This morning, I shared the following message at Gateway Austin South Campus:
Have you ever wanted to know God’s will for your life? Have you ever wanted to know His plan?
The Scriptures tell us how we can discover our purpose.
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What are you unwilling to sacrifice to discover your purpose? “a living sacrifice” – dying to our selfishness, giving God our dreams, hopes, future, present, past, our struggles, our wicked choices, our regrets.
1. Renew your mind.
Some of us have come to closure too soon on our future and on who God is.
Some of us are too narrow-minded. We’ve been so shaped by our parents and the culture within which we grew up that we are missing what God wants to do in our lives.
The Scriptures can broaden our mind!
Overview of the Scriptures:
God, out of His great love created the universe and created people with whom He could share His creation and His love. The Bible is incredibly broad in the beginning and the end and incredibly specific in one place – the passion of Jesus (the week before His death and resurrection). All points towards Jesus and all flows out of that critical moment. Even time was split into two parts.
God created us with freedom which means we did the exact opposite of what we asked to avoid which then separated us from God. From the beginning, God intervened and the promise of a Messiah, a Rescuer, a Savior was given.
God chose Abraham to become a great nation and through Him all nations would be blessed. This is important. By choosing one person, God was choosing all of us. You may have heard that God’s love doesn’t extend to all peoples, but from the very beginning God actively chose all nations.
This great nation became a peculiar people – different from all the other nations. They had a very strict set of moral laws and ceremonial laws (the book of Leviticus and the laws about the Temple and the sacrifices). By living so differently and winning wars and defeating other nations that were sacrificing their children to other gods, the reputation of this nation spread. (Centripetal force spread the message – the nations came to Israel)
Judges, kings, and prophets all tried to keep the nation of Israel going in the right direction – trusting God and His ways. Often they would go the wrong way and then repent and then be restored.
Jesus changed everything.
He gave a new message about a new, spiritual, and invisible Kingdom. A Kingdom not advanced by wars but by peace and love. A Kingdom not divided by politics or ethnicity – the most inclusive community on the planet.
He sacrificed His love just as it was prophesied so long ago. “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)
When Jesus died on the cross the Temple curtain was torn from the top down – no longer were we separated from God where only a select few could be in His presence, but all could go directly to God through Jesus. No longer were the ceremonial laws necessary because Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) and summarized all 667 laws with “Love God and love people.”
Whatever is not restated in the New Testament is considered part of the Old Testament (ceremonial laws are no more).
Those who follow Him become His Church.
Centrifugal force spreads the message out to all nations. An often misunderstood and misapplied verse describes this very idea perfectly.
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. – Romans 9:15-16
Paul took Jesus’ message to the Gentiles. If God wants His Kingdom to spread beyond the people of Israel, then He will do that!
This overview can help us understand our part in the story. We were created on purpose and with a purpose. God desires that we experience His love and help others do the same. “Love God and love people.” He desires us to trust Him and follow Him and help others do the same. The rest is just details.
God’s will can be a great mystery, but we have to understand: God wants us to accomplish the purpose we were designed to accomplish more than we do.
2. Serve Humbly
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts….
Thinking too highly or too lowly about yourself means thinking about yourself.
We need to be willing to do anything. Nothing should be beneath us.
Our next breakthrough could be one step down from where we are now.
Never stop serving humbly.
Life is a journey towards selflessness. Starts incredibly selfish and then become independent and then influence.
Discover your uniqueness. Passions, Experiences, and Gifts plus Strengths, Personality, and so on. (Watch “Servolution” at www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast)
3. Love Actively
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Zealously serve. Be willing to do whatever needs to be done. Overcome conflict with kindness.
We should never let the ridiculous people in our past keep us from healthy relationships today!
These are two of the general principles. When we trust God and live out the general ways He wants all of us to live, then we discover the specific ways He wants us to serve.
Renew your mind, serve humbly, love actively are three great ones to start.
A bonus one: learn to submit to the authorities in your life.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Paul goes on to write about taxes and other things I wish weren’t in there.
“You aren’t ready for the captain’s chair because you don’t respect the captain’s chair.” – Star Trek
God wants to entrust more to you but only when you are ready to handle it.
Questions to consider for your next step:
- Are you allowing a closed mindset to keep you from His better future for your life?
- Are you letting your unwillingness to serve with humility get in your way?
- Are you allowing unresolved conflict to keep you from God’s better future?
- Are you allowing your disdain for your boss or your parents or others in authority in your life to keep you from God’s better future?
- How do you need to be forgiven?
- Who can you serve this week?
- Who can you love this week?