What Are You Doing About It?

thinkingAs a kid I loved my mom’s cookies; I still do. I remember once we were out of cookies, and mom was gone for the day – but I needed cookies.  So in my little mind I set out to make cookies, believing I could just “feel my way” to the right proportions and ingredients.  Can you guess how it turned out?  The result was a gooey cookie sheet of flour, sugar, and chocolate, w/ no form or shape, just goo that I ended up throwing out.

I think we all have a desire to eat good cookies. We can use this as a metaphor.  We all desire to live lives of purpose, doing things that make a difference and bring fulfillment, doing what makes us alive.  When all the ingredients are in place and in proportion the result is a product as it was intended to be.

At The Table, we are in the middle of a sermon series on our life’s work and purpose, looking at Acts 19-20. In these texts, Paul is on his 3rd missionary journey, which primarily happens in the Turkish town of Ephesus.  Here, we get a glimpse of the legacy that Paul was leaving behind him.  He was living out his calling, which is seen in Acts 20:24.  He says, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” I believe when Paul was doing this, he felt alive, and purpose-filled, and God was using him to change lives.  Legacy is what we’re talking about. Living w/ purpose brings about a positive legacy; and, living w/o direction brings about a legacy of a different kind.  So the question is, “What makes you come alive?”  What are the God given desires that are linked to your purpose?  I’m not talking about the desires of your flesh that sometimes get us in trouble, like my desire for cookies, which leads me to eat entire batches of cookies.  No, I’m talking about the desires that fill you up, that feed your soul, and feed those around you.  So, what makes you come alive?  And related to that, what’s the legacy you desire to leave behind?

 

Text

Turn your eyes to Acts 19:8-12, and ask yourself, “What’s my dream and what’s my plan to get there?”  In Acts 19:8-20, we see Paul living out his calling to testify to the grace of Jesus.  But here, we also see a bit of strategy to make the dream or calling come true.  We get the impression that Paul was fluid w/ his plan, but intentional.  Acts 19:8-10 says: “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” Paul’s plan to live his calling starts in the synagogue. But, when he faces opposition, he tweeks his plan and goes to a public lecture hall.  And really, this was a more strategic move to spread the gospel among the Gentiles.  God blesses this adjustment, so that all in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.  God continues to bless Paul’s ministry in Acts 19:11-12, ““11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” The sick are healed, revealing the kingdom’s arrival, where folks are brought into wholeness.  Paul has influence, and the name of Jesus is respected as the source of life.  Paul in finding success in his work, living in God’s favor as he lives into God’s calling. Put simply, the kingdom is on the move.

Paul is making strategic moves to spread the gospel, to live out his calling. The result of his plan: the sick are healed, Jesus is honored, and conversions occur.  That’s the legacy of Paul living out his purpose.  Paul’s calling was to testify to the gospel of graceHe committed his plan to God and God moved through Paul

 

Us

So what makes you come alive? And, what’s your plan to live it out?  About 10 years ago I had a desire to do the Pikes Peak Ascent.  Growing up in Colorado Springs, I grew up looking at Pikes Peak, a 14K foot mountain.  Every year, there’s a ½ marathon race to the top, called the Pikes Peak Ascent.  From start to finish the race course gains 7,000 feet in elevation.  It was a race I always wanted to do.  So one year I decided to go for it.  I began training, thinking I had a good training plan.  As I trained, I daydreamed of having a sweet personal time, maybe even breaking some records.  On race day, I felt good and expected great things.  The gun went off, and I took off.  For a couple miles I was passing all kinds of slow pokes, who clearly weren’t as prepared as I was.  It was awesome.  But as the elevation increased and race went on, I began to fade.  I stopped running.  The water stations became fewer and far between, as I walked to the top.  I realized I was very ill prepared for the race, but I kept walking up.  Finally, I could hear the announcer at the top announcing the names of those crossing the line.  My plan did not go as I expected, but at least I still had my pride.  When I walked across the finish line, the announcer said, “And here comes Aaron Walters, from Colorado Springs… and holy smokes, right behind Aaron is 85 year old Mildred Baker…”  “At least I beat an old lady,” was all I had to say.  My plans of the race did not go as I expected.  I was on the path toward living out a desire, but my plan was almost counterproductive.

How much more is at stake when we’re talking about the desires God has given us for life? And, what’s at stake? Your heart is at stake.  That’s why Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”  God has given you desires that when fulfilled fill you up, feed your heart, and bless others.

So what’s your dream, and how are you planning for it? How are you living it out?  In John 10:10, Jesus said “I came that they might have life to full.”  He came not so we would simply have some sort of fire insurance for our soul.  He came so we could live into fullness of life, living w/ purpose, living w/ meaning.  The good news is that the death and resurrection of Jesus brings greater life and power, and God uses the desires He’s given us to grow His kingdom; He gives us desires that feed us and His community.  Faithfulness to intentionally living those desires feeds purpose, and that purpose feeds faith.

jeSo what makes you come alive, and what are you doing about? If God has placed desires on your heart, and you know they feed you, then maybe today is the day to go for those dreams.  I think of our friends, who had the desire to bless those in the developing world.  So they pursued this desire and volunteered w/ a Christian aid organization.  It is a great organization, but wasn’t a good fit.  Then God clarified that desire, and called them to start Jesus’ Economy.  “Jesus’ Economy creates jobs and churches in the developing world, as well as meets basic needs—resulting in a new global, spiritual and physical economy for those that need it most.”  It’s awesome to see them living out their calling.

Your dreams and the things that make you come alive will be different.  It could be going back to school to live out a vocational dream.  It could be building into your family a greater unity of purpose and connection.  It could be pursuing how you can use the gifts God’s given you to bless others.  But the question remains, “What makes you come alive?”  What’s your dream and what’s your plan?  What are you doing today to make it happen, and how are you moving forward w/ that dream?  Maybe God is inviting you today to live into those dreams, and to do it w/ a planned intention.

Don’t neglect your desires and the things that make you come alive.  Don’t let those dreams lie stagnant.  And, don’t let poor planning steal your momentum.  It felt good to beat that old lady and complete my goal of doing the Pikes Peak Ascent, but it was not an enjoyable ride.  Proper foresight would have given me a better experience.  Don’t be like me.

My prayer is that God would awaken your desires, and that He would use those desires for His kingdom and community – and that you would move w/ an intentionality as you pursue those dreams. My prayer is that you wouldn’t just make cookies, but that you would make cookies w/ the proper ingredients and proportions – that you would make cookies that the Recipe Writer intended you to make.

I believe God is giving you an invitation today, to live into the things that make you come alive.  Imagine the legacy God would leave through you as you live into your rich, full live.  Living empowered lives means living w/ greater purpose.  Faithfulness feeds purpose, purpose feeds faith.   I invite you to day dream, to pray about what makes you feel alive, and imagine what it would be like if you lived it out.

Amen.

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