The greatest joy in life is the thrill of being used by God for a purpose greater than yourself, proclaims the minister of a U.S. megachurch based in California. "No other experience in your life even comes close to this feeling, and if you haven't felt it, I feel sad for you," said Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren in his new sermon series entitled The Miracle of Mercy.
"Your life is more important than simply growing up, getting an education, getting a job, making money, retiring, and then dying," reminds Warren. "You were shaped to serve God, and when you understand that, you find fulfillment and come alive."
Warren said when that special moment comes, people realize, "This is it, this is why I'm alive. I get it now. I understand."
He said people need something bigger than themselves for which to live, because humans were made for eternal consequences.
Week two in Warren's Miracles of Mercy sermon series is about the idea that God can use anybody because of his mercy. He said many people secretly fear God won't be able to use them for his vision and purposes, because they feel "disqualified or unqualified" due to past mistakes, sins, poor decisions or lack of talents and opportunities.
He used the life of Apostle Paul to discount the notion that God won't use unlikely humans for missions. Contained in Paul's biblical writings, Warren said there are five secrets of being used by God for good in life:
1) Never forget it's all because of God's mercy.
2) Be real, authentic, genuine; be yourself.
3) It's about Jesus Christ as the Lord; it's not about self-centered us.
4) Use my pain to help others.
5) Stay focused on eternity.
"You were made to make a contribution in life," said Warren. "God only uses flawed, broken, weak, sinful people because there are no perfect human beings. We're like clay jars in which God puts his treasures."
Warren encourages everyone not to waste their pain from life, rather people should use their pain to help others.
It's important to be open and honest about personal weaknesses, said Warren. "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, humility is thinking of yourself less."
Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future, said Warren.
There are three motivations in life, said Warren: internal, such as happiness, wanting to be rich, wanting to be popular, famous, loved; external, such as being afraid of being fired or guided by what others think; or eternal, or knowing that this life is a test and a get-ready stage for the trillions and trillions of years in heaven.
The key to staying focused is small groups, to have a support system and get perspective from others, said Warren.
"Deciding to go 'all-in' versus being a causal Christian will make the difference in a transformative life," said Warren.