Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary] I was with a group of friends recently, and everyone was talking about how stressed they were by the news. Another Christian beheaded by ISIS, politicians who offer no real solutions, health care issues, money worries, not to mention increasing violence, racism and the bizarre fixation people have with gender identity.
This stress is compounded by the speed of electronic information, advances in technology and constant changes in social norms. You know, it's really unbelievable how many people are willing to change the definition of marriage that has been the bedrock of the Christian family for thousands of years.
The result is that many people, no matter their age or economic status, live in sort of a "personal bubble." We try to stay in this bubble by concentrating on our own immediate pursuit of happiness. We can then sort of pretend that all the chaos and changes are outside the bubble and "don't really affect me."
Well then reality strikes. Bad news, or some negative personal problem, breaks the bubble and we are overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, and a sense that there is no meaning to life.
You know, God doesn't want you to live that way! He has something better for you.
Today, we want to share with you a remarkable truth that few people know. A truth that can change everything in your life. On Beyond Today , we're going to help you discover "Your Ultimate Purpose."
[Announcer] Join our host Gary Petty and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Gary] Your life is worth more than you ever imagined! You have a very special purpose in the universe.
The problem is discovering that purpose goes against the social programming you and I have experienced since childhood. We have been programmed to believe that the ultimate purpose in life--it's just the pursuit of happiness.
I'm not saying happiness is bad. We all want to be happy. Happiness is a gift from God.
But you know, something happens to us when we believe that happiness is the only purpose in life. One result is that when we face economic uncertainties, health problems, conflicts in relationships, or watch the latest news about terrorism, the fleeting feelings of happiness dissolve, and we mentally and emotionally break down.
Albert Einstein said, "A life directed chiefly towards the fulfillment of personal desires sooner or later always leads to bitter disappointment."
A fascinating article appeared in the Atlantic Monthly discussing a study that was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology . The study compared people who primarily measure their lives through good feelings--feeling good about themselves, happiness and fun, against those who seek a positive purpose or meaning to their lives.
Now here's what they concluded: "...the researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a 'taker' while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a 'giver.'"
The researchers went on to say: "Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided."
Of course, what happens when the bubble of happiness is burst by your boyfriend dumping you, you get fired from a job, or you find out that your best friend has cancer?
These kinds of difficult experiences are out of our control. The happiness bubble is broken and you are faced with stress, grief, sadness.
Now if you face life as a "taker" then you will need to do whatever you can to escape the suffering--drugs, alcohol, another party--always trying to control situations and others in order to maintain this happiness bubble, but ultimately you end up feeling frustrated and anxious.
But living a life with purpose helps us to live beyond our limitations. It helps us to love, to sacrifice and to give to others. Finding a life of meaning, or purpose, is the secret to dealing with the stress and anxiety and hopelessness that can engulf our everyday lives.
So where can you go to discover your personal purpose?
The answer--it's not found in an aptitude test, or college class or finding your inner god or goddess.
If there is a purpose to this life, we must find the answer with the Creator of life.
The Bible is more than a book of rules or quaint children's stories. It is the story of everything. It is about creation and the Creator , about God's desire for children, and humanity's desire to be independent from our Creator. It is the story of how Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is working to bring us back to the Creator's family.
God wants you to know that no matter how chaotic and hopeless life may seem , your life is worth more than you've ever imagined! You--yes, you. You personally have a very specific purpose in the universe.
We can begin to find out what that purpose is by reading a passage written by John, one of Jesus' disciples.
Now listen to this: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! …Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).
Let's look at three remarkable statements the apostle John makes in these verses.
First: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!"
God isn't using the phrase "children of God" as just another way to say, well God loves us.
Now we can see this in his second point. He says: "Beloved, now we are [the] children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).
At the very beginning of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, it states that human beings were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Thousands of years later, John wrote that those who respond to God's call are offered a future where they will be, John said, "like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." The apostle wrote that we don't know exactly what we'll be like in this promised future, but we will be spirit beings, made in the image of God. Children like our Father.
Can you begin to wrap your mind around why you were born?
Now the third point of this passage gives daily direction to this awesome purpose: "And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." This means that to fulfill God's purpose, you must do something. I must do something. And we'll discuss this point a little later.
God created human beings in His image because He wants children to be with Him forever! Not pets. Not angels. But beings who are made in His image. Eternal beings who are in many ways, like Him.
This is why you were born! The Creator God wants His purpose to become the driving purpose in your life. This purpose involves an awesome, unbelievable future. It also involves your life right now.
Our Eternal God has prepared a future for you that's thrilling almost beyond comprehension! It is His key desire that you will prepare diligently now for that coming time by living a genuine Christian life of deep faith and righteousness. To learn how to accomplish this through the powerful help of Jesus Christ, please order a copy of our free Bible study aid: Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion.
This important, easily-readable, 60-page booklet explains the process of conversion which begins with God's calling and is followed by the vital steps of repentance, baptism and the receiving of the power of the Holy Spirit. To obtain your free copy of Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion , simply call us at: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download this important publication. Also, you are welcome to write us at the address shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
I want to share with you one of my favorite biblical passages. It appears in the book of Jeremiah. It was written during a time in Judah's history when they were suffering because they had turned away from God. They were experiencing the collapse of their nation, violence and warfare, economic collapse, nothing but bad news.
In the midst of this chaos, God inspired Jeremiah to tell the Jewish people of His purpose and desire for them. And here is what he says: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all [of] your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
God was telling them that in spite of the personal and national calamities that they were experiencing; which was their own fault, His desire for them was that they would turn to Him and that He would solve their problems.
You know, I believe this is God's desire for all of you no matter what your background, your race, your gender, your economic class, education or any of the other issues that cause strife between human beings.
God has thoughts of peace towards you as His child. He wants to give you a future and a hope. But, just like those ancient people Jeremiah spoke to, you must seek God and search for Him with all of your heart.
I find this passage to be encouraging to me because it is a reminder that no matter how weak I may be, no matter how limited that I may be, the Almighty God, the Creator of life, has thoughts of peace towards me. And when I seek Him with all of my heart, He will answer.
Do you want to seek God and know Him better? I mean, do you really?
Remember what God inspired Jeremiah to write: "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
You must stop seeking your own purpose by attempting to stay in that bubble of pursuing your self-determined purpose, and seek God's purpose with all of your heart.
Authentic Christianity isn't a tepid, half-hearted, immoral, part-time, warm religious feeling. Authentic Christianity is about being restored to your original purpose. It's about transformation. It is about giving everything you are, in order to receive everything that God wants to give you.
Let me repeat that. Listen to this: Authentic Christianity isn't a tepid, half-hearted, immoral, part-time, warm religious feeling. Authentic Christianity is about being restored to your original purpose. It's about transformation. It's about giving everything you are, in order to receive everything that God wants to give to you.
Authentic Christianity isn't about living in a bubble of self-centeredness. It's about the dynamic force of God in your life, changing you, restoring you to your original purpose, facing life's difficulties with faith and hope, and finding happiness by loving others--by being a giver.
When you accept this purpose, God truly becomes your Father.
Now there is another relationship that can help you in understanding how you can be a child in God's family. It is explained in the New Testament book of Hebrews.
Here's what it says: "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself"--now this He Himself here is Jesus Christ in the context of this scripture. Jesus Christ, "likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Jesus Christ came to the earth to become like the children. To share in their experience as flesh and blood so that He can release us from death and give us eternal life.
The Bible reveals Jesus Christ in many ways. He is the Messiah, the Savior, Lord, Master, High Priest, and here in Hebrews, He's the Brother.
When you feel too overwhelmed to approach the awesome God our Father--He may seem a bit too far, too great, too perfect, that you think, "Why would He ever listen to me?" Remember, you have a Brother who sits at the right hand of the Father who brings you to Him.
You and I were born to receive incredible spiritual power from God described in the Bible as "love, power and a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7)
You and I were born to be victorious! To have the power to overcome the suffering and problems in this life!
You and I were born to fulfill the original purpose of God, an eternal purpose: to be children of God forever in His Kingdom.
If you want God's purpose for your life to become your purpose, then there is something you must do.
And one of the most significant things you can do is to begin building a deep and steadfast relationship with God. This has much to do with the vital process of conversion. Now to help you discover the key ingredients to conversion and so much more, be sure to order a copy of our free study guide, Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion.
And when you do, we'll also send you a free subscription to our helpful bi-monthly magazine. Each issue is filled with articles designed to assist you in living a genuine Christian life, as well as to help you better grasp other central biblical teachings and prophecy. Throughout the publication you'll find many stimulating articles that will really make a difference in your life.
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Your purpose, your meaning, it has been given to you by your Creator. Now, nobody can make you accept that purpose. Many people, when they hear this message, will simply walk away from it.
But if you want God's purpose for you, then what do you do?
What do you think the apostle Paul's answer to that question would be?
Now many people say that Paul's message is simply to accept everybody, don't judge, all religions are the same as long as you love.
Well let's look at a passage from a letter Paul wrote to the first century Christian church in Ephesus to find this answer to this question: If you want God's purpose for you, what should you do?
Now we'll read from chapter 5 verses 1 through 8. In verse 1 Paul tells Christians--this is how he starts this--"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children" (Ephesians 5:1)
There's no "half-hearted, go to church on holidays but stay as you are churchianity" for Paul. For him, true Christianity is nothing less than trying to walk like our Father, act like our Father, think like our Father--to be imitators of our Father.
When I was young, a young teenager, I walked into a hardware store in a small town and a man came up to me and said, "Hey! You're Grover Petty's grandson aren't you?" And I said yes, I was a little taken aback. He proceeded to tell me how I looked like my grandfather.
You know the ultimate compliment anyone can give you is for someone to say, "You're a Christian aren't you? I could tell, you look a lot like your Father."
If you want God's purpose in your life then your Christianity must be more than singing a few praises and throwing some money in the offering plate. Paul writes that we are to be "imitators of God as dear children." This means you must see yourself as someone whom God sees as a dear, precious, beloved child. A child who desires to be like his Father.
Now Paul writes in verse 2: "And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, [as] an offering and a sacrifice…" (Ephesians 5:2).
There are two things needed for a person to be a true child of God. First, you must accept that because of your bad choices you are a terribly distorted image of God. You need God's forgiveness and that forgiveness is offered by the Great Giver through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And we'll talk about the second thing in a just few minutes, so hang on.
But how can any of us actually be an imitator of God? How can I walk as a child of light? I mean, right? Come on. We're too weak. We're too limited. We're too confused. It's not possible.
You know actually, it's not possible to be an imitator of God on our own intelligence, or power or spiritual insight.
Earlier I showed that the first step in having God fulfill His purpose is to seek Him with all your heart. You must accept that you need Him, that you a distorted image of God walking around in a bubble rejecting His meaning of life. You're a taker, not a giver. It's then that you can submit to the work of Jesus Christ as your divine Brother.
Well here's that second step. The second step is to receive power from God so that you can have His purpose fulfilled in your life.
The apostle Peter spoke to a large crowd and told them about the work God is doing through Jesus Christ. Many people were moved to seek God with their hearts. Peter told them, here's what you have to do. You have to repent, be baptized and receive the indwelling of God's Spirit. (Acts 2:38).
Now maybe you don't know what it means to repent, maybe you need your idea of repentance challenged. Maybe you were baptized, maybe you weren't. Were you baptized and never had any corresponding change of life? Well, you need to read the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And also, by the way, get our free booklet Transforming Your Life . It'll help you.
See your life is worth more than you ever imagined! You have a very specific purpose in the universe. The truth is that you don't have to respond to God's purpose. You can just keep going on the way you are and ignore God's calling to be His child.
But be warned: Jesus told a parable about a man who invited people to a big banquet. The man spared no expense in preparing something that would be the absolute best for his guests. But when the man sent his servant to invite the guests, one by one they gave excuses for not coming to the banquet.
The excuses seemed good, seemed like good reasons. I mean, one guy said, "I need to take care of my property." Another, "I've got work to do!" One person said, "I just got married. I need to spend more time with my wife."
Well the man who was offering this banquet, he was offering them something more wonderful than any of these guests had ever had. But they lived in their own little bubbles, selfishly pursuing happiness, and they missed out. The host eventually rejected those whom he had invited and asked others to attend his banquet.
God is offering you His greatest good -- His purpose for you, why He made you -- to live as His child now and to be changed into His spiritual image forever in His Kingdom. He wants you to make His purpose, your purpose.
Will you seize this gift and accept the invitation or like the people in Jesus' parable, will you simply find an excuse?
In the light of what God is offering you, I have some simple questions for you to answer. Are you willing to give up everything in order to receive everything God wants for you? God wants to give you a meaningful, fulfilling life. He wants to help you when you face difficult times. He wants you to have a more meaningful relationship with Him as your Father. He wants to help you experience happiness as a giver. "If not you -- who? If not now -- when?"
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The Atlantic Monthly article I quoted earlier summarized the research this way: "Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment… While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do… Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future."
This is what God's meaning will do for your life. Remember, your life is worth more than you ever imagined! You have a very specific purpose -- a personal meaning in the universe. It is to become a child in the family of God. Now is the time to give everything you are to become everything God wants you to be.
Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !