As I start this article, I find myself in a state of wonderment to what God does in His interactions with us.
The topic for today started out as being a private message for me. In an effort to fully explore that this morning, the Lord did deliver His message to me, but He also dropped one off for all of us.
This all started at around 1:45AM this morning. No noises, house as calm as can be, everyone else but me sleeping soundly, but I was awake. No, not just ‘pry your eyes open and figure out where the coffee maker is, awake’. This was really awake, as in, ‘Got things to do and places to see’, awake.
All this took place in a fraction of a second and I knew God had a hand in this. Honestly, I felt like a little boy about to receive something from his Daddy. A little guy whose father hadn’t clued him in on what was up but was taunting him to go with him and ‘See’.
I said that I felt like that little boy, so, there wasn’t any shred of bewilderment, as to why I hastily woke up at a quarter till two in the morning. It was clear to me that Abba Father (Daddy God) had something for me.
Off to the basement I went after washing out my eyes a bit, to clear any matter that had accumulated over the short time I was asleep.
My computer and instruments are in the basement, so when I’m going to be doing my devotions, I typically will sit at my desk in the basement to have everything at the ready to study the Word.
I wasn’t too sure just what God wanted to show me, but that mystery was resolved upon the first passage I pulled up.
2 Peter 1:10-11 (HCSB)
Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you.
The entire passage was alive with meaning to me, but what leapt off the computer screen was the underlined portion.
I knew immediately what God was telling me.
The Back Story
A little over a year ago, through the scripture God was feeding to me and the Holy Spirit nudging me; I realized God was preparing me for a change to my work.
I didn’t know what that exactly meant. I just knew that I had to be prepared, which I took more as surrendered to His will, so whatever He directed me to I would not just accept but joyfully dive into.
At the same time, I was being convicted of my writing, but that was an entirely different matter. I stepped up my scripture blogging and remains open for further instructions on the writing front.
Well, let me clarify that just a bit; I did the minimal level of obedience that I thought that I could get away with (God does not take no for an answer from His children, it just doesn’t happen). What I knew at the time was that God was calling me to write, but it was pretty clear to me that He wanted me writing a ‘book’ or books.
So in the spirit of appeasement (another thing that doesn’t quite work with God), I tore into my scripture blog, Selah Musings, with a vengeance. “See Lord! I’m writing!!!”
Now I will not say that he punished me in any way, however, I knew that He knew that I knew that He was pleased with the blog, but the blog was not what He was calling me to do in regard to writing. He wanted books. One to start out with, but He wanted me writing books.
So back to the topic for this morning. The message that I needed to prepare for something different work related was independent of the writing issue. What God was letting me know is that he wanted me to become more vocationally engaged in serving Him.
I’m doing a little better, in the guidance area of my service to the Master, despite doing a total ‘Sarah’ move in regard to the writing. I didn’t have a clue what this vocational thing was all about, but I surrendered myself to His will that whatever it was, where ever it was; that I would not just be obedient, but I would actually be eager to do.
However, my approach to this was pretty much; “Lord, you are going to have to let me know what this new vocation is, because I don’t have a clue. In the mean time, I will just keep doing what I’ve been doing and when you’re ready, you can clue me in! Okay? Lord?”
Now, I’m not willing to say this was wrong, it likely wasn’t. God has his plans.
Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB)
For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
And He has His thoughts…
Isaiah 55:8-9 (HCSB)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
“For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
I just figured, He would let me know when He was ready and perhaps not a second sooner. I was good with that. Actually, I was pretty relieved that was the direction; wait.
Surrender is good and all but, I kind of figured that if there was going to be any breaking through a door, it might be better if it was God rather than me. So, I was fine with ‘wait’.
Then this morning!
“Make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble”.
Not the same message.
No, this morning message was more proactive. It called for me to now do something in a more dedicated manner. This ‘vocation’ was not going to drop out of the sky, I needed to peruse it (whatever it is).
Let me take one more side trip and then we can get down to ‘Callings’.
As you may or may not know, my current vocation is a role as a Systems Engineer. My primary activity is (was) front end development for databases.
That is going away soon. The thing that really was fascinating in addition to what God showed me, was the day on which he showed me. Today is the 9th of February and my last day on the job with my current employer is March 9th. Exactly one month away.
Whoever thought that God doesn’t time things out need to explain that one to me.
Okay, side trip over.
So, what I am gathering God wants me doing is to get proactive and looking for this next vocation and stop sitting around waiting for him to drop it in my lap.
Amazingly, yesterday I did send off my resume to two faith-based organization and inquired as to if they needed seasoned computer geek.
So, today’s passage did several things.
- I no longer am to be sitting on the sidelines waiting for God to act. He’s telling me to get busy.
- It tells me that what I did yesterday is exactly what I need to be doing on a grander scale, because at present, my efforts can not be classed as ‘making every effort’. It has been effort but not full out, so therefore farm from being ‘Every Effort’.
- He’s aware of the deadline approaching (hence giving me notice exactly 1 month in advance of my last day of work).
- Action needs to be backup with prayer.
Remember, “Hello? This is God Calling”? As I eluded to early on, while this event that took place this morning was inspiring to me, I don’t expect that it has or will do much to inspire you. However, God’s calling you too.
There are two categories that God calls us to. The first I’m going to call ‘persistent directives’.
These are the things that all of us are supposed to be doing, and often times are the first things to slip in our agenda for the day.
Luke 10:27 (HCSB)
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
For example, here are two. Love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Love your neighbor as you do yourself.
The first one is somewhat easy because if you can’t make it you can fake it. It’s not okay to fake loving God, but I’m just saying it is possible to do and not let others in on the secret. At least for a little while.
The second one on the other hand is a bit more difficult. Okay, a lot more difficult. Most of us try to ‘like’ our neighbors; loving them often isn’t either convenient or comfortable. However, we are called to love them, not just a little either.
Without a doubt I will not be able to recount all of the persistent directives here in this short article. That doesn’t make them any less important, I’m limited to just touch on a few choice items.
Prayer is another important one. If you’re going to Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul and strength; you probably need to be talking to Him. This isn’t just a suggestion it is one of those persistent directives:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)
Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Pray constantly! Yep, got it. Oh, and while we are at it rejoice all the time and ‘give thanks in everything’? Is that a typo?
No, actually, it isn’t a typo. Give thanks for the good and the bad. God can use everything in our lives for our good. If it doesn’t feel good call it a lesson that needs to be learned and be thankful for it.
Mark 16:15-16 (HCSB)
Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
What is it with these persistent directives coming in groups?
Spreading the Gospel not just for preachers and missionaries. So often we think that evangelism isn’t our job. News flash, it’s every Christians job. You are the light of the world, go shine!
While you’re at it, Baptize the ones that choose to follow Christ while you’re at it.
And one more.
Matthew 6:14-15 (HCSB)
“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
This one is a biggie.
We are to forgive people, and by the way if you are expecting forgiveness from God (Heavenly Father) it comes with strings attached. You need to forgive others.
When Jesus taught the apostles how to pray, He made this even stronger.
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”.
Did you ever pick up on the gravity of this phrase? If we are asking to be forgive as we forgive others who violate our personal space, there exists a contingent relationship.
Based on this phrase, perhaps we should take another phrase out of our vocabulary; “I could never forgive them for that”!
The persistent directives are frequently not easily accomplished, perhaps that is why they are persistent as we need to work at them all the time. However, as you find them, you need to pay attention, because they aren’t merely suggestions; they are directives.
Ad Hoc Directives:
- formed, arranged, or done for a particular purpose only
I thought that it might be helpful to have a definition of ‘ad hoc’, being as though, autocorrect loves to change it and it is one of those words we tend to toss around with no regard.
In essence, these directives are given by God to us for a specific purpose.
These may be short term in nature, such as cleaning a neighbor’s house for them while they are recuperating from surgery.
Or they can be long term or permanent directives. The example I gave of my change in vocation would be an ad hoc directive of the long term nature.
Let’s say God directed you to build a prayer closet in your home and use it everyday. That would be an ad hoc directive that was pertinent.
There are short term ad hoc directives as well.
Be they short, long, or permanent; all of them are unique to you as an individual. God gives them to you, and they are for you alone.
Just because God convicts us to do something on an ongoing basis, doesn’t mean that the person sitting next to you in church shares that exact same conviction. They could, but don’t expect that to always be the case.
You may be wondering since we talked about ‘God giving’ us ad hoc directives; just how that happens.
It actually happens in two ways. In all cases God is speaking to you, the manner is different.
Callings are task-oriented objectives. In other words, God has a task for us and lets us know what that task is.
They can be very specific or general in nature and often are associated with some form of service (this doesn’t have to be the case, but it is frequently so).
Conviction is the persuasion of the Holy Spirit to alter behavior. It is the state of one’s heart just prior to repentance. Often people who are convicted of something, will still indicate that they are still convicted even after repenting.
Another way to explain conviction is that conviction is the positive byproduct of revelation.
Let’s define revelation just to be clear.
- a surprising and previously unknown fact, especially one that is made known in a dramatic way:
“revelations about his personal life”
synonyms: disclosure ·
- the making known of something that was previously secret or unknown:
“the revelation of an alleged plot to assassinate the king”
In other words, you receive a revelation. This new information will prompt us to action (conviction). Finally, when we follow though on that conviction we are changing our minds and going on a different course heading (repentance).
This cycle repeats itself again and again as we grow in Christ Jesus.
We typically receive revelation when we are exposed to the Word of God. Either through study or reading of the Bible, or through the preaching of the Word. I wouldn’t exclude revelation to strictly exposure to the Word of God, but I would have to consider the Word of God as ‘causation’ for revelation.
Because we have the Word of God in our heart, we could come upon a situation we have never experience and because of that Word of God, we would have a revelation as to what is right for that situation.
In a case like this there is no sin as long as once convicted we adhere to the course correction that the conviction points to.
If on the other hand we are convicted and despite the revelation, and conviction, we choose to act counter to the Spirits direction; that is sin.
Can you hear me now?
It would probably be alarming, to know the number of Christians, that if they were being perfectly honest, would say they don’t hear from God often, if ever.
There are things, that inhibit our ability to hear God.
We hold sin in our heart – Disobedience, unconfessed sin, and the lack of repentance; are likely, to be the number one cause, of not hearing the voice of God.
Psalms 66:18 (NIV)
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
When we fail to repent, when convicted by the Holy Spirit. Sin in our lives it deadens our senses to the Spirit of God. It also will blind us from His Word.
The Psalmist here said the ‘Lord would not have listened’. But, if we are carrying sin around with us, the communication issue is going to be on our side, not God’s.
We don’t listen – It may seem a bit too simple, but there are a number of reasons, that we might not, want to hear God.
Some issues are straight forward.
Isaiah 28:23 (HCSB)
Listen and hear my voice. Pay attention and hear what I say.
We simply don’t pay attention, and/or we have turned God off. This could be that, if we were to hear Him, we would feel obligated to obey Him. What He has to say to us could be something we don’t want to do.
Surrender – Listen to yourself; I gave my life to Jesus and accepted His Grace and forgiveness. This is what we do when we take advantage of His saving power. If you have taken back control and don’t rely on God to guide you, then you are not following Christ, you’re attempting to have Christ follow you. It doesn’t work that way!
Finding quiet time – Prayer is a two-way communication. Jesus often would go off alone to pray in the quiet.
Matthew 6:6 (NIV)
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Of course, we can and should be in a state of constant prayer (ie: the conversation with God doesn’t end at the AMEN).
But we may not choose, to be alone with God. In the clamor of our lives, we often never take the time, to escape from the distractions and find a quite place. A moment when we can be alone with the Lord to be able to hear his voice.
Having a time of solitude with God, is revitalizing, and often the best place, once the noise and traffic dies down, to listen and actually hear God speaking to our heart.
James 4:3 (NIV)
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
If we are not praying, or praying improperly, we from a practical standpoint are blocking out God.
Prayer links closely with the Word of God.
Starvation – The lack of spiritual nourishment (The Word of God) is something else that inhibits our communication with God. The Word is the raw material, that the Holy Spirit uses to feed us spiritually.
The Word is all the primary source from which revelation is found. With revelation, comes conviction.
Remember the cycle we talked about briefly before; Revelation, Conviction, and Repentance. This cycle is a vital part of healthy Christian.
Romans 10:17 (NIV)
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
When we fail to immerse ourselves in the God’s Word the starve our Spirit of the nourishment it desperately needs.
But when we honestly seek God’s presence in our time of devotion, and then search the scripture for whatever it the Holy Spirit will disclose to us; we open those channels of communication.
Making the Connection
It really comes down to this; if we really love God, we will clear the obstacles that prevent us,from having clear communication with God.
- Eliminate sin in our lives
- Talk to God – You start the conversation.
- Surrender completely through Revelation, Conviction, and Repentance.
- Get some alone time with God
- Feed on God’s Word
The bottom line is that all these things fall into place when we do one thing.
- Love (truly love) God! This means God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
If we truly love God, then we will:
- Obey Him – Repent
- Communicate with Him – Pray including continual prayer as God is with us constantly. This means listening as well as sharing our heart with God.
- Trust Him – It is just this side of impossible it ‘Truly love someone’ and not trust them as well. After all you are entrusting them with your heart.
- Surrender – If you truly love someone you place their desires above your own, your desires become secondary to theirs. That is surrender.
With the connection successfully in place now we can expect a dialogue rather than a one-sided conversation.
We can tell God; “I can hear you now!”