“We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, and not to build houses to dwell in. We have no vineyard or field or seed, but we have lived in tents and have obeyed and done all that Jonadab our father commanded us.
“But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Syrians.’ So we are living in Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 35:8-11).
Last fall, a concerned friend came to me, telling me to be careful. Apparently, the leader of a local place of prayer said that people are leaving their religion and it's “D’s fault.” How I wish there were more frequent reasons for their accusations!
My friend was afraid for us. I understand God’s protection and was not affected by my friend’s fear. However, sometimes I experience fear so strong that it drives me trembling to my knees.
The Rechabites had been faithful to the commands of their ancestor Rechab. However, this snippet of their story shows them hiding behind walls, even though they had been commanded to be nomads.
God instructed Jeremiah to go to the Rechabites and offer them wine to drink. Even though the prophet was a man of God, the men appealed to him because the offer required them to do something they had committed never to do. The Recabites had retreated behind the security of city walls because of their fear. Now living in fear behind walls, were they more susceptible to sin? Had they already fallen into sin? I’m not looking for a theological debate; rather, I’m examining how my own fears make me vulnerable to the same temptations that a life of obedience protects me from.
When Jesus sends out His twelve disciples as sheep among wolves, He tells them in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Jesus goes on to say that He numbers the hairs on our heads and cares for the sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31). Yes, we need to avoid those who will destroy our faith. But if Jesus cares about sparrows, I wonder how many wolves He cares about as well.
At times, my physical/earthly fears drive me away from the wolves. Sometimes, my fears paralyze my ability to serve. But if I am honest, my greatest fear is me. I find myself hiding behind the walls of my dreams, my desires, my own wisdom, etc. Do I stand in the way of the Spirit drawing someone to Himself? Do I hinder what God wants to do through me? Will those who seek walk away without hearing the Good News because I am hiding behind my walls?
Rather than being willing to live in a vulnerable place that is susceptible to attack, I hide behind walls where I become even more susceptible to destruction through temptation.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Rechabites looked for safety in Jerusalem; soon afterwards, the city was destroyed. Likewise, I often take my fears to some destructible form of manmade fortification.
In the end of their story, the Rechabites remained faithful, despite their fear. God received glory, and they received God’s blessing.
Amid my fears, Jesus’ promise of rest remains. Behind this promise is the One who understands the danger He has called me to and yet beckons me to find refuge and rest for my soul.
Written by: D.T.
I had figured out approximately how much support we needed to meet next month’s expenses and wrote it down in my prayer journal. “God,” I prayed almost every morning, “would you please provide the following amount for us?” The 18th of the month came and I eagerly opened my emails to see if God had answered my prayers. I slowly opened the paycheck records email. “God,” I breathed, “I trust you no matter what our support is this month.”
My heart sank. It wasn’t the amount I had prayed for. In fact, it wasn’t even close. “Father, how are you going to provide for us this month? How are we going to pay the bills?” This was literally seconds after I had told God I would trust Him.
Perhaps my favorite part of the annual DNI’s workers retreat is the faith stories evening. Workers share how God has answered their prayers in many small and big ways. The annual booklet “Stories to Encourage Your Faith” documents many of those stories. Surely DNI workers would never doubt His ability to provide after reading through one of those booklets. Not so for me.
When I look back, I wonder why I doubted God’s ability to provide. Perhaps I wasn’t doubting God’s ability as much as I was questioning how He would provide for our situation. I mean, where would the money come from? Our support check had already come and it was far less than our budgeted expenses.
That month, God didn’t provide enough finances to meet our budget. He didn’t even provide enough support to meet our recorded expenses. But somehow, He stretched what He provided to meet our every need. It was truly a miracle!
My wife pointed out the similarities between our situation and the widow that Elijah stayed with during the three-year drought. As the story goes, Elijah came upon a widow and her son in Zarephath, a Sidonian town where Baal was worshipped. When Elijah asked her for some bread and water, she told the prophet that they only had enough for one more meal before they would starve to death. Elijah assured her that God would provide for her and her son throughout the drought, and that she should use the last bit of flour to make him a cake. She willingly made him the last cake and God started a three-year miracle. Every day, there was enough in her flour bin and oil jar for another meal. “The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah” (1 Kings 17:16, NKJV).
That miracle is quite different from the miracle that Elisha performed nine chapters later. Another widow lady—a widow of one of the prophets—had a huge debt to pay. The creditor was going to take her sons as slaves if she couldn’t pay off the debt. She cried out to Elisha for help.
“So Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?’ And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil’” (2 Kings 4:2, NKJV). Elisha told her to gather as many jars and pots as she could find and to pour her oil into those vessels. And she did. God miraculously multiplied the oil in that very moment and she found herself with more oil than she could ever use. Elisha told her to sell the oil, pay off her debt, and live on the rest.
Both of these widows stepped out in faith. Both trusted God to provide, and He did. The Sidonian widow saw God provide just enough food for each day. The prophet’s widow saw God provide once in great abundance for many years to come.
Next time I face a faith-stretching experience, I want to count it all joy. I want to stand strong and trust that God will provide. And I want to encourage you to do the same. Reading about miracles is always encouraging. Telling faith stories is exciting. Living out those faith stories is rarely glamorous. Perhaps that is why James started his epistle with a timely reminder, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3, NKJV).
--Written by I.M.
In this century, the Christian faith seems confrontational at its core. The issues we stubbornly choose to tackle and emphasize--whether creationism, theism, eschatology or any culture war on the political scene--indicate that we feel threatened and may be missing the point.
Conservative Christian culture is producing increasingly overweight, capitalist, isolated men and women with little care for migrants, the marginalized, the environment, and transformative health and spirituality. How is this not a reactionary and short-lived response to the twenty-first century? If all we have to offer is a “No” to every question people care about, how will churches keep from imploding like the Soviet Union?
The world continues to spin and others explore and live out these essential matters. I am not a fatalist, and will not give up my Christian faith (and the church) that easily. Though our future is unknown, I am hopeful that the community started by Jesus of Nazareth will come to fruition and His Kingdom will triumph. To be on the same page with Him, Ekklesia the church must be able to identify with two relentless sister-realities. Their names? Consciousness and Suffering.
What is consciousness? Is there purpose at work in the universe? How does one tap into it? These soul-searching questions—and the paths that lead to them—lead to tomorrow’s spirituality. Science and secularism have yet to come up with convincing answers to these questions.
Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). This verse confronts our world which has much bread and little Word. Christians should be at the forefront in providing prayer centers and spiritual retreats, and practicing the presence of God to anyone who is seeking transformation.
What is suffering? Why does it exist? What is our responsibility in alleviating it? For whom and for what? As we become less self-centered, we are realizing the importance of caring for our planet and the fullness therein, from the “least of our brothers” to animal and plant welfare. Let’s not react to this, as it can be used for good in the Kingdom of God.
What we do with suffering will impact how we care for the poor among us and for God’s creation. What if we would teach and live out Philippians 2--self-emptying, servant stewardship instead of criticizing people and ridiculing them for taking care of their surroundings?
In the twenty-first century, how can we get involved in God's great work? By caring for and fostering life in all its dimensions; by demonstrating mature spirituality and prayer; by worshipping God and obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ without reacting to our neighbors through passive-aggressive isolation; and by giving full attention and care to Muslim refugees in particular.
Jesus of Nazareth has much to say about consciousness and suffering. Our response will be the deciding factor in whether the church contributes to this age, or dies and makes way for others to take on this great work. After all, God can use stones to accomplish His purposes (Matthew 3:9).
“Salt is good but if it loses its flavor, what is it good for?” (Matthew 5:13). This is the great work: “Building up the Temple of the Lord. Brother, won’t you help me? Sister, won’t you help me?”
Written by: Y.L.
Earlier this year, I unlocked a key concept for our marriage. For the first four years of our married life, when my wife was feeling overwhelmed, my solution was to try to assure her that “I’ll take care of it.” The main reasoning behind this was that I didn’t want her to keep worrying about things that would make her feel more overwhelmed. I was trying to reassure her that I would take the load and bear the burden for her, but it seemed like that was just not working.
One such time as we were talking, something came up and was overwhelming her again and she said, “No! I don’t want you to handle it by yourself. I want to do it together!”
Wow! What a lightbulb moment! Together! We have just come through the holiday season where we treasure the tradition of family times together. What is it about togetherness that draws us?
The opposite of together is alone. In the garden, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. He chose to make him a helper, a companion to do life with. Even as a single for a good part of my young adult life, it was more enjoyable to be with a bunch of friends than to spend a whole evening alone—although there have been many times I did enjoy and do still enjoy alone time.
There are few consequences worse than being alone, at least for extended periods of time. That’s why the worst prisons have places they call solitary confinement. Many prisoners who were locked up in solitary for years on end, upon release, have struggled with disorientation and a lost sense of direction. The solitary confinement damaged and reprogrammed the social part of their brains to the extent that many find themselves totally lost even though they are just around the corner from their homes.
Social interaction to human beings is about as important as oxygen is to our lungs. My one-year-old daughter would rather change her attitude instead of having to sit on her bed alone to process her tantrum. It is quite effective.
God made the church, His bride, as a body to work together. The hand cannot function without the brain directing it. Neither can the brain carry out its wishes without the other parts serving it. We need each other.
Our team is facing big changes on the horizon, including a possible move to another country with a different language and culture. We don’t know the in’s and out’s of how this is supposed to work nor do we understand the why’s. But, we do know that we are a team and a team pulls together. We encourage the weak and rejoice with the strong.
“Two are better than one,… for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up” (Ecc. 4:9-10, KJV).
So, where are you in the journey of life? Are you trying to go-it-alone? Are you trying to “take care of it yourself”? Perhaps one way that God's strength is perfected in our weakness is when the body pulls together. May His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.
We serve a Godhead who is working together in perfect harmony. Let’s put ourselves in the harness and pull “two-gether” to build His Kingdom! Sometimes we feel like we are only one, but God with you is always two!
Note: My wife and I wrote this together :-).
Written by: L.S.
Here in early November as we approach the fifth anniversary of Rachel’s passing, let me tell you about my God and His Red Lobster dinners. Perhaps not that huge in the big scheme of things, but rich to me notwithstanding.
The last time our family went out to eat together before her death was at Red Lobster. Someone had given us a gift card, so we decided to use it as a family before our oldest son Marcel headed east in July to settle down in Lancaster County a couple of months before his wedding in September, 2012.
So two weeks ago when I flew into Cincinnati on October 20th (our 33rd wedding anniversary) as I pulled into the hotel where I was staying I noticed a Red Lobster across the street.
Hmmm, I thought. Perhaps this means I should celebrate by honoring Rachel on what would have been our thirty-third wedding anniversary that day and honor our family in memory of that last night out together at Red Lobster. The problem was I didn’t really feel like I could afford it right then; and I did see a McDonald’s just down the street.
But after halting somewhat between two opinions, I decided I’d simply do the honorable thing… for Rachel and for our family.
Paul, the waiter, met me just inside the door, gave me a menu, and showed me to a booth—chatting me up as we went.
Sitting down, I said, “Paul, would you like to hear a story? There’s a story behind why I’m here tonight at Red Lobster.”
“Sure, but don’t you want me to get you some food first? Take a look at the menu and I’ll be right back with some water and coffee.”
“Wonderful… I’ll take a look at what I might want.”
So when he returned, he sat down across from me and urged, “Tell me your story!”
When I finished, Paul had tears in his eyes, “My wife and I have just been married eight years,” he said as he pointed over to where she was waiting on another table. “I can’t imagine losing her like that!”
“Well,” I said, “you know where your wife is—working right here with you, and I know where my wife is—in heaven with Jesus. I’m sure as a good husband, you’re happiest when your wife is happy, and for me the mystery of my wife’s happiness is complete. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, my wife is happy... so very, very happy!”
He then left to get the rainbow trout meal I’d ordered. When he returned he said, “By the way, we were all out of the lunch-size meal you ordered, so you’re getting the dinner-size meal for the lunch price!”
“Awesomeness!” I exclaimed.
We visited some more, talking about his marriage, my book about marriage, and the week ahead when I’d be speaking at a church about how the most important thing in life is being in a relationship with Jesus Christ, and how God has provided a beautiful picture here on earth of what that relationship should look like—marriage. From this picture people know how much God loves them, and how much He loves it when they worship Him with their lives.
“Well,” I concluded, “it’s getting late. If you bring me the check I’ll let you go and be on my way.”
“Oh,” he countered, “there is no check because I went back and told my manager your story and she said, ‘The tab is on me tonight.’”
“Now you’re going to make me cry,” I said. "You’re making it possible for me to honor my wife and family here at Red Lobster tonight without it costing me a thing. This seems like a God-Story to me!”
Later as I shared this story with the church that week, they too were delighting with me in how God met me again during what has become the most poignant time of the year for me.
But the stories are not over. The day before I left the church the pastor and his wife came to me with a card... and in that card was—yep, you guessed it, another Red-Lobster gift card!!
So where do you think I celebrated again when I headed back to Cincinnati?
Written by: Ernest Witmer
“It’s surreal, living like this,” I said to my wife Clarissa one day after she had passed the 37 week mark of her pregnancy. I was referring to the fact that our baby could come anytime (although it wasn’t likely).
It made me think of the times we are living in. By all appearances our Lord Jesus could come any day. Life is a mixture of knowns and unknowns, the definition of surreal. We know that Jesus will return in His glory but we don’t know when. Many of us believe and no one can disprove that Jesus could come any day. The anticipation is real. The fact that Jesus is returning is as real as was the fact that my wife was pregnant and was going to have a baby.
It made me stop and think.
There was a lot of preparation work to do when the baby’s due date was approaching. And even from the first day that we knew we were going to have a baby, there were changes to our lives. As the day approached the anticipation was high. Friends were often inquisitive and we eagerly awaited signs that the little one was ready.
There is also a lot of preparation to do for the day of our Lord. What am I doing to prepare? I think of three areas of focus. First, how is my relationship with the Lord? Second, how are my horizontal relationships? And third, how am I doing at telling others about my Lord?
In Matthew 22 Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast. The king had the feast for the marriage of his son all prepared. He invited the guests, those he knew, friends of the king. But they were busy with their lives, their farms and businesses. Some even killed the messengers. What about me? Do I get so busy with my life, with good endeavors, that I fail to respond to the Master’s invitation to commune with Him? If I don’t prioritize His invitations to daily relationship in the busyness of life will I be invited to His final Feast?
In Matthew 25 Jesus gives us a glimpse of the Day of Judgment. There will be a separation of all the nations and people. There will be those whom He will invite into the prepared kingdom with all its glory--no one will turn down that invitation. The reason for their inclusion given here is based on how they treated those around them. The hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned. And it goes without saying that how husbands live with their wives (1 Peter 3:7) and how Christians treat one another (1 Thess. 5:14, 15, John 13:35) are also important preparations for being invited to the Kingdom.
There will be others on that day of separation who will not receive the kingdom because of their failing to serve the ‘least of these’. Even he who causes a little one who believes in Christ to sin is deserving of death by drowning (Matt. 18:6). How well am I serving those around me?
And finally, as John 13:35 implies, our love for one another is a witness. There are a multitude of ways that we can share the love of Jesus with those around us. I am often held back by my own insecurities and defenses. Help me Lord to find my security in You!
Jesus said that whoever is ashamed of Him and His words, He will be ashamed of that person on the final day, when He returns in His own glory (Luke 9:26). Jesus said many things; He spoke about my identity in Him. There is a lot to hold on to, many blessings. There is also a lot not to be ashamed of. There is not a word Jesus said that I should fear to believe and live out.
I pray that I will prepare for the coming of our Lord by prayer and communion with God, by service and love to those around me and by being a faithful, Spirit-filled witness.
Written by: E.B.
As a boy growing up I remember a phrase that was often repeated when my family and the members of my community came into contact with unbelievers. The phrase was, “Let your light shine.” The idea that was contained within that short phrase was that all we needed to do was live righteous lives in front of unbelievers. If they were serious minded they would be drawn to the Gospel and then hopefully become Christians. I look back at my growing up years and realize that was the predominate idea that was engrained in my mind about evangelism.
Ideas and beliefs have the power to change us and cause us to act certain ways. What we believe about the way the Gospel goes forth and transforms people is what shapes the way we live and act in real life. Belief is never passive; it always results in actions.
I found out years later that the Scriptures actually taught that “faith comes by hearing.” In fact, the spoken word is the primary way that God chooses to activate faith in an individual (there are, of course, exceptions such as sign language for the deaf). As we reflect on our own journey of faith, we will realize that somewhere on that journey of faith we where exposed to the Word of God through its proclamation. It was the continued exposure to the teaching and preaching of God’s Word that eventually caused us to commit our lives to Christ.
It is the spoken word that has the power to bring to faith the very ones we love and hold dear in our hearts, the people that God has called us to reach. God’s desire is to work in and through us by the Holy Spirit (Phil. 2:12-13). It is the Word spoken by the believer that gives faith to the unbeliever.
If God has reduced the salvation of others to having them hear His Word, then it certainly has implications on us believers. With apostolic boldness, passion, and confidence we should speak the word everywhere, at anytime, to whomever God brings across our path. We should speak the word in cafes, gas stations, among our friends, in church and on the streets. We should speak the Word in any situation. There are hardly any situations where it is not appropriate to speak God’s Word, whether indirectly or directly. We should share it with whoever we happen to encounter.
I wonder what would happen around us if we lived this way. I wonder how many people would come to living faith in Christ. I can hardly remember a situation or encounter in life where I walked away and wished I hadn't shared God’s Word. Most times it has been the opposite.
Within the phrase “faith comes by hearing” is a promise. The promise is that faith will come! It will come when someone speaks the Word and another hears. This is an amazing promise! We can proclaim the Word faithfully knowing there will be a harvest. Although we don't know when or who will bring it in, the harvest is coming.
Romans 10:14-15, NKJV
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!'"
Written by: E.K.
In John 19:21 we read, “Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, 'Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate refuses and at first glance, it seems as if he were saving Jesus a little bit of dignity. His being reluctant to consent to the crucifixion in the first place, offering Barabbas in His place, and then washing his hands of the matter, appears sympathetic to the plight of Jesus. To me, this text seemed to imply that Pilate believed. Is he (Pilate) saying he believes Jesus is King? In studying the context of the story the resounding answer is "no."
The cross was a scandal, a punishment reserved for slaves and rebels. It was not talked about in polite society. Therefore, Pilate is inferring that Jews were inferior to the Romans and that crucifixion is what one could expect for a Jewish king. He is mocking them, by juxtaposing the regal splendor, authority, honor and wealth of a king, to this naked, suffering, pitiful Jew who claims to be God. How spiteful, then, is his refusal to grant their request.
Now let's go back and notice a few things about the request. The chief priests were granted a certain civil power by the controlling Roman government and their power was challenged by this Jesus. They beg Pilate for His crucifixion, something that is not lawful for them to carry out, yet they are offended that he besmirches their nationality with the sign above Jesus' head. Beggars can't be choosers. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
Ok, enough with the clichés.The sign served to tell the passersby what crime the malefactor had committed. The chief priests wanted Jesus crucified, sure, but they also wanted to preserve national honor.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8 says, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
As the priests squabbled over the minor details of what they thought was a victory, and as the rulers of Rome made their point and breathed a sigh of relief that the oft-violent and rebellious Passover week was finished, both groups, using the world's system to monopolize power, had no idea that they had crowned Jesus as King. Later, Rome would fight valiantly to extinguish the quickly-growing movement. The Jewish leaders would fight it, too. In retrospect, how ironic that sign. "The King of the Jews."
Throughout Acts we see the apostles struggling against incredible odds, yet one senses their faith in the sovereignty of King Jesus. Jesus said that all power had been given to Him in heaven and earth. Yet He uses the weak of this world to show His power. If Jesus is willing to empty Himself of power, how much more should we? In closing I leave you with Jeremiah 9:23-24:
"Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."
--Written by T.F.
Today many people think life is all about me. They compare themselves with others and they push others down in order to try to pull themselves higher. Quotes like, “Look out for number one; if you don’t no one else will”, or “Be the you that you want to be” or “Don’t try to be useful, try to be yourself” are common.
I doubt we’re in this group, but let’s bring this closer to home. Do we take credit for success in ministry? Do we compare ourselves with other team members and swing back and forth between “I’m pretty good” to thinking, “I’m a failure”? Is this focus on ourselves biblical? Is this life really about us or were we created for something greater?
In Scripture it tells us that this life is not about us but we were created for Christ and for His will. Revelation 4:11 (NKJV), "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."
How can we get to the place where we can really say, “It’s not about me; whatever happens in my life has been allowed by God and is ultimately to bring glory to God”? I see at least three things that must be part of our daily lives if we are going to respond in this way.
Worship – Falling at Jesus’ feet and recognizing Him as Lord of our lives. I have been reading through the book of Job recently and have been impressed again with the whole dialogue and “contest” that was going on in the spiritual realm of which Job had no idea. At first glance, it seems that Job was a helpless pawn caught in the cross-fire between two battling opponents. Without warning he was stripped of his wealth and his children. His response? He fell to the ground and worshipped (Job 1:20). He recognized that this life really wasn’t about him. His position and wealth were given to him by God and He had the right to take it away if He so chose.
For Job, when bad things happened, his worship wasn’t an unusual response – it was what he normally did. I don’t see him trying to twist God’s arm to get himself out of this situation. He worshipped when things were going good as well as when things were going bad. He recognized that this life really isn’t about us – it’s about God.
Reflection – Realizing that we were created to reflect God’s glory to those around us. This life isn’t about us but about the one who created us. John Piper says, “The great sin of the world is not that the human race has failed to work for God so as to increase his glory, but that we have failed to delight in God so as to reflect his glory. For God’s glory is most reflected in us when we are most delighted in him” (Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Reader p. 66). Do I delight in God? Am I reflecting His glory the way He desires?
Praise – An unwavering commitment to praise God regardless of our situation. It is easy to praise Him when things are going well. It is altogether different to praise Him when things are difficult. When Paul and Silas were unjustly accused, beaten, and thrown into the inner prison they sang praises to God. The result? God brought them out of prison; the jailor and his family became believers, and they gave a tremendous testimony of praise in the midst of adversity.
May God help me to recognize this life is not about me. I want my daily life to include worship, reflection and praise.
Written by: J.Y.
It is fascinating to study how God called various people in the Bible. We have the accounts of Noah, Abraham, Moses, the judges, the prophets, the disciples and Paul. What is so interesting is that each one was called in a unique way for a specific work. As we ponder the various ways that God called, we can only conclude that He is infinitely innovative. He always operated within the bounds of His revealed nature, yet His methods defied human expectation and predictability. And He is still doing the same today!
Think of your own calling to serve where you are today or even your salvation experience. Have you met anyone else who was called in the exact same way? God refuses to let man confine Him to a box or pour Him into a mold of our choosing. Thus, His calls to individuals for salvation or service are as unique as the individuals themselves.
When God called Jeremiah He said, “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.” Since God has created us and kept us in His providential care, He suits each call to the personal traits and circumstances He has created for us.
In John 21 Jesus reaffirms Peter’s call to be the “rock” upon whom He would build the church, even after his disastrous betrayal. I am sure that after Peter failed His Lord in such a monumental way, he doubted there was any chance that Jesus could use him. And yet we see Jesus lovingly restoring Peter by asking him three times, “Peter do you love me?” Jesus finishes up their dialogue with the words, “Follow me.” What does Peter do? He immediately looks around, sees John and asks Jesus, “What shall this man do?”
Oh, how often do we look at our brother or sister and ask that same question? When we feel that God’s call is too heavy for us to bear we are tempted to look around at our brother or sister and ask as Peter did, "What about him or her?"
How secure are you in the calling God has placed on your life? Do you look at your brother or sister and think they have it so much easier? Remember, God’s call on your life is unique just as your personality and life experiences are unique. God's call dovetails perfectly with how you were created.
Esther was created and called “for such a time as this” and was faithful to her calling, even willing to die in order to be obedient to the calling God placed on her. And she received a great blessing for her faithfulness.
Consider Samson who is listed among the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. The last day of his life, he cried out to God for strength to be avenged for his eyes. God answered his cry and the enemies he destroyed in his final act of obedience were more than the enemies he had destroyed while he had his eyesight. It seems to me that God had so much more for him to do and greater blessings for him to receive if only he would have been faithful to his calling.
Consider your own calling. Have you fully embraced God’s call on your life? It may look so different from anyone else's calling, it may seem so unconventional, or it may seem rather dull. Are you okay with that? Are you willing to lay it on the altar for God’s honor and glory? It is His desire to name you as a hero of faith. Have you fully embraced His calling on your life?
Written by: M.A.