Showing posts with label Guest post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest post. Show all posts

24 January 2013

What are we called to do?

Rhoda PickensToday we have a guest post from Rhoda Pickens, who blogs from Wales in the UK at 'Living to please God'.

She brings us some great thoughts about how we can discover our role and function in the body, and how we can be more sure about it. Do you ever wonder, 'Am I living the life the Lord wants for me?' Rhoda investigates some useful pointers that help us examine ourselves and find a secure sense of direction.

How Do We Know What We Are Called To Do? - Rhoda Pickens

We all have things that God wants us to do, but how do we know what?

‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.’ (Ephesians 2:10)

There are some callings that we all have as Christians:

  • To seek God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  • To seek to become more like Christ (Matthew 6:33)
  • To seek the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom here on earth (Matthew 6:33, Matthew 28:19)
  • To disciple others and teach them more about Him (Matthew 28:19,20)
  • We should aim to be ‘fruitful in every good work’ (Colossians 1:10)

But there does seem to be a pattern in the Bible of some people being specifically called to certain things, for example when He said to Abram to leave his country and family and to go where He told him.

It doesn’t record this of everyone though, so I don’t think everyone should necessarily seek a specific life calling. But I believe there are things that God has set aside for us to do so we should be praying that God would lead us to those things.

An area where I do believe we need to seek a call also, is for full time ministry. When we are in the trenches we want to know that God called us to be there so that we don’t go running home. Also we want to know God will provide our needs because He has called us to do that work.

How do we know what God might be calling us to? - Here are a few thoughts on this, though there may well be more to it than I have mentioned!

Look at your gifts - The Bible tells us to use our gifts, so if we are gifted in a certain area, at least spiritually anyway, then we should look for opportunities to use them. This may well lead you eventually to an area that God is calling you to work in.

‘As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.’ (1 Peter 4:10)

Be willing to do what He wants you to do - It is all very well asking God to show you what He wants you to do, but if you’re not willing to do it then there may not be much point in Him telling you!

Isaiah’s call is often quoted in the Bible, but it starts not with God calling Him specifically, but asking openly, “Who will go for Us?” and then Isaiah says “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) Isaiah was obviously willing and available to do what God was wanting done.

Ask God what He wants you to do - This may sound obvious, but often people don’t really take the time to pray about what God is wanting them to do with their lives. I know I didn’t until I was in the second year of university and I started feeling restless and then I started praying. Before that I was just headed in the direction of the combination of my parent’s and my decision making.

‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.’ (James 1:5)

A few tips for asking God:

  • Retreat - Try to get away from daily life to spend time with God. It is often when you are out on a long walk or up on the mountain side like Jesus, or at a retreat, that you can understand more how God is leading you.
  • Read the Bible – it is God’s word, so if we want to find His will we should definitely be reading it, and asking God to speak to us!

God may work through your desires - Often God will give you a burden for a specific people or place, or make you feel restless. I wouldn’t use this alone to guide me, but it can be a way that God prods you, like Nehemiah who sat down and wept when he heard that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and its gates burnt with fire. That eventually led to him going back there to lead the rebuilding.

I think you do need to be careful with this one though, as your desires can also lead you the wrong way!

Give it time - Jim Elliot spent several years seeking direction from God before he finally had the peace he wanted about knowing that tribal work in South American jungles was his general purpose. It can take time.

Don’t think about your ability or lack of it - I love what Chuck Smith says, that God doesn’t want your ability, but your availability. He will provide all we need, just like He did with Jeremiah:

“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)

Godly counsel - Just like with all guidance, godly counsel is very useful. Again we have to be careful with this one because well meaning Christians can try to persuade us away from what God is calling us to do! Try to find someone who has surrendered themselves, is serving God wholeheartedly and has some experience in the faith.

I liked what Pete Fleming said: ‘I think a call to the mission-field is no different from any other means of guidance, a call is nothing more or less than obedience to the will of God, as God presses it home to the soul by whatever means He chooses’

And I think that if you are really wanting to do God’s will, and persevere in prayer, then He will show you what He is calling you to – though it may take more time than you thought!

Questions:

  • Are you clear about he Lord's calling on your life or are you just drifting?
  • In your circumstances, which of Rhoda's points did you find most helpful?
  • Will you be putting these ideas into practice? If so how and when?

See also:

23 November 2011

Simple gathering of believers

Stephanie Bennett
I have a treat for you today - a guest post from Stephanie Bennett.

She describes how she experienced family with fellow students during her college days and how Jesus was right among them. It was an experience to be cherished and something special and unusual, then and today.

I think she really has captured the essence of what it means to follow Jesus.

Celebrating Christ’s life in the Simple Gathering of Believers - Stephanie Bennett

Growing up in the midst of a nurturing, caring family where everyone is committed to each other simply because they have the same blood running through their veins is a wonderful way to learn the essentials of surviving and flourishing later in life. While many other factors contribute to ultimate happiness, it is relatively safe to assume that children growing up in the environment I just described have a greater chance at success and happiness than those who grow up in abusive or dysfunctional homes. It is the same for our spiritual lives, is it not?

I love the Body of Christ, perhaps because my first years as a new believer were spent in an organic group of Christians of all different stripes and sensibilities; each of us pursuing God to different degrees of intensity; some having grown up in Christian homes, others, straight out of the occult or atheism. For all our diversity we had several very significant things in common. Our most important commonality was that each of us had already reckoned with our own ability to produce a perfect self and upon realizing that this was impossible, we subsequently surrendered our efforts and our hearts to Jesus Christ, acknowledging Him as Lord and Savior.

Another commonality was that a day did not go by without actively seeking God, asking the Holy Spirit to give us light and guidance. We read scriptures together and discussed the Bible, going to the Lord in prayer if there was any discrepancy about a verse or fogginess in our understanding. And believe me -- there was fog. We were young adults, extremely passionate and full of zeal as we attempted to live lives in accord with God’s plan. We knew nothing, but that did not seem to matter; our youth and weakness did not work against us. Instead, it was in the acute awareness that we had nothing – no plan, no pastor, and no strategy for growth – that we learned that Christ was enough. He was enough to bring about transformation in our lives, enough to bring us joy, enough, period. We quickly learned the necessity of clinging to one another in love, giving up offenses quickly, and drawing from the richness of Christ in each other.

We also learned that being in Christ was not a monkish life. While times of personal solitude and quiet prayer were regular features in our lives, we were not called to lives of isolated existence; rather, we were called together to share life and express His life together, in one accord. What did that mean? For four years we lived it, figuring it out as we walked together, sharing His love and the lives to which He called us.

Another bit of interest during this four-year span of lavish life in the Spirit is that the group of about 30 believers was not a previously established club or organization. We came together as college students during our first semester and watched in amazement how the Lord grew us up together in Him. I often wonder if the reason so many hurting, disgruntled, and disheartened Christians got that way is because their experience in the church was so different from mine. If so, did the disappointment they experienced just become too much to handle? Did those who once knew Christ and once walked in the joy of the Lord leave Him because they grew up in a dysfunctional “church family”—one that tried to build and grow itself instead of simply learning to relate to God and each other in love?

There are probably many answers to these questions, but it seems to me that not one of them is sufficient to keep us from pursuing fellowship with God and each other. The church is a family – the more focused on Christ, the Head, the more the church will be a caring, nurturing family that can help us experience God’s love and Presence in practical, purposeful ways. But like any other family, no matter how committed to each other or how strong, the family of God is not perfect. The church is made up of imperfect people seeking God together – spurring each other on – walking daily in a life that is not insular, autonomous, or walled off from the world. It is a life that advances from faith to faith and from glory to glory. It is a life that is full of meaning and purpose, a life worth seeking. It is true life. Life ever-lasting and full of grace.

About the Author - Stephanie Bennett, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida, where she enjoys teaching and researching topics concerning mediated communication, interpersonal and relationship development, and the church and culture. (See also Stephanie's web space) An internationally published writer, she has long written for the popular press and has recently authored her first book, Communicating Love: Staying Close in a 24-7 Media-Saturated Society (also for Kindle),  Stephanie invites dialogue at steffasong@aol.com. She and her husband, Earl, make their home in sunny, south Florida, USA.

Note added by Chris J: There's a great deal of veracity and life in what Steph has written here. I can identify a series of important and lasting truths illustrated from personal experience. How many can you identify as you read? Please leave some comments on anything that particularly strikes you.

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