1. Gods call on your life Part 1 (Calling) manuscript
I am very excited about this new teaching series. We are going to spend 5 weeks on the topic of Purpose and the title given to the this teaching series is “God’s calling.”
God extends his calling to every person and not only is the calling unique, it is a very big deal.
To know your calling is to discover your purpose. When hear and respond to your calling your whole life is affected in a good way. You become more fully alive. You become more settled on this question of what is my life all about.
I think it is a big deal to know God’s calling. It certainly was for me. Here are some experiences that led me to discover my calling.
With my story, I got to live my entire Christian life within a church culture that provided the freedom for me to help out (later I discovered the the 50 cent word for ‘helping out’ is actually ministry)
I say freedom, because I was given to choice to say yes or say no to various invitations to help out, or to serve.
· Pastor’s Prayer meeting on Wednesday
· Kinship….guitar. (your kidding….me?)
· pray w/ others for people. (your kidding…me?)
· Lead the odd group (now you’ve got to be kidding?)
In the beginning the invitations to serve came from other people, and in the midst of doing things … I would received on the job training….again, it was later that I understood that the 50 cent word for that was ‘discipleship’.
Somewhere in the midst of all of that I began to notice what kinds of things brought me life, things I would never have guessed, but because I decided to help out, I stumbled into things that really energized me.
· Sabrina and I led our first kinship. We discovered that we didn’t see people the way they saw themselves, but saw potential (the diamonds in the rough)
· From there I was invited to be on the board of directors, which I assumed had to be because of my business background. Then came an invitation to be on the council of elders.
· At each point of the way, there was always a decision to make. I wasn’t looking for recognition. I had all the recognition I needed in my real job.
· Why don’t you come on staff and help out administration, small group leadership development.
· Why don’t you head up Sunday morning ministry.
· What do you think about planting a church in London.
So, those are just a few highlights of the life process that I went through in which I discovered God’s call.
There was invitation from others but we began to understand the importance of paying attention to what was occurring on the inside. Something I call the [peace factor].
However, I need to let you in on something that is very, very important for you to know. It is the most important thing I want to say to you this morning.
God’s call is not restricted to those people who become full time ministers.
God calls everyone……even you.
So what is to be our Biblical Understanding of Calling?
This idea of Biblical calling is not something that is easily dismissed.
The straight forward meaning of the verb ‘to call’ refers to the capacity in every living creature have to call out to one another, to stay connected, to communicate something of importance.
Even in this most basic element the dynamic of calling is profound because it reminds us that calling is first of all HIGHLY RELATIONAL. It has to do with one being (GOD) reaching out and establishing connection with another (US)
Calling is highly relational. I think the first example of calling in the bible is perhaps the most powerful one…. Gen 3. “God called to the man “Where are you?”
Now, having established that calling is Relational I would then say that that there are two things you need to know about God’s calling: There is a general call and there is a specific call.
There is a General Call
When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, you experience a General Call of relationship to your Heavenly Father….it is a call to Intimacy.
Galatians 4:4-7 (TNIV) God sent his Son,…..5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption (become his child) 6 Because you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer slaves, but God’s children; and since you are his children, he has made you also heirs.
Every Christian has received a general call, and part of that calling is a permanent intimacy with your Heavenly Father. But we also have a general call to discipleship.
The basic idea of discipleship is spending time with Jesus and learning from him in much the same way as an apprentice trains under the tutelage of a master trades-person.
In John 12:26 Jesus says, Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Think of it this way, The first part of our general call is the Father calling out ‘where are you?’ and as we respond to that we find ourselves responding to his Son, who calls to us… “Come follow me into a way of life that is beyond anything you ever imagined”
Jesus not only calls us into a different way of life but also into a different quality of life
John 10.10 The reason I have come is so that you may have life and have it to the fullest measure.
So we all receive the call into a life of intimacy with the Father and into a way of life where we become apprentices to His Son Jesus.
There is yet another aspect of the general call that is important to include. Every believer has also received a general call to tribulation.
See, when you respond to the general call to enter into an intimate relationship with the Father, and to walk with Jesus you experience the godly life.
2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
Our general call is not all a bed of roses. Sometimes its hard.
So, every Christian receives a general call from God, but there is also a specific call.
There is something unique about you as an individual. There is something about how God has gifted you in a particular, unique way.
The Bible has lots to say about gifts…some natural, some supernatural and the bible is clear. God gives these enabling gifts to all and to all God has gifted in a very specific unique way.
There is nobody else like you.
The world might not need another you but it does need you.
You are special and you have something special to contribute.
God has something unique for you to do.
There is a phenomenal amount of God activity going on. It is happening all around each of us. It is going on within our reach. And God invites each and every one of us to reach and to participate or partner with this God activity in the way that he has designed us to do so.
Now, with all this talk about how God wants to use you and how you can use your gifts and talents for him, it is critical that we do not overlook something that is hugely important.
We need to keep first things first.
To keep First Things First, We need to go back to our general Call.
Let me summarize our general call…..We are called to be a people who belong to God. We know that we know, that we belong.
The 1st question that is asked in the Westminster Shorter Catechism is this, “What is the chief end of man?” “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Before calling has anything to do with doing it has everything to do with Being.
When I say being, I mean you being that essence of yourself that God knew before the foundation of the earth. That person that God called into being and that God alone knows….really. God alone, knows who that person is more than you do.
Not ony are we called to be who we are….at the same time we are called to become more than we can yet envision…one who fully belongs to God.
So, before we start looking at what it is that we might have to offer to God, we need to first focus on who we are called to be not on what we have been called to do.
So, lets consider….. how did we become so conditioned to focus on what we are suppose to do rather than on who we are suppose to be.
Always thinking about works…how can I do the kinds of things that will make others happy…..my parents…my teacher…my boss…..my kids….God happy.
What is it that conditions us to be a people who tend to think about what we are doing wrong than what we are doing right?
Our culture…..our religious culture has tended to condition us to be kind of works oriented.
How many Christians do you know who say… Since becoming a Christian, I have never felt so rested … so at peace?
Even though I’ve told you that there is a general call and that there is a specific call, what requires our utmost attention is our general call.
You have been called to relationship with God. That is the most important thing. Now, make no mistake, you are called to do things. You are created to create things but if you don’t focus on enjoying God then everything you do is just going to be kind of works oriented.
The result of work orientation is that it can lead to self righteousness & comparing oneself with others
Galatians is the letter of freedom.
Galatians 6:3-5 If any of you think you are something when you are nothing, you deceive yourselves. 4 Each of you should test your own actions. Then you can take pride in yourself, without comparing yourself to somebody else, 5 for each of you should carry your own load.
When we compare ourselves with others we can easily become deluded into thinking we are pretty hot stuff.
However, the better way, the way of freedom, is to simply live your life according to who you are, and not a life where you need to compare yourself with others.
And that is exactly the kind of thing that happens when we have a foundation of doing rather than being.
So, How do I experience more of the General Call of God in my life?
“Wayne, I think I hear you saying that I need to give more attention to being rather than doing, so how? What does that look like? What does that mean?”
First, it means that you consistently spend time meeting with God.
Now, meeting with God is never easy. The author of Hebrews writes that “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb 11:6).
So, meeting with God is not something that we ‘kinda do’
In the book of Jeremiah, God says to his people, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13).
Here is the picture: as we take time to sit down to be with God, we are, at the same time, reaching out to Him with all of who we are.
W. Tozer observed that “contemporary Christians have been caught in the spurious logic that those who have found him need no longer seek him.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The paradox of the Christian faith is that those who know him are those who seek him.
Tozer writes, “Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they found Him, the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.”
The psalms provide interior glimpses of those who knew and pursued God. David writes, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple” (Ps 27:4).
We also see examples in classic Christian literature: Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) wrote, “We taste of Thee, O Thou Living Bread, And long to feast upon Thee still; We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead and Thirst our souls from Thee to fill.”
When I say spend time with God, what I am saying is that you need to create the time and space for God’s Spirit to break through and when His Spirit Breaks through we accept His love.
So spend time with God, and secondly accept his love for you.
When I hold one of my grandchildren and tell them I love them and they respond with a hug…..it doesn’t get much better than that.
How do you respond to God when he tells you that he loves you?
Last week I talked about the importance of welcome. The most important person you can welcome is Jesus. The most important message you could ever welcome is the Father’s love.
Listen to this prayer from Ephesians
3 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Here is how you experience more of God’s general call on your lfie…..Make it your #1 priority to nurture your soul.
We live in a busy world, but here is a principle that stands the test of time…No matter how busy your life is, you will always find the time to do what is most important to you.
This is a decision…..If we wait until we have enough we will never have enough. Give from what you now have. It is no different than the principle of tithing. You don’t wait until you have enough, you take a step of faith. Anyone who has, comes to know the blessing of doing so.
Seek first His Kingdom. Seek first to Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Seek first to experience belonging before you pursue doing.
Every Christian has been called. There is a general call and there is a specific call. The general call is to be a person who belongs to God and gives attention to the general call before giving attention to one’s specific call, which is to partner with God in our unique way.
If we get our priorities wrong, we simply become another generation of grumpy tired Christians with a message that doesn’t have all that much appeal to it.
However, having said all that I have said about making it your #1 priority to nurture your soul…….
How then do I discover the specific call of God in my life.
When I talked about God having a specific call on your life, some of you may have believed that I was mistaken. You may be thinking, “I don’t have anything of any use to God.”
I’m a pretty good whistler, but that’s about it.
Listen, there is something about you that is unique and special and that God wants you to not only discover it, but learn from Him how to use it for His glory.
Let me re iterate once again. All of you have natural talents.
In a number of places the bible is clear. If you are a Christian you have gifts. Some are natural. Some are supernatural.
So there are gifts and there are talents, but then there is also those things that you are personally interested in. There are things that you simply care about…. Deeply.
You might not think that your interests and talents can be used by God but they can. It is just that you haven’t yet discovered how they can be used…..YET….But there probably is a way.
So, how do we discover our specific call? We discover it through trial and error by simply making ourselves available.
In the New Year we will be doing a teaching series on this very topic and we will be going into some depth concerning the spiritual gifts and how we discover and employ them.
But you don’t need to wait till January. What I have just said is the primary way to discover your specific call. You respond to the needs that are around you with what you got.
It is good to try out different ministry opportunities to see what you like doing and what you don’t like doing. What you need to do, is notice what it is that brings you life…it’s like you feel more complete when you are involved in that area of service.
Now, remember, you don’t do this out of comparison with others. This emerges out of doing first things first…attending to your General calling which is to be a person who knows that their belonging to God is secure.
We have seen today that everyone has a call on their life, not just full time ministers.
The most important call is intimate relationship with God. He loves you and wants to spend time with you.
Bu he also wants to partner with you in reaching out to people, to build his kingdom.
Whether you believe it or not, the truth is that you have something important to contribute to the activity of God.
I challenge you to discover what that activity is and the unique way God has called you to be used.
But remember, the most important thing is that he wants to spend time with you. What an awesome thing. Part of my calling is to have intimacy with the Creator of the Universe.
I hope you can make it out over the next four weeks as we continue this series. Today I have given you a brief introduction to God’s calling on your life.
Next week you will want to be here as Jon will be sharing from his life what I believe is to be an awesome example of what I have been talking about.
Then the week after that I’m going to address the central issue on the matter of ‘who you are’. I’ll be talking about your True Identity.
Then I’ll be doing more on this topic of how to cultivate being versus doing.
Finally, Sabrina will bring some real practical things for us to pay attention to so that we do get sidetracked, and that we give our primary energy to that which will carry us forward into the abundant life, the life you have been called to live, a life that finds its’ foundation on that of knowing and enjoying God.