Problem or Purpose?
One prediction I can make for your life with all certainty is the “There will be problems”. Problems come in all shapes and sizes. They can fit into a number of categories as well:
God wants us to focus on our purpose and not our problem. Our difficulty focusing on our purpose is really two fold:
First the problem is real, its big and it is consuming our time, resources and energy.
Second, for many of you, purpose for your life is unclear, unfunded, over-thought.
Let’s deal with the first point. Problems are real and they consume time, energy and finances. This past weekend at the Grace Place we looked at five things God is doing through our problems and 3 ways we should respond to our problems. To review or see the five things God is doing through your problems let me encourage you to go to our website and watch the message from 1/10/16. Go to www.gpaustin.com
As to the 3 things we should do here they are:
1. Face your problems do not avoid them. When we try to avoid a problem it only grows in size and extends our leaning curve. We must face them head on with God by our side. It may be to big to go over too low to go under or too wide to go around but it is not too big for God to go through it holding your hand.
2. Pray about your problems: We tend to over estimate what we can accomplish and under estimate what God can do. When we pray we invite God’s presence into our circumstances. In His presence we can see how BIG our GOD is and how small our problem.
3. Thank God for your problem: No one is thankful for a problem are they? We should be the Bible tells us that the problems we face shape and reveal our character, develop patience and give us a chance to connect with God in a more intimate way. God allows problems in our lives to: Inspect us, protect us, direct us, correct us and perfect us.
Now lets look at why we can be unclear as to our purpose in life. In over 35 years of ministry and a lifetime in the church, one thing I have noticed is that every Christian wants to know what God wants them to do with their one and only life.
By far the greatest response’s I have witnessed centered around those messages focused on helping people find their purpose in life.
Why is it so difficult to discover our purpose? You would think God would want to be crystal clear with us on it so we can immediately get involved in mission.
The good news is that God is very clear with us on our life mission:
We were planned for God's pleasure
so your first purpose is to offer real worship.
We were formed for God's family
so your second purpose is to enjoy real fellowship.
We were created to become like Christ,
so your third purpose is to learn real discipleship.
We were shaped for serving God
so your fourth purpose is to practice real ministry.
We were made for a mission
so your fifth purpose is to live out real evangelism.
If this is true why are we confused? Here are several reasons we struggle to find our purpose in life…
1. We are too focused on a destination:
We want a specific title, career, job that we can do. We spend so much time focusing on a destination we miss the mission that happens on the journey. Some of you are waiting for God to show up at the foot of our bed and hand you a shepherd’s staff and detailed instructions. We want specifics. We want to know what to do now and every step forward for the next 5 years. God can certainly show you every step but would you take them if HE did so? What about that step that leads to crises, difficulty, struggle? What you will discover is that as you follow the fivefold purpose for your life God will be guiding and directing you in your work, relationships, church family. Clarity will come in the journey.
2. We don’t like what is in front of us: Given my choice I would rather have started off as a Lead Pastor than a volunteer youth leader, choir director and Jr. high Sunday school teacher. The pay is a bit better and you get an office. However, God had a different plan for me. When I was offered the opportunity to serve in my local church (Victory Assembly of God) the first opening was for a Sunday school teacher for the Jr. high school class. It certainly was not a very attractive place to serve. The room was small, the kids were loud and disrespectful. I couldn’t for the life of me remember liking a single day of my life as a Jr. high school student. What was I going to do with this group?
The first thought that came to mind when my pastor asked me to serve here was: This is definitely not my calling or purpose. Thankfully I did not say that out loud. Instead I said “Yes, I would love to help, where do I start?” I could not believe those words came out of my mouth. One year later I could not believe how blessed I was to serve the Jr. high students. The growth in our class and positive turn around in students led to the pastor knocking again on my door. This time asking me to direct the choir and lead the youth program for the church.
I had never been a choir director or youth leader so of course I said: “Sure, when do I start”. Those early days of volunteering where the church needed me made a huge impact in my life. I learned so much about ministry, people, and about leadership. I really enjoyed serving in those areas far more than I thought I would and had incredible opportunities to grow up spiritually.
Can you serve where you are needed over where you think you want to serve? If you can say “Yes” God will use these opportunities to shape you for His purposes.
3. We are self-focused: Nice way of saying “selfish”. The very nature of sin is to get you focused on what you do not have. To convince you that God is cheating you out of the wonderful life you should have. To Eve the serpent reminded her that God kept one tree for Himself that means “He hate you”! “You should have all the trees.”
A selfish nature drives you to get what rightfully belongs to YOU! To a selfish person serving only makes sense after “I have” everything “I need” or want. In the process we trample over the cross of Jesus and insist He change His mission to fit our comfort.
God wants us to focus on our Purpose not our Problems. We say…”God remove this problem” While He says…”I will be with you through the problem. Now get up! Lets go make a difference for eternity!