Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pentecost 12: The Call of God, Scary, Clear, Relevant

About two months ago when we started our series “First Families” we looked at God calling Abraham from Ur (modern day Iraq) to the Promised Land (modern day Israel) and one of the points I made then is that:

    God has a plan for your life.  
Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Today we will see that God shows us that plan by “calling” us to it.  Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the disciples, Paul.  We’re all called……but……God has given us a free will, therefore we can run from the call or run with the call.

God is calling you to fulfill the plan He has for you……but how do we know that a call we might hear is authentically from God?  How do we know that we are not sucking it out of our thumbs?

Let’s go to the call of Moses, for there we will find four marks that would need to be present if a call is authentically from God.

Here is the first mark: The call of God is usually scary – so scary in fact that it results in what I will call the Moses wriggle, a very famous Methodist dance.  Here are the steps:

Step one (Exodus 3:11)

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

Does Moses’ question not resonate with us?   Have we not taken the “who, me?” step in the Moses wriggle?

Step two (Exodus 3:13)
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’ and they ask me ‘What is His name?’ then what shall I tell them?”

This step again is part and parcel of anyone’s response who has struggled with a call from God.  We are wanting to cry out, “What do I say?  How am I going to do it?”

Step 3 (Exodus 4:1)
“What if they don’t believe me or listen to me and say ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’”

What if I fail?  It’s a question very close to everyone who struggles with God’s call.  We all have dreams, don’t we?  And dreams are easier to live with than failure!  Moses must have often dreamt of seeing his people free.  “Now Lord” he is crying, “Leave me with my dream.  I cannot risk failure.”

Step 4 (Exodus 4:10)
Moses said to the Lord: “I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.”

I don’t have the gifts.  How can you possibly expect me to do what You are calling me to do?  Moses, like many of us forgot that God never calls without equipping, but that must be the subject of further teaching.

Step 5 leads us into the full truth of Moses’ feelings. (Exodus 4:13)
But Moses said: “Oh Lord, please send someone else to do it.”

I want out.  I want out, Lord.  I cannot risk such a call.

The Moses wriggle – a famous Methodist dance?  I think it is.  Please don’t diminish the size of the call to lessen the fear.  Let fear do for you what it can do, drive you to your knees in dependence on God.  God has no interest in calling us to something we can do with our eyes shut.  He has a great interest in calling us to do things for Him that will deepen our relationship with Him through dependence on Him. 

If you are doing something for God that is costing you nothing……look again.  It may well be necessary to stop what you are doing and look for the one thing that’s going to deepen you and stretch you and bring you closer in dependence to the One who calls you.

So, the first mark of a call from God: it’s scary.

Here is the second mark: The call of God is usually clear.  We muddy it up.  We get it confused because we don’t let ourselves be gripped by the excitement and scariness of it.  When we become obedient to the call, often our self-imposed confusion comes to and end.

Here is the third mark: The call of God is always relevant to God’s Kingdom purposes and to human need.  Gods call to Moses was clear and relevant: “Get my people out of Egypt.”  All calls ultimately relate to God’s great desire to see all people truly liberated and growing to their greatest potential.  But……if we are to respond to human need, we need to be aware of such needs.  Our Youth are leading the way for us here at AMC – going to the places of need, begging on behalf of the poor – doing it……not giving money to someone else to do it on their behalf.  I want to commend all those, not just our youth, who are getting your hands dirty in mission, being Jesus, being disciples by getting involved, often with the little time you have, getting involved with the people and things that Jesus got involved with.

Fourth mark, and I’m not going to delve into this one, but just “put it out there.” Calls are best worked out in fellowship.  Moses does not need to explore the rest of the call on his own, he fellowships with Aaron and later Jethro, and later a group of 70.  I’ve spoken from the heart in all of the above, but here especially I want to encourage you, as you sense and explore God’s call, to journey with someone you trust who can advise and encourage.

[How does this all work out in the life of the church? In the Church, when someone senses God calling them to a new area of ministry (eg: the soup kitchen last year) we put that call out there, eg in the notices……anyone else interested or “sensing a call in this area”……people responded……a group was formed.]

So, four marks which need to be present if a call is authentically from God:
                  It's scary, clear, relevant and best done/worked out in a group.

I think that’s almost enough, but let me add briefly some things we look at when we try and help folk journey with a call.
1.      What gets your juices going?
2.     What time is it in your life?
3.     Where am I in pain?  Where am I struggling?  Many significant calls come through our pain.  Stepping Stones Hospice celebrates a year of existence today.  Tertia, the founder, struggled through the death of her daughter, when there was no hospice in Alberton.  Today we wonder how we survived without Stepping Stones Hospice which she founded soon after the death of her daughter. Many significant calls come through our pain. 

So: God is constantly calling.  It’s how He tries to workout His plan for our lives.  Calls are scary but don’t be frightened......rather be encouraged....God has a plan for your life and He reveals that plan through CALL....He does not leave us in the dark as we faithfully try and work out: 

What are the good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God is calling: Are we listening?

This sermon was inspired
by an unforgettable 
sermon on the same 
subject preached many 
years ago (in the 90's)
 by Rev George Irvine

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