Last week, we talked about how God wants to take every single one of us on a clearly defined spiritual journey.
It can be broken down into three steps, and each one of us will find ourselves somewhere in these three right now.
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 starts 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. Because all of us have things in our lives that keep us from being our best. And you don’t even have to think hard to remember exactly what those things are in your life.
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 with other believers 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.
And don’t stop there, because the first two steps are all about you. Yes, the are important, but we all need to move on to the next step which is when we find out how God has specifically designed our life to impact others.
Step 3: Discover Your Purpose
God has put a spiritual gift, a plan, a purpose on your life. And the plan existed before you were even born! He didn’t create you and then wonder what to do with you. He already knew!
Every one of you has a specific assignment. Your life matters in a BIG way.
But unfortunately, 9 out of 10 Christians never discover their purpose. It’s a tragedy that they live their entire life without knowing what their life was all about. But, this doesn’t have to be you.
Because 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 you know you are living this out when you can lay your head down at night and think, “I did something today that matters. I made an impact in someone else’s life.”
God has hardwired you to live your life for others. That’s why you feel so fulfilled whenever you push past the inconvenience and help someone in need.
That’s why we serve at church every Sunday. I mean, why else would people show up early to make you coffee and then stay late to clean the toilet? Because it brings fulfillment and purpose to our lives.
Actually, Mother Teresa said it really well:
“A life not lived for others is not a life.”
And here is how Jesus said it back in the day:
John 15:8 NKJV – By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
You see, a tree bears fruit not for its own enjoyment. At least, I’ve never seen an apple tree eating apples.
But a tree bears fruit for the enjoyment of all those who encounter its presence. And this an exact representation of what living your best life looks like.
In other words, going to church does not make you a Christian. But providing for and bringing enjoyment to those around you, that’s what makes you a true disciple of Jesus.
And the Father is glorified by this kind of life. And although this is a great reason to live life for others, this isn’t just for God’s benefit. Check this out:
John 15:11 NKJV – These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
It’s funny. When you do things for others, you think it is for their benefit. But, turns out, you get a benefit too. And it’s called joy!
So, if you’re having a joy problem, the first thing to ask yourself is, “Is my life all about me?”
And if it is, just flip it around and start living your life in a way that makes a difference in other’s lives.
And don’t get messed up on this. It’s not that you think less of yourself, allowing yourself to get taken advantage of and taking a back seat in life.
Don’t think of less of yourself, but start thinking of yourself less.
And when you connect with the ultimate purpose for your life, your life becomes more than you could have ever dreamed it could be.
God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others.
Let me show you what I am talking about. This scripture was actually not written to the church, but it was written to the pastor of a church. This is the apostle Paul writing instructions to Timothy for his church:
1 Timothy 6:17 NLT – Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
In other words, don’t put your trust in money because it will let you down at some point. But, even when you have money, put your trust in God. Because He will ALWAYS provide everything you need.
And did you notice that it said “for our enjoyment”? So, take a deep breath of relief. God does not expect you to never enjoy anything He gives you.
Some of the stuff He gives you is for YOU to enjoy! But, not everything He gives you is for you. Let’s keep reading:
1 Timothy 6:18 NLT – Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.
In other words, you are blessed to be a blessing. And when live this kind of life, the reward is crazy:
1 Timothy 6:19 NLT – By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.
You’re sowing seeds for your future! You’re laying the foundation for the kind of life that most people want but never experience.
Yes, all of us will experience true life in heaven. But, I believe that God wants you to experience true life here and now. And it all starts by always being ready to share with others.
It all starts with generosity.
Actually, a lack of generosity is a sign that you may not know God. Now, that is a little hard to take, but let me show you what I mean.
And this is found in a book called Titus, which is another letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a pastor named Titus.
Titus 1:16 NLT – Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.
Ouch. This is a harsh reality. And I am glad Paul said it so I don’t have to.
If you keep reading, Paul actually gives Titus the answer to this problem.
Titus 2:7 NLT – And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind.
So, in our context, this is my job right here. To be an example to you by doing good works of every kind. And then, there is something else I need to do:
Titus 3:1 NLT – Remind the believers to be … always ready to do what is good.
That’s the whole purpose of this series. I’m here to remind us that life isn’t all about you. Actually, if you want to live your best life, then it needs to be about others.
We all need to separate ourselves from culture, which teaches us to go through life focused on one thing, taking care of me. And we have to forcefully push away the selfishness and live our lives for others.
This is apparently hard to get, because it’s mentioned again in Titus:
Titus 3:8 NLT – This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good.
And then again…
Titus 3:14 NLT – Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.
You know what this tells me? That you are not going to get this right the first time, and neither am I.
A couple weeks after this series is over, you may find yourself living only for yourself once again. And I am going to do my best to set the example and to remind you to live your life for others.
So, about a month from now, I’ll probably ask, “What have you guys been doing for others lately.” And many of you will say, “Oh yeah!”
And then at some point, we will all get it and it will become a habit. But just brace yourself, because I am not going to hesitate to remind you.
So, let’s break this down into three simple questions. Because I do not want you to leave today without knowing how to devote yourself to doing good.
And hang with me, because these questions seem obvious. Nevertheless, all three of these questions are important things we need to ask ourselves.
Why should I do good?
And your probably thinking… Well, duh, because they need it. And because God told us to do it.
But you know what? Doing these things out of obligation never seems to have the impact that God intended it to have. Doing good only because you were told to do it doesn’t bring the joy we read about earlier.
But, here’s why we should do good:
Doing good is God’s purpose for me.
It’s why you’re alive! This is the plan that God had for you since before you were even born. This is your calling.
In the church, you’ll hear it often said, “I’m just seeking God’s calling for my life. I just sense God is calling me to something big. I just don’t know what it is yet.”
We talk about it like it is some kind of mysterious destination. And most times, we think the only ones called by God are the pastors, evangelists and worship leaders.
But your calling is sitting right next to you. They are in your small group. You work with them, and you’ll see them at the restaurant after church.
Your calling is all around you. Please don’t make it any more complicated than that. You can leave here today and leave as called to the ministry as I am today standing on this stage.
Ephesians 2:10 NLT – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
You are a masterpiece. Your giftings are unique. Your abilities are unique. There’s things that you do that you are really good at. Your not good at everything, but some things just “click” for you. They just make sense.
And this is what you bring to the world around you. You are not here by accident. You are here on purpose.
It doesn’t matter what your mom and dad said about how you got here. You are on purpose. God has a purpose for you.
And you are gifted, and you are called, and you have a purpose to do good works. And God planned all of these good works for you long ago.
In other words, when you are out doing good, you are fulfilling exactly what God called you to do before you were even born. You are walking in a divine, a supernatural plan for your life. And it just feels right.
Is it really that simple? Yes. We are here to represent Jesus. And the only way to do that is to go about doing good just like He did.
Have you ever been to Sam’s Club on a Saturday? And maybe you skipped lunch because you knew there would be all kinds of samples to enjoy? You don’t have to hide. We know who you are.
These people handing out samples are there to give you a taste. Because there is a good chance that you will buy whatever it is if you can simply taste it.
This is exactly who we are. We’re living our lives giving people samples of Jesus. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
Now, please don’t set up a table outside Sam’s to hand out samples of Jesus. Simply live your life doing good to those around you.
Stop over-complicating it, and stop making it such a big deal. Making an impact for the kingdom of God is a simple as going about doing good.
Where should I do good?
This seems like a silly question, but a lot of us unknowingly save all our good works for good places.
We’ll do good when we are at church. We’ll do good when we go to Mexico. We’ll do good when Kade organizes a community outreach.
Well, it’s time for the church to get out of the church.
We need to take all of this love and compassion and joy that we share here at church into our workplaces and into the grocery store and into our schools.
Do good wherever I am.
When you are at church, do good.
Don’t just come here to get something for you, come here to be a blessing to someone else.
Get out of your comfort zone and encourage someone who looks like they had a hard week. Join one of our teams and serve your church in the way God has gifted you to serve.
And when you’re at work, do good.
Don’t just drag in and then run out. Put on your happy pants and make the most of your day.
Be kind and smile at your coworkers, even those who annoy the fire out of you or have done you wrong. Reach out to that person that’s having a hard time with life by buying them coffee and just letting them know they are noticed.
And when you’re at the grocery store, do good.
Don’t curse under your breath at the person blocking the aisle with their cart. Just go around and be thankful that you get some extra steps.
And when you are at home, do good.
All the husbands and wives say, “There’s an idea, why don’t you do some good at the house!”
This all seems really obvious and really simple. And it is. Because living out your purpose is not complicated.
Let me tell you a story about how two of Jesus’ disciples lived out their purpose after Jesus had gone back to heaven.
Acts 3:1-2 NLT – Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service.
In other words, Peter and John were on their way to church.
Acts 3:1-2 NLT – As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate … so he could beg from the people going into the Temple.
So they are walking into church and here is this man who was born with bum feet and ankles. He had lived his whole life this way and now sat outside the temple EVERY DAY as all the Christians would walk by on their way to church.
He was there to beg for money, so of course he asked Peter and John for money, and here’s what happened:
Acts 3:6-7 NLT – But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.
Peter didn’t have money to give the guy, but he still had something to give. He gave him a helping hand, and because of that, the power of Jesus healed the man.
Doing good is so much more than just giving money.
I’m looking around and everyone seems to have a face. That means we can all give a smile. And this one simple action could change someone’s life.
We all have the ability to help someone up. And when we combine this simple action with faith, Jesus will show up and do His part by taking care of the supernatural healing, just like what happened with Peter and John.
And when you are compelled to help someone by giving money, by all means do it. But never miss a chance to do good, even when someone asks for money but you have something else to give.
Because it’s the little, good things that you do everyday that are important to Jesus.
You may think He only pays attention when you do something big, like pastor a church. But, this is far from true. He notices every little thing you do.
The question is, why is it so easy to look over these things?
I don’t think that we are bad people for missing opportunities to do good. We are just going through life too fast to notice.
Hurry is the enemy of love.
It’s kind of like when you are on an airplane, flying to your destination. You can look down and see a city as this little spec outside your window. And then, in moments it is gone.
You don’t see people, you don’t see faces. It’s just kind of a blur.
Because you are going so fast, so high, on a focused trajectory to your destination. And this is how we tend to live our lives.
We fly into the grocery store and fly out, and totally miss that person in dire need of someone to simply give them a smile and notice they are there.
We rush to work and then rush home. We hurry through dinner and then hurry to get the kids to bed. And in the hustle, we miss an opportunity to meet an essential need of our kids, giving them our undivided attention.
So, how do you reprogram yourself to slow down?
A good place to start is by keeping your phone in your pocket when you have those moments of quiet throughout your day.
When you are sitting at a stoplight, don’t pull your phone out. Instead, look around at those in cars next to you and just wonder about that other person. I wonder where they work, I wonder if they have kids.
When you are in line at the restaurant or in the drive through, keep your phone in your pocket and just look around and smile. Say hi to people who walk by.
When you are home, leave your phone in the other room and focus on your family. And usually, it’s as simple as laying on the floor and letting your kids crawl all over you. Or, sitting on the couch ready for conversation.
1 Corinthians 10:24 NLT – Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.
I’m not trying to make you feel bad or guilty, because guilt is not a productive emotion. I am simply saying, “Yo-hoo, you’re off mission! You’re headed in the wrong direction. The good life is over here!”
God needs us to do good, not just on Sunday mornings, but everywhere we are. And here’s the third question:
How should I do good?
When you say yes to Jesus and receive his forgiveness and dedicate your life to Him, the Holy Spirit comes to live on the inside of you.
This is God’s gift to you, and the Holy Spirit is there to give you direction, to give you promptings, to give you little nudges that show you where to go.
He’s there to warn you and guide you and keep you away from things that will hurt you. He’s there as a companion and a source of peace and strength.
So how do we do good?
Do good however the Spirit leads me.
And don’t make this over-spiritual or too fancy. It can be as simple as you taking a moment to say, “Holy Spirit, is there anything you’d like me to do while I’m here.” And then just take a moment to listen.
You’re not listening for an audible voice. Your listening for that little thought that pops in your mind that you know didn’t come from you. Or that prompting to do something that you can feel in your gut.
A few months ago, it hit me that there was no one on my radar that needed Jesus. I am surrounded by church people, so most everyone around me already knows Jesus.
And I had this desire to find someone in my realm of influence who needs Jesus so that I could pray for them and simply reach out to love like Jesus.
I couldn’t come up with anyone on my own. So, I asked the Holy Spirit. And His response was instant. A face flashed before my eyes of someone who I hadn’t seen or talked to in months.
I tell you this story to show you how simple it is to hear from the Holy Spirit. Yes, it is a spiritual encounter, but it’s not some spooky interaction. It actually seems fairly normal, yet supernatural all at the same time.
He may speak to you in visuals, or by a calm knowing that just seems to appear in your mind, or even a strong discerning that you just feel in your gut.
I imagine you’ve all experienced these things but maybe just didn’t know it was the Holy Spirit trying to lead you.
You know, it’s like that time that you were sitting at home and a random person popped into your mind out of nowhere. And then you thought of some way you could text to encourage them.
Did you act on it? Sometimes yes, sometimes you forget.
But now that you know this is the Holy Spirit trying to lead you, I bet you’ll pay more attention to those moments in your life.
Let’s do this.
Let’s start listening to and acting on these promptings. And let’s even start asking for them.
Because it’s time for the church to rise up and be a light in the darkness. In the midst of all the hatred and violence, it’s time for a group of people to rise up and be known for doing good.
Church isn’t about how good our services are, or having worship that gives us goosebumps. It’s not even about how many times we feel the power of God in our services.
The purpose of the church is to do good to everyone, everywhere. And, until we get that down, until we are all doing this in our daily lives, there really no other discussion we need to have.
And doing good isn’t something we do out of obligation or because we feel guilty. We do it because it is our calling. It’s who we are and the Holy Spirit leads us and empowers us to do it.