Summary: We all are called to ministry by God. Just like with Abraham, God takes us from nothing and shapes us as his man or woman to serve his purposes.
One of the most famous lines in a movie comes from Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” So true isn’t it? It rings with truth as we think back to our own lives. Turn with me to Genesis 11:27 as we see how this truth is lived out in the lives of a man thousands of years ago…
What does the word “calling” mean? When you say: “I have a calling” – what are you communicating? It might be a vocation or interest, or even a hobby that inspires you. But when we speak of a calling in Christian terms – it refers to something much deeper. God has called upon you for a certain ministry! Many people think that a calling only applies to pastors, missionaries, evangelists. But this is hardly the case – we have each been given spiritual gifts and inner desires which communicate to us an amazing fact: every Christian has been called for a specific ministry.
Today we’re looking at the most famous of all callings – that of Abraham, the so-called “father of faith.” Many believe that Abraham was the great hero of the faith – a model of what it means to trust and obey. But as we study the Word, we discover just the opposite. Abraham was very often an example of weak faith and even failure. And from him we learn three crucial facts about God’s calling.
The first crucial fact about God’s calling is that it doesn’t come from you but from God. One of the most overlooked aspects about being called into service is that our calling is not based on being qualified. You don’t earn God’s calling by being good, by being a faithful and godly Christian. Certainly God will give you greater responsibilities as you prove yourself faithful. But we’re talking about a basic calling – an area of service. God’s calling comes to us out of his grace. If we had to be qualified before being called, none of us would ever serve God or others.
Turn with me to Joshua 24:2 “And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ’Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.”
Abraham grew up in Ur in Mesopotamia, an area which was very religious. It’s estimated that around 4000 gods were worshipped in that part of the world with each city worshipping several hundred. In Ur they worshipped the moon god and a giant Ziggurat was erected there as a temple to worship this god. The purpose of life there was to serve the gods who were the center of religion and industry. All the farming, irrigation, and trade was centered on these pagan gods.
And according to Joshua, Abraham’s family was serving these gods just like everyone else. We have no proof that Abraham was any different. This makes his calling even more amazing! In Acts 7:2 “And Stephen said: "Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,” One day, God simply appeared to Abraham – out of the blue. Imagine the amazement and the life-changing truth! Abraham didn’t reach up to God but God came down to him and called him.
What does it take to have a calling? It takes open hands, empty hands. One of my friends in ministry prayed: “Take my nothing, Lord!” You don’t need a seminary degree or take a special course or have completed so many months of faithful attendance at the worship service. God calls us out of the most miserable circumstances to some of the most amazing ministries.
2. We naturally RESIST God’s calling (but God will not give up) (11:31-12:1)
A second crucial fact about God’s calling is that we naturally resist it. We don’t want it and will drag our feet as much as possible. Some of you may already be thinking in your mind – “a calling isn’t for me, I’m not the one, I can’t see it happening, etc. etc.” Don’t you think Abraham thought the same thing? Was he that different than anyone else? No – as much as we lift him up, he was an ordinary guy who struggled with sin as much as you or I.
Let me illustrate this point as we look at the calling of Abraham.
Turn again to Acts 7:2-3 “And Stephen said: "Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ’Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’”