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We’ve been in a series the past two weeks all about purpose. We’ve been answering that question that everyone has, “Does my life matter?”
And the simple answer is yes. Your life is on purpose and you have a purpose.
God didn’t make you and then wonder what to do with you. No, God had a plan for you before you were even born.
And regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey, whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been going to church for years, here’s the truth:
God has more for your life.
You have not experienced all that God has for you. And that’s why we named our church NoLimits, because there really is no limit to what God can do through your life.
Ephesians 3:20 NLT – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
In other words, God wants to blow your mind. Even your best daydream doesn’t come close to what God wants to do in your life.
And all these things that God wants to do through you, they are not just for God’s benefit. They are for your benefit too.
God wants to make your life amazing.
If you are listening to me right now and just kind of like, “What? This is not the church that I grew up knowing.”
Most people see church as a place where you go to get a spanking. If you want to know what’s wrong with your life, then just go to church. And be sure to wear a few pairs of underwear so it doesn’t hurt as bad.
If this is your idea of church, let me apologize on behalf of the church. There are a lot of church leaders out there doing the best they can. But, they often give people a wrong idea of who God really is.
They position God as this supreme power that wants to control how you cut your hair, if you can have tattoos, and the list goes on.
But, trust me on this. The Christians that paint this picture of God have good intentions. They just don’t yet fully know God.
They have an idea of who God is based on what someone else told them, but they haven’t come to know God in a real and relational way.
Your Spiritual Journey
You see, there are actually three steps in everyone’s spiritual journey. And everyone in this room will find themselves somewhere in these three steps.
Step 1: Know God
I’m not talking about knowing Him mentally, I am talking about knowing God personally and relationally.
He’s not some far off, disconnected power in heaven. He is the perfect father and He wants to make His home with you. He wants a close relationship with you.
And when you open yourself to that relationship, His presence and power start to become evident in your life. He becomes real to you. Which leads into the next step.
Step 2: Find Freedom
Once you know God, you can find freedom. This is when you shave of the things in your life that are keeping you from living your best life.
We all have them, and I bet you don’t even have to think that hard to figure out what they are.
And you wonder if you’ll ever get over it. If you’ll ever get over that addiction, that sin, that habit, that thing that you hate yet you keep doing.
Well, the truth is, God wants you to live in freedom. And He has given you the power to do that.
And one of the best ways to discover this freedom is in a group setting, which we call Small Groups.
The relationships you build in Small Groups will help you overcome things in your life that you’ve been struggling with for a long time. You may just need someone to walk alongside you and be on your team.
Step 3: Discover Your Purpose
God has put a spiritual gift, a plan, a purpose on your life. Every one of you has a specific assignment. Your life matters in a BIG way.
And it turns out that finding your purpose isn’t as hard as you think. It’s not some equation that will never be solved. It’s not something you have to go on a treasure hunt to find.
It’s simple, really. And all of us have the same purpose. We just carry it out a little differently.
The ultimate purpose for your life is to make a difference.
And actually, none of us will ever be fulfilled until we are living our lives in a way that makes a difference.
Because, God has hardwired us to live our lives for others. And He’s laid out specific ways for each of us to do this.
But, here’s the deal. We can’t skip past steps one and two in the spiritual journey. Don’t skip ahead to trying to live out your purpose before you know God and find freedom.
That’s what gets us in the mess we talked about earlier, where Christians start painting the wrong picture about God.
Here’s a prime example. It’s a common belief that the whole point of Christianity is to make bad people good. But that’s not it at all.
Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive.
In other words, Jesus wants to take the areas of your life that are in decay and getting worse and make them better.
It’s a common belief that serving God and going to church is just a duty. It’s just something I do even though I don’t like it. But hey, at least I will go to heaven!
But this is not what it looks like to serve God. No, Jesus came to make your life better! He came to make your marriage better, your emotions better, your health better, your finances better.
Not perfect, but better. Much better. He wants to take everything inside of you that is dead and bring life.
That is the purpose of Easter. Jesus rose again not for His own benefit, but so that you would come alive with Him!
Romans 8:11 NLT – The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
In other words, Jesus didn’t go through everything He went through just so we could have a nice holiday and call it Easter.
No, He went through hell, conquered it, and came back to life so that He could live in you and give you the kind of life that most people dream of but never experience.
Jesus did all of this so you could have an amazing, difference-making, blow-your-mind kind of life!
The resurrection of Jesus gives you the power to close the gap between the life you are living and the one you know you could be living.
And that’s what today is about. If there is one thing I want you to walk away with, it is to believe that Jesus wants this for you. Believe that a life lived with Jesus is the only way to live your best life.
To many in this room, this may sound really good. But you’re sitting there asking yourself, “What’s the catch? What do I have to give up?”
You think that God has all these requirements. And you look at the people who have actually pulled this off and just assume they are special.
Like the people in the Bible, who can relate to those guys? The must have been super-human.
Interestingly, you can relate to the people in the Bible more than you think.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 MSG – We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us.
So here are the guys of the Bible experiencing life. And it wasn’t all peaches and cream. They were having a hard time. Actually, it was so bad, they thought they weren’t going to make it. They thought they were going to die.
I’ve never been to a place where things were so bad that I thought I was going to die, but maybe you have?
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 MSG – As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!
In the end, these guys were thankful for the experience because it forced them to trust God completely instead of trusting in what they could do on their own.
Which in turn gave them a “duh” moment. Why didn’t we think of this sooner? After all, He’s the God who raises the dead!
And if God can conquer death, He can conquer anything! There’s nothing He can’t restore. There’s nothing He can’t bring back to life.
Just check out how things turned out for these guys:
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 MSG – And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.
Why did they get rescued? Is it because they were some kind of super-human, amazing men of God that never had any problems?
No. They were rescued for one simple reason. They believed. They put their full trust in the fact that God could do it.
And not because they had some kind of super-faith, but because they had no other choice.
So, what do you have to do for your life to be better? What do you have to do for God’s power to come alongside you so you can live your best life?
It really is that simple. There is no rule book. There’s no attendance chart for you to report how many times you went to church. There’s no heavenly bank ledger for you to track how much you’ve given to the church.
There is only one condition: believe.
And you don’t even have to muster up some kind of super faith. You simply have to get to a point where you realized you’ve failed on your own. You can’t do it yourself.
There is only one way to turn this ship around, and that is to put my trust in God. The only way to replace death with life is to believe that God will do it.
And there are actually three stories in the gospels where God raised people from the dead physically. The most famous being the story of Lazarus.
John 11:1-6 NIV – Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha … So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Notice the message his sisters sent to Jesus didn’t say, “Jesus, my brother prays every day and he hasn’t missed church at all this year. He even gives 10% of his income as a tithe to you. Because of all of this, can you please come heal him?”
They didn’t say that at all. Actually, the only thing they mentioned is how much Jesus loved Lazarus. It had nothing to do with what Lazarus could do for Jesus. It had everything to do with relationship.
This reveals a truth about God that is probably contrary to how you’ve thought of Him all this time.
God is not motivated to help you because you love Him, but because He loves you.
God’s love for you has nothing to do with how much you pray, how many times you read your Bible, how faithful you are to your church. No, God loves you simply because He loves you.
Even if you don’t love Him back, He still loves you. Even if your life is a hot mess, He still loves you.
There is nothing you can do or not do to motivate God to heal your life. He does it because He loves you, plain and simple.
Now, let’s continue in this story about Lazarus.
John 11:1-6 NIV – When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
If you know the story, you know that Lazarus dies. But didn’t Jesus just say this story would not end in death?
As you can imagine, Jesus sees things a little differently than us. From our standpoint, Lazarus dies. But Jesus sees all the way to the end and knows that this story will not end in death.
Lazarus may go through something that looks like death, but Jesus has a plan that is much greater than the healing they were asking for.
Let’s keep reading:
John 11:1-6 NIV – Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
This is a funny verse right here. It’s mentioned how much Jesus loves these three siblings. Yet, He was in no hurry to go help them. He stayed where is was for two more days!
If someone in your family died, and your closest relative decided to wait two days before coming to see you, I’d imagine you would wonder if they even loved you at all.
I can only imagine what Mary and Martha said about this delay. “Jesus, he’s not going to make it two more days! He needs you now! I thought you loved us!”
Maybe you’ve had one of these moments with God? Where He wasn’t moving as fast as you wanted Him to. And maybe you gave up on Him because you thought He was too late?
Let’s see how this story ends up.
John 11:11-16 NIV – After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
Here it is again, Jesus seeing things differently. To everyone else, Lazarus was dead. To Jesus, Lazarus was just taking a nap.
And this totally messed with Jesus’ disciples, because look at how they responded.
John 11:11-16 NIV – His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
His disciples were basically saying, “Well, let’s just leave him alone and let him sleep so he can get better!”
So, don’t feel so bad if you have a hard time seeing things the way Jesus does. Even his disciples had their moments.
We all find ourselves in places where human reasoning doesn’t line up with God’s way of thinking. But these are the times we should realign our thinking with God’s way instead of trying to be the one who is right.
The truth is, God has your best interest in mind. So, even when He asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense to your natural mind, it is in your best interest to trust Him anyways.
In this instance, Jesus cleared things up for His disciples by speaking their language:
John 11:11-16 NIV – So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
So now Jesus is saying He was glad He wasn’t there to heal Lazarus before he died. Come on, Jesus. How could you say something like that?
Well, Jesus gave the reason: so that the disciples would believe. In other words, if this had played out like all the other times Jesus had healed people, the disciples wouldn’t have to believe.
Because by this point, they had it all figured out. When someone was sick, Jesus healed them before things got too bad.
But, in order for us to grow in our faith, we need to get to that place where we can’t figure it out on our own. Kind of like those guys we read about earlier that decided to trust in God because they had no other choice.
So, we can see now that Jesus had a plan in all of this. He wanted to help everyone get out of their head and trust God. Let’s keep reading:
John 11:11-16 NIV – Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Now, you got to admit, this is pretty funny right here. Eeyore enters the scene. “Lazarus is dead, people are mad, so we might as well go die with him.”
And let me tell you something about these kind of people. They are not good for you. Be sure to get away from people who doubt your future and doubt God and tell you it can’t happen.
I’m telling you, they are not good for you. And at the very least, don’t participate in their negative conversations. Turn it around to something positive, or walk away. You don’t need negativity in your life.
John 11:17-26 NIV – On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
Jewish people believed that a person’s spirit hovered over their body for three days after they died. And then on the fourth day, they were really dead.
So, people really thought it was over by the time Jesus arrived.
John 11:17-26 NIV – When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
By now, this story has completely burst your bubble that the people in the Bible are some kind of super-humans with extreme faith. We’ve now seen all kinds of dysfunction going on, just like we have today.
Here we have Mary who stayed in the house to pout. Jesus didn’t do what she wanted him to do, so she didn’t want any part of it.
On the other side, Martha went out to meet Jesus as soon as He arrived.
John 11:17-26 NIV – “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
It sounds like Martha still believes that Lazarus is going to make a comeback. But, look at what happens next.
John 11:17-26 NIV – Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Huh? Even Martha, the sister who was able to maintain a decent attitude, still thought Lazarus was long gone. She knew he would rise again with everyone else on the last day, but just not today.
But to Jesus, resurrection was not an event. It was not a holiday. It was not something that would happen in the distant future. Catch this:
John 11:17-26 NIV – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Jesus said, “Resurrection is not an event, it’s a person. And you’re looking at Him. I am the resurrection and the life.”
Like, if you bring Jesus into your life, you are bringing resurrection into you life. He will make all the dead things alive. He will make your life more than you could have ever dreamed it could be.
John 11:17-26 NIV – The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Notice that Jesus wasn’t asking us to pray more. He wasn’t asking us to go to church more. He wasn’t asking us to be more holy.
He was asking us to do one thing, believe.
And maybe you find yourself struggling with your spiritual journey. Like you’ve tried church and it didn’t work. Or, maybe you’re just bored and feel like you are missing out on the fun things of life.
Or maybe this whole thing has never been more than a duty for you. Like something you can check off on your list to make sure you are doing enough to get to heaven.
Today, I want you to put all of this aside and do one thing, believe.
Believe that Jesus wants you to experience life in the most amazing way. Believe that Jesus wants to take all the struggle, the regret, the pain and resurrect you back to life.
John 11:17-26 NIV – The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Yes, this physical body is going to die one day. But even when this happens, those who believe in Jesus will never die.
Do you believe this?
And I get it, it is hard sometimes. Life comes crashing down and you wonder, “why live for Jesus when I still have to go through these things?”
You are not a bad person for thinking this. We all have moments in our life where we wonder why Jesus would allow us to go through such a struggle.
Just like we read today, even the people in the Bible went through hard times. But in the end, something good came out of it.
And this is God’s plan. He will always work things out for your good. Even in the moments where it seems all hope is lost, God will work it all out to where you actually end up in a better place.
All you have to do is believe.
From our perspective, Easter is all about the resurrection of Jesus. But from Jesus’ perspective, Easter is all about resurrecting you.
Jesus loves this holiday. Not because it is all about Him, but because He has an opportunity unlike any other Sunday to restore your life.
And here’s my prayer for us today:
Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT – I pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.
Notice that it didn’t say we have to pray more, go to church more, or make better choices to receive God’s power in our lives. No, it says the same thing we’ve been looking at this entire message: