Last week Sam shared a Harvard Business School study.  They asked one question.  Do you have a 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.

What was the result 10 years later?  The 13% of the class that had set written goals but had not created plans, were making twice as much money compared to the 84% of the class that had set no goals at all.  And the 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.

What can we learn from this?  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.  Having clarity about life matters.  Having a plan matters.  Living intentionally matters.  This matters spiritually too.  Knowing your purpose matters.  When you discover how significant you are, it changes everything.  When you can answer the question, ‘Do I matter?’, it transforms you.

Remember the quote Sam gave us last week?

“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

I liked how Sam opened his talk last week.  He helped us understand that something has been lost over the last few years.  The pandemic, the pressures of life, the divisions in our country, all of it and more has stolen something from us and left many people with growing anxiety, depression, and fear.  We see that people are struggling in relationships.  School districts report an increase in fighting.  Mental health issues are on the rise.  Where you work, it’s harder isn’t it?  Spiritually, people seem to be going through the motions, don’t they?  Church attendance is dropping.  What is happening?  I’ll tell you.  Life has worn us down.  We have lost our sense of purpose and significance.  We have lost our ability to see how much our lives matter.

Again, 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.  Having clarity about life matters.

Let’s start with the foundation of life.  Scripture explains this.

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. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. MSG Ephesians 1:3-6

Isn’t that an amazing scripture.  Try to wrap your head around that.  Long before the creation of earth, God knew your name and was excited to see you.  The foundation of life is that God loves you.

Let’s keep reading in verse 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, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. MSG Ephesians 1:11-12

Your life matters and you find your purpose and significance in Jesus.  That’s why we are so excited to have you walk through this 42-day, daily devotional.  I would encourage you to walk through it personally, as a couple, and as a family.  We are praying that this Thanksgiving, this Christmas, you discover just how much you matter and how you fit into community.

So, how can we find our purpose?  In Jesus.  If you want to find out why something was created, we ask the creator.

You exist because God loves you.  In life, the first and greatest thing you can realize is that God loves you.  And when you realize how much God loves you, you can trust God.  We call that worship.

I remember when the girls were in the diaper and onesie stage of life.  I would stand them on the counter of our kitchen and tell them to jump into my arms.  They would jump into my arms and we would laugh and laugh.  Why did they jump?  Because they knew I would catch them.  We had spent hours playing and wrestling together.  They knew, everything I asked of them was for fun and no harm would come to them.  Because they trusted me, they jumped into my arms.  That’s what it’s like with God.  We have experienced His love so much we trust God and are willing to jump into His arms.

Worship.  That means, God loves me so I will trust God enough and love Him back.  God loves me so I will trust Him enough and obey Him.  God loves me so I will trust Him enough to follow Him through life – even when life is dark.  When you trust God, you worship God.  That is your first and greatest purpose of life.

Jesus was asked, what is the most important command?  This is what Jesus said.

36 “Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.” TLB Matthew 22:36-37

Jesus explained the greatest thing you can do with your life is to love God back.  Let’s get more practical.  What does it mean to love God back?

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. MSG Romans 12:1-2

Remember we said, when you trust God, you worship God?  That simply means, because of God’s love for me, I will give my life back to Him.  I can trust that God knows what is best for my life.  So, I will surrender my life to Him and obey Him.  And when I surrender to God, it has nothing to do with religious obligation or a sense of fear.  I surrender my life to God because I have experienced His love for me.  His love is so real, I am thrilled to trust Him in every area of my life.  I will jump off the counter and into His arms.  That’s worship.  That’s what Jesus was saying when He said Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  That’s what Romans 12 meant when it says, take your ordinary life and offer it back to God.

Question: Did you know that was worship?  Did you know, when you trust God, that is when you worship God?  If worship is trusting God in all the areas of your life and surrendering our lives to God every day, how are you at worshiping God day to day?

Many people think worship is limited to a Sunday morning time slot for music.  That is certainly a part of worship, but a very small part.  Over the years at MRC, I have heard people tell me, ‘That was a great worship set at Church, I got so much out of it.’  I have also heard, ‘I didn’t get much out of worship today, maybe we should change things up.’  Here is what we misunderstand.  Sunday morning music we call worship, isn’t about you, is about bringing our hearts to God.  Worship isn’t about style, volume, with or without smoke or flags, the speed, or with or without drums, it’s about bringing our hearts to God.  Many Christians can turn Sunday morning worship into seeking an experience rather than offering their hearts to God.  Worship isn’t about us or our emotions, it’s about offering our hearts to God.

When you trust God, you worship God.  This is so important because not everyone puts their trust in God.  We all must make a decision.  We all must decide what we will put our trust into.  If we don’t trust God, we will end up trusting something or somebody other than God.  For some it’s the opinions of others so we frantically try to make sure everyone likes us, so we feel special.  For some it’s money, so we try to earn as much as possible to prove we are valuable.  For some it’s unforgiveness or resentment and we live a life trying to get even with others in hopes they feel how we feel.  We call this justice.  For some it’s fear, pride, jealousy, envy, lust, grades in school, kids, what we achieve, our ego, and on and on.

Here is why this is so important.  What you put your trust into that is not God, that is your idol.  It’s the thing you believe will make you feel special.  It’s the thing you pursue.  It’s the thing you think about most.  It’s the thing you care about most.  It’s what you stare at on Instagram the most.  Here is a quote that you read this past week.

“If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.” E. Stanley Jones

That means, that thing you put your trust into, you will have to live out the consequences.  Everything you trust outside of God will lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction.

Question: What have you put your trust into?  What have been the consequences you have experienced in your life?  What are you staring at on Instagram?  If you have put your trust into something other than God, what do you need to do to destroy that idol?

When you trust God, you worship God.  So how do we trust God in our ordinary lives?  We begin with this verse.

I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your love; I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me. TLB Hosea 6:6

What does God want?  He wants a relationship with you.  He wants you to know Him.  Did you know that?  How awesome is that?  To begin the journey of trusting God, it starts with a relationship with God.

Notice what God does not want, a boring relationship.  He doesn’t want you going through the motions.  Have you been out to eat and watched a couple completely ignoring each other and staring at their phones?  That’s what He doesn’t want.  A lame dinner with you while you are staring at your phone.  You are at dinner because you have to be while at the same time ignoring Him.  That hurt’s God’s heart.

Question: Do you have a real relationship with God?  The kind of relationship where you are very honest and real with God.  The kind of relationship where you are wrestling with God about life.

The second part of trusting God with our ordinary lives is found in this verse.

3 Loving God means doing what he tells us to do, and really, that isn’t hard at all; 4 for every child of God can obey him, defeating sin and evil pleasure by trusting Christ to help him. TLB 1 John 5:3

What does it mean to trust God and worship God?  I do what He says and it’s easy for me.  I don’t fight it.  I don’t make excuses.  I don’t put it off, I do it now.  What God asks of me, I do it and I don’t make it a big deal.

There will always be something inside you that wants to do life your way.  We call that your sin nature.  And when God asks you to do life his way, your sin nature is going to want to fight against God’s way.

Scripture explains this.

21 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; 23-24 but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin. TLB Romans 7:21-24

Do you know who wrote this?  One of the greatest leaders in the early church in the New Testament – Paul.  It’s like he wrote in his personal journal and allowed us to see his real thoughts.  Paul is honest and basically says, ‘I want to do what is right, but I mess it up all the time.  I’m a straight up mess.’

I want you to think about this.  In your battle with your sin nature, if you starve it, it dies.  If you feed it, it grows.  Your sin nature inside of you is like an angry mean dog.  If you keep giving into it, you are feeding it and it will get stronger and stronger.  It will be harder for you to contain it.  If you starve it, it will get weaker and weaker.  Over time it won’t have much control in your life.

That battle inside you is real.  What it means to trust God is to starve that sin nature and it’s not hard at all.  Why?  Because you trust God.

Question: Is it easy or hard for you to do what God has asked of you?  Are you feeding your sin nature and is it growing stronger and stronger?  Are you starving your sin nature and watching it get weaker and weaker?

The third part of trusting God shows up in how I live.

Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for him to act. Don’t be envious of evil men who prosper. TLB Psalms 37:7

When you fully trust God, it starts with a real relationship.  It means we are trusting Him so much we do what He asked of us and it’s not an issue.  And when we fully trust God, we can chill.  We are comfortable waiting for God to take care of it instead of forcing our way through life.

That means I rely on God to work things out.  I can chill.

1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. MSG Philippians 2:1-4

Do you see it?  You can enjoy life.  You don’t have to manipulate others or guilt others to do what you want them to do.  You don’t have to put your needs first and force others to do what you want them to do.  You don’t have to edge others out, demand your rights, or be self-serving.  You don’t have to control every situation.  When people you do life with hurt you, you don’t have to rush to defend yourself.  How can we live this way?  We trust God.  We can jump off the counter and into His arms.

Question: Do you live life with an edge about you?  Are you always fighting something?  Are you able to trust God so much, you enjoy life?

Your first and greatest purpose is to worship God.  That practically means you trust God in all the areas of your life.

The book we are walking you through did a great job breaking down what worship is in more detail.  It even has a whole chapter on what to do when God seems distant.  So I encourage you to read through the book each day.

I want to ask you, how are you at worship?  How are you at fully surrendering your life and giving your life back to God?  Are you enjoying your friendship with Jesus?

As you leave here today, I challenge you to fully surrender your life to God because that is what it means to worship.  Ask yourself, in what areas of your life are you wrestling with God?  Do you fully trust God or do you hold back?