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May 05, 2024

Chasing Your Assignment | Presence Over Purpose

Chasing Your Assignment | Presence Over Purpose

Passage: Exodus 33:12-17

Speaker: Chip Paul

Series: Stand Alone Message

Category: Sunday Sermons

Keywords: church, prayer, faith, jesus, god, praise, sermon, christian, bible, gospel, hope, sermons, holy spirit, moses, god's presence, exodus, inspiration, purpose, jesus christ, bible study, presence of god, life purpose, purpose of life, finding purpose, biblical history, senior sunday, study the bible, bible teaching, burnt hickory worship, burnt hickory baptist church live stream, motivational speech, how to find your purpose, story of moses, the story of moses

Today, we celebrate senior Sunday with our Radite Students and hear Chip Paul, our Student Pastor, deliver a powerful sermon about chasing God’s presence over our purpose. What does it truly mean to experience God's presence? Through the story of Moses leading the people of Israel, we learn the difference between presence and purpose. In the stillness of His presence, we can find clarity and direction for our purpose. It’s His presence that sets us apart from the rest of the world. Are you experiencing the presence of God? Are you finding your purpose inside His presence? As always, we’d love to take the time to answer any questions you have about Jesus, so reach out today. Take the next step in your faith journey by visiting

Good morning, church, man I'm excited to be with you guys this morning. What a special morning it is to celebrate our seniors, as well as just to be in the house of the Lord and to worship. I'm excited today for a couple of reasons. One, because it is Senior Sunday, and we do get to celebrate this huge accomplishment. that these guys have come to. And then the next journey that's about to happen for them. But at the same time, I am the father of one of these graduates as well. And that excites me just to know that my daughter will be graduating soon as well. So it's kind of special for me. I’m excited that I get the chance to speak this morning. Actually, on this Sunday. Matt came to me a couple of weeks ago, so I've had a little bit of time to prepare for this and to think about where we wanted to go, one that would help and speak into the lives of our seniors. But at the same time, speaking to the life of each and every one of us in this room to challenge us in a way that not only just focuses on that journey, but also the journey that you and I step into every day. And so with that, I'm not amazing with titles, but I did title the message Chasing Your Assignments with kind of a subtitle to it as well. so we're going to look into that a little bit, but it was chasing your assignments with the subtitle of presence over purpose.

Now, I want you to understand that, for all of us, at some point in our lives, we've had assignments, right? All the way back from elementary school. when we had assignments that were due at a certain time, we had a project that was due, and our parents did it, and they got upset because they didn't get an A on it, kind of thing. But you had those projects that were due. Those assignments that were due when you got in middle school, you had assignments as well that were due, and we lost them at some point in time as middle schoolers and then turned them in late and showed our teacher showed grace on us and we still got the grade. Then we got into high school, and we continued to have assignments all the way up through the AP assignments, through all the graduating assignments, and every other assignment we could imagine possible was coming at us. And then in college and even all the way into our careers, we have daily assignments, we have requirements they have to meet, we have assignments that we have to accomplish for our jobs and our responsibilities. And so those assignments are things that are constantly something that we receive and that are a part of our lives.

However, in different seasons of our life, our assignments change, right? There are assignments that change over time, and they come and go and they have different due dates and different times. For me, the way I think of that is in the seasons of life, and how assignments have changed is through music. I love music, and I come from a family that loves music. We love to listen to music. Loved it. I'm not a singer. by no means, but we like to listen to it. My wife sings. They know all the lyrics, everything. I just mumble through them. I had a good time with it, and I enjoyed it. But I remember that music has impacted me for quite some time. But all throughout my life, there have been different songs that have been a part of my season. So it's this morning, some of you will be able to go with me in this intro a little bit to to some of the songs that I'm going to mention that impacted me. And then some of you are like, I don't have a clue what you're talking about.

For me, I remember all the way back, I'm a gen-x guy. So we had the best music of all time. The 80s music was phenomenal. there we go. We have a few people that are excited about that. The rest of you are a little salty about that, but it is what it is. but I had some moments in my life when I was very young, and I remember a place called Pizza Inn. Anybody remember Pizza Inn? Anyway Yeah. Like, not many of us. if you lived in, like, South Georgia, you lived in a rural area. A lot of times, there was a Pizza Inn. Pizza Hut was like the thing, right? Like there's a little nostalgia to our childhood in Pizza Hut. They had the buffet, Pizza Inn was a little bit different, kind of like a sit-down table kind of thing. You got your pizza brought to you; it's kind of a thing for us. I remember going as a kid, I mean, seven, eight, nine years old or so, and my parents took us to Pizza Inn. They would always try to find places where you could get the most amount of food for the least amount of money. and that was around a pizza, right?

So because it was five of us in my family, there were three boys, my mom, and my dad. And so us boys, we like to eat. So we would go there. I remember going to Pizza Inn. The exciting thing about Pizza Inn this time was they had a jukebox at Pizza Inn, right. And, some of you guys, like, I know that jukebox is okay for some of you in the room. Yeah, I know exactly what that is. You took a quarter. You put it in there, and you picked your song. You can go to Waffle House. You can find the new digitalized one. It isn't the same. I'm just letting you know. Unless you see that little thing happen, it isn't the same. Okay. but I remember it was my turn. It was my turn to get the quarter from Dad and to pick the music. Now, a little bit about my dad. My dad was a little bit of a rock and roll kind of person. He loved rock and roll. He played in a band. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I didn't see him in a band. It was during his younger days. He probably did some things he shouldn’t have, but he was in a band, kind of an Elvis-looking band type thing when he had hair, kind of thing. Okay. but what I learned was that I wanted to pick a song. That one not only would mean something to him, but that also be kind of cool for me.

So I remember stepping over to the jukebox. I didn't really know what I was picking. And I picked a song by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Some of you know which one this is. It says I love rock and roll, right? That was my song. That was the one I put in for the quarter, and I couldn't wait for it to come around and for my turn to hear that song. And I thought, man, this is like, wow, I'd really never really heard this song. I just thought it was cool because my dad loved rock and roll, and I was like, well, I love rock and roll, so I'm going to play this song. And I remember that very first stage of me enjoying music, which was a song that became a part of a season for me. It was kind of like an assignment to me as a young man. That I'm going to be this, like rocker type dude, and I'm going to love this music. I love rock and roll. And then it went on a little bit of a Journey, to Don't Stop Believin, rock. We got to Journey, and it was like, here we go. It's a different little thing. Then I got into sports, and I started playing sports and Eye of the Tiger. You could not play Eye of the Tiger by Survivor and be an athlete. So I was like, this is my thing. And then I started to Dream On a little bit. So I got to Aerosmith, right? We had those moments that we were dreaming of. We were having a good time. It was just kind of a rock era for me, but for all of us, I was livin' on a prayer with some Bon Jovi as well. Okay, I had those moments where I that was that was like my growing up in the early part of the 80s. Then, I had a little Pentecostal movement in my music career, and I was introduced to a man named Carmen. Does anyone remember Carmen? Yeah.

So, I went to one of his concerts at the Albany Civic Center in South Georgia. And I remember going in there and he played this song, champion, and I'm talking about, man, it was as Pentecostal as it could be, but it was theatrical. It was exciting. I walked it out of there. I wanted to buy some boxing gloves and fight the devil. Right. I was excited about that moment. It was a Carmen moment for me. I had his CDs. I still have them somewhere. but I had those CDs. I had the cassettes had everything for him. For Carmen, it was my moment. There had been all of a sudden I made this weird shift to Reba McEntire. Right?

I don't understand what happened there. Whent and bought the boots, got the cowboy hat, and went to another one of her concerts as well. Little fancy, right? yeah. That came out in 91. Also returned back in 19. Some of you guys, like I wasn't even born in 19. Oh, shame on you. but kind of thing. But I had some Reba McEntire moments. And then somewhere around 91, this movie came out that kind of rocked the whole dating scene called Robin Hood with Kevin Costner in it. Right. And that was the movie of its time. I'm not talking about the fox and the bear, the Disney version. I'm talking about Kevin Costner in the movie Robin Hood. And there was this song in there by Bryan Adams, everything I do. Let me tell you something. You played that song in middle school hallways. The girls were running at you, right? Like it was like the thing, right? Like you knew that that was the song. That was everybody's first date. Everybody's favorite song was Everything I do, I do it for you, baby, right? Like it was that thing for us. So I was in that moment. Then the Thunder Roll with some Garth Brooks. I kind of had a weird moment where I went right here and back and forth, those moments kind of thing.

And then we started like the all-night skates, right? Like we were doing the all-night skate nights where we'd go skating and stuff. I'm not talking like I'm on the in-lines. I'm talking about the four skates kind of thing. You had couples skating, you had backward skating, and you had skating where they threw Tootsie Rolls out. I don't understand why they did that, but it was a game kind of thing. But after on Ice skates, we had the best of the best boy bands, right? We had NSync. We had Backstreet Boys, we had 98 degrees. Some of you, shamefully, have still been to their concerts, you know, and you’re like, I love some NSync Here We Go. But that was kind of an era as well. And then something happened around my homecoming season, somewhere between 93-95. I graduated in 97. Maybe there are some 97 graduates in here. Here we go.

I graduated in 97. 93 to 95, we had homecoming. We had some proms in there. And I remember, without a doubt, one or two of the songs that were at every homecoming was Cotton-eyed Joe and the Macarena. Right. Like we had it in the Macarena. Everybody had to do it. You had those two songs and everything. And then I kind of got back with Jesus for a little while. This is another season of my life. It was at this point in time that I kind of started living a little more, and I had to pull out my Third Day Jars of Clay. But you weren't a Christian; if you didn't have, WOW, Christian music, right? The WOW Christian CDs, right? They had like 12 of them. Every year, they came out with a new Wow. Does anybody know WOW, Christian? I'm not. Okay. Good. As I said, I'm not the only one. I'm okay. But yeah. Wow, Christian CDs. Man. I had a whole visor full of those things. Right? You had the CDs up in the visor. You could pull them down throw them in the little portable CD player. I didn't have a CD player in my vehicle having those portable ones. You plugged into the cigarette lighter. You ran the other part into the tape deck, and you just hoped you didn't hit a speed bump, right? Because if you did, the song was over. It's just how it worked.

You can also hang that thing on your side. And it was a pointless kind of thing. Right. And then I had a little moment where I was like, here we go. We got a little more mature. I got into a little Dave Matthews, and then I had kids, and it was nothing but all the Disney movie soundtrack. Circle of Life, Aladdin, here we go, little Barney, all that kind of stuff. And then it was much later on when I had all my kids. My youngest son, Sterling, who is a sixth grader, introduced me to another song. It was kind of his walk-up song for baseball as well. He always complains I never tell stories about him, so I'm telling one about him today. Okay. but he literally introduced me to this song from the Spider-Man movie Into the Spider-Verse. Now, the song was you going to start a riot. Now, I didn't hear those lyrics right, and I thought I said, you're going to start a diet. And so I'm sitting here, and we're jamming. I'm like, why are we starting a diet? Like, what is going on? Like, you're trying to tell me something here> And I looked at my wife, and I was like, why is this his walk-up baseball theme song? We're starting a diet, okay? And she's like, it's not that. It's a riot. I was like, okay, that makes a lot more sense. Next time, you should go and listen to it and see if you hear “going to start a diet” because that's what I heard. but then we had some other moments in there. I wasn't really a Morgan Wallen Luke Combs kind of person or Swifty. You know, some of you guys were to do that in there for you guys. we'll pray for you. And then we also had, at my age now, where I've gotten to now, where it's just like, man, let's just listen to some cinematic soundtracks, right?

You know, like, that's where I'm at now. You can go through my Spotify list, and it's like little John Williams, little Star Wars. May the fourth be with you kind of from yesterday, kind of thing like that. I've got all those soundtracks. I'm out pushing my lawnmower with a soundtrack instead of Eye of the Tiger. but that's where I'm at. It's kind of a different season of life. And what I've noticed just over different seasons of my life, the assignment of the song that has been a part of my life has changed, right? It started out with a rock n roll. It ended with like a classic song, like that's where it's kind of been in different seasons of my life. In the same way, there are things in our life that are always changing. Assignments that are always changing. But I need you to understand something extremely important today. The calling stays the same, but the assignment can change. Okay, so when I talk about presence over purpose, I'm not specifically talking about the godly purpose. I'm talking about the worldly purpose. I'm talking about a worldly purpose, that there are assignments that God gives us. And in the midst of those moments, there's a purpose. You see, in the world today, we often equate our worth and purpose with what we do, what we achieve, and what we can accomplish. We're always striving for bigger and better things. We're pushing ourselves to reach our goals and to fulfill our purpose.

We live in a culture that's obsessed with purpose. We're constantly bombarded with this message telling us to discover our purpose for filling our drains and living our best lives. Now, students, as you head to college, people are constantly challenging you to figure out what your purpose is. What's your degree? What are you going to do with the rest of your life? And for so many of us, we have even sat in those moments where we grabbed a degree and we're not even in that degree anymore. Because the assignment changed. However, our God-given purpose is our calling to live out and share the gospel. That purpose never changes. That purpose will always be present. However, many times you and I, often overlook the importance of being just present with God in the process of our worldly purposes. So this morning, I want to explore what it means to chase our assignments by prioritizing God's presence over our own worldly purposes. As believers, we often hear phrases like the presence of God or seeking the presence of God in our Christian journey. But what does it really mean? What does it truly mean to experience the presence of God? What does that mean? Well, in Exodus we see the heart of Moses, and he has a longing for the presence of God. And so we're going to step into Exodus 33, verses 12 to 17, this morning. We're going to dig into each one of these verses and just spend a little bit of time just kind of opening up what it means for you and me to experience the presence of God. I'd like to read Exodus 33:12 through 17 in its entirety, and then we'll read some of the verses. If you don't have your Bible, you can check it out on the screen. You can also go to the app and follow us on the app.

There you got your Bible. Go ahead and open it up to Exedos 33:12-17. I'm reading from the NIV. It says this: Moses said to the Lord, you have been telling me, lead these people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said I will know you by name, and you have found favor with me. If you are pleased with me, teach me your way so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people. The Lord replied, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Then Moses said to him, if your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish us? Me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth? And the Lord said to Moses, I will do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you, and I know you by name. See, in order to fully understand this passage, I think we've got to look at the historical and contextual culture that's taking place at this time. Okay? At this point in the book of Exodus, what I want you to see is this is a record of the journey of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the promised land of Canaan. That's kind of what this book is starting out with. In this particular passage.

God has, at this point in time, he has spared the Israelites from destruction after they've been worshiping a golden calf. They've been freed from slavery. They're now worshiping a golden calf. Moses, the leader of Israel. At this point in time, he is pleading with God. He is saying, God, please spare his people, and please do not abandon them. And in the context of Moses, He's concerned, deeply concerned about the presence of God. He's concerned about the presence of God with the Israelites. Why? Because he knows that without God, they're not going to survive. They will not make it. And so, in order for him to experience the promise, he had to experience the presence of God in his life. See, in order for us to experience the presence in our lives, there are a couple of things we have to do as well. And I want to dig into those real quick through this scripture. First of all, we need to know the difference between the presence and the purpose. See, purpose is what we do, while presence is who we are in Christ. Purpose is what we do, while presence is who we are in Christ. We often define ourselves by our purpose, but God defines us by his presence. Our assignments within our purpose they can change, but God's presence remains constant. Always.

You see, without being present in God's presence, our purpose it loses its impact. It's no longer what it's meant to be if I chase the worldly purpose. Can I just tell you I'll never be satisfied? If all I ever do is chase the next accomplishment, the next degree, the next raise, the next position, the next job, I will never be satisfied. Why? Because there's always going to be more. There's always got to be more. It's got to be bigger. I got to make more. I got to do more. But if I chase his presence, hear me. If I chase presence, purpose will follow me everywhere I go. When I chase the presence of God, his purpose will follow me everywhere I go, I'll find myself in rooms that you're not qualified to be in. You'll find yourself in opportunities that you don't deserve, and you didn't deserve. Why? Because you chased his presence, and his purpose brought you to that position. See our. But our pursuit is not purpose. Our pursuit is his presence. See, when I was a student and I felt called into ministry, I didn't understand what it meant to be in ministry. I wasn't raised in a family of pastors. I wasn't even raised around pastors, even. We went to church. We showed up. We left Church, and we did our things. So I just saw the pastor on a stage. I had a youth pastor who poured into me, and I saw him playing basketball, and I saw him pouring into my life, but I really didn't know what it meant to be a pastor. I didn't understand the purpose behind it. I didn't understand the calling behind it.

I didn't understand the assignment behind it. So what I assumed was that one day I was caught in the ministry that as soon as I got a thriving ministry, a microphone, and a stage, as soon as I got the opportunity to stand before hundreds of people and preach or teach or hang out with students and grow a ministry and do all the things about ministry and I would do all those things I'd ever dreamed of. Then, I would find joy and purpose, right? Like that's what I thought. As long as I had the stage, as long as I had the microphone, as long as I had all those things that look like ministry, look like a pastoral role, then I'm going to have joy and purpose. And something terrifying happened to me very early in ministry. I grabbed hold of all that, and what I learned is that there is no life or purpose away from the true vine. There is no life or purpose away from the source of life. There's no life and purpose away from his presence. I can do all these things, but without his presence, I'm just doing a bunch of things. Now hear me, man, I'm living my dream right now. I love what I do. I have an amazing, smoking, hot wife that I love. I'd rather spend time with her than any of you. I love my wife. I have three amazing kids. I have one, like I said earlier, that's graduating. She's heading off to Mercer to pursue nursing. I'm so proud of her. I'm excited about the things that she is going to accomplish.

I have another son who's older, who's in college, who took a little bit of a journey and entered a college program in a very lost kingdom called Disney. He went down there thinking it would be a six-month little stent, and he and I have been speaking through this whole process about what his purpose for being there was and what God had for him. As we spoke, I learned that my son was living on a mission at Disney. He was talking to me on the phone and he said, hey, Dad, I didn't realize that when I came here to Disney, it was like entering an international mission field and that I was a missionary on this international mission field. I have to build relationships with my peers who are working with me in order even to have the freedom and opportunity to tell them my faith. The roommates that I live with are from all over. I have to build that. It's not just freely given, and I'm surrounded by just a mass of lostness. And he said Dad, I'm living on a mission field, and I don't know when I'm coming home. And I said, okay, finish school. I was like, let's, let's work that one, okay? He's like, I'm going to, I'm going to a kingdom that’s lost to invite people to a kingdom that brings salvation. Maybe in the animal kingdom I'm going to try that, but I'm going to tell them about a godly kingdom. So I'm proud of that. And then I've got another one that's in sixth grade, that’s living his best middle school life ever. He is thriving. He is doing well in school. But if you're a middle school parent, you know exactly what I'm saying. He's living his best life ever as a schooler. Some Fortnites all night. And we're having a good time. We're having. We're playing a couple of sports and having a good time as a middle school boy growing up, and I'm proud of all three of my kids.

I'm living my dream. I have my dream job, I love what I do, and I have all these vines of ministry that God has placed me over and that I'm responsible for. But what I have learned in ministry and what I have learned in my life is this. When I neglect his presence, when I distance myself from the source and just chase the purpose of the position, I feel anxious, I feel depressed, I feel empty because joy comes from one source, and that's Jesus. This is why Moses is able to say, if your presence does not go with us, don't send me, don't send me. There's a difference between presence and purpose. The second thing is that we’ve got to live with the invitation of God's presence. In Exodus 33, verses 12 through 13, it's Moses says, you've been telling me, lead these people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have. You have said, I know you by name, and you have found favor with me. If you are pleased with me, teach me your way so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people. So he says hey God, I got it, I got your purpose, I got your plan for me I know what you want me to do. They're your people. You. I'm waiting for you to tell me exactly what to do. But, God, I'm. I need to take another step. And I need to invite you, though, just to be present with me because I don't know what I'm doing. And so what we see here is we see an invitation to God's presence by Moses.

We all understand invitations. For some of you, you've been receiving graduation invitations. Maybe now you've been receiving wedding invitations. But I want to tell you a little bit about the invitation. Invitations are personal. I know they come in an E-vite now. Some of them still mail them, but they're personal. They require an action. When Moses invites God, he's asking for God to respond with an action. An invitation requires an action. It requires you to respond. It fulfills a desire, the desire that the person desires to invite you to be a part of the celebration. I want to be a part of the task in which they're at hand, and it fulfills that desire by you responding. It allows you to plan an invitation, allows you to plan for what is ahead of what we're going to celebrate, because you know that person is coming. You know that person is a part of what you're doing. It creates connection, and it builds trust. Invitations are personal. They do those things. And inviting God's presence can do the same thing. And this is what it does, though it strengthens you when you are weak/ It calms you when you're anxious. It gives direction. It helps you experience God in a personal way. See, in the stillness of his presence, we can find clarity and direction for our purpose. Just like Moses, we can boldly approach God, and we can approach God's presence and experience his glory. God desires for us to come into his presence.

See, Moses had gotten to a point where he literally was able to say, this Promised Land. It's not that important. I need you to understand something. When the Promised Land becomes less important than his presence, you’ll be able to say things like this: if your presence isn't going with me, don't send me. When the promised land becomes less important than the presence, that's exactly where Moses was. He goes, hey, God, I know you've promised this land. I know that there's promised land there, and I got it. But what's more important to me than the Promised Land is your presence, Lord. It is your presence. And I'm inviting you to step in and be present. I need you to be present in my life, or we're not going to survive. And then you have to trust in the promise of God's presence. In Exodus 33:14 it says, the Lord replied, my presence will go with you, and I'll give you rest. There's a promise there that literally when he is sitting, you're going, hey, I don't know what I'm going to do. I need your presence. My presence will go with you. My presence will be with you. It's a promise that he will be with us and that he will guide us. And there is no greater purpose than being in the presence of and experiencing his love and guidance. See, God invites us to come and be present with him.

In Psalms 46 and verse one, it says, God is our refuge and our strength. He is inviting us to find rest and to find refuge from the chaos of this world in Him in his presence. In Psalms 46, verses 10 to 11 say, be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress. You see when we focus only on our purpose, we often overlook the fact that we have a God who is always present with us. He's not distant. He's not an uninterested God. He's a loving and attentive father who desires to have a personal relationship with you. His presence transforms us, and it renews us. It’s in those moments of his presence that we experience the peace, the joy, and the grace, and our purpose can be found in his presence.

So, no matter what assignment or season of life we're in, We should seek his presence. Why? Because there's power in the presence. Exodus 33 and verse 16. It says how will anyone know that you're pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth? Students, let me speak to you for just a second. What's going to distinguish you on your college campus? In your work? In your life from the rest of this world? The only thing that would distinguish any of us is his presence. And Moses understood that. He says, God, your presence is here to transform me. It is to fulfill your purpose and your deepest desires for my life. It is to fulfill your plans and give me a true identity and a purpose. I don't know what I'm going to do in the next four years of my life, but what I do know is I'm going to take the presence of the Lord with me, and I'm allowing him to pursue that moment in my life and take me where I need to be in that purpose. For those of us in this room, we look at that, and we go, God, I don't know what today is going to bring to me. I don't know what my job's going to bring to me. I don't know what this, whatever I'm a part of, is going to bring to me. But today, I'm going to pursue your presence. And in the midst of that presence, it's going to lead me to a purpose that's greater than what I ever thought.

Now I'm a visual person. You've seen this lamp up here for the whole time. Can you guys see it from over there? I'll back this up. I've had this lamp on the stage burning. It's. It's an old. It's not actually old. I bought it on Amazon. It's actually pretty new. it's a vintage-looking old lantern. I wanted it to be old. I could have told you it was old. You probably wouldn't believe me because you can see it on Amazon. but it's this vintage old oil lamp. Now, don't make fun of me. I don't say oil the way you say it. I don't say oil. I say oil. That's just how it is. You're going to hear that the rest of this time. Again. But it's an oil lamp. You pour the oil in. You put the wick in, and you light it up. It's been burning for quite some time now. When I bought the oil to use in this lamp, I read on the oil, and it says that for best use, I should soak the wick in the oil for one hour. I thought, okay. That's important. I think that's extremely important that we do that, that we soak the oil in the wick for one hour. But why is that so important? See what I realized. If you burn the wick without the oil. It's going to smoke out. It's going to burn out. It's not going to last. See, a lot of us step into different areas of our life, and we go, man, I want to do this. God, I want to serve you. I want to live out of a purpose.

But without the power in the presence of God, which is the source that allows us to continue to burn on. But when we soak the wick in the oil. It doesn't burn out. It drives the dark out. And it produces light that lasts. It produces a purpose in the very dark world in which we live. See, there is a difference between working with God and working for God. It is not our works that God desires. It is his presence in our lives that leads to the purpose he has for us. In John three and verse 30, it says, he must become greater, I must become less. It's not about me, guys. It's not about you. It's not about what you're about to do. It's not about what school you're going to go to. It's about taking the presence of the Lord to that school. And allowing that to lead to a godly purpose. And that is to go and to share the gospel.

Now, in the midst of that, yes, you're going to accomplish a purpose, and you're going to get a degree, and you're going to go on to do great things, or you may step directly into the workforce, and you're going to do amazing things. But do it with the presence of the Lord. In the same way, for every one of us in this room, you're going to continue to have tasks that come before you every single day. And you're going to have to accomplish that assignment. You're going to have to accomplish that thing, and you're going to look for the next purpose in the next whatever. But may you not step into the purpose before you step into the presence every day going Lord, I need your presence. I need to step into your presence right now. God, I need you in my life to move in my life so that when I step out of this house today, when I step into the workforce today when I go do whatever God you have given me an opportunity to be a part of, in the purpose and what you've given me to drive into the assignment, may my calling still be about you. May I accomplish the calling you placed on me, and may it be because of your presence in me? Because, God, if you're not going with me, I'm not stepping out of the house. Because your presence is more important to me than that promised land. And so, God, today I. I'm asking you unless you go with us. Why? Because your presence is going to set me apart from the rest of the world, is going to distinguish me from anyone else in this world.

So when I step into the world, when I step into the workforce, when I step into the college campus, wherever I go, people will not see me. They will see the presence of the Lord because your presence distinguishes me from everything else and from everyone else on the face of the earth. Psalm 16 in verse 11 says you make known to me the path of my life. You will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand. See, let us not neglect the most important aspect of our existence, which is being in God's presence and surrendering our desires and our plans to God's presence. Hey, that can be intimidating. That can be uncomfortable, but it is the key to unlocking the fullness of a godly purpose. Isaiah 55, in verse nine, says, if the heavens are higher than the earth, so is my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. As we chase our assignments in life, let us remember that the most important thing in the world is not purpose but presence. Because our purpose will never be fulfilled, but our presence will lead us to our purpose. His presence, God's presence in our life, will lead us to a greater purpose than we ever imagined. So God, if your presence does not go with me, don’t send us from here. That's my challenge to you today. That's my challenge to you students. That's my challenge to you, Church. That if your presence, Lord, does not go with me, don't send me. I'm not going on my own. But, God, I'm going with you. And we're going to accomplish some amazing callings, and we're going to share the gospel, and we're going to see you move.

Let's pray. Father, we thank you that we get to be in your presence in this place today. God, we thank you for giving us a chance to celebrate these students and their accomplishments. We thank you for the truth of your word, which is found in Exodus. But God, may it not just be a sermon. May it not just be a message, but may it be something that we take to heart and apply, and we understand how important it is to be in your presence. God, for some of us in this room, we've never truly stepped into the presence of you, Lord. Today may be the first day that we've ever even thought that we need to be in the presence of the Lord to surrender our life to you for the first time. Lord, for some of us in this room, that needs to be our prayer now. I am a sinner in need of a Savior and God; I'm asking you to come into my life and to be in my life, and let me be in your presence. And then there's some of us in this room, Lord, that we know you, but we haven't been living in your presence. We've been trying to do life on our own. We've been trying to get to the next task. We've gotten just kind of overwhelmed. But now we need to focus back on your presence so it may lead us to a greater purpose. God bless this time. I pray. As we worship you and as we just reflect on what it is you're doing in our lives. It’s in your name we pray.


Hey, if you need somebody, I’m going to be over here at the next steps. There'll be some other people with us as well. We'd love to pray with you. If you need to make a decision to surrender your life to Jesus, man, let us have a chance to walk with you. If you want to join the church, feel free to do so. You can do that on the app as well, but if you need someone to pray with you, come see us, okay? Let's stand, and let’s worship.

Follow Along with the Message

Chasing Your Assignment: Presence over Purpose

May 5, 2024

What does it truly mean to experience the presence of God?

Exodus 33:12–17
12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

1. The Between Presence and Purpose

Exodus 33:15
“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

2. The to God’s Presence

Exodus 33:12–13
12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

In the of His presence, we find for our purpose.

3. The of God’s Presence

Exodus 33:14
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength.
Psalm 46:10–11
10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

4. The of God’s Presence

Exodus 33:16
“How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

There is a difference between working God and working God.

John 3:30
“He must become greater; I must become less.”

His presence sets us from the rest of the world.

Psalm 16:11
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Isaiah 55:9
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Exodus 33:15
“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

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