David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
You know some people when they really succeed in life…just get lucky.
But most people work for it.
Sure, you can have someone who just falls into money somehow, or they got their crazy good job because their dad handed it to them…
But most people who we deem as the “ultra successful” get there through hard work.
And it’s not just hard work. They are incredibly purposeful.
I read a quote from a famous violinist recently where he said, “There were always so many things that I wanted to do that I had to leave undone; there were so many places I wanted to go that I had to miss if I was going to master the violin.”
Same is true for the student that pushes herself through med school
The golfer that actually wants to make the PGA
The entrepreneur that wants to start their own business.
It takes an incredibly focused PURPOSE.
They’ve picked their purpose in their life: Be the best violin player, be the best golfer, etc….
And then, everything they’re doing, is around that purpose.
PASSAGE PART ONE
As a church, we’ve been studying the Book of Acts in the Bible.
Acts is the 5th book of the New Testament and the story of how Christianity gets started after Jesus ascends into heaven
We’ve been following this guy named the Apostle Paul as he travels all over the known world telling people about Jesus.
We are doing all of Acts chapter 20 today.
If you want to follow along, PAGE 902
Today, Paul’s going to do some more crazy things, and have a serious goodbye with some friends.
And through it all, his INTENSE PURPOSE in life screams off the page!
(Acts 20:1-12) – NIV
1 When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. 2 He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, 3 where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4 He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secoondus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tik-i-cus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. 5These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. 6 But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. 7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.
Ok, let’s pause there for a moment and explain a few things.
Let’s first, do one of my favorite things, and look at a map of where Paul is:
(Show 3rd Missionary Journey Map)
Paul starts today at Ephesus (in Western Turkey), and travels north along the coast to northern Greece, down to Corinth.
He’s going to leave from there to go back to his sending church in Syria, but it’s found out there’s a plot against him
Maybe they were going to kill him on the ship
Or maybe they wanted to rob him.
At this time in history, we know from Paul’s letters that he’s carrying a lot of money from the churches Achaia, Macedonia, and Asia, that they raised for the poor in Jerusalem
So, Paul travels back through Macedonia, does the Passover in Philippi, and then raises Eutychus from the dead in Troas.
We’re going to talk more about the story of Eutychus in house groups this week.
By the way, if you’re not in a house group yet, let me encourage you to stop by the sign-up table on your way out today.
They can answer any questions you might have and help you determine which of our 4 houses might be right for you.
House groups are a unique format of putting 20-30 people in a house together, and then breaking down into small groups at the end o the night
And they’re awesome.
If you’re looking to make the next step, stop by the table today.
Okay, so Paul’s going to continue on his journey back to Syria…and eventually back to Jerusalem here… He continues south, and we’ll continue the passage
PASSAGE PART TWO
(Acts 20:13-17) – NIV
13 We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Azos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. 14 When he met us at Azos, we took him aboard and went on to Mityleenuh.15 The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Saymos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost. 17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.
Ok, so that was a lot of names. What just happened??
(Paul’s third missionary journey map)
Basically, Paul is walking AND sailing on the Western coast of Turkey between the coast and all these little islands.
Worth noting..>Bible isn’t just a fairy tale.
This reads nothing like a fairy tale.
They stop at Miletus and send for the elders of the Ephesian church, whom Paul had spent 3 years with
Elders in the Bible are the men who oversee the flock. They shepherd them.
For us, in our church, our elders, are our house leaders.
So, Paul, sends for these leaders…And he’s got some inspiring words for them
(Acts 20:18-38) – NIV
18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. 25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
HIS LIFE WAS AN EXAMPLE
“What strikes me most about this intense conversation that Paul has with the Ephesian elders is Paul’s purpose in life.
He lived with such an intense purpose.
And this morning, I want to look at 3 ways that Paul’s life just oozed with purpose
1) His life was an example
2) He considered his own life worth nothing
3) He lived it out every day
Let’s take a look at the first one: His life was an example
Over and over again, Paul refers to his own life while he speaks to the elders
(Acts 20:19) – NIV
19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents.
Paul’s life was so focused on serving God that he can just straight up drop his “resume” on them as a reminder…. “Hey, remember when I did this,,,”
In fact, sometimes Paul just says, “Imitate me!”
(1 Corinthians 4:16) – NIV
Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
Now, when Paul is talking to these guys, he seems pretty convinced he’s never going to see them again, so in a sense, he’s giving them a farewell speech
…Although we do find out in 1 Timothy that he did a get a chance to go back one more time…
But here’s my question…
What if you were in Paul’s situation?
Let’s say God was leading you somewhere else…
Let’s pretend that God has just called you to (pick a country) to serve the poor or something
Could you gather together your close friends at a going-away party and say, “Friends, look at my life. Look at how I’ve served, and loved. Imitate me!”
We never speak like that.
Maybe it’s our humility.
OR MAYBE…it’s because our lives are so centered on just us, that we can’t, with any real integrity, tell anyone to imitate our lives.
Because for many of us, our lives haven’t really been ABOUT anything…except the pursuit of our any happiness.
What else are you living for besides the pursuit of your own happiness? Your own well-being?
What’s the purpose of your life?
What are you doing, or living towards that benefits someone else?
See, for Paul... Paul lives for other people. It’s part of his purpose in life. Loving people in the name of Jesus.
He didn’t just ACCOMPLISH things. He loved people.
The Ephesians are so grieved that they might never see him again
CONSIDERS HIS LIFE WORTH NOTHING
“But not only does Paul firstly live this life of example….he does so because he QUOTE, “considers his life worth nothing”
(Acts 20:24) – NIV
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Think about what a crazy bold statement that is for a moment.
I consider my life worth nothing to me.
What he’s saying is this: “I’m not on this earth for me. It’s not about the long lists of vain pursuits we get wrapped up in”
Life isn’t about dying with the most toys for you can take none of them with you
Life isn’t about having more “experiences” than every once else, for what’s the point of a great experience on earth if your eternity isn’t spent in heaven
No, what Paul is saying is all the normal things we think life is about, “Marriage, house, kids, promotions, retirement…”
All of those things are merely shadows in the backdrop to this question: WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE?
See, too many of us never think on that level.
We just go through the rat race…
What’s next? Ok, find a mate. Get married. Check!
Next, get my first job! Check!
Have 2.5 kids! Check!
And we live a life buried in a clipboard checking off events, but never looking up to ask God if he has a greater purpose for our life!
“Paul was SO aware of his purpose to reach the world w/ the good news of Jesus, that all of those “other things of life” were worthless to him if He was going to meet his maker and have to say…
”Hey sorry, you know that purpose you had for me…yeah, I didn’t quite get to that…but I did what everyone else was doing! I got married and had some kids and bought a house! That’s cool, right?!?”
Think beyond “what everyone else is doing”
Think beyond the “status quo”
God has a purpose for YOU. What is it?
HE LIVED OUT HIS MISSION
The example of Paul’s life was clear. He considered his life worth nothing. And finally, he lived out his mission. Every day. Despite Adversity.
We see him living it out. From town to town.
And even through prison after prison and attempts on his life.
He keeps living it out.
What drives him?
His purpose. He knows his purpose.
Just like the violin player is driven by their purpose and intent to be the best violinist ever.
He’s driven by something MUCH greater. His purpose to reach the world for Christ.
And he leaves it all on the field.
Verse 31 tells us that he spoke to them every day
Verse 20 tells us that he never hesitated to preach anything. He spoke boldly.
This is a guy who’s maximizing every second of his life for the Gospel. The good news of Jesus Christ.
He’s trying to take every second of his life to glorify God.
Later, to the church in Corinth, Paul writes
(1 Corinthians 10:31) – NIV
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
That’s living…every day…for a purpose.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
But what’s YOUR purpose?
Now, to start…every Christian has a similar over-arching purpose:
To glorify God w/ our lives and help others know about Jesus.
It’s why the vision of this church is “To be a people being changed by God to what??? Change the world!”
That’s the basic, broad mission every single one of us lives under.
HOWEVER, how God uses each one of you in the midst of that can be very different. VERY DIFFERENT.
Because he’s gifted each one of you very differently
It’s like a sports team. Let’s take my beloved Timberwolves for example.
What’s their ultimate purpose? Their goal?
To win an NBA Championship. Yes.
And for everyone involved, that’s the broad mission.
However, their role in it, can be different.
The trainers help the players stay healthy…so…they can win an NBA championship
The arena announcers pump up the crowd, so the crowd will pump up the players, so…they can win an nba championship
Management helps draft and trade the right players…so…they can win an nba championship
Crunch, the mascot…
Everybody’s broader goal is the same…but their role is different.
Really similar in Christianity. It’s called the body of Christ. (1 cor 12)
We all have the same general purpose. But our purpose is also slightly differentiated by what part of the body we are.
That doesn’t mean each of us still isn’t responsible for personal evangelism, etc.
But, it begs the question: What’s YOUR purpose in this world?
How does God want to specifically use you?
And your purpose then has to be within the frame of the greater purpose
It can’t just be…to make a lot of money
It could be…to make a lot of money….SO you can help the orphans of the world w/ 80% of your profits.
Now, that would be within the frame of the greater purpose.
Sounds like a dangerous plan, but you get it.
So what’s your purpose on this earth? What is God whispering in your heart that He wants YOU to do? …
That isn’t just about your own life.
A purpose, where you could say like Paul, I consider my own life NOTHING! THIS is what I’m living for!
What is it?
Maybe he’s even calling you into ministry?
Or to go “help the weak” as Paul said in verse 35 today?
Maybe it’s to love the orphans of this world…the elderly
Maybe it’s to be the most hospitable home in your neighborhood
The place where all your neighbors and their kids come
To experience true love…maybe even hear about jesus once in a while.
Maybe it IS to make money…so you can give it all away.
Maybe you’re that crazy person that lives off 70% of your income and gives 30% away to help change the world!
Maybe it’s to love children. Like Jesus did.
Not only to do everything you can to raise your own children to love God…but maybe even to help the children in your life (maybe it’s family or neighbors) that can’t get that love at home
Maybe it’s to be the person at work that shines their light for Christ brighter than everyone else.
You bring donuts every week!
You take shifts for other people without complaining
You do what needs to be done before being asked
And then w/ the respect you’ve built…you give glory to God
It could be any of those things, or 1,000 other things…but here’s one thing it can’t be: NOTHING.
God…HAS…A…PURPOSE…FOR YOUR LIFE!
Don’t just drift through.
Paul had an incredible purpose, and it drove him to incredible things.
If you don’t have a purpose, you aren’t going to accomplish as much
There’s an old saying that says, “No man can ever rise above that at which he aims”
And if you’re….just drifting…not aiming…you’re not gonna do much w/ your life.
But if you stop and say, “Here’s the deal! I feel like God’s calling me to help win other mom’s to Christ!”
I’m gonna get together some of these other mom’s that are at home, and invite them over for baked goods every Tuesday morning, and eventually, do a Bible study together!”
I’m gonna try and win every mom in my neighborhood to Christ!
Well now you’ve got purpose.
Are you gonna win EVERY mom to Christ?
I don’t know, probably not. Maybe.
But will you win more than if you never had a purpose in the first place…WAY MORE.
What’s your purpose?
Seek God on it. Pray about it often. Ask Him. BUG him about it!
Ask others what they see in you.
Try out some of our ministries here and see if certain gifts pop out.
Cuz if you get involved and find out that you LIKE putting out Street signs or working with children…well, that means you probably have a servant gift or a teaching gift.
It’s probably connected to a greater purpose.
You won’t find your purpose if you don’t seek it.
But don’t waste time on it.
Everyday that you don’t know how your specific purpose fits in the broader frame of glorifying God and winning people to Jesus, is wasted time.
Finding purpose is gonna allow you to SIMPLIFY your life. It’ll allow you to FOCUS your life. Cut out the things that are just wasted space.
And start making an impact.
It’ll also motivate you.
Once you can put the stake in the ground in the future, and say, “This is where I’m going!”
“I feel like God’s calling me to be the guy who fixes cars on the side for people…for free labor. Cuz I want people to see that He gave us a gift for free. And that’s my purpose”
Once you can put the stake in the ground in the future LIKE THAT…NOW…Now you’ve got PURPOSE.
You know what you’re doing. How to spend your time. How not to spend your time.
You feel God moving through you…because after all, this is how He made you! It just feels right.
Seek your purpose. Seek your purpose within the framework of our purpose of Christians. What is it?
I’m not saying it’s easy to find. Might take you a while. Could even take you years…
But better to be searching for it than just to continue drifting.
If you’re really interested on this topic, let me recommend a book called, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.
Great book on purpose. In fact, our YouVersion app even has a link for you to buy it from Amazon if you want. J
But FIND YOUR PURPOSE!
No matter how old you are!
Don’t say…well, I’m already 50, and I haven’t figured it out.
So what…That’s why Paul writes this in verse 24, “My only aim is to FINISH the race and COMPLETE the task the Lord Jesus has given me”
You can still make an impact.
So what if you didn’t start well? Finish well!
And you’re impact doesn’t HAVE to be…feed the starving children of Uzbekistan!
The most important thing is not for you to a greater impact than someone else, the most important thing is for YOU to fulfill YOUR purpose.
Even if it seems “small” to you
You might feel like all you are is the “big toe” in the body of Christ
What’s the point?
“What’s the point?!? You ever tried to run with out a big toe?”
I didn’t think so.
Find YOUR purpose.
Put the stake in the ground in the future. Live it out. Live for it. Live for the GLORY of God.
And then pray…PRAY…that one day…far into the future…when you’re on a hospital bed…
Saying farewell to people you know you won’t see again…until we’re in another place together.
pray…that you could sit up…look them in the eye…and boldly say…like Paul…
You’ve seen my life. How I lived w/ purpose.
How I loved. How I lived to serve.
How I served God in the way He created me to.
All of you sitting around this hospital bed…can look at my life…and you know…you KNOW…that I considered my own life…my own pursuits NOTHING…if it wasn’t to complete the TASK Jesus Gave ME
And I did it.
And now…I want to tell you…before I go…
Glorify God with your lives.
Tell others How Good He is.
And Let Him use you.
For there is no greater feeling than feeling God move through you.
May God make that reality one day in all of our lives!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.