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BEING CALLED ACCORDING TO GOD'S PURPOSE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

4 FEBRUARY 1996

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 112:1-10
Matthew 5:13-20
Romans 8:24-28
1 Corinthians 2:1-5

The title of today's service, "Being Called According to God's Purpose," comes from our preparation verse, Romans 8:28.

But, to begin our spiritual journey towards understanding what it is that God wants us to be, let's look at verses 24-28:

24. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?

25. But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

As an example, if we are hoping for good weather for some special day, we hope for it up until that very day.

Once the day actually comes, we no longer hope for good weather; we experience it, whether good or bad.

And once the day is past, we no longer hope for it, for we can no longer expect it to be any different than what it was.

All we can do is hope for some future day.

So it is with our faith.

If we are already saved, we no longer need to hope for it, but we can hope about our future life in heaven.

26. And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

27. and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Hoping for good weather is much like our praying to God.

But with the weather, we seem to have to accept it as it comes.

And in the same way, we have to accept how God answers our prayers; but there is a difference.

We, as God's children, have been taught about the ways of God, and that He wants us to be like Jesus.

Thus, by following Jesus' example, we become aware of the will of God for our lives and, in turn, come to understand the purpose God has for our lives.

By praying and living according to God's will, we, in turn, receive a life that is spiritually attuned to God, and one that will always work out for the best, even if we don't realize it at all times.

We also need to remember that Paul is talking about hoping for something much more spiritual than the weather; he is talking about the time when the truly believing peacemaking children of God will free the earth from its corruption, pain and suffering.

And unlike the weather, which we can do nothing about, we can and should work for a kinder and more gentle world, as an integral part of our hope and faith.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Since God seems to work His purposes through human beings, our obedience to the call to be His peacemaking children, should lead us to do every thing in our power to end the pain and suffering of the whole of creation.

The members of the Corinthian church had many of the same hopes and desires that we have, but some of them went astray; and in his two letters, Paul tries to bring them back to the purpose to which God had called them.

They added a whole bunch of other things to the basic message and did things that were against God's will.

Listen to what Paul says to them in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

1. And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

2. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

3. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.

4. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

5. that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

Paul came to the people of Corinth preaching the love of God.

He came as an equal, not as someone more important than they were, for all are equal in Christ.

Paul didn't come teaching the Law, for he knew that if the Corinthians learned to love according to God's purpose, they would automatically fulfill the Law.

And the only way we can live in this love is by the power of God; for the wisdom of people does not always work according to love, for if it did, there would be no wars, no crimes, no inflicting of pain or suffering upon any human or animal, and everything would be as it is in heaven.

Thus, the major component of living according to God's purpose is to be filled with His love, unconditionally and without any limits.

Let's now take a look at what the psalmist tells us in Psalm 112.

But as we read these words, remember that the expression of “fearing the Lord” means not only to “fear” His power, but also to respect and reverence Him.

1. Praise the Lord!

How blessed is the man who fears the Lord,

Who greatly delights in His commandments.

Do you see what I mean?

If we truly fear something, it is hard to delight in it.

But if we respect the awesome power of God, and are filled with His love according to that power, then we can, indeed, delight in His commandments because they protect us and our life fulfills them.

And, in turn, we pass this relationship on to our families.

2. His descendants will be mighty on earth;

The generation of the upright will be blessed.

3. Wealth and riches are in his house,

And his righteousness endures forever.

Think about what is really important to you.

Wealth and riches are not always monetary.

Likewise, think about what we remember about other people, living or dead.

That which is based on love lives forever.

4. Light arises in the darkness for the upright;

He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.

5. It is well with the man who is gracious and lends;

He will maintain his cause in judgment.

6. For he will never be shaken;

The righteous will be remembered forever.

This is indeed living according to God's purpose.

7. He will not fear evil tidings;

His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

8. His heart is upheld, he will not fear,

Until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries.

9. He has given freely to the poor;

His righteousness endures forever;

His horn will be exalted in honor.

Because they are not living fully in God's unconditional love, according to His purpose, some people are troubled about other people, and even fear them.

If the other person is unrighteous, that is their problem.

We don't have to be part of their problem; we can live above it in God's love.

We can and will prosper in this love.

If the unrighteous won't receive God's and our love, then they are getting what they deserve; but there will come the day when they will understand.

10. The wicked will see it and be vexed;

He will gnash his teeth and melt away;

The desire of the wicked will perish.

But, if we truly and unconditionally love, then we will hope and pray for those who are not living according to the purpose of God for their lives, that they might come to Him before it's too late.

We cannot fight with them over Biblical matters, or argue them into the heaven, we can only love them into the kingdom through the way we live before them.

Listen to how Jesus expresses our theme in Matthew 5:13-20:

13. "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

If we look at the salt as being the power of God's love in us, how will we season what we present to others, unless we sprinkle God's love upon it?

And it we don't, soon people won't want what we are serving, and we will be as the evil people of this world, for we will "taste" the same as they do.

14. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

15. "Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.

16. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

God's love should be like a strong light shining from us into the darkness.

If we fail to shine forth our light, not only will other people stumble and fall but we, too, will fall in the darkness before us.

17. "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

18. "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.

19. "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

We cannot bend the law to try to make our sins and lusts acceptable to God and to other people.

We can, however, fulfill the law by loving unconditionally, as God our Father showed His love for us through Jesus Christ His Son.

This is living according to the purpose to which God has called us.

And in this love, all things will, indeed, work together for good.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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