness. As those not committed to following Jesus look at you they might be holding you accountable for things beyond your control. Yet, hypocrisy is always unacceptable. We need not be perfect but we must be consistent.

I recently heard of four scholars who were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beautiful, eloquent old English. Another said he preferred the American Standard Bible for its literalism, the way it moves the reader from passage to passage with confident feelings of accuracy from the original text. A third man preferred Moffatt because of its quaint, penetrating use of words, the turn of a phrase that captures the attention of the reader. After giving the issue further thought, the fourth scholar admitted, "I have personally preferred my mother’s translation.’ When the other scholars chuckled, he responded, "Yes, she translated it. She translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I ever saw. "

2. VISION. Immobilized with a broken leg, Bob Dylan wrote “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” And he didn’t. Sometimes we are crippled due to lack of clear vision. In contrast to this: When Walt Disney World in Orlando ,FL. opened in 1974, Mrs. Disney was sitting beside Walter Cronkite. Walt Disney has passed away a few years earlier. Walter Cronkite wanted to say just the right thing to Mrs. Disney, so he leaned over to her and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if Walt were here to see this today.” Mrs. Disney wisely replied, “If Walt had not first seen this you would not be seeing it today.” Well said Mrs. Disney.

I am an archer of sorts. When I began to shoot arrow it was plain I needed a target, so I purchased a good quality, long lasting target. However, at the rate I missed hitting any part of the target, it would have been like new after ten years. No kidding. I became discouraged. A much more accomplished, though much younger archer, told me to keep practicing. It worked. Don’t look to see me in the Olympics anytime soon, but I am now on my third target. (the center portion still looks pretty new). The point is that to miss, even by a mile is not a good reason to quit reaching for the vision, the one you believe is in God’s will for you and this church. Look again, the target is still there. Some of us have this fear: perhaps God is unhappy with our failures and we will be doing wrong by continuing. No so. That is why God has informed us of His grace, that is great than our sins, our failures and our misses.

3. PURPOSE. This is the way to live so as to hit the target. Let’s find God’s purpose and be purpose driven people. It is important at this juncture to add that we should be careful to distinguish between “means” and “end.” The child of God will live in at least two addresses- here and hereafter. We are striving to live in such a way on the earth that heaven will be our home. So, means and end are important considerations. For a Drama Company, the performance on the stage is the end to be achieved. The event itself is the goal. It is what they have practiced for and led up to. For such Christians, the activities we do, like preaching, teaching, or worship, the event itself is not the end to be achieved, it is the means. The goal must be that of accomplishing God’s will in the church and in the lives of people through the particular activity.

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