Discipleship- Lesson 3

Discovering Purpose

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish . . .

Until you find purpose in life, you will wander aimlessly, going from one project to another, never
settling in completely, never fulfilled, and never accomplishing the purpose for which you were
created.

Purpose is defined as, "The object toward which one strives or for which something exists."

A philosopher once said, "We need a purpose in life to give meaning to our existence . . . "

And there it is! - meaning to our existence.  Without a vision, a purpose, a goal, something to work
toward and strive for, life just goes in circles, or doesn't go at all.

I look around, and some people's only purpose in life seems to be just to live and get it over with.  
Some people just want to have as much fun as they can before life is over.  Some want to get as rich or
as famous as possible.  

Now, as vain as that may seem to us, at least there is a purpose.  I fear that most people have no idea
what their purpose is.  Someone said, "It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at
all."  In other words, even if you fail to accomplish your purpose, at least you had a purpose for which
you were living. If you never try, you'll still fail.  My Pastor once told me, "God is more interested in what
He wants to do in you than what He wants to do through you."  Working toward your purpose will
produce changes in you.

So, how do you find your purpose?

1.  First of all, you find it by faith.

Hebrews 11:2  For by {faith} the elders obtained a good report. (AV)
11:4  By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice . . .
11:7  By faith Noah . . . prepared an ark . . .
11:8  By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an
inheritance . 11:11  Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was
delivered of a child . . .
11:24  By faith Moses . . . forsook Egypt . . . {and became Israel's deliverer}.

By faith, these people sought God and heard from God and fulfilled the purpose for which they were
created.

God has a purpose for every person.  You are not here by accident, and you are not here without
purpose.

2. Secondly, you find in by searching God's Word.

As you search the Word and meditate on it, the Word of God will transform you and conform you into His
image.

Romans 12:2  . . . but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that
good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his
Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

3. Finally, you find it by fervent prayer.

Prayer is more than seeking for answers.  Prayer is seeking God.  Someone said, "We need to seek
God's face instead of His hand."  Spending time with God will make you more God-like.

Some important terms related to purpose:

   Success - What is success?  Success in life in to fulfill God's purpose for you.  It is not all the things
that the world tries to put over on us.  God's definition of success is entirely different from the worlds'.  

We need to remember the wisdom of a well-known bumper sticker - "He who dies with the most toys,
still dies."

Satan would have us think that success is to become equal with God, or to be our own God.  

Paul's comment on the subject is this:
Colossians 1:28  . . . that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
   
   God's Will - Success is to do God's will - nothing more, nothing less.  And what is God's will?  
Basically, to become more and more conformed to Christ's image - to reproduce the character of Christ
in ourselves and others.

Romans 8:29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his
Son . . .

If you do not have a clear purpose in life, you will have great difficulty making decisions.  Every
decision you make should be related to your purpose in life.

   Boredom - being dull, repetitive, or tedious, {without meaning}
The opposite of purpose is boredom.

What causes boredom?  Getting off track from your purpose.  If you are bored, you have gotten your
mind off your purpose, you have stopped pursuing your purpose, and you don't know what to do with
yourself.

Boredom comes from not living up to your potential.

   Balance - When your life gets out of balance, you will miss your true purpose.

Each person is a triune being, which means that we are made up of three parts - spirit, soul, and body.  
Each of us has needs, abilities, and potential in all three areas.  If we neglect any of these areas, we will
be out of balance.  

Now, there is no question that the spiritual is the more important.  But that does not exclude the other
areas.  To neglect body and/or mind is to live a partial life, a life out of balance.  The vast majority of
people live out of balance, usually focusing on one area of life at the expense of the others (i.e. dumb
jocks, intelligent nerds, spiritual fruitcakes).  It is a mistake to go "overboard" and get out of balance.  
Remember, God is a God of balance, "not the author of confusion."

How do you achieve balance?

God designs opportunities, irritations, problems, and circumstances to motivate us to develop
aptitudes, interests, and capacities which would otherwise be neglected and remain dormant.  Instead
of asking "Why?", begin to accept the fact that God is orchestrating your life with the finished product
in mind.  He is taking you somewhere and is using every circumstance to develop you and get you
closer to the goal.  Instead, ask, "What are you trying to teach me and develop in me?"

We must view our life's purpose from God's perspective.

A. Our purpose in life must be in line with God's purpose for us.
   "How is my existence benefiting the Kingdom of God?"

B. God's priority involves people.
   God is not primarily concerned with 'things' but with people.

C. Discovering other people's needs.
   We have knowledge of what every person needs most, whether they recognize         it or not.  We
must realize that we have value in their lives even if they reject         us.  Part of our primary purpose is
to witness to the lost.

D. Believers should move toward maturity.
   Another part of our purpose is to serve other believers in developing their         spiritual maturity.

E. Defining spiritual maturity.  
Spiritual maturity involves seeing and responding to life situations from God's point of view.  It means
being equipped with scriptural principles so we know how to respond to any situation with Christ-like
attitudes.  
In other words, WWJD?

F. Conflict moves us toward maturity.
Conflict is God's invitation to learn something new.  (Remember, the idea of deacons came from a
conflict in the church.)  In all conflict, we need to remember that ..."we wrestle not against flesh and
blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places" ... not against men.

G. Helping others toward maturity.
Our goal in life is an ever-widening adventure that is related to our excitement about making others
spiritually successful.  When we assume personal responsibility for the reputation of Christ and find
lasting solutions for conflicts (in the church), we are advancing toward the kind of greatness God
encourages - that of being a servant.
Matthew 20:27  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

H. Your life message is more important than your vocation.
Are you looking for a "Title or a Testimony"?  Your success and joy in life are determined by the degree
to which you discover and fulfil God's purpose for you.

Building a life message.

8 Steps of Christian Experience

A. Salvation- Give God His rightful place at the center of your life.
(Romans 10:9-10)

B. Separation- Turn from all that you know or sense is not of God.
(2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

C. Dedication- Yield all ownership and rights to God and renew your mind through His Word.  (Romans
12:1-2)

D. Service- Use your talents, possessions, time, and energy to build up others spiritually.  (Matthew 6:
19-20)

E. Suffering- Being hurt by the ones you seek to help makes you identify with Christ and develop Christ-
like character.  (1 Peter 4:12-13)

F. Response- Learn to respond with Christ-like attitudes toward those who offend you.  (Romans 8:29)

G. Insight- Become alert to others who have gone through similar trials and hurts.
(2 Corinthians 1:2-8)

H. Spiritual Maturity- Assist others in reproducing the character of Christ in their lives.  (2 Timothy 2:2)

Natural inclinations that lead to lack of purpose

•        Making a distinction between full-time Christian work and secular vocations.
   (Whatever my job is, I am to work as though God were my employer.)
•        Considering the learning of practical skills in a variety of areas to be unnecessary.
(God will use whatever practical skills I develop in the ministry to which he calls me.)
•        Believing that because I do not have very many talents or special abilities I cannot expect to do
any significant work for God.
(God uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty.  His strength is made perfect in my
weakness.)
•        Assuming that the will of God for my life involves finding a particular job or having a particular title.
(The will of God involves both the forming of Christ's character within me and the resulting message
which I can share with others.)
•        Neglecting unwanted family responsibilities so I can have more time to serve the Lord.
(Difficult family responsibilities are actually God's way of building essential character in me.)
•        Expecting that God will bless my efforts in Christian work with acceptance and appreciation from
those whom I serve.
(Wisdom is preparing for unexpected misunderstandings and rejection from those I try to help, so I can
identify with new sections of scripture and experience a more effective ministry with others.)
•        Plunging ahead in order to fulfill a vision that I know God has given me to accomplish.
(Instead, plan for the death of your vision, during which time you learn the character of Christ and
waiting for His timing in the fulfillment of the vision. i.e. Moses in Midian and the disciples after the
crucifixion.)
•        Looking for opportunities of leadership and Christian service.
(Seek to serve Christian leaders because of the awesome responsibility which they have and the
higher standards by which they will be judged.)

Remember, you can never be a leader until you have learned how to be a follower.  
(I am shocked at the number of people who think they deserve to have positions and leadership
handed to them.  You have to earn leadership.)

Matthew 20:27  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Have you found your purpose?

Memorize:  Matthew 20:27; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 6:17;
      Romans 8:29

1.  Why is it important to have a purpose in life?

2.  How does one find purpose?

3.  Define:  Faith-
        Success-
        God's Will (see Romans 8:28-29)-

4.  Name the three factors that make up man.
         .
5.  What causes boredom?