Robert Jeffress - Finding Your One Thing In Life - Part 1
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Starting a new year means more than just rolling forward the calendar to January. It prompts us to take stock of our lives and re-evaluate our direction in life. Perhaps you're wondering whether you're really what God wants you to be and living out the plan he has for you. Well, today, I'm going to show you how to find the unique purpose for which you were created and how to live out that purpose in your everyday life. My message is titled, "Finding Your One Thing In Life", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Whenever I hear the term "old movies", I think about movies from the 1930s, the 1940s. When my two daughters think of old movies, they think of anything before the year 2000. I can't tell you how many times they complain, "Oh dad, do we have to watch one of those old movies"? Something from the 1990s? Well, the other night, Amy and I were watching an old movie from 1991. It was the comedy, "City Slickers". Do y'all remember City Slickers with Billy Crystal? If you're not familiar with it, it's the story of these three guys from New York who are each going through a mid-life crisis. And so they go to a cattle ranch in New Mexico, and they participate in driving the herd from New Mexico to Colorado. And along the way they learned some important lessons about life.
And perhaps the iconic scene of the movie is when Billy Crystal, one of the three men, is riding his horse next to that old leathery cowboy played by Jack Palance. And remember the dialogue, Jack Palance says, well, actually he growls. He said, "You city folks are all the same. You come out here with the same problems at the same age. You spend 50 weeks a year getting knots in your rope and you'd think that a couple of weeks out here will change all of that. You know what the real secret to life is"? Billy Crystal says, "No, what is it"? Palance says, "This. " "Your index finger"? Billy Crystal says, "No, one thing. Stick to that one thing and the rest of life doesn't mean expletive". It's Sunday morning so I have to clean it up. "It doesn't mean expletive". Then Billy Crystal asked the question, "Well, what is that one thing"? Palance says, "Aw, that's for you to find out".
Kingman Brewster was the president of Yale University. He said, "There is a tremendous satisfaction in losing your own identity and something that is much more important than you are". Kingman Brewster, Jack Palance, we're both talking about the same thing. The one thing in life is your purpose, finding your purpose. Whenever you find the special reason for which God created your life, the rest of things in this world, aren't worth whatever you want to say there. The one thing in life. What do you mean pastor, your purpose in life? Well, we know all Christians were created by God and we're saved by God. God's purpose is that everybody come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and be conformed into the image of Christ, Romans 8:28-30. That's a general purpose for everyone. But God also has a specific purpose for your life.
Remember, in our series on Elijah, I said that God had a story he's telling the universe of his love and redemption through Jesus Christ, but God also has a story he's writing in your life, a specific story to tell his story. And that's what I'm talking about when I talk about discovering your unique purpose in life. Finding that unique purpose is the key to your own fulfillment in life. But it's also key to this church, First Baptist, Dallas, reaching its potential. You see, of all the images in the Bible to describe the church, the most frequently used image is that of the human body. Christ is the head, we are the parts of the body. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, "For you are Christ body and individually members of it".
Turn over to Ephesians 4:14-16 that we read just a moment ago and let me show you something. Paul says, "For we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of man, by craftiness and deceitful scheming, but speaking the truth in love, we're to grow up in all aspects into him, who is the head". There it is, the head. "Even Christ from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love". Do you see the image there? Christ is the head, but you and I are parts of the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12 says, "Some of us are hands, some of us are feet, some of us are arms, some of us are livers, some of us are stomachs, but we all have a part to play in the body of Christ". In fact, Paul says, "It's sometimes the hidden parts of the body that are most important parts of the human body". Many people, including my own father, died from pancreatic cancer. What makes that disease so deadly is the pancreas is hidden from human view and it's hard to discover that there's something wrong until it's too late. And the pancreas, although not a prominent part of the body, is an important part of the body. It's the same way in the body of Christ. It's not just the members who are seen, but sometimes those behind the scenes that are the most important to the proper functioning of the body. And so I thought today, the first Sunday of the new year, is a great time to talk about finding your purpose. Not only so we can experience the fulfillment that God wants us to experience, but that so our church can be everything God wants it to be.
Over the last month, our church staff has been working hard under Ben's leadership to develop plans, not only for the coming year, but also to help us reach our potential over the next five years to 10 years, to truly transform the world. And as I've looked at these plans and these dreams, I'm telling you, I get so excited, I can't tell you. I don't even want to tell you what some of them are right now, it would blow your mind. But I think you'd be excited about it as we think about the potential we have as a church. But before our church can ever reach its potential, every member has to be functioning. Everybody has to be living out his individual purpose because isn't that what the tech says? "It takes the proper working of each individual part for the growth of the body to occur".
So today, I want to share with you four important insights about discovering your unique purpose. A purpose that's key to your fulfillment, but also to the fulfillment of this church's purpose. For some of you, this is going to be brand new material. For others of you, it's going to be a review, but I want us to all take these four points down and consider them seriously. truth number one, God created you for a great purpose. God created you for a great purpose. We say that all the time and we assume everybody believes that. News alert, not everybody believes that. Many non-Christians don't believe they're here for any purpose specifically. Many non-Christians believe that their existence is due to a biological fluke that occurred.
In fact, the late paleontologist, Stephen Gould, wrote about purpose this. He said, "We exist because one odd group of fish had a peculiar fin anatomy, that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures. We exist because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age. Because of a small tenuous species arising in Africa, a quarter of a million years ago has managed so far to survive by hook and by crook. We may long for a higher purpose, but none exist". Do you believe that? Do you believe your existence here is by accident? That you're simply the product of some primordial, chemical broth that oozed over the earth millions of years ago? Even non-believers, sense that there's something more to life than what we see.
There was a survey a few years ago, with 8.000 college students in 48 different colleges by John Hopkins University. And in the survey, they asked the question of, what was most important to them in life. 16% said making a lot of money. 75% said the most important thing in life was finding a purpose and meaning to my life. We all long for that higher purpose. And there is a higher purpose. In Jeremiah 1:5, God said to the prophet, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. And before you were born, I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations". Notice several things of these words, before I formed you in the womb. Life does not begin at birth. Life begins at conception. And that's when God starts weaving us together in our mother's womb. That's what he says here, "I formed you in the womb". He said, "But even before then, I knew you".
That word, know, K-N-O-W, in Hebrew refers to that intimate relationship between a husband and a wife. God said, "I had a relationship with you before I even began forming you. And not only have I formed you and known you, I have consecrated you". That means I have set you apart for a great purpose. What is true of Jeremiah is true for every one of you here this morning. God has not only made you, he has set you apart for a great eternal purpose. Now, the question is, what is that purpose? And that leads to truth number two, your purpose is connected to God's purpose. So many times I see Christians kind of wandering around in a fog, "Oh, what is my purpose in life? Why am I here? Why do I exist"? If you will grasp this one simple truth, it will help cut through the fog of a lot of perhaps, your questions about your own life. Here's the simple truth, you were created by God, saved by God, selected by God, and gifted by God to fulfill his agenda and not yours. Lemme say it again. You were created by God, saved by God, selected by God, gifted by God to fulfill his agenda and not yours.
I came across a quote from writer Erwin McManus that I've never forgotten. It says it all well. He said, "The question is not, God, what is your will for my life? No Christian ought to ever ask that question, God, what is your will for my life? Instead the question should be, God, what is your will and how can I give my life to it"? See the difference? God, what is your will and how can I give my life to it? Well, how do you know what God's will is? Well, let me give you some scriptural clues to discovering what God's will is that we need to connect to.
1 Timothy 2:3-4, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior, who desires for all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth". You know what? God's will is, it's for everyone to come to know Jesus Christ as Savior. Now that doesn't mean everybody is going to be saved, but that is certainly God's will. God is not trying to save a few of people as possible, he wants to save as many people as possible. Some sex need to remember that in Christianity, God is trying to save as many, not as few as possible. That is God's will. In Colossians 1:13-14, God wants to deliver people out of the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom, the presence of his Son. God is on a search and rescue mission. That is his purpose.
Paul David Tripp has written, this is so good. He says, "Your life is much bigger than a good job, an understanding spouse and non-delinquent kids. It is bigger than beautiful gardens, nice vacations, and fashionable clothes. In reality you were born and will continue after you die. God is rescuing fallen humanity, transporting them into his kingdom and progressively shaping them into his likeness". And he wants you to be a part of it. That's what God's doing. He's on a rescue mission, rescuing as many people as possible from the kingdom of darkness to deliver them into the presence of his Son and he's asked you and me to join him in that search and rescue ministry. Does that mean God needs our assistance? No, God doesn't need anything, he's self-sufficient. But in his sovereign plan, he has chosen to allow you and us to have the joy, the indescribable privilege of partnering with him in his kingdom admission.
And by the way, it's always been that way. God has always chosen mercifully to allow us to be partners with him in work. Do you do those read through the Bible programs? I started mine again this week and of course landed back in Genesis, just waiting to get to the begats, but I was back in Genesis. Remember reading about creation. Remember God created the Garden of Eden absolutely perfect. He needed no help from Adam and Eve to do that. But after he created the perfect garden, remember what he said to Adam and Eve? He said, "I've created it, but your job is to cultivate it and to keep it. I've done my part, here's your part". Or remember God said to Noah, he said, "Noah, I'm going to send a flood and destroy the world. I'm going to save you and a select few. That's what I'm going to do, but it's your responsibility to build the ark". God said to Nehemiah, "Nehemiah, I'm going to miraculously change the king's heart and allow your people to go back to Israel. That's what I'm doing, but I want you to build a wall around the city".
And God has said to you, and to me, "I have sent my Son Jesus Christ to offer the greatest gift of all time, the gift of salvation. That's what I'm doing, but I've commissioned you to go and share that Gospel with as many people as possible". And in case anybody misses, what that mission is that we need to connect to, listen to Jesus's final words to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. Matthew 28:19-20, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age". You read through the New Testament and you'll find one of the metaphors used extensively throughout the New Testament is that of Christians being a soldier, being a soldier. For example, 2 Timothy 2:4 says, "No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier".
How many people in the military, since we're reaching a military audience, now, how many people in the military do you know who wake up in the morning and say, "Gee, I wonder what I ought to do today. I wonder how I can fill my hours today. I wonder what I would like to do". Nobody's going to survive in the military with that kind of attitude. People in the military have one job and that is to obey their commanding officer. To make his commanding officer's agenda his agenda. And it's the same way with us. In Paul's day, a Roman soldier had one goal and that was to fulfill the emperor's command. And that is to go and expand the territory of the kingdom. To expand the Roman Empire. And it's the same way with you and me. We've been enlisted by God to expand the kings empire. That is the job for which we have been called. God didn't leave us here in this world to accumulate a lot of money. He didn't leave us here to have a successful career. He didn't even leave us here to have a happy family life. God left us here to expand the kingdom.
Now, what have we seen? First of all God has created you for a unique purpose. Secondly, your purpose should be connected to God's kingdom purpose. And that leads to our third truth. Hang onto your pews here, 'cause it's going to get a little bumpy for a moment, but I want you to hear me out. Your purpose is to be centered within the local church. Now that statement is made with two assumptions. Assumption number one, every Christian is to be involved in ministry. Do you know most Christians don't understand that? They think, well, my job is what I do 60 hours a week, but then I come to church to kind of relax and soak in some spiritual truth, no. Listen to Ephesians 4:11-12, "And Christ gave some to the church as apostles and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastor teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ". You know what my job is as pastor teacher here? Ryan's job, Ben's job? What our job is here, it's not just to do the work of the ministry, it is to equip you to do the work of ministry. That's what that word equip means, "katartismos" it literally refers to the loading up of a ship with supplies before it sets out on a long journey.
And a lot of people think, the goal of our church service is to see how many people can be saved. That's not the goal of the church service. You know why I say that? Lost people very rarely come to church to begin with. You may have a few sprinkled out there, but lost people by definition don't come to church. I always present the Gospel in a service 'cause I know there's some unbelievers who stumble in for one reason or another. But the purpose of this church service is to equip you, to give you the tools that are needed to go out and reach the people at your work, the people in your community, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I see Dee Simmons down there, nobody does a better job of being an ambassador for Christ in our church than Dee Simmons. This is the place she gets the equipment, the resources she needs to go out and fulfill her life purpose. Equipping the saints for the work of service. You see, God's plan was never for just a few paid professionals to do the work of ministry. We're to be equipping you to do the work of ministry.
I think about the late bud Wilkinson, a professional football player, who after he left the NFL, became the chairman of the president's council on physical fitness, under Lyndon Johnson. And at a press conference one time a reporter asked Wilkinson, "Mr. Wilkinson, what contribution has professional football made to the health of the American people"? Wilkinson said, "Absolutely none". He said, "Think about it, in football you have 22 men on the field desperately in need of rest being cheered on by 80.000 spectators in the stands desperately in need for exercise". And that's a picture of the average church. You've got a few people out there on the playing field, the pastor, the staff, a few deacons, but the members are in the stands. Now, if a church is doing well, they cheer them on. Go pastors, go staff, go deacons. But if the church starts to go south, no longer cheers, but jeers, boos, hisses, calling the second string. Now, that may make for exciting football, but that is a lousy way to run a church.