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“Developing a Character Like Christ's”
Part 2:
“Finding Our Purpose in
Our Heavenly Father”
Based on John 14:23-31 & selected texts
Delivered on March 7 & 8, 2009
by David J. Claassen
Copyright 2009 by David J. Claassen     

            Have you ever noticed how many children's toys plastic imitation of adult tools?  I ransacked our church's nursery and quickly found these examples; a cash register, a cell phone, and a Children's play imitates adult work.

            Our son is a police officer, now a detective.  One of our grandson's favorite toys is a toy police car he can climb into and push with his feet.  Once inside he announces, “Bad guys.”  Yes, like his Dad, he's after the bad guys.  Child's play imitates adult work once again. 

Like Father, Like Son

            Then, when we get older, we work alongside our parents.  Some of my fondest memories of being on the Iowa farm was working alongside my Dad.  Believe it or not, some of those fond memories were when we worked side-by-side loading manure into a manure spreader from a calf pen or pig pen.  It's a dirty job, but I'm telling you I'd give about anything to be able to do that right now with my Dad.  Was I cleaning the calf pen or pig pen because I wanted to?  Hardly.  My Dad wanted me to do it.  I did what my Dad wanted me to do and, because I was with Him doing it, the job wasn't all that bad.

            Then, when a child becomes an adult they may still choose to partner with a parent in their adult working years.  I'm reading a book by Sam Rainer called Essential Church? Which he co-wrote with his Dad.  I just finished reading a book by his Dad called Simple Church.  In the book I'm now reading Sam, the son, makes no bones about it that he's building on his Dad's book.  He's carrying on the work of his father.

            There's an old saying, “Like father, like son.”  As followers of Jesus if we want to cut to the core of how Jesus saw Himself, the purpose He saw for His life here on earth, we could use that old saying, “Like father, like son.”  Christ's character was based in His identity in the Heavenly Father.  His purpose on this earth was firmly founded on carrying out the Heavenly Father's purpose for Him.

            In this series of six messages on “Developing a Character Like Christ's”  we're looking at how we can be more like Jesus, the One we seek to follow.  If you recall, the fourth level of the spiritual road to maturity in Christ is the level we call “Becoming More Like Christ.”  We become more like Jesus when we have the same purpose He had and His purpose was to please His Heavenly Father.  That should tell us what our purpose in life should be as well. 

Jesus In His Own Words

            On one of the network news broadcasts they often have a segment called “In Their Own Words” in which they edit together various statements a person has made.  The succinct compilation of quotes from the person is intended to give the viewer a quick but accurate insight into that person's view on a particular subject.  I've decided to do that with Jesus' teachings.  Below, you'll find a compilation of statements Jesus made concerning His relationship to God the Father, and our relationship to the Father.  Please, take a deep breath, and reflect slowly and carefully on this stream of ten quotes, all taken from the Gospel of John.

            “My Father is always at work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” (5:17)  “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself, he can do only what he sees his Father doing; because what the Father does the Son also does.” (5:19)  “For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.” (5:36)  “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (8:28)  “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.” (12:49) “The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (14:10) “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (14:23)  “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (14:24) “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (14:31) “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.” (15:10)

            It had to have been very clear to Jesus' original twelve disciples that He did not live for Himself but for the Heavenly Father.  Jesus' purpose for living came from the Heavenly Father.  It was the Father who set His agenda.

            Jesus never asked Himself, “What do I want to do with my life?”  Rather, Jesus, in essence, asked, “Father God, what do You want me to do with my life?”  Jesus led a purpose driven life and the purpose for His life came directly from His Heavenly Father!

Being Like Jesus and Living for the Father

            How, then, should we live?  We're to be like Jesus.  We shouldn't be asking, “What do I want to do with my life?”  Rather, we should be asking, “Father God, what do You want to do with my life?”

            We shouldn't disqualify ourselves from the possibility of being like Jesus and living out God's reason for our being here on earth because we don't see ourselves doing anything really amazing, big or wonderful.

            Look at the life of Jesus.  True, He went around doing some amazing miracles, something you and I aren't going to be doing.  But most of Jesus time was not spent doing miracles!  Most of His time was spent walking dusty, stony roads, eating meals, talking with His disciples and other.  Jesus never ventured more than a couple of hundred miles in his travels by foot and by boat.  For the first thirty of his thirty-three years He lives His life in obscurity.  Still, He was doing His Heavenly Father's will during that time as much as He was when traveling around during the three years of His public ministry teaching and healing.

            In fact, before Jesus gave His first public teaching or did His first miracle, right after His baptism by John, Jesus received a great affirmation from His Heavenly Father.  “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)  What had Jesus been doing?  We presume making furniture and other items in his late step-father's carpenter shop, undoubtedly as the major bread winner for the widow marry and her family, a family that included several half-brothers and half-sisters to Jesus, the firstborn child in the family.  He was being a good son, a good brother, a friend, and all the time growing in His relationship to the Heavenly Father.  The last statement the historian and Gospel writer Luke makes in his section on the birth and childhood is this:  “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52)

            So, what does the Heavenly Father expect of us?  Like He did for Jesus, Our Heavenly Father expects us to carry out His purposes for us right where we are!

            Do you and I want to be close to Jesus?  He tells us how.  “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50)  It's not enough to claim we believe in God, or even in Jesus, that He's God's Son.  It needs to be more than lip service.  Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)  If we're going to be close to God the Heavenly Father and Jesus His Son we're going to have to be walking their way in our daily lives.  That means seeking to live out the Lord's purposes on a day-to-day basis, right where He has us living.  Much of the time that is going to involve other people, the people with whom we come in contact, the people with whom we live in relationship on a day-in, day-out basis.  Jesus put it succinctly, “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17)

            It means seeking to think, say, and do, concerning the people He puts around us, what He wants us to think, say, and do!  It simply means asking each day, either consciously or unconsciously, “What is your will for me, today, Heavenly Father?”  “How do you want me to respond to what's happening to me, to the people around me, Heavenly Father?”

            I know for Diann and myself this past week has been particularly challenging to do this.  Diann's mother had knee surgery.  My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  We had concern for Julie and Victor as they took the four oldest children to counselors for the first time, in and effort to help them deal with their dreadful pasts.  The kids didn't want to go, of course.  Our son Dan had to go to a distant city to arrest a bad guy involved in the trading of child pornography.  You never know what kind of situation he will get himself into.  All of this along with the normal day-to-day stuff of doing your work and trying to be a good mate, friend, etc.  You know what I mean, you've had to do the same this week as well, right?  How do we respond to life?  Are we seeking to do so in a faith-filled, loving way as the Heavenly Father wants us to?

            God has His plans and purposes in and through everything.  Sometimes we think our best plans are being thwarted.  Sometimes problems seem overwhelming.  Sometimes the days seem so ordinary.  But it's in the midst of challenges and problems, in the midst of the day-to-dayness of life that God calls us to live out His purpose for us.  If we do we not only can feel good that we are carrying out His purposes but that He is near us in the process, both our Heavenly Father and His Son and His Holy Spirit too.  I want to close with an amazing affirmation from Jesus, a statement we looked at earlier.  Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (14:23)  Life just doesn't get any better than that!

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