The Life You Were Meant to Live
a Life that Matters
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 5, 2008
was gone and nobody seemed to care. Oh, they cared that his lawn wasn’t
being mowed and that weeds were overtaking his yard. But eventually his
neighbours took care of that. They’d come over, mow the lawn, and then
go back home. They cared about the lawn, but they didn’t care about
Adolph Stec. Who could with a name like that?
Oh, and they cared
that his bills weren’t being paid. So one by one his utilities were
shut off. His electricity, his gas, his water… all disconnected. They
cared that the bills weren’t being paid but they didn’t seem to care
that he was gone.
Of course, they certainly cared when he fell
behind on his mortgage payments. In fact, the house was seized and sold
at auction. They cared about the mortgage, but they didn’t care about
poor old Adolph.
Nobody cared… until after four years someone
finally entered the house and discovered the mummified remains of the
old man… sitting in his recliner… the newspaper beside him indicating
that he had been dead for four years.
Adolph Stec had lived for 90 years, and then he had died, and nobody
seemed to care.
would you like for that to describe your life? Yeah, that’s what I
thought. We all want to live lives that matter. We want to be missed
when we’re gone. We want to leave our mark on this world.
past Friday morning at Beulah Camp, I headed to the rooms office for my
shift. That’s the job that I’m assigned while I’m there. Every pastor
is assigned a job and I rent out rooms in the dorms. Well, Friday
morning, I was heading to the rooms office, and as I approached the
building, I noticed a board laying on the deck with a short piece of
two by four sitting next to it.
Well, I assumed somebody must be
building something, so I stepped around it… And right into the wet
paint! There was no sign… just that board laying across the deck that
somehow was to tell me, “Walk on me.” Well, I wasn’t the only one who
did that, and it wasn’t long before there were three “Wet Paint” signs
I told someone afterward that I always wanted to
leave an impression, and now I had. I just didn’t know it would be an
impression of a footprint in wet paint. But, you take what you can…
the past couple of weeks here at Sunrise, we’ve been talking about
Living the Life You Were Meant to Live. And you know what? You were
meant to live a life that matters. You were meant to live your life in
such a way that, when you’re gone, people will notice. It’s not going
to take four years for your mummified body to be found; you will be
missed immediately. You were meant to make an impression.
I was thinking about that this week, I asked myself, “What does it
really mean to live a life that matters? How do I do that? Is there a
prescription for something like that? Is there some advice I can give
to help others live a life that matters?”
do you live a life that matters?
Well, let me ask you this: Who, in all of history, has made the biggest
mark? Who has made the greatest difference?
think the answer is clear… Jesus Christ. First of all, there’s the
whole salvation feat that He pulls off in the life of everyone who
calls on Him.
Romans 10:13 (NLT)
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
want to talk about making a difference? That’s the greatest difference
of all. It doesn’t get any better than that. Taking us from death to
life, from darkness to light, from endless despair to everlasting hope.
That’s what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection, as
we talked about earlier.
But even beyond that… even beyond the
gift of salvation that Jesus offers… nobody else in all of history even
comes close to accomplishing what Jesus did in just three short years,
or what his followers have accomplished since.
Sure, through the
centuries there have been atrocities committed by those claiming to
follow Jesus. And the militant atheists today are quick to point them
out. But a simple examination of the motives and the methods of the
people behind those atrocities clearly reveals that they weren’t
Christ-followers at all, regardless of what they claim. Or at least
they were severely misled.
And on the other side, consider all
of the good that has been initiated and accomplished by followers of
Jesus… you have our educational systems begun by Christ-followers to
educate children who were forced to work during the industrial
revolution, you have the great Universities… Harvard and Yale, started
by the Puritans… Princeton, originally a Presbyterian college…
Cambridge, started in 1209 by Christians… Saint Andrews in Scotland,
started as a school of theology… The University of Edinburgh was
evangelical… Oxford was established by a variety of religious orders…
and the very first institute of higher education was started by a
Celtic preacher named Illtud around 500 A.D.
Or how about how
Christ-followers led the way in the fight for equal rights for women.
Our own denomination was heavily involved in that. The Wesleyan Church
was also committed to ending slavery here in North America and
participated in the Underground Railroad. Abraham Lincoln was guided by
his Christian convictions and was often found on his knees in prayer.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist preacher. William Wilberforce,
another Christ-follower, was a British parliamentarian who led the
decades-long fight that put an end to the slave trade throughout the
British Empire. Going back into Roman times, slavery was essentially
ended in the Roman Empire because of Christ-followers.
about the humanitarian contributions of Christ-followers? Just about
every major humanitarian organization in the world was started by
Churches or by Christ-followers. Christ-followers are often the first
on the scene after a disaster, and they give the most to provide aid
and relief. Just think about Hurricane Katrina that devastated
Louisiana and Mississippi. A lot of press focused on how the Houston
Astrodome housed 18,000 people after that disaster. But the untold
story was that 150,000 were being cared for by the churches in Houston.
The Red Cross had 18,000 volunteers working on the relief
effort, but the Southern Baptists alone had 30,000. That’s just one
denomination. Throw in the Wesleyans and Methodists, and Pentecostals,
and Catholics, and Nazarenes and whatever else, and you’re well into
the hundreds of thousands.
[Katrina statistics found at PurposeDriven.com]
that’s not a recent thing. Christ-followers have a history of being the
first and best responders to disasters. Like when a plague would hit a
society. The rich would be heading to hills to their country estates
hoping to avoid any danger themselves, but the Christ-followers headed
straight to where the victims were to care for them, often at the
expense of the own lives. And it’s been documented that because of
their compassion at times like that, they increased the survival rate
by as must as two-thirds.
Then you’ve got all the orphanages
started and operated by Christ-followers. You’ve got the way that
they’ve cared for widows… all kinds of humanitarian concerns answered
And if you want to look at some other
benefits, how about scientific discoveries… exploring God’s Creation?
Christ-followers have witnessed the beauty of God’s Creation and have
strived to learn more and more about it. I’ve been reading a book I got
out of the library called “The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led
to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success”, and it documents how
Christ-followers and Christian values have been responsible for the
rapid growth and progress of Western Society.
And then there’s
exploration. Marco Polo, David Livingstone, Christopher Columbus, James
Cook… all explorers guided by their faith. Plus, untold numbers of
missionaries trekking into the most remote parts of our planet to
spread the message about the good news of Jesus.
Plus there are
the contributions Christ-followers have made toward ethics and
morality, and the many many contributions to the arts… sculptures,
paintings, music, drama…
The greatest differences in all of history have been accomplished by
Jesus Christ and His followers.
So, let’s get back to the question… what do you do if you want to make
a difference? How do you live a life that matters?
I think the answer is obvious. As simplistic as it sounds, the best way
to live a life that matters is to…
you want to live a life that matters you need to follow Jesus. Okay,
fine, but what does that mean? Well, ultimately, it means something
different for each person. What God leads me to do is not necessarily
what He’ll lead you to do. What he leads you to do may be different
that what He leads the person in front of you or behind you to do. The
act of following Jesus will be different for each and every one of us,
but the key is that we are… following Jesus. Wherever He leads, He’s
our leader and we are following Him.
That’s got to be true for us as a Church, and it’s got to be true for
each one of us individually, too.
while I can’t specifically tell you that if you want to follow Jesus
you need to… become a missionary to Mozambique, or get involved in a
prison ministry, or sell all your possessions and give the money to the
poor, or serve at the Soup Kitchen every Friday night… While I can’t
give you specifics like that, what I can do is describe in more general
terms what it means to follow Jesus. So let’s give that a shot… In your
Jesus Means You Will…
Set aside your own agenda in favour of His agenda.
does have a plan for your life. I have no doubt about that. He has some
remarkable things for you to experience and to accomplish as His
follower. But in order for that to happen, it means that whatever plans
or goals or dreams that you may have had for yourself needs to be set
aside so that you can give yourself wholly to God’s agenda for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for
good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
has plans for you, and they’re good plans. You can trust Him. So even
when you feel like, “Well this looks interesting, I could do this
instead, God won’t really mind, I can follow Him later…” Whenever you
start to think like that, remember that His plans are better. Jesus
Himself said that the reason He came was so that we could have a full
and abundant life. He wants that for us. But in order to experience
that, it means you must set aside your own agenda in favour of His. As
Jesus, in Mark 8:34-35 (NLT)
“If any of you wants
to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder
your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself,
you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the
sake of the Good News, you will find true life.”
“Trust me. Follow my instructions. Give me your all. Don’t hold
anything back and don’t settle for anything less. Place your life in my
hands and you will find true life.”
If you’re going to follow
Jesus, it means you’re going to give Him your all. You’re not going to
try to follow Him while pursuing your own agenda; there’s just His
agenda and that’s it.
Number 2. If you’re going to follow Jesus it means you’re going to…
Trust His leadership regardless of the cost.
there will be costs. There will be times you’ll be tempted to give up
and throw in the towel. But if you’re really going to follow Jesus,
you’re going to trust Him even through those rough times.
Luke 14:26-27, 33 (NLT)
you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father
and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, more than
your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And you cannot be
my disciple if you do not carry your own cross and follow me.”…
So no one can become my disciple without giving up everything for me.”
will costs if you’re going to follow Jesus. But that’s what it takes to
be His disciple. And understand, those aren’t just words. For many
believers, following Jesus has cost them big time. Just in the past 100
years, 35 million followers of Jesus have been martyred.
of you watched 60 minutes last Sunday. I had recommended that you watch
it if you could. So if you saw it, you heard about the Christ-followers
in Iraq that risk their lives when they worship Jesus. Churches have
been bombed, Christ-followers have been executed… just a few months ago
one of the bishops in Iraq was kidnapped and assassinated.
Christ-followers would greatly increase their life-expectancy if they
would just stop worshipping. If they would just renounce Jesus. If they
would just turn their backs on Him. But they’ve counted the cost… the
realize the risks… but they have discovered true life in the person of
Jesus Christ and that is worth even giving up their lives.
the Bible, in the Old Testament, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego came
face to face with this same dilemma. They could worship their God and
possibly lose their lives because if it, or they obey an order from the
king to worship a golden statue of himself.
And what did they choose? They told the king…
Daniel 3:17-18 (NLT)
we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able
to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even
if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your
gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
They knew what was at stake, they counted the cost, and they were
willing to pay the price.
a disciple… being a follower of Jesus… will cost you something. I don’t
know what. I don’t know how much. But it will cost. I believe that what
you get in return far outweighs anything it could ever cost you, but it
will cost you.
Number 3. If you’re going to follow Jesus, it means you will…
Hold loosely to your possessions, positions and powers.
stuff you’ve got now… you might not have it long. Someone who chooses
to follow Jesus knows that everything they have, they don’t really
have. It’s not theirs, it’s God’s. So if a Christ-follower is led by
Christ to give to a certain ministry, they give without reservation. If
Jesus leads them to resign from a job or position they hold, they do so
without hesitation. If it means they trade in power and authority for
humiliation and mocking, they do so willingly. Because they’re holding
loosely to their possessions, positions, and powers.
those first disciples of Jesus. Who were they? What did they have?
Well, several of them were fishermen. They had boats, they had nets…
and that was their livelihood. It was all they had ever done; it was
all they knew. If I were them, I probably would have been a little more
hesitant to leave all that behind all in order to follow Jesus. But
look what they did at their very first reaction when they encountered
Jesus and He called them to follow Him…
Matthew 4:19-20 (NLT)
Jesus called out to them, "Come, be my disciples…" And they left their
nets at once and went with him.
willingly and immediately left everything they ever had and everything
they had ever known in order to follow Jesus. What did that mean? Well,
it meant that some nights they didn’t know where they were going to
sleep. It meant that there was a block of religious power brokers who
had it in for them. It meant that they had to leave the comfort and
security of the job they had come to master. But that was fine, because
they were holding loosely to those things.
Steve Camp is a Christian singer who I’ve listened to for years, and in
one of his songs he just starts talking and he says…
safety in complacency, but God is calling us out of our comfort zone to
a life of complete surrender to the Cross. To live dangerously is not
to live recklessly, but righteously. It is because of God’s radical
grace for us that we can risk living a life of radical obedience to
~ Steve Camp, in “Living Dangerously in the Hands of God”
I don’t know if you’ve ever really noticed what it says at the bottom
of this banner behind me, but here’s what it says…
“Raising Up Radical Followers of Jesus.”
is the kind of stuff we’re talking about. Giving up your all for Jesus
is a radical thing. It’s certainly not an easy thing. And a lot of
people would think you’re nuts for doing it. But that’s the kind of
follower Jesus wants. That’s the kind of disciple Jesus wants. One
who’s ready and willing to live radically for Him.
know, the prospect of dying for my faith is scary. I don’t like that
thought. And at the same time, there’s something oddly glamorous about
it. But the toughest thing is not dying for Jesus… it’s living for Him.
Dying for Him is an instant; living for Him is a lifetime. Day in, day
out. Every day. 24/7.
But if you’re going to follow Jesus, that’s what He’s looking for.
That’s what He expects. 100% commitment.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
going to end this morning with a video. I’ve shown you this video once
before, but it’s such a powerful clip I want to show it to you again.
It’s from the movie “Facing the Giants” and it shows you what it means
to give your all…
SHOW VIDEO – Wholeheartedly (SermonSpice)
is not looking for lip service from you. He’s not looking for admirers.
He’s looking for fully devoted followers. What are you?