Make Your Life Count For A Divine Purpose
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: Genesis 17:1-2, Genesis 1:28, Matthew 28:18-19
Sunday 13th March 2016
As we continue the on-going series ‘Experiencing the Power of Multiplication’ today, here is a brief summary of the message: ‘Empowering the Next Generation’ from a fortnight ago. We agreed that God is generational in His thinking and deals with us from that standpoint. All God gives to us is meant to be passed on to upcoming generation. Our lives are a channel, a means by which God reaches out to our young ones.
God’s word, the bible is full of accounts of people who lived, thinking of the young and the unborn. Abraham in Genesis 17 aptly fits this description, with God reminding him of this truth. Bearing this in mind, Abraham was able to prepare adequately for Isaac’s future as we discovered from these seven points, namely: (1) He dedication Isaac to God, by circumcision (2) He celebrated Isaac (3) The bond woman and her child were sent away (4) He taught Isaac to obey God (5) He set the stage for Isaac’s future (6) He empowered Isaac (7) He sent away the children of His concubines.
Today as we examine this message, titled ‘Make Your Life Count for a Divine Purpose’, it is the crux of this series. Let me start by reminding us that it is vital that life flows from us to the next generation, and I intend to encourage us in this message to embrace a purpose beyond our personal life’s goals and aspirations. Within the timeframe that we have been given by God, it is important that we use it wisely and intentionally, serving His purpose on earth.
I have often wondered if coming to church, and engaging in the various forms of spiritual exercises – giving, praying, studying the scriptures and so forth, and having our needs met are an end in themselves? All these are good but they are simply a means to an end – and not an end in themselves. We’ve been created for a purpose bigger than the meeting of our needs. We experience healing, empowerment, and blessings for a purpose beyond us. Hence, life ought not to end with us. Ephesians 1:1 reads, ‘This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus’. Being chosen is not an end, but the choices made after the calling of God is more important. Unfortunately, the present day church has made the means, an end and disregarded the real end. Our personal victories, blessings and successes are meant to encourage us towards that end.
The essence of our faith is wrapped up in the first statement made by God to mankind in Genesis, and the last words of Jesus to his disciples before His ascension. Here they are, Genesis 1:28 reads thus: ‘Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Matthew 28:18-19 reads: ‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. Here is the reason why God has created us to live on earth; to make disciples of all nations. Our desires for comfort and pleasures are delightful, but they must not impede us from fulfilling God’s mandate for our lives.
Sadly, the church worldwide is simply a big circus and a social club, where we prioritize our needs above God’s directive. Yes, God wants our needs to be met, but our quest for more of God, must not end with the provision He makes available to us. The generation of Christians in church today is one that is greedy for more of the comforts of life. We are now living for self instead of living for Christ. Instead of being need-driven, why don’t we focus on God’s intentions for our lives? Definitely, our lives must be more than it merely revolving around work, church and home.
Christ challenged us to live purposefully in Matthew 28:18-19. We have been called to multiply – our theme for this year. We have been called to touch other lives, make disciples and pour out ourselves into another person. Here are the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8, which reads: ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (NLT). When Paul was writing to Titus, he wrote: ‘For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people’ (Titus 2:11 NLT). Yes, salvation is available but the words must be evangelized for all to know about it. Unfortunately, the church has become insular and disconnected from the real purpose it should stand for. Jesus said in Luke 12:22-25, ‘Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing’. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?’ If God can take care of birds, He definitely will take care of you. Matthew 6:33 reads: ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’. Jesus was emphatic about making God’s kingdom a priority. This passage highlights the importance of priority, purpose, commitment and reward.
To be relevant and significant in life, there is the need to live a purpose-driven life. Paul recognized the importance of discipleship when reaching out to Timothy. In the same way, each of us has a ‘Timothy’ to reach out to. Here is an analysis to ponder on: If an evangelist reaches out to a crowd gathered at an evangelistic crusade, and have a recorded number of converts – a thousand, it would take 10,000 years to save the whole world. Whereas, if a person reaches out to a friend, and both friends reaches out to another two, making four. If that ripple effect continues, the whole world could be saved in 32 years. The morale of this story is this; we’ve all been called by God to pour our lives into another soul. Hence, we must all look out for disciples – one after the other. This is what St. Paul encouraged Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 2:1-2, which reads: ‘Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others’ (NLT). The church was empowered to raise disciples in order to carry out the good work of evangelism. Ephesians 4:11-12 highlights this truth: ‘Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ’ (NLT). In the 21st century however, it seems a different gospel has been embraced. The simple question is this: ‘why is this the case?’
Here is Matthew 28:18-20 once again, with Jesus speaking to his disciples: ‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Jesus’ attention was focused on his disciples in this passage and not on the crowd. He knew fully well that the crowd sought him basically in order to have their needs met. We understand that babies cannot reproduce another baby, and the same principle applies to Kingdom discipleship. It takes disciples to produce another disciple. In other words, Jesus was challenging them to multiply themselves. He was simply saying: ‘Invest in others, multiply yourself, make your life count’. One of the problems facing the church is the simple truth that many Christians have not submitted themselves to the process of discipleship. Luke 6:40 emphasizes this principle: ‘A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher’. Discipleship is all about Christlikeness. At New Wine, we have various types of discipleship classes, including the New Life Program, Cell Group meetings, Believers College etc. These are all intended to train us to make us more like Jesus. In rounding up his promise to the disciples, Jesus promised them and by inference, us too that he will be with them till the end of the age. He intends to take care of the various challenges and obstacles that we may face on life’s journey. Our simple order from him to us is to: Go!
Just as a way of digressing a little bit, Jesus had spoken to Andrew and Simon, right at the beginning to follow him. As he rounded up his ministry, he told them to go…Hence, in following and making of disciples, we have the full backing of Jesus to become empowered to make disciples of all nations.
The account of the book of Acts of the Apostles reveals the maturity and tenacity of the disciples. They kept going despite the opposition and the persecution that they suffered. And so, the church today must finish the work that Jesus began – by making disciples.
As I begin to round up, here are things we must do in order to make disciples:
(a) You must first be a disciple: In order to make disciples, we must submit ourselves to the process and fulfil the purpose for which we have been called. The ultimate purpose of the various regular services is to fire us up in order to reach out to others with the message of good news. Knowing Christ is as important also in becoming a disciple. St. Paul writes in Philippians 3:10, saying: ‘that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. Jesus referred to this in Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16:13-19, which reads: ‘When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” From this passage, we could infer that Jesus was asking them if they were indeed his disciples, who know who He was.
(b) You must be mission minded: It is important that we are not disconnected from God’s eternal purpose for us. The church was created to make disciples – the greatest mission of all. This mission must drive us and we must be mindful of it.
(c) You must be dead to self: This is a process that we must work on, even during times when it is not convenient. St. Paul speaks of this in Acts 20:22-24, which reads: “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (NLT). Here was a man who was not driven by self. He was fearless, bold and ready for what lay ahead, simply because he was dead to self. We must all come to a place in our walk with God, where we are no longer self-driven. When we start reaching out to people, signs and wonders will follow our ministry according to Jesus’ promise.
(d) You must rely on Christ: As we cannot serve Christ in our own strength, we must rely on Him. John 15:5 reads: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing”.
(e) You must depend on the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:1 gives us an insight into this: ‘And when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place, When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them. And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]’ (AMP). We need the Holy Spirit to give us the words and the utterance that we need to witness for Christ.
God is calling each of us in this year of multiplication to make, making disciples our lifestyle. God desires to bless, heal, provide and fulfil all His promises to us. However, this is a means in other to empower you for the ultimate goal, raising disciples for Him. May our lives be yielded and committed to fulfilling the mandate that He has given the church, all to His glory (Amen).
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