A visual with the word "Purpose" to highlight our title of fulfilling God's Purpose.

This is the transcript of a sermon preached at The People’s Church in Colombo, Sri Lanka – Fulfilling God’s Purpose (Genesis 28)

You know, I was reading about the well-loved preacher Billy Graham a couple of days ago. It is said that when Billy Graham joined Bible College in the 30’s, he was once asked to preach a sermon impromptu. He apparently preached four borrowed sermons in eight minutes! But that day he felt a clear call to preach, and from there on, he used every opportunity that he could, to preach, which wasn’t many at that time. As a result, he used to take a boat and go across the river and preach to the surrounding trees, birds, and alligators. That’s how he built his preaching ministry and God’s purpose..

Sometime later, while on a walk in the night, he fell on his knees and he said, “Lord if you want me to serve you, I will do it.” That day the ministry and God’s purpose in Billy Graham’s life was clearly set.

So today, I want to speak to you about fulfilling God’s purpose over your life, and I want to be very clear here that whatever you may be doing, whether you are in the ministry, whether you are in the secular field, whether you are taking a home cell, whether you are in some leadership position in the church, or outside the church, in your company, or in your workplace, maybe even in your school, whatever it may be, God has a purpose for your life.

I want to encourage every one of you, and I pray that as I speak today, that you will make a clear decision, asking God to fulfill His great purpose in your life. And that purpose does not change as we grow older, for at every stage of our life, there is a purpose that God wants to fulfill in and through us.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary the word ‘purpose’ is described as, “Why you do something – or why something exists in your life”. A leadership guru by the name of Roger Allen said, “A purpose is your reason for being, and defines the contribution you want to make to the world”. Let’s therefore be clear that every one of us can make a contribution to the world by fulfilling God’s purpose. Yes, every one of us, and that doesn’t change with the passing of time.

So with that in mind, let’s look at Jeremiah chapter 1 verse 5. It says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”. Now, from that scripture, we find that God’s purpose for His people begins even while, or even before we are formed in the womb because God knows us even before that. He says, “Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet’.

But maybe He’s saying today, “Before you were born I appointed you as a teacher, before you were born I appointed you as a cell leader, before you were born I appointed you as a father and as a mother, for a purpose. I appointed you as a lecturer, I appointed you as a businessman”. Why?  So that you could  fulfill His call to our nation and to the nations around us. 

Today, I would like to leave you 4 thoughts from The Book of Genesis chapter 28 about fulfilling God’s purpose – Genesis chapter 28. You can turn in your Bibles and follow with me.

 My first point is –   

1) Pursue God’s purpose diligently through your life

In Galatians 1:15, the Apostle Paul makes this statement, “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace…”. He says, “God set me apart from my mother’s womb”. That’s what the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest leaders of the Christian Church said.

So, if God has a purpose and has set you apart, you and I should be diligently pursuing that purpose. Why? Because it is the best and the most meaningful thing that can happen in your life. Because it is not only my purpose, it is not only my career, it is not only my business, it is God’s purpose that is being worked out in and through my life. And fulfilling God’s purpose is your contribution for why God has placed you upon this earth. 

So, we found out from the Apostle Paul and from Jeremiah that God has a purpose for our lives. And from Genesis chapter 28, which is my main text passage for today, we find that Jacob was in a difficult season of his life. He had been involved in doing things that he couldn’t be proud about. He had deceived and even received the birthright and the blessing that should have gone to his brother Esau.

Actually, God’s purpose and plan was different. But he had received the blessing and even the birthright that was due to his brother Esau. And now his brother was waiting for the father’s funeral to be over – after the father’s death – when he could kill Jacob and get rid of him forever for what he had done. It was not a great place to be in and it looks like Esau was a much tougher guy than Jacob. Esau was a hunter and he probably had greater strength. So, the threat was a very, very real threat! 

You too may be having a threat over your life today. Well, if so, that’s a great time to decide to pursue and fulfill God’s purpose for your life. 

In chapter 28, we’re going to look now at verses 3 and 4 and see how Jacob’s father Isaac handled the crisis involving Jacob. He says, “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples”. Now let me just stop there for a minute to say that as soon as Jacob’s mother heard about his brother Esau’s threat, she decided that she had to get her son out of the picture fast. So she went to her husband and told him to send Jacob away quickly. She hinted that maybe he could find a wife as well if he was sent away. 

So now, Isaac is in the process of sending Jacob on this hurried journey to get him away from the deadly threat that he was facing. So that’s where this passage of scripture comes in. Isaac also says, “May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham”.

Shall we look at that scripture for a minute. Isaac gave his son Jacob a blessing – he promises him the blessing that was given to Abraham – he talks about taking possession of the land – and that means coming back to the land he was leaving hurriedly as part of God’s purpose. 

Isaac also talks about fruitfulness and increase, and he talks to Jacob about getting a wife (Genesis 28:2). So, these are some of the blessings that he placed upon his son Jacob at that time and an important thing to realize is that Jacob was made to start moving to fulfill God’s purpose. In fact, it says later on in the chapter, that Isaac got him going, as found in Genesis 28 and verses 5 and 10. “Then Isaac sent Jacob on his wayJacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran”. 

Note friends, that Jacob set out. Yes, we have to start moving in the direction where God’s purpose is being established or placed upon our lives. Now, Jacob probably had a long way to go. I’ll come to that in a moment. But when God reveals His purpose, His plan over our lives, it is important that we start moving – that we start going in the direction that God’s Spirit is showing us or guiding us, so that we may fulfill His plan, in His way. 

When Billy Graham heard God’s call, when Billy Graham knew what God’s purpose in life was, he started doing it immediately. And we all know where God took him right? 

In fact, I was reading yesterday that at one point, Billy Graham was even given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is normally given to actors and singers and celebrities. Yes, Billy Graham was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and you know what he said?

He said that one day in the future, when parents would bring their children to that location and they would be seeing the names of all the celebrities, singers, music bands, and actors, they would ask “Who is Billy Graham?” And he said, “I hope the parents would tell their children that Billy Graham preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. Why? Because he had found God’s purpose for his life.

What is the purpose for your life my friend? Are you diligently or are you ready and willing to diligently seek after the plan that God has for your life?

So Jacob sets out on this journey and as he sets out on this journey, let’s look at the next passage of scripture. Jacob comes to a place called Luz, which is now known as Bethel, and there, Jacob had a life-changing moment that set the course of his life for the years ahead.

You know, Bethel was roughly about 65 kilometers from where he set out. That’s like going from here to say Kegalle, or maybe 65 kilometers down South to Beruwala or beyond. It was a tiring journey and most probably, Jacob would have walked, which would have been extra tiring. Maybe he took the Porsche of his time, which would have been a donkey, or the Lamborghini of his time, which would have been a camel. But anyway, he ends up in this place called Bethel and it is roughly 65 kilometers from where he began this journey. 

Now Jacob is very tired and so he puts his head on a stone and he decides to get some sleep, some well-deserved rest. But look at what happens in verse 12? “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord …”. So, Jacob had this dream – it may have been a vision – it was more likely a dream, where there was a stairway going up to heaven from the earth, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on the stairway. He also saw the Lord above the stairway (verse 13).

That’s truly an amazing dream – to see a stairway to heaven and the angels of God ascending and descending. I was thinking, how ironic about that stairway to heaven because probably the most popular rock song of all time is titled “Stairway to Heaven”. It is interesting to know that in that song, There are two lines that say, “yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you are on”. 

Now, that’s a rock song, it’s not a Gospel song, but I thought, how relevant it is to what Jesus said that there are two paths. One leads to destruction, and the other leads to eternal life. But today, for your own life, are you willing to say, “Lord, I want to get onto the path that would help me to fulfill your call, your purpose, over my life.

My second point to you today is:

2) We need a great encounter with our God 

Yes, we need to have regular and strong encounters with God that give us a compass through which we can move in finding God’s purpose, God’s plan, and walk in that plan. Why? Because God’s plan is a great plan. It is beyond what we can imagine! And that purpose is never finished in our lives until we reach eternity. So my question to you is, 1) Are you pursuing God’s purpose? and 2) To get there or to make it work, are you looking for an encounter with the living God?

Now I know we all pray every day – we all seek God every morning –  and we read our Bibles. But I’m talking now about something more than that. I’m talking about that pivotal moment, like it happened with Billy Graham, when God will imprint and implant His purpose, His call to you, that would change the direction and the course of your life. 

In 1957, our Founder, Pastor Colton saw the many people who were going to a lost eternity. His heart was broken by what he saw and he was crying out to God for an encounter that would change him, that would make him accomplish something beyond what he was doing in the city of Kandy at that time. In response, God gave him a big vision, and today you and I are seated in this large sanctuary because of that vision.

The vision came about because he had an encounter with God, and I know that all of you who know Pastor Colton, know that no matter what challenges came his way, what obstacles came his way, what hindrances came across his life, that he kept God’s purpose before him and he walked in God’s purpose to fulfill it. It was because he had an encounter with God.  

So, even as Jacob had this encounter, in Genesis chapter 28 verse 16 and 17, this is what is mentioned. “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it”. He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven”. Yes, Jacob said, “The Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it… How awesome is this place”.

Can we also find a place where we could say,  “How awesome is this place, because the presence of God is in this place”. Jacob named it ‘The house of God – Bethel’.  He said, this is the gate of heaven. He set up a pillar, poured oil over it, and called the place Bethel. Bethel became a very pivotal point in the history of God’s people from there on.

Jacob also made a vow to the Lord there and he asked for a safe return one day, back to his father’s house (Genesis 28:20-22). You have to realize that he is getting away from everything he is familiar with, he is losing everything that he had. It was a scary place to be in. But he asked God to bring him back safely one day. 

God honored that cry, because from there on, we have about seven chapters of Jacob’s life in Genesis, and it was a real topsy-turvy life. It included romance and marriage, it included children, it included a very successful business, and it also included many obstacles. Yes, many things happened, but it’s a powerful story that we can learn from.

Can you believe God for such an encounter? Can you seek God for an encounter that would transform your life, your call, and guide you to God’s purpose for being on this Earth? 

When Jacob had that dream, something powerful was spoken into his life. Let’s look at Genesis chapter 28 verses 13 and 14. “There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the South. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring”

What a powerful promise God gave when Jacob had that encounter with Him. Can we also believe God for His powerful promises to become a reality in our lives?

I’d like to break down what God told Jacob into two parts here. Part one – it involved possession of the land that he was on at that time. It also involved a four-dimensional increase to the south, north, east, and west.  He was going to spread out into four directions.

It also involved a worldwide impact of blessing the nations of the earth. Can you believe God for something like that in your life? Can you believe God to bless you in such a way that what you do, will make a great impact and bring much glory to His name? That’s exactly what God promised Jacob. Remember, God’s promises are not only for Jacob, it’s for all of His children. God’s purpose may be different for you, but still the promises remain true.

God then told Jacob something else in verse 15 as well. Let’s look at that. He said, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you”.  Wow! So first God told him that he will have possession of the land, increase, and a worldwide impact, and now he tells him, my presence and my protection will be upon you. What else did he say? He promised Jacob a return ticket home.

You know, sometimes when you travel and you have a return ticket, you know that you are safe to come back to your country. God gave a return ticket to come back to his homeland, and finally, He also promised Jacob that He would be with him – look at what He says – “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go… I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you”. God was saying, “Wherever you go, I will be with you”. Please try to understand what this means. 

You know in those days, and even today in some places, people had territorial gods. This meant that if you were in a place called Shechem, you had the gods of Shechem. If you were in a place called Dothan, you had the gods of Dothan. Even in other countries, and our country too, we have certain places that are identified for being special from a religious perspective. In that time, those gods were relevant and limited for that particular area only. But God tells Jacob something very revolutionary. He says, “I am with you…wherever you go” – yes, “I am with you…WHEREVER you go”. 

So today, can you believe that the Lord will be with you in that task that you have to do in your workplace, in your business premises, in your home. He says, “I am with you wherever you go”. What a God we have. What an amazing God He is!

So, friends, my third point is,

3) Trust the promises of God for the journey that is ahead of you 

You may look at the future and say with all that’s happening in our nation, “Lord, where is my future going? What am I going to do? How am I going to manage? How am I going to work things out? Trust God for His promises because He will provide all that you need to fulfill what He has called you to do. He will bring the right people, and provide the faith, finances, and machinery you need. Will you trust him for his great promises? 

As we look at the scriptures, we see that God provided for His people in amazing ways. Ravens brought meat, food also came from heaven. God opened up water fountains from rocks in the middle of a desert. He gave life to barren wombs. He did amazing stuff to let His people know that He was able to fulfill His purpose in their lives.

A lot of people in our church are battling fairly serious challenges right now. There’s quite a few I personally know. And as you look at your life, you will see many ups and downs. Some of you right now may be battling some very serious challenges in your life. But no matter what we face in life, the promises of God always remain true, and God’s purpose never changes. That’s true in whatever you’re going through right now. God wants to fulfill His purpose even through that bad situation you are going through. 

Let’s look at my main points again. 

  1. Pursue God’s purpose diligently
  2. Have an encounter with God
  3. Trust his promises for the journey

For another inspiring sermon click here.

My final thought to you today as we prepare to close in a while, is that,

4) God’s purpose will be fulfilled in your life if you trust Him 

Let’s be very sure of that. Never ever doubt that God will fulfill his promise and his purpose in your life. In Genesis chapter 35, going down seven chapters, we find what happened in verses 6 and 7.

“Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is Bethel) in the land of Canaan. There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed Himself to Jacob when he was fleeing from his brother”. 

Can you see what has happened? God promised Jacob he would fulfill His purpose and bring him back to his homeland. And now, after the full circle of all that he went through, here he was, back in the same place. Yes, God brought him back to the same place where he set out on this journey.

This time however he came back to set up what we know to be the nation of Israel. He had 12 sons who would become the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel. He would establish the Abrahamic Covenant for the season ahead. After 20 plus years, God brought him back to the same place with his sons, to begin a great nation. In fact, God even gave him a new name. He called him Israel and He established a great nation through Jacob (Genesis 32:28). He even healed the strained relationship with his brother Esau. (Genesis 33:4)

Friend, there is nothing that the Lord cannot do. You and I see all the obstacles, but there is nothing that God cannot do, even through all the obstacles. Some of you know me from my young days, know where I came from. If God had not been with me on this journey, it would never have happened. If I had gone on my own strength, it would never have happened.

Men may come against you, systems may come against you in your workplace, but don’t worry. Don’t get troubled by those people that come against you in your business, don’t get overawed by the people who come against you, by the systems that work against you in your ministry. When God has a purpose, nobody can stop that purpose from happening in your life.

I give all the glory to Him and Him alone and I’m sure you do the same. When God works through you, there is nothing that is beyond what He can accomplish through your life.

So today, I want us to stand together and search our hearts in prayer for just a minute. Will you cry out to God today, “Lord, fulfill your purpose in my life”. Are you willing to say, “Lord, I’m willing to get into that place where I can have a life transforming encounter with you. I will receive your promises and trust your promises. I’m not going to look at my age, I’m not going to look at my circumstances, I’m not going to look at the things that are not going right in my life”.

Friends, search your hearts today. Don’t be satisfied where you are. Trust God for greater things in your life. Look to Him for supernatural things to happen. He’s the God of the supernatural.

Young people, your future is before you. I am telling you, you can be used by God to change the world. Are you willing today? If you are saying “Yes Lord, I want your purpose fulfilled in my life”, it doesn’t matter what age you are, what circumstances you are facing, God will work out His beautiful plan.

Maybe there’s somebody here – you have never accepted Christ into your life as your Savior. You have never allowed Jesus to work His plan in your life. Remember, He died on the cross for you, He gave his life for you. Give yourself to him completely and ask him to take complete control of your life. He will accomplish His purpose in and through you.

For the video of this sermon click here.

Similar Content:

  • Devotional: The Never Changing ChristDevotional: The Never Changing Christ A Short Devotional: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever". (Hebrews 13:8) This is one of the most powerful verses in the scriptures and one that almost every […]
  • Sermon: 5 Ways God Spoke to PilateSermon: 5 Ways God Spoke to Pilate Introduction There is a story about a man who was concerned about what he felt was his wife’s loss of hearing. So, he decided to test it out one day while she was seated, doing some work. […]
  • Preaching with an InterpreterPreaching with an Interpreter It’s a tough call being a Preacher. I deeply respect the men and women who faithfully teach or proclaim the Word of God to hungry hearts regularly. Preachers however can find themselves […]