Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Calling of God on Your Life

The Calling of God on Your Life

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God… 1 Corinthians 1:1

Image 

“What am I supposed to do with my life?” is a question everyone will ask at some point in their life.  The Lord can answer that question for you!  Every Christian has a calling on their life.  The Lord desires for each Christian to dedicate their life to serve Him.  Romans 12:1-2 speak about this dedication.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”   

As we read the first verse of I Corinthians, we learn that Paul was called to be an Apostle.  Apostles were eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Paul met Jesus while he was on his way to persecute Christians in the town of Damascus.  His name was Saul at the time, but when he met Jesus, his life was changed, his name was changed, and he then begins to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with his life, answering the call to be an apostle.  Today, there are no eyewitnesses to the life of Christ, so there can be no apostles.  However, you can be a disciple of Christ.  You could become a pastor, missionary, evangelist, teacher, or a deacon.  At some point this year, the Lord may show you His calling for your life.  Have you found the will of God yet?  All of us as believers are Disciples of Christ: The Lord calls Christians to be school teachers, engineers, mechanics, and airplane pilots.  Kent  Hughes tells the following missionary story:

“A missionary to Africa told the story of an elderly woman who was reached with the gospel. Though she was blind and could neither read nor write, she wanted to share her new found faith with others. She went to the missionary and asked for a copy of the Bible in French. When she got it, she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in red and mark the page it was on so she could find it. The missionary wanted to see what she would do, so one day he followed her. In the afternoon, just before school let out, she made her way to the front door. As the boys came out when school was dismissed, she would stop one and ask if he knew how to read French. When he said “Yes” she would ask him to read the verse that was marked in red. Then she would ask, “Do you know what this means?” and tell him about Christ. The missionary said that twenty-four of the school boys that lady led to the Lord became pastors.”  All of us can serve God in some meaningful way!

In addition to everyday disciples, the Lord also calls preachers and missionaries.   It could be at summer Bible camp.  It could happen at mission conference, revival meeting, or church service – the Lord could show you His calling for your life.  What will you do?  Will you follow His will?  Jonah, the Old Testament preacher to Nineveh, ran the other way when God showed him His calling for his life.  Jonah did not want to preach at Nineveh.  You don’t have to be like Jonah, be like Paul and answer the call to serve the Lord, fulfilling His will in His life.  We may call this “Responding to the Call.”   Pray about what the Lord will have you do with your life.  Sports, entertainment, and other activities can be good, but they can also pull you away from the will of the Lord.  A girlfriend or boyfriend, or a relationship can be good, but make sure you respond to God’s call first.  Making money and holding down a job can be fine, but make sure that you respond to God’s call to serve Him in whatever service is His will for your life.

Another important part of God’s calling on our lives is Recognition of God’s Call to MinistryThe Bibles says in I Timothy 1:12, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…”  After the Lord called Paul to Ministry, the calling was confirmed in Paul’s life by three things.  They were the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God.  Whenever the Lord calls people into ministry today, all three affirmations are still needed.  I have met people that do now know how the Lord called them to serve in a particular way.  I have also met Christians who say, they do not care about what other Christians say about their calling.  Attitudes like this can be dangerous.  There have been many cults and heretical teachings that develop with people reacting this way.  If you feel called to “vocational ministry” check for these three:

The Word of God is the first way to know God’s call.  Paul had a burning desire to “preach the Word.”  He had a love for the Bible and an intense desire to see people saved and churches established.  This calling of the Word never contradicts the Bible in method or practice and Paul met all the qualifications to enter into full-time vocational ministry.  Be sure to read the Pastoral Epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus to see the Bible’s qualifications for ministers.  Secondly, the Spirit of God is given to us to direct and guide us.  Acts 1:8 tell us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses.  You may have a quiet spirit, but the Lord can embolden you and every Christian to tell others about Christ.  The Spirit of God will direct those called to say “yes” to the call.  Finally, there are the People of God.  I have known some believers that want to enter full-time ministry, but their church will not recognize them as a pastor or missionary.  Perhaps they have doctrinal error they hold to.  Perhaps their personality choices come across brash or unkind.  Maybe they are gossipers or rebellious to authority.  Perhaps they have not yet received proper ministry training.  A Bible based church would not recognize a call unless these matters are cleared up.  The people of God recognize and re-affirm God’s call on a Bible qualified candidate for ministry, who is Spirit led and Spirit filled.  This can be done in an Ordination service.  If you ever have the chance to attend an Ordination Council and service, I hope that you take advantage of that.  You will learn much Bible doctrine if you attend, and you will also see the recognition of God’s people on a man for the Lord.  It takes Paul about 8 years after his conversion to Christianity that we know him as the “Apostle Paul.”  Consider this:  In Acts 9 we find Paul meeting Christ and being saved.  Galatians 1:17-18, Paul tells us what he did after being saved:  “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”   Paul took time away from everyone to meet with the Lord and to study.  We look at this time as preparation for Gospel Ministry.  He was a man who knew the Hebrew Bible better than most, and now he was going to be used of the Lord to preach and even write parts of the New Testament.   (By the way, an important note to make for today is preparation for ministry.  Bible College takes about four years.  Teacher training takes at least four years.)  Even with three years passing, some people still doubted Paul was for real.  Some of the local church leaders still thought of Paul as “Saul the Persecutor.”   With the help of Barnabas, church leaders start to see Paul as a servant of the Lord.  In Acts 9:29-30, Barnabas introduces Paul to the church in Jerusalem.  They listen to Paul, but are not ready to work with him yet.  They send him to his hometown of Tarsus.  Paul stays there for five more years after which Barnabas, who is preaching in Antioch, sends for Paul to have Paul help him minister the Word (Acts 11:25-26).  It was while Paul started his ministry with Barnabas that the believers in Antioch were first called “Christians.”   It took eight years for Paul to be recognized by others in the ministry.  After this, we find Paul in active ministry: traveling, establishing churches, preaching messages, and sending letters to the churches.

Paul had the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God confirm the calling of God on his life.   A life in ministry without these three affirmations will be difficult and will probably not last very long.  Be patient, serve the Lord and grow in the opportunities that open up to you.  Avoid forcing yourself into a position your pastor or other spiritual leaders know that you are not prepared for…yet.

If you are not called to ministry, that is OK too.  Be sure that you support your church leaders and support those who are in vocational ministry.  Your service in helping ministers is important!  I heard Evangelist Byron Foxx say: “Every Christian should either be a preacher or be helping a preacher.”  Those that are not preachers should be helping their preacher in advancing the Gospel.  

Are you called to ministry?  Do you have these three affirmations in your life?  At this point in my life, I have been preaching for around 15 years.  I remember the moments in my life when I saw these affirmations for ministry calling.  I am like Paul in saying, that I am thankful the Lord has called me to ministry.  Seek the will of the Lord, and God will show you His will.  When He does show you, follow it with all of your heart!  

Advertisements

Any Candy in Your Chocolate Box?

Any Candy in Your Chocolate Box? 

Ecclesiastes 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

Imagine a gushy eyed young man looking in the face of his beautiful bride to be.  They are talking about how much they love one another and how wonderful life is with each other.  As she is intently gazing into his eyes he suddenly presents a HUGE box of chocolates.  This is the biggest box of Russell Stover chocolates that she has ever seen!  She smiles in amazement at this gift as he had hands the box to her.  She loves fine chocolate – what a thoughtful gift! A box this big must have cost a lot.  She thought momentarily “He must really love me.”  As her hands wrap around the box he says: “This was the best candy I have ever ate.  Your favorite peanut crunchy pieces were so tasty.”  She opens the box and it is empty!  Her man had eaten all of the candy in the box.

Imagine a similar scene.  The chocolate box is small, heart shaped, but it actually has candy in it.  As the girl opens the box the rich aroma of fine chocolate touches her senses.  She reaches in and enjoys a creamy taste of heaven and is appreciative of the thoughtful gift from her man.  While there are only three pieces, these are pieces that they share together.

Which man is really showing love towards his bride to be?  The one who gave box of chocolate that actually had candy in it.

Many times we say we “love someone” but they are empty words.  The love we may really display is selfish love; loving ourselves rather than loving others.  We are born selfish – it is called the sin nature.  It is easy to choose to love yourself.  It is something divine to show real love to other people.

Love is a tremendous choice that touches our emotions.  Love is more than an emotion, feeling, or an expression.  Love is giving to other people.  Let’s open up the box of chocolate and discover what real love is.

Love is Comprised of Actions.  In John 14:15 Jesus says “If ye love Me keep my commandments.”  Action towards Christ is needed to demonstrate love for Him.   The same is true in our relationships.  If we love someone we will show actions of love toward them.  Love could be taking out the garbage.  Love could be sharing the last doughnut.  Love could be making coffee early in the morning for your spouse.  What are some actions can we do towards others that can show love?

Giving is a great place to start.  In John 3:16 we find that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  God’s Agape love toward us is a giving love.  We could emulate the Lord and give of our time, talent, or even treasure to other people.  From time spent with me, to golf clubs, and gift cards, and notes of encouragement, I have enjoyed the love of people giving to me.

Sharing is a tremendous way to show love.  Jesus is the eternal God Who shares everlasting life and Heaven with those who trust Him for their salvation.  Romans 5:8 tells us, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  John 10:28 teaches, And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  Could you share time with others, share the blessings of your life with others?  How about special moments or even making memories together?

Caring.  The Lord cares for His people.  1 Peter 5:7 tells us, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.  Here we discover God’s love is experienced in how He shows care for us.  The word “careth has to do with taking care, concern, and having an interest.  One person said it well: “It matters to Him what matters to you.”  The Lord is interested in our lives, thoughts, and emotions.  We too can show love by showing an interest in other people.  Listen to others.  Learn what is going on in their lives.  Know their favorite things to eat, activities to be a part of, and the cares they have in life.

Bearing. In a similar fashion as Caring, Galatians 6:2 instructs: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”   The law of Christ starts with loving God above all else.  This law continues by loving thy neighbor as thyself.    You can help a person through a tough time by “Feeling their pain.”  What a blessing you can be in bearing a burden by helping them up.  Perhaps a person feels rejected, you can help them.  Maybe they feel all alone; you can let them know that they are not alone.  Many people have difficulty formulating right thoughts and looking at situations in a Biblical way.  They may be depressed or discouraged because of faulty thinking.  You can help them think right, and bear their burden.

Love Is Active in Forgiving.  Love covers sin according to Proverbs 10:12 states, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”   This does not mean that justice should not be sought or that civil law should not be enforced.  If someone is being hurt, that sin must be accounted for.  This has to do with personal relationships and how you are looking at other people. Clark said of this verse: “Hatred stirreth up strifes—It seeks for occasions to provoke enmity. It delights in broils. On the contrary, love conciliates; removes aggravations; puts the best construction on every thing; and pours water, not oil, upon the flame.”  Anyone can look for the wrong in a spouse, co-worker, or child.  It is something we must decide to do everyday – forgive other people.  Love is actively looking for ways to forgive and let that forgiveness be known.

Forgive With Your Mind.  Hebrews 8:12 tells us about how God sees our sin as Christians, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Again in Hebrews 10:17 “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”  God knows everything, but He chooses not to think about some things!  Following God’s example you will not thinking about their wrong, but looking on how to help them do right. We will not be fixated on a hurt, but focused on what is good about them.  The Human mind is greater than the best computers.  The human mind cannot forget.  Even though we both forgot many things from 5 days ago or even 5 minutes ago, the human mind does not forget.  What we experience, hear, say, and do are etched in our minds forever.  When we forget something, it has more to do with the way that we file information.  Like the library book system, if we can file things in an effective manner we can bring back that information when we need it.  The point is – you may never be able to forget, but you can choose to not remember.   If you continually think about a past hurt or pain that someone caused you, you cannot forgive them.  If you choose to control your mind and push those negatives to the back of your mind, you will be able to forgive because you are thinking like God thinks towards you and your sin.

Forgive With Your Mouth.  When we control what we say about others, it makes forgiveness more possible.   Proverbs 17:9 continues this truth by declaring:  “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” Want to destroy a relationship?  Go around telling other people everything that other person ever did that was wrong.  List their sins; give an account as if you were the one committing the sin.  Expose the fact that they are sinners too.  You will destroy that relationship.  Love does not do that.  If we repeat wrongs, not only are our minds wrong, we are changing the mind of others towards another person to think less highly of the one we are speaking about.  Marriages, parent/child relationship, and classrooms have all been affected by evil speaking like this.  Some people pour kerosene on fires to keep the fire going.  Some people pour gasoline.  It is hard to pour gasoline on a fire and not get burnt.  When we keep talking about other sinners, we are playing with fire and it will come back to hurt us.

Forgive With Your Motive.  My first question when someone wants to tell me something negative about another is “What is their motive?  Why are they saying this?  Usually it is one of two reasons either Pride or Pain.  In Pride, they are pointing out that they are better than that person or that “they would never commit that sin.”  In Pain, they may be lashing back in a way to strike back or to injure another like they believe they have been injured.  Be reminded of Christ that when He was reviled and struck, He did not revile or strike back.   When we speak about other people’s sin, we can actually taint their image in the sight of others.  Some wives may speak negatively about their husband.  When they do so, they are damaging him and destroying their relationships with him.  Parents have done this with their children.  What tragedy.  We must have the motive of restoring people as Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” 

Forgive With your Message.  Every day you convey something others. We communicate in verbal communication and non-verbal communication.  Verbal communication includes everything we say and everything we do not say.  While we may not say “I hate you.” By not saying “I love you” some loved ones may not feel loved.  The non-verbal’s also speaks volumes.  Spending time together shows love, but avoiding time with a spouse or a child does not show love.  If there are people you avoid, you may not have really forgiven them.  Of course, if there is potential for abuse, you do not want to be around them; it would be best to stay away from a situation like that if there is danger.  In a general sense, you convey acceptance or unacceptance to other people with the message of your life.  What do you convey intentionally or unintentionally to others?  Every day you and I must purpose to be forgiving of others.

Love is Seeks Victory Each Day.  The Love of God conquers and is victorious every day. As Romans 8:35-39, emphasis:  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Nothing in life can change God’s love for us!  What a wonderful truth!  Our relationships can win like this as well.

I like the old Gospel song:  “Love Found a Way.”  It goes like this:

“Wonderful love that rescued me, sunk deep in sin,
Guilty and vile as I could be—no hope within;
When every ray of light had fled, O glorious day!
Raising my soul from out the dead, love found a way.

Love brought my Savior here to die on Calvary,
For such a sinful wretch as I, how can it be?
Love bridged the gulf ’twixt me and Heav’n, taught me to pray,
I am redeemed, set free, forgiv’n, love found a way.

Love opened wide the gates of light to Heav’n’s domain,
Where in eternal power and might Jesus shall reign.
Love lifted me from depths of woe to endless day,
There was no help in earth below; love found a way.

Love found a way, to redeem my soul,
Love found a way, that could make me whole.
Love sent my Lord to the cross of shame,
Love found a way, O praise His holy Name!”

God’s love found a way for our salvation!  Love finds a way to win over every obstacle to a healthy relationship.   True love will find a way to make your marriage work.  Find a way to make that soured relationship work – find a way because of love.  Love wins over sin, selfishness, and distractions, past friends, Face book, TV, former fiancés and anything else you can think of.  Love wins when communication is silent, when you are not understood, and when things get dicey.

Love sees common ground.  Don’t fasten onto the differences you may have; stick to complimentary features.  Give compliments instead of complaints.  Show consideration instead of criticism. Have compassion instead of coldness.

Love works it out when there is not much in the bank account or when the job is lost and foreclosure is in sight.  Love works when feelings are hurt.  Love works it out even if the most damaging thing takes place; when trust is lost.  Love will find a way to restore trust.

Conclusion The Bible has many good examples of this selfless love.  One such example is the prophet Hosea.   Hosea is called of God to marry a girl named Gomer.  She is a beautiful woman, a real stunning beauty.  There is a problem however: she is unfaithful in their marriage relationship.  After starting a family, she runs out and has multiple relationships to make money and to live her own way.  Today this is called human trafficking.  In Hosea 3, Hosea buys her back.  By this point Gomer was a slave in this filthy industry.  Hosea 3:2 says, “So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:” Thirty pieces of silver was the price for a slave in ancient days.  Hosea gave all he had to buy her from this life of sin she chose to enter because of selfishness.  He did not have enough silver, but he worked hard and had enough grain to make up the difference and he bought his wife back – because of love.  He bought her out of slavery and forgives her because of love!  He gave everything he had to make their relationship work – because of love.

Ladies and gentlemen; if you are married today or hope to be married one day, decide now that you will do whatever it takes to make your relationship work.   Be giving of your love, forgiving in love, and allow love to win in your relationship over everything that could hinder your relationship.  Showing love will change your relationships.  You and I are to love others like God loves us.  Make sure to give a chocolate box with real candy in it.  No selfishness or pretenses, just real and giving –then share your lives together.