The Call of God- Called to Follow, pt. 2

God has called each of us to follow Him. This is a life devoted to trying to learn to mimic our teacher, mentor and Lord, Jesus. Today, let’s look at a few scriptures and see what a life devoted to following God is all about.

18 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:1-5

God tells Moses to instruct the Isrealites to now follow a different standard than what they were used to. Even though they were slaves, they were raised in a certain lifestyle and the practices and customs of the Egyptians was what was normal to them. Moses was trying to prepare the people by pointing out who they were and how they should follow after the God who had delivered them. They now knew that they were God’s chosen people and that He hadd called them to be His own. But He also wanted them to know there would be conditions attached to the call to follow.

God made it clear that they should not practice the old ways of the Egyptians because He had called out from under the bondage of slavery. He also was leading them into a new land and Israel had to be warned not to take up the ways of the people of that land.

What God wanted them to understand was that He was leading them into a new way of living and that they were going to have a new truth to follow. It would take sacrifice, commitment, and at times following God can result in the world hating or rejecting you.

A fantastic story that portrays the risk and faith in following God can be seen in the Book of Ruth.

16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Ruth 1:16

Ruth was married to one of Naomi’s sons and was a Moabite woman. It was not custom to marry outside their culture and people. When Naomi’s husband and two sons passed away, one of Naomi’s daughter in laws decided to go back to her home country, but Ruth pledged to stay with Naomi as she travelled back home to Isreal. Now this was a risky move on Ruth’s behalf because she was a gentile, and in all likelyhood, would not be accepted and could very well be treated like a second class citizen. However, Ruth saw something in the life of Naomi, something that showed her there was one true God. Ruth was determined to to follow the God of Israel.

And in the verse we read, we see Ruth’s response to Naomi, which parallels our response, or what it should be, to our call to follow Jesus. “where you go, I will go, …where you lodge, I will lodge”. As disciples, we are pledging to follow Jesus, wherever that takes us, whatever that may look like to us personally. Ruth then makes a bold statement of faith “your people shall be my people, and your God my God”. Essentially, Ruth was proclaiming she was leaving behind her old life and gentile culture. She was now going to follow the God of Israel.

However, the story of Ruth is an incredible one, and I encourage you to read this book. Because of her faithfulness, God blessed her and her willingness to follow Naomi and her God, Ruth became grafted into the geneology of Jesus Christ. (Mathew 1:5-6), and the great-grand mother of King David. Much like we have become grafted into God’s family when we place our faith in Jesus Christ.

When we make a decision to follow Christ, it literally changes the direction of our lives forever. We, just like Ruth, are to leave everything behind and walk forward into a “new land”, and join with a new people- the Church. There is risk and sacrifice, but huge reward.

so the question today is, are we willing to leave behind our old way to follow God?

The call of God- Called to Follow

21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21

To be called to follow in someone’s steps requires great faith in the person you have chosen to follow. it may mean leaving behind life as you know it, even changing your lifestyle and your beliefs. As His disciples, Christ leads, we follow. He goes before us like a shepherd before His sheep. When someone chose to follow a rabbi, they literally gave their entire life to that calling. They lived 24/7 with that rabbi, learning His every word and action, mimicking his lifestyle. Essentially trying to become just like them in every aspect.

Step number 1 in our calling as disciples is to be followers of Jesus, who is our teacher and Lord. His desire is that we surrender our wills and follow Him. This is a lifelong committment, striving to become just like the teacher. If we look at the whole context of the verse we read

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 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 you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Peter is giving some very radical teaching here. I’ve often heard the complaint by non-believers, which used to be me, that the bible endorses slavery, because it doesn’t outright say anywhere that slavery is wrong. And if we know anything about human nature, we know that people don’t just do whatever you say. Rather, Jesus, then the apostles, began to teach in a way to slowly change cultural thinking. Slavery was a normal practice. Most people saw nothing wrong with it, it was just the way it was. In these verses, we see Peter exhort those in slavery to first, fear God (put your whole trust in Him), and submit to their masters, even if the masters were tyrants and treated them badly. His point was this is part of following Jesus, part of becoming like the teacher. Jesus gave them the ultimate example as He willingly was placed in chains, beaten and nailed to the cross. And He even blessed His oppressors as He hung there. This is our calling, in order to follow Christ, we must love others just as He did; even the tough ones. And in addition, throughout the New Testament, we see where the Apostles exhorted the masters of the slaves to treat them well, with respect and as brothers in Christ. This was extremely counter-cultural, but Christ new that everyone needs to decide, not be told, to follow.

To follow, one must give the reins of leadership to another; one must be willing to humble oneself and hand over one’s own desires and pride to Crist. We must trust that Christ know what is completely best for every area of our lives. Jesus gives us a new life and He is the bridge to that new way of living. It takes a step of faith but one that first step is taken the road ahead begins to take on an all-new meaning and purpose.

The very idea and concept of discipleship means that you are willing to come under the teaching and direction of a leader, teacher or mentor. We need to “follow” them. Paul encouraged this concept when he asked the churches “to follow him as he followed Christ”

The journey begins first by answering the call of Christ and then committing oneself to following where ever He leads.

Tomorrow we will look at some examples from stories in the bible of following God.

Lord, we thank you for your calling. Teach us to follow and become more like our teacher and Lord, Jesus. Amen.

The calling of God- intro

New topic today. Should be an interesting one

Therefore, do not be asharmed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner., but join with me in suffering for the Gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. 2 Timothy 1:8-9

Here is a question; does God take time to call out to every man, woman and child of this world and invite them to walk in fellowship with Him? What does this mean to be called, and has God been calling out to you? What does this mean to you today?

Let’s define the word “call”. It means to cry out, to call aloud, to proclaim, to summon, to invite, to appoint, to praise, to celebrate, to be named. The idea of “call” means that someone is clearly and specifically speaking directly at someone else, to summon person to a specific task. Ex. Isaiah 55:5 “behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you…..”

Throughout the bible and all of history, we see men and women called out by God which we read about as heroes of the faith (and sometimes as bad examples). Calling is a key foundational topic for all a disciple may or may not do in their lifetime. The call is imperative if we hope to see any type of revival in our lives or in our churches. Disciples are touched daily by this word “call”

The men and women we read about that God called out had their hearts and lives changed in very dramatic ways, and changed the course of history in extraordinary ways. Think of people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, the many prophets, Christs disciples, Paul, and many more. And how about now in modern times? Billy Graham comes to mind, missonairies, what about our own pastor? These all come to mind because either they have been recorded in the bible or have done very big, public things that affected the church in huge ways. So this comes back to the original question, does God call each one of us, or just specific people?

My answer and opinion to this is that He does indeed call each of us. Let us look at a verse in 2 Peter that was addressed to “the church”.

2 Peter 1:1-11

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As you reflect on these words, you can see the importance for the disciple to keeping God’s call on His or her life in the forefront of their thinking and action. So how does God call you today? God will call you through His Holy Spirit, and we need to be willing to listen to Him regardless of what He is telling us. He speaks and shows us His will and plan. Everything He has to say to us is relevant to our times and our daily walk. We just need to have the faith to trust that He knows what is best for us.

The question of who, what, where, when, why, of our calling with God is what we will explore in the coming days and weeks, just as we are challenged to do so in 1 Cor. 1:26-29 “6 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Lord we thank you for your Word and your call. Give us insight and understanding as we explore this topic. In Jesus name, amen.