Is there a purpose to my life?
Do you want the truth or shall I just make up what I am going to say to you… THE TRUTH, OK
Well the truth is, to the best of my belief, that question has never arisen in my life. I have always been involved in one project or another, always been trying out a new or using a well practiced ability; had family responsibilities; work to do; the home to improve; above all work in the church that is such an important part of my life; that I have never had a moment to indulge in wondering.
No I have never thought about having a purpose, but I do know of some real people who were told of extraordinary destinies: so just to start off may I tell you about them. At one time or another I have come across them in the pages of the Bible.
The first was a man called Noah; he lived a very long time ago at a time when men lived for hundreds of years. The days he lived in were filled with wickedness and violence, just like many parts of our world today. One day he had a visit from an angel who told him that the great creator was so angry with the way humanity had deteriorated that he was intent on destroying all he had made. Humans, Animals, Birds, everything. But he Noah had been recognised by God to be the only good person in the midst of all the evil, and that he, and his family, were to be spared the destruction, but in a rather curious way. He and his three sons were to become boat builders. The boat they were to build would need to be huge, almost as long as our present day football pitches, because representative pairs of all creatures on earth were to come inside it along with Noah’s family. God would shut the door and the boat would then survive the most ferocious flood the earth has ever seen. So Noah suddenly had a purpose in his life; SURVIVAL.
A shepherd guiding his sheep in the Sinai Peninsula, near to Mount Sinai came across a bush burning. A pretty common sight in intense dryness, (some varieties of plants need fire to germinate their seeds). However there was a difference with this bush, the light from the flames was intense, but the bush was not being consumed by the fire. Walking closer to investigate this strange sight, the shepherd, (who went by the name Moses) was told by a voice that he was in the presence of God and should remove his sandals, that he had a special task to perform, (one that in effect lasted for the rest of his life).The people of the nation he was born into, the Jewish nation, were at that time being ill treated by the country they were living in, the Egyptians and had called on their God to rescue them. Moses was the person who was going to use special powers given to him by God, go into Egypt, demand that the Pharaoh release his people and then bring them out of slavery into a land to the north that God had promised to the ancestor of all Jewish people. ….Now that is what I call a purpose in life, don’t you agree?
One final example to really make my task this evening easier, this man was very important in the city of Jerusalem, came of a rich family had a university education and was on his way to a foreign city, not as an ambassador, not as a trade representative, not to further his education, no, he was bent on a murderous mission to capture and kill the followers of Jesus Christ. It was a journey that was to completely change his life. He thought that he had a purpose in his life, but on the way he met with the resurrected son of God who told him that it was the wrong purpose, it had to be changed; from that day onwards he was going to become an apostle for Jesus, not against him.
So what about the title: is there a purpose to my life? Well yes very definitely and I think that it’s fair to say that it all started with another journey. My Father was on his way to Reading with another insurance agent and idly remarked that having just read Churchill’s comment about the new ‘cold’ war, felt that the world could be on its way to yet a third world war. The other man in the car, who was driving, said that he was absolutely sure of it, and when asked how he could be so certain, said that it was because it was in the Bible. “Nonsense” said my Father, “its not nonsense” said the other man “I will show you when we get home if you have the time”. My Father was very late home that night and my mother and I were really worried, but the next day he explained that he had had the most remarkable evening of his life; been shown things that really challenged him and he had agreed to look into this Bible teaching more closely. Well, that took over two years with my mother joining in as well; eventually they became baptised members of this church that believed so passionately in the Bible and all that it promised.
I suppose it’s fair to say that I and my brother after me, inherited that same passionate belief and gained in our young lives a purpose that has driven us ever since.
There has to be a starting point in anything and for me that coincides with another person, who curiously enough was also an important man in the land of the Jews at the time of Jesus. Let me read it to you, it’s found in the gospel of John, the third chapter.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
Joh 3:2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
Joh 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Joh 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Joh 3:7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
Joh 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Joh 3:9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
Joh 3:10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
Joh 3:11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
Joh 3:12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
Joh 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
Joh 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
Joh 3:15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Joh 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Joh 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
That’s the starting point, the fact that Jesus came and was prepared to die for me, and all who put their faith in him. He was a man with the most extraordinary and compelling purpose in his life.
However, it does not explain why I am sitting here writing these words this evening. That reason is found elsewhere. The other three gospels all end with an instruction, one that the listeners, his disciples could not possibly carry out in just their lifetimes, but needed to be the continuous work of all the disciples of Jesus through the ages. I have selected the first of the gospels as an illustration Matthew chapter 28
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
But there is something more, because this Jesus who died for the salvation of all faithful people, is coming back to this earth as a great King over all of the nations and when he comes it will not just be a fanfare of trumpets and ‘all’s well’, there will be some searching questions to be asked. This information is best seen in Matthews gospel once again now at chapter 25
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Mat 25:32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Mat 25:33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Mat 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Mat 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
Mat 25:36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Mat 25:37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
Mat 25:38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
Mat 25:39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
Mat 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
So is there a purpose to my life? …… Well I hope that you can answer that question for yourselves.