God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Outline and Approximate Notes for the Graduation Sunday Message; 4 May 2014; Ephesians 2:4-10; Phil 1:3-11
This week our community will celebrate accomplishments of our graduates. We have two persons graduation from High School and four persons graduating from College.
Scriptures for this week are: Ephesians 2:4-10; Phil 1:3-11
You can read these Scriptures here: NIV
To all of our graduates: congratulations!
You have worked hard to get here. You have completed a set of academic requirements and you have taken tests to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Your graduation celebrates a destination point in your life’s journey.
This graduation is a short season in your life that celebrates your hard work, your perseverance and your achievements. Enjoy this time of your life.
There are moments in life when we stand at the crossroads between the ending of what has been and the beginning of what is yet to come. You are at such a juncture in your lives, and it is one of many that you will face on your life’s journey. What you will become in the future depends to a large degree on what you do next. Your graduation is a process of something new being brought into existence. That “something new” is you and what you will become.
Your graduation is a new beginning in your exciting but not trouble-free journey. Have faith in God, have faith in yourselves, have faith in your abilities; don’t be afraid to think and you will be OK.
Never stop learning, because life should be a never-ending quest for self-improvement. I think that our society is coming to the realization that we cannot run and manage ourselves on data and computers alone. We need to develop skills that transform data into information, which in turn help us to act and react to changes in the world. More than ever, our society today needs people who know how to be compassionate and how to relate. More than ever, our society needs people with skills that are not only cognitive and technical but also emotional and relational. Be diligent in developing your emotional and relational skills.
In Philippians 1:9-11 Paul writes, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
You are inheriting a complex world. Lots of things that your grandparents’ generation took for granted, your parents’ generation was unsure of because the rate of change in our society is rapid and it is increasing every day. It is nothing new; the world was always changing. What is new however is the rate of that change. To give you an example, just fifty years ago someone was considered to be illiterate if he or she could not read and write.
In our society, the illiterate are not those who cannot read or write; in our society today the illiterate are those who do not know how to learn, unlearn and relearn new skills, who do not know how to teach themselves and how to figure things out.
In the Gospel of John chapter 3 we learn about Nicodemus. Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cover of darkness and what he was concerned about was that Jesus’ teachings were turning his world upside down. Jesus’ teachings challenged what Nicodemus believed to be right, true and beautiful. Jesus taught that we need to allow the Holy Spirit into our lives (“you must be born again, you must be born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:6-7), whereas all that Nicodemus knew up to that point was how to perform rituals. In the end we know that Nicodemus was able to learn what Jesus was teaching him. Nicodemus was with Joseph or Arimathea when they claimed Jesus’ body (John 19:39). Nicodemus was able to change his life based on the new understanding. Be proactive and open to letting God into your lives.
That brings me to the next point. So far your experience has taught you that knowledge is having the “right” answer to the question in front of you; that is how you passed all your tests and exams. Today I want to suggest to you that knowledge is a platform, a taking off point to develop your intelligence. Intelligence is about facing a problem and asking the right questions, questions that will help you to find the solution. Be diligent about developing that kind of intelligence.
So far your experience has taught you that education comes from books and college degrees. Today I want to suggest to you that books and college degrees are only pathways to open your minds and encourage you to learn. Your formal education gave you a glimpse of tools available to you to learn and to think. Embrace new experiences, listen for different ideas whether you agree with them or not, travel often, expose yourselves to new ideas, learn from all people and be open to positive influences from our exciting world. Strive to enrich your mind, expand your thinking and elevate your language. Use the dictionary.com app on your smart phone to learn a new word every day.
You were raised and educated in the era of instant messaging, instant coffee and instant stars from reality TV. All that “instant” stuff makes it difficult for many of us to be patient and to remember the benefits of long-term thinking. One of the things that you will need to develop in your lives is the ability to think strategically, to focus on what is important, and concentrate your energy on accomplishing your goals.
In Ephesians 2:10 Paul writes, “… we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works …”
In conclusion I want to share a couple final points that I picked up in the course of my life’s journey.
Perseverance and resilience is far more important than talent or intelligence in accomplishing your goals. It is also important to know when to say “when.” Some goals may prove to be irrelevant or not achievable.
There is no substitute for hard work, but we should not only work hard, we should work smart! Doing the same thing and hoping for different results is the definition of insanity. Don’t be insane.
Meaning is rarely found within ourselves. Success is rarely complete or satisfying when we do things just for ourselves or for our family. I want to encourage you to think about this and do something for others, be part of something that is inherently bigger than yourself. Do not allow others to turn your idealism into cynicism — every one of us can and should strive to change the world for the better!
I am not saying that money is unimportant or irrelevant. But I also want you to know that money, power and fame are NOT a true measure of success. The most influential person in Western culture is Jesus. Jesus was not an earthly king, or industrial tycoon or a movie celebrity; while living his earthly life among us, Jesus was a carpenter. Yet, His life affected all of ours.
I know that I dumped a lot of information on you today and I realize that it is hard for you to process everything that we talked about today. That is why I printed copies of this message for each of you; I hope that each of you will take a copy and read it every few years. It will help you to evaluate where you are on your life’s journey.
In conclusion: May God keep and bless you always; may you always choose to walk with God. May you become the best version of what God is calling you to be. May you find happiness and fulfillment in your lives. I expect great things from you and I hope that you will keep in touch.
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Graduation Message from 2013 is here
Graduation Message from 2012 is here
Graduation Message from 2011 is here