Summary: Realize God did not create you to be a consumer but to make a contribution to the world

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Sunday, May 23, 2004

40 Days of Purpose – week 5

We are in the fifth week of 40 Days of Purpose answering the question “What on earth am I here for?” I have asked Karen Yarnall to be a living demonstration of last week’s message, but also this week’s message, as she is going to do some pottery. (Pay attention up here though, not over there.)

Last week we talked about the third purpose that God has in our lives, that we were created to become like Christ. God has this image in his mind, like right now in Karen’s mind there is an image of what she wants to create. Now it is going to happen as the clay yields to her molding and making and remains on the wheel. If the clay should jump off the wheel and no longer cooperate with her or it dries out, it is not going to form. The same thing is true with our lives. God has an end in mind. The end in mind is to restore his image in our lives; to build the character of Christ, and this is progress. When the world talks about progress, it really means regressive acts. We have already been to Babylon. We have already experienced Sodom and Gomorrrah in Rome. We need to progress as a culture and a people and to progress is to be reformed in God’s image; to have the character of God instilled in our lives - that is the third purpose.

The fourth purpose for our lives is that we were shaped for God’s service. Karen is going to shape something. God is doing something in our lives as well and he has already shaped us for some form of service but before we talk about that, let’s pray. [says prayer]

We were shaped for God’s service. Now you may want to look at the outline because I will be referring to a lot of the verses in the outline. Ephesians 2:10: “We are God’s workmanship” like that clay, “created in Christ Jesus” for what “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has already prepared you for certain things. God has a purpose for your life. That purpose is to do good works. He has already prepared what those things are; he has already shaped you for this.

We are going to talk about what that shaping means. 1 Peter 4:10 says this: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” That’s God purpose. God didn’t create us for the acquisition of wealth. There is nothing wrong with it, if God blesses you with it; but he has created us for the purpose of serving others. John 13:12-14 says this: “When Jesus finished washing” (Jesus was a model of this) “their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. Do you understand what I have done for you?” I think he asks us as well, Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” (and we have worshiped him this morning under that same theme) and you are right, that’s what I am and yet I, your Teacher and Lord, have washed your feet. You should wash one another’s feet as well.

That metaphor -washing one another’s feet -is what’s behind the word service. The word “service” in Greek also means the word “ministry.” Ministry equals service, service equals ministry. When we think of the word ministry, though, so often we think of the person up front, the person with a collar or a robe but that’s not what the word ministry means or a minister is. It’s not just one person, it’s all of us. All of us wear robes. All of us are called to have a collar. All of us are called to service.

Now unfortunately I can’t give you the tax break for a minister, but you are still called to be a minister. You are still called to service. Matthew 20:28 says this: Jesus says, “For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served, but to serve others and give his life as a ransom for many.” It’s imperative for our life; it’s imperative for our health; it’s imperative for our experience of meaning and purpose and significance to be involved in some form of service for others apart from ourselves.

The job will not bring you joy. It’s not enough to bring joy. A salary is not enough to impart significance. Money will not ultimately bring meaning to your life. There are a lot of people who have a lot to live on, but very little or nothing to live for, and God wants us to have something to live for. This comes very counter to our culture because our culture tells us that if you want to be happy you have to take care of me, myself and I, old number one. We are taught as people to seek to attain the ‘good life’. The problem is the people who have attained the ‘good life’ aren’t satisfied. Why? Because once you attain the ‘good life’ you look around and you discover that there is someone else who has a bigger home, who has a nicer car, who has a higher salary, who has a higher standard of living, who has a better looking spouse, so it is an endless pursuit. You will never be satisfied. That is why Jesus said, and he said it five times - he warned us over and over and over again. He made this one statement five times; it’s in Mark 8:34-35. Here is what it says: “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it and whoever will lose his life for my sake and the good news will save it.”

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