One time, my wife and I wanted to surprise our two girls who were five and seven at the time by taking them to an indoor water park for Christmas. The park was about two hours away from our home and the whole way both my girls kept asking me where we were going. “Come on daddy, tell us where we’re going.” They wouldn’t stop asking. Neither my wife nor I wanted to tell them because it was suppose to be a surprise. Therefore, we just kept saying, “Don’t worry, you’ll love it. You’re going to be so thankful once we get there.” Finally, we arrived at our destination. When we pulled into the parking lot, even though it was snowing outside, you could look through the Plexiglas walls at families with their swimsuits going down slides, playing in the water, and floating down the lazy river. We expected both our girls to start screaming with delight. However, to my wife and my dismay, both girls were silent. When we looked back to see what was going on, both of them ha were frozen with their mouths wide open. They were so excited they were speechless. Needless to say, they were thankful and that still stands out as one of the best Christmas’s we’ve ever had.
That experience reminds me a lot of the Father of Faith, Abraham. Of all the amazing stories in the Word of God that speaks to us about the calling God placed on men’s lives, Abraham is probably my favorite. Can you imagine God coming to you and saying, “I’ve got something great for you to do. Follow me.” You might say, “Where are we going Lord?” God would answer, “I’m not going to tell you right now. You’re not ready and it would spoil the surprise anyway. It’s going to take a while to get there but trust me, you’re going to love it.” That’s basically what God said to Abraham. Here’s what God said in Genesis 12: 1- 3 (NIV),
“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
I think another translation that puts it a little more in our modern day vernacular is The Message translation. Look how it says the same passage:
God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.”
The word “Go” or “Leave” or “Get Thee Out” (KJV)in Hebrew is the word halak which literally means to “walk” or “to continually come on”. I like the last one that says to “continually come on” because it reminds us that answering the calling of God is not a one-time thing. The book of Galatians says there is always a battle between the flesh (our carnal nature) and the spirit (that part of us that wants to pursue God). We must continually deny our fleshy desires and say yes to the call that God places on all our lives.
Within all of us is a unique gifting and calling. God made you for greatness. You are a “10” at something. It reminds me of the movie “Chariots of Fire” when the runner said, “When God made me, he made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.” God made you to do something and when you do it, you can feel His pleasure. There are many ways to discover this unique gifting and calling in your life and while we all have a special plan from God there are some things which are universal to us all. We are called to do personal missions and corporate missions in the Kingdom of God. Today we’re going to talk about three different corporate missions that we all need to fulfill in our lives as modeled to us in the story of Abraham.
The first calling that was given to Abraham and to us all was the calling to FOLLOW BY FAITH.
Genesis 12:1 (RSV) says, “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.'” The first calling God placed on Abraham’s life (and ours as well) was to simply follow. A retired pastor once said to me, “The greatest message Jesus ever preached to us pastors was when He called the disciples. He said, “Follow me and I will make you.” The greatest calling we can fulfill is to simply follow God and trust His leading. The Bible says that God’s Word is a “Lamp unto my feet.” God doesn’t always give us enough light to see the whole journey. Many times we have just enough light for the next step. That takes a lot of faith. However, God will never cause us to stumble or slip as long as we follow his leading.
The second calling given to Abraham and to us as well was the calling to serve. The next thing God says to Abraham is “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great” (Gen 12:2-3). Have you ever wondered why God does things? I do all the time. Not out of a desire to question God but rather to learn His nature so I can more fully recognize Him at work. Why do you think God wanted to bless Abraham? Another way to say this is, “Why does God want to bless us?” You can see it all throughout the Word of God. God always blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. The calling that God places on all our lives is not so that we can build our own kingdom. The calling of God is always a calling to serve. No matter what gives us a passion and gifting to do, it is always to serve the Body of Christ and reach those far from Him. One of our highest callings is to serve others.
The final calling we will discuss is the calling to be a blessing. The next thing God said to Abraham was “I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse” (Gen. 12:3). One of the chief responsibilities in the life of every believer is to add value to others. If you are not adding value to others you are subtracting value from yourself. We were not called to be an island unto our self. We were called to add value to the world around us with our gifts, with our time, and with our attention. The real beauty of how God uses His church is that in His hands, God can use just about anything to make a difference in the life of someone else. He just needs someone willing to be a blessing.
God has a unique gifting for us all. Just because you do not see it’s redeeming value does not mean it isn’t there. I served a church one time where there were few elderly women who were very discouraged. They thought they had “outlived their usefulness” and God couldn’t use them anymore. The pastor said to them, “What do you like to do?” They answered that they met every week and crochet together. He told them, “There you go. God can use that. Just figure out how.” These ladies decided to try that out. What they did was amazing. They found out the local paper had a section that would post when new babies were born in the community. What they began to do was crochet little socks for these newborn babies then go by these houses to congratulate the new parents and present them with the little socks as a gift. Since these ladies were all grandma’s they would instantly fall in love with these little babies and many times began to help out these new, exhausted mothers. During these visits they would be able to pray with the new parents, provide guidance, and even help them reconnect with their families. After two years over 15 new couples had begun attending church because of these elderly women who felt like they had “outlived their usefulness.” God has a plan for your life but it’s going to take the faith to step out and purse it. He’s also called you to be a blessing in the lives of others and to serve everyone around you. By doing this, we are fulfilling the greatest calling of all, to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus in this world.