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The Purpose Driven Life

Notes from Session One September 30, 2009

The first readings were to begin on Monday, September 28, 2009. At the first group meeting, there were several members of the church who came to this session who had not previously attended the Motley Crew Bible study group. Those who did not have copies of The Purpose Driven Life got copies (a free will offering); workbooks were also made available to those who would like one; the cost of those is $5. We ran out of copies of the Workbook, but a list was started (another order is planned). Pastor Eddie distributed a blank sheet of paper with the heading "Personal Notes from Session 1." On the back of that sheet was information about "Circles of Life ­ Small Group Connections."

We didn't discuss this in the group. The focus scripture verse for the week is Ephesians 2:10 (For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.). Pastor Eddie recommended that we compare the quotations from Scripture that are given by Pastor Warren with those in your preferred translation of the Bible. Pastor Eddie pointed out the quotation from George Bernard Shaw (found in the reading for Day Three): This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances,

complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. There was a discussion of predestination. Pastor Eddie's take on predestination is that it is an assurance that comes after the acceptance of faith through grace. Because of free will, we can do stupid things. These too are a part of God's master plan. The point was made (from the reading on Day One) that there are no illegitimate children; they too are a part of God's plan. Also related is that there are consequences to sin. God will forgive the sin, but the consequences remain; this is the "bad stuff" that we see in the world. The point was also brought out that these first few chapters seem to be directed at people who do not have a relationship with God (which is unlike the group, which is made up entirely of long-time Christians). As such, one who is not a believer might critically observe that God has a purpose, that this purpose is already in place, so what's my place in all of this? One answer is that there still must be an acceptance of God's offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. Until there is acceptance (belief), there can be no faith through grace, and thus no salvation. For most of us, the real issue is what is God's purpose for me? Pastor Eddie pointed out that for many, this is more of a celebration, today, of God's purpose and kingdom. Also, this is a process of getting to know God more personally, of being with and interacting with other Christians, and of ministering the Good News to others. But there is no magic wand that either Pastor Eddie or Pastor Warren can wave for anyone that will tell us what our purpose is. Answering that question is a part of the process of discerning God's will for each of us. One of the members ­ who had previously participated in The Purpose Driven Life program ­ shared the metaphor that this process is like a river. Sometimes we're in the calm shoals, sometimes in the raging current. [And sometimes, we step out of the water.] Staying in the river will let you fulfill the purpose that God has for you ­ yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The video was then shown. The outline of Pastor Warren's presentation is covered in Session One of the Workbook. In his introduction, Pastor Warren mentioned Solomon and Ecclesiastes 7:24: Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound-- who can discover it? (NIV) He then began discussing a couple of points. 1. The Consequences of Not Knowing Your Purpose There were three major points that he made: a. Without knowing your purpose, life will seem tiresome (Ecc. 1:5-8) The sun rises and the sun sets,

and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. b. Without knowing your purpose, life will seem unfulfilling. (Ecc. 1:8b-9a) The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; c. Without knowing your purpose, life will seem uncontrollable (Ecc. 1:15) What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. Pastor Warren noted that either we make up our own purpose ­ some of which can result in good things or very good things ­ or we can find out what God wants for us. 2. The Benefits of Knowing Your Purpose In Philippians 3:12-14, Paul set out his way to focus.

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... I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 13 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (NIV) There were four benefits to this. a. Knowing the purpose of your life will give your life focus (Phil. 3:13) b. Knowing the purpose of your life will simplicity (Phil. 3:13) c. Knowing the purpose of your life will increase your motivation (Phil. 3:13) d. Knowing the purpose of your life will prepare you for eternity (Ecc. 3:11b: He has also set

eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.) Pastor Warren made the point that life on earth is preparation for eternity, the next stage in our existence [this would be discussed in the group after the conclusion of the video.] Our existence will last much, much longer than the time when we take our last breath on this earth; indeed, we will live forever, in eternity, with God. Thus, we want to use this life to prepare for life forever (quoting Ecc. 3:11b, above). Pastor Warren then said that there are The Two Big Questions that God will ask us after we die to this earth: 1. What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ? 2. What did you do with the life that I gave you? (page 34 of The Purpose Driven Life). After discussing these two items, Pastor Warren suggests the following daily prayer: God, if you are there and if you care, let me know it. Of course, the Bible promises that if we ask, He will answer. Likewise, Pastor Warren suggests that we pray each day that we open up our lives to the possibility of knowing Him and His purposes. At the conclusion of the video, Pastor Eddie conducted a group discussion. In regards to the first question that is the only litmus test for heaven ­ what did you do with Jesus ­ did you believe in Him as your Savior? As it regards the second question of "what did you do with the life that I gave you", Pastor Eddie suggested that this is more a question of celebration in heaven after we are in by grace through faith. The parable of the talents was mentioned as bearing on this question. Likewise, Lutheran belief is that we are saved through faith, not works. In some respects, then, our good works are a kind of "pay back" or "loving God back" for the gift of eternal life, and thus operate as fulfillment of the purpose. In sum, this is more of a preparing for eternity. Like Paul we must focus on the race: "...straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Likewise, it's important for us to remember that Paul was writing to the community in Philippi from jail.) It was also pointed out that our belief helps us to start living in a heavenly state while we're still on earth. Pastor Eddie noted that for many people, a real issue is being stuck in the past (see the readings for Day Three, pp. 27-8). Concerning the Creation question, see the quotation of Dr. Michael Denton on p. 24 of The Purpose Driven Life. Finally we looked at a couple of the Discussion Questions found on pp. 8-9 of the Workbook. The first

of those questions was: Read this week's memory verse again: For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). What does this verse tell you about God's purpose for your life? Do you believe that it's true? If so, how should it affect the way you life? The question there revolves whether or not we believe that God has a purpose for us. The third question was The Apostle Paul had a clear understanding of God's purpose for his life. Even though Paul was also a tentmaker, he was able to say, "I am focusing all my energies on this one thing." If you could discover God's purpose for your life, how would it help to focus or simplify your life? At the conclusion of the group, Pastor Eddie asked that each table discuss among themselves Question Two in the Workbook: Ecclesiastes 1 points out three consequences of not knowing your purpose: · Life will seem tiresome · Life will seem unfulfilling · Life will seem uncontrollable With which of these three do you most identify? Why? The session was closed with prayer. Homework: 1. Continue your daily reading (but don't read ahead!) 2. Bring a friend. 3. Snacks (several offered to help out). We closed with a prayer.

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