transcript

Welcome to Village Church Online, Pastor Michael here with you.  And today we are finishing our multi-week series from the book of Exodus chapters 1 through 5. 

Okay, so have you ever had the experience where you want something and the very thing that you want it seems that everyone around you starts to get that?  Let me give you a couple of examples…

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If you are lonely and you really want a significant other or a spouse.  It’s amazing how all of your friends seem to find significant others and start to getting engaged or married. 

Maybe you are married and you are struggling with infertility and you’ve been praying that God would allow you to get pregnant and have a baby.  And it seems that in this time that everyone around you starts to get pregnant and have babies. 

Maybe you are struggling financially, and you’re working seven days a week, and you’re exhausted, and all you want is a vacation.  And it’s amazing! – you go online and it seems that all of your friends are going on these incredible vacations that you could only wish to afford. 

I think when we get on the subject of spiritual calling it can feel a lot like this for many people.  In fact, this can be an incredibly discouraging subject.  Because you want to know why God made you, you want to know your calling, you want to make a difference.  And yet you look around and you start seeing people in your life, and they have this crystal-clear sense of calling, and they’re talking about it and leaning into it.  And as time goes on you just start to feel more and more discouraged. 

For some of you, this is a subject that is incredibly confusing.  Maybe you’re brand new to the faith, maybe for the first time you have started to take your faith seriously for the first time and you hear your friends or your pastor talking about spiritual calling or your spiritual gifts and lean into your calling and discovering this and quite honestly you don’t know where to start. You don’t know what they’re talking about, you have a sense of where they’re going but you don’t know how to begin. 

For many of you this subject matter is incredibly exciting.  You’re ready, you want to know why God has made you.  You want to know what your calling is.  You’re ready to lean in and our desire is that this sermon would be incredibly helpful for all of you; whether you have been discouraged, whether you have been confused. 

Our desire in this sermon is to bring clarity and to help give you a clear next step into discovering and living your spiritual calling.

 

So, we have had two big goals in this sub series in Exodus. 

The first big goal is to give us a sneak peak into Moses as he discovered his spiritual calling by God.  In fact, Moses wrote the book of Exodus and he is penning this autobiography and he is just showing us how he came about discovering his spiritual calling (and it was a messy process for Moses). 

The second reason we have done this series is because we really wanted to help every single person understand that God has created you for a purpose.  He has a job for you to do today.  And especially in this time of COVID-19 and staying at home way more than we would want to, there is just this sense that we just want to know why we are here, what God wants us to do and how to lean into this season. 

So, here is what I want to do. I want to help break through the terminology a little bit.  Let’s go back to the word calling.  We have defined this in multiple sermons, but I want to come back to this and define it again. 

Calling, very simply, is anything that God asks you to do. 

It’s anything that God asks you to do.  Now calling is a little more complicated than this.  I just want to double click on this word, calling, and I want to show you three different ways that it is used in scripture. 

1. Here is the first kind of calling, vocational calling

Vocational calling is this, that which God has asked you to do for provision and the good of society.  Whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian God has a vocational call on everyone’s life.  You might be a stay at home mom, you might be a CEO, you might be a carpenter, it doesn’t matter.  God has a job for everyone to do for provision and for the good of society. 

2. The second kind of calling that I want to talk about here is what we call Christian calling

Here’s what Christian calling is, very simply, it’s those things which God asks all Christians everywhere to do.  So in fact, in the book of Ephesians chapter 4, the Apostle Paul here’s what he says about Christian calling.  In chapter 4 verse 1 he says,

“I therefore a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling.  To which you have been called.” 

And then in verse 2 he is going to unpack what this Christian calling is.  These are things that every Christian everywhere is supposed to do because these are the things that Jesus does and we are supposed to be like Christ.  Verse 2 he says,

“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” 

This is just Christian calling 101.  In fact, in verse 4 he talks about another aspect of Christian calling, He talks about the aspect of Christian calling.  He talks about the aspect of Christian calling where everybody on the planet is called to place their faith in Jesus Christ.  In verse 4 he says this,

“There is one body and one spirit just as you were called,”

he’s talking about that time of salvation,

“to one hope to that belongs to your call.” 

So, here’s what we see, that there is a Christian calling actually on the entire planet.  Everyone is called to place their faith in Christ and then to live like Jesus Christ. 

3. But the third type of calling is what I want to spend the rest of our time on and this is what we call spiritual calling. 

Spiritual calling is that which God asks me to do today to build the church.  I want to be clear, when we talk about the church we are not talking about the organization or a building.  The church is first and foremost people.  And spiritual calling is always about people.  It is about building people for God.  Now this subject matter is profoundly confusing because the bible actually uses multiple synonyms for the same kind of concept. 

Now what I want to do is I want to take a minute and share with you the significance in what these words mean. 

 The first word, and we have talked about this, is calling

And this has the implication that God has thought about you personally.  He has actually designed something with you in mind for you to do to build his church. 

Another word for calling is gift

The word implies that God wanted by your calling to bring joy into your life.  Like this is supposed to be a good gift that brings you joy and brings life and Godliness to other people.  So, if God calls you to something you can know this that in his mind it’s actually a beautiful, wonderful gift he’s giving to you. 

The third term that the Bible uses is the word ministry

And this has the implication that this is all for God.  That even though we are serving people it’s ultimately to build the kingdom of God through people. 

The fourth word is actually interesting, the Apostle Paul uses the word grace

Now the word grace in the Bible typically means it’s a free gift. But here’s what the word grace means in terms of calling.  It means that it is a free gift for anybody.  It means that no matter who you are, God has a calling for you.  It is not based on whether you are a good person or a bad person or better than other people.  That right now here today, it is a free gift that God has for you for anybody who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ. 

And so, we see these synonyms used, sometimes it’s called spiritual calling, sometimes it’s called spiritual ministry, sometimes it’s called spiritual gifts, sometimes it’s called a grace.  All of these are pointing to the same kind of concept which is this, God has a job for you to do today to build the church. 

Now here’s how I designed the rest of this message, I imagined that after teaching through Exodus 1 – 5 that Moses was able to sit down and he was going to train us on spiritual calling, what would he say.  So, I want to share these encouragements on spiritual calling from Moses.

 1. If Moses was with us, I think he would encourage us and he would tell us this, spiritual calling is not always easy. 

There is a sense in people’s mind that if God is going to ask us to do something that we expect it is going to be easy.  In fact, the most oft repeated promise of God in the Bible to people is the following promise, I will be with you.  In fact, this promise is always connected to something that God is asking his people to do.  And here’s what you can know that you know.  Whenever God says I will be with you, he is asking you to do something that is going to be profoundly difficult and challenging. 

And so for Moses, Moses was asked to face the most powerful man in the entire world and make a demand of him and then to finally take a million plus people out of the land of Egypt over to the promise land, like this is just impossible!  And the amount of obstacles that stood between Moses and accomplishing this calling were unbelievable! 

And so I think Moses would sit down with us and he would say this, spiritual calling – it’s not always easy, in fact, expect when God calls you to something it is probably going to be pretty difficult. 

Earlier we talked about Ephesians chapter 4, verse 2 and at the very end here is what the Apostle Paul says,

“bear with one another in love.” 

There’s this sense that even our Christian calling is not easy, when the Apostle Paul has to give encouragement to the Ephesian church and he just says, ‘listen here is the basic call, Christian’s are really hard to deal with sometimes.  So your call is to bear with one another, to put up with one another, to endure with one another.’  If the Christian calling is even difficult how much more would spiritual calling be?  I think if he was here he would tell us, listen the people of Israel they were an incredibly irritating and stubborn group of people.  Just because things are difficult and people are frustrating does not mean that it’s not from God.

 2. Moses would say, sometimes God will put obstacles in front of you so that it’s a little bit or a lot of bit harder than you wanted it to be. 

If you remember God says to Moses, go to Egypt, but I’m going to harden Pharaoh’s heart and I’m going to make it all really difficult.  Now if I’m Moses in that moment I’m thinking to myself, why would you call me to go do something and then harden the guy’s heart to make it almost impossible? 

Let me just give you an encouragement… I’ve said this in a couple of sermons on spiritual calling, but I think it’s worth saying again.  Why would God put obstacles in front of the very thing he asked you to do? 

Number one, so that you would get on your face and pray.  So that you would know that you know that you know.  That all of the success that you’re going to have is from God, for God, through God and to God. 

There is this thing that happens inside of us that when things are a little bit too easy, we begin to take credit for them.  And so what God does is sometimes he makes them a little bit harder than we want them to be so that he gets all of the glory, that there is not one ounce of our heart that wants to take credit for this because a lot of the hard work is done on your face in prayer and then God had to go in front of you and do it. 

3. if Moses were here, he would encourage you with this.  God is resolved to redeem your past. 

For a lot of you, facing your past is a petrifying concept.  At the age of 40 Moses killed an Egyptian, ran for his life, and for 40 years lived in Midian shepherding.  He ran from his past.  And yet God brought his past right back into his present and basically said to him, face the most difficult parts of your life.  I’m going to send you back to the people you abandoned.  I’m going to send you back to the family that you abandoned.  I’m going to send you back to the very people that honestly could put you in jail or worst kill you because you are a murderer.  I’m going to actually take the most painful difficult parts of your past and your calling is going to involve leaning into each of these and facing these. 

Here is what I have found, your past pain will likely be your future ministry if you let God redeem it. 

So when you start thinking about all of the really challenging experiences of your life I can look at you with good conscience and say that God wants you to redeem them and wants to use you to bring redemption to other people who have gone through those same experiences.

4. If Moses was here and he was training us on spiritual calling he would say this; your lack of a sense of a spiritual calling now, does not mean no calling later. 

Like, I imagine Moses for 40 years living in Midian probably wondering if he could ever be used of God to do any good.  For 40 years he had no sense that there was a bigger plan, a bigger purpose, and I think he would look at all of us and say listen, I know some of you, you are just in this waiting game.  I mean you’re being faithful to the things that God has called you to be faithful in, but you don’t have this sense of spiritual calling.  You can’t really speak about it with clear terms.  And so, what you’re trying to do is be faithful wherever God has put you. 

But be encouraged, just because you don’t have clarity now does not mean that at the right time God will not reveal to you why he has created you.  Why he has put you on this planet.  So just be very, very patient.

 5. If Moses was here, he would encourage you with this, Your spiritual calling is not contingent on your competency.

Can I get an amen from somebody?!  

Moses is called to do something that is impossible for him, it’s just over his head, it’s outside of his capacity and his competency.  Moses apparently is not very good at speaking and he has to go before the most powerful person in the world and communicate amazing truths – Let my people go! To do these unbelievable miracles in front of Pharaoh and his sorcerers.  And yet God actually kind of likes it this way. 

I think there is this sense that God loves when we are in over our head a little bit because if anything good comes of it, who gets all the glory, but God himself?! 

I think if Moses were here, he would look at you and say, I know you don’t feel competent. I know that this is bigger than you.  And I think sometimes that’s exactly the way God likes it. 

 Here’s the last encouragement that I think Moses would give us.  You may not see it, it may not be clear now, but God is always up to something in your life

Behind the scenes God is up to something.  He is working, He is thinking about you, He has a job for you, He has a ministry for you.  God is very intentional with you.  He is your loving father. He designed you, created you, sustained you, He has given you his Spirit. 

God has intentional purposeful plans for everyone who has placed their faith in Jesus! 

And that may be hard for you to get right now, but I think Moses would encourage you and say “listen, you may not see how all of this is coming together, you may be in the desert right now, but God is up to something.  Just wait, you are going to look back in retrospect and you are going to make this declaration.  God you are a genius, I wish I would have been more patient, and you were up to something the entire time.”

 

So, what about me?  Where do I start? 

I want to give you some very practical and tangible next steps in terms on how to find your spiritual calling. 

  1. Pay attention to your passions.
  2. Listen and observe for fruitfulness.
  3. Watch for open doors.
  4. Meet tangible needs now, until God moves you elsewhere.
  5. Keep serving until you discover your themes and then lean into them.

Here’s the first one, pay attention to your passions.  Everybody has unique hobbies and passions and skills and I want to just encourage you.  I can’t make the promise that your spiritual calling will be connected to your passions, but I do know this, that God wants to use your passions to build his kingdom.  And if you have that privilege where your passions and your calling come together that is a wonderful incredible gift.  But if you are in the position where maybe you have not found your spiritual calling yet, use your passions and use them to build the kingdom of God. 

 Number two, listen and observe for fruitfulness What are people affirming in you?  For example, you may be serving some place and somebody might come up to you and they might say I just wanted to let you know that what you did ministered to me, or challenged me, encouraged me, or convicted me.  Start paying attention to where God starts moving through you. 

There is this sense that a lot of people bring to the table that they want their spiritual calling to be a certain thing.  And what I have also found, though, is that sometimes God bears fruit through things that we never quite expected.  Pay attention to where God bears fruit in you and through you.  Because very often fruit, fruitfulness, spiritual growth in other people, they’re indicators sending us in a direction.  So, when you see spiritual fruit, keep leaning into that thing. 

 Number three, watch for open doors.  What are people asking you to do?  What are people, when they think of a job or a need or a problem to solve or something to lead or something to take care of, who is asking you?  Why are they asking you?  Pay attention to these open doors because often times open doors are indicators that people thought of you to resolve this issue.  They see something in you that they believe that you have what it takes to meet this need.  Pay attention to open doors, often times open doors are indicators that God is leading you into a certain calling.

 Number four, meet tangible needs now, until God moves you elsewhere.  You may not know what your spiritual calling is, and so here is what we do while we wait.  We faithfully serve the needs of the people of God that are right in front of our face right here and right now. 

I think there are times where God is maybe going a little bit slower to reveal your spiritual calling because he’s waiting for you just to be faithful in small things now.  Don’t’ underestimate that your season of just faithfully serving where you are at is actually a season of testing and the Lord, as you consistently remain faithful is going to finish this season with a clear direction and sense of spiritual calling.  Be faithful now, steward what you have now incredibly well so that you can be ready for spiritual calling by the time God brings it to you. 

 Number five, lastly, keep serving until you discover your themes and then lean into them Okay, many are looking for this pinnacle calling, this big huge thing that God is asking you to do.  You’ll be like Billy Graham or Moses, and here’s the reality, very few people ever in life get this big huge thing where everybody recognizes them for it.  But what we do find is that if you do serve faithfully over a period of time themes begin to emerge. 

And so, we find with themes is that they are really important because every season God may ask you to do a different thing.  But what you’ll find is that your spiritual calling is probably more bound up in themes than it is in a specific job or responsibility or task. 

So what I like to do is…  I like to think, “okay where is God bearing fruit?” What are the things as you look back over your life, or you can see this has been a theme where God has regularly used me for good and to build up people?”

Themes are revealed over time when you are faithful.  That’s why it’s so important that wherever you are at right now in your discovery of your spiritual calling, serve the people of God now, so that you have the time for these themes to emerge!

Now some of you, you want to know what these themes are, you’re trying to figure it out even as I’m talking right now you’re kind of going in your head, where has God used you.  Go to a spiritual leader or somebody that you’re really close with and ask them to pray whether they have seen any really meaningful spiritual themes in your life.  Now they may come back to you and say, you know I just don’t have a sense of that right now.  Don’t be offended.  Don’t be offended by that.  Because if the Holy Spirit wanted them to have a sense of it right now, the Holy Spirit would give them that sense.  And so the Holy Spirit might not be ready to show you these things yet. What He might want you to do is be more faithful and serving where you are at, and just being consistent and building the people of God and building His church wherever the needs arise in front of you. 

Maybe you can go to your spouse or maybe you can go to a spiritual leader and ask them, and they might actually start saying some things to you. They might say “you know what this has been a theme in your life, and I have really been amazed, when you do {the following thing}, God seems to bear fruit in you.” 

I want to be really clear about calling. Rarely is calling bound up in a job, it is usually connected to theme’s where God bears fruit through you.

 

Now I want to just get personal for a moment and I want to share a little bit about my discovery process about my personal calling. 

And so, I look back over my time in ministry, even before that, and I found just a couple big themes that no matter where I went, no matter what I’ve done these have always been paramount.  Here’s the first theme, I start new things in teams.  I always have, all the way back into high school.  This has just kind of been my thing, I love to lead, but I love to lead in a way where I start new things in teams.  I begin to see problems and get vision for them, then I bring teams around me and help make these things real.  Actually, this could be really frustrating for some of you because I seem to be starting new things more often than you would want.  But this has been part of the way God has made me and so I lean into this, I have to restrain this sometimes especially being the pastor of a church.  But this has really been a theme all the way back to high school and college that God has done through me.  And that when I start new things through teams God seems to bless them more times than not.  People have affirmed them in me, in fact the more times that I have done it, it has really become a passion of mine.  If you were to ask me when I was 20 or 25 years old if I would have ever thought that this would be a theme of my life I would have said absolutely not. 

 

The second theme that has emerged over time for me has been this.  I look back and I see a theme of building cultures where people can experience redemption or healing. 

Again, if you know me, I am not the most compassionate person in the world.  But I look back over my life in ministry and I think almost everything God has asked me to do, He’s asked me to come into something that has been in a little bit of chaos.  And the product of my leadership over time has been that people have affirmed that they’ve been able to experience healing and redemption. 

Now is that everybody?  Of course not.  You actually might be watching this and say well I didn’t experience that.  I’m just drawing out a theme, a theme isn’t always every time everywhere.  But over the years as I have just served this has been a regular sense of feedback that people have given me.  And I never in a million years would have imagined these themes emerging.  In fact, I didn’t really see or understand this theme of building cultures of healing and redemption until I was probably in my early or mid-thirties.  And that’s after I had already been in pastoral ministry for about 12 to 15 years when that theme finally began to emerge. 

My job was to be faithful wherever God put me and then I started to watch as God bore fruit through these things.  Now, Michael in his 50’s, I hope I’m still working at Village Church.  But whether I am or not, I’m probably still going to be seeing these themes emerge in my life.  Even if I’m still the lead pastor at Village Church, my job is going to look very different.  And you’re probably still going to see themes of me starting new things in teams and trying to build cultures where people can experience healing and redemption.  And what I’m finding is that these themes have just kind of stuck with me my entire life.  Even though my job has changed multiple times. 

 

Let me just give you an overview actually of the different things that I have done in ministry to show you how these themes have emerged. 

In high school I was a small group leader, I was a young life leader in college.  I started a young life club, I was an interim youth pastor, full time youth pastor, I oversaw college students.  I was an interim lead pastor, now I’m a lead pastor.  My job, what I am doing on the ground changes honestly like every six months, but the major themes of my life seem to pervade every single ministry responsibility that God puts in front of me.  And I expect in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, I’ll be doing very different things, but I have a hunch I’m going to look back and I’m going to see these themes. 

So, here’s my question for you…

What themes have you seen emerge as you have served?

What are some of the big themes that you have seen emerge? 

What are the things that people have people affirmed in you? 

Maybe people keep asking you to do the same kind of ministry or thing all the time?  What is it about you that when they think of these needs, you come to mind?   Again, I know I have said this a couple of times, but I really want to hone in on this: spiritual calling is typically less about a job and more about themes or patterns in your life where God regularly bears fruit. 

 

So, let’s summarize what we have said so far;

Today, God has a job for you today, to build the church.  Whether or not you have discovered your themes, whether or not you understand with clarity what your calling is.  I can tell you this, God has a job for you today to build his church. 

If you don’t know what your spiritual calling, the best way for you to begin the process of discovery is to serve faithfully the people of God to build his church. 

Now what I am going to do is give you a couple of simple, practical next step so what’s.

1. Take our spiritual gift’s survey online

We developed an online spiritual gift survey that doesn’t just measure passions, but also measures fruitfulness.  So, go online and take this, spiritual gift assessments are not necessarily about being one hundred percent right.  They’re indicators, they lead you in a direction.  I should lean into these kinds of ministries.  And they’re also really helpful to begin the discussion of themes in your life.  Take our spiritual gifts survey, you can find it on our website, you can find it in an email that we just sent out to the church earlier this week. We would love to help you, go to the hub, VCOB.org/hub, and you’ll find our spiritual gift assessment there. It takes you about 15 minutes to fill out and we think that you will find it incredibly helpful to give you indicators of some themes and things that God might be asking you to do. 

2. I want to invite you to join our Serve the Lord class.

Typically we do these in person, but this is a class geared at helping you discover spiritual calling and purpose, but practically applying it at Village Church.  It’s a class where we come around and we talk about spiritual gifts and themes and calling and ministry, but we also show you here’s the real time needs on the ground here at Village Church.  It’s a class designed just to help you and support you to serve you as you figure out spiritual calling, but especially as you figure out your spiritual calling here at Village Church in this particular local body.  That’s going to be on April 26, you can check that out at VCOB.org/hub. 

3. Just do something for people for God. 

Just DO SOMETHING!  The pathway for you to discover spiritual calling is built on your faithfulness to serve people now for God’s sake.  Here’s what I know in this season, there are needs all around us, there are so many ways that we can love and serve people and it doesn’t have to be in this building because we can’t be in the building right now.  You have friends and family and neighbors, lean in.  Serve them.  Serve people in the name of Jesus for God’s sake.  What you’re going to find is that if you lean into this faithfully over time that you’re going to find that maybe some themes begin to emerge.  God’s going to begin to bring you clarity in your spiritual calling. 

 

I hope this has been incredibly helpful for you.  I just want to take a moment to pray for you and over you as you discover your spiritual calling. 

PRAYER

Father, I want to thank you first and foremost for Jesus.   I want to thank you that you have accomplished our salvation.  We could never have accomplished this and you have done this for us.  You have given us your spirit, you have given us your word, you have given us your people.  You have resourced us, and yet God so many of us are here and we just want to know the bigger purpose.  Many of us have nailed down this vocational calling, we understand what your word says about the Christian calling.  But now we want to know what is our spiritual calling and so God I pray that your Holy Spirit would be directing and guiding and giving clarity to each one of us who need it.  God, I pray that as we meditate on this concept of themes, less about tasks and jobs, about the themes of where you are bearing fruit, but God that you would begin to raise up people that would affirm in us what you are doing.  God, I know that in any church we need to be more encouraging than we are, that we need to use our words to build.  And so, would you even give us words to encourage our brothers and sisters with when God uses them to build us up in Christ.  And God I am so thankful for Moses and the first five chapters in Exodus and all that he learned in that and we were able to glean from his autobiography, just so grateful for that story.  And God I am reminded that if you can use a man like Moses, a murderer, and somebody who honestly bucked your call and who just kind of had an attitude with you.  If you can use Moses, God you can use anybody.  So, we avail ourselves to you, our minds to you, our hearts to you, and our lives to you and so God I pray you would also just give us the energy to be faithful and to serve people now, wherever you have placed us.  God I also know there is also another group of people that maybe right now they are spiritually exhausted and they can’t even imagine serving, they need to be served.  And God I pray your Holy Spirit would just communicate encouragement to them and comfort and that the people of God would rise up and come around them.  God, I pray that this would not be a message of condemnation of do more, do more.  Especially for those who are discouraged and need to take a break, but God I pray your Holy Spirit would build them, refresh them, encourage them.  And so, God we come before you and we just say whatever you have called and created us to do despite our ambitions, despite our desires, we want that thing more than anything else.  We want to be in your will, we want to bring you glory and build your kingdom.  We love you and we pray all of this in Jesus’ name, amen.[/bg_collapse]