Summary: Discover what it means to follow God’s will.
I want to begin by sharing three stories that have similar endings.
The first story involves Chuck Colson. Chuck Colson was sent to prison for his part in Watergate during the Nixon administration. After Chuck Colson was released from prison he felt lead to start a prison ministry. As he explained his calling to former President Nixon, Nixon objected. He told Chuck Colson he should seek a profession where he could make money.
The second story involved my grandmother. In the early 80’s I received a call to become pastor of a small church in Mississippi. When I told my grandmother of my new place of service she asked this question “Why are you moving to Mississippi?”
The third story involved a couple in my previous church. This couple felt called to go to Nigeria as missionaries. They had a comfortable living. He worked at Monsanto. She was a nurse in a nursing home. However, they gave up all of that in order to serve as missionaries in Nigeria. A sister of the man asked me this question, “Why are they moving to Nigeria?”
All three of those stories have similar endings. All three stories contain the story of someone who does not understand the concept of God’s call. In fact, the concept of God’s calling is something none of us understand completely.
A pastor received a call from a church that offered him a salary four times what he was receiving. Being a devout man, he spent much time in prayer trying to discern what God wanted him to do. One day a friend met the pastor’s young son on the street. “Do you know what your dad is going to do?” he asked. “Well,” replied the lad, “Dad’s praying, but Mom’s packing!” To know the will of God is not as easy as we would hope.
(Contributed to Sermon Central by Pat Cook)
For a text I want to use the call of Abraham found in Gen. 12:1-4. “Then the LORD told Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram departed as the LORD had instructed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.” In order to gain a fuller understanding of the concept of God’s calling I want to break this text into bite size pieces.
1. Look at the first phrase “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you.” The first aspect of God’s call is a call to Obey. God called Abraham to obey and move to a new country. Obedience is not always easy. Notice the things God asked Abraham to leave. He was to leave (1) His country, (2) His relatives and (3) His parents home. Not only was he to leave those three things but he was to move to a country he had never seen. Talk about a challenge. Obedience can be a challenging task. This stretches your faith and challenges you to examine the security of your relationship with God. In obeying God there are two things you must be willing to do.
A. You must be willing to let go. Have you ever seen a dog that was given a fresh bone, a bone with slivers of meat hanging from it? Would a dog easily give up such a favored possession? Not on your life! There are some ways in which we are no different than a dog. We tend to hang on to certain possessions. It is human nature to hang on. However, the person who obeys God is willing to let go of those things in order to follow God’s calling upon his/her life. Remember the old song: “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go.” That should be our prayer.
B. In order to fully obey God you must be willing to let go. But you must also be willing to change. That is another dirty word. Change is difficult for us. There is something in the human DNA that causes us to resist change. To obey God we must be willing to change. We might need to change our lifestyle. We might need to change our vocation. We might need to change our place of living.
2. A second phrase that will help us understand the concept of God’s will is the phrase “I will make you a great nation.” This is what I call the call to Conform. We must conform to God’s workmanship. In Jeremiah 18 Jeremiah compares God’s working to the working of a potter with a lump of clay. The potter shapes the clay into the image of what he desires. God desires to shape you and I into a certain shape. Again, there is something within the human spirit that rebels against being shaped by God. The very word “make” goes against the grain of the human spirit.