Hey guys, and welcome back to this series on “How to Fulfill Your Calling”. We’re now in episode five, and in the last episode we looked at the three part framework that God uses to fulfill His call on our lives. We looked at how He first of all gifts us, secondly He puts a specific calling on each one of our lives, which is the way that He has called us to serve him, and the third thing is that He opens doors for us to carry out the very work that He has called us to do. And if you remember, I said that God doesn’t call us according to where we are now, He calls us according to where we are going. You see, God sees a much greater potential for your life and mine than even we do. And I think it’s really good for us to start asking God, “God, what are you calling me to do?” And we’ve got to come before Him with the faith that, actually, He wants to do more through us than we can possibly imagine and we’ve got to be open to listening to Him and letting Him direct us. Now, you might be thinking now, “well, what is God calling me to do?” And that’s the right question. But before we get into our personal calling, we must understand that God has already made clear a big part of His calling on our lives, and actually a big part of the calling that He has on all believers. And if we want to fulfill our personal calling, even if we’re not 100 sure of what that is yet, we can start by taking seriously the things that God has already shown us in scripture. So this is episode 5 – God’s call on all believers. And I’m gonna share seven things that God has already made clear is His calling on your life and my life. And the first thing is to know Him. We’ve looked at this verse in a previous episode but John 17:3 says “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” So our first calling is to have an intimate living relationship with God, and this is the primary reason that He made us. This is the foundation for everything that we do, so I really want to encourage you at the beginning of this episode to invest in that relationship spend time with Him, talk with Him, ask Him questions, read His Word, because there’s this amazing scripture in Daniel 11:32, this is the New King James version, and it says, “but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” So my prayer for you is that you would be strong and that you would do amazing things for God’s kingdom, and the foundation for all of that is that you would know your God. And there’s this incredible promise in James 4 verse 8 – it says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” I love that. Now, the second thing is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love others as yourself. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” So Jesus is saying, ‘I want you to make your number one priority loving God with all of your heart and everything that you are’, and then immediately after that, ‘your next priority is to love others as you love yourself’. And this is not just a human, natural type of love. We know that because in another place Jesus said, “love your enemies”. This goes beyond what comes naturally to us. Look at this in John 13:34, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” And when I think about how Jesus loved us, I think of Him hanging on the cross giving up his life for us, holding nothing back. And of course the people who had beaten him and mocked him were standing there and he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” You see, Jesus continued to forgive and to show sacrificial love even to those who had hurt him so badly, and some of them who still opposed him. How can we do that? Well, one thing’s really clear, which is that the only way we can love like that is if we first have a revelation of how much He loves us. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us”, and only the disciples of Jesus Christ, out of all the people on planet earth, only the disciples of Jesus can love like Jesus loved because only we have a revelation of how much we’re loved. So that’s why Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So we’re called to love in an extraordinary way, and you might be thinking to yourself, ‘David, I don’t know if I can do that’. Well, I want to say to you that God’s love for you is higher and wider and deeper than you have experienced up until today, and as you grow in that revelation you will be able to love in ways that don’t come naturally to you. You see, when the apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church he said, this is Ephesians 3:16-19, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Isn’t that incredible! That’s my prayer for you, that you might be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God, that you might have a deeper revelation of His love. And I know that as we pray a prayer like that, God wants to answer it more than we even want to pray it. So, as disciples of Jesus, we are called to love as Jesus loved. Now, sometimes this is difficult, and we have to trust that He will empower us by his Spirit to do it. The third thing is the great commission. Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And I just want to encourage you to just get on and faithfully do this in the place that you are now. Sow seeds of truth into people’s lives, find people to invest in. You don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have had to have studied theology or anything like that, you just need to share with them what God has shown you. And isn’t it interesting, it says, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. You see, it’s not about filling people’s heads with knowledge, it’s not about teaching them what Jesus has commanded. It’s teaching them to do what Jesus has told us to do. And you might meet people who you think know the truth – they already know the Bible very well, but that doesn’t really matter, actually. What really matters is whether they’re obeying what the Bible teaches. And some people say, you know, “just teach them the truth and the truth will set them free”. Well Jesus did say that the truth will set you free, but he didn’t only say that. It says in John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed in him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching” – that means if you believe it, you make it part of your life, you walk in obedience to what I’m saying – “you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And I don’t want you to forget this: until you are obeying the truth, you don’t really know it at all. And until you’re walking in the truth, you don’t have the freedom that Jesus is talking about. So, actually any revelation that we receive – we might get a new understanding about something – but that revelation is not complete until we put it into practice. And what’s quite scary is that you can know the Bible really really well and still be completely deceived if you are not obeying what it says. And this is confirmed in James 1:22, it says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” So the great commission of Jesus is not only to teach people about him, but actually to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded. Okay, let’s move on to number four. Number four is that we are called to be sanctified. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;” and then it goes on. And this means that we should get the sin out of our life – not just sexual immorality of course, all sin. 1 Peter 1:14-15 says, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” So the one who calls you is holy, and He is calling you to be holy. And let’s not forget the Spirit that lives in us is called the ‘Holy Spirit’. Why should we be surprised if one of His main priorities is to make us holy? And as we allow God to sanctify us, it will be much easier to determine and to walk in His will for our lives, because Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” So I hope you’re starting to understand why I’m teaching these things before we get on to our personal calling – because I want you to be able to test and approve what God’s will is for your life, and some of these things need to come into our lives first. And sanctification is a process that God does but we also play a part in that. He convicts us, He shows us the areas of our lives where we’re not holy, and our job is to respond and to purify ourselves, to get those things out of our lives. And then we begin to see, more and more clearly, His will for our lives. Okay, number five is to suffer for doing good. 1 Peter 2:19 -21 says, “For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” Now maybe that isn’t something that’s very comfortable for us to hear, but it’s very clear here that ‘to this we were called’ – to suffer for doing good as a servant of Christ. And sometimes we’ll find ourselves in difficult circumstances even when we’ve done everything right. And when it says ‘if you suffer for doing good and endure it this is commendable before God’, it’s not just about going through the suffering. It’s about enduring it with the right heart and attitude – it’s about enduring the difficulties but continuing to be faithful to God and not allowing offense at God or others to grow up in your heart. You see, following Jesus is not a way out of trouble. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So Jesus says that the peace that we’re to live in, isn’t found in our circumstances. The circumstances may be troubling, but there’s a peace that is found in him, that we can live in, even through the difficult circumstances. And actually there are incredible promises in scripture that are given to the one who endures to the end. In the book of revelation, Jesus told one of the churches that they were going to suffer great persecution, but then he said this – Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” In order to do that we have to have an eternal perspective on our suffering. We’re going to talk about that in a later episode, and I really believe that you’re going to be amazed at what this kind of suffering can produce in your life, and actually how it is an incredibly significant part of fulfilling your calling. Number six is that we’re called to peace with the rest of the body of Christ. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Now of course there are times when another person refuses to be at peace with us, and I find romans 12:18 really helpful in those situations because it says, “If it is possible as, far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” And I think that what it’s saying is that even if somebody doesn’t want to live at peace with us, we need to make sure that from our side we are not holding any offense or any bitterness towards anyone. And something I’ve learned is that the quicker you are to forgive, the more effective you will be in your calling. I’m going to say that again: the quicker you are to forgive, the more effective you will be at fulfilling your calling. Okay, let’s move on to the last point I’m going to make in this episode, which is that God’s call on our lives is to give thanks in all circumstances, and first Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”, and what makes me sad, and I believe really grieves the heart of God, is that many people are too busy complaining or arguing to fulfill God’s call on their lives. And I just want to say this: you cannot fulfill God’s call on your life while you are complaining or arguing. And in Philippians 2 verses 14 to 16 it says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation’. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” And that’s what God wants to do with us. He wants us to shine so brightly, that we would be so different from the people of this world, that everybody would be able to see Him through us, and one of the main ways that we can do that is to stop complaining or arguing. He wants us to be different, and that’s not easy, it comes very natural to us to complain and to argue, but I just want to encourage you at the end of this episode to just join me in a prayer, because I think it’s important that we say sorry to God for where we have not walked in the things that I’ve talked about in this episode because really, you know, we can talk about our calling being important but our character is also really important, and our attitude is also really really important. And I think that if we get our hearts right with God at this stage, we’re going to prepare the way for episode 6 where we’re going to be talking about ‘how to find my personal calling’. So let’s just pray together and humble ourselves, and ask Him to help us to do the things that we’ve talked about in this episode. So, Father, we just want to thank you so much for your Word. We thank you that you’ve spoken so powerfully to us about your calling on all of our lives in this episode and I just ask, Lord, that anybody who has been convicted of something specific as they’ve watched this – if they know that they’ve complained or argued, or they know that they’re carrying offense or bitterness or unforgiveness towards somebody in their life, Lord, I pray that you by your Holy Spirit now, would just gently convict them Lord. And we just come before you right now Father and we want to say we’re sorry. We’re sorry for when we have not wholeheartedly followed the things that you’ve already shown us in scripture to do. And if there’s something specific you need to say sorry to Him for, why don’t you just pour that out to Him now. Maybe you’ve had a bad attitude towards somebody in your family or in your church, or at your workplace, and you just need to say, “God I’m sorry. I’m going to choose to forgive because you’ve forgiven me.” Maybe you know that there are circumstances in your life that you’ve been complaining and moaning about and actually God’s just saying to you now, “Let it go. Stop the complaining and trust me.” And I just pray, Lord, that as they do that, as we do that together right now, you would send your Spirit to come and empower us, you would pour out your grace to empower us beyond our natural ability, that we might shine like stars among them, among the people of this world, as we hold out the word of life. And I pray that you would do that in a way that only you can do. In Jesus’ name. I’m really looking forward to episode six where we’re going to talk about how to find our personal calling so see you in episode six!