What do you want to go in the dash in the middle?

That is a question that a lot of people don’t even consider. Between the year you were born and the year you die. When all is said and done and you take your final breath on this planet, how do you want to be remembered?

Do you know what your purpose is? What is it that drives you, what motivates you? Yogi Berra, the famous old school baseball catcher and manager for the Yankees: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re likely to end up someplace else.”

Jesus spent a good deal of time emphasizing our relationship with God.  Eleven times Jesus uses the word “Father” to define our relationship to God. He is our heavenly Father and we are His children – understand something – this is the God of the universe – creator of everything – and He wants to be our Father!!  That is incredible!

Our real purpose comes from God’s Purpose for our lives! This is important – this is one of those things that if you really get, it will change your life. I really think this is big…

Our ability to appreciate and experience all that God has planned for us, is directly related to our ability to grow and mature in the faith and become more like Jesus

But – and this is a BIG But! We need to be careful

We need to be careful not to be distracted from our constant and daily relationship with God.  When we get distracted, we lose sight of what is really important – discovering our purpose and living it out to honor Jesus. In fact it is so important that Jesus even warns us about it – See to keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose for us, Satan will use what I call, Weapons of Mass Distraction!

That is what Jesus was warning us about in Matthew 6:19-20…

"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 moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Jesus goes on to say in the very next verse –“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Satan uses weapons against us. He uses sin. He tries to entice us – he understands temptation better than anyone. But understand that the pleasure of sin in only temporary.

Hebrews 11:25 KJV “…The pleasures of sin (are) for a season.”

I heard sin described once like cut flowers in a vase with no water.  When you cut the flowers, and put them in the vase they are beautiful, but their beauty is short lived – within 24 hours they aren’t beautiful anymore – in fact they are withered and ugly.

Why?  Because they are dead! There is no life in them.  Same is true with sin – sin is death. It will begin to define you. – sin has no life! Sin will weigh you down –

Satan has another weapon…stuff. Satan will use the stuff in our lives to get our attention turned from God – even good stuff – The PTA, hobbies, activities, work, social media, and yes even church!

When the stuff of our lives drives a wedge between God and us – then there is a problem. When we get so busy that we push God out of the way – Then Satan wins!

Matthew 16:25-26 NLT (Jesus said) “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”

There is one more weapon he uses…self. Satan will distract us from our purpose by getting us to focus on us! There is a fancy name for it – Narcissism – you know – vanity – self-absorbed – egotism – conceit – It’s all about me! See, when it becomes more important what others think about us than what God thinks there is a problem!

Jesus warns us that Satan will attempt to distract us by getting us to focus on the desire for recognition instead of focusing our purpose.

Ok, enough of what Satan is trying to do to distract us from accomplishing our purpose, let change direction and look at focusing on the proper direction for our purpose…

Listen to me – regardless of the purpose for which God created you – regardless of your calling on this planet, one thing is true for all of us.  We must be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. That is our goal as believers! Understand something – we won’t accomplish our purpose effectively until we are conformed to Jesus.

Look what Paul said…

Philippians 3:12-14 NLT “But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,£ but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

This prize that Paul is talking about is being like Jesus – Maturing in our faith as we set out to accomplish our purpose.

Here is something that took me a long time to figure out – The degree to which I become more like Jesus while I am here on this planet will determine the degree to which I experience today the fulfillment that awaits me in heaven.

How do you become more like Jesus – spending time in the Word – spending time in prayer – spending time with other believers – committing to do life God’s way – obeying His commands.

It comes down to this – What is your purpose?  Are you actively working to accomplish it?  Are you growing in your relationship with Jesus? He wants you to get real!  He has an awesome plan for your life.  Don’t wait a lifetime to figure it out.