What's the Purpose?
Acts 20:1-38 December 10, 2000
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9
"Just what is the purpose of all this anyway?"
Is that something you have ever said to yourself, to someone else, or perhaps even to God himself?
We all have those times when we feel it just isn't worth it all – those times when we have lost focus on just where it is that we are headed.
We can ask that question particularly at this time of year when we are immersed in the "Christmas rush" of gridlock cashier lines to get all the presents wrapped just right so that it can all be torn off again.
We can ask that question particularly of our country at this time with the interminable delay in choosing a president.
We ask that question when we continue to suffer with aches and pains and sickness when the rest of the world often seems carefree.
We ask that question often when we continue trying to do our best for people that just don't seem to appreciate it, at home or at the job, and shoot off their mouths at every little thing they see wrong.
And we can ask that question when we know ourselves that we just can't seem to get it right, whatever we do.
We can wonder what the purpose of it all is when we continue to try to help people that just seem to make it extremely difficult for you to help them.
You've had those times at home when the kids just don't ever seem to 'get it' no matter how many times you give patient instruction.
Perhaps you wonder just what the purpose is when you can't ever seem to cook what people want to eat, or you can't ever seem to earn enough money to satisfy your family's desires, or you can't ever seem to balance your family's financial needs with their nurturing needs.
In short, sometimes we feel like giving up because we have lost sight of the purpose of it all and we need help to refocus and know that it does matter after all.
We need to know that we are not alone in our frustrations.
We need to know that there is a larger perspective.
Did you know the Christian life also has frustrations?
That's an understatement, right?
Like everything else, it's a course with obstacles – but there is a finish line, and a purpose.
The apostle, Paul, that Jewish slayer of Christians turned servant of Christ to the Gentiles, had his frustrations.
Jesus had even told him through Ananias, "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." But he also said, "This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel."
We have seen many of Paul's trials and frustrations and also his successes for the gospel as we have been preaching through Acts.
In our last two messages we have learned about the defining factor that gives testimony of the effectiveness of the gospel in a person's life (and that is the Holy Spirit), and we have also learned about the effect of the power of the gospel upon the world (and that is that we are offered a choice).
In this morning's message we will learn from the life and ministry of Paul about the purpose of our lives in Christ as he continues from Ephesus to begin his third missionary journey and revisits the churches in Macedonia and Greece that he had previously founded.
What is the purpose of our lives in Christ?
To carry out his purpose for us regardless of the complications.
To be resurrected when we fall asleep in him regardless of the means.
To stay focused on his destination for us regardless of the diversions.
To proclaim a powerful testimony for him regardless of the trials.
To completely entrust our lives to him regardless of the cost.
To be absolutely assured of our forgiveness in him regardless of our past.
To trust him with the continuation of our work in the church regardless of whether we can go on.
To experience the continuation of our spiritual fellowship through him regardless of parting.
The purpose of our lives in Christ is to know that in Christ our lives have purpose – that it is "more blessed to give than to receive", no matter what the cost.
The purpose of our lives in Christ is that we might be encouraged and that we might even encourage others by the giving of ourselves.
The thing to focus on is not the trials of the journey but the results of the destination, which is Christ himself, who gave himself for us.
Everything that we could ever think of that will satisfy our hearts we will find in Christ.
Christ's purpose for our lives is fulfillment in him, even becoming like him.
If you think you have no purpose, look at Christ and purpose to be like him – Paul did - and he found great hope and meaning for his life.
His purpose was Christ – our purpose is Christ.
And we have come here today on purpose to worship him.
Can you leave here today encouraged because you have been reminded that your purpose is in Christ; and that is all the purpose you need, no matter what it looks like sometimes?
In Christ you are coming to a true knowledge of your purpose – your sense of calling and destiny.
And like Christ was leading Paul, he is also leading you to your destination in him, knowing that your life has a profound purpose.
When you purpose to follow the path of Christ, you will find his purpose for you along the way and be satisfied in the end.
And the end of the matter is the glory of Christ himself (Php. 3:7-14).