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Knowing God’s Calling
“What We Need To Do”
Tonight I’d like to give some practical advice on how we can align ourselves to the will and way of God. And the reason we need to do so is because by knowing more about God’s will and way will help us know more about God’s calling upon our lives.
Again, what I’m going to share most you already know, but timely reminders help. Again, this was the Apostle Peter’s assessment as well.
“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.” (2 Peter 1:12 NKJV)
To align ourselves with God’s call we first need to get aligned with His word. On this journey of faith that we are called to take there’s going to be times of darkness, uncertainty and doubt that only God’s word will light a pathway through.
The Psalmist said,
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV)
Only God’s word can cut through humanity’s deceptive emotions and Satan’s destructive strategies and get to the heart of the matter. This was the writer of Hebrews’ assessment as well.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)
The reason is because God is the one who inspired everything contained within the Bible. That’s why it’s called “God’s word.” It is profitable for everything we need to live an effective life.
The Apostle Paul’s said,
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul tells us that God’s word was literally breathed into the men who wrote down these words.
The Apostle Peter confirmed this saying, “Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21 NKJV)
As we’re in God’s word, the Holy Spirit reveals God’s purpose and direction. It’s like the seeing guide to a blind snow skier. A sighted skier will ski either behind or next to the blind skier shouting instructions as to what they are about to encounter, and how precede forward without a major mishap.
By following these commands, the blind skier successfully navigates down the hill with all it’s bumps and curves. But if they don’t trust their guide or refuse to listen, thinking they know what’s best, they are in for a disastrous outcome.
God’s word is our guide, and through the Holy Spirit guidance telling us what direction we should take as we read God’s word, we’ll successfully navigate this journey of spiritual transformation. But if we fail to trust God at His word, then we’ll most likely find ourselves in the woods plastered to a tree.
So the first thing we need to do is get ourselves aligned with God’s word is to fill our hearts and minds with it, and then we’ll know a little more of God’s calling upon our lives.
Critical to success in any endeavor is having the right tool and knowing how to use it. This is true when it comes to prayer coupled with fasting. Fasting, when used with prayer, increases our effectiveness allowing us to know God’s calling for our lives.
While fasting and prayer are central for many things, including getting free from bondages (Isaiah 58:6), and receiving deliverance in times of crisis (2 Chronicles 20). It’s also used to gain spiritual insight and receive God’s wisdom for the direction we are to take.
This is seen in God’s call upon both the Apostle Paul and Barnabas as God’s missionaries to the Gentile world. The Christians at Antioch fasted and prayed before sending them out.
“As they (the church leaders of Antioch) ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:2-3 NKJV)
This was also what Ezra, a Hebrew scribe found to be true. While he was given great favor by King Cyrus, along with the articles of the Temple taken by King Nebuchadnezzar, he knew they needed the strength and wisdom of God to make it back to Jerusalem. So Ezra proclaimed a fast to seek God as to the right way to go.
“Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions … So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:21, 23 NKJV)
But why is fasting so powerful when added to prayer.
Fasting means to abstain from food and/or drink for a specific time frame in order to seek the Lord by denying the physical in order to focus on the spiritual.
Adding fasting to prayer cleans out the junk and allows our spiritual man to get connected to God where we can hear the still small voice of the Lord more clearly.
This was the testimony for the prophet Elijah. For 40 days he went without food and arrived at Mount Horeb. He went into a cave where he was able to hear God’s still small voice over the all the commotion that was going on around him. And the Lord gave Elijah directions to anoint Hazael as king over Syria, and to choose Elisha as the prophet who would secede him, (1 Kings 19)
Now while prayer and fasting is a powerful tool, we need to be careful not to make it into some magical formula to gain God’s favor. God cannot be forced or coerced. We’ll still have trials and tribulations in this world as Jesus said (John 16:33), but when we fast and pray, God will strengthen us giving grace, mercy, and faith for the journey ahead.
The Psalmist tells us that we are to enter into the Lord’s presence with joyful songs of praise (Psalm 100).
We often hear about the need to pray through the problem. We like to quote the acronym P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). But let me recommend another “P” for P.U.S.H., and that is “Praise Until Something Happens.”
This was how David handled the many difficulties and problems he faced. Now I’m not talking about the average run-of-the-mill problems. I’m talking about outright hostility by those who wanted to kill him where he literally soaked his pillow with tears over what he was going through.
Through it all David not only prayed, but also praised God. He sang about his problems and about his faith and trust in God to see him through these stressful times. That’s why they are called Psalms; they are literally songs and hymns.
The Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). This means that praise is a vehicle that brings us into the presence and power of God. It’s one of the most effective ways we can take to find guidance for our lives.
Praise is therefore more than songs we sing at the beginning of a worship service, it’s a way of life for every believer in Jesus Christ. But it is more …
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV)
When we begin to praise God in everything and giving Him thanks, not only the good, but the bad as well, then we’ll see God change us in becoming more like Him.
In fact, God calls believers into a holy and royal priesthood for the express purpose of offering up to Him praise. (1 Peter 2:9)
God actually tells us that it is through our sacrifices of praise that we can overcome depression and despair.
“Therefore, let’s offer up to God a sacrifice of praise to replace the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:3)
Praise is therefore an effective way to ascertain God’s calling.
Getting alone with God is transforming. It is a way to allow God to talk with us without all the worldly distractions.
But it isn’t about escaping reality, nor is it to get away from our responsibilities. Rather it is about taking time to find out how to live in our present reality by coming into the reality of God and allowing Him to renew our purpose.
Prison systems use the technique of solitary confinement to break the human will. And getting alone with God is much the same, but not as some form of punishment. Instead it is meant to break the human will so that it can be aligned with God’s will.
It is meant to weaken our bondage to the world and strengthen our dependence upon God. It helps set us free from the deep-seated and established patterns of the world that prevent us from hearing and following God more fully.
Getting alone with God was Jesus’ way of aligning Himself with His Father.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane He left Peter, James and John, and went further in to pray, and there was able to make this declaration,
“O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42 NKJV).
Jesus knew the value of getting alone with God and quite often would leave and go off by Himself to pray and get His Father’s take on the day and what He was to do.
Knowing the value of such alone time, He showed and taught His disciples the same.
When the people were pressing in Jesus said, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:30-32 NKJV).
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6 NKJV)
To be like Jesus, to follow His ways, we must learn to discipline ourselves to get away from the worldly pressures trying to conform us to its ways, and get alone with God and let Him do that transformational work from within.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
But getting alone with God doesn’t just happen; we have to be purposeful about it. We have to set aside the time, because the enemy will do everything he can to keep us busy and occupied with what is not of God.
And this doesn’t have to be long periods of time, because then we’ll never do it. Instead plan small segments of time during the day to get away with God and pray, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:10 NKJV)
We are not commanded to live this Christian life alone and away from others, because none of us do very well on our own. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
Because of our human nature, most of us seek out those who agree with us and will confirm what we want, which often times isn’t the way or will of God. Instead we need the counsel of others, but not just any counsel, we need to seek godly counsel from those who will give to us advise that isn’t always pleasing, but rather what is best.
Apostle Paul talked about this saying that there will come a time when we will not endure sound teaching and counsel, but rather, because of our itching ears, we go to those who will only tell us what we want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)
We must purpose to seek those who believe in Jesus Christ and who have been gifted by God to give godly counsel, and learn from them. But we should also be quick to reject any advice that is not supported by or goes against God’s word.
Seeking out godly counsel for your life will reveal not only your true motive, but also God’s perspective on what you are facing. Take a look at what God word says.
“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” (Proverbs 1:5 NKJV)
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14 NKJV)
When we’re looking to find God’s calling, we need to then seek out godly counsel.
I come from the school of thought that says if you believe in something, then put your time, energy, and effort into it. This was never as true as when I came to belief in Jesus Christ.
I put everything I had into what the Lord said, especially when it came to serving others. When Jesus told the parable of the sheep and goats and how when we serve others we serve the Lord, I jumped right in and started serving God in my church.
I wasn’t sure what my exact calling was, but when a need arose I was ready and willing to meet it. I started out being an usher, and then taught in the children’s ministry. Because of my business background I set up the church’s first set of books, and helped start the church’s bookstore. I then began teaching a home fellowship as well as in the church’s Bible school. And while I made mistakes, I grew from them and the Lord continued to define my calling, and that is to be a teacher of His word.
The problem is far too many are “waiting” on the Lord, but doing it the wrong way.
The prophet Isaiah said,
“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)
The focus is our need to wait upon the Lord, but what exactly does it mean to wait? The word wait is not a passive noun; rather it is an active verb, which means waiting is an action.
Think of it this way. Those who serve us at your favorite restaurant are called “waiters.” Their function is to serve, not wait to be served.
This is what it means to wait upon the Lord. It’s to serve in whatever capacity is needed within the local church, allowing God to direct and show His will through our involvement.
There are others within the church that are getting tired and have contented themselves with sitting in the pews letting others do the work of the ministry. They say, “I’ve already put my time in, let someone else to it.”
But that is not what God has called. To his protégé Timothy, who most likely was feeling the same way, the Apostle Paul said,
“Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” (1 Timothy 4:11-14 NKJV)
Later Paul wrote,
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV)
Paul was basically saying,
“Don’t let others dictate your calling, and don’t neglect God’s gift and calling upon your life, instead fan the glowing embers back into a roaring flame.”
And the only way this is accomplished is through being a servant of the Lord’s serving Him through serving others.
Take that first step and start getting involved and let the Lord continue to define and refine His calling upon your life. Don’t wait for others to ask you, instead when you see a need fill it.
To find our calling we need to take these steps of being in God’s word, taking time to be alone with God, fast, pray, and praise, and then seek the counsel of elders and leaders and then start getting involved.
Use this advice and put it into practice. Don’t allow your legacy to read, “He or she had great potential.” Move beyond the potential stage and start fulfilling God’s call.
And when you do, then you’ll find exactly how God has uniquely created you, and you will find, peace, joy, and fulfillment as you continue on your journey.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study