Living for Eternal Purposes Pt 4

ambassadors 2

We have been looking at various aspects of living for God’s Eternal Purposes while on this earth (see “Living for Eternal Purposes Pt 1,2, & 3). Every follower of Jesus should endeavor to live their life on earth like David did, so it can be recorded as it was about him, “David after he served the purpose of God in his generation fell asleep” Acts 13:36.

Serving God’s purposes while on the earth can seem like a mystery to some.  Yet God isn’t playing hide and seek with His pruposes.  It isn’t only for a few select Christians to discover and serve His eternal purposes.  It is for everyone who follows Jesus.

We have enough clarity from God’s word to know essential aspects of His purpose and start serving them now.  While there may be certain aspects of His purposes that become clarified as we go forward, there are three overall areas that are extremely clear and should embraced now.  I call these the egg of God’s purposes.  For an egg to be successfully birthed in the earth all three parts must be together. The same is true for His purposes to be birthed in and through our life.  All three are to be embraced simultaneously .  We have explored the first two and this week we want to look at the third.

 Representing Christ as His ambassadors to a world that needs Him

ambassadors

Scriptures reveal that God had designed His people to be joined together by Him,  and sent on His mission in the earth.  Jesus prayed for those two elements to be in His church as He prayed for them the last time in John 17.   Notice the connection between being joined together as one (which reinforces the reality of Him sending us) and being sent into and the earth

Joh 17:11-23 NASB  “… that they may be one even as We are.18  “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world…20  “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;  21  that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me….23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Joh 20:21…as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” The Apostle Paul uses the idea of being sent as an “ambassador” on behalf of Christ to this earth.

2Co 5:18-20…God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,  19  namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  20  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  

In Biblical times, as well as today, an ambassador was an official representative of a king or government to a foreign land.  This is a very accurate spiritual picture of the calling on God’s people.  We not only serve Jesus,(the King of Kings), but we represent Him and His government (the Kingdom of God), to a foreign land (the earth).  This is what Jesus intimated in Matthew 5 when He said we are the salt of the earth (touching and influencing the earth) as well as a city set on a hill (demonstrating an alternative government/society, the church).

Jesus told us to go into all the world and be his ambassadors, but many churches today have inadvertently changed the “go and be” command to a “come and see” appeal.  We have grown attached to buildings, programs, staff and a wide variety of goods and services designed to attract and entertain people.

When it comes to being ambassadors, the measure of success isn’t primarily in bigger buildings, bigger budgets, larger staff, and numbers in meetings.  The bigger yardstick of success is to what extent we go out as ambassadors to influence our culture.  As Paul said in 2 Cor 5 the heart of our representation is so people can “be reconciled to God.”  A church full of ambassadors faithfully proclaims the gospel through word and deed. Words alone are not sufficient; how the gospel is embodied in our community and service is as important as what we say.

When we understand our call as ambassadors it changes our whole approach to everyday life.  We no longer simply go to work, school, or the marketplace, we head to our mission field as ambassadors.   Every Christian spends about 65% of their waking moments in work, school, or the marketplace.  There is a strategic nature of these places in the plan of God.

The early church advanced in the first century not primarily by preachers, teachers, debaters, and evangelist.  It was the nameless thousands of people who brought Jesus into their everyday life and reached out as His ambassadors.  Men and women shared to gospel with their friends, colleagues, customers, and others in their everyday course of life.

Think what would happen if the vast majority of people in churches became serious about their calling as ambassadors everyday.  What if they didn’t wait to go to a third world country for a missions trip, but went on one everyday.   Instead of waiting to cross an ocean to be an ambassador, what about crossing the street or the office?  I have heard estimates that America is probably the fourth largest non-Christian nation in the world.  Some report that there are 235 million non-Christians in America.  Ambassadors understand that every time they head out of their house, or out of the church building, they are entering their mission field as an ambassador for Christ.

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Living for Eternal Purposes Pt 3

get involvedI have been exploring the idea of living for God’s Eternal Purposes while on this earth (see “Living for Eternal Purposes Pt & 2). While living for God’s Eternal Purposes may seem elusive to many, that isn’t the way God has designed it.  He wants everyone to be fully engaged, like David who “served the purpose of God in his generation” Acts 13:36.

God is not playing “hide and seek” with his calling on our lives.  We are not sitting on the sidelines waiting for God to give us some further direction that we don’t currently have.   We already have enough direction to begin moving in God’s purposes right now.  As we are moving, He will reveal any further direction He has for us, but we must get moving.  Pro 4:18 But the path (way of walking or traveling)  of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day (a progressive revelation).

Three Parts of the Egg of God’s Purpose

There are three interconnected aspects of God’s purposes that are clearly revealed in His word.  They work like the three parts of an egg being birthed into the earth.  If you take out any part, it cannot be birthed successfully.  Of these three purposes we will examine the second one this week.

2. Becoming an active participant in building His church

The early church had no concept of our culture’s idea of church going.  They were employing giftsaware that they were building God’s alternative society to be seen through the church.  They were not mere meeting attendees, but were a fellowship of disciples who shared their lives and served one another in order to see God glory expressed through His church Eph 3:21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus  

When the early apostles preached, they were not looking just for crowds of converts, but for churches of new disciples who became active participants in building God’s house.  There are  very clear truths the Bible shows us regarding the church.  He placed each person in the church according to His design, we each are graced with abilities to be used to build up the church, and every person is to actively be employed, working to build up God’s house to display His glory in the earth.

1Co 12:18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

Eph 4:16 the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

1Pe 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Unfortunately many churches in America resemble an American football game.  It has a whole bunch of people who are badly in need of exercise, watching a few people playing the game, who are badly in need of a break.  This isn’t what God designed with”every joint supplies according to the proper working of each individual part” or “employ it (the special gifting you received) in serving one another as good stewards.”

How do you know what “special gift” you have received in order to “employ it.”  Again I appeal to the idea that it is easier to guide a moving ship.  The best way to discover you unique part is to start serving.  After all that is the foundation from which we operate (“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another1Pet 4:10). We don’t utilize our gifting s and talents to bring glory to us, but it is about His church becoming glorious 
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus.
 It is all about serving others so His church will become glorious Isa 60:7…And I shall glorify My glorious house.  As we engage in serving our special gifting will shine through.

Another way to discover your part is to ask others and leaders to help you be fitted into serving in areas that are in keeping with the talents you have been given.  We all see our desires and gifting from the inside out, but others see us from the outside in.  Having others enter into helping us is critical in gaining God’s full perspective on the gifting God has given us.  The most dangerous position for a Christian to be in is to be disconnected from the church and personally evaluating their gifting from their limited perspective.  The biggest issue is to begin serving somewhere and “employing” the gifting s God has placed in your life.

I will close with the famous church leader’s comments, Charles Spurgeon, regarding Christians who do not engage in God’s eternal purposes by helping building His church.

I know there are some who say, ‘Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to any church.’ Now, why not? ‘Because I can be a Christian without it.’  Are you quite clear about that? You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord’s commands as by being obedient?  There is a brick.  What is it made for? To help build a house.  It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it is kicking about on the ground as it would  be in the house.  It is a good-for-nothing brick.  So you rolling stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering  your purpose You are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live, and you are much to blame to the injury you do.

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Living for Eternal Purposes Pt 2

DonGod’s call upon His people is to live a life full of purpose and eternal meaning.  One of the great objects of the work of Christ is to deliver us from the opposite called futility (useless, of no purpose).

1 Peter 1:17-19…conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb…the blood of Christ.

Living for His eternal purposes isn’t some sort of superior state that only a few “Super Spiritual Christians” discover.  God is not telling us to live that way, then hiding it from us so we will be frustrated.   Some Christians sit idly by, or give themselve more toward temporary things because they are fuzzy about His calling in their life.  Phrases like, “I don’t’ know what I am suppose to be doing…God hasn’t shown me His purpose yet….I am just waiting on God to show me what to do”  mark people in this catagory.  It causes them to mistakenly think His purpose is elusive, always somewhere else but here, or some other time but now.

The clear Biblical approach pursuing God’s purposes goes directly against that mentality.  The attitude God wants us to embrace is always “now.”    2Co 6:1-2 NASB  And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain….Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”  

Three Parts of the Egg of God’s Purpose

Don't wait until tomorrow

There are three clear purposes revealed in God’s word that every Christian is to pursue “right now.”   They are interconnected.  It works like the three parts of an egg that is birthed into the earth.  If you take out any part, it cannot be birthed successfully.  So is God’s purposes.  What are the these three aspects of His purpose?

1. Walking with/and following Jesus toward growth/maturity

2. Becoming an active participant in building His church

3. Representing Christ as an ambassador to a world that needs Him

Walking with/and following Jesus toward growth/maturity

It is a sad reality, but many Christians have little vision for a life with the Lord that goes beyond simply holding a belief about Him, and occassionally atteding a religious service.  This isn’t our calling to follow Jesus toward growth/maturity.  We are called to follow Jesus everyday all the time.  As we follow Him, He and the Father make us into what pleases Him by causing us to mature.  Consider the Biblical statistics of these realities.

*269 times in the NT God’s people are referred to as “disciples” which means “those who follow and learn from Jesus.  Only 3 times are they referred to as “Christians” like Acts 11:26 which states “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

*25 times in the Gospels Jesus calls people to “follow/come after Me.”  Only 4 times does He say to “believe in Me.”  That doesn’t say much for the “only believe” mentality.

*Jesus Himself clearly tells us that if we “abide in Him” which means a daily way of life,  the Father will work as a Gardner to cause us to be more fruitful John 15:1-8.  In other words, if we are really walking with Jesus we should see growth in our lives.

The Apostle Paul shows us the attitude we must have to mature.  Php 3:12-16 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect (mature)  but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  (13)  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  (14)  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (15)  Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (Gk full adult, full age, complete, mature) have this attitude.  

One Barna survey discovered that not one Christian polled had any measurable goals regarding their spiritual growth.  Spiritual growth isn’t rocket science.  It is embracing the spiritual disciplines clearly revealed in His word.  They are such things as prayer, Bible reading, systematic study, receiving teaching, regular serving, and interaction with the saints.  As we embrace those disciplines the Biblical metaphores for growth indicate we will put away “childish things” and grow to embrace “mature” things.

Areas that spiritual growth will be observed in

Your inner desires: In the natural realm you notice that your childhood toys no longer interest you.  Spiritual maturity works in a similar way.  When you are growing in Christ, the world’s pleasures that are often wrapped up in things lose their appeal.  At the same time your hunger for God and doing His will increases.  You want to be with Him (prayer etc) and you become more motivated to make Him known.  You want more of Him moving in and through your life.  That desire gradually begins to overshadow all others (like Jesus said the Kingdom would do in the parable of the mustard seed Mt 13:31-32).

Your understanding: When you were young, your understanding of the world was very limited. As you grew up you began to see the world from a broader, more mature perspective.   It works the same way spiritually.  As you grow you begin to see life from God’s perspective.   You evaluate opportunities as well as temptations from a more mature perspective.  It becomes more difficult to be pulled into things that have no real eternal value.  Serving God becomes the most important thing in this life and everything else takes a back seat.

Self-centeredness:  One of the most obvious traits of infancy and childhood is selfishness.  Babies want their way and they want it now!  Mature Christians are more submissive to the Lord.  They become more concerned with His world than their own.  They are willing to sacrifice and wait for Him.  More and more of their life source is found in Him and His world, rather than their own.  Instead of God existing to bless their world a mature perspective takes over and they begin to see that they exist to serve His world

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