The Journey 1- The Calling

Last week we talked about what is really important in life. For all of us, life is a journey. Some are at the start, many in the middle, and for some the journey draws to an end.

I want to start a series on the journey of life, because we all are in it. And when you talk journeys in the Bible we need to go straight to the big one… The Exodus. We’re going to start today looking at the call of God.

ONLY ONE LIFE

 

The first point to make is that you have only one life. You don’t get 2 or 3 lives, you’re not doing the Buddhist thing repeating life again and again, the Bible says you get one life…

 

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV Strong’s)

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

 

If you mess this one life up, you can’t replay it. I saw a sign which said, I’m a computer gamer. Don’t tell me to get a life, I have dozens of lives. But that’s fake, folks, it isn’t real. If you mess your one life up, if you waste years, if you invest you life into the wrong thing, you can’t die and start again.

 

After his death, Martin Luther was found to have written 2 phrases in the margin of his Bible… “Born once – die twice; Born twice – die once”. What he was saying was that, everyone is born once, then they die a physical death, followed by eternal death. But if you are born twice, that is born again, you only face physical death and receive eternal life.

 

But we all will die, and we all get one shot at life. Maybe you think you’ve blown your shot at life. Maybe you’ve messed up or missed opportunities.

 

Joel 2:25 (ESV Strong’s)

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,

 

It’s not too late, you can rediscover God’s calling on your life today, right here, and begin the journey, knowing your God is for you and can restore anything you’ve squandered so far on the journey. It’s not too late for you!

 

YOU HAVE BEEN PREPARED

 

Looking back at my life I see the hand of God preparing me to serve Him in my calling. I see things that have happened, good and bad people I have met, some who helped and some who hindered. I see Scriptures confirming, despite what others might say, the gift and call of God as a pastor.

 

And God has been preparing you too, as was said to Esther…

 

Esther 4:14 (ESV Strong’s)

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

 

Everything you’ve gone through, the success, the failures, the times you’ve let God and those who love you down. The pain of rejection, failure, loneliness, even foolish decisions, God can use it all for good ultimately when we obey Him…

 

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong’s)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

 

Moses was called of God to lead the people on a great journey. You might say, well that was him, he’s was a great man, but I’m just me. I have this problem, this family, this disability, this hurt. But right at the start, when God called Moses for this great task, He was well aware of Moses’ failings.

 

Moses had a rough upbringing, but he got a break when he was brought up in the Pharaoh’s palace. Then he lost his temper and killed a man, then ran away. He spent 40 years in the wilderness, and some of you here have spent years wandering away from God or church in a wilderness of your own. That doesn’t disqualify you, it just prepares you for the moment when God calls again.

 

YOU ARE CALLED

 

Exodus 3:2-4 (ESV Strong’s)

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. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 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.”

 

God often uses something to capture of attention. What’s your burning bush. Maybe it is the loss of someone you love, perhaps a poor medical diagnosis. Maybe you’ve come to Ignite this morning with a sense in your heart that God has something for you. Today He is capturing your attention.

 

And fair play to Moses, when God called he replied, “Here I am.”

 

So what are you going to say right now to God? Lord, can’t fit You into my schedule. Lord, I’m not worthy. Lord, I’m offended by what the pastor did, or what this or that person said. Why not just put all that aside and say, here I am listening.

 

(Lord speak to us about your calling upon our lives).

 

THE RESPONSE TO THE CALLING

 

The Lord called Moses using a burning bush, but after initially being open to the voice of God, Moses pulled away when he caught a glimpse of what God was calling him to take on. Instead of offering obedience, he offered excuses, and most of us offer the same thing when God calls us. Here’s 5 he offered…

 

1.      WHO AM I?

 

Exodus 3:10-11 (ESV Strong’s)

Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

 

Moses first response to the call for leadership was, who am I? He doubted himself, he doubted that God could use someone like him.

 

Moses struggled with his identity. He just didn’t feel qualified; he thought God had picked the wrong leader.

 

And some of you here are like that… you doubt that God can use someone like you. You have hang ups, fears, failures. You’ve done things you are ashamed of, you’ve hurt people you were supposed to love. You’ve failed.

 

Well Moses did all that, plus murder! What ever has happened in the past, whatever you feel towards yourself, you need to stop and recognise that God is God. He made you, He has a plan for you and He doesn’t make mistakes! All you need to do is walk with Him in obedience.

 

Isaiah 29:16 (ESV Strong’s)

Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it,

“He has no understanding”?

 

If you are a Christian, the Spirit of God lives in you, so you can’t use the excuse, who am I.  Moses doubted who he was, wondering if God can use a screw up like him. But history shows God does use the base things of this world to confound the wise. Stop doubting the Potter and let Him shape you!

 

God’s response was:

 

Exodus 3:12 (ESV Strong’s)

He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

 

God said,

It doesn’t matter who you are. I am with you…

 

2.      WHO ARE YOU?

 

So Moses countered with a second excuse: Who are You?

 

Exodus 3:13 (ESV Strong’s)

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

 

It’s one thing to doubt yourself, but another entirely to doubt God! Moses felt a lack of intimacy. He didn’t know God well enough to describe him to the people and lacked convictions concerning his relationship with God.

 

God’s response was:

 

Exodus 3:14 (ESV Strong’s)

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

 

I AM WHO I AM. I AM ever present. I AM everything you need…

 

Destiny is not something that happens to you. Destiny is a series of choices, and the first step towards your destiny in God is to decide to get to know Him. Do the Bible reading plan, come to church, hunger and thirst for righteousness.

 

3.      WHO ARE THEY?

 

Exodus 4:1 (ESV Strong’s)

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’”

 

Moses doubted himself, and God, and now he moves on to doubting the people, and how they will respond. When God calls us one of our big fears is how others will respond.

 

Moses felt intimidated. He was worried about the people’s reaction to him. He was fearful of what others would say. And we are no different today. Our world today is full of opinion, and every feels they can have their say no matter the consequences. People fire up and speak and hurt others all the time, and yes even in church. Listen, someone’s opinion is not more powerful than the call of God.

 

God’s response was: When I’m finished, they’ll listen. In Exodus 4:2-9 God outlines 3 signs to confirm Moses’ calling as leader of the people… A staff that turns into  a snake, skin that turns leprous then heals again, and water that turns into blood.

 

Whatever anybody says, whatever they think of me, I know the calling of God on my life, I know my integrity and I see the fruit.

 

4.      I DON’T HAVE THE SKILL

 

Exodus 4:10 (ESV Strong’s)

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

 

Moses fretted about his inadequacies. Who would listen to him if he couldn’t even speak well? He looked at his skills and said, hey, I’m not equipped to minister like You’re calling me to, Lord!

 

Many of you here look around and compare yourself with others. If they’re worse than you, you feel pride. If they’re better, you feel inadequate. Comparisons are deadly and never productive.

 

God has placed within you skills, talents and abilities some of which you don’t even yet know about. If He calls you, He equips you, because He never calls you to fail and ruin your life.

 

God’s response was: Guess who made your mouth? (4:11-12).

 

Exodus 4:11-12 (ESV Strong’s)

Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

 

That’s why church is important if you want to serve the Lord… It equips you. My role as a pastor is to equip you to fulfil your destiny.

 

Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV Strong’s)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

 

So if you feel inadequate, take a number and stand in line because we all do. But then get equipped and trained the best way you can and watch God lead you into the most exciting destiny you could ever imagine.

 

5.      FIND SOMEONE ELSE

 

So finally, after all the excuses, we get to the truth…Moses felt inferior. He compared himself to others—even his brother—and decided that he came up short. Then he told God to find someone else… This made God angry…

 

Exodus 4:13 (ESV Strong’s)

But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

 

God has a destiny on your life. God is calling you to serve and make a difference, to do something significant, something that will last for eternity… but are you saying, “No, Lord, send someone else?”

 

There will always be more talented, better qualified, more attractive people out there.

 

1 Corinthians 1:27 (ESV Strong’s)

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

 

And He chooses you. With all your hang ups, sins, feelings of inadequacy, he chooses you. Why? No idea, it’s His decision.

 

There are many beautiful women in the world, movie stars, models and Kardashians. But I choose Fiona. I see in her something that all the others girls, for all their glamour, don’t have. She’s the one that I want, oo-oo-oo, honey. And in the same way, God chooses you.

 

God’s response to Moses’ final excuse was: OK, I will let Aaron go with you . . . but I’m still calling you…

 

Exodus 4:16 (ESV Strong’s)

He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.

 

I will speak to you, you to him and him to the people. But you’re still it, Moses.

 

FIX YOUR EYES ON THE CALLING

 

So at the start of this great journey of faith, Moses heard the call of God. He made excuses, he ducked and weaved, but in the end, he decided to be obedient. And this call was important, because the burning bush and the call of God remained with him all his life, even in the tough times.

 

When Pharaoh attacked, he could fix his eyes on the call. With his back to the Red Sea, he could fix his eyes on that call. When the people moaned, when they rebelled, when they sent him nasty emails and texts, when those closest to him, people he trusted actually rebelled against him… he stood through it all, because he had a call.

 

So what is God calling you to today? Maybe it’s a call you thought long dead, but it has only been dormant. Maybe your searching right now for a place to fit, and a ministry to pursue. And when you know you’re called, doesn’t matter what they say, doesn’t matter what they do, you know in your heart of hearts that God has called you.

 

WALK INTO YOUR DESTINY

 

Robert Krulwich, science correspondent for NPR, believes it is impossible for humans to walk in a straight line

 

Jan Souman, a scientist from Germany, conducted an experiment, where he blindfolded his subjects and then asked them to walk for an hour in a straight line. Without exception, people couldn’t do it.

 

Of course, everybody thinks they’re walking in a straight line, until they remove the blindfolds and see their crooked path.

 

According to this research, there’s only one way we can avoid our normal crooked course and actually walk in a straight line: if we fix our eyes on something ahead of us. Kurlwich concluded, “Without external cues, there’s apparently something in us that makes us turn [from a straight path].”

 

Isaiah 30:21 (ESV Strong’s)

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

 

To move towards our destiny, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, and listen because He is calling us. We must press on, and unless we fix our eyes on Jesus and His calling upon our lives, we will stray.

 

Philippians 3:14 (ESV Strong’s)

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Some of you here today have lost your way, but I want to give you he opportunity right now to refocus on the calling of God in your life. Are you tired, weary, hurt or discouraged? Some of you here believe the calling is lost forever, but it’s not. God is patiently waiting for you to stop giving excuses and start giving obedience.