Have you ever asked yourself some of the bigger questions of life? Questions like why am I alive? Does my life matter? Why is life so hard? What is the meaning of my life or what is my purpose? Have you ever just wondered, where is God in all of this? You know, these are the bigger questions that we all ask from time to time, and quite frankly, these are important questions to be able to answer. And in the world you and I live in today, more and more people are struggling to find answers to these questions, more and more people are feeling empty, like their lives have no direction, just struggling with their emotions, their mental health, and wondering deep down if their lives truly have meaning. We are seeing more and more people walking through life wrestling with these bigger questions in life. Do I matter, what is my purpose, what is the point of life? Well, that is the conversation that we are stepping into today, we are going to spend the next 7 weeks walking through the 40 days of purpose, and we want you to join us on this journey to discover your value, your purpose, and the answers to these incredibly important questions.
You know, these “bigger questions” have always been important and things that we all think of from time to time, but we need to talk, because in the times that we live in today we are seeing more and more people struggling with finding meaning and purpose in their lives. These questions aren’t just deeper philosophical questions to explore but seem to be in the forefront of so many hearts and minds today. If you think back to the Covid Pandemic and the entire world being shut down, where everyone’s lives came to a screeching halt for a long period of time, we saw some startling things happen with people. More and more people are really struggling with anxiety, depression, and fear for many things from our health to the uncertain future. We saw people having no reason to get out of bed in the morning, and a general lethargy set into our culture for the things of God, and frankly, that same lethargy seemed to set into life in general, for that matter. When the Pandemic ended and life returned to normal, it didn’t really recover fully did it? We didn’t seem to reach normal as we knew it before at any time, did we? I can tell you in the context of the church and Spirituality that general lethargy for God continued and continues to this day. People are struggling more in relationships and getting along with one another. Schools were having more fighting and challenges with students than ever before, and frankly a lot of us were ok, just continuing to live one day at a time. Just get up, live out the day, and then move on to the next. Mental health issues are rising, at the same time church attendance is plummeting and just the malaise of lethargy hangs over so many of our lives. So, what happened and is continuing to happen with us people? Why are more and more people wondering what on Earth are we here for? What is the point of life, faith, God? Why should I get out of bed in the morning and jump into another day? Well, that is where I want to start this journey with you today. You know Rick Warren says this…
“Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction and events without reason. Without a purpose life is trivial, petty, and pointless.” Rick Warren
This is so powerful and so true, isn’t it? Purpose is so important for us people, we need a direction in life…life without direction and purpose and meaning life is empty, and I think many people are feeling the emptiness of a life without meaning or direction these days. It is something we have lost, and often search for in all the wrong places, but something we all crave and need in our lives. A life without meaning or direction is pointless, and we are seeing and experiencing that emptiness these days. You know, there was a very popular and very simple study done years ago that really reinforces this idea that our lives need direction. Check this out…This was a study done by the Harvard Business School MBA on goal setting, years ago they did this study where the graduating class was asked one single question about their goals in life.
The question was this: Have you set written goals and created a plan for their attainment? Prior to graduation, it was determined that:
- 84% of the entire class had set no goals at all
- 13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans
- 3% of the class had both written goals and concrete plans
The results? 10 years later, the 13% of the class that had set written goals but had not created plans, were making twice as much money and that much more successful when compared to the 84% of the class that had set no goals at all. However, that 3% of the class that had both written goals and a plan, were making ten times as much as the rest of the 97% of the class and were that much more successful in their career paths. Now some people have argued that this study can’t be true, but what it does is illustrate the importance of direction and goals in our lives. We were wired by God for purpose and meaning, and we are just better when we grab hold of that direction and purpose for our lives. We need something to shoot for, we need goals and direction. It’s amazing whether in sports, business, your home life, even in relationships having goals, direction, something to achieve, accomplish and go after just matters, we need purpose. When we have it, and accomplish that goal, it just brings us to life, doesn’t it? This feels like something that was lost over the last few years…but you know, it doesn’t take a Global Pandemic to push these questions to the forefront of our minds, these are life’s greatest questions, that have been asked by humans all throughout human history. We can go to Scripture and see countless moments where incredible people of Faith, prophets and Kings struggled and wrestled with these same questions. One of my favorite books of the Bible is Ecclesiastes where we see Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived trying everything and anything to find meaning for His life…
Ecclesiastes 2:9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. NLT
Do you see what the wisest man who ever lived not named Jesus is searching for? True meaning and no matter what he tries on this Earth he can’t find the answer to this big question. Check this out with the Prophet Jeremiah here, an incredible prophet of God, who just seems so dry and empty as he takes the big question to God!
Jeremiah 20:18 Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame. NLT
Poor Jeremiah is not having a very good day here, and he had a brutal job that saw so many of the prophets in exhausting and frustrating places in their lives. The job, to bring God’s messages to people that had no interest in hearing God’s message! To point with urgency to a future and eternal destiny that most people just don’t care about as they walk through their everyday lives! So frustrating don’t you think? Here he is asking the big question, that is in all our hearts and minds. You don’t have to be an exhausted and frustrated profit of God to ask…it’s something we all want the answer to whether we realize it or not. Why was I ever born? What on earth am I here for? It’s the question in all of our hearts, and when we find that meaning it changes everything for us, and brings us to life in a new way, with energy, and focus, and health because we know what we are getting out of bed in the morning for, we have the fullness of direction in our lives…it’s how we were wired by God, to desire and have and attain our purpose that God created for us from the very beginning.
Now here is the challenge, we end up with this deep need for direction and purpose in our lives, but we search for it in all the wrong places. Some people dive into causes and activities that fill a bit of a void but are pulling them away from their purpose. We can just look for it in all the wrong places. They may go to self-help books or some mystical remedies to find purpose as many do but they won’t find it there. They may walk through life and think to themselves, there actually is no purpose to life at all, which is brutal and leaves us back in that empty directionless place we spoke of earlier…but we must get to this place where we understand that we do have a purpose and where it’s found and to do that we go to our creator! We need to understand the answers to this big question. What on Earth am I here for?
We were created by God for God! Why did God make you? Why are you on this earth? God made you intentionally just as you are, equipped with the strengths, skill sets, and talents you have very intentionally for God’s purpose! God has never made anything alive without purpose.
Proverbs 16:4 The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster. NLT
So now we are getting somewhere. God made everything for His own purposes, it’s all on purpose for His purposes. So, you may be thinking Ok Sam, so God created me on purpose for His purpose. That’s great, but I have never clearly seen why? Why would God create me and give me the talents and giftings and life that I have? Why did He do it? Like, at its very core what am I here for? Well let’s go to something beautiful that Paul says here in Ephesians 1…
Ephesians 1:4 Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 5 Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) MSG
This is so important for us to see. God created you to love you! Think about that, say it to yourself right now…God created me to love me!
Ephesians 1:4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. NLT
Long before the world began this was His plan, God loved us, brought us to Himself through Jesus, it is what He wanted to do and He enjoyed doing it…it gave Him great pleasure to do this! Do you see it? God made you to love you! Before the universe was even created, He thought of you and created you just as you are today! So, this really is the great question that so many of us ask, isn’t it? Why am I alive? Or like our buddy Jeremiah said, why was I even born? Well now we clearly know why we exist. God created us intentionally, to love us!
Now there is a follow up question to this that we all ask. We now know why we are here; we are here because God created us to love us…but the next question gets right into our meaning, and direction that we need in life. The second great question that we humans wrestle with is this…
Does my life matter? Don’t you wonder this question at times? I know that I sure do. Well, we aren’t alone in that, this is another question we all wrestle with…let’s look at another one of God’s prophets here in Isaiah…
Isaiah 49:4 I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.” NLT
Have you ever been there? What is he saying? I have worked so hard God, and gave so much, and nothing seems to matter! This is the challenge or big tension point of our lives, isn’t it? This is the big question! Wondering if what we do matters, if our lives matter, if all our energy and strength means anything to anyone! Well, let’s stick with Isaiah here because he makes it clear that we do matter!
Isaiah 44:2 Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you. ESV
You do matter. The God of the universe formed you in your mother’s womb. He cares his much about you, to take time to make you just as you are. God planned for you and your life, long before He created the world! You matter.
Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. NIV
Do you see it? You matter to God. The God of the universe took great care in creating you long ago. You were created with a purpose and a plan in mind, and God’s plans last forever and will not be shaken.
Psalm 33:11 But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. NLT
So, we are seeing some big words here aren’t we? We are talking about creation, and plans that happened long before the world or universe was created by God. Now we see that His plans are eternal, they are forever…and we know forever is a really, really, long time, don’t we? So, what does this all mean for me today as I do my best to walk through life? Well, it means that the life we live here on this Earth, which we continue to talk about week after week, is a very short time. With all of eternity out ahead of us which is a very long time…forever, and ever and ever…long time. So, we need to see our lives on this earth in a very specific light. This life we live here on this earth, which in comparison to all of eternity is just a blink of an eye, is preparation for the next life, our eternal lives. God put us on Earth to prepare us for forever. We need to understand that we were lovingly and intentionally created to last forever. This is a hard thing for us to really wrap our minds around, let alone focus on with all that we are trying to navigate in the here and now. We have bills to pay, hurts and wounds to deal with, challenges we face, pressures from life and people, and all this world pressing in hard on us which can keep us from ever taking a moment to recognize the importance of eternity, in comparison to right now. Do you think that is a coincidence? That we struggle to focus on our eternal destiny? Yeah, I don’t either. We have to remember as massive as our challenges, hurts, dreams, issues seem to be on this planet, this life is not all there is, and it is a huge mistake so many people make to just live in the here and now, focusing on one day at a time, living their best life that day, with no focus on the fact that this life and time on this earth is not all there is! God put us on Earth to prepare us for eternity!
2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. NLT
So, the big takeaway of the day is this. The key to understanding if your life has meaning is found in understanding two very important truths.
God made you to love you.
You were made to last forever.
Ok, so you may be thinking “Sam, that sounds nice, but I’m out here working hard, and trying my best to lead my family, pay my bills, engage people all around me…what does this really mean for me today? I mean, Sam it’s great that God loves me and that I was made to last forever but life is hard. I feel like it’s harder every day. And while it’s nice that God loves me and that I’m made to last forever, I’m still sitting here wondering, what on Earth am I here for!”
Well, this is so important for you to see here today as we get rolling in this journey to discovering a life of purpose and meaning. It starts with truly grasping that without God and all of Eternity to look forward to, there is no meaning to life. Listen to the words in this Psalm here…
Psalm 89:47 Oh, remember how short you have made man’s lifespan. Is it an empty, futile life you give the sons of men? 48 No man can live forever. All will die. Who can rescue his life from the power of the grave? TLB
Our lives are so short, and so empty without God and all of eternity to look forward to…do you see it? Without God there is nothing, it’s empty, and this short life has no meaning…with God it has purpose and meaning and direction. God made us to love us, and we were made to last forever. Now, all that I just said, and that we will be reading in this book is important and good, but in the end, it will just be more words and information without something very important…and we have to talk about it. None of this will mean all that much if you aren’t willing to walk with God.
In his book Rick Warren makes a great point. If you want to know the purpose of an invention, you need to go to the inventor or creator and ask them what the purpose of their creation is! Well, we must do the same thing with God!
Proverbs 9:10 To be wise you must first have reverence for the Lord. If you know the Holy One, you have understanding. GNT
When we come to know God, we come to find and know and understand our purpose in life. How do we come to know God, well how do we come to know anyone? We come to know someone by walking in a true relationship with them. We spend time with them. As we spend time with them we come to know them! We find our purpose in God and by coming to know God our purpose becomes clear. Do you hear me? You will find your purpose as you walk in relationship with God and come to know Him. It is through asking Christ Jesus into your heart and walking with Him daily, that is how and when you will find the true purpose and meaning of your life that God intentionally gave you from before the universe existed. It is all found in walking with Jesus!
Colossian 1:15 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. 16 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels — everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. MSG
Everything finds its purpose in Him! We have to see this; it starts with accepting Jesus into your life and coming to know Him. As we walk with Him and draw closer and closer to Him, we step into the very life He told us He came to provide for us all along…that full life is a life of meaning, of value, and purpose. Do you see it? You know there is a saying that has been said here at MRC for over 20 years, and it holds true to this day as we think through what we are talking about here today. In the end, this life just isn’t about you. This life is all about God. He created us to love us and gave us this life to prepare us for all of eternity to come, with Him…living out His purpose forever and ever…not just our purpose, in the day to day of this short life and we need to see this and come to grips with it! It’s just not about you, it is all about God.
Ephesians 1:11 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, 12 part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. MSG
So many people are walking through life right now with no meaning or purpose in their lives. This has always been a challenge for us people to get to a place where we understand our value and find and fulfill the plan God has for our lives. Through the last few years, this has become more and more challenging for us as more and more people are struggling and feeling empty, anxious, depressed, and just like their lives don’t matter. This is also in a time when we see more and more people pulling away from God, and distancing themselves from Jesus and an active and passionate walk with Him…which is the very place our value is found, our life’s direction is found, and our true lives come to fruition…do you see it?
So, as we close this talk down today and step into the 40 days of purpose journey, I want to ask you some really important questions.
- Do you wonder if your life matters or if you have any value at all?
- Have you struggled to find direction in life? If so, where do you go to find direction and purpose in your own life?
- Would you say you have an eternal focus, or would you say you don’t think about the things of God or all eternity to come because there is too much going on today?
- How does it hit your heart today to hear that God created you to love you, and that He created you to last forever?
- How does it hit your heart today to hear that in the end it’s just not about you, but all about God?
- Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior and are you actively walking with Jesus, getting to know Him through prayer, talking, listening, reading Scripture, and rest?
- Do you see that the true meaning of your life can only be found in Him and why maybe distancing ourselves from God leads to so much pain, and unhealth, and emptiness in our lives?
- What changes would you need to make today, to get to a place where you would be walking into that true, intimate, life-giving relationship with God?
- Maybe the better question is, are you open and willing to walk with God and focus on forever…or is today too big, and too important in comparison to all eternity to come.
Listen we love you, and our deepest prayer is that you will step into a life of meaning and purpose. We want you to experience the fullness of life, which only happens as we get to know God in a real way and wrap our hearts and minds around the importance of forever.