DAY 1: A Replenishing Purpose
John 4:27–42 (especially vv. 32–34)
We usually think that hard work wears us out. We tend to think of being drained and depleted when we roll up our sleeves and get down to doing hard (even if it is meaningful) work.
Not so for Jesus. In this remarkable story, Jesus tells his disciples he is not drained from doing ministry. Instead, he is replenished as he helps the Samaritan woman discover how much God loves her.
This is his food (or his sustenance). Jesus loves to do the work of God That kind of purpose invigorates, energizes, and sustains Jesus.
You have something worthwhile you are meant to do. What that is will vary from person to person, but in some way it means you make a difference in the lives of others.
When you make a real difference, you discover meaning, satisfaction, contentment, joy, and fulfillment. You also experience the quiet words from God, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
CONSIDER: What is God’s will that will become your food and strength?
DAY 2: A Big Picture of Meaning
Luke 9:23–27; Matthew 6:25–34
Every now and then we use the term worldview at Living Word. That word refers to a collection or pattern of beliefs and values that holds together and forms something greater than the sum of its parts.
A worldview is a set of beliefs, values, and assumptions we have about the basic make-up of the world (James Sire). Who you are is closely connected with what you are, what the world is like, and why you are in the world. Meaning and purpose provide the foundation for an identity rich in meaning and full of purpose.
Here are eight statements of essential and deep Christian meaning:
- God is. God is good. God is great. God is love. God is holiness.
- God is personal and relational.
- Something has gone fundamentally wrong with the world and with our relationship with God. Everything is broken and some things are horribly broken.
- God is repairing the world, redeeming what is wrong, and renewing relationships. God invites you into partnership with him on everything he is doing in the world.
- People matter to God. The more people hurt, it seems the more God is passionately concerned about them.
- God’s will and way are that of shalom (peace), justice, goodness, order, balance, harmony, integrity, beauty, truth, etc. This is what God wants for the world and for each individual life. This is what God works for and what we work with God for.
- Everything centers on, converges on, and consummates on the one called Jesus, the Son of God, the crucified Savior and the resurrected Lord.
- You are called to be a servant and steward of God’s resources. These two words are fundamental to a good identity
REFLECT: How strongly do you believe and value each of these BIG IDEAS?
DAY 3: What is Involved in Good Work
Ephesians 5:8–10, 15–17
If God cares about something, then you should care about it too. Whatever is important to God should be important to you as well.
Unfortunately, work has a bad rap these days. It seems that people aren’t very interested in work. We are more interested in fun, relaxation, hobbies, and entertainment.
Studies show a few things are involved in meaningful work. Here is what makes work satisfying and rewarding:
- You know that what you do matters.
- You can do your work with quality.
- You are valued by others for what you do.
- You know you are getting better at what you do.
- You enjoy the people you work with.
Many people don’t feel they have meaningful work to do. Okay, that’s a complicated conversation, and perspectives will vary from person to person. I think just about any work can be meaningful. I also believe that the church exists to help you do work that matters.
It matters that you serve people, help people, and add value to people’s lives. It matters that you encourage people and comfort people. It matters that you help people grow and develop and improve.
TAKE ACTION: Dream a little. Pray for God to guide you. Explore new things. Get involved. Check it out. Become a ministry partner at Living Word. Join in regularly with our Seasons of Service. Be a part of another organization that is making a difference in the lives of people.
You really do matter, to God and to others.
DAY 4: People Matter to God
1 Peter 4:7–11, 5:2–4; Galatians 5:13–14
Because people matter so much to God, then people must matter to you. However, not all people can matter equally to you. You must be selective.Who are the most significant people in your life? What follows is going to be hard, but try your best. Write down the names of the people you choose for each question.
- Who are your three to five most important family members?
- Who are your two or three most important work colleagues?
- Who are your one or two most substantial friendships?
- Who are your one or two most significant non-Christian or unchurched people in your life?
- Who is your Just One VIP that Jesus wants you to give a great amount of time, prayer, love, service, and conversation to, so that they may encounter God and connect with Jesus for salvation?
These are your core groups and closest circle of people. For each person, ask the following questions:
- In what ways is that person better, happier, stronger, healthier, and flourishing because of your presence in their life?
- If there is ONE single most important change and development you would love for this person to experience, what is it and how can God use you to be part of that experience?
A life full of meaning and purpose will involve these people. What you do with and for them is core to your identity. What words will you use to describe yourself as you interact with them for their flourishing? Those words will be part of your identity.
REFLECT: Do you have the spiritual strength to love these people unconditionally, serve them faithfully, challenge them wisely, and be relentlessly developmental with them?
PRAY: Pray for the necessary grace, strength, and gifts to do what is needed for each person. Pray for each of those VIPs in your life.
DAY 5: The Gift of Yourself
Romans 6:1-14; Galatians 3:26-4:1
You have heard the phrase bucket list. It was introduced into popular culture in the 2007 comedy-drama called Bucket List that starred Jack Nicholson (as billionaire Edward Cole) and Morgan Freeman (as car mechanic Carter Chambers). They meet in a hospital room, both with a terminal illness and less than a year to live. They write down a list of things worth doing before they “kick the bucket.” The rest of the film is them checking off the items on their list.
What starts off to be a rather indulgent list of entertaining travel experiences begins to morph into a more meaningful list of relationships that need to be tended, healed, and treasured. The movie has some Hollywood excess, but real meaning as well. The irony of the movie is that most people create a bucket list, not of goodness, purpose, and meaning, but of self-indulgence, entertainment, and pleasure. The exact opposite conclusion of the movie!
What’s on your bucket list? Better yet, what are the truly worthwhile things you want to do in the years ahead? You don’t have to wait for a final year. Make a bucket list of worthy things to do, experience, try, and improve, including people to help and changes to make.
Can you make a list of 25 or 50 or 100 items? Keep a running list. Do two or three of them every year. Some things you can repeat, other items can be a once and done. Slowly build a portfolio of purpose. And do it with others. It does not have to be an individualistic list. Do it together with others. Pray, dream, write them down, and activate them into reality.
TAKE ACTION: Start your list. Add to it as years go by. Cross off completed items. Be blessed. Be changed. Glorify God in all things.
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