The Special Calling of God
The main figures in the Bible all had a clear calling of God on their life that made it really easy for them to know what they are supposed to do. So how is their experience supposed to help us? Join us as we learn about the rare special calling of God and what makes it so special for us! #Calling #DareToVenture
The Special Calling of God
Intro: Last week we looked at The Extraordinary Ordinary Calling of Christ! That is that calling that every one of us that are Christians have because we were called by God to be His! The Bible says we did not seek Him but rather He sought us, found us and called us to Himself! He rescued us out of darkness and into light. He rescued us out of the curse of sin and into eternal life. He rescued us out of being cast out and under the rule of Satan to being accepted and in the safe arms of our creator as our Father forever!
In this extraordinary ordinary calling of Christ, we have the calling to know Him and His love for us. To love and follow Him and to share this wonderful opportunity with the world!
We are all literally called to engage those far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to know and follow Him. To lead the world to eternal life! It is the extraordinary ordinary calling of Christ that testifies that we have the greatest purpose in life and thus the greatest possible value in life!
The extraordinary ordinary calling of Christ is awesome and inspiring, but, that conversation alone still leaves a lot of empty blanks in our minds on what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. If God is sovereign and has established us. If He has called us and formed us, then He must have done so with specific things in mind and specific places in mind. The Bible is very clear that God did not spin the world into motion and leave us here to figure it all out, but rather that He is sovereign and active in the work of man and that He is working all things out together for good to those who love him. That He has predestined us to walk in good works and specifically He has predestined us for specific works that He has uniquely designed and called us to do!
So what in the world are they and how in the world do we know? This is the specific question we are going to look at today and in the next few weeks. In general, there are two ways we can discover and live out our specific calling.
Next week and the week after we are going to look at the most difficult and yet possibly the most simple way God calls us. Which is in summary, “by faith.” Now you say how in the world does that work? Well you got to come back next week and the week after to find out! And it's important that you do come back because this is how 99% of us will find, experience, and live out our specific calling. Now you say, why is it 99%? How can you be so sure that it's almost everybody? Well that leads me to the second way God calls.
The 2nd way God calls is known as a “special calling of God”. The good news is that the special calling of God is abundantly easy to know. However, the bad news is that out of the 10's of thousands of people in the Bible, only about 100 of them received a special calling from God!! So if 99% of people would never receive a special calling from God, why in the world are we going to take time to look at it? Well first of all it's really fun to look at because these stories are told in some pretty neat ways in the Bible. But second there are some really important attributes and factors that apply both to a special calling of God and a faith calling of God. They are best seen through the biblical testimonies of a special calling.
So for today, let me give you a big picture look at God’s special calling. Only about 100 people in the Bible ever received a “special calling from God” In them you will see some incredible encouragement that applies to how God leads all who are in Him.
So let’s begin.
In the Bible, there are 2 distinctives that seem to always be associated with what is known as “special calling”.
The 1st distinctive is that,
God makes Himself really evident when He’s doing the calling! (Exodus 3:1-6, Ephesians 2:1-10)
1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.3 And Moses said, "I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned."4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." 5Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." 6 And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:1-6)
In every testimony of a special calling of God in the Bible there is the clear testimony that it was God doing the calling. It was evident that it was Him!
The obvious/evident origin of the call, being God gave huge confidence to those who He called to go forward no matter the circumstance.
Noah and the Ark.
Abraham and the journey away from the land of his forefathers to a place he wouldn’t know until he got there!
Moses before Pharaoh then having to deal with the weak faith and people griping and complaining. Even having to endure their unwillingness to trust God and go into Canaan. After all God did! Then he spent the remainder of his glorious calling wandering around for 40 years until that generation died off. Never getting to enter the promise land! Deuteronomy is the farewell address of Moses preaching and preparing the people to go into the land but never, himself, getting to go!
Fast forward to the New Testament with Paul always having people questioning his Apostolic calling! But he had a self-evident calling of God on his life when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus! So he confidently pressed on in the face of all those who came against him. In the face of all those who doubted his sincerity. (In the beginning, many wondered if wasn’t just setting the church up to find out who they were!) To those who called him a “sell out”, because the one who once used to be the harshest defender of religious customs and traditions was now saying none of that mattered! Who was instead saying the only thing that matters is to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. That none of that stuff matters and can even be a hindrance to actual faith that the righteousness of Christ alone and nothing else is enough to establish and sustain our relationship with God!
So, It was the self-evident nature of God being the one who called them that gave each of these men the confidence that they were doing the will of God! Therefore, no matter what obstacle stood in their path, they could continue forward!
But what about the rest of us who don’t have an experience of a burning bush or Jesus literally appearing before us in such a way that He temporally blinds us! What do we cling to when everything gets crazy? Well, listen to the overwhelming evidence of God's calling on each of us. And the practical application of that. To do what we do in our day-to-day lives!
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
So, if you understand our depravity, and what salvation actually is, then you should understand it is insanely self-evident that any of us who have a relationship with Jesus, have it because of what Christ accomplished on Calvary. And because He called us to Himself! There can be no other explanation for our salvation than Jesus! So much so that He alone will be praised for the eternal glory of the Heaven that He alone has given to all who were in Him!
Therefore Paul says, with the same confidence that God called us to salvation. That God has also called us to good works. That God has prepared for us to do even before the foundation of the world! That God has the same sovereign commitment for us to accomplish those in a way that will bring all glory to Him as saving us does. Therefore, we should confidently walk by faith knowing that He who began a good work in us will complete it!
The 2nd distinctive about God’s calling is that
God assures those He calls that He’s in it to win it with them! (Jeremiah 1:4-9, Matthew 28:19-20)
4 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." 6 Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." 7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD." 9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. (Jeremiah 1:4-9)
Listen, I got to be quick here, when you read the Bible you will see all kinds of testimonies of those who had a special calling of God on their lives also needing the assurance that God was with them! And you will also see God reminding them that He was! This isn’t just true of Jeremiah or Joshua or David or Elijah or Paul, but of each of us! God has called all who are in Him and made the same promise that He is in it to win it, with us!
I’m sure you are aware of the Great Commission. The commission that Christ gave the disciples, and as such to every one of His followers. But, so many miss that He has given us the same promise in our mission that He gave Moses, Jeremiah and everybody else He has ever called. Listen,
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
The entire point of the New Covenant is that Christ is with us. And as such He is going to finish what He has called us to. But, key here, He is going to do it in the context of a relationship with us! Jesus said "Behold I'm with you". The entire point is that He would be with us now and forever! He is in it to win it, with us!
This is where I want to stop and give you some really important pastoral advice when it comes to seeking out God’s calling on your life.
WARNING - Whenever we allow any specific calling of God on our lives to be more important that the extraordinary ordinary calling of God to know and love Him we will create a disaster! (Judges 8:22-27)
Read the amazing story of God's calling Gideon, affirming Gideon and then using Gideon in a way that was clearly God. Gideon was in no way the guy that anybody would have ever thought amazing, nor from the right tribe, etc. Overview Judges 6-8.
22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian." 23 Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you." 24 And Gideon said to them, "Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil." (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 And they answered, "We will willingly give them." And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels. 27And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. (Judges 8:22-27)
Gideon took the gold he received and made an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. Whatever Gideon’s intentions were in this act, the people worshiped this ephod. It became a snare to Gideon and his family. The nature of this ephod is not clear. It may have been patterned after the short outer garment worn by the high priest (Ex. 28:6–30; 39:1–21; Lev. 8:7–8). But rather than being worn as a garment, Gideon’s golden ephod was apparently erected and became an idol. In some sense he may have usurped the function of the priest and/or established a rival worship center to the tabernacle. In the end Gideon seems to have returned to the syncretistic society out of which God had called him to deliver Israel.
The last days of Gideon were disappointing. His gold shekels were “fashioned into a ephod.” An ephod was the upper garment worn by the high priest at the Tabernacle. The ephod described in Exodus 28 and 39 was very ornate and costly. It was woven with gold thread and contained numerous jewels. To what extent Gideon’s ephod resembled that worn by the high priest cannot be ascertained. Nonetheless, it is clear that to make a proper ephod would require considerable gold. Gideon placed his new ephod in his city of Ophrah (8:27–28). Perhaps the narrator was pained to recount all the details regarding this ephod. In the Old Testament the ephod with its breastpiece is associated with divine revelation. Several times before the battle Gideon had received direct communication from the Lord. Perhaps the ephod was an attempt to continue to receive divine guidance. Did Gideon himself attempt to function as a priest? Was he attempting to establish an alternative channel of divine communication? Did he feel that the normal means of revelation were not adequate? These are questions which cannot be answered. This much the text does clearly state: “All Israel played the harlot with it there.” That ephod became a snare to Gideon and his household (8:27–28). These words suggest that some kind of illegitimate worship centered around the ephod at Ophrah. Gideon became a religious innovator rather than a reformer bent on bringing Israel back to the old paths. Believers must be careful about ephod-making—of attempting to solicit direction from God in ways which he has not authorized. In Scripture God has already provided all that the believer needs for his growth and direction. Another disappointing fact about Gideon is that he took many wives. He had concubines in various cities. All together Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants (8:29–30). God had warned that Israel’s kings should not multiply wives (cf. Deut 17:17). How much more this would apply to those who were not kings. A third disappointing fact is related about Gideon. He named the son of one of his concubines “Abimelech” which means “My father is king.” The narrator has introduced this fact to point out the contradiction between what Gideon said about kingship in 8:23 and the way he acted. Gideon, it seems, refused to be a king. Nonetheless, he wanted to live like a king. Like many believers he had a hard time bringing his walk into harmony with his talk. His theology was correct. God alone should be king. His psychology was imperfect. He regarded himself as a king (8:31).The closing words regarding Gideon’s life remind believers that even the greatest champions of the faith can be brought low by avarice, lust and pride. Gideon died “at a ripe old age” (NASB) and was buried in the tomb of his father in Ophrah (8:32).
Conclusion: God wants you to know what He wants you to do more than you do. He is The Sovereign Almighty King of the universe who loves you enough that He sent His Son to die for you! Answer His call to know and love Him and watch how He establishes your footsteps. (Matthew 6:33)
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)