Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Understanding and Prioritizing The Call of God

Why me Lord? I know very few people who have ever felt the call of God when they didn’t first say “WHY ME?” In fact is the healthiest question a leader can ask when they feel the stirring to take up the high call of ministry.

I remember as a teenager questioning the call. I have always said the best way you know your called is “You go to bed thinking about it, You wake up thinking about it, and Everything that happens to you would fit great into a sermon illustration!” Welcome to the call of God. So much has been said about doing ministry, but few write about how to answer the call.

One of my all-time favorite verses can be found in Romans 11:29. It is the verse about Gods guarantee and touch upon a leaders life. The verse refers to Gods continued love for the Jew, but it is also a life verse for the Gentile.

Romans 11:29- (message bible) God's gifts and God's call are under full warranty — never canceled, never rescinded.

What this verse tells me is that regardless of your life decision to take the journey called ministry the “kiss” of God is still upon you. The most miserable people I have ever met are those who ignored the call of God. Maybe it was out of fear, insecurity, or even hurts they ran from Gods plan for them. Here is what you must understand the call of God is not for the faint at heart or the angry in Spirit. The call of God is for those who simply have the never ending desire to minister Gods healing power and deliverance. The call can operate in an office, church, or on the open market.
I want to take a few minutes to answer some questions and give some insight to “The Call.” I believe with all of my heart that everyone is called. I believe that every person can walk under the mantle of Gods hand. I also believe that God take the common, and with one command make them a conqueror! Let me give you some precepts for the call. I may intertwine the precepts with scriptures and concepts.

1. The calling of God is always absolute!
God won’t change his mind about you- so don’t change your mind about him!
Realize on your worst day of ministry you are still called!

Romans 1:5-6, Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Luke 9:1-6, When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: "Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." 6 So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

If your called to him today then you must lose what you followed yesterday! Hurts, fears, pains, attitudes! He is calling you to him!

God doesn’t make mistakes. He created you for his purpose. He has unbelievable plans for you. He just wants you to step into the great adventure.

2. It started first for me with the mud and the mirror!
It wasn’t till I realized I was nothing without Jesus that I began to question if he could use me. You see it is at the end of yourself that the beginning of God begins.

I am reminded of Saul (later to change his name to Paul) laying in the mud blinded by a light that he had an encounter with Jesus!

Acts 9:3-6, As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked."I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

Saul had to go to his kness! He was brought down from his thrown of killing Christians, and suddenly left blinded by Gods power. For three days all he could see was his own life flashing through his mind. He was the most learned of all Roman citizens! He had Government power in his hands. Yet, on that lonely road called Damascus he was interrupted by Gods plan.

He was in the mud and looking at his life in a mirror. That is how God grabs people. He allows them to wonder and then in one moment- He interrupts them.

That is what happened to Elisha when Elijah found him working the fields. It is what Jesus did with the disciples.

3. The call begins to consume the called!
I know what it is like to go to bed hearing the screams of the lost. I know what it is like to walk on a stage in front of thousands and wonder “how did I get to do this?” You see when God calls you there comes a period of time where you begin to realize if I don’t answer- I will just die.

It overwhelms you. Everywhere you look you see desperate man in need. In fact the best thing that could happen to you is realize that God can do it without you, but he chooses not too.

The beating heart screams out like an Edgar Allen Poe story. It becomes intoxicating. In fact I will dare say, it even becomes a cross to bear!

4. Your motives are always the first to be tested.
David understood this as his brother sat next to him at the camp fire questioning him for asking about a giant. Peter was criticized by the religious.

Psalms 78:72- And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.

Jesus was asked over and over- who do you say that you are? It is always the enemies plan to question you about the big question of your life. He will always tell you that you don’t belong, or that you will fail, but realize that God started this thing with you. I am reminded as Moses got ready to go meet up with his nemesis and step brother pharaoh. He asked God the powerful question “whom shall I say sent me?” and God said tell him “I AM.” Enough said. I love what Paul said in regards to preaching with the right motives!

Philippians 1:14-18, It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

So if you have accepted the call and your motives are under attack take heart, because you have joined a great fraternity! The fraternity of the Unashamed!

5. The call of God resonates in the lives of those who are broken and desperate.

The call of God is rarely recognizable on the pompous and self consumed. If it is upon such a person then they usually have a longer journey in the first stages of ministry. The touch of God is not indifferent to personalities or even a persons upbringing, but it is manifest most in the broken and desperate. God is simply looking for those who can stay real and walk in continual desperation.

Psalms 51:6-11, (message bible) What you're after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life. 7 Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life. 8 Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. 9 Don't look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health. 10 God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. 11 Don't throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.

These are the people whom God can trust to lay down their nets and take up the cross. God doesn’t always use the most talented, but he must use the most broken.

6. The call of God is for those who understand priorities!
John 3:30- I must decrease that he might increase!

Matthew 6:33-But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In other words you must be a leader who maximizes what is important. You make up your mind to pray, study, and pursue destiny. The call of God is for those who understand that it is a continual growth. You never arrive. You have to continually better yourself in every area.

Stay a student! Be willing to pay the price and grow where your planted. You must be willing to serve and stand by those who believe in you! Ministry doesn’t happen overnight! Learn and learn more!

2 Timothy 2:15, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Your walk is your first priority! Everyday pursuing Jesus. Everyday you worship harder than others, pray deeper than most, and you continually crucify your flesh. That is why the bible says in 1 Thes. 5:17, Pray without ceasing.

The called must always be sure that their family is healthy in every area. Your family must know that without the church you are ok. In other words with a job in ministry your ok. That way the church/ or a job doesn’t own you.

Roams 14:12- Everyman will give an account of himself.

The called prioritizes the difference between vision and ambition. Ambition is flesh driven, but vision is God birthed. You must always make sure your priorities are right. Keep Gods plan first in everything. He has plans for you. (Jer. 29:11)

God has secrets he wants to share with you. (Jer. 33:3) Seek out advice of those who have accomplished the great and of those who have accomplished the unseen.

Keep people in your life that can speak into your life, and also have those in your life that are simply there to encourage and be your friend.

7. The called must always be aware of the pitfalls waiting on you!
Paul spoke in Romans of the thorn in his flesh. The moment you accept the call you are now on the enemies radar. You now are a threat.

The list of the fallen are usually more recognizable than the list of the proven.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5, So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

You have to guard your flesh at all times. I heard an old preacher tell me once that many times the devil will leave someone with deep flesh flaws alone until they become popular or big in the church world and their fall effects many more because of their prominence and popularity.

Get dressed correctly ever day!
Ephesians 6:10-14, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Remember if you play with the call of God- he will find someone else to take your place – Saul!

8. The called must always avoid being judgmental or flippant!
It is so easy to become callas in hardened in ministry! Guard your motives and tongue!
I have watched young ministers fall into the pit called judgmental attitude.

2 Timothy 2:16, Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
It is easy to stand on the sidelines and call plays. I challenge every leader to guard that demonic spirit called religion which causes a leader to think to highly of himself.

Matthew 7:1-6 (message bible) "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment. 2 That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 3 It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. 4 Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? 5 It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. 6 "Don't be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don't reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you're only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

9. Realize the called have always faced persecution!
2 Timothy 3:12-17, (message bible) Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there's no getting around it. 13 Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith. They're as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse. 14 But don't let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers — 15 why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother's milk! There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. 17 Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

10. The truly called must live in a constant place of walking in faith!
Hebrews 6:12-15, We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
The call of God is all about believing in something bigger than you. You have to walk in supernatural faith. That means everything will not always make sense.

I heard someone say years ago that where God guides he must always provide.
Walking in two key components at all times is the priority: Wisdom and Faith!

2 Cor. 5:7- We live by faith and not by sight!

Hebrews tells us you can’t please God without Faith. It is about an assuredness that is mind blowing!

Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
o Washington Carver – success is not what you are but what you paid to get there!

Your calling is to build faith in others!
Romans 10:17, Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Quote- CS Lewis- faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.

No one can stand in the way of your faith!

Romans 3:3-4, What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written:
"So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge."

11. The called have a huge inheritance waiting on them!
Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We are called to finish- not just start something! You are called to complete your assignment!

History is not made by the starters, but the finishers! Heaven is cheering you!

2 Timothy 4:7-8, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

If I can say anything to you it is this one statement: It will all be worth it! You are not your own- You were bought for the satisfaction of the King!

Heaven is your reward. At the Bemus Seat of Christ they will line up and say thank you. Your called because he called you.

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