Living Palm Sunday Lives

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday. You will recall the story of Jesus coming into the city and being greeted by people who cried out “Hosanna, Glory in the Highest.” Read it for yourself before you continue reading this post.

[8]  And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. [9]  Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:8-9 (NKJV)

Began what is known as Passion week, where Jesus had to endure the cross before he could be crowned King. He was the Suffering Servant but also the Sovereign King. He had to die so that you and I could enjoy fellowship with God. He came to set us free from sin’s curse. Glory to God in the Highest for His faithfulness to redeem that which is not worthy of redemption!

One of my professors began class this week by stating the following, “Strive to live Palm Sunday lives. Don’t recognize Jesus as a king in name only, but also in your life.” This statement changed the way I viewed my entire Monday. So many times I am guilty of ascribing glory to Jesus with my mouth, but choosing my own selfishness over His will for my life. Sometimes my life does not point to the goodness of King Jesus. Sometimes my life is characterized by merely going through the motions and not worshiping Him for who He is.

We all struggle with something, whether it be pride, jealously, or selfish ambition. We want to be the Sovereign over our little universe. All to often we forget that there is only one God and we are not Him.

I’ve been convicted and encouraged to live a life of worship. Truly we must bring glory to Jesus by the way in which we live our lives. We will stumble and fall, but our hearts must beat to the rhythm of the Kingdom. We must pursue Jesus and live a life of worship.

Hebrews 13:14-16 provides us with a most helpful explanation of the kind of worship we bring King Jesus.

[14]  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. [15]  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. [16]  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:14-16 (NKJV)

Our worship becomes genuine when we love Jesus supremely, investing ourselves in others, and sharing the good we have received with our world.

Let’s live Palm Sunday lives.

Discovering Purpose: Why Your Life Matters

The mortality rate among human beings is 100%. Not  one of us can escape the reality of death.(Hebrews 9:27) That might be news to you, but we will all one day die. We should treat our bodies with great care, but even the fittest among the human race will one day pass from this life. What then is our purpose as human beings? Is our mandate to enjoy life to the fullest extent or to fulfill a specific task? Is there even any mandate placed on humanity? Various worldviews have sought to present the above question, but only Christianity provides the most consistent answer.

The question of our purpose is really a philosophical question that begins with how we define prime reality. Prime reality can is the most true part of existence. Some people live in a “reality” which denies the existence of  the spiritual realm and focuses exclusively on those things that can be revealed through existential data. For us as Christians, prime reality is the infinite Holy God revealed in Jesus and the Scriptures. As believers, the most real part of our lives is the spiritual. We must however be careful not to separate the spiritual world and the physical world as Plato did. Aristotle understood that there was a specific union between the material and immaterial world. Sometimes Americans deny the existence of the spiritual altogether, which poses great problems. The spiritual realm enables us to define who we are as human beings and what our purpose is. It is through genuine spirituality that we have purpose and meaning in life.

The Meaning of Life According to Scripture

God created the universe and everything contained within space and time. He created our first parents Adam and Eve after His own image and likeness .(Genesis 1:26-27) God created and pronounced His creation as good. God created us to enjoy Him and worship Him forever. We were created with a purpose: to tend after the good earth as good stewards. We are told to be fruitful and multiply, thereby sharing God’s glory with His creation. Somewhere along the way we decided that our purpose was better “in our own eyes” than through the eyes of God.

Adam and Eve fell into that age old trap of deception, thinking that there was satisfaction under the sun. They partook of the forbidden fruit believing that life would be better for them. Satan had our first parents convinced that they could be satisfied by the pleasures of this world. In reality, they already had the greatest pleasure knowable to man. They were privileged to walk with God in Shalom peace prior to their choice to sin. The forbidden fruit will never satisfy us. It will only leave us thirsty for more. There is a great thirst within each of us, but we are only satisfied when we rest in the Sovereign Lord.

The writer of Ecclesiastes picked up on this theme. This was a person who had tasted the fleeting pleasures of this world, like sex, entertainment, pleasure, wisdom, and wealth. If you read Ecclesiastes you will notice one recurring phrase. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. In other words, all things are like chasing the wind. They seem to have no purpose.

As you come to the final chapter of Ecclesiastes you notice a unique change in the writer’s tone. He reminds his audience to “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) His point was that life doesn’t get any better with age. Hardships don’t disappear and satisfaction with things under the sun significantly decreases. So what should we do as hearers? Should we become Nihilists and conclude that nothing at all has purpose, even human life?

I think not. We should pay close attention to Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

[13]  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. [14]  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, ESV)

 So life is not meaningless. With God life takes on new meaning and purpose. We do have a mandate, which is really an invitation to know God and enjoy Him forever. We have purpose and meaning because we were created in the image of God. We were created to have dominion over the earth and manage it as good stewards. (Check out this sermon on Psalm 8 by Mr. Matthew McAffee on 02/10/15)  We will all stand before God in judgment for every deed, whether good or evil.

The purpose of life is to love God supremely and enjoy Him forever. This is the whole duty of man. Think of Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 6:4-6 or Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with your entire being.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that the whole duty of man is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Discovering God’s Purpose for You

You might find yourself agreeing with me that your true purpose is found in a covenant relationship with God, but you are just not sure what that looks like or how to apply it to your life.  If you are to discover God’s purpose for your life you must:

1.) Realize that He is the Source of all Life. He is your creator, redeemer, and sustainer. When you realize that your life is not your own and that you were bought with a price you can begin to have purpose and meaning in your life.

2.) Get involved in a local church community that loves Jesus and you. This should be a post of its own and maybe it will someday, but your greatest value as an individual is seen in the context of community. You were not called to do life on your own, but with other believers. Doing life together is the way God intended for us to live. (Please for the love of all that is good, read Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together.)

3.) Rely on the wonderful grace of Jesus to lay aside idols. Sometimes we find our purpose in our careers, relationships, or venues of entertainment, but those things are merely empty wells that will leave us thirsty. (John 4, Isaiah 55) Those things provide only temporary pleasure. To find ultimate satisfaction you must look beyond the sun because things under the sun leave us wanting.

4.) Intentionally center your life on Jesus and the Scriptures by constantly communing with Him through prayer and Bible reading. (Colossians 3:1-2) As you come to Him in brokenness, you will find new purpose and meaning for even the most mundane tasks. If your life is Christ-centered and Biblically rooted you will be better at whatever it is that God has given you to do.

Let us hear the conclusion of the matter

You may feel like your life doesn’t matter or that it doesn’t have purpose. I’m hear to be a messenger of good news. Your life does have purpose and meaning. You were created to worship and enjoy the Sovereign King of the universe. No matter how old or young you are you have purpose. Your purpose is to love, worship, and obey the Lord. God has created you in His rational image and according to His likeness. I’m amazed that the Sovereign Lord has chosen to make His dwelling among us. With the Psalmist I stand in awe of my renewed purpose. Who is man that you are mindful of him? Or the son of man that you care for Him? O Lord Our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8: 4,9)