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FOR THIS I WAS BORN
By Brian Houston Thomas Nelson
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One You Were Born for the Cause of Christ
Time is ticking. Each of us will walk the planet for a certain number of days; we all have a specific number of breaths and heartbeats to expend. The question is: what will you do with the years, months, weeks, days, and minutes God has given you?
What cause, if any, will define your life? How will you be remembered? What legacy will you leave for your family and the generations to come? The answers rest with you.
In the midst of a society often defined by skepticism and cynicism, everyone contemplates and searches for answers and something to believe in. There are no limits to causes, both positive and negative, that vie for our commitment, passion, money, and time. We have our families, our mortgages, our work. And then there are the global causes of injustice, inequity, the fight against terrorism, climate change, the list is endless.
I wholeheartedly believe there is one cause that is greater than any other, a cause that when lived to fulfillment impacts every area of our lives. It gives meaning, direction, and purpose to every day; it influences your choices and decisions; it sets your children up to win; and it has the potential to affect all who cross your path.
It is the cause of Jesus Christ. There is no greater cause on the planet.
To understand the power of this cause, we have to look to the life of Jesus himself. Some two thousand years ago, he-an innocent man-stood in front of a judge and faced a barrage of questions that would determine whether he lived or died a horrible death. His is perhaps the most notorious trial in recorded history. To this day it sparks controversy and is the subject of many books and movies. Jesus did not have a vast legal team advising him on what to say or how to plead; in fact, he refused to defend himself against the injustice he suffered. Instead, he declared a truth so absolute that it confounded all who were present.
A weak Roman governor, desperate to appease the bloodthirsty crowd, asked a probing question of Jesus: "Are you a king then?" And he received a powerful, definitive answer:
You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world. (John 18:37, emphasis added)
"For this cause" is a statement of certainty and conviction. Jesus Christ knew exactly who he was, and the purpose for which he was alive was unmistakable. His was a cause so vital that he would willingly die for it.
Speaking of his impending death on a cross, Jesus declared, "For this cause, I came unto this hour" ( John 12:27 KJV). His entire life was encapsulated in that one powerful phrase-"for this cause."
Do you have such boldness and certainty when it comes to life's big questions? Why were you born? Why are you on the planet at this time in history?
It has been said, "Everyone who is born dies, but not everyone who dies has truly lived." God does not want you and me to die full of potential. He wants you to live for something worth dying for. When Christ's cause truly underpins your life, you will discover meaning and purpose, and your life will never be the same again.
I was blessed to be in the delivery room for the birth of each of our amazing children: Joel, Ben, and Laura. I marveled at the miracle unfolding before me, and particularly at my wife, Bobbie's, pain threshold! I will never forget the feeling of sheer exhilaration as I held each baby for the first time. As their big eyes looked up at me, trying to make sense of this new, womb-free world they had entered into, I prayed over their God-given futures.
We all enter the world the same way-well, relatively. We have a mom; most of us are born in a hospital; we experience the shock of elevated noise and light levels. On the other hand, the circumstances we're born into may differ significantly. Perhaps yours were less than ideal. It is possible you never had a dad who prayed over your future, and maybe the family situation you were born into was not perfect or you were unwanted.
Coming to grips with the truth that you were born for a cause greater than yourself may be difficult. Your past, your family upbringing, and your choices to this point may have you convinced that your lot is settled and there is no way things can get any better.
I am here to tell you, as simply as I can, that there is a "because" factor in your life. You were born because the Father has a plan for you on the earth. He has a purpose for you that transcends your family, your upbringing, and your mistakes. It is greater than the limitations of your environment or the challenges of your circumstances.
Hillsong Church, the church Bobbie and I planted in 1983 and still pastor, is filled with extraordinary people and amazing stories, but not all of them had a great start. We have a dynamic and gifted leader in our church whose unwavering passion is to see people switched on to the cause of Christ. Today she travels the globe as a sought-after communicator. But go back some two decades, and you would encounter an angry young woman in her early twenties, wrestling with issues that stem from a strict Greek Orthodox heritage, sexual abuse, and a sense of inferiority because of her socioeconomic background.
Giving her life to Jesus Christ gave her the sense of direction and purpose that only comes with knowing she has an awesome, God-given destiny to fulfill. Christine became actively involved in our church youth group, and her life started on the course that has enabled her to go and do what she once only could have imagined.
Yet her story does not end there. Prior to her thirty-third birthday, she discovered she had been adopted at birth. This startling news came as a huge shock, and it could easily have thrown her off course and caused her to question her identity. But she never wavered from her sense of destiny and purpose. Regardless of the circumstances of her birth, Christine knew she was alive for the cause of the King and the kingdom. Nothing could ever change that.
I do not know what the circumstances of your birth or upbringing were, but they do not change one very potent truth: before you were born, the Father knew you, destined you, and purposed you.
In the Bible, God tells us, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you" (Jer. 1:5). David declared to the Lord, "You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb" (Ps. 139:13).
You were created by God on purpose, and He has a plan for you. You were born for the cause of the King and the kingdom.
Against All Odds
If you still are not convinced, consider the less-than-ideal circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. In today's society he almost certainly would be classified as coming from a dysfunctional background. First, he was born to a young teenage girl who, at the time of conception, was not even married. Second, the man she married, Joseph, was not actually his biological father. Third, his real father was an unusual entity. Imagine Jesus as a young boy trying to explain to the other children in his village who his dad was. How difficult would it have been explaining to his friends that his father was actually God himself?
There are many other circumstances surrounding his actual birth that could be described as abnormal. His mother was whisked off to another town for his birth, and he was instantly pursued by a paranoid king. He certainly was not born in a sterilized hospital delivery room, surrounded by the comforts of life. We often create images of cozy nativity scenes on Christmas cards, but the reality was a stable most likely infested by rats and vermin and an all-enveloping stench! From early childhood Jesus was faced with the enormous pressure of expectation. The Scriptures declared that "the government shall be upon his shoulder" (Isa. 9:6 KJV), so Jesus had a lot to live up to. The Bible also says that when Jesus was born the angels sang, "Peace to all men and women on earth who please him" (Luke 2:14 MSG, emphasis added). But not "all men and women" responded gladly to Him. He was despised, mocked, and condemned to death. Jesus had to deal with the pain of rejection, yet that did not hold him back.
Some of us may be ruled by the experience of betrayal or broken trust. Jesus too was betrayed; in fact, it was at the hands of one in his closest circle of friends. Jesus also faced continual persecution from the Pharisees wherever he went. The bombardment of religious legalism and persecution probably would have immobilized most of us, yet he rose above every challenge and obstacle.
In human terms, Jesus had plenty of reasons to fail in life, but two thousand years later his birth, his life, and his death continue to impact the world. It was not the circumstances of his birth or the opinions of people that determined his purpose or direction. He did not live out his life from a position of insecurity, negativity, or rejection, because he knew he was on earth for his Father's cause. This sense of cause put everything-especially the tough times-in perspective.
Living with a sense of cause equally applies to you. Once you understand the power of Christ's cause, everything else falls into place. It is at that point that you start becoming all that the Lord has called you to be. Instead of being ruled by the circumstances of your birth or the limitations of your background, you can move forward into God's amazing plan for your life.
Certain bad things may have happened in your past, but the power of those negative situations can be broken so that it does not affect you today.
I encourage you to allow the reality that you were born for an awesome reason to penetrate your heart. It will help give you a new perspective, a God-perspective. Go to the Word and let the promises of the Lord permeate your soul. Renew your mind (Rom. 12:2), develop a fresh way of thinking, and start seeing yourself as the Lord sees you. I know from experience that there is no richer reward in life than discovering God's purpose and allowing it to fuel your vision and direction.
Bobbie and I are blessed to pastor Hillsong Church, which in my biased view is a great church. For more than two decades it has grown in size, influence, and effectiveness. But if you had met me at seventeen, you would not have nominated me to be in the "most likely to succeed" category. Although I was blessed to have a great family, four brothers and sisters, a wonderful and loving mum, and a hero for a dad, I was an awkward teenager. I was not a great student, and I blinked incessantly whenever I got up to preach. But deep down I somehow knew that I was alive for a purpose that was bigger than I was, and gradually I started to gain the unfolding revelation of what I believed I was put on the earth to do.
A lesson I learned as a young man at Bible college, and one that has never left me, is that no matter what occurs in life, you should never allow yourself to develop a wounded spirit. As a result, I have never looked at my life in terms of what I lack or what happened to me in the past, but according to the knowledge that I was born for the cause of the King and the kingdom. This mind-set has equipped me to confront and rise above inadequacies, lack, and feelings likely to limit or contain me. I have been confronted by some extraordinary twists in life, but I know with certainty that my foundation is Jesus!
So why are you on earth today? It was not the luck of the draw. Think about this: you are a one-in-a-million success story from the moment of your conception. There is no mistake about who you are and who you are destined to be. When you get a revelation of this fact, no matter what comes against you in life, it will not be able to throw you off course.
Knowing that you were born for a cause will keep you moving forward and release you into the plans and purposes of the Father.
Excerpted from FOR THIS I WAS BORN by Brian Houston Copyright © 2008 by Brian Houston. Excerpted by permission.
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