Summary: To encourage Christ followers to live out God's call on their life.
Theme: God’s Call on and for our lives.
Text: Galatians 1.11-17
Time: November 7, 2010 (Communion and All Saints Day)
Task: To encourage people to live out God’s Call on their life.
“I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.” (Galatians 1.11-17, NIV)
Never in his wildest dreams did Paul think that he would find himself telling others that Jesus was the Messiah and that they should make the decision to follow him. Prior to this, Paul was a Jewish Pharisee who was passionate and radically orthodox when it came to practicing Judaism. In Acts 8-9 Paul is like a Jewish bounty hunter looking to arrest and punish other Jews who dared to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. His reputation among the messianic community was such that it struck fear in their hearts. But one day that all changed. He was on his way to a bust in Caesarea when he walked into a “set up” by Jesus that transformed his life forever. Jesus convinced Paul that he really was the Messiah. And that he wanted Paul to use that same zeal and skill set he had used in persecuting messianic Jews to proclaim and publicize that he is the Messiah. This is the call that Paul alluded to in his letter to the Galatians.
The Call is a word or a phrase that refers to the act of God tapping someone on the shoulder and saying, “Hey, I have something I want you to do.” “I have something I want you to give your life too.” “There’s this need, and I want you to be part of the solution.” “I want you to use your work life to foster your life’s work.” The life’s work being God’s call upon every believer to help connect people with Jesus.
Writing to the Christians in 1 Corinthians 7.17 Paul wrote, “Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.” (NIV)
I remember when God called me and I suppose I was just as surprised as anyone. The call came when I was attending Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois. At the time I was wondering and wandering about what I should do with my life. I wandered between Hotel and Restaurant management, Forrest Ranger in the Rockies, teaching high school, radio broadcasting, law enforcement and a couple of other possible vocations. As graduation loomed on the horizon I honed in on becoming an Illinois State Trooper.
But something didn’t seem right. My heart was conflicted. Somewhere and somehow the idea of being a pastor in The United Methodist Church crossed my mind. Troubled I looked to God for consolation and confirmation and did what many people do. I followed the example of my patron saint, Saint Gideon in Judges 6.
Looking for confirmation from God he put a fleece out at night asking God that if he was hearing him correctly, that in the morning when he woke up that the ground would be wet from the dew but that that fleece would be dry. And when that happened he asked for confirmation again by asking God to make the fleece wet and the ground dry the next morning. God did so.
So I threw down a fleece. Basically I said, “Lord, if you want me to enter “The Ministry” let me get a B on the upcoming test in Communications. I received a B. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a coincidence so I asked for further confirmation. End of semester tests were coming up and I hadn’t studied. And so I asked, “God, if you’re calling me to the ministry, then let me get an A on my test without studying.” I received an A. Still not fully convinced that it wasn’t coincidence I asked for one more verification. “Okay God, if you’re telling me that I am to go into “The Ministry” make it uncontestable, incontrovertible, indisputable and irrefutable to me.” A few days later I shared my testimony in chapel about how Jesus radically altered my life. After the service several different individuals came up to me and said something to the effect of, “Bryan, it’s really too bad you’re going into law enforcement, I think you’d make a good minister.”