Sermons

What Is The Purpose Of My Life?

Sun, Nov 06, 2022
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:28 mins 52 secs

Message text

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MY LIFE?
TEXT: Nehemiah 1:1-10, 6:1-2; Ecclesiastes 3:11

It was 1940, & a time of great crisis in Europe. The German armies had already conquered most of Eastern Europe. And now the blitzkrieg was sweeping across Western Europe toward England. In less than a week, Netherlands, Luxembourg, & Belgium had fallen, & France was next. Adolph Hitler was boasting that within 2 months he would march at the head of his victorious army into London, itself. With that, Neville Chamberlain, who was Prime Minister of England and had been completely fooled by Hitler, resigned in disgrace.

Winston Churchill, who had long been warning the English people about Hitler, was asked to be the next Prime Minister. From then on it was obvious that the outcome of the war & the future of Europe would largely depend upon Churchill’s leadership.

If I were Churchill, I would have felt the terrible pressure of leadership at that moment. But Churchill wrote: "As I went to bed at about 3 A.M., I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last, I had the authority to give directions … I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, & that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour & for this trial..."

What caused Churchill to possess such confidence? He was taking over an unprepared country against the greatest military machine that had ever been created up to that time.
How could he possibly say, "I was conscious of a profound sense of relief"? Evidently, he had an overwhelming sense of "purpose" for his life. Churchill was just one person, but through the efforts of that one person, strategically placed & courageously leading, the spirit of England turned from despair to hope. Gradually the war was won, not only saving England, but some would claim, saving democracy as a form of government in the world.

This morning I'd like to talk about living our lives with a sense of purpose. You & I were put on this earth with gifts, talents, & relationships that are waiting to fulfill God's purpose. Like Churchill, in God's plan, we each have a destiny to fulfill. I know you're probably thinking, "I'm no Churchill." And you're right.

But you are you. And I believe God has a purpose for your life too. There's one individual in Scripture who may illustrate this better than anyone else. His name was Nehemiah. In 586 B.C., the Babylonians invaded the country of Judah & totally destroyed Jerusalem, tearing down its houses & walls, & even the glorious temple that Solomon had built.

And they carried off thousands of Jews as captives to Babylon. But within 70 years, the Babylonians themselves had been conquered by the Persians, & any of the Jews who wanted to do so were allowed to return home. The returnees started to rebuild Jerusalem & the temple, but the task was so overwhelming that they soon gave up in discouragement, & the city remained in ruins. For nearly 100 years conditions continued to deteriorate in Jerusalem.
Sacrifices were no longer being offered, & many Jews were beginning to adopt the lifestyle & culture of the pagan people surrounding them.

But one man, back in Persia, was about to discover & live out God's purpose for his life. His name was Nehemiah.
And from his example I believe we can find a way to answer an important question in our own lives.

And that question is: "What is the purpose of my life?" To answer that, the story of Nehemiah suggests 3 actions that we need to take.

THE 1ST ACTION we need to take is to CULTIVATE A CONCERN. A life of purpose begins with a real concern that God has given you.

Churchill spent years learning & preparing & strategizing. Why? Because God had given him a concern about the safety of his people & his nation. Purpose always begins with a God-given concern.

Listen to Nehemiah 1:1-4: "In late autumn of the 20th year of King Artaxerxes' reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. "I asked them about the Jews who had survived the captivity & about how things were going in Jerusalem. They said to me, 'Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. 'They are in great trouble & disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, & the gates have been burned.' When I heard this, I sat down & wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, & prayed to the God of heaven."

Nehemiah's concern over Jerusalem consumed him. He couldn't get it out of his mind. He continued faithfully with his duties, but inside, his heart was broken as he mourned & fasted & prayed about the plight of Jerusalem.

God's purpose for you will always begin as a God-given concern. I'm not talking about a temporary concern. I'm talking about something that sticks with you.

Someone once stated that: "You will hear or see something that gets your attention. A thought related to the future will generate an emotion. Something will bother you about the way things are, or the way things are headed. Unlike many passing concerns, these will stick with you.

You will find yourself thinking about them in your free time. You may lose sleep over them. You won't be able to let them go because they won't let you go.” Maybe God is already in the process of developing concerns in the hearts of some of you here this morning. If so, let me make a few observations about those concerns.

First of all, realize that not everyone will share your concern. Did you notice that nobody else seemed to be concerned about the wall? For years, the walls of Jerusalem had been broken down. But no one else seemed to be crying about the broken-down walls. Nehemiah's concern was Nehemiah's alone. But what about us today? It's possible God has given you a concern, but you haven't cultivated it because nobody else seems to share that concern. Stop waiting for others! God has given you that concern for a reason. It's up to you to begin to cultivate & pray about that concern.

Secondly, realize that not everyone who has a concern will do anything about it. Remember, when the people first returned to Jerusalem they had tried to rebuild the walls. But they gave up, & 100 years went by.

During those 100 years do you think that anybody else was concerned about rebuilding the walls? Yes, there must have been some. But they didn't do anything about it. Talking & doing are two different things. You see, not everyone who has a concern will do something about it.

Thirdly, realize that God often gives a concern before He provides a solution. Some of you may have God-given concerns, but you haven't done anything about them. Why not? Because you haven't seen yourself being used by God as a part of the solution.

Nehemiah was a cup-bearer to the king. He was responsible for ensuring the safety of the king's food & drink. Yes, he had become very concerned about the need to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. But he wasn't in a position of authority to do anything about it.

You see, I believe that sometimes God will give us a deep concern, yet it won't be immediately obvious that we can do anything about it. But don't abandon it. Cultivate that concern. Pray about it. Bring it before God.

Somebody has said, "There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart. Pursue those."

The second action is this: "Focus on the eternal."
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "He has set eternity in the hearts of men." And a life that's seeking God's purpose focuses on making an eternal contribution.

There's a big difference between good ideas & God ideas. God ideas always center on the eternal. What made Nehemiah's concern a God idea?

Nehemiah 1:8-10 tells us. Keep in mind that we're over-hearing Nehemiah's prayer to God. Nehemiah prayed: "Please remember what you told your servant Moses: 'If you sin, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me & obey my commands, “even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored. We are your servants, the people you rescued by your great power & might.

“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success now as I go to ask the king for a great favor. Put it into his heart to be kind to me."

Why was Nehemiah concerned about the broken-down walls? God had promised that if His people would return to Him, then He would bring them back from exile & bless them in their own land.

Nehemiah's concern wasn't really about a wall. His concern was about God's people taking their rightful place in God's plan. There's only one thing that will last into eternity.

Your career won't. Your reputation won't. Your bank account won't. Only one thing will last into eternity: people.
Our job is to use our money, time, & abilities to influence people eternally. Nothing else matters.

How do you develop a life of purpose?
Three actions.
1 Cultivate a concern.
2 Focus on the eternal.
And there's one more action you will need to take:

#3, "Concentrate your energy."
I'm going to fast-forward a little in Nehemiah's story. Nehemiah overcame years of discouragement & opposition, & when we pick up the story in Neh. 6, the wall is almost complete. They were only days away from completing the project. But Nehemiah's enemies were stirring up trouble.
Nehemiah 6:1-2 says: "When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, & the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall & that no gaps remained – though we had not yet hung the doors in the gates – Sanballat & Geshem sent me a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono."

Sanballat & company invited Nehemiah to a meeting. Their plan was to get him off the project, Get him away from his supporters, & kill him.

But listen to Nehemiah’s response in Neh. 6:3. It's a verse that everyone ought to underline or highlight in their Bible. His response was this, "I am doing a great work & I cannot come down".

That is a powerful verse. Nehemiah knew that to accomplish his purpose, he would have to watch out for the greatest enemy of purpose. He would have to deal with distractions.

Things have a way of popping up to distract us from the main things God has called us to do. Many of these distractions aren't even bad things. But If we're going to accomplish God's purpose, we have to learn how to say “no” to some good things.

We need to live with this verse etched on our mind: "I am doing a great work & I cannot come down." I wrestle with this as much as anyone. I have the joy of living out my purpose. And yet I'm amazed by how easy it is to get distracted. Some distractions are good. And yet I have to remind myself often of Nehemiah’s thought, "I'm doing a great work & I cannot come down."

You & I were put on this earth for a purpose. God has given us unique contributions to make, & never underestimate the power of just one person.

Centuries ago a woman almost did. She thought things were too far gone. And she certainly didn't think there was anything she could do. It was only a matter of time before all Jews were to be killed. Her name was Esther. She was the Jewish wife of a Persian king, the man who had been tricked into making an irreversible, disastrous decision.

All Jews were to be exterminated. But could the tide be turned by … just ONE person? WITH GOD … of course, the answer is yes.

Esther's adoptive father, Mordecai, realizing that she, alone,
held the key to her husband's heart, appealed to her conscience.

(Esther 4:14) "For if you remain silent at this time . . . you & your father's house will perish…" She listened to his plea. What got her attention was his final line, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

That did it. She broke long-standing protocol, went into the king's throne room … & rescued the Jews from a holocaust.
One woman – only one voice – saved an entire nation.

Of course, none of us will probably ever be a Churchill,
a Nehemiah or a Esther. And probably many of you are sitting there wondering what purpose God might have for your life. May I suggest one?

Since the only earthly thing that will last for eternity is people, then the greatest purpose you & I can have is to seek to influence someone to become a Christian and to remain FAITHFUL to Jesus throughout of lives.

Who do you know that you love & who may love you, who is not a Christian? Someone in your family? Maybe a close friend? How about making them your purpose in life? Don’t just think that is a lost cause, make them your God-inspired purpose!

Cultivate your concern for them, focus on the fact that the result will be eternal, & then concentrate your energy on reaching that loved one for Jesus. You might be amazed at the help God will give you!

A poet wrote, "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

Having done that, please put aside all excuses & ask yourself, "What should I be doing?" Yes, you can make a difference. The question is, will you? If you don't do your part, who will?

INVITATION

 

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