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MADE TO FLOURISH: Graduate Sunday with John Rogers

I have good news for you today!  God created you on purpose, for a purpose and with a purpose.  This is good news isn’t it?

Psalm 139:13-16
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

When does this psalmist declare God knew you?  In the womb.  The creation of you was on purpose.  Isn’t that awesome?  God saw you as you were bring formed.  Jeremiah takes this a step further:

Jeremiah 1:5  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

This is really good news regardless of what stage of life we find ourselves in.  As God created you He had a plan and God gives us a clue on how to discover that plan.  Too many settle for the common and the ordinary.  God’s people have a purpose, a joy.  God’s people aren’t just living, but flourishing.  There’s no guarantee we will live in God’s plan.  God has given us freedom of choice.  In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus alluded to a narrow gate that leads to life and a broad road that leads to destruction. 

Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV) "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

He said only a few find it.  You can do whatever you want to do but it will lead to destruction. 

I thought it would be good to ask my grandson Sidney and his girlfriend Becca to share some principles they learned while in college.  They both just graduated from NC State last month, Sidney with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and Becca with a degree in Elementary Education.

1.    Choose to Make the Lord a Priority

Sidney: I’ve been told these principles also apply to adulthood.  When I left the structure of high school I had more time and more freedom.  In high school I went to school and was in 
class all day.  In college I’d have an 8am class and another at 3pm.  That got me thinking it would be nice to take a nap and watch Netflix.  I learned the importance of choosing Jesus in what I did.  For example, the first Sunday I was at college I could choose to sleep in or to go to church.  I went to church and I found a great community.  Starting off with that foundation as soon as possible was choosing to pursue God daily.

 Matthew 6:33   But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Becca:  Building on what Sidney said, finding a ministry on campus was also important so I could pour into others.  You can take what you know and share the Lord with others.  You can be a light on campus.

1.    Choose  Your Friends Carefully

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) -  Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)  -  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see (graduation is drawing near) the Day drawing near.

Becca: The biggest thing someone told me before college was the five people you spend the most time with is who you will become like.  What are your goals?  What do you want your walk with God to be like?  The people you surround yourself with will lead you towards or away from God.  I found good friends rooted in Christ that push me towards God.

Sidney:  The friends I’ve made at college are awesome and I’ve made lots of them from all walks of life.  Many of them share the same beliefs and many don’t.   I live with seven guys in a two bedroom house by the way!  It’s super clean and doesn’t have any roaches but it’s tight with seven of us living there.  We stay up talking into the late hours of the night having deep discussions.  Having a friend pray with you is BIG.  Having someone push you back to Jesus is huge.  Good company equals good character.

2.    Choose to Use Your Time Wisely

Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)  -  “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Sidney: I’ve found it helpful to develop good study habits.  I’ve watched all episodes of The Office I think like three times.  There’s a lot to do, watch and get involved in but finding the right balance is key.  Our work can take priority but our friends can too.
Becca: I learned a valuable lesson when I first arrived on campus.  I saw all the clubs and I think I joined all of them!  It was so exhausting.  It was hard for me to prioritize.  Choose a few things you can pour into very well.  Make time for God, if not, you can’t do well in college.

3.    Choose to Work for Excellence

Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV) -    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,  24  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Becca:  This was something I learned later on from a mentor who asked me, “Are you working for excellence every day?”  Are you working at your fullest potential?  It’s so easy not to live up to our fullest potential in college.  Our parents aren’t around to push us. 
Sidney:  My grandfather started a group called, “Monday Matters.”  Before I start my real job I’ve realized I can worship Jesus in my workplace and not have to be a pastor.  I can be bold enough to share Jesus.  All that I do should reflect that I thank God for the gifts He has given me.  I hope I use them well.  My next step is to become a more mature adult.  We have cards to pass out that have these principles on them.   I used something like this throughout my first year of college.  It was helpful.  College can be scary.  Thanks for having us today.

John:  These principles are for all of us in every stage of life.  My purpose changed six years ago when I retired.  God gave me new opportunities. 

   One of my favorite stories took place in a large black church in Philadelphia:
   It was graduate Sunday, just like today.  Graduates were sharing what school they were graduating from and what their plans were for the future.  One shared they’re headed to Harvard, another to study mechanics etc…  As they shared their plans a great sea of over two thousand old folks in the room would groan and moan with joy, “mmmmm hummm!”  “Glory!”  These graduates will become what America never let them be.

The pastor began shouting, “CHILDREN!  You are gonna DIE!  We need a reminder we are gonna die.  One day they’ll place you in the grave, throw dirt on your face and all go back into the church to eat potato salad. When you were born you were the only one crying and everyone else was happy.  When you die will you be the only one happy and everyone else crying?  Are you committed to title and degrees?  Do you want people giving testimonies of how you loved them?  Do you want titles or testimonies?”  This preacher then summarized the entire Bible in only five minutes like any good black preacher can, “Pharoah had the title of ruler of Egypt but when it was all over it was Moses who had the testimony!  King Nebuchadnezzar had a title but it was Daniel who had the testimony!”

I wish all of us had titles and testimonies, but if we had to choose, choose testimony.  Choose to live the life God created for you. 

Lord, grow desire within each of us to live into our purposes regardless of our age and stage of life.  May we choose things that live into God’s purposes.  Jeremiah says if we seek God with all our hearts we will find Him.


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