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THE FIVE ESSENTIALS OF LIFE-Part 1

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THE FIVE ESSENTIALS OF LIFE

Essentials for 21st Century Living

Part 1 of

Rick Warren

August 28-29, 1999

1.  I NEED ____________________ TO ____________________

       “Even youth grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.  They will mount up with wings like eagles.  They will run and not get tired.  They will walk and not become weary.”  Isa. 40:30-31 (NASB)

“Be still, and know that I am God.”  Ps. 46:10 (NIV)

2.  I NEED ____________________ TO ____________________  

 

       “God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone…’”  Genesis 2:18  (niv)

“Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together.  If one falls down, the other can help him up.”  Eccl. 4:9-10a (NCV)

       “Let us not neglect our meeting together…”  Heb. 10:24-25 (NLT)

3.  I NEED ____________________ TO ____________________

       “I am a pilgrim here on earth; I need a map – and Your commands are my chart and guide.”  Ps. 119:19 (LB)

       “Everyone who hears My words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.”  Matt. 7:24 (NCV)

4.  I NEED A ____________________ TO ____________________

“God has made us what we are, in Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”  Eph. 2:10 (NCV)

“God gives us many kind of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all.  There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving.”  1 Cor. 12:4-5 (LB)


 

5.  I NEED A ____________________ TO ____________________

       “The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me – to tell people the Good News about God’s grace.”  Acts. 20:24 (NCV)

       “The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants.  Then all these other things you need will be given to you.”  Matt. 6:33 (NCV)

       “Jesus has the power of God.  His power has given us everything we need to live and to serve God.  We have these things because we know Him.”  2 Peter 1:3 (ICB)


! THE FIVE ESSENTIALS OF LIFE

Essentials for 21st Century Living

Part 1 of

Rick Warren

August 28-29, 1999

If you were to ask a biologist, “What are the essentials of life?” he’d answer, air, food, water, light.  If you were to ask a pharmacist, “What are the essentials of life?” he’d probably give you a long list of trace minerals, and important vitamins that you need.  If you were to ask a survivalist, “What are the essentials of life?”, he’d say a shotgun, bottled water and a bunker. 

But you are more than just physical life.  Life has a spiritual element and life has an emotional element and there are spiritual and emotional factors that are just as essential to life as air and water and food and you need these to really live.  In fact without these you’re not living, you’re just existing.  You’re not thriving, you’re just surviving. 

We want to look at the essentials of life for a balanced life.                

We’re four months away from a brand new millenium and it is my job as your pastor to prepare you emotionally and spiritually for the 21st century because it’s going to be very different in ways that many of us have never even imagined.  We need to get ready for it.  So we’re beginning a new series today that I'm calling “Essentials for 21st Century Living.”  What is it going to take to live in the 21st century?  Today I just want to give you an overview of the five essentials of life and then after Summer’s End we’re going to come back and drill down deeper and look practically, in a detailed way, how to build these into your life.

The first thing you’re going to need in the 21st century regardless of what happens – and by the way, you don't know what’s going to happen (and I don’t either) tomorrow much less next year or the next 100 years.  Nobody could have predicted what was going to happen in the 1990’s ten year ago, all the things we have today like cell phones, CD’s, the Internet that were not even widely used ten years ago.  When you’re in a time of rapid change you need to focus on the things you know are going to not change.  Regardless of what happens in the 21st century you’re going to have these five spiritual needs in your life.

1.  YOU NEED POWER TO LIVE ON

You need that because there are a lot of things in life that drain your life of power, drain your life of energy and strength and vitality and stamina.  Change definitely can rob you of energy.  Stress can rob you of power.  Conflict can drain your life.  Delay can drain your life of energy.  Frustration can drain your life of energy.  And everyday work can drain you of the power in your life. 

You’re working longer than you used to.  A recent study just came out shows that in 1973 the average American worker worked 40.3 hours a week.  In 1999 that had risen to 50.6 hours a week.  So the average American is working ten hours a week longer than they were 20 years ago.  It’s no wonder you’re tired! 

Where do you get the energy and the stamina and the power to live on?  Where do you get the energy to just keep going when you feel like giving up? 

People try different things: fads, therapies, pills, things like that.  But the real secret of power to live on is this: focus on God.  The more you focus on God the more power you’re going to have in your life.  God is the source of all power.  God has all the power you need.  Just look around nature.  His power is evidenced everywhere you look.  The Bible says, “Nothing is impossible with God.”  He’s got more power than you could possibly imagine.  That power is available to you but you get it by focusing on God.  You get your eyes off your problems and you get your eyes onto God, onto Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 40:30-31 “Even youth grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble badly yet those who wait for the Lord [circle “those who wait for the Lord”] will gain new strength.  They will mount up with wings like eagles.  They will run and not get tired.  They will walk and not become weary.” 

God has all the power you need and you get it by waiting on Him or by focusing on Him.  The more you focus on God the more you plug into His power.  If you spend a lot of your life focusing on God, you’re going to have a lot of power in your life.  If you spend a little time focusing on God, you’re going to have a little power in your life.  If you don’t spend any time focusing on God, you’re going to have no power in your life.       

There’s a word for focusing on God in the Bible.  That word is “worship”.  Worship is simply focusing on God.  Some people think worship is a ritual.  It’s not.  Some people thing worship is a regimen, rules and regulations.  It is not.  Some people think it’s a ceremony.  Worship is not a ceremony.  It’s not a list of things you do or don’t do.  Worship simply means focusing on God.

You can worship by yourself in your backyard.  You can worship with another person or a couple of people in a small group.  You can worship in a large crowd like this.  It doesn’t matter.  Whenever you are focusing on God, you are worshiping and that is the secret of the power to live on.

How do you worship?  Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”  You need to quiet yourself, drop the distractions, center in on God and His greatness and His love and what He wants to do in your life – His plan and purpose.  The more you do this, the more you be still and know that God is God, the more you’re going to find yourself restored, renewed and refreshed on a daily basis. 

Many of you came here this morning feeling pretty fatigued.  I can see it on your face.  You’re frustrated by different things you’re facing.  You may feel a little overwhelmed.  You may feel like the problems and the pressures and the stress in your life right now is at a pretty high level and rising. 

I want to invite you right now to pause, step back and be still and think about God.  That is called worship and when you do that, the power that is available to you through God comes through.  The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, the same power that rolled the stone away from the tomb so people could see that Christ is risen is available to you.  And you will not make it in the 21st century if you don’t have power to live on.  That is your first and foremost greatest need.  But you need more than that.

2.  YOU NEED PEOPLE TO LIVE WITH

The Bible calls it fellowship.  You were made for relationships.  You do need the power of God in your life but you also need people around you to support you, encourage you and to fellowship with.  The Bible tells us that when God made Adam, He put him in the Garden of Eden which was a perfect environment.  No problems, no pressure, no pain.  Yet God looked down at Adam in a perfect environment and said it’s still not good enough.  There’s something terribly wrong.  And in Genesis 2:18 “God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’”

It is not God’s will for you to be lonely.  You were made for relationships.  I don’t care if you ever get married or not.  I don't care if you’re young or old, a Christian or non Christian.  You were made for other people.  And God says you need people to live with not just power to live on.

This week I read a study by the Department of Mental Health of California.  They discovered that if you isolate yourself from other people, if all you have is acquaintances, no close friends, you have no intimate relationships with other believers, other people, you are three times more likely to die an early death, you are four times more likely to suffer emotional burnout, you are five times more likely to be clinically depressed and you are ten times more likely to be hospitalized for emotional or mental disorder.  You were made for relationships. 

The Bible says we’re supposed to help each other.  We’re not supposed to go through life as Lone Rangers.  You are supposed to have people that you depend on.  Close friends.  The Bible calls it fellowship. 

In Ecclesiastes 4 the Bible says, “Two people are better than one because they get more done by working together.  If one falls down, the other can help him up.”  The next verse in that chapter says, “If you don’t have anybody to help you up when you’re all alone, pity on you.” 

You need people to live with.

Fortunately God has designed a custom-made support network just for you.  That is called the church.  Church is not something you go to.  Church is not an event you attend.  Church is a family that God meant for you to be connected to, to be a part of.  He wants you to have relationships and connections and fellowship in the body of Christ, in the family of God. 

Recently I received this letter from a woman, “Dear Pastor Rick, I have carried the pain of physical abuse in silence for many years.  A year after a devastating loss I moved here to Southern California.  Disconnected from everything, I was very lonely.  I cried solid for three weeks.  Finally I decided maybe I should try a church.  From the moment I stepped inside my first service at Saddleback, I felt I belonged here.  To shorten my story, Christ became real to me, I joined our church family, and I'm now serving in a ministry that is very fulfilling to me.  I love being a part here.  I know that everyone’s pain is different, but we all need God.  And my pain was almost unbearable without the relationships of a church family.  When I took the membership class, I had to hold back tears of joy when you discussed how Saddleback is a church family.  It really is and I am so grateful for my brothers and sisters here and for a church that I can call home.”

You need people to live with.

When you get busy the first thing that gets short-changed in your life are your relationships.  You start skimming back – relational skimming.  The first relationship that gets hurt when you get busy is your relationship to God.  You start saying, “I don’t have time to pray.  I don’t have time to talk to God.  I don’t have time to read my Bible.  I don’t have time to be quiet and focused like we just talked about.”  God always gets short-changed first in relationships.  And then if the pressure and the stress stays on, you start cutting back in your family, and you start cutting back in your relationships with other Christians.  “I don’t have time to be a part of a small group.  I don’t have time to go to Mid Week Worship.  I don’t have time to come every weekend to church.” 

You’re too busy.  Your priorities are all out of whack.  And I want to tell you from experience, I have learned personally that when you start skimping on relationships it always comes back to haunt you.  You’re going to get hurt in the end.  You cannot cut back on an emotional and spiritual need of your life – people to live with.  If you don’t have meaningful, supportive and accountable relationships you’re going to go under at some point in your life.

The Bible warns about this in Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not neglect our meeting together.”  Why?  Because you need it.  It’s not just what you hear and learn, it’s the relationships that you build in those meetings. 

Many of you here today are occasional attenders of Saddleback church. It’s not a priority with you.  You just kind of come when it’s convenient.  That’s fine stating out.  We welcome you.  You may be a spiritual seeker and you’re here to check out, is God real and is Christianity the truth.  You’re just kind of getting your feet wet.  And that’s perfectly fine for you to at your own pace to check it out. 

But some of you have been occasional attenders for months, for years.  And before the 21st century occurs you need to get connected.  As your pastor, I want to urge you to make this a priority.  Say this fall I'm not going to miss any service.  When the doors are open, I'm there.  Not just for the teaching but for the fellowship, the relationships I can build.”  You need to get connected in the new millenium and take what we call the Saddleback base classes – Class 101, 201, 301. 

We’re getting ready in four months to go into a brand new millenium.  There are some things you need to settle in your life, that you don’t need to drag into the new millenium.  You don’t need to drag old problems into a new millenium.  There are some sins that you need to let go of now!  And deal with.  There’s some addictions that you need to let go of and deal with now!  There’s some bad habits that you need to drop.  Don’t take them into a whole new century or millenium.  There are some things you need to check off your spiritual To Do list.  Some of you have started the bases and you’ve taken the first base and you’ve got stuck at first base, Class 101.  Or Class 201.  And you’ve never taken a class on how to grow spiritually, or how to discover your spiritual SHAPE, or how to find your life mission.  I want to challenge you in the last four months of this year to make that a priority and have that settled before you start a whole new millenium.

In order to do that I'm going to make it so easy.  I'm teaching Class 101 about fifteen times in the next four months.  In fact, one week in September I'm going to teach the entire class on a Thursday night, the entire class on a Friday night, on a Saturday morning and on a Sunday afternoon.  You can’t say, “I can’t come Sunday afternoon.”  Start planning!  I'm coming after you! 

Then we’re going to go on to Class 201 and offer those four days in a row and 301 and 401 so you can get this thing down in your life before you start into a new millenium. 

When you do that, then you find a small group and get connected.  Then join one of the 150 ministries of the church.  Why?  For the relationships because when the inevitable crisis comes in your life (and it will come; it will be different for all of us) you will have the people network of support already in place as a safety net you need that holds you up.  There will be people there to walk with you in that crisis and there will be people there to hold your hand.

There’s a third essential you’re going to need in the 21st century.

3.  YOU NEED PRINCIPLES TO LIVE BY.

You need power to live on and people to live with but you also need principles to live by.  You need a clearly thought out philosophy of life.  You need a moral foundation.  You need a code of conduct and conviction that gives you stability when everything’s flying off the wall. 

The Bible says that you were created to have a relationship with God.  That’s why you’re made.  And God wants you to live with Him in eternity by developing first a relationship here on earth.  You’re not going to spend forever here on earth.  You’re only here 60, 70, 80, maybe 90 years on earth.  When your body dies, that’s not the end of you.  You’re going to keep on living.  Where you spend your eternity and what you do in eternity is largely going to be determined by how well you follow the directions of God here on earth.  If you don’t do too good at that you’re not going to do too good in eternity. 

You are being tested.  Life is a test.  It is not the final act.  This is the warm up act.  You are being tested by how well you follow what God says to do in His word.  And you need principles to live by.  God’s going to see if you’re going to live by them or not. 

Every principle you need for life is in this book.  It is in the Bible and the Bible says in Psalm 119:19 “I am a pilgrim here on earth [that means you’re just passing through; you’re not going to stay here] I need a map and Your commands are my chart and my guide.”  Everything you need is right here – the principles to build your life on and to live by.  They’re right here. 

Here’s the problem.  God’s principles for living are the exact opposite of conventional wisdom.  Figure out the popular thing to do and it’s almost always the wrong thing to do.  Because God’s principles for living about time management and God’s principles for living about sex and God’s principles for living about how you use your money are the exact opposite of what popular culture tells you.  Popular culture almost always gets it wrong.  They say, “You earn your way to heaven by being good enough.  And if your good works are better than your bad works, you’re going to make it.”  So you work real hard and hope to get into heaven.  God says, “Not a chance.  There’s no way you can earn your way into a perfect place.  It’s a gift.  You must accept it by faith in My Son.  It’s a free gift of grace.  Accept it.”  Popular culture says, get all you can, get it as fast as you can and don’t let anybody else have any of it.  God says, “The way to be happy is to give your life away.  A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of things he possesses.”  Learn to give, learn to share because happiness comes from being generous from being giving.

Today, more than ever before and particularly in the 21st century, you are going to need to settle in your mind the principles that you’re going to live on.  What are the statements, the values that are going to hold your life up?  The reason that’s important is because we are moving from the modern age to what they’re now calling the postmodern age.  The 21st century will definitely be the postmodern age. 

What’s the difference between the modern age that we live in right now and the postmodern age?  Many differences and we’re going to look at those in this series in detail.  But let me give you one today.

In the modern age, truth was discussed and debated and fought over.  In the postmodern age, people don’t even believe there’s such a thing as truth.  We’re already seeing that in our culture today.  “There is no such thing as truth.  What’s right for you may be wrong for me.  What’s right for me may be wrong for you.  What’s true for you may not be true for these people.  There is no such thing as truth.  It’s just a figment of your imagination.  It’s all an illusion.”  We’re seeing this attitude being implemented in every area of our society – politics, government, education, every area of life.  You’re hearing people say things like “There are no absolutes.  There is no absolute right and there is no absolute wrong.  It’s just what you want it to be.”  Whenever I hear anybody say that I want to say, “Are you absolutely sure?”  That statement in itself is an absolute. 

There are profound implications if there is no truth.  And people who say this don’t even think it through.  It’s true that for people today tolerance is more important that truth.  You don’t have to tell the truth you just have to be tolerant of everybody else no matter how devious they are.  Today the supreme value is not truth.  It’s political correctness.  I need to warn you that the moment you decide to say, “Here are some principles to live by,” this is always right and this is always wrong,” the moment you say that you’re going to be labeled a bigot.  No matter what you say.  The moment that anybody has the courage to stand up and say this is right and this is wrong, always.  Then you’re labeled a fundamentalist, a bigot, a nutcase of some kind.  Because you’re not tolerant.

Folks, there’s something more important than tolerance.  Truth.  It is not tolerance that sets you free.  It’s truth that sets you free.  You can be very tolerant and building your life on a total lie.  You need principles to live by.  If there is no such thing as truth, then …

      

One, there is no basis for any law because there’s nothing moral to base it on.  It’s a matter of personal opinion.  If you’re driving down the freeway and somebody wants to blow you away in a drive-by shooting, that’s ok, because it was “right for them.”  And there is no basis for any law if there is no moral truth in the universe.  So if somebody wants to take your life they have a right to.  If they want to kill a baby in abortion or the elderly in euthanasia, go right ahead.  Why?  Because there is no such thing as truth. 

If there is no such thing as truth, nothing matters.  There is no meaning.  There is no significance.  And you don’t matter.  You’re just some primordial ooze that happened to evolve.  You don’t matter. 

But even more than that, if there is no such thing as truth in the world, that it’s just a matter of “that’s your opinion; let’s just get along,” then you have absolutely no solid basis on which to base your life in the 21st century.  No solid ground. 

This last week we saw a dramatic, tragic example of not building on a solid foundation.  In Turkey, literally tens of thousands of people lost their lives because an entire city was built on a shifting foundation. 

Jesus told a story at the end of the Sermon on the Mount where He said, two guys went out and built homes.  One built his home on shifting sand.  And when the storms came along that are inevitable in life and the rains hit it and the winds battered it, it fell apart because it had no solid foundation.  But there was a wise person who built his house on solid rock, a solid foundation.  And when the winds came and the storms blew, the rains came down, it remained solid because it had a stable foundation. 

You need principles to live by because in the 21st century everything is up for grabs.  I don’t say this with a smile.  But almost every institution in our culture is crumbling.  You’re blind if you don’t see that.  Government is gridlocked and paralyzed with ineffectiveness.  The government gets almost nothing done now except creating politically correct rules.  In education, it’s the same thing.  Scores going nowhere but we’re pouring more money in.  Today in American there are more metal detectors in schools than there are in airports and jails combined.  What does that say about our culture?  I don’t have to talk to you about the entertainment industry, which has hit the bottom of the barrel.  Think of the worst perversion and they’re putting it on the movie screens now as entertainment.  The coarsening of our society … people saying “It’s ok, it’s funny.”  In a society where things are crumbing all around us, how do you have hope?  How do you be optimistic? 

Look at the next verse.  “Everyone who hears My words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  You need principles to live by. 

There’s a word for people who do this.  A word for people who build a foundation, who live by God’s principles – holy.  God wants you to be holy.  Holiness should be a goal of your life.  That is a word we’re not used to.  When we think of holy we think of nuns or priests or holy men on the mountain, a hermit who hides in a cave or monastery, some super saint or spiritual superstar.  We don’t think of ourselves as being holy.  Holiness means being totally dedicated to doing what God wants.  That ought to be your desire in the 21st century, to be wholly dedicated to God’s principles, to be wholly committed to God’s word and way of life, to be wholly sold out to what He wants for your life.  In the 21st century you need to make that your desire.  You need to say, “Lord, holiness is what I long for.  Holiness is what I need.” 

There’s a fourth ingredient, a fourth essential you have to have to be all God wants you to be. 


4.  YOU NEED A PLAN TO LIVE OUT

You need an outlet for expressing the talents and abilities that God has given you.  You need a plan and a place where you can make a contribution with your life, with your talents, with your abilities in this world.  You need a plan for how God is going to use you to make the world a better place.  Really it all boils down to two options: You can live your life by design or you can live your life by default.  You can live your life intentionally or you can live your life accidentally.  You can make the most of what God has given you or you can waste it, blow it, and kind of drift through life unintentionally, without a plan and wasting what God has given to you. 

The truth and good news is, God does have a plan for your life.  The fact that you’re alive means He has a plan for you.  You’ve heard me say this many times, life does not make sense until you understand you were made by God and for God.  He made you for Himself.  Life doesn’t make sense until you understand that.

So how do I know God’s plan for my life?  How do I know my place in this world?  How do I know my niche, what I'm supposed to do, where I'm supposed to give back?  What am I supposed to do with my life?

I can say it in one word.  God’s plan for your life is service.  That’s God’s plan for your life.  God wants you to serve Him and God wants you to serve Him by serving others. 

Notice Ephesians 2:10 “God has made us what we are…” You are who you are and what you are because God intended that.  Because He made you to be you means He has a plan for you to fulfill.  If you don’t be you, who’s going to be you?  Only you can be you in this world.  So you may not like it, you may say, “I wish I looked like ‘that’ or have ‘that’ talent…” God wants you to be you and He want you to fulfill the roll He made you for and that’s where fulfillment and meaning and significance comes from.  God made us what we are.

It says “… in Christ Jesus God made us…” …to watch television?  No. “God made us to do good works.”  That’s service.  God made you to serve.  God didn’t put you on this earth to be a selfish little clod where you live totally for yourself and everybody in the world exists for you, to meet your needs, to give you pleasure, to peel grapes for you!  If you think that, you are sadly mistaken.  If you live your life for yourself, you have missed the plan you are made for and you’re not living.  You’re existing.  You’re just existing!  God did not mean for you to just live for yourself.  He wants you to make a contribution in life.  He wants you to give something back, to make an impact in the world, in the way that’s best for you based on how He made you. 

How do I know God’s plan for my life?  I look at the Bible.  The Bible says serve Him.  It says “God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”  Before you were even born, God planned the ways of service, the ways of making an impact in the world that He wanted you to do specifically.  When you get to heaven, God isn’t going to say, “Why weren’t you like that person over there?”  He’s going to say, “Why didn’t you do what I made you to do?  Why didn’t you make the impact that you were designed to make and influence where I designed you to influence?” 

How do I know what God wants me to do?  How do I know where He wants me to serve?  I look at the way God has wired me up.  God has uniquely shaped you for a reason.  At Saddleback we use an acrostic, SHAPE.  Five things that shape you, that make you, you.  Your Spiritual gifts, your Heart, your Ability, your Personality, your Experiences.  All these five things shape you and make you, you.  When you understand how God has shaped you, then you’ll know your niche in life.  You’ll know what you should be doing in investing your life.

This is so important here at Saddleback we have an entire class I’ve written on it, Class 301, Discovering My Shape For Ministry.  In that class we teach you to look at your own life and to analyze and discover your own spiritual gifts, your own personality, your own heart, your own ability, your own experiences.  We even take it further than that.  After the class, we even have a personal SHAPE interview where we’ve trained some people to sit down with you and go through a set of questions and you decide what God has shaped you to do.

We’ve had many, many people over the years change jobs once they’ve gone through Class 301 and a SHAPE interview.  They say, “No wonder I was so bored with my job.  No wonder I hated it.  I was miserable.  I'm not wired up for that kind of job.”  They needed to be doing something else.

Here’s the thing: when you’re a child, it’s very obvious what your spiritual SHAPE is because your parents and everybody else can see it.  If you’re good at art, you’re good at art.  If you’re good at music, you’re good at music.  If you’re good at numbers or words or pictures or mechanical things or animals, those things just naturally come out.  If you’re a leader, you end up being a leader on the playground.  Whatever it is, it starts showing up pretty early.

But as you grow older, socialization kicks in and you start saying, “That’s what gets rewarded in this society,” or “That’s what makes money in this culture.  That’s where the big bucks are,” or “That’s what gets the approval of my parents or my friends,” or “That’s what makes me famous and have status.”  And you end up, often, in some area of life that you weren’t shaped for and no amount of money, no amount of prestige and status, and no amount of fame is going to compensate that you’re still miserable.  You’re wondering why you have all these things yet you still don’t feel satisfied. 

Because you’re not doing what you’re shaped to do.  And you let somebody get you off track. 

I want to beg you, before we go into the new millenium in the next four months, don’t go into the new millenium without knowing what your spiritual shape is.  Go around the spiritual base classes – 101, 201, 301 – some of you have taken the class but you haven’t had that interview yet.  You need to finish it up and get that issue settled so you know what your niche is, what you’re good at and what you’re not good at so it can influence every area of your life.  Make that a priority to settle that issue so you have a plan to live out.

Here’s the good news.  Your shape is unique.  There’s nobody else like you in the world, shaped just like you.  God made your shape unique – your heart, ability, personality, experiences, all those things – because He has a unique contribution He wants you to make in this world.  And He wants you to do it.  But you will miss that contribution if you start copying other people.  Most people start off as originals in life but they end up as carbon copies of other people.  “Look at what the Jones’ are doing.  We need to do that!”  You end up being like somebody that God never intended you to be like.  And you miss the glory and the wonder and the satisfaction of being fully who God meant for you to be.  Don’t miss it by copying others.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12 “God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all and there are different kinds of service to God but it is the same Lord that we are serving.”  God uses us all in many different ways. 

Let me give you a little surprise: some of your greatest contributions in life are going to be unplanned.  Some of the greatest impact you’re going to make on other people are spontaneous, accidental from your point (they’re not accidental from God’s viewpoint) because God has a plan for your life.  But if you’ll just be open and available and say, “God use me where You want,” sometimes you’ll just say a word of encouragement that changes the direction of a person’s life or you’ll give a word of encouragement or a pat on the back or a helping hand or you’ll share an idea that will absolutely transform the direction of someone else’s life.  I call those little moments the Little Divine Moments of Life.  And they’re all around you if you’re open and aware that God wants to use you.  Say, “God, use me today in any little way You see fit.”  Little ways are often little hinges of big doors.

You will miss that if you spend all your time working on Your Big Plan, Your Big Dream, Your Big Scheme, Your Big Ambition that you’ve got all laid out that this is what I'm going to do with my life.  You get so busy on The Big Plan that you’ve thought up that you miss the little Divine Moments all around you to change the world one person at a time, to make an impact.  Never abuse, never miss the power of a moment to make a difference in somebody’s life.  

 

5.  YOU NEED A PURPOSE TO LIVE FOR.

Everybody needs to feel like their life matters.  You need to feel like you’re not just taking up space, that you’re not just using oxygen, wasting resources, that your life matters and it counts.  That you not only have a plan to live out but you have a purpose to live for.  You need to know your purpose.  In fact, if you don’t understand your purpose, life doesn’t make sense.  Why bother?  Why get up in the morning?  Why go another day forward?  If you don’t know your purpose in life and you’re not fulfilling God’s plan in life, God doesn’t owe you one more day.  Why does God owe you one more second of breath of life if you’re just going to use it on yourself rather than fulfilling His plan and His purpose for your life? 

Sadly, most people never even discover God’s purpose for their lives.  They live and die just existing.  What do you do when you don’t know your purpose in life?  You only have three alternatives.

       One, make up a purpose.  And a lot of people do that.  They just grab something, grab onto it and that becomes their meaning for life.  They say things like, “I'm into sports…  I'm into music…  I'm into politics…  I'm into making money…  I'm into golf…  I'm into redecorating my home.”  All those are fine things but they’re lousy purposes for living.  I actually had somebody tell me one time, “I live for the weekend!”  What a shallow purpose in life – I live to do nothing.  You might as well be a Buddhist because nirvana says you work yourself into nothingness.  That is not what God says.  God says  “I didn’t create you for nothingness.  I created you for something.  I created you for a purpose, for meaning, for a reason.  Not just to do nothing.”  You try to make up a purpose and people do that. 

You were made with a hole in your heart that only God can fill.  You were made to have God at the center of your life.  If God isn’t number one and at the center of your life, then you’re going to try to cram something else in there that’s a poor, second class substitute.  And you’re going to be disappointed.  If you give first class allegiance to a second class cause, you’re going to be betrayed.  Nothing can take the place of God in your life.  When you try to fill it with something else and put something else at the center of your life instead of God that becomes your god and it becomes an addiction. 

You can get addicted to anything.  You can get addicted to watching TV.  You can get addicted to food.  You can get addicted to the approval of your husband.  You can get addicted thinking that your whole life is your kids.  They are not.  They are important in your life but that is not just the purpose you’re here on earth for.  You can build your life around many good things but as long as it’s not God, it’s wrong.  It becomes an idol.  But with God as number one in your life everything else falls into it’s proper place and gets the balance and health and attention that it needs.  Don’t make anything else a god in your life – any other person, any event, whatever.

       Some people try to escape from the futility of life by pleasure.  They live to party and seek new thrills.  They live for that adrenaline rush that comes either through the newest movie or the latest extreme sport.  They only feel like they’re living when they’re on the edge and the adrenaline is pumping.  Those are fine things but they’re not the purpose of life.  The purpose of life is more than being entertained.  The purpose of life is more than having fun.  The purpose of life is more than just acquiring a lot of things that you’re going to leave behind in 60 or 70 years anyway.  The purpose of life is more than just retiring.  I know many people that the whole purpose of their life is “Retire.  I want to get to the end of my life so I can say I got to the end of my life.”  That’s a poor substitute for God’s purpose for your life.  I read recently that half of the men in New York City die within two years of retirement.  Why?  Because you were not made for 24-hours a day leisure.  You were made for more than just fun.  You were made for a purpose.  And God wants you to know that purpose so you need to discover what it is.  In this series we’re going to uncover God’s grand purpose for your life. 

One guy who clearly understood his purpose was Paul in the Bible.  The Bible says in Acts 20 “The most important thing [in other words, for his life] is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to tell people the good news about God’s grace.”  God had a mission and a work for Paul to do. 

God has a mission and a work for you.  A life mission, a life purpose that He intends for you to fulfill while you’re here on this earth.  Part of the job of this church is to help you understand that. 

These are the five essentials you have to have to live in the 21st century and in this series, starting after Summers End, we’re going to go in depth, drilling down in each of these.  We’re going to look at how do you tap into God’s energy and power.  We’re going to look at how do you develop healthy relationships that support you.  We’re going to look at how do you build your life on unchanging principles that last.  And we’re going to look at how do you make the most of the talents that God has given you.  How do you find and fulfill the purpose that you were put on this planet for.

But today, let me close by giving you the very first secret.  The secret of getting started in all of this is first you must get to know God.  You must establish a relationship with Him and His Son Christ.  You must get connected to God.  And second, you must get connected to a spiritual family, a church, where you’re going to get the support.  Without those two things in your life you can write this one off.  None of these things are going to happen in your life without a relationship to God and a relationship to other people who will help you grow in God.  You’ve got to have them both.  Some of you who have been around awhile realize that these five things are the five purposes of the church.  It’s why God created the church. 

Saddleback exists to help you have power to live on, people to live with, principles to live by, a plan to live out and a purpose to live for.  In Class 101 we talk about them as five “M” words that God has designed for you and this church.

If you don’t get these here where are you going to get them?  Who else is going to give these to you?  Some talk show?  Montel Williams?  Or anybody else for that matter.

Matthew 6:33 “The thing that you should want most [circle “want most”] is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants  [You should want most what God wants.]  then all these other things you need will be given to you.”  If you want most what God wants most for your life, then all these other things you need will be given to you. 

The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 1 “Jesus has the power of God and His power has given us everything we need to live [that’s all the essentials of life] and to serve God.  And we have these things because we know Him.”  It starts by getting to know Christ.  If you’ve not gotten to know Jesus Christ, you need to do that.  Get connected.

Prayer:

       Father, I want to thank You that You’ve promised to provide everything that we need to live and to serve You, if we will put our trust in Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Today, I pray for many people who would take that first step. 

       Why don’t you pray?  Pray this in your mind.  Say, “Dear God, I haven’t talked to You much or I haven’t talked to You in a long time, but today I want to get started getting to know You better.”  Just say that in your mind.  “I want to be prepared for the 21st century so I want to get connected to You and get connected to a church family.  I'm going to look to You to meet my needs in these five essentials in my life.  Please give me Your power to live on.  And please bring the right people into my life that I need for support.  And help me to live by Your principles.  I want to know You and I want to follow Your plan for my life and I want to fulfill the purpose that You created me for.  In Your name I pray.  Amen.”

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