What Are We Here For?

What Are We Here For?

I walk around and I see allot of empty churches.  I see Christians afraid to speak up in their community, and being passive to the point that we have let our freedom to worship the one true God be taken away.  I think this might be because Christians don’t have an understanding of who they are.

Question: Why didn’t God take us to heaven the moment we were saved? Wouldn’t it have just been easier, to just take you, as soon as you confessed Jesus as Savior? As soon as you said, “Oh God! Have mercy on a poor sinner like me!” Then ZAP! You’re in the presence of God. All this pain, suffering, the sacrifices, and the struggling would all be over. Surely, God must want us with Him. What purpose could we serve by staying in this dying, forsaken world?

I believe the answer is right here in this text.

Luke 2: 41-49

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

But they , supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me>? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? You see Jesus stayed behind, because he wasn’t finished with what He had to do for His Father.  He still had things He had to do to get prepared for His mission, for His new life that He would be starting, very soon.  He was investigating, learning, and testing His knowledge.

Jesus said, “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” John 5: 36

Jesus also said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” John 4:34

We are also called to complete the work of Him who sent us. We are chosen to be singled out, to be different, to share the greater witness.

1 Peter 2:9

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priest hood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should she forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:”

So why were we not taken to heaven right away? We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people that show forth His marvelous light! We bear witness of the light! We are not done with our Father’s business.

Chosen Generation

God has chosen us – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

“And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Deuteronomy 30:6

“At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21-21

We are chosen by God and called to love Him with all that we have. With our very being. He chose us above all creation, and before the foundations of the world. The scripture says that “before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee” Jeremiah 1:5

Royal Priesthood

 The function of priests is to serve God and men. Repeatedly in the 28th chapter of Exodus, the garments which are made for Aaron and for his sons are those which enable them to minister to God. So that we frequently find the expression, or one that is similar, “… that he (or they) may minister as priests to Me” (cf. Exod. 28:1, 3, 4, 41; also 29:44). The emphasis here is on serving God, more than on serving men, though I believe both elements are present.

In Exodus we get a look at what the priesthood’s responsibilities are by looking at what Aaron was to wear.  The ephod is to contain two stones on the shoulder pieces (Exod. 28:6-14). On these two stones were engraved the names of the sons of Israel. Aaron was to wear these, “as stones of memorial for the sons of Israel,” to bear “their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for a memorial” (Exod. 28:12). In this manner a priest bears the burdens of those who he represents before God.
We are to bear one another’s burdens.

Aaron also was to wear a “breastpiece of judgment” (vv. 15-30). I am sure most of you have seen this breastplate pictured in artwork or in movies about the Gospels.  On this breastpiece four rows of stones were set, with three stones in each row, each signifying one of the tribes of Israel. The purpose of these stones is given in verse 30: “… and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually” (Exod. 28:30b). We see the intercession that the priest makes on behalf of Israel. So we should pray for one another, and pray for our enemies.  We should be in a constant attitude of prayer.

On Aaron’s turban was to be placed a “plate of gold” (Exod. 28:36-39). It was to be engraved with a seal, reading, “Holy to the Lord” (v. 36). This kept the sanctified attitude of the priest.  He was to be set apart for the service of the Lord, blameless.  We should be humble in our service to man and to God, remembering that we are only here by Grace.  God is a just God and if He gave us what we deserved, we would have received the punishment we deserve, instead of the grace that Love provides.  We should love one another, at Jesus loved us.

Jesus, our High Priest did away with the Aaronic Priesthood and the law that established it. He made one sacrifice that covered all of the law and transgressions. His priesthood is higher than the priesthood established under the Mosaic Law. I don’t have time in this sermon to cover it in detail, but it is great information, and it can be found in (Hebrews 7). We are established in Jesus Christ in His priesthood.

Turn to and Read Hebrews 10:19-25

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter in to the holist by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.”

You see as we see the signs, the day approaching of His return, we should work more urgently.  We are called to complete His work, and time is winding down.

The Christian Priesthood

Just as the Levitical priests were consecrated to their office by the washing of water, even so, men and women today may enter upon their priestly functions as Christians. This they do by drawing near to God with a true heart, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their bodies washed with pure water (Heb. 10:22).

What we miss is that All Christians are priests. We are to come before God with spiritual sacrifices, and offer up service to God through our High Priest, Jesus Christ.  The scripture is full of references to the children of God explaining our priesthood.(1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).

Holy Nation

God has made us holy, separated us out from the world. This is the same thing that God said to the Israelites when he brought them out of Egypt, in Exodus 19:6 “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” We, Christians are set apart, like Israel. “my holy nation” (goy gadosh in Hebrew) means set apart for a special, sacred purpose. As a holy nation, Israel was not to be like other nations, neither are we. We have been set apart for a special relationship with the Father through Christ. We are God’s representatives here on earth. Our holiness is not just in our being different from our neighbors, but devoted to God’s mission while we are here

 Peculiar People

The Greek work is “Segula” meaning special treasure. The ancient kings would select great jewels and place them in a protected room and show them to the world. Their purpose was to show the world how great their kingdom was. It’s like putting your best china in a glass cabinet to show all your guest what fine things your hard work has been able to procure or the linage of your family. Or a trophy case at the school that shows all the state championships your basketball, or football, or baseball team has won over the years. This is a sense of pride in your household, or school, or organization. Some people have what I call an “I love me wall”, where you display all your certifications, or licenses, or degrees.

See we are a spectacle for all creation to observe. We are God’s Facebook wall, or Instagram Page. We are strange to those around us, because we are pilgrims journeying through this world. We know where we are going, and in whom we serve. We have a hope in life that no one who is not a follower of the Way can understand. IT IS FOREIGN TO THEM! You are an example of God’s love at work, school, in public, with your families and friends.

Show forth praises

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

“This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” Isaiah 43:21

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;” Psalm 107.2

Psalm 150

Praise ye the Lord, Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise Him with the psaltry and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

I think this speaks for itself, if you cant find a reason to praise the Lord in this Psalm, then you need to seriously consider your salvation. Paul and Timothy wrote in Philippians 2:12 “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

 Conclusion

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen – Matthew 28:1-20

See your not here to pray for new cars, or bigger houses.  Your here to complete the mission for which you have been called.  You are here to teach, preach, sing, and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  That is your purpose.  That IS your calling.

How can we do this? Here is your homework. Go home and answer these questions. Pray and seek God and come back and tell your Pastor. These are my answers!

  1. Am I willing to commit my life to whatever God asks of me?
  2. What roles that God has placed me in have I neglected?
  3. What talents or abilities has God blessed me with?
  4. How can I help the church or my Pastor with these talents and abilities?
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Philip and Personal Evangelism

Personal evangelism is expected of every believer of Jesus. It is not just the Pastors, responsibility to seek that which is lost, but everyone who is called by Christ is commissioned to this rewarding task. Jesus commanded us in Mark 16:15, “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Still even with this great calling, many Christians are afraid to share their faith. They lack confidence in their ability to share the gospel effectively. So we are going to go to the bible to see how one of the early disciples shared his faith. The book of Acts has many examples on how the Apostles and early Christians shared the truth of Jesus. We will concentrate on one example portrayed in a short story about Philip.

”(26)And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert.

(27) And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

(28)Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet.

(29)Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.

(30) And Philip ran there to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Understand you what you read?

(31) And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

(32)The place in the scripture which he read was this, He was led like a lamb dumb before his shearer’ so opened He not His mouth:

(33)In His humiliation His judgement was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.

(34)And the eunuch answered Phillip, and said, I pray you , of whom speaks the prophet of this? Of himself, or of some other man?

(35)Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.” (Acts 8:26-35)

 

The easiest way to address this would be to break it down into at least 2 major themes to take from Philip in this story. The first would be that Philip had the proper attitude, and the second would be his approach or technique.

Philip had an attitude of obedience. When the angel of the Lord commanded Philip to go, he went. I mean the angel said “arise and go”, then Philip, “arose and went”. He didn’t make excuses, or check his planner. He immediately responded to the will of God. He obeyed without question.

If we are going to be effective servants of the Lord, we must be submissive servants. We must be willing to obey His Spirit. We must at all times and at all cost, be willing to do what God wants us to do. The will of God must take precedence over all other issues in our lives.

In northern Lebanon there is a Christian by the name of Fadi Sabba, who routinely goes from home church to home church sharing his faith and his story. He had been shot by Syrian Islamic extremists on more than one occasion. He has been run off the road, and been left for dead. He has been run out of the country, and yet still goes back risking his life to bring food, bibles and to encourage the brothers in Syria and Lebanon that cannot escape the brutal Islamic state if ISIS. He was shot seven different times by Syrians, yet God uses his story to bring other Islamic followers to Jesus. He goes out of love and obedience. (Voice of the Martyrs, June 2016)

He like Philip in this story is concerned with spreading the truth of Jesus Christ whether it is to one person at a time, or a whole house hold. Philip was willing to travel the distance, go beyond his comfort zone and ignore his personal safety to achieve God’s mission. This kind of dedication takes real love.

We must understand that one soul is a large enough crowd to be concerned about. Jesus explains is Luke 15, that if a man has a hundred sheep and loses one, would he not leave the 99 to find the one? Luke 15:10 says, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over ONE sinner that repents.” We need to get excited! Have compassion over those who are lost! We need to love those who need our love the most!

Now something else to consider is that the Ethiopian, although he was devout in his way, was still considered a Gentile to the Jews. Most Jews would not have cared about his soul. Philip, however; went to him without a second thought. Not only that, he joined him in his chariot. We must be colorblind in doing personal evangelism.

I know that people here in America are scared and worried about the influx of Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees coming into the country. We have good reason, because there are allot who would seek us harm. But let us consider this, how many of us would be willing to go to their countries to convert them to Christianity? You see, where we would not obey God and go to them, God has brought them to us. Now you have an opportunity to witness to those who really need to hear of the love of Jesus. Jesus does not show partiality, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believes not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)

Philip also had a sense of urgency. When he was commanded to join the Eunuch, the scripture says that Philip “ran to him”.(Acts 8:29) He new the man had an urgent need to know Jesus. Philip did not waste time. He had an enthusiasm that quite frankly, is missing in Christians in America. The early church was zealous in winning souls, if it would not have been, we wouldn’t know of Christ today. Unfortunately, there are many today in America who don’t know Jesus, even though they know of Him. That is our fault! It is mine and it is yours!

Ok I think we see the proper attitude. So once we pray and seek God, and get the proper attitude flowing again, what do we do with all that new found excitement for soul winning? Lets look again at Philip in this situation in Acts. Philip came upon the Ethiopian and saw him reading, and seeking God. Then he asked a question. Sometimes it is best to be quiet and listen to what the need is. Identify what the person is really seeking. A question is a great icebreaker to starting deep conversation.

If we were to ask a question and listen to the “need” hidden in the answer, we would go a long way in winning others to Christ, and repairing a few relationships along the way! Amen? The other thing that Philip had in his favor, is something you hear me say over and over again. Know your scripture! Know what you believe and why you believe it. You are an ambassador to the Kingdom of God. Take that responsibility seriously!

In Hebrew 5:11-14, the church is admonished because they have not studied and grown in the scriptures, that they should be teachers in the Word and works of God, but instead are fallen down and week. Don’t be caught off guard when someone asks you about a scripture or a doctrine of your faith. Hello! It’s your beliefs they are asking about! Grow Up! Study!

Then the scripture says, Phillip opened his mouth. When asked, speak! Tell your story of Jesus. Preach Jesus! If you haven’t taken the time to write out and rehearse your own story of salvation, then do it. If you have not taken the time to practice talking to yourself or another believer on how to share Jesus, then do it. I warn you. There is a reason you are either hearing or reading this… You will be called to testify.

Then Phillip went the extra mile. He closed on the situation. He made the Ethiopian make a decision. Hey, this is the whole point of personal evangelism. Win the soul! You can’t be a good fisherman if you don’t sink the hook and real that bad boy in! Bring the conversation to the point. Ask them, do you believe? Are you willing to make a change? Are you willing to be baptized? Seal the deal.

Then go on preaching to others, don’t stop. Don’t pat yourself on the back. Remember who sent Philip? The Lord did. The Lord knew the heart of the Ethiopian. The Lord knew that the eunuch needed a guide. Someone to tell him the truth about Jesus. That is your job, tell someone the TRUTH, the GOSPEL TRUTH! –AMEN!