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40 Days of Purpose - What On Earth Am I Here For
Scripture: Genesis 50:20
Track 2 of 8 in the Purpose-Driven Life series
Running time: 27 minutes, 37 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, September 18, 2005
2nd sermon in an 8-part series.
"Discovering our "WHY"!"
Purposeful Words: A series of Sermons on living a Purpose-Driven life
(Genesis 50:20)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett

This is the Preface to Talber's Diary. "My name is Solomon Talber. I am a Jew and am about to die. I've decided to end my own life because it has no more value. Nor is there anything left for me to do. Those things that I have tried to do with my life have come to nothing and my efforts have been unavailing. For the evil that I have seen has survived and flourished and only the good has departed in dust and mockery. The friends that I have known, the sufferers and the victims, are all dead and only their persecutors are all around me. I see their faces on the streets in the daytime and in the night I see the face of my wife, Esther, who died long ago. I have stayed alive this long only because there was one more thing I wished to do. One thing I wanted to see and now I know I shall never." And Talber committed suicide.

It's the power of Purpose. It's the power of understanding why you exist. It's the power of knowing that there is something greater than you that beckons you and calls you and gives you some innate purpose in your life.

Talber was a victim of the Holocaust, as was his wife and his friends about whom he speaks.

Coming out of that same experience, Victor Frankl, who endured Auschwitz and a number of other places became a psychotherapist at the end of the war is probably famous as much for anything as this particular line that comes out of the search for meaning. It's a slight paraphrase. "He who knows the "why" for his existence, will be able to bear almost any "how."' If you know why you exist, he says, you can bear up under almost any how that comes along.

I don't think there's any question that we know the questions. They are the questions that if you just plug that question in, you'll get it. Do a "Google" search on purpose and you'll find out that there are all kinds of websites out there asking the same set of questions. Why am I here? Do I matter? Is anything important? Do I have significance? Is there something that I live for that is bigger than myself? I don't think there's any question that we "understand the question." The question is, "do we have any answers?" And of course I believe, and I trust that you believe, that Scripture provides us with those answers.

I want to turn to a text of Scripture in Ephesians 1 that I think, at least, helps us begin to put an answer to this question. Why in the world do I exist? Why am I here? Do I matter? Do I have any long range purpose?

When Paul writes to the Ephesians, he opens up this particular book with a very long doxology (statement of praise). He starts in Ephesians 1:3 and it's as if he doesn't take a breath until he finally gets to Ephesians 1:14. There are no periods in that sentence. It's just one kind of breathless statement after another as if once he starts rolling, he doesn't know quite how to end.

Let me read for you as you follow along. Ephesians 1:3. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of

God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory.

As you go through your Purpose Driven book this week, you're going to be confronted with three fundamental questions. The first of which is, "Why do we exist?" Why are we here? And I think this text answers the question pretty clearly and straight forward. We are here because God wants us here. He desires our participation with Him in this experience we call life.

Look at Ephesians 1:4-5. . . .he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will -

He wanted us. He chose us. He created us in order to participate with Him. He wanted us in relationship with Him. He created us because He desired that you live in the context of His life.

Why do you exist? Because God desires your company. He desires your participation. He wants you to be involved with Him. The application is pretty simple. You don't even have to work hard at this one. It's the importance of sitting with Scripture, and letting Him speak to you. It's the importance of you speaking back to Him through what we call prayer. It's the importance of both private and corporately worshiping Him. He wants you in His company. The God of the Universe desires you so involved in Him that you partner with Him in what He's doing.

See God is intimately concerned about what goes on in your world but He's not wanting to do this by Himself. He wants you to partner and so, He invites us into the process of saying, "You gonna invest in the world? You gonna do something about Katrina? You going to do something about the social concerns of the world? Then let Me be involved in that. Let Me join you in that."

If you haven't been frustrated over the way the news reports have come in about Katrina, let me try to frustrate you this morning. I am really tired of hearing about how bad the government did in responding to that particular event. I don't know whether they did well or not. This is not a political statement. This is a statement that I'm just tired of hearing how badly we did. What I want to hear about are the churches that are in Houston that have agreed as a group to supply 240 volunteers every meal, every day and pay for the meals for everybody in the Astrodome to the tune of $125,000 a day. I want to hear about those churches.

I want to hear about the churches that have now collected money and sent money down there. This church alone, sent $3200.00. I want to hear about what is being done by ordinary people, not driven by government programming, but driven by the compassion of knowing that Christ is involved in the world. And that's what God wants to do. Why do you exist? Because God wants you to participate in this thing with Him. Why do you exist? Because God desires your presence.

Ephesians 1:11 just has always amazed me. I just sit back and marvel at this. We've talked about it before in this building.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise. . . . . where He determined long before we even came into existence that we would, in fact, become His inheritance. That we would be His.

Of all the things that the Creator of the Universe could want for an inheritance, He chose you. Huh! This is the God who created the Alps and the oceans. This is the God who created giraffes. This is the God who can do anything He wants, who could have created a future exactly as perfect as He wanted it. And you know what He did? He decided than rather have perfection He'd rather have you. No offense taken of course!

Can you imagine that God desires for you to be in His company so much that He just decided that He would give absolutely everything for one simple reason. So that you could live in His presence.

Why do we exist? Because God desires us to identify with Him. Do you notice that in this text? That He wants to create us. Ephesians 1:14 to be His possession. It's a unique word in the Old Testament that means to be God's special people. To be identified with Him.

Most of you know that we had three girls and all of our girls were in the church choir that traveled. One particular year, all three of them were on the choir tour together. And the Choir Director had asked us if we would like to go along for the trip and being the good, conscientious parents that we are, we said, "Well, we better ask our kids, 'cause they may not want us on the bus with them." So we did. We had the family council. We gathered the children up. We said, "You know, Tim has asked us to go on choir tour. What do you think?" And they said, "Under one condition. Do not act like our parents." (Lots of laughter) I said, "It's a deal!" We got on the choir tour. We stopped one day. Had to kill a little time for lunch. They had a couple of hours in the mall just to do nothing and so they all walked up, three of them, in hand, just like this. And I said, "Who are you?" (Lots of laughter.)

God would never say to you, "Who are you?" Nor would He ever say, "You can come with me as long as you don't claim to be Mine."

Why do you exist? Because God desires you to be His special people and to identify with you. He actually likes it when people know you're a Christian and that you identify with Him.

Why do we exist? Well, because God wants us. Does my life matter? It's one of the major questions that we ask. Does it matter? That's what Talber was asking. That's what he was saying. "That my life stopped mattering"

As you read this week and study in your classes and small groups, which, by the way, if you're not in a class or a small group, it's not too late.

Warren will tell you these three things. That our life has meaning at a variety of levels. One level of meaning is just simply survival. We just try to get by. We try to make it. And if life has no meaning, we stop trying to make it. In fact, coming out of those incredible records that were kept during WWII, during the days of concentration camps; one particular concentration camp has a record of prisoners being asked to move a pile of dirt from one place to another and once it was moved, asked to move it back. And then once it was moved back, asked to move it again and they just, day-after-day took it from one spot to the other and back again in order just to keep them busy and it was so absolutely meaningless that it wasn't very long until the record books began to record the stories of prisoners trying to get shot. Because their life had lost meaning. You won't even try to survive if you don't have meaning.

As I was looking this week, I was struck by this piece of information. It depends on which website you look at, but it's Number One in Ireland. It's either Number Two or Number Three in the United States depending on which one you look at. Teen suicide is the leading cause of death for teenagers. Because they don't feel like they have any meaning.

Warren will tell you that you can climb that ladder, and (you know this one) some people try to find meaning in their life by success. If I just make enough money, if I just have a big enough name, if I just get on top of enough of the ladder, I'll be okay. In fact, that was the frustrating thing to me about listening to the high school guidance (no offense to you high school guidance counselors), but that was the thing that was so frustrating to me about listening to high school guidance counselors try to tell my children how to decide what to do with their life. How much money will you make? That was the only question ever asked. "Well, why would you want to do that? You can't make any money!"

And the more frustrating thing was that when my daughter decided that she wanted to be a nurse and I asked another Christian who was a nurse, to talk to her about that decision, the only thing he could talk about was, "Well, if you're a nurse, you can make a lot of money." She got back in the car with tears in her eyes and as we're driving back home she said, "Dad, that's not what I care about. I just want to know, can I matter? Can I make a difference?" If you ask 2500 West African Ghanians people, she made the right choice. She made a difference.

Warren will tell you that some people finally get to the place that they understand that life matters when you do, in fact, make a difference, when your life is significant. But that's so hard, sometimes, to sort out, isn't it? Because you don't always know when you're making a difference.

Some of you who are football fans will remember the "Tank", Sherman Smith, up in Seattle, back in the late seventies and eighties. Played seven years in Seattle. Became almost an icon for those Seahawk fans and they finally traded him to San Diego. Within about two or three weeks of arriving in San Diego, he tore his knee up and could never play again. He couldn't figure out what in the world are you doing. As a believer he's trying to figure out, "God, why did you put me here?" During his rehab he got in contact with one of the biggest party-goers on the San Diego team, a fellow by the name of Miles McPherson. And under Smith's leadership McPherson became a Christian and if you type Miles McPherson into the Google website you'll discover that he speaks to tens of thousands of teenagers every year about Christ. Smith didn't know what God was up to. But God did!

You know you don't hear a lot about the apostle Andrew but you sure hear a lot about the fellow that he brought to Jesus. His name was Peter.

Does my life matter? Well, Paul certainly thought it did. He says in Ephesians 1:4, he chose us in him before the creation of the world . . . . .Ephesians 1:5 he says he adopted us into his family. . . .Ephesians 1:7 he gave his Son's blood to purchase us. . . .Ephesians 1:13. . . .he allowed us the privilege of hearing the word of truth. . . . .Ephesians 1:14. . . . .he gave us the promise of eternal inheritance. . . . .

We must matter! Look what God did for you! Look how much He paid for you. You have to matter. You have to have value.

I ran into this story from Annie Chapman. Some of you would be familiar with her writing, as a Christian writer. This came out of Decision Magazine a couple of years ago. She says, All alone, she sat in the back of the church. The rest of the 500 women at the women's conference that weekend had already exited the auditorium. I was gathering up my books, papers, and props when I saw her at the back of the room.

I walked over to where she was sitting; her head was bowed low, and her shoulders were drooping. I sat down, and she began to tell me her story.

She was the mother of three. Her oldest son, suffering from muscular dystrophy, had been confined to a wheelchair for most of his 17 years. Her other two children had a variety of learning and emotional challenges.

With her head still bent, she whispered, "I'm married to a mean, hateful man who makes my life miserable. He won't help me with our son. He even refuses to help while I hold our son when he goes to the bathroom."

"I buried my father this week," the woman continued. "At the funeral I learned that my father had disinherited me from his estate because he hated my husband."

Then she told me something that still haunts me: "I came this weekend with one prayer," she said. "I asked God to kill my husband. I prayed, 'Lord, I need a way out! I feel like a bird in a cage.'"

Finally she lifted her eyes and said, "When I prayed that prayer, God spoke to me as clearly as I've ever sensed His voice. He said, 'Even a bird in a cage sings.'"

With tears running down her face she asked, "What am I supposed to do with that? How do I live with that answer?"

I replied, "If God says, 'sing,' you need to find your song."

You hear it? Find your purpose.

Does your life matter? Yeah, it does, because God has engaged you in His purposes. He has created you in order to be His in relationship so that you can serve what He desires for you to do.

We're going to discover over the next five weeks, five fundamental things that

God has created for us to do: to Worship, to Fellowship, to Evangelize, to Serve and to Send to the mission field. To be involved, in some way, in a process of discipleship where you grow to understand who God is and you look more like Him. To come into His presence in an act of worship. To find a way in which you express who He has made you to be and a form of service to recognize that there's a lost and dying world out there that you need to participate in helping to come to know Jesus better. You have a reason to exist. And over the next several weeks we're going to come back to that and back to it and back to it. I hope that every day that you read and every class you attend and every group that you study in and every sermon you hear reminds you that God has made you for a reason. And that you begin to find that reason so that it can drive you in your life.

Ultimately according to Ephesians 1:14 for the third time in this text he says these words. . . . . . .to the praise of his glory.

Why do we exist? . . . .to the praise of his glory.

Why are we here? . . . .to the praise of his glory.

Everything is about understanding why we exist. And every question that a church asks, comes back to that fundamental question, why are we here? You understand that, right? That when leaders get together on a Sunday afternoon to made decisions, they don't make decisions based on what we like. We base our decisions on why the church is here. Why do we do the things that we do? Because it accomplishes the church's purpose for existence. And it becomes the decision making process for you. Everything you choose, is driven by your understanding of why you exist.

I had a straight "A" student come into my office one day. Plopped himself down. Said, "I just want you to know, I won't be getting "A's" any more." I said, "Chris, what are you talking about?" He said, "I have two children. My wife is pregnant. We're going to have a third and I recognize that I have two choices. I can either be a father or I can be a student. And I'm choosing to be a father. Now I'll do my best with the time that I have, but I will not sacrifice my children for 'A's'." Do you hear it? It's the power of purpose to help you make decisions that matter.

I hope that over the next several weeks we understand that we are driven to make the right decisions by understanding why we are here.

Solomon Talber stood and watched as a Jewish woman was forced to dance before her captors. Rauschmann (??) unloaded his pistol multiple times at her feet to make her dance until she finally collapsed, totally exhausted, and then he shot three times right in front of her so close that the sand covered her face. And then he took Talber and he stuck him on his knees beside her. "She looked up at me from a face streaked with mascara, rouge, tears and sand. 'Jew, my son,' she whispered. "You must live. Swear to me that you will live. Swear to me that you will get out of this place alive. You must live so that you can tell them, them outside, the other world, what happened to our people here. Promise me! Swear it by the Torah." . . . . ."I swore that I would live, somehow, no matter the cost, I would live." And he did at enormous cost, he lived, because he understood that he had a reason to live.

Ephesians 1:3 says "because we were united with Christ"; Ephesians 1:5 says, "He bought us through Christ"; Ephesians 1:7 says "He redeemed us through the blood of His Son"; Ephesians 1:11 says, "We were united with Christ"; Ephesians 1:13 he says, "You believed in Christ".

Does God have a purpose? Yes! His purpose was to woo you to Himself. To call you to live for Him. And your purpose? "Say yes to that." It's really that simple.

From before the foundation of the world, the God of the Universe began looking through history and right down into your life and He said, "I want you." "I want you so badly that I will give up my Son in order to have you." And He said, "All I ask in return, say, YES."

Why do you exist? Because God loves you and wants you.

Why do you matter? Because God loves you and wants you.

What's your purpose? To be loved and to love back. To know God. To know Him personally.

We invite you to that, to know Him. If you don't we invite you to come or to talk to us. If you do, to celebrate it. If you're not certain, to commit yourself to it. We invite you to focus on just that one thing, knowing Him.

Let's stand.