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35. God's Power in Your Weakness

El Poder De Las Palabras Jorge Bucay Audiolibro

L`OSSERVATORE ROMANO

OUR DAILY BREAD

BQ35

We are weak ... yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you.

2 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)

I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.

2 Corinthians 12:9a (LB)

God loves to use weak people.

Everyone has weaknesses. In fact, you have a bundle of flaws and imperfections: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. You may also have uncontrollable circumstances that weaken you, such as financial or relational limitations. The more important issue is what you do with these. Usually we deny our weaknesses, defend them, excuse them, hide them, and resent them. This prevents God from using them the way he desires.

God has a different perspective on your weaknesses. He says, "My thoughts and my ways are higher than yours," so he often acts in ways that are the exact opposite of what we expect. We think that God only wants to use our strengths, but he also wants to use our weaknesses for his glory.

The Bible says, "God purposely chose ... what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful." Your weaknesses are not an accident. God deliberately allowed them in your life for the purpose of demonstrating his power through you.

God has never been impressed with strength or self-sufficiency. In fact, he is drawn to people who are weak and admit it. Jesus regarded this recognition of our need as being "poor in spirit." It's the number one attitude he blesses.

The Bible is filled with examples of how God loves to use imperfect, ordinary people to do extraordinary things in spite of their weaknesses. If God only used perfect people, nothing would ever get done, because none of us is flawless. That God uses imperfect people is encouraging news for all of us.

A weakness, or "thorn" as Paul called it, is not a sin or a vice or a character defect that you can change, such as overeating or impatience. A weakness is any limitation that you inherited or have no power to change. It may be a physical limitation, like a handicap, a chronic illness, naturally low energy, or a disability. It may be an emotional limitation, such as a trauma scar, a hurtful memory, a personality quirk, or a hereditary disposition. Or it may be a talent or intellectual limitation. We're not all super bright or talented.

When you think of the limitation in your life, you may be tempted to conclude, "God could never use me." But God is never limited by our limitations. In fact, he enjoys putting his great power into ordinary containers. The Bible says, "We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us." Like common pottery, we are fragile and flawed and break easily. But God will use us if we allow him to work through our weaknesses. For that to happen, we must follow the model of Paul.

Admit your weaknesses. Own up to your imperfections. Stop pretending to have it all together, and be honest about yourself. If God only used perfect people, nothing would ever get done.

Instead of living in denial or making excuses, take the time to identify your personal weaknesses. You might make a list of them.

Two great confessions in the New Testament illustrate what we need for healthy living. The first was Peter's, who said to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." The second confession was Paul's, who said to an idolizing crowd, "We are only human beings like you." If you want God to use you, you must know who God is and know who you are. Many Christians, especially leaders, forget the second truth: We're only human! If it takes a crisis to get you to admit this, God won't hesitate to allow it, because he loves you.

Be content with your weaknesses. Paul said, "I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses." At first this doesn't make sense. We want to be freed from our weaknesses, not be content with them! But contentment is an expression of faith in the goodness of God. It says, "God, I believe you love me and know what's best for me."

Paul gives us several reasons to be content with our inborn weaknesses. First, they cause us to depend on God. Referring to his own weakness, which God refused to take away, Paul said, "I am quite happy about `the thorn,'. .. for when I am weak, then I am strong-the less I have, the more I depend on him." Whenever you feel weak, God is reminding you to depend on him.

Our weaknesses also prevent arrogance. They keep us humble. Paul said, "So I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations." God often attaches a major weakness to a major strength to keep our egos in check. A limitation can act as a governor to keep us from going too fast and running ahead of God.

When Gideon recruited an army of 32,000 to fight the Midianites, God whittled it down to just 300, making the odds 450 to 1 as they went out to fight 135,000 enemy troops. It appeared to be a recipe for disaster, but God did it so Israel would know it was God's power, not their own strength, that saved them.

Our weaknesses also encourage fellowship between believers. While strength breeds an independent spirit ("I don't need anyone else"), our limitations show how much we need each other. When we weave the weak strands of our lives together, a rope of great strength is created.

Vance Havner quipped, "Christians, like snowflakes, are frail, but when they stick together they can stop traffic." Most of all, our weaknesses increase our capacity for sympathy and ministry. We are far more likely to be compassionate and considerate of the weaknesses of others. God wants you to have a Christlike ministry on earth. That means other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts. The things you're most embarrassed about, most ashamed of, and most reluctant to share are the very tools God can use most powerfully to heal others.

The great missionary Hudson Taylor said, "All God's giants were weak people." Moses' weakness was his temper. It caused him to murder an Egyptian, strike the rock he was supposed to speak to, and break the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Yet God transformed Moses into "the humblest man on earth."

Gideon's weakness was low self-esteem and deep insecurities, but God transformed him into a "mighty man of valor." Abraham's weakness was fear. Not once, but twice, he claimed his wife was his sister to protect himself. But God transformed Abraham into "the father of those who have faith." Impulsive, weak-willed Peter became "a rock," the adulterer David became "a man after my own heart,"' and John, one of the arrogant "Sons of Thunder," became the "Apostle of Love."

The list could go on and on. "It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of... Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.... their weakness was turned to strength." God specializes in turning weaknesses into strengths. He wants to take your greatest weakness and transform it.

Honestly share your weaknesses. Ministry begins with vulnerability. The more you let down your guard, take off your mask, and share your struggles, the more God will be able to use you in serving others.

Paul modeled vulnerability in all his letters.

He openly shared:

His failures: "When I want to do good, I don't, and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway."
His feelings: "I have told you all my feelings."
His frustrations: "We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it."
His fears: "When I came to you, I was weak and fearful and trembling."

Of course, vulnerability is risky. It can be scary to lower your defenses and open up your life to others. When you reveal your failures, feelings, frustrations, and fears, you risk rejection. But the benefits are worth the risk. Vulnerability is emotionally liberating.

Opening up relieves stress, defuses your fears, and is the first step to freedom.

We have already seen that God `gives grace to the humble," but many misunderstand humility. Humility is not putting yourself down or denying your strengths; rather, it is being honest about your weaknesses. The more honest you are, the more of God's grace you get. You will also receive grace from others. Vulnerability is an endearing quality; we are naturally drawn to humble people.

Pretentiousness repels but authenticity attracts, and vulnerability is the pathway to intimacy.

This is why God wants to use your weaknesses, not just your strengths. If all people see are your strengths, they get discouraged and think, "Well, good for her, but I'll never be able to do that." But when they see God using you in spite of your weaknesses, it encourages them to think, "Maybe God can use me!" Our strengths create competition, but our weaknesses create community.

At some point in your life you must decide whether you want to impress people or influence people. You can impress people from a distance, but you must get close to influence them, and when you do that, they will be able to see your flaws. That's okay. The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection, but credibility. People must be able to trust you, or they won't follow you. How do you build credibility? Not by pretending to be perfect, but by being honest.

Glory in your weaknesses. Paul said, "I am going to boast only about how weak I am and how great God is to use such weakness for his glory." Instead of posing as self-confident and invincible, see yourself as a trophy of grace. When Satan points out your weaknesses, agree with him and fill your heart with praise for Jesus, who "understands every weakness of ours," and for the Holy Spirit, who "helps us in our weakness."

Sometimes, however, God turns a strength into a weakness in order to use us even more. Jacob was a manipulator who spent his life scheming and then running from the consequences. One night he wrestled with God and said, "I'm not letting go until you bless me." God said, "All right," but then he grabbed Jacob's thigh and dislocated his hip. What is the significance of that?

God touched Jacob's strength (the thigh muscle is the strongest in the body) and turned it into a weakness. From that day forward, Jacob walked with a limp so he could never run away again. It forced him to lean on God whether he liked it or not. If you want God to bless you and use you greatly, you must be willing to walk with a limp the rest of your life, because God uses weak people.

 THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE


Point to Ponder: God works best when I admit my weakness.
Verse to Remember: "My Brace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9a (NIV)
Question to Consider: Am I limiting God's power in my life by trying to hide my weaknesses? What do I need to be honest about in order to help others?

 

 
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36. Made for a Mission

OUR DAILY BREAD

L`OSSERVATORE ROMANO

AMARSE CON LOS OJOS ABIERTOS - JORGE BUCAY

BQ36
YOU WERE MADE FOR A MISSION

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

Proverbs 11:30 (NIV)

In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world.

John 17:18 (Msg)

The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me.

Acts 20:24 (NCV)

God is at work in the world, and he wants you to join him. This assignment is called your mission. God wants you to have both a ministry in the Body of Christ and a mission in the world. Your ministry is your service to believers,' and your mission is your service to unbelievers. Fulfilling your mission in the world is God's fifth purpose for your life.

Your life mission is both shared and specific. One part of it is a responsibility you share with every other Christian, and the other part is an assignment that is unique to you. Our English word mission comes from the Latin word for "sending." Being a Christian includes being sent into the world as a representative of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

Jesus clearly understood his life mission on earth. At age twelve he said, "I must be about my Father's business," and twenty-one years later, dying on the cross, he said, "It is finished." Like bookends, these two statements frame a well-lived, purpose driven life. Jesus completed the mission the Father gave him.

The mission Jesus had while on earth is now our mission because we are the Body of Christ. What he did in his physical body we are to continue as his spiritual body, the church. What is that mission? Introducing people to God! The Bible says, "Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also."

God wants to redeem human beings from Satan and reconcile them to himself so we can fulfill the five purposes he created us for: to love him, to be a part of his family, to become like him, to serve him, and to tell others about him. Once we are his, God uses us to reach others. He saves us and then sends us out. The Bible says, 'We have been sent to speak for Christ." We are the messengers of God's love and purposes to the world.

THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR MISSION

Fulfilling your life mission on earth is an essential part of living for God's glory. The Bible gives several reasons why your mission is so important. Your mission is a continuation of Jesus' mission on earth.

As his followers, we are to continue what Jesus started. Jesus calls us not only to come to him, but to go for him. Your mission is so significant that Jesus repeated it five times, in five different ways, in five different books of the Bible. It is as if he was saying, "I really want you to get this!" Study these five commissions of Jesus and you will learn the details of your mission on earth-the when, where, why, and how.

In the Great Commission Jesus said, "Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you." This commission was given to every follower of Jesus, not to pastors and missionaries alone. This is your commission from Jesus, and it is not optional. These words of Jesus are not the Great Suggestion. If you are a part of God's family, your mission is mandatory. To ignore it would be disobedience.

You may have been unaware that God holds you responsible for the unbelievers who live around you. The Bible says, "You must warn them so they may live. If you don't speak out to warn the wicked to stop their evil ways, they will die in their sin. But I will hold you responsible for their death." You are the only Christian some people will ever know, and your mission is to share Jesus with them.

Your mission is a wonderful privilege. Although it is a big responsibility, it is also an incredible honor to be used by God. Paul said, "God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favor and be reconciled to him." Your mission involves two great privileges: working with God and representing him. We get to partner with God in the building of his kingdom. Paul calls us "co-laborers" and says, "We are workers together with God."

Jesus has secured our salvation, put us in his family, given us his Spirit, and then made us his agents in the world. What a privilege! The Bible says, "We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God."

Telling others how they can have eternal life is the greatest thing you can do for them. If your neighbor had cancer or AIDS and you knew the cure, it would be criminal to withhold that lifesaving information. Even worse is to keep secret the way to forgiveness, purpose, peace, and eternal life. We have the greatest news in the world, and sharing it is the greatest kindness you can show to anyone.

Jesus calls us not only to come to him, but to go for him.

One problem long-term Christians have is that they forget how hopeless it felt to be without Christ. We must remember that no matter how contented or successful people appear to be, without Christ they are hopelessly lost and headed for eternal separation from God. The Bible says, `Jesus is the only One who can save people." Everybody needs Jesus.

Your mission has eternal significance. It will impact the eternal destiny of other people, so it's more important than any job, achievement, or goal you will reach during your life on earth.

The consequences of your mission will last forever; the consequences of your job will not. Nothing else you do will ever matter as much as helping people establish an eternal relationship with God.

This is why we must be urgent about our mission. Jesus said, "All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. " The clock is ticking down on your life mission, so don't delay another day. Get started on your mission of reaching out to others now! We will have all of eternity to celebrate with those we have brought to Jesus, but we only have our lifetime in which to reach them.

This does not mean you should quit your job to become a fulltime evangelist. God wants you to share the Good News where you are. As a student, mother, preschool teacher, salesman, or manager or whatever you do, you should continually look for people God places in your path with whom you can share the gospel.

Your mission gives your life meaning. William James said, "The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it." The truth is, only the kingdom of God is going to last. Everything else will eventually vanish. That is why we must live purpose driven lives-lives committed to worship, fellowship, spiritual growth, ministry, and fulfilling our mission on earth. The results of these activities will last-forever!

If you fail to fulfill your God-given mission on earth, you will have wasted the life God gave you. Paul said, "My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love.” There are people on this planet whom only you will be able to reach, because of where you live and what God has made you to be. If just one person will be in heaven because of you, your life will have made a difference for eternity. Start looking around at your personal mission field and pray, "God, who have you put in my life for me to tell about Jesus?"

The Great Commission was given to every follower of Jesus.

God's timetable for history's conclusion is connected to the completion of our commission. Today there's a growing interest in the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. When will it happen? Just before Jesus ascended to heaven the disciples asked him this same question, and his response was quite revealing. He said, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, "The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I've given you. Focus on that!"

Speculating on the exact timing of Christ's return is futile, because Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Since Jesus said he didn't know the day or hour, why should you try to figure it out? What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it. Jesus said, "The Good News about God's kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come." If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.

It is easy to get distracted, because Satan would rather have you do anything besides sharing your faith.

It is easy to get distracted and sidetracked from your mission because Satan would rather have you do anything besides sharing your faith. He will let you do all kinds of good things as long as you don't take anyone to heaven with you. But the moment you become serious about your mission, expect the Devil to throw all kinds of diversions at you. When that happens, remember the words of Jesus: "Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

WHAT IT COSTS TO FULFILL YOUR MISSION

To fulfill your mission will require that you abandon your agenda and accept God's agenda for your life. You can't just "tack it on" to all the other things you'd like to do with your life. You must say, like Jesus, "Father, ... I want your will, not mine." You yield your rights, expectations, dreams, plans, and ambitions to him. You stop praying selfish prayers like "God bless what I want to do." Instead you pray, "God help me to do what you're blessing!" You hand God a blank sheet with your name signed at the bottom and tell him to fill in the details. The Bible says, "Give yourselves completely to God-every part of you ... to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes."

If you will commit to fulfilling your mission in life no matter what it costs, you will experience the blessing of God in ways that few people ever experience. There is almost nothing God won't do for the man or woman who is committed to serving the kingdom of God. Jesus has promised,"[God] will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern."

If you want to be used by God, you must care about what God cares about; what he cares about most is the redemption of the people he made. He wants his lost children found! Nothing matters more to God; the Cross proves that. I pray that you will always be on the lookout to reach "one more for Jesus" so that when you stand before God one day, you can say, "Mission accomplished!"

 THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE

Point to Ponder: I was made for a mission.
Verse to Remember: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
Question to Consider: What fears have kept me from fulfilling the mission God made me to accomplish? What keeps me from telling others the Good News?

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37. Sharing Your Life Message

Déjame que te cuente - Jorge Bucay

L`OSSERVATORE ROMANO

OUR DAILY BREAD

BQ37

Those who believe in the son of God have the testimony of God in them.

1John 5:10a (GWT)

Your lives are echoing the Master's word ....The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore -you're the message!

1Thessalonians 1:8 (Msg)

God has given you a Life Message to share.

When you became a believer, you also became God's messenger. God wants to speak to the world through you. Paul said, "We speak the truth before God, as messengers of God."

You may feel you don't have anything to share, but that's the Devil trying to keep you silent. You have a storehouse of experiences that God wants to use to bring others into his family. The Bible says, "Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them." Your Life Message has four parts to it:

• Your testimony: the story of how you began a relationship with Jesus
• Your life lessons: the most important lessons God has taught you
• Your godly passions: the issues God shaped you to care about most
• The Good News: the message of salvation

Your Life Message includes your testimony. Your testimony is the story of how Christ has made a difference in your life. Peter tells us that we were chosen by God "to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you." This is the essence of witnessing-simply sharing your personal experiences regarding the Lord. In a courtroom, a witness isn't expected to argue the case, prove the truth, or press for a verdict; that is the job of attorneys. Witnesses simply report what happened to them or what they saw.

Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses," not "You will be my attorney." He wants you to share your story with others. Sharing your testimony is an essential part of your mission on earth because it is unique. There is no other story just like yours, so only you can share it. If you don't share it, it will be lost forever. You may not be a Bible scholar, but you are the authority on your life, and it's hard to argue with personal experience. Actually, your personal testimony is more effective than a sermon, because unbelievers see pastors as professional salesmen, but see you as a "satisfied customer," so they give you more credibility.

Personal stories are also easier to relate to than principles, and people love to hear them. They capture our attention, and we remember them longer. Unbelievers would probably lose interest if you started quoting theologians, but they have a natural curiosity about experiences they've never had. Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from your heart to theirs.

Another value of your testimony is that it bypasses intellectual defenses. Many people who won't accept the authority of the Bible will listen to a humble, personal story. That is why on six different occasions Paul used his testimony to share the gospel instead of quoting Scripture.'

The Bible says, `Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect." The best way to "be ready" is to write out your testimony and then memorize the main points. Divide it into four parts:

1. What my life was like before I met Jesus
2. How I realized I needed Jesus
3. How I committed my life to Jesus
4. The difference Jesus has made in my life

Of course, you have many other testimonies besides your salvation story. You have a story for every experience in which God has helped you. You should make a list of all the problems, circumstances, and crises that God has brought you through. Then be sensitive and use the story that your unbelieving friend will relate to best.

Different situations call for different testimonies.

Your Life Message includes your life lessons. The second part of your life message is the truths that God has taught you from experiences with him. These are lessons and insights you have learned about God, relationships, problems, temptations, and other aspects of life. David prayed, "God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course." Sadly, we never learn from a lot that happens to us. Of the Israelites, the Bible says, "Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned-until finally their sins destroyed them." You have probably met people like that.

While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others. There isn't enough time to learn everything in life by trial and error. We must learn from the life lessons of one another. The Bible says, "A warning given by an experienced person to someone willing to listen is more valuable than ... jewelry made of the finest gold."

Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from your heart to others.

Write down the major life lessons you have learned so you can share them with others. We should be grateful Solomon did this, because it gave us the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which are filled with practical lessons on living. Imagine how much needless frustration could be avoided if we learned from each other's life lessons.

Mature people develop the habit of extracting lessons from everyday experiences. I urge you to make a list of your life lessons. You haven't really thought about them unless you have written them down. Here are a few questions to jog your memory and get your started:

• What has God taught me from failure?
• What has God taught me from a lack of money?
• What has God taught me from pain or sorrow or depression?
• What has God taught me through waiting?
• What has God taught me through illness?
• What has God taught me from disappointment?

• What have I learned from my family, my church, my relationships, my small group, and my critics?

Your Life Message includes sharing your godly passions. God is a passionate God. He passionately loves some things and passionately hates other things. As you grow closer to him, he will give you a passion for something he cares about deeply so you can be a spokesman for him in the world. It may be a passion about a problem, a purpose, a principle, or a group of people. Whatever it is, you will feel compelled to speak up about it and do what you can to make a difference.

You cannot keep yourself from talking about what you care about most. Jesus said, "A man's heart determines his speech." Two examples are David, who said, "My zeal for God and his work burns hot within me," and Jeremiah, who said, "Your message burns in my heart and bones, and I cannot keep silent."

God gives some people a godly passion to champion a cause. It's often a problem they personally experienced such as abuse, addiction, infertility, depression, a disease, or some other difficulty. Sometimes God gives people a passion to speak up for a group of others who can't speak for themselves: the unborn, the persecuted, the poor, the imprisoned, the mistreated, the disadvantaged, and those who are denied justice. The Bible is filled with commands to defend the defenseless.

God uses passionate people to further his kingdom. He may give you a godly passion for starting new churches, strengthening families, funding Bible translations, or training Christian leaders. You may be given a godly passion for reaching a particular group of people with the gospel: businessmen, teenagers, foreign exchange students, young mothers, or those with a particular hobby or sport. If you ask God, he will burden your heart for a specific country or ethnic group that desperately needs a strong Christian witness.

God gives us different passions so that everything he wants done in the world will get done. You should not expect everyone else to be passionate about your passion. Instead, we must listen to and value each other's life message because nobody can say it all. Never belittle someone else's godly passion. The Bible says, "It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good."

God gives us different passions so that everything he wants done in the world will get done.

Your Life Message includes the Good News. What is the Good News? "The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself-that it begins and ends with faith." "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others." The Good News is that when we trust God's grace to save us through what Jesus did, our sins are forgiven, we get a purpose for living, and we are promised a future home in heaven.

There are hundreds of great books on how to share the Good News. But all the training in the world won't motivate you to witness for Christ until you internalize the eight convictions covered in the previous chapter. Most important, you must learn to love lost people the way God does.

God has never made a person he didn't love. Everybody matters to him. When Jesus stretched his arms out wide on the cross, he was saying, "I love you this much!" The Bible says, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all." Whenever you feel apathetic about your mission in the world, spend some time thinking about what Jesus did for you on the cross.

We must care about unbelievers because God does. Love leaves no choice. The Bible says, "There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear." A parent will run into a burning building to save a child because their love for that child is greater than their fear. If you've been afraid to share the Good News with those around you, ask God to fill your heart with his love for them.

The Bible says, "[God] does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives." As long as you know one person who doesn't know Christ, you must keep praying for them, serving them in love, and sharing the Good News. And as long as there is one person in your community who isn't in the family of God, your church must keep reaching out.

The church that doesn't want to grow is saying to the world, "You can go to hell."

What are you willing to do so that the people you know will go to heaven? Invite them to church? Share your story? Give them this book? Take them a meal? Pray for them every day until they are saved? Your mission field is all around you. Don't miss the opportunities God is giving you. The Bible says, "Make the most of your chances to tell others the Good News. Be wise in all your contacts with them."

Is anyone going to be in heaven because of you? Will anyone in heaven be able to say to you, "I want to thank you. I'm here because you cared enough to share the Good News with me"? Imagine the joy of greeting people in heaven whom you helped get there. The eternal salvation of a single soul is more important than anything else you will ever achieve in life. Only people are going to last forever.

You have learned God's five purposes for your life on earth: He made you to be a member of his family, a model of his character, a magnifier of his glory, a minister of his grace, and a messenger of his Good News to others. Of these five purposes, the fifth can only be done on earth. The other four you will keep doing in eternity in some way. That's why spreading the Good News is so important; you only have a short time to share your life message and fulfill your mission.

THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE

Point to Ponder: God wants to say something to the world through me.
Verse to Remember: `Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect."
1 Peter 3:15b-16 (TEV)
Question to Consider: As I reflect on my personal story, who does God want me to share it with?

 

 
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38. Becoming a world-class christian

The War of Antichrist with the Church and Christian Civilization - Audiobook by George F. Dillon

L`OSSERVATORE ROMANO

OUR DAILY BREAD

BQ38

Jesus said to his followers, "Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone."

Mark 16:15 (NCV)

Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind.

Psalm 67:2 (LB)

The Great Commission is your commission.

You have a choice to make. You will be either a world-class Christian or a worldly Christian. Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment. They are saved, but self-centered. They love to attend concerts and enrichment seminars, but you would never find them at a missions conference because they aren't interested. Their prayers focus on their own needs, blessings, and happiness. It's a "me-first" faith: How can God make my life more comfortable? They want to use God for their purposes instead of being used for his purposes.

In contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and made for a mission. They are eager to receive a personal assignment and excited about the privilege of being used by God. World-class Christians are the only fully alive people on the planet. Their joy, confidence, and enthusiasm are contagious because they know they're making a difference. They wake up each morning expecting God to work through them in fresh ways. Which type of Christian do you want to be?

God invites you to participate in the greatest, largest, most diverse, and most significant cause in history-his kingdom. History is his story. He's building his family for eternity. Nothing matters more, and nothing will last as long. From the book of Revelation we know that God's global mission will be accomplished. Someday the Great Commission will be the Great Completion. In heaven an enormous crowd of people from "every race, tribe, nation, and language" will one day stand before Jesus Christ to worship him. Getting involved as a world-class Christian will allow you to experience a little of what heaven will be like in advance.

When Jesus told his followers to `Bo everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone," that small band of poor, Middle Eastern disciples were overwhelmed. Were they supposed to walk or ride slow animals? That's all they had for transportation, and there were no ocean-crossing ships, so there were real physical barriers to going to the whole world.

Today we have airplanes, ships, trains, buses, and automobiles. It's a small world after all, and it's shrinking daily. You can fly across the ocean in a matter of hours and be home the next day if you need to be. The opportunities for normal, everyday Christians to become involved in short-term international missions are now literally limitless. Every corner of the world is available to you-just ask the travel industry. We have no excuse not to spread the Good News.

Now, with the Internet, the world has gotten even smaller. In addition to phones and faxes, any believer with Internet access can personally communicate with people in virtually every country on earth. The whole world is at your fingertips!

Even many remote villages get email, so you can now carry on "e-vangelistic" conversations with people on the other side of the world, without even leaving your home! It has never been easier in history to fulfill your commission to go to the whole world. The great barriers are no longer distance, cost, or transportation. The only barrier is the way we think. To be a world-class Christian you must make some mental shifts. Your perspective and attitudes must change.

HOW TO THINK LIKE A WORLD-CLASS CHRISTIAN

Shift from self-centered thinking to other-centered thinking. The Bible says, "My friends, stop thinking like children. Think like mature people." This is the first step to becoming a world-class Christian. Children only think of themselves; grownups think of others. God commands, "Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too."Of course, this is a difficult mental shift because we're naturally self-absorbed and almost all advertising encourages us to think of ourselves.

The only way we can make this paradigm switch is by a moment-by-moment dependence on God. Fortunately he doesn't leave us to struggle on our own. "God has given us his Spirit. That's why we don't think the same way that the people of this world think." Begin asking the Holy Spirit to help you to think of the spiritual need of unbelievers whenever you talk to them. With practice you can develop the habit of praying silent "breath prayers" for those you encounter.

Say, "Father, help me to understand what is keeping this person from knowing you." It has never been easier in history to fulfill your commission to go to the whole world. Your goal is to figure out where others are in their spiritual journey and then do whatever will bring them a step closer to knowing Christ. You can learn how to do this by adopting the mind-set of Paul, who said, "I don't think about what would be good for me but about what would be good for many people so that they might be saved.'

Shift from local thinking to global thinking. God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world. "God so loved the world...."' From the beginning he has wanted family members from every nation he created. The Bible says, "From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him."

Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multinational. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast food. Probably most of the clothes you are wearing and much of what you ate today were produced in another country. We are more connected than we realize.

These are exciting days to be alive. There are more Christians on earth right now than ever before. Paul was right: "This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours." The first way to start thinking globally is to begin praying for specific countries. World-class Christians pray for the world. Get a globe or map and pray for nations by name. The Bible says, "If you ask me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours.'

Prayer is the most important tool for your mission in the world. People may refuse our love or reject our message, but they are defenseless against our prayers. Like an intercontinental missile, you can aim a prayer at a person's heart whether you are ten feet or 10,000 miles away.

What should you pray for?

The Bible tells us to pray for opportunities to witness," for courage to speak up, for those who will believe, for the rapid spread of the message, and for more workers. Prayer makes you a partner with others around the world. You should also pray for missionaries and everyone else involved in the global harvest. Paul told his prayer partners, "You are also joining to help us when you pray for us.” 

Another way to develop global thinking is to read and watch the news with "Great Commission eyes.' Wherever there is change or conflict, you can be sure that God will use it to bring people to him. People are most receptive to God when they are under tension or in transition. Because the rate of change is increasing in our world, more people are open to hearing the Good News now than ever before.

The best way to switch to global thinking is to just get up and go on a short-term mission project to another country! There's simply no substitute for hands-on, real life experience in another culture. Quit studying and discussing your mission and just do it! I dare you to dive into the deep end. In Acts 1:8 Jesus gave us a pattern for involvement: "You will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world." His followers were to reach out to their community (Jerusalem), to their country (Judea), to other cultures (Samaria), and to other nations (everywhere in the world).

Note that our commission is simultaneous, not sequential. While not everyone has the missionary gift, every Christian is called to be on a mission to all four groups in some way.

Are you an Acts 1:8 Christian?

Set a goal to participate in a mission project to each of these four targets. I urge you to save and do whatever it takes to participate in a short-term mission trip overseas as soon as possible. Nearly every mission agency can help you do this. It will enlarge your heart, expand your vision, stretch your faith, deepen your compassion, and fill you with a kind of joy you have never experienced. It could be the turning point in your life.

Shift from "here and now" thinking to eternal thinking. To make the most of your time on earth, you must maintain an eternal perspective. This will keep you from majoring on minor issues and help you distinguish between what's urgent and what's ultimate. Paul said, "We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. "

So much of what we waste our energy on will not matter even a year from now, much less for eternity. Don't trade your life for temporary things. Jesus said, "Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work 1 plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God." Paul warned, "Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out."


What are you allowing to stand in the way of your mission? What's keeping you from being a world-class Christian? Whatever it is, let it go. "Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back." Jesus told us to "store up your treasures in heaven." How can we do this? In one of his most misunderstood statements Jesus said, "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

Jesus did not mean for you to "buy" friends with money. What he meant was that you should use the money God gives you to bring people to Christ. They will then be friends for eternity who will welcome you when you get to heaven! It's the best financial investment you'll ever make.

You've probably heard the expression "You can't take it with you"-but the Bible says you can send it on ahead by investing in people who are going there! The Bible says, `By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven-it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well."

Shift from thinking of excuses to thinking of creative ways to fulfill your commission. If you are willing, there is always a way to do it, and there are agencies that will help you. Here are some common excuses:

• "I only speak English." This is actually an advantage in many countries where millions of people want to learn English and are eager to practice it.
• "I don't have anything to offer' Yes, you do. Every ability and experience in your shape can be used somewhere.
• "I'm too old (or too young).' Most mission agencies have age-appropriate short term projects.

Whether it was Sarah claiming she was too old to be used by God or Jeremiah claiming he was too young, God rejected their excuses. "Don't say that,' the LORD replied, for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you.'"

Maybe you have believed that you needed a special "call" from God, and you've been waiting for some supernatural feeling or experience. But God has already stated his call repeatedly. We are all called to fulfill God's five purposes for our lives: to worship, to fellowship, to grow like Christ, to serve, and to be on mission with God in the world. God doesn't want to use just some of his people; he wants to use all of his people. We are all called to be on-mission for God. He wants his whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

Many Christians have missed God's plan for their lives because they have never even asked God if he wanted them to serve as a missionary somewhere. Whether out of fear or ignorance, they have automatically closed their minds to the possibility of serving as a resident missionary in a cross-cultural location. If you are tempted to say no, you ought to check out all the different ways and possibilities that are now available (this will surprise you), and you ought to seriously pray and ask God what he wants from you in the years ahead. Untold thousands of resident missionaries are desperately needed at this critical point in history, when so many doors are opening wide like never before.

If you want to be like Jesus, you must have a heart for the whole world. You can't be satisfied with just your family and friends coming to Christ. There are over 6 billion people on earth, and Jesus wants all his lost children found. Jesus said, "Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live!" The Great Commission is your commission, and doing your part is the secret to living a life of significance.

THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE

Point to Ponder: The Great Commission is my commission.
Verse to Remember: "Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind." Psalm 67:2 (LB)
Question to Consider: What steps can I take to prepare to go on a short-term missions experience in the next year?

 

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39. Balancing your life

A. W. Tozer - The Pursuit of God (Christian audiobook)

L`OSSERVATORE ROMANO - For the loved and tormented nation of Syria

OUR DAILY BREAD

BQ39

Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do.

Ephesians 5:15 (Ph)

Don't let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.

2 Peter 3:17 (CEV)

O poder da música

Blessed are the balanced; they shall outlast everyone. One of the events in the summer Olympics is the pentathlon. It is composed of five events: pistol shooting, fencing, and horseback riding, running, and swimming. The pent athlete’s goal is to succeed in all five areas, not just one or two.

Your life is a pentathlon of five purposes, which you must keep in balance. These purposes were practiced by the first Christians in Acts 2, explained by Paul in Ephesians 4, and modeled by Jesus in John 17, but they are summarized in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus. These two statements sum up what this book is all about-God's five purposes for your life:

1. "Love God with all your heart": You were planned for God's pleasure, so your purpose is to love God through worship.

2. "Love your neighbor as yourself': You were shaped for serving, so your purpose is to show love for others through ministry.

3. "Go and make disciples": You were made for a mission, so your purpose is to share God's message through evangelism.

4. "Baptize them into . . .” You were formed for God's family, so your purpose is to identify with his church through fellowship.

5. "Teach them to do all things ...” You were created to become like Christ, so your purpose is to grow to maturity through discipleship.

A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will make you a great Christian.

Keeping these five purposes in balance is not easy. We all tend to overemphasize the purposes we feel most passionate about and neglect the others. Churches do the same thing. But you can keep your life balanced and on track by joining a small group for accountability, by regularly evaluating your spiritual health, by recording your progress in a personal journal, and by passing on what you learn to others. These are four important activities for purpose-driven living. If you are serious about staying on track, you will need to develop these habits.

Talk it through with a spiritual partner or small group. The Bible says, "As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other." We learn best in community. Our minds are sharpened and our convictions are deepened through conversation.

You can pray for, encourage, and support each other as you begin to live out these purposes. Remember, we are meant to grow together, not separately. The Bible says, "Encourage each other and give each other strength."

I also encourage you to do personal Bible study. Give yourself a regular spiritual check-up. The best way to balance the five purposes in your life is to evaluate yourself periodically. God places a high value on the habit of self-evaluation. At least five times in Scripture we are told to test and examine our own spiritual health. The Bible says, "Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups.... Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it."

A commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will make you a great Christian.

To maintain your physical health, you need regular check-ups with a doctor who can assess your vital signs-blood pressure, temperature, weight, and so on. For your spiritual health you need to regularly check the five vital signs of worship, fellowship, growth in character, ministry, and mission. Jeremiah advised, "Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God." Paul urged, "Let your enthusiastic idea at the start be equaled by your realistic action now."

Write down your progress in a journal. The best way to reinforce your progress in fulfilling God's purposes for your life is to keep a spiritual journal. This is not a diary of events, but a record of the life lessons you don't want to forget. The Bible says, "It's crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we've heard so that we don't drift off." We remember what we record.

Writing helps clarify what God is doing in your life. Dawson Trotman used to say, "Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through your fingertips." The Bible has several examples of God telling people to keep a spiritual journal. It says, "At the LORD'S direction, Moses kept a written record of their progress."

Aren't you glad Moses obeyed God's command to record Israel's spiritual journey? If he had been lazy, we would be robbed of the powerful life lessons of the Exodus.

While it's unlikely that your spiritual journal will be as widely read as Moses' was, yours is still important. The New International Version says, "Moses recorded the stages in their journey.' Your life is a journey, and a journey deserves a journal.

Don't just write down the pleasant things. As David did, record your doubts, fears, and struggles with God. Our greatest lessons come out of pain, and the Bible says God keeps a record of our tears. Whenever problems occur, remember that God uses them to fulfill all five purposes in your life: Problems force you to focus on God, draw you closer to others in fellowship, build Christ-like character, provide you with a ministry, and give you a testimony. Every problem is purpose-driven.

In the middle of a painful experience, the psalmist wrote, "Write down for the coming generation what the LORD has done, so that people not yet born will praise him." You owe it to future generations to preserve the testimony of how God helped you fulfill his purposes on earth.

It is a witness that will continue to speak long after you're in heaven.

Pass on what you know to others. If you want to keep growing, the best way to learn more is to pass on what you have already learned. Proverbs tells us, "The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped." Those who pass along insights get more from God.

Now that you understand the purpose of life, it is your responsibility to carry the message to others. God is calling you to be his messenger. Paul said, "Now I want you to tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others." In this book I have passed on to you what others taught me about the purpose of life; now it's your duty to pass that on to others.

You probably know hundreds of people who do not know the purpose of life. Share these truths with your children, your friends, your neighbors, and those you work with. The more you know, the more God expects you to use that knowledge to help others. James said, "anyone who knows the right thing to do, but does not do it, is sinning.' Knowledge increases responsibility. But passing along the purpose of life is more than an obligation; it's one of life's greatest privileges. Imagine how different the world would be if everyone knew their purpose. Paul said, "If you teach these things to other followers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus."

You owe it to future generations to preserve the testimony of how God helped you fulfill his purposes on earth.

IT'S ALL FOR GOD'S GLORY

The reason we pass on what we learn is for the glory of God and the growth of his kingdom. The night before he was crucified, Jesus reported to his Father, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.  When Jesus prayed these words, he had not yet died for our sins, so what "work" had he completed? In this instance he was referring to something other than the atonement. The answer lies in what he said in the next twenty verses of his prayer."

Jesus told his Father what he had been doing for the last three years: preparing his disciples to live for God's purposes. He helped them to know and love God (worship), taught them to love each other (fellowship), gave them the Word so they could grow to maturity (discipleship), showed them how to serve (ministry), and sent them out to tell others (mission). Jesus modeled a purpose-driven life, and he taught others how to live it, too. That was the "work" that brought glory to God.

Today God calls each of us to the same work. Not only does he want us to live out his purposes, he also wants us to help others do the same. God wants us to introduce people to Christ, bring them into his fellowship, and help them grow to maturity and discover their place of service, and then send them out to reach others, too.

This is what purpose-driven living is all about. Regardless of your age, the rest of your life can be the best of your life, and you can start living on purpose today.

THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE

 Point to Ponder: Blessed are the balanced.

Verse to Remember: "Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do." Ephesians 5:15 (Ph)

Question to Consider: Which of the four activities will I begin in order to stay on track and balance God's five purposes for my life?

 

O poder da música
O poder da música
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40. Living with Purpose

The Deeper Christian Life, Christian Audiobook, by Andrew Murray

L`OSSERVATORE ROMANO

OUR DAILY BREAD

BQ40

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) For David ... served the purpose of God in his own generation.

Acts 13:36 (NASB)

Living on purpose is the only way to really live. Everything else just exists.

Most people struggle with three basic issues in life. The first is identity: "Who am I?" The second is importance: "Do I matter?" The third is impact: "What is my place in life?" The answers to all three questions are found in God's five purposes for you.

In the Upper Room, as Jesus was concluding his last day of ministry with his disciples, he washed their feet as an example and said, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." Once you know what God wants you to do, the blessing comes in actually doing it. As the come to the end of our forty-day journey together, now that you know God's purposes for your life, you will be blessed if you do them!

This probably means you will have to stop doing some other things. There are many "good" things you can do with your life, but God's purposes are the five essentials you must do. Unfortunately, it's easy to get distracted and forget what is most important. It's easy to drift away from what matters most and slowly get off course. To prevent this, you should develop a purpose statement for your life and then review it regularly.

WHAT IS A LIFE PURPOSE STATEMENT?

It's a statement that summarizes God's purposes for your life. In your own words you affirm your commitment to God's five purposes for your life. A purpose statement is not a list of goals. Goals are temporary; purposes are eternal. The Bible says, "His plans endure forever; his purposes last eternally."

It's a statement that points the direction of your life. Writing down your purposes on paper will force you to think specifically about the path of your life. The Bible says, "Know where you are headed, and you will stay on solid ground." A life purpose statement not only spells out what you intend to do with your time, life, and money, but also implies what you aren't going to do. Proverbs says, "An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in many directions."

It's a statement that defines "success" for you. It states what you believe is important, not what the world says is important. It clarifies your values. Paul said, "I want you to understand what really matters.'

It's a statement that clarifies your roles. You will have different roles at different stages in life, but your purposes will never change. They are greater than any role you will have.

It's a statement that expresses your shape. It reflects the unique ways God made you to serve him.

Take your time writing out your life purpose statement. Don't try to complete it in a single setting, and don't aim for perfection in your first draft; just your thoughts as fast as they come to you. It is always easier to edit than to create. Here are five questions you should consider as you prepare your statement:

LIFE'S FIVE GREATEST QUESTIONS

What will be the center of my life? This is the question of worship.

Who are you going to live for?

What are you going to build your life around? You can center your life around your career, your family, a sport or hobby, money, having fun, or many other activities. These are all good things, but they don't belong at the center of your life. None is strong enough to hold you together when life starts breaking apart. You need an unshakable center. King Asa told the people of Judah to "center their lives in God.' Actually, whatever is at the center of your life is your god. When you committed your life to Christ, he moved into the center, but you must keep him there through worship. Paul says, "I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts."

How do you know when God is at the center of your life?

 When God's at the center, you worship. When he's not, you worry. Worry is the warning light that God has been shoved to the sideline. The moment you put him back at the center, you will have peace again. The Bible says, "A sense of God's wholeness ... will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

What will be the character of my life? This is the question of discipleship.

What kind of person will you be?

God is far more interested in what you are than what you do. Remember, you will take your character into eternity, but not your career. Make a list of the character qualities you want to work on and develop in your life. You might begin with the fruit of the Spirit or the Beatitudes.

Peter said, "Don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love." Don't get discouraged and give up when you stumble. It takes a lifetime to build Christ-like character. Paul told Timothy, "Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don't be diverted. Just keep at it."

What will be the contribution of my life? This is the question of service.

What will be your ministry in the Body of Christ?

Knowing your combination of spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences (SHAPE), what would be your best role in the family of God? How can you make a difference? Is there a specific group in the Body that I am shaped to serve?

Paul pointed out two wonderful benefits when you fulfill your ministry: "This service you perform not only meets the needs of God's people, but also produces an outpouring of gratitude to God."

While you are shaped to serve others, even Jesus didn't meet the needs of everyone while on earth. You have to choose whom you can best help, based on your shape. You need to ask, "Who do I have a desire to help most?" Jesus said, "I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last." Each of us bears different fruit.

What will be the communication of my life?

This is the question of your mission to unbelievers. Your mission statement is a part of your life purpose statement. It should include your commitment to share your testimony and the Good News with others. You should also list the life lessons and godly passions you feel God has given you to share with the world. As you grow in Christ, God may give you a special target group of people to focus on reaching. Be sure to add this to your statement.

If you are a parent, part of your mission is to raise your children to know Christ, to help them understand his purposes for their lives, and to send them out on their mission in the world. You might include Joshua's statement in yours: "As for me and my family, we will serve the LORD."

When God's at the center of your life, you worship. When he's not, you worry.

Of course, our lives must support and validate the message we communicate. Before most unbelievers accept the Bible as credible they want to know that we are credible. That is why the Bible says. `Be sure that you live in a way that brings honor to the Good News of Christ."

What will be the community of my life? This is the question of fellowship.

How will you demonstrate your commitment to other believers and connection to the family of God? Where will you practice the "one another" commands with other Christians? To which church family will you be joined as a functioning member?

The more you mature, the more you will love the Body of Christ and want to sacrifice for it. The Bible says, "Christ loved the church and gave his life for it." You should include an expression of your love for God's church in your statement.

As you consider your answers to these questions, include any Scriptures that speak to you about each of these purposes. It may take you weeks or months to craft your life purpose statement just the way you want it. Pray, think about it, talk with close friends, and reflect on Scripture. You may go through several rewrites before you get to your final form. Even then, you will probably make minor changes as time goes by and God gives you more insight into your own shape. In addition to writing a detailed life purpose statement, it is also helpful to have a shorter statement or slogan that summarizes the five purposes for your life in a way that's memorable and inspires you. Then you can remind yourself daily. Solomon advised, "It will be good to keep these things in mind so that you are ready to repeat them."

Here are a few examples:

• "My life purpose is to worship Christ with my heart, serve him with my shape, fellowship with his family, grow like him in character, and fulfill his mission in the world so he receives glory."

• "My life purpose is to be a member of Christ's family, a model of his character, a minister of his grace, a messenger of his word, and a magnifier of his glory."

• "My life purpose is to love Christ, grow in Christ, share Christ, and serve Christ through his church, and to lead my family and others to do the same.

• "My life purpose is to make a great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission."

• "My goal is Christ likeness; my family is the church; my ministry is: ; my mission is: ; my motive is the glory of God."

You may wonder, "What about God's will for my job or marriage or where I'm supposed to live or go to school?" Honestly, these are secondary issues in your life, and there may be multiple possibilities that would all be in God's will for you. What matters most is that you fulfill God's eternal purposes regardless of where you live or work or whom you marry. Those decisions should support your purposes. The Bible says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD'S purpose that prevails."

Focus on God's purposes for your life, not your plans, since that's what wills last forever.

I once heard the suggestion that you develop your life purpose statement based on what you would like other people to say about you at your funeral. Imagine your perfect eulogy, and then build your statement on that. Frankly, that's a bad plan. At the end of your life it isn't going to matter at all what other people say about you. The only thing that will matter is what God says about you. The Bible says, "Our purpose is to please God, not people."

One day God will review your answers to these life questions.

  • Did you put Jesus at the center of your life?
  • Did you develop his character?
  • Did you devote your life to serving others?
  • Did you communicate his message and fulfill his mission?
  • Did you love and participate in his family?

These are the only issues that will count. As Paul said, "Our goal is to measure up to God's plan for us."

GOD WANTS TO USE YOU

I noticed a little phrase in Acts 13:36 that forever altered the direction of my life. It was only seven words but, like the stamp of a searing hot branding iron, my life was permanently marked by these words: "David served God's purpose in his generation." Now I understood why God called David "a man after my own heart." David dedicated his life to fulfilling God's purposes on earth.

There is no greater epitaph than that statement! Imagine it chiseled on your tombstone: That you served God's purpose in your generation. My prayer is that people will be able to say that about me when I die. It is also my prayer that people will say it about you, too.

This phrase is the ultimate definition of a life well lived. You do the eternal and timeless (God's purpose) in a contemporary and timely way (in your generation). That is what the purpose-driven life is all about. Neither past nor future generations can serve God's purpose in this generation. Only we can. Like Esther, God created you `for such a time as this."

God is still looking for people to use. The Bible says, "The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Will you be a person God can use for his purposes? Will you serve God's purpose in your generation?

Paul lived a purpose-driven life. He said, "I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step." His only reason for living was to fulfill the purposes God had for him. He said, "For to me, to live be Christ and to die is gain." Paul was not afraid of either living or dying. Either way, he would fulfill God's purposes. He couldn't lose!

One day history will come to a close, but eternity will go on forever. William Carey said, "The future is as bright as the promises of God." When fulfilling your purposes seems tough, don't give in to discouragement. Remember your reward, which will last forever. The Bible says, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."

Imagine what it is going to be like one day, with all of us standing before the throne of God presenting our lives in deep gratitude and praise to Christ. Together we will say, "Worthy, Oh Master! Yes, our God! Take the glory! The honor! The power! You created it all; it was created because you wanted it!" We will praise him for his plan and live for his purposes forever!

THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE

Point to Ponder: Living with purpose is the only way to really live.

Verse to Remember: "For David ... served the purpose of God in his own generation." Acts 13:36 (NASB)

Question to Consider: When will I take the time to write my answers to life's five great questions? When will I put my purpose on paper?

 

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