Living For Eternal Purpose – The Key That Unlocks Your Breakthrough
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: Acts 20:17-24
Sunday 25th September 2016
As we round up this series, ‘The Sufficiency of Grace’, here is today’s message titled ‘Living for Eternal purpose – the Key that Unlocks Your Breakthrough’.
Let me start by asking these questions: ‘What would you like to be remembered for?’, ‘What positive contributions do you want to make to the progress of humankind here on earth?’, ‘What legacy do you want to leave behind after your lifetime?’, ‘What impact do you want to make with your life?’ These are vital questions that you need to ask yourself if you want to truly live a life of eternal significance.
It is tragic to live without making an impact and touching the heart of God as a result. Each of us was created to change the world; the bible describes us as the light of the world. In his farewell speech, St. Paul alludes to this belief while speaking to the elders in Ephesus, as recorded in Acts 20:17-24. ‘From Miletus Paul sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. When they arrived, he said to them, “You know how I spent the whole time I was with you, from the first day I arrived in the province of Asia. With all humility and many tears I did my work as the Lord's servant during the hard times that came to me because of the plots of some Jews. You know that I did not hold back anything that would be of help to you as I preached and taught in public and in your homes. To Jews and Gentiles alike I gave solemn warning that they should turn from their sins to God and believe in our Lord Jesus. And now, in obedience to the Holy Spirit I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit has warned me that prison and troubles wait for me. But I reckon my own life to be worth nothing to me; I only want to complete my mission and finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do, which is to declare the Good News about the grace of God’ (GNT).
Many of St. Paul’s letters began with a brief introduction about his calling and the assignment given to him by God. Here are a few: 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 reads: ‘From Paul, who was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes — To the church of God which is in Corinth, to all who are called to be God's holy people, who belong to him in union with Christ Jesus, together with all people everywhere who worship our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours’ (GNT). His writing in 2 Corinthians 1:1 also began with a similar introduction: ‘From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God's will, and from our brother Timothy—To the church of God in Corinth, and to all God's people throughout Achaia: May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace’ (GNT). The same theme can be found in his opening addresses in the letters to the Galatians, Ephesians and the Philippians. All these words point to a simple truth: St. Paul was on a heavenly mission; a mission which should also resonate with all of us. We are called to live beyond ourselves and embrace a heavenly purpose.
St. Paul realised that his life was all about purpose – he was a purpose driven life. Here is the reason why he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 as his life drew to a close: ‘I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith. And now there is waiting for me the victory prize of being put right with God, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day—and not only to me, but to all those who wait with love for him to appear’ (GNT). Let me reiterate this truth: You and I are on a mission. We are in a race! It is quite tragic to live for so many years and not know the reason why. St. Paul realised this earlier in his life and this informed the way he lived – and should change our perspective on our everyday living as well.
Sadly, many people have been distracted from their assignment, more so in the church. Matthew 6:31-34 records the words of Jesus as he addressed this issue: “So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? Or my drink? Or my clothes?’ (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings” (GNT). As Christians, our primary designation is in serving God’s purpose, while He takes care of our needs. The supply of our needs by God is triggered by our service to Him.
We’ve not been designed to meet our needs. Even more so, there are some needs we cannot provide for, regardless of how hard we try to do so. Only God can totally meet our needs – and this can begin to unfold in our lives when we wholeheartedly devote our lives to serving Him.
Here are five lessons that we can learn from the life of Apostle Paul:
(1) He recognised that He was on a mission: Like St. Paul, each of us must develop a sense of purpose and mission for living – a mission that is bigger than us. This is what gives meaning to our lives. We must be able to confidently say: ‘I am an answer to questions, a solution to problems and I am here to make a difference and to change the course of history’. God’s intention regarding our lives is recorded in Psalm 50:10, which reads: ‘For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills’. He has all the provision we would ever need to live an abundant life. Our responsibility is to recognise our purpose on earth and live everyday fulfilling it.
(2) He was passionate about his mission: St. Paul knew his assignment and he lived each day pursuing it, zealously. He was a self-driven man. Philippians 3:12 put it this way: ‘Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me’.
(3) He was focused on his assignment: Despite the various distractions around him, St. Paul remained focused. Philippians 3:13 reads: ‘Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead’. Can I encourage you to remain focused on your mission in life? There are several legitimate distractions around us these days that we must be wary of. Distractions simply drain our passion for the purpose we’ve been called to fulfil.
(4) He endured: St Paul endured several trials and troubles in his lifetime. The journey was not easy, but he stayed the course. Hebrews 12:1-2 reads: ‘Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God’.
(5) He finished well: It is not sufficient to start our race in life; we must be deliberate in finishing well. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 reads: ‘I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith. And now there is waiting for me the victory prize of being put right with God, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day—and not only to me, but to all those who wait with love for him to appear’(GNT). St. Paul finished his assignment before passing on to glory as God’s protection was upon him through his lifetime.
My prayer for each of us as well, is that as we diligently pursue the furtherance of the kingdom of God, His protection will be upon our lives and our family in Jesus name. We would fulfil the assignment that we have been called to pursue in Jesus name! (Amen).
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