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Best Of Finding Purpose

Finding Purpose / Russ Andrews
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July 26, 2023 12:30 am

Best Of Finding Purpose

Finding Purpose / Russ Andrews

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July 26, 2023 12:30 am

Today's episode is a "Best Of" for Finding Purpose. 


This is Stu Epperson from the Truth Talk Podcast, connecting current events, pop culture, and theology, and we're so grateful for you that you've chosen the Truth Podcast Network. It's about to start in just a few seconds. Enjoy it, and please share it around with all your friends. Thanks for listening, and thanks for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Do you feel like Christianity is just a system of rules and regulations?

I can do this, but I can't do that. Do you feel like your efforts to reach God, find God, and please God are futile? Do you feel like your faith is dead or alive? Today, Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, a local triangle ministry glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at or connect with us on Facebook. Now let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious. This is part one of a special two-part episode. I've entitled this morning's message, Consume My Life. We're going to be looking at Matthew chapter 10 verses 37 through 39.

Wheaton College is a small liberal arts college about 25 miles west of Chicago. Its motto is, For Christ and His Kingdom. When Jim Elliott went there in the fall of 1945, his objective was to prepare himself to serve the Lord for the rest of his life. Therefore, he eliminated everything that he felt would distract him from this objective, dating being one of those things.

Furthermore, he made a habit of getting up early in the morning in order to have uninterrupted time for prayer and Bible study. But it was not until his junior year that he began to keep a journal as a means of self-discipline, forced himself to articulate something on paper, helped him to concentrate, and gave direction to his devotional times. On January 17, 1948, Jim wrote in his journal, What is written in these pages I suppose will someday be read by others than myself. For this reason, I cannot hope to be absolutely honest in what is here and recorded, for the hypocrisy of this shaming heart will ever be putting on a front and dares not to have written what is actually found in its abysmal depths. Yet, I pray, Lord, that you will make these notations to be as nearly true to fact as is possible, so that I may know my own heart and be able to definitely pray regarding my gross, though often unviewed, inconsistencies. Here we are, 67 years later, and we're reading the words that Jim wrote in his journal. What I want us to see this morning is Jim Elliott's heart for God. In that same journal, during that same year, Jim recorded this prayer. God, I pray thee, light these idle sticks of my life, and may I burn for thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is thine.

I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus. For those of you who may not be familiar with Jim Elliott, he was one of five missionaries who were speared to death by the Alki Indians in 1956 as they attempted to share the gospel in the jungles of Ecuador. Jim's wife, Elizabeth, in her book, Shadow of the Almighty, writes, When he died, Jim left little of value, as the world regards values.

Of material things, there were a few, a home in the jungle, a few well-worn clothes, books, and tools. The men who went to try to rescue the five missionaries, all of whom died, brought back to me from Jim's body his wristwatch, and from the beach the blurred pages of his college prayer notebook. There was no funeral, and there was no tombstone for memorial, and so I asked, Was there no legacy then? Was it just as if he had never been? Jim left for me, she writes, in memory, and for us all, in these letters and diaries, the testimony of a man who sought nothing but the will of God, and who prayed that his life would be an exhibit of the value of knowing God. The interest which accrues from this legacy is yet to be realized. It is hinted at in the lives of Indians who have determined to follow Christ, persuaded by Jim's example, in the lives of many who write to tell me of a new desire to know God as Jim did.

His death was the result of simple obedience to his captain. One of the reasons that I find myself in ministry today is because of the life of Jim Elliott. When I read the account of his life and death in Elizabeth Elliott's other book, Through Gates of Splendor, I was climbing the ladder of success in the financial world.

It was in the early 1990s. My life at that time was pretty much all about me. I will never forget reading that book, and reading about Jim Elliott's commitment to serve the Lord really challenged me to examine my own life. Jim Elliott, think about this, was only 21 years old when he wrote this prayer. Are we willing to pray this same prayer? Dear God, I pray thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus. In Ephesians chapter 4 verse 1, Paul writes, As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you received. In Colossians chapter 1 verse 10, Paul writes, And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord, and may please Him in every way.

Jim Elliott desired only one thing, and that was to live a life that pleased God. I can't speak for the rest of you, but I know for me. And it's kind of easy to say this on Sundays, and it's easy to say this when you're preaching. It's kind of easy to say this when you're kind of in the spirit. The hard part is when you're in the flesh. But when I'm in the spirit, and right now, I want to live the rest of my life to please God. I'm 60 years old.

I've probably got about 20 more years, and I want to make them count. In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus called His 12 disciples to gather around Him because He was preparing to send them out into the world. These were His chosen followers, and He wanted them to be ready for what they were going to encounter in the world, a hostile world. And so before sending them out, He gave them some instructions.

First, He said, go and preach the message of the gospel to the ends of the earth. And with that command, He wanted them to be on their guard against men who would attack them. He warned them that the world would hate them simply because of their association with His name.

He told them not to be afraid. He said, if you acknowledge Me before men, then one day in heaven, I will acknowledge you before My Father. And then He gave them three conditions of the heart that are necessary if one is to live a life that really pleases God, a life that is worthy of the Lord. And those three conditions are found in Matthew chapter 10, 37 through 39. And listen carefully to what Jesus said to them. Verse 37, anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.

Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Would you pray with me? Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the Bible. Thank You, Lord, that it is a treasure that You've left here on earth for us. It is Your Word to the world.

It is a letter that You've written to Your children. All we have to do is pick it up and read it, and I'm amazed that every time I pick up Your Word in the morning in my office, I sense You speaking to me, just like You did this morning. And Lord, I thank You for what You said to the disciples, and it's a challenge to us, to God, as to how You want us to live our lives. And so I just pray this morning for those who are in Christ here, who are Your children, who are being pulled by the world, but really in their hearts, they really want to follow You, but the world just has a grip on them. The world gets a grip on all of us from time to time. Lord, help us to be willing to let go, to say no to the world, and to be willing to take an adventure with You, no matter how old we are, whether we're 10 or whether we're 90. As long as we have breath in our lungs, there's still something You can do with us. And so, Lord, I pray that we would be willing to say, Here I am, Lord.

Send me. That's my prayer this morning. Now, Lord, I pray that You would take Your Word and penetrate our hearts and teach us what You want to teach us. It's in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. Okay, from these three verses, I want to show you three conditions that must be evident in your heart if you really want to please God and live your life with Him.

Here's condition number one. You must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. Now, look at verse 37 again. Jesus said, Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Now, I don't know about you, but I really loved my mother.

In fact, y'all know she passed away on May 6th, and she celebrated her 87th birthday yesterday in heaven. I love my two sons and my wife. And so it's hard to quite get my hands around this, that we're to love Jesus more than we love them. But that's what He's asking of us. In fact, the parallel passage for this verse found in Luke 14, 26, seems to go even a little bit further. This is where Jesus is addressing the crowd of people who are following Him. He said, If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, that he cannot be my disciple. What did He mean by that, that we're to hate our mother and father, our brothers and sisters, even our own lives?

Did He really mean that? Warren Worsby explains that Jesus seems to be making a distinction between salvation and discipleship. Jesus wants everyone to be saved.

He wants to fill heaven with saved souls. However, when it comes to discipleship, Jesus is more interested in quality than quantity. Worsby writes, Salvation means coming to the cross and trusting Jesus Christ, while discipleship means carrying the cross and following Jesus Christ.

Do you see the difference? Salvation means coming to the cross and trusting Jesus. Discipleship means carrying the cross and following Him. You see, a lot of people are willing to come to the cross and trust Jesus, but few are willing to carry a cross and follow Him. To be a true follower of Jesus begins by loving Him supremely, even more than we love our own flesh and blood.

It's not that we hate our parents or our children. It's that in comparison to our love for Christ, all other loves appear as hatred. You see, the question I have to ask myself is how much do I really love Jesus? Yes, I left my work and I started this ministry, but when I compare what I'm doing here in America to what thousands of missionaries are doing on the mission field where their lives are literally in danger, I have to ask myself, Do I really love Jesus the way they do?

Would I be willing to go anywhere and do anything? Would I be willing to give my life if that is what God asked of me? And so let me ask you, Do you really love Jesus? I think loving Jesus begins by really understanding who we are and what He's done for us. So what does it mean to love Jesus? How do we define this love? Well, I think love is better demonstrated than it is defined.

So let me give you a demonstration. In Luke chapter 7, we learn that Jesus went to the home of a wealthy Pharisee and was having a meal. While He was reclining at the table, this woman comes in who lived a very simple life.

I'm sure you're familiar with the story. She was a prostitute and there's no telling how many men she had been with, but at some point she must have heard Jesus preach and she must have been captivated by the authority of His message and she must have seen the love coming from His eyes, but she also, I believe, felt convicted of her sin and so she repented and she was determined to live a new life in Christ. And one day she heard that Jesus was at the home of a very prominent Pharisee and she wanted so much to go to Jesus just to show Him how much she loved Him.

She didn't really care who was watching. She was not ashamed to show her love for Jesus publicly and so she went to the rich man's house. And when she arrived at the house, she quietly came over to Jesus and I'm certain that the conversation at the table stopped. Every eye in the room was on this uninvited woman. Humbly, she knelt at His feet. Tears began to well up in her eyes and they began to literally run down her cheeks and drip on His feet. She didn't have a cloth so she just took her hair and she began to dry His feet and she began to kiss them and she poured perfume on them.

I'm sure she brought that perfume with her, probably expensive perfume. And the Pharisee said to himself, if this man were a prophet, he would know who's touching him and what kind of a woman she is, that she is a sinner. And Jesus looked at the Pharisee and said, Simon, I have something to tell you. Tell me, teacher, he said, two men owed money to a certain money lender. One owed him 500 denarii and the other 50 and neither of them had the money to pay him back so he counseled the debts of both.

Now which of them will love him more? And Simon replied, I suppose the one who had the bigger debt counseled. And Jesus said, you have judged correctly. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet.

You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, for she loved much. But he who's been forgiven little, loves little.

And then Jesus said to her, your sins are forgiven. What does it mean to love Jesus? I believe it begins by recognizing how sinful we are. As we begin to understand the extent of our sin, then we come to understand more and more how great and wonderful is God's grace.

Have you ever thought about that? You see, I don't believe that we can truly love Jesus until we really see ourselves for what we really are. We are sinners who need a Savior, and we need to experience the grace and mercy of God. Romans 3 makes it so clear. There's no one righteous, not even one. There's no one who does good. All have turned away.

They have together become worthless. I've learned a lot about the grace of God. I've just looked back at my life and thought about knowing that I've known Him since I was 10. And some of the things I've allowed myself to do. And so I'm really kind of glad that God has revealed to me the extent of my sin and the immeasurable extent of His grace.

Because now when I have someone come to me, like I did a man a few years ago who was married and had a six-year-old daughter, and he confessed to me that he had three homosexual relationships, the last thing I did was throw my Bible at him and tell him that he was a sinner. I began to share with him some of my sins so he wouldn't feel so bad about his sin. He already was consumed with guilt.

That's why tears were running off of his chin as he sat in my office. Romans 5-8 states, but God demonstrates His own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And 2 Corinthians 5-21 states, God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Until we come to understand the extent of our sins and that Jesus took them all upon Himself and literally died in our place, we can't really love Him the way we should.

Do you really love Jesus? If you want to live your life in a way that pleases God, then it begins by loving His Son more than anything or anyone else. That must be the first condition of your heart.

And here's condition number two. You must be willing to die to self. Look at verse 38 again. Anyone who does not take His cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. What did Jesus mean when He said, anyone who does not take His cross? Well, to understand what He meant, you must consider and think about what a person did on the cross. John MacArthur writes, no one in the Roman Empire in New Testament times could have missed Jesus' point. The cross symbolized the extremes of both excruciating pain and heartless cruelty.

But above all, it symbolized death. Only a few years before Jesus spoke these words, a zealot named Judas, not the one that betrayed Jesus. This was another man named Judas. This Judas had gathered together a band of rebels to fight the Roman occupation forces.

The insurrection was easily quelled in order to teach the Jews a lesson. The Roman general Verus ordered the crucifixion of over 2,000 Jews. Their crosses lined the roads of Galilee from one end to the other. You see, during Jesus' day, everyone knew what a cross meant. It meant death. You see, today, I think the cross has lost some of its meaning. You have to think about it. Today, the cross most often is seen hanging as a beautiful piece of jewelry around a lady's neck.

And I don't think there's anything wrong with this. But over time, the beauty of these pieces of jewelry has resulted in the cross losing some of its meaning. The cross was an instrument of execution. It was a place of horrible pain and death. And so to hang a cross around your neck back then would be like us hanging a gas chamber around our neck today.

And who would do that? See, it was symbolic of death. With that meaning in mind, Jesus tells us that we're not worthy to follow Him if we're not willing to take up our cross. Jesus died on His cross. He's challenging us to die on our cross.

Are you willing? Before you answer that question, you might want to know what it means. What does it mean to take your cross and follow Jesus? Warren Wisby writes, to carry the cross does not mean to wear a pin on our lapel or put a bumper sticker on our car. It means to confess Christ and obey Him in spite of shame and suffering. It means death to self, to our own plans and ambitions, and a willingness to serve Him as He directs.

A cross is something we willingly accept from God as part of His will for our lives. Ed McCully was one of the other five missionaries who died on that fateful day. And he was probably the most talented of the five, although they were all talented. He was the one that the other guys thought would be so successful, whatever he did, in the secular world, in the business world.

But God had something greater in mind. Ed was six feet two, weighed 190 pounds, very good looking, great athlete. He starred on the football team and the track team at Wheaton. In 1949, he entered and won the National Oratorical Contest. 10,000 students entered it and he won it. He was elected senior class president.

After graduation from Wheaton, he enrolled in Marquette Law School where he planned on becoming a lawyer. And in his second year, he took a job as a night clerk at a hotel because he was thinking he would just spend all this time studying. But he began to actually read the Bible more. He was corresponding with Jim Elliott and he got inspired to go be a missionary. He decided to say no to the world and to literally take up his cross and follow Jesus.

And before he went down to Ecuador, he trained in dentistry and obstetrics and gynecology so that he could be a medical missionary down in Ecuador. So exactly what is the cross of a believer? MacArthur writes, the cross of a believer is the willing sacrifice of everything one has, including life for the sake of Christ. To take up your cross might mean simply bowing your head in a public restaurant and saying a blessing. To take up your cross might mean sharing your faith with a friend, risking that friendship. To take up your cross might mean giving to someone in need and denying yourself something you want. To take up your cross might mean standing up for the truth, knowing few will agree. To take up your cross might mean going to some distant country to share the gospel with those who might not want to hear it. To take up your cross might mean refusing to watch something, refusing to partake of something, refusing to do something even though everybody else is doing it. To take up your cross might mean refusing to follow the crowd.

It might mean being less popular, and it might mean being a little lonely. To take up your cross means to enter through the narrow gate and walk down the narrow road. It means to seek the applause of God rather than the applause of men. It means to live a sacrificial life rather than an indulgent one. To take up your cross means to live for God and others rather than for yourself. Are you willing to take up your cross and follow Jesus?

Everyone needs to understand this truth. Following Jesus will always cost you something. This is why Jesus gave this warning in Luke chapter 14. He said, Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.

Will you not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. Can you imagine if Noah, I was reading about Noah in my Bible yesterday. Can you imagine if Noah got about 30 years into his 120 years that he spent building the ark? 120 years. Cutting down trees. Ridiculed.

Don't you know he was ridiculed? It had never rained. What is this, a boat?

Nobody had ever seen a boat. 120 years. I think he must have measured the cost. You should count the cost before you pick up your cross because following Jesus will always be costly.

But as Darlene Rose once said, the compensations far outweigh the cost. And so, if we really want to live our lives in a way that pleases God, we must be willing to pray the same prayer that Jim Elliot prayed. God, light these idol sticks of my life and may I burn for thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is yours.

Are you willing to pray this prayer? Do you really want to live your life for God? If you do, then you must love Jesus with all your heart and you must be willing to die to self. And finally, you must be willing to lose your life. Look at verse 39 again. Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

See, that's what the Bible says. But what does the world say? I've learned that I have to be contemporary when I use illustrations because sometimes I'll refer to like an old commercial. I didn't realize it was in the 1960s.

And the young people are going, what's he talking about? So there was a beer commercial from the 1960s, Schlitz. They didn't make that beer anymore. We don't even know that, do we? I shouldn't have asked that question in church.

But the commercial went like this. You only go around once in life, so what? You're as old as I am. Grab all the gusto you can. The young people go, what's he talking about?

You only go, I think you can figure it out. You only go around once in life, so grab all the gusto you can. What does it mean? It means you only have one life to live and so live it for yourself. Grab everything you can that will make you happy and wealthy and have pleasure.

And I have to be honest with you. If I was not a Christian, that's exactly what I'd be doing. I'd try to make as much money as I could. I'd buy as many things as I could and I would have as much fun as I could because I'd be living for this life. I'd be living for the here and now. Malcolm Forbes, the millionaire and former publisher of Forbes Magazine who died in 1990, he is the one who apparently coined the phrase who dies with the most toys wins and he had a whole lot of toys.

He had some big, expensive toys. You see, this is the message of the world and this is how all television ads are produced. TV ads are created in error to tempt us to live for today and to grab all that we can to make our lives as comfortable and pleasurable as possible and this is how the vast majority of Americans live including a lot of Christians and this is why God hates the Prosperity Gospel. This concludes part one.

Part two will air next week. Being a Christian is not about being religious but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, a local triangle ministry glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local triangle men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-26 03:09:48 / 2023-07-26 03:21:12 / 11

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