For a moment, play a game of "let's pretend" with me. Let's pretend that God Himself sent a messenger to your home to interview you and your children about the purpose of life. This messenger's interview centered on the answers to two questions. Each person in the family would answer these two questions. Each person had to answer with what he or she really believed was true (no "tactful evasions," no lies). No one in your family could control the interview. Everyone but the person interviewed had to listen quietly without comment. The interview would start with the youngest child. It would go from youngest to oldest until everyone--children and adults--was interviewed.

Here are the two questions:

Each adult, each teenager had to listen quietly as a brother, sister, parent, or spouse stated aloud his or her truthful impression of what you think life is all about, what you think is really important as you live your life in your family. Would you like to hear what your family members think you regard as important in life?

  1. Would you read with me Deuteronomy 8:2-6?
    You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear (reverence) Him.
    1. Context: Moses spoke to second generation Israel before they entered the territory God promised them.
      1. All the adult men who left Egypt in the exodus are dead but three, and one of those three would be dead before they crossed the Jordan River into Canaan.
      2. Moses would be dead and buried before this nation crossed the river.
      3. In Deuteronomy, Moses emphasized what was important, what must be remembered as being important.
        1. This book centered on a very sobering moment in Israelite history.
          1. A lot of people were dead.
          2. Knowing why they died was extremely important.
          3. All these dead people gave a testimony to a very sobering truth: "If you do not understand what your life is about, you will be as dead as I am."
        2. This moment could easily become a very materialistic, tragic moment: these people could allow the moment to focus them on the wrong thing.
          1. They could think about getting the finest piece of land in Canaan.
          2. They could think about indulging themselves with pleasures in a settled existence.
          3. They could think about becoming wealthy.
          4. They could think about prestige and power.
        3. It was extremely important that they be focused on life's correct purpose.
    2. Think carefully about the reminder Moses gave them in our reading.
      1. "Do not forget your experiences of the past forty years in the wilderness."
        1. It was not to be a "Phew! I am glad that is over!" time in their history.
        2. It was to be, "Did I ever learn something from that!" time in their history.
      2. Moses said, "God did three things in your experience of the forty years of your wandering."
        1. "He humbled you to be certain you knew and understood who was the dependent and who was the sustainer."
        2. "He tested you: are you like your parents who built the golden calf, or are you a people who trust Me?"
        3. "He provided you an opportunity to show Him your heart: is your heart in obedience to Me or in rebellion against Me?"
      3. "God humbled you by making you totally dependent on Him--you could not even provide yourself food."
        1. "He let you get hungry--but it was for a reason."
        2. "He gave you food to eat that neither you nor any of your ancestors had ever seen or eaten--and it was for a reason.
        3. "The reason is found in this understanding: the purpose of life is not found in physical need or desire; the purpose of life is found in listening to God."
      4. "For forty years God took care of you: your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell."
      5. "In the core of your being you need to understand that God was discipling you just like you discipline your sons--because they need to learn, and because you seek their best interests."
      6. "So keep God's commands, live a godly lifestyle, and reverence God."
    3. Your success, your future, and future generations depend on these two basic truths:
      1. You must trust God's teachings, not physical desires.
      2. You always must depend on God to determine who you are and how you live.

  2. Now move hundreds of years forward to Matthew 4:1-4 and read with me.
    Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"
    1. Jesus just had the exhilarating experience of being baptized.
      1. God Himself spoke on that occasion: "This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
      2. God's Spirit came from heaven in the form of a dove and landed on Jesus.
      3. This was a heady experience!
        1. This was the kind of experience that can build evil pride!
        2. We all are pretty much deceived by the compliments and praise of others.
        3. God Himself acted in an extraordinary way when Jesus was baptized!
      4. Soon after this incredible experience at baptism, God's Spirit led Jesus into a deserted area to be tempted by the devil.
        1. Jesus spent forty days and nights focusing--he fasted for that period.
        2. He had to know who he was and what his life was about.
        3. Was sonship about serving or about position?
        4. Was sonship about obedience or about controlling?
      5. When he concluded this period of focus, he was hungry.
    2. The temptation:
      1. "Jesus, are you really God's son? Are you real sure of who you are?"
      2. "If you are God's son, you can turn these stones into something to eat."
      3. "You are hungry, and eating is not a 'right and wrong' issue."
      4. "You are hungry; you have been here for forty days fasting; you are weak; your really need some food; so make these stones into bread, not a royal feast, just a poor man's meal of bread."
        1. "It would be stupid for you to die out here from hunger and weakness."
        2. "You know who you are!"
        3. "You have important things to do!"
        4. "So eat and get on with it!"
      5. Jesus quoted the statement from Deuteronomy 8.
        1. He said there was a bigger issue at stake than being hungry.
        2. The issue: is life fundamentally about physical need/desire or about letting God guide?
        3. Jesus was there to focus on who he was and what he was about, and neither feeling sorry for himself or becoming absorbed in physical need must be allowed to define who he was or what he was about.

  3. When Jesus began his ministry, listen to what he said in Matthew 6:19-34.
    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
    1. Jesus was not talking about "happy go lucky" irresponsibility; he was talking about the purpose of life. Let me try to focus us in this way.
      1. Is your job in jeopardy because of our weak economy?
      2. How much did you lose in the stock market the last year? In certificates of deposits? In investments?
      3. Have you had to adjust your lifestyle?
      4. What can you do to make it all "go away"? Nothing.
      5. If material things define your life, this is a time of high anxiety for you.
    2. In Jesus' statement, allow me to focus your attention on a couple of things.
      1. In verse 32 Jesus said the Gentiles eagerly seek the same things you seek if the focus of your life is food, drink, and clothes.
        1. We miss the central point if we do not understand the context.
        2. Jesus spoke to people who seriously regarded themselves to be God's people.
        3. In this context, the word "Gentiles" referred to people who did not know God, who did not want to know God, and who were not influenced by God.
        4. Jesus said, "You are the people who claim to know God, who claim to belong to God, who claim to be God's people."
        5. "But...you are acting and feeling and thinking just like the people you say do not know God and do not care who God is."
        6. "There is no difference in what your life is about and what these godless people's life is about."
      2. The number one purpose in the lives of God's people is being ruled by God.
        1. "I want God in control."
        2. "I want to live the lifestyle of a person who places God in control."
        3. "I want people quietly to note that the reason I am different, the reason my lifestyle is different can be understood only by knowing this fact: God rules who I am and what I am about."

In concluding, I want to focus you on three facts that are true for each one of us.

  1. Determining God's will in your life is a life time journey, not a simple decision.
  2. Physical death is certain; every physical body in this auditorium will die.
  3. While your physical body will die, you as a person won't die.

"So what does all that mean?" It means there is a whole lot more to life than physical existence. It means only God our Creator can guide us in all of life. It means when you face God after death, you will not present Him a financial report or a list of possessions.

So, in your family, what do your family members think life is about? What do you say by the way you live that life is all about?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 20 July 2003
Study Along With David Chadwell
A Worship Worksheet
July 20, 2003

God's messenger asks two questions that deal with the most ___________________ things in life.

In the reading from Deuteronomy _____________ emphasized what must be ___________________ as being important.

It was important that Israel focus on life's _________________ __________________.

What reminder did Moses give them in the reading? ___________________________

In the forty years of wandering God taught three things to Israel: He_____________ them; He _____________ them and He provided them an opportunity to show their ____________.

Israel had to learn to trust ___________ teachings, not physical desires. They also had to depend on God to determine who they were and how they _______________.

If the focus of our life is "things" who are we like? ______________________________

Three facts are true for each one of us: Determining God's will in your ___________ is a life time journey, not a simple decision.

Physical __________ is certain.

While your _____________ body will die, you, as a person, won't ________.

The number one purpose in the lives of God's people is being ruled by God.

What do you think life is about? How does your life reflect this?

provided by Gary Brown

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