Greg Laurie - Your Life Has A Purpose
Today I want to talk about the purpose of your life. The title is your life has a purpose. Hope: something that for some seems to be in relatively short supply these days. More people find themselves filled with anxiety, fear, depression. Some even entertaining suicidal thoughts. For a person who would think that their life does not matter, I want to say this to you: you are wrong. Your life does matter. It matters more than you know. You know, as a young boy I had a crazy life. I've told you about this before. Let's just say my mother, to put it in the Greek, was living la-vida-loca, okay. It was the crazy life. She was a very beautiful lady and she was never at a shortage for men in her life and she loved to drink and she loved to party and I went along for Charlene (that was her name), Charlene's wild ride. You've heard of Mr. Toad's wild ride: I was in Charlene's wild ride.
And it was a life that no kid should live, but I lived it. A parade of men coming in and out of my home and my life. It was a lot of fighting, screaming, hitting. A very real abusive home: yet through all of this, strangely, instead of having a deep depression, I had hope that one day things were going to get better. I don't really know why I had it in a way because there was nothing that would give me an indication things were going to get better, and in many ways, things actually got worse, and they got worse because when I became older as a young teenager I started making a bunch of bad decisions. It made my life go in an even worse direction.
So I look back at school and no one was encouraging me saying, "Greg, hang in there. You're going to go out there and accomplish something in the world". In fact, in the schools I went to, if I was there long enough, they wanted to expel me and for good reason. I would make trouble in class. I would disrupt the class as well. The only reason I wasn't expelled from school is my mother would go to the principal and say, "You expel him: I'll sue you". So great. There I was living my life, but I thought somehow my life was going to get better.
Now I look back on it and I know why: because the Bible says God has placed eternity in our hearts. What that simply means is we're created by God even before we know him, and though we're separated from him by sin, there's a sense that there's something more in life and I was right. My life was going to get better and it got dramatically better when I became a Christian. I heard the Gospel. I believed it. Christ changed my life immediately, and then not long after I became a believer I met Cathe and we got married and we had two sons and we're building our family and we're living our life and we're starting this church. There were challenges, there were many setbacks, but we pressed on and we're so thankful for all that the Lord was doing.
And then the most devastating thing of my life happened, and that is when our oldest son Christopher died in an automobile accident. You know, when it happened, I have to tell you, I literally thought in many ways my life was ending. I know that's shocking to hear because I'm a pastor. I should have a sermon in my back pocket for the moment, but Cathe, my wife, could see the look on my face. I was so devastated. I was so destroyed by this. I thought "What happens now? How do you even survive such a thing"? Our house immediately filled with people saying all kinds of things. Some slightly helpful, some rather random, and some even hurtful: all with the best intentions I'm sure. I just sort of collapsed on the floor and Cathe came up to me and she took my face in her hands and she said, "Greg, it's going to be okay".
There's only one person that could've said that to me that I would've listened to that day and that was Cathe because she had lost her son as well. She said, "Greg, it's going to be okay". I would like to say to anybody struggling with deep depression because something has happened in your life and you don't know why. I want to just say to you right now, "It's going to be okay". Somehow, you're going to get through this and this pain you're in is not going to last forever. In fact, you will grow stronger from it. You're saying, "Well Greg, so you're over your son dying"? No. I'll never be over it. I'm not over it, but I'm getting through it and the reason I'm getting through it is because Jesus is giving me what I need each and every day and he will do the same thing for you no matter what you're facing right now. You can be sure of this.
If you've suffered in life, if you've been neglected or you've been mistreated, or you've been abused or you've been abandoned, I'm sorry that has happened to you. But let me say this: God can take all of the hurt and pain you have experienced in life and use it to touch other people and make us into the men and women he wants us to be. Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. Now, I haven't checked in the last 20 minutes, so unless it fell out of the Bible somehow, and I'm joking of course. By the way, I have a nice new green Bible. Is not the coolest looking Bible? It's like I just want to boast about my Bible. Look at all the ribbons. Look at these ribbons. Look at the way it just flops. That's nice. It's like an advertisement. Anyway, Romans 8:28 says, "We know that all things work together for good to those that love God and are the called according to his purpose". Then it goes on to say, "For whom God did foreknow, he also did predestine to be conformed into the image of his own dear son".
This is often misunderstood because I think we think that means God will take every bad thing and turn it into a good thing. Wrong. There are things that happen that are wrong things. They're bad things. They'll always be bad things. They should have never happened, but they did: but God promises he'll cause all things to work together for good. Despite the bad, God can bring good still because the Bible promises he'll bring beauty out of ashes. The oil of joy instead of the spirit of mourning. What's God's endgame? It goes on to say there in verse 29, "Whom he foreknew", means he knew you before you knew him, "He predestined that you to be conformed into the image of his own dear son". This is our hope.
Now, the devil who is very real does not want this to happen. The devil wants you to abandon hope. Dante wrote that over the gates of hell are these words: abandon hope, all you enter here. Satan would say that to some people today. He'll say, "Abandon hope, all of you who enter here". The devil wants you to abandon hope: Jesus wants you to abandon hopelessness because you can have hope as his follower because Jesus said, "The devil or the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy: but I have come that you might have life and that more abundantly". So we have the choice in life. We can listen to the devil, or we can listen to Jesus. Don't listen to the devil because he is a liar and he is the father of lies and he would whisper in your ear and he would say, "Your life is not worth living and your family and friends would be better off without you". Those are lies.
Your life is a gift from God and it is worth living and you are loved more than you realize. First of all, you're loved by God. He loves you with an everlasting love. He loves you so intensely, he sent his own son to suffer and die for your sins, for our sins because of his love and you're loved by your family. Loved more than you may know. You would be missed more than you would ever realize and you're loved by this family. You're loved by the church, God's family. Go ahead and applaud for that because it's true. You might say, "Well, Greg, nobody even knows me here". Okay, well let's fix that shall we? How about this? Instead of coming late and leaving early, why don't you stick around a little bit. Get to know some of the people in this church. Also, not attend sporadically but be here every week and how about engaging in a small group and learn the names of other people and start developing friendships.
I'll be honest with you, this was hard for me at first when I first started coming to church because I was a loner. I was a loner because I had to be because we would be living in a certain area and I'd be going to a certain school and my mom would say, "It's time to leave and go to some new place", and off we would go. So I was always the new kid in the class and that's miserable by the way. When you come and join the class not at the beginning of the year, but at the middle of the year, the teacher introduces you to everyone which is completely humiliating. I still remember it vividly. And then as you're walking to your desk, everyone is saying "New kid". That's what you're called for months. "Hey, new kid". And then you start learning names, my mom would say "It's time to go again".
So I was sort of withdrawn from other people. I didn't really have any lasting relationships, but then I became a part of the church and I built friendships over 35 years ago that I still have today and relationships that you develop, and this is something that doesn't come easily to everyone. But this is the thing we need to remember, that God wants to change the paradigm of your life if you'll let him. We have a choice. He says, "I set before you life and death, blessings and curses now choose life and live". It's your choice, but make the right choice and you'll be glad that you did and there's no clearer example of that than the man we're going to take a little time to look at together. His name is Moses. His life could have so easily been over before it even started, but God preserved him. And not only did God preserve Moses, but he called and used him to literally save the lives of millions of people.
As we will discover together, Moses was a flawed individual to say the least, yet he was one of the greatest men of God in all of human history. We know him as a great hero of history, but who was the man behind the legend? We know Moses as the law giver, but we must remember also that before that he was a law breaker. He was born in poverty, yet he was raised in a palace, but ultimately the wilderness became his home. He was reluctant to lead, but he was determined to follow. At times, Moses was impulsive and patient and even explosive, but at other times he was humble and broken and obedient to what the Lord would say. He was idolized and he was criticized. What an interesting guy he was.
We're going to launch into this new series that we're calling water, fire, stone. Why are we calling it that? Well, water because he was drawn out of the Nile River, and we'll look at this in a few moments as he was put there in that little basket by his mother in hopes of saving his life: water. Then fire - fast-forward in the story, he's in the wilderness and the Lord speaks to him through a burning bush: so through the fire he was spoken to. And finally, stone - he was given the commandments of God, written by the fingers of God on stone. We've built civilizations including the United States on the truths down on these commandments. But before Moses was going to be the great leader, he was going to be the baby that was preserved by God, so let's read the text right now. Hebrews 11:23 is where we will start.
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
So as our story begins, the Jewish people are facing hard times. You remember that the way they ended up in Egypt in the first place was because of Joseph. Joseph the son of Jacob was favored by his father. So much so that he gave him his own super cool coat - sometimes referred to as the coat of many colors. But what it really was, was sort of a long sleeve garment that one would wear if he wasn't a worker out in the fields or in the hot son. So while the brothers were in overalls working in the fields, Joseph was strutting around in his tuxedo, if you will, and sort of boasting about it and then ratting them out when they did things wrong to his dad. So let's just say the brothers over reacted a little bit. They decided to kill him, and then they compromised, and instead sold him the traveling slave traders.
Joseph now was taken off into exile into the home of a man named Potiphar who had a wife that was sexually obsessed with young Joseph. She was the original cougar. She tried to get Joseph to have sex with her. He refused over and over again. Then she falsely accused him of rape and he ends up in jail. There in jail, through the providence of God, he meets the butler and the baker of the king, he interprets dreams that they have and ultimately is brought into the court of the Pharaoh himself and interprets a troubling dream that the Pharaoh had where the Lord had revealed to Pharaoh that a famine was coming and Joseph told him what steps to take to be ready for the famine. The Pharaoh was so impressed. He said, "You are number two in the kingdom". So now he's in a position of great power. Ultimately, he forgave his brothers: they came to live with him there in Egypt.
Now, fast-forward in the story many years later. That Pharaoh that favored Joseph is gone. Joseph is gone. The brothers are gone, but in their place are their descendants, the Jewish people that have grown in number. This Pharaoh did not know Joseph or his people and he turned against these people, the Jews. So they're crying out to God to deliver them because now they're effectively slaves to the Egyptians. "Lord, send us a deliverer", and the Lord heard their prayer. Enter Moses the man of God, but first he would be Moses the baby protected by God. Why? Because the Pharaoh decided he wanted to cut down the Hebrew population. He came up with his own version of what the Nazis called the final solution. He said, "Kill all of the Jewish baby boys", but really, the devil was behind this because remember back in the Garden of Eden after sin entered the human race, God put satan on notice and said, "There is coming one who is going to crush your head, but you will bruise his heel". Game on.
Messiah was coming and satan was smart enough to know that Messiah would be a Jew. So here is the Pharaoh killing these Jewish baby boys, trying to stop Messiah from coming. Fast-forward to the book of Esther. Here is the plot of Haman to kill all of the Jewish people that is averted. Fast-forward to the New Testament. Here is king Herod hearing that the king has come as the wise men come to worship him and he has all of those Jewish baby boys killed in Bethlehem. The devil was trying to stop Jesus from coming, so "Kill all these Jewish baby boys" was the decree, but this Hebrew couple Amram and Jochebed, the mom and dad of Joseph wanted their little boy to live, of course.
The Bible tells us in particular he was a beautiful child. The word that is used there for beautiful implies also that he was cheerful, so he was a beautiful, cheerful little baby. Later in acts, Stephen is before the Sanhedrin and he gives a little commentary on Moses in acts 7. He says that Moses was exceedingly fair, which is a word that means fair to God indicating a special purpose for his life. Here's my point: the child wasn't just beautiful: the child had a purpose. God had singled this child out, and do you know that God has a purpose for you? Yes, you. A special purpose, a special plan that is unique to you regardless of the circumstances of your birth.
Jeremiah knew he was called by God even before he was born. And by the way, that's why we're so strong on our stand for unborn children because the moment of conception that's a living soul made in the image of God, and it's such a tragedy in our culture where so many of these lives are taken and you wonder what the millions that have died by abortion that who among those young men and women could have been someone to change our world. Someone to find a cure for cancer, someone to make a significant impact on our culture. It's so sad. But Jeremiah said, before he was born in Jeremiah 1:5, God speaking, "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations".
You say, "Greg, that's nice, but you know, I was born out of wedlock". Welcome to the club. Me too. By the way, I didn't find that out until much later in life. My mom had been giving me another story that wasn't true so I found out. Oh, great, so I wasn't planned. Fantastic. But you know what? Even if my mother did not plan me, my life was planned by God. I know that. So is yours. Sometimes you'll see a child born out of wedlock. Oh, an illegitimate child. There's no illegitimate children. Illegitimate parents, yes: illegitimate children, no. Every child is legitimate. Every child is loved by God. Psalm 139 says, "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid up before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts toward me, Lord"? They're innumerable.
So God chose Moses. Well, know this: satan hates what God chooses and that's why he wanted to eradicate the Jewish people and that's why he wanted to destroy Moses, but God preserved this little one. Have you ever stopped and wondered why God maybe has preserved you up to this point? Maybe you had a close brush with death. Maybe you had a childhood illness you weren't supposed to survive. There were some mitigating circumstances against you, but yet here you are right now hearing this message. God had a plan for you, God has a plan for you, and this was about to unfold in the life of Moses. So, his parents and Amram and Jochebed say, "Well, we're just going to have to put it in the hands of God", and they put him in a little basket covered with pitch, which means that it was waterproof.
You've heard of Noah's ark? This was Moses' ark just a little smaller. There were no animals, and they put him in there, gave it a little push, and it was in a current there in the Nile River just cruising along and it came right in front of where the Pharaoh would be and where the Pharaoh's daughter, the princess of Egypt, was. All of a sudden, as if on cue, the baby cries, and so she goes over and looks at this little basket and sees this absolutely adorable little baby boy, and immediately her heart is moved, but she's thinking, "What can I do"? Her maternal instincts kick in. "How can I help this child"? Seemingly out of nowhere, here comes Miriam the sister of Moses. "Hey, I noticed you just saw this little baby in a basket, so I'm thinking maybe you would like someone to help nurse that baby right now". And the Pharaoh's daughter is saying, "That's an awesome idea. Do you have anyone in mind"? "Well there's a lady over here would be willing to do the job, right, mom... I mean... Right, random lady"? Jochebed is like, "Yes. I can do that". So the princess says, "Would you take this little baby and take care of him and nurse him right now"? "I think I could work that into my schedule".
I love how this story unfolds because it shows the natural and the super natural working together. I think sometimes we go too far one way or the other. Everything is spiritual, spiritual, spiritual, never the practical: or everything is practical, practical, practical never the spiritual. Maybe you're out of work, and you're saying, "I need a job". So someone asks you, "Well, have you got your resume out there"? "No. I'm just staying at home praying... Watching Netflix. Just praying the Lord will provide". Well you might be doing some unplanned fasting in your future okay. So take the practical steps and pray for the Lord to lead. So baby Moses cries and a mother hears. A baby's tears were God's first weapon in his war against Egypt, so she has these precious three months to be with her baby boy and then she had to let him go. How hard that must've been for jochebed. Oh, to turn him over to the court of the Pharaoh.
Stephen gives us some more commentary. In acts 7:20 he says, "At that time Moses was born - a beautiful child in God's eyes. His parents cared for him at home for three months. When at last they had to abandon him and Pharaoh's daughter found him and raised him as her own son. Moses was taught in the wisdom of the Egyptians and became mighty in speech and action". Now Josephus the Jewish historian wrote that there was no heir to the Pharaoh, therefore, Moses was being groomed to be the next Pharaoh of Egypt. Now, I don't know if that's true, but that's interesting if it is because that means that Moses could have said, "You know what? I'm just going to hang in here, and one day when I ascend to ultimate power, I'm going to release the Jews, so I need to just kind of be cool and keep a low profile and kind of go along with the game plan and not make any waves".
Well, he could've done that but he didn't because he knew that this was a Godless environment, though he's being schooled in like the Oxford of ancient times and was learning all the things one could learn and he'd eat the finest food and be dressed in designer clothing from head to toe. But Moses said, "I'm done with Egypt. I don't care. I'm tired of the false Gods. I'm tired of this disconnection from reality. I've got to do something". So basically, it came down to the simple recognition in the life of Moses. The worst God had to offer was better than what the world had to offer. So what is the best the world had to offer? All the luxuries of Egypt. What is the best the world has to offer to us? Same thing basically just updated. All of the short-lived pleasures. All of the whatever experiences you can have. That's the best.
What is the worst God has to offer? Well, persecution maybe, rejection, mockery. Yeah, we don't like that. Nobody likes to be attacked, but that's the worst, and the "Worst" if you will, the worst God offers is better than the best the world offers. Now let's turn it around and talk about the best that God offers. Oh, how long do you have? Let's start with eternal life in heaven. Let's start with a perfected body that God will give to us. Let's talk about the removal of all sorrow and sadness and depression. Let's talk about meaning and purpose in this life. Let's talk about a peace that passes human understanding. Let's talk about the joy that God can give. That's the best God has to offer. What's the worst the world has to offer? Oh, my... Really bad. Hell, judgment, facing the repercussions of your bad decisions. Here's what we need to understand: you can be happy without sin. The greatest happiness this life has to offer can be without chasing after these empty pleasures because the Bible says happy are those that hear the Word of God and keep it.