Compass

Finding purpose in life is one of man’s greatest pursuits. It is a part of our DNA. Regrettably, we seek to find purpose in many of the wrong places. Don’t misunderstand; it’s not necessarily because all these places are wrong. Many are quite noble – work, family, church, service to others. God wants to give us purpose in all these areas.

The challenge is discerning from where, or whom, our purposes in life originate; for that thing or person will then govern the motivations and measures for our success. If our purposes center on our work, then we will become performance driven and prideful. If they begin with our relationships, we will become controlling and self-indulgent. Even service toward others – if it is the source of our purpose – will result in people-pleasing codependence.

For our purposes to be right and virtuous, they must originate in the One that has ordained and orchestrated them. This is a worthy saying: Your purpose is not to be found in a place or activity, but in a Person. Only God is the source of the purposes that are good, praiseworthy and worthwhile. Therefore, it is critical that we discover God’s purposes for each season of our lives.  In this lesson, we will explore the relationship between God’s eternal purposes and the formation of Workplace Ministry.

This is the second of six lessons designed to encourage, edify and equip a Leadership Team in the formation of a ministry to the Workplace. Please study Lesson One – The Workplace Mission before continuing here.

Spiritual Exercise

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God… 2Corinthians 3:5

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2Corinthians 12:9

You may have heard it said, “The wisdom of God is foolishness to men.” In other words, the logic of God’s kingdom is many times counter-intuitive with the ways of the world. For example, self-sufficiency is praised among men. Indeed, it is a sign of maturity. We are encouraged as young men to stand on our own to two feet, to make our own way in the world, and become captains of our own ship.

This is not the way of the kingdom of God; and that is a good thing. It is a very good thing; for we are incapable of serving God outside of God’s grace. In His grace, we are capable of anything He desires.

God is working in us (and those we will lead) to will and do to His good pleasure. He has a process in mind for our transformation and sanctification. We can trust Him to complete the work.

Prayer

Father God, we acknowledge that You are our sufficiency. We commit our way to you. We invite you to transform and sanctify us for your purposes and plans. In Christ’s name. Amen.

The Biggest Loser

God’s people lost much in their rebellion. That loss has become the primary focus of our religion – getting back what we lost. We ruminate and regret our own reduced state.

“Woe is me! I have to toil for my living.”

“Woe is me! I have to labor in childbirth.”

But, what about God!?!

Have you ever considered what God lost in the Garden of Eden? Shouldn’t we be concerned about His loss? As with anyone else we love, shouldn’t we be interested in Him getting back what is dear to Him? After all, He is the Master of the kingdom we call home – the place of our stewardship to the King. It just might be that Him getting back what belongs to Him is the best thing that could happen to us.

The purposes of God’s story are found in the restoration of what He lost in Mankind’s rebellion. To understand, we go to the end of the story (The Revelation of Jesus Christ). You see, the Bible may be the only book written that is not spoiled by reading the end of the story first. In fact, it is encouraging and edifying to know what God is after, because we know that He will get whatever it is.

It is in the last three chapters of the Revelation that we come to understand what God is up to in the remainder of His story: The complete restoration of what He lost in Mankind’s rebellion. Here’s the summary:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

Oh, what a glorious day! It is the day we long for, when “all things are made new”. It is the grand finale of God’s great story (at least the part He has revealed). In John’s description of this great day, we find a tight synopsis of His restorative purpose. And it’s not verse four – as wonderful and well quoted as it has become.

The greatest purposes of God are found in verse three – the order reminding us that it is for Him before it is for us:

  1. “He will dwell with them” – It was always God’s intention to inhabit His people. Jesus spoke of its beginning, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23) This is the spiritual reality of that which will be physically manifested in the New Jerusalem.

    God will restore the habitation He intends to have with His people.

  2. “They shall be His people” – We can only imagine the depths of intimacy God had with Adam and Eve in the Garden – and His loss in their rebellion. God sent Jesus to make a way for the restoration of His relationship with us. Jesus prayed the will of the Father back to Him in John 17:

    And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (v. 3).

    … that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us (v. 21).

    God will fully restore the intimate relationship He intended to have with His children.

  3. “God Himself will be… their God” – The last great thing God lost in the Garden was His reign in the hearts of His people. Before they disobeyed God’s command regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve determined that they were better suited to make decisions for themselves. They determined to be their own kings. They rebelled against God in a futile attempt to become like Him.

    God will fully restore His reign in the hearts of His subjects.

God’s Habitation

The New Testament refers to God’s habitation as the Body of Christ, the Church, and the Bride of Christ. Here are a few verses that speak to the wonderful mystery of His habitation.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.     John 14:23

The reward for every faithful follower of Jesus Christ is the habitation of both Him and His Father.

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, “I will dwell in them, and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 2Corinthians 6:16

The indwelling of the Father is a sign of His ownership. His Son paid the price for our salvation that His Father would be in us and all around us. It is important to note here that the “you” in this verse is plural.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

This is high heavenly language; the language of mystery. Stop for a moment and let the last phrase sink in: …that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Let us be diligent to lay hold of that for which Jesus laid hold of us. Let us surrender to the Father’s habitation.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

The work of God is an internal work. He is working from the inside out.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

It is His desire to come in and abide. He is knocking and He desires to remain. Truly, the Triune God has taken up residence within each of His people, and in us corporately. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in wisdom and might, have come to abide in us. The kingdom of God has come in the vessels of born again believers.

The Called Out Ones

When Jesus was here on Earth, the Romans were the superpower kingdom. As such, they set out to transform the nations under their rule by sending an assembly of Roman leaders, chosen from each segment of culture (e.g., business, arts, philosophy, government), to infuse or force Roman culture into the native country. We see this in the New Testament, where the Jewish government was a puppet to the Romans. For example, the Sanhedrin could not kill Jesus without Pilate’s approval. This group of transformation leaders was called the ekklesia.

The Roman ekklesia was not a sub-culture group, trying to be like the Jews. They were a counter-culture group, sent to transform the Jewish culture into that of the Roman Empire. It is important to recognize that Jesus’ chose this word to describe the kingdom He came to build. The disciples would have understood exactly what Jesus had in mind: A counter-culture kingdom that would transform the kingdoms around it.

As we know from history, the ekklesias of both Rome and Christ threatened and aggravated the cultures they were called to transform. Jewish uprisings against Rome were constant; eventually leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. It was – and is – no different for the ekklesia of Christ.

Our King intends to establish His kingdom by transforming the native culture through His “called out ones”. From its formation, the true Church has stood against both the pagan world and the religious culture; and it has been persecuted. The Romans eventually crucified thousands of Christians; and played a big part in the persecution of the early church.

This should not deter us. We must become “the called out ones”. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Hebrews 13:13-14

What Christ began, He will complete. He will build His church. He has called us out to participate in the work with Him. But, what will that church look like? We have vision for its completion; namely, the Bride and the New Jerusalem. But, is there something more tangible that will guide our participation with Him? How will He build His church? Amazingly, He will build it through the very people He has come to inhabit.

Christ’s Prayer for His Church

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20-23

Jesus has been praying that His Father would make us one for over 2000 years. He gave His glory to us for the very same purpose. The unity of the Body of Christ is the prescription of Scripture for the evangelism of the world. Yet, there are over 30,000 denominations in the United States alone. Something is clearly wrong.

Denominations, and other groups that form around the doctrines of man, are not evil in themselves. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. However, it is time for us to become fierce in our fight against the spirit of divisiveness that has used our rebelliousness to interfere with God’s purposes – particularly His purpose in creating a habitation for Himself.

Ministry in the Workplace offers an incredible opportunity to find unity where the “church” is not so confined. This is not a call for individuals to leave their current fellowships and create a type of “Workplace Church”. This would only increase the problem. Local fellowships are critical to the disciple-making process for every believer. Nevertheless, we must surrender to God’s purpose for habitation wherever we have influence; particularly in those places where His Son is building.

Your Role as a Leader

For many, Christ’s vision for the church – called out and unified – has not been seen, much less experienced. They may not know or believe it is possible. God has given you a vision and a desire for the church He is building in your spheres of influence. It is time to start sharing it.

Intimacy with God

Call my people to repentance. Yea, call them to their knees for prayer and fasting, for confession and vigilance. For this is a strategic hour. The enemy is rejoicing already over his anticipated victories. Ye can disappoint him and thwart his evil designs if ye lay hold upon the throne of God in steadfast, believing prayer. Come Away My Beloved, Francis Roberts

This is a strategic hour – perhaps the most strategic hour in the history of the church. Something must be done. But what? “Only God knows” may have jumped into your mind. So why don’t we ask Him? That is exactly what He desires for us.

Every Christian knows that the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). Prayer is powerful (at least it’s supposed to be), and nothing of heavenly value is possible without prayer. So why do we struggle to pray, both individually and corporately?

Why are we so unsure about the effectiveness of our prayers? Why does it seem that so many of our prayers go unanswered? Why is our prayer life so ineffective, difficult and dissatisfying?

The first strategic move in every war is to cut off communications between the forces on the ground and the central command center. Consequently, much energy and intelligence is focused on keeping the lines of communication open. The situation is no different in the war we are fighting against our greatest enemy, Satan. We must be fiercely diligent to defend what we have been given: The means for effective communication – and relationship – with God.

It is no coincidence that God has made prayer man’s most powerful weapon in the battle for the kingdom. This is the place where God is most intimate in revealing His plans and encouraging His children. As we battle with Him through prayer, He establishes His relationship with us. There is no more important thing we can do in our search for joyful, Spirit-filled ministry.

Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself. It is the only way we can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature. My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Prayer is difficult because our enemies do not want us communicating with God. Satan is a powerful being. An opposing power is needed – God’s power. Is it possible that our prayer life lacks God’s power because we do not pray in the way God has designed? Have we chosen our own way in prayer?

In his book, The PAPA Prayer, Larry Crabb discusses how many in the church turn to God in prayer as if He were Santa Claus sitting behind a vending machine. If we just put in the right change (our time) and push the right buttons (our requests), He will give us what we want. As Crabb laments, this approach has drawn us far from God’s intention in our prayer time with Him: To establish and nurture an intimate relationship with us.

Practicing the PAPA Prayer

As Larry Crabb says, “Once you get a feel for it, praying relationally comes as naturally as breathing. Relating to God is what we were destined and designed to do. The most important thing is to be honest with God in each of the following areas.”

Present yourself to God: With authentic transparency, present whatever you discover in yourself – good or bad. Are you happy, sad, or mad? Disappointed or depressed? Be who you are, where you are.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Attend to how you are thinking of God: Focus on who God really is versus who you think God is, or who you want Him to be. Meditate on His name: El Elyon (Most High God), Adonai (Master), El Shaddai (God Almighty), Elohim (Eternal Creator).

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9

Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God: Eliminate whatever is blocking your intimacy with God by acknowledging, without excuse or explanation, the self-obsession that the Spirit chooses to reveal. Begin by surrendering to His reign, followed by confession and repentance.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9

Approach God as the “first thing” in your life: Lay aside everything but God. Focus on Him as the only provider of truly good things. As you put Him first, you can then approach Him with the confidence that what He loves to give you is what you need the most.

For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:32-33

Each step in the PAPA Prayer may expose a need for confession and repentance: For trying to hide your true feelings, for presuming Him to be something less than He is, for allowing things or people to come between you and Him, or for making Him anything less than first. The conversation you have with Him in these areas will deepen and strengthen your relationship. As Larry Crabb effectively argues, once we have found this place of intimacy with God, we are perfectly positioned to offer pure worship and thanksgiving, and to hear His voice in our intercession for others and in petition for ourselves.

Your Role as Leader

The most important thing you can do for the people in your spheres of influence is to develop an intimate relationship with God. Intimacy takes time. Leaders are normally the busiest people in an organization. This conflict must be resolved. It all comes down to priority and value.

The priority you give to developing intimacy with God is directly proportional to the value you place on your relationship with Him. It is time for a heart check: How much time would you spend with the leading consultant in your field? Are his words more valuable to you than the Father’s?

People in your spheres of influence will notice, and be inspired, when they discover that you have made prayer a part of your business strategy. They will desire to know how to have that same intimacy with Him.

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Many in the church have grown up with the philosophies of a “democratic republic”. Democracy has been a great political experiment. However, it has created a cultural mindset that makes it difficult to live in a healthy relationship with God.

In God’s kingdom, there is no “of the people, by the people, for the people”. The King has the only and final vote. He is the one that determines and executes mercy and justice. Our rights are what He determines them to be.

For the rebellious, this is an unacceptable situation. And that is exactly what got us into this mess. The first sin was more than disobedience; it was outright rebellion. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they decided that they should determine what was best for them. They decided that they would become the captains of their ship. They mutinied, and all was lost (for a time).

Thankfully, God has a plan to take back the throne of mankind’s heart. Re-establishing His reign is one of God’s greatest pursuits. The first step in the journey towards joyful, Spirit-filled ministry is our surrender to this, one of the three primary purposes of God.

Our surrender must be complete; for the Creator will not share His reign with the created. From His position on the throne of our hearts, God reveals the desires He has placed there. In our surrendered state, we are positioned to receive all that God has purposed for our lives.

Surrender is easier when we understand the gospel of the kingdom, its place in God’s story, and our place in it.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15

What gospel are we to believe? The gospel of the kingdom. This is the full gospel. It is more than the good news of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Though it is of first importance, the good news that most have been taught is only a part of the good news; for the gospel of the kingdom is literally “the good news of God’s reign in the hearts of mankind”.

Consequently, when Jesus preached, “Repent”, He meant that we were to turn from self-rule to His kingdom rule. We are commanded to move from rebellion to surrender. This was the major theme of His preaching in all of Galilee and throughout Israel.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Matthew 4:23

Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Luke 4:42-43

Jesus was sent with a purpose: To preach the gospel of the kingdom everywhere He went. It was not just for private conversations with His disciples. It was good news for everyone. As you might expect, the gospel of the kingdom continued to be preached after Jesus ascended to sit at His Father’s right hand.

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Acts 8:12

So when they had appointed him [Paul] a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. Acts 28:23

For more references to the gospel of the kingdom, see Matthew 9:35; 10:7; 24:14; Luke 8:1; 9:2, 6, 11; 10:9; and Acts 1:3; 8:12; 19:8; 20:25.

I have three points to make before we go on: First, Jesus began preaching the gospel – and had the disciples do the same – well before He discussed His death, burial and resurrection. Second, the gospel is more about Him than it is about us – it is His good news, His kingdom, and His reign. Therefore, and thirdly, the gospel is much bigger than most have been taught.

Your Role as Leader

The gospel of the kingdom – the good news of Christ’s reign over the hearts of mankind – is the solution for most of the problems facing the church. When leaders give up their reign for His, many will follow; thus creating a mass movement from the enemies’ camp, into the kingdom. You have been given influence for such a movement. It is time to get moving.

Closing Thoughts

People look to Leaders in the Workplace for vision and purpose. Build your vision on the eternal purposes of God, and you will become a supernatural leader! It is important to realize that God is our sufficiency; and He operates in process. Your transformation will take as long as God determines. The same is true for those in your spheres of influence. Perseverance and patience are translated from the same Greek word. We must practice both.

Assignment

  1. Review the Bible passages for this week. Make note of any truth that has made you free to serve the Lord more completely. Be prepared to share these with the group.
  2. Use the tool provided at the link below to begin identifying your spheres of influence.

    http://www.inlightconsulting.com/SmallGroupStudy/AdventureGuideBibleStudySeries_SphereofInfluenceTool.pdf.

  3. Consider Christ’s announcement of the good news of His reign (Luke 4:16-21). As His bondservant and steward, ask Him how He wants you to represent Him. Be careful to record His answers.
  4. How do you define church? Do you believe that your organized church fellowship should provide for every area of Christian life? What if your paradigm was such that your activities in the institution were but a subset of “doing church” God’s way? What if there was more?
  5. Practice the PAPA Prayer, as described in the lesson, for at least 30 days.

Humbly yours and forever His,