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Archive for the ‘calling’ Category

“We have been created for a purpose.”- Rick Warren
The Purpose Driven® Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
In this day and age, it is pretty hard to figure out who hasn’t heard anything about Rick Warren.  Whether good or bad, his name has come up in a conversation about a best-selling book, a political agenda and relationship with President Obama, or Saddleback and its pastor hosting a political debate or “forum” (I truly do not see the difference beyond theory and definition).  Some atheists and church-haters despise Rick Warren and everything that he stands for, while some Christians and non-Christians live upon every aspect of The Purpose-Driven Life.  That is until The Shack or some other best-selling book sweeps Christendom and its outer realm like Jabez and Benett’s Book of Virtues once did.
What I admire admire about Rick Warren is that he is unashamed about what made him successful as a pastor.  I’ll even say how God made him successful in that realm. 

Look deep into The Purpose-Driven Church and see a man following God’s lead, both prayerfully and faithfully.  Prior to pastoring, Rick Warren had faith.  Prior to having a mega-church status, Rick Warren sought to please God.

Stop for a moment.  Think about what I just put out there.  Substitute “Rick Warren” with your name and his status with your achievements and accomplishments.
Prior to becoming a parent and a spouse, ______________ sought to please God.
Prior to getting a driver’s license and a car, _________________ sought to please God.
Prior to teaching Sunday school and leading VBS, ________________ sought to please God.
Prior to (whatever it is that people see as your big thing), did you seek to please God?
Now that you have done it and achieved it, do you still seek to please God? Do you seek to please Him more and more?
There’s no middle of the road with God.  I don’t believe that He’s nonchalant about how we handle His kingdom business.  We either please or grieve God.  There isn’t a safe place where we can straddle this way or that way.  Either we please Him or we simply do not, and then that’s when we grieve Him.
I could have used T.D. Jakes, Robert H. Schuller, Billy Graham, or the late Oral Roberts.  Imagine if I had used someone like Kirk Franklin, Brian Welch from Korn, or Steven Baldwin.  Each of these men have a story that speaks about times when their very own lives grieved God as well as the dramatic turnaround that led to them seeking to please God.
God is either pleased or grieved with us and our actions.
Do you please God? Do you grieve God? 
Seek to please Him today and forever.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.- Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

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“Presenting myself to God implies a recognition that I am altogether His.”- Watchman Nee
The Normal Christian LifeThe Bible speaks of the believer progressing towards presentation before the One who is perfect.  We are to be taught and trained to do the “work of the ministry,” fully equipped to be presented before Christ for His approval at the Bema Seat.  We need to see that our ministry and church “work” are to be done for the perfecting of the saints and the presentation before the Savior.
I think many of us have a poor understanding of judgment for believers.  There is no condemnation for believer because of sins.  His believe has him covered in the righteous blood of the Lamb of God.  Jesus assured Nicodemus that He came to give life, not to condemn the world.  We, too, live under that same promise made by the Master to His late-night visitor who crept in under the cover of darkness.  What Jesus shared with Nicodemus is carried over to all who believe.
But there is more to it than to “only believe.” The believer has a responsibility.  Take up your cross.  Forsake all others.  Follow JesusServe the Lord.
In all that we do for the Lord, we will be called on what we have done and what we have not done in His name and with His Word (Rev. 3:8).  One day the dead in Christ will be called up to meet Him in the air at His judgment seat.  It is there whre the Lord will call our works into judgment, not our sins.  He will call us on what we did in His name and how we served others with love, honor and integrity.  He will seek an answer and an account for all that we have done with our faith.
Just coming to church regularly won’t do.  Simply wearing a cross around your neck or sporting a Not of This World t-shirt won’t cut it.
Watchman Nee is sharing something similar with the believer in The Normal Christian Life.  He uses Romans chapter 6 as a focus, but he hones in on Romans 6:19.  He shares that the believer should have already presented himself entirely over to God.  This is what makes the believer holy.  This what sanctifies the believer, total submision of one’s entire being given over to God.  He wants to be His “very own” people (Titus 2:14).  As Peter said, He wants to make us into His “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).
Be changed today.  Live differently today.  There is freeedom in Christ.  Live for Him, and then you will not be ashamed on the day when the trumpet sounds.  You will be prepared for your presentation before perfection.

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“God sends us the opportunities; it is up to us to seize them.” – D.L.Moody

Ministry involves being open to opportunities.  I am speaking of God-ordained opportunities, not some secular stuff.  We need to be so in tune with God that we see His hand moving in every situation and circumstance that emerges in our lives.  Our responsibility is to recognize what God is orchestrating to accomplish His intended purpose.

 Opportunities come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Be mindful of which opportunities have strict obligations.  If you cannot meet the obligation, consider your other options.  Perhaps, you will need to partner with others to get the results that you need to meet your obligations.  The Bible is clear.  We can only truly commit where our heart has already made a commitment.

God wants you to seize the opportunities that He opens for you along your path in life.  Be careful to choose wisely and carefully.  God-given opportunities will serve as eye-opening opportunities as reach out with god works towards others whose  hearts have not already been won over by His Spirit yet.

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As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ – Matthew 10:7 (NIV)

Kingdom workers share the message about the kingdom of heaven.  If you do not share it, it will not spread.  It will only stay with you.  The Good News is too good to keep it to ourselves.  By nature, it should be shared with others.  We, as believers, are to share it as we go to and fro.  We are to “preach this message.”

Believers are serve as the ultimate change agents.  We are to change our environments by adding the transformative element  that gives eternal life- the gospel itself.  If we are not preaching it in word and deed, we are not doing our job and not living out our calling. 

God uses us to reach other people.  He doesn’t need to use a burning bush with people when He can set us on fire to do more than a bush.  He can use our fire to spread the Word to others.  We are to be preaching personified. 

Think about how you can share the Word.  Is it pouring out of your mouth? Is it coming to life by how you live before those who do not believe? Let the Word work through you to reach others with it.

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Creating Fishers of Men:

 

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”-Mark 1:17

Practical Applications

 

  • Relevance

“fishers of men”

Jesus shared something that these fishers understood.  They knew about fishing.  Now they needed to learn about fishing for men.

  • Realism

“. . . I will make you…”

Having an understanding that we need something bigger than us to change us helps us to embrace the change as it starts and continues.

  • Relationships

John 1:35-46; 2:1, 11

When you have experienced a previous encounter with Jesus, you can be led into a deeper relationship with as you leave your nets and livelihood behind to follow Him.

  • Reputation

Mark 1:14-15

Jesus had already been preaching in Galilee.  They knew about Him.  Now they could get to know Him.

  • Resourcefulness

“Follow Me…”

The resources are conditional. We must follow Jesus in order to be made into more than we ever imagined and all that He expects of us.

  • Recognition

Matt. 4:20, 22; Luke 5:11; John 2:11

Jesus had more than charisma.  He had more than character.  He was the Christ, the Anointed One.  He was the Messiah.  He was the Son of God.  He was Immanuel, “God is with us.” People saw it and recognized something different about Jesus.  He shared that these men would no longer be recognized as smelly fishermen but saintly fishers of men.

Jesus offered these men aspects of what we all should offer others as they join our ministries.  He offered them a new way of approaching their walk in life through a calling.

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Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!
– Proverbs 6:6 (NLT)
Some people are full of ideas. Ideas just pop into their head all of the time. Inspiration and creativity spark inside their minds and they jot down something in a notebook or journal, even on their Blackberry or iPhone. They’re simply full of ideas.
I empathize with such people, for I am one of them. However, as I reviewed some notebooks from a few years back and got drawn in deeper and deeper into my own notes and ideas, I realized that I was full of ideas and need to convert more of my ideas into innovations. I would imagine that that’s the case with many others who share my flaw.
The Bible is full of verses that speak of productivity. Yes, I said productivity. Look at Psalm 1:3, John 15:8 and others that speak of fruitfulness, prosperity and service. Even as salt and light, we are called to produce something that leads to others glorifying the Father based upon what they see in us. Proverbs points out that the “lazybones” should look at the ant and take in the wisdom of such a creature who needs no supervisor or manager and is productive, being considered wise.
Here are some steps for converting your ideas into innovations:
  • Find Initiative: Get an idea about how to get started, but by all means get started and soon.
  • Focus Intensity: Keep your focus on doing and doing it right. Don’t get so intense that you get distracted or detoured doing other things. Keep your intensity focused on the right things.
  • Fortify Infrastructure: Build beyond a “one hit wonder.” Dream about other ways to enhance or expand your idea. Broaden the scope of your vision and build a structure that allows for it to grow and expand into a possible enterprise.
  • Formulate Innovations: Could your sermons become podcasts on iTunes or articles for online e-zines? Could you write a how-to article for your church or community newsletter on the topic? Could you blog or tweet regularly on related and relevant subjects centered around your idea? Think it out, and then plan it out. If you plan on going anywhere but where you currently are, you are going to need a map.

I pray that this is helpful to those who are full of ideas and inspired to convert those ideas into innovations.

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He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.- Matthew 10:1 (NIV)

Does anyone remember those Sunday school lessons where you had to recite the books of the Bible? Someone would always get stuck somewhere after Numbers and Deuteronomy.  Or, was it Leviticus? I remember Lutheran school in L.A. County, somewhere near West Covina, and we had to learn the names of the disciples.  We would focus on the “Big Three,” Peter, James, and JohnYou could always remember Judas. That guy just stood out from the crowd.  Then, like always, we would get thrown off with James the Less or Andrew, Peter’s brother, and whether it was Levi or Matthew.  Somebody would try and throw Paul in there and we’d all laugh like we such scholarly theologians ourselves, stumbling over names like Thaddaeus and Bartholomew.  Some folks would quote the Gospels like Mark and Luke were disciples of the Lord like the apostles.  We tried to recite the list of disciples by name, but never really got into what made them a distinct group of men apart from the multitudes and the many believers who followed Jesus and served as His disciples outside of the Twelve.

What made these men different? What did Jesus want to do through these twelve men?

These men were called to do the unorthodox.  They were sent out to do the unheard of task of missional ministry that spreads the Good News and shares of the coming Messiah.  Jesus was specific when He said: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (Matthew 10:7-8, NIV).  Jesus wanted them designated for the distinct task of preaching to share about eternal life and drive out diseases, healing the sick and raising the dead.  These were so important to Him that He prayed to the Father on their behalf prior to His arrest in the dark of night after the Last Supper.

So what has the Lord called on you to do? Has he assigned you a designated and delegated task to accomplish in His name?

If the Lord has pricked your heart with an inkling to do more for Him, it may very well include one or more of the following:

  • An increased openness to His Spirit’s leading
  • Growing challenged at every turn during and after your Bible study
  • Sensing a spiritual leading to serve at a greater capacity and a higher level
  • Frequent “confirmation” from others about what they see in you that the Lord has put in you or placed inside of you
  • A spiritual uplifting from doing “good works,” praising His name, and having some “good church” (even if it’s by yourself)

There’s are just some things that may be present or occur as you go along your Christian journey.  He can get to you any way He wants to, but are you available to be used by Him? He can designate and delegate something special for you as His disciple.  Can He count on you?

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Knowing that we are fulfilling God’s purpose is the only thing that really gives rest to the restless human heart. -Chuck Colson

The Word of God is ripe with countless accounts of individuals called into service by God. Whether it is Isaiah seeing the Lord high and lifted up or fishers by the Sea of Galilee called to follow the Messiah and be made to become fishers of men, people are called upon by God.  People are called by God and a response is expected from the one being called by God.

God expects a response from those whom He calls.  The called must realize that God is calling them from their former life into a new life when it comes to salvation.  Service is a lot different.  John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for the Lord.  Jeremiah was called to share of Israel’s captivity.  God calls His servants for a purpose.  He wants to do something through you.  He wants to use you as a vessel, where He can pour into you and pour out what He pours into you before the people who need to hear it and see it.

Do you sense God’s calling upon your life? Is He urging you to do more for Him? Is He leading you to new experiences and opportunities that you never noticed around you before?

What are you doing with God’s calling?  How are you responding? Are you prayerful about it? Have you asked God to make it plain and clear to you? Have you fasted about it? Is it on your prayer list?

Are you responding or retreating? Ask Moses about excusesAsk Elisha about having attachmentsAsk Peter what it may cost youCheck with Jonah about reluctance, resistance and running.  Respond to God’s call with an appropriate response.

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But Daniel sresolved that he would not tdefile himself with kthe king’s food, or with lthe wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to tdefile himself.- Daniel 1:8 (NLT)

What we learn from the many biblical examples provided to us is that God can distinguish us with a divine destiny.  We don’t have to walk long with the Lord before we feel the spiritual tug on our lives and find ourselves marked for an assignment by Master.  He uses whomever He chooses.

It is so with Daniel as we read this familiar text from the Scriptures.  Circumstances and situations collide and culminate in cornucopia of change, change that is caused by being called out from among the crowd by the Creator.  So we find young Daniel among those marked by a secular king to expand and extend an earthly kingdom but simultaneously handpicked by the spiritual King of kings to exemplify and express a heavenly kingdom.  Daniel was distinguished for a divine destiny, for God indeed had called him to stand. Yes, He hose daniel to stand for truth with integrity and to stand for God amid idolatrous defilement.  God had called on this young man to lead a spiritual stand against impurity.  The fact of the matter is that God has called on many of us stand…in the courtroom, at the school district, in college lecture halls, in community meetings, even at the barbershop and the beauty shop.  God has called on His people to stand…to stand for Him in dark times and to stand on His promises even where you see no provision.

So what happens when God calls you stand?

  • He will cause you to stand up

Daniel has a turning point in this text that sets him apart from the other young men. The Word simply says: “Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself.” It’s an internal decision before his external demonstration.  It’s a personal resolution before it is a public result. You see something happened in Daniel’s heart before anything came out of his mouth.  Therefore, when Daniel did speak, God had already stirred something within him before he started something through him.    If God calls you to stand, He will cause you to stand up for Him and to His glory.  If you want to test where somebody’s standing, look and see who’s going to get the glory.  That’ll tell you all you need to know.  We are to stand up but stand up for God and the purpose He has given us, seeking nothing for ourselves.

  • …to stand out

After approved and acted on, Daniel and his comrades appeared to stand out from the rest.  Their countenance glowed differently than the others.  The appeared healthier than their counterparts.  God caused them to stand out.   What we take into our bodies has an effect on us, particularly in our appearance.  Take in junk and you start showing signs of how junk is affecting you.

  • … to stand above

So in the end we that God will cause you to stand up and He’ll cause you to stand out.  But what’s real impressive about God is that He’ll even cause you to stand above.  Daniel and his friends stood out so much that they stood above the other young men.  In fact when presented before the king they were even standing above those who the king already had in place. like astrologers and magicians.  God uses these young men proved to be a cut above all of those as well.  You see when take a stand for God based upon His calling you, He can cause you to stand above…He can cause you to stand above your circumstances…your situation…your health condition…your socioeconomic status…your education level…your marital status…even when you don’t believe in yourself, you better believe in God…He can cause you to stand above it all.

Amen.

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And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. – Ezek. 3:3, NKJV

According to Ezekiel 3:1-3, the messenger is to devour the Word.  He is to take it in so much as to fill himself with it.  As he is filled by the Word, he is to taste of its sweetness which is like honey.  He is to devour it, taking in its fullness, and fill himself with it.  It is to serve as his sustenance.

He must then prepare himself to regurgitate the Word that he has taken in as God’s message to His people.  The Word is both the messenger’s filling and fueling.  It is his filling for his own satisfaction.  It is good for him to partake of it.  It is his fueling for the people’s sake, taking the Word to them with the utmost urgency.  He has tasted of it himself and knows of the value it contains.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.- Ps. 34:8

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