Calling to ministry

If I may continue in the vein of calling. When people look to hire someone brand new straight out of school. People go for an interview. They might first look at their resume. Maybe where did they go to school? What program they studied? Maybe their marks and experience. What they accomplished in school and in their work experience. Then we look at their outward appearance. Are they sloppy, sharp? Do they relate to people well? Do they stand up under pressure? Do they have a good positive attitude toward other people, potential co-workers whom they like and don’t like? Can they get along with others? How do they handle difficult situations? Sounds like a lot of pressure when a person goes through interviews. They want to look for the best candidate.

If you weren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer… if you weren’t the best dresser… if your attitude in life wasn’t the best, well then, don’t count yourself out just yet. There is something more that God is looking at. That is one’s purpose and calling from God.

When I look back into my life, I have noticed certain people that I have gotten to know. They’ve influenced my life for the better. In a different way, that might have been God’s calling on that person because there was a time and place and person who was supposed to do something or say something to a particular person.

When you look back in your own lives, you might be able to remember that God has put certain people in your life. Maybe without them, you would not have experienced a blessing, or have been able to learn or do something without the influence of that particular person.

In your life, God may call you for a specific purpose. You might ask yourself: “Can God actually use a person like me? When God chooses and anoints a person for a specific task, there’s no way of getting around God’s calling. If God can call a shepherd boy like David, God can call anyone.

May we be open to hearing the voice of God in our lives. Maybe God may choose you and anoint you to serve in a different way at some point in your future?

One’s inner calling is greater than one’s external appearance

A person’s calling is essential. Look at how God chose David to be king instead of Saul. The anointing is the result of God’s calling. With God, He doesn’t look at age. Well, what does God look at? God looks at the heart. David is known as a man after God’s own heart.

In 1 Samuel 26:7, the LORD said to Samuel: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

When we see the life of King David, we can see he was also far from perfect. But God still chose him for a purpose. This is why God’s grace and mercy is so amazing. He chooses us despite our imperfections.

Scripture shows us that God also look at the heart of a person. Now I must say that if God was to really examine every little thing going on inside our hearts, He would find a lot of messy , complicated, and undesirable things inside all of us.

God has cleansed us and is still constantly sanctifying us through the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus. As long as we come before the Lord, the merciful God is always reckoning us as righteous in the eyes of God the Father.

Remain in the vine: aka Jesus

In the previous post, it addressed eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ. I won’t ask if the next few verses are meant to be literal.

There is also a relationship between God’s people, the church, and with God in Jesus Christ. Jesus also taught that we must remain in Christ. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. If we do not receive and are cut off from the vine who is Jesus, we will not be nourished with the living water and nutrients that come from Jesus.

Jesus said in John ch.15, v.5-6:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers;…”

This shows there is a direct relationship between us and with Jesus. We need to feed on Jesus’ body and blood. Without him, we can do nothing. We need to seek what is eternal and long lasting.

We are utterly reliant upon Jesus. We have to stick with Jesus no matter what. Veering off from him means we as branches get cut off from the vine. Oooh, ouch.

What’s your practice or what things do you do to stay in the vine with Jesus?

Jesus’ feeding of 5,000: There’s more where it came from

People followed Jesus wherever he went. Jesus fed 5,000 followers and gave them bread from heaven. It was a real miracle. This gave people a reason to follow him. After the crowd realized that Jesus was no longer there to provide them with food, the crowd follows him to Capernaum. They got a taste of food in the flesh but they thought Jesus could somehow provide more. They were hungry. They had come to satisfy their want for temporal earthly needs. But Jesus knew that they needed more – something deeper than just the physical.

Next day, he began to teach his disciples about himself being the living bread from heaven. Jesus used this miraculous feeding of the bread from heaven and began to teach them that there is something that can feed them permanently.

There is food, a spiritual food, that can feed them in such a way that they would never go hungry again. There’s more where it came from, and they would never thirst again.

He taught them by using an analogy. He takes them back to the Old Testament days when their ancestors were hungry and and were wandering in the wilderness. He taught that God gave us manna from heaven. He reminded the people that Moses and their ancestors had once eaten manna from heaven but they went hungry again (read v.31). There’s a lot more where it came from.

So Jesus compares this to what God can give today. This same bread is Jesus himself. God has sent Jesus from heaven in the form of a man and God. One who is living and breathing; made of flesh and blood. And is yet real live bread. That whoever believes and eats of him spiritually will not perish.

What’s so good about Law and Gospel

On the outset, law seems bad. Gospel seems good. Both ought to go hand-in-hand. Both are good; or the outcome ought to be good.

Example: John says, “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Lk. 3:9). Then he continues talking about how the Messiah will clean up the threshing area, gather the wheat into his barn but burn the chaff with a fire that never ends (Lk. 3:17).

Sounds kind of bad…but it’s actually good. The law is kind of like a mirror. It reveals the bad in our lives, but the gospel is like fire. It burns away the bad.

Together, both law and gospel bring about a change of heart in a person. It changes a person’s heart from the inside out because the law is used to bring conviction to our hearts and our lives. But the gospel is our salvation; it saves us from the wild fire that can burn uncontrollably.

Then the message of the gospel, or good news, brings a renewal and it heals us inside after we see what the power of sin has done to our lives. The law causes us to see ourselves as we really are. The gospel gives us a way out from what we’ve become.

Waiting and waiting

Ever feel like time is ticking away and nothing is happening in your life?
Waiting takes time and most people don’t have patience for waiting.

The psalmist said in Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”

To wait means to pray. Listen to God. Perhaps God Holy Spirit can speak to us. Perhaps God has a timing for us. Walking ahead of God can put us in a wrong place at the wrong time.

If we listen to God first, God will give us confidence to walk with Him, that is when we will have the strength to continue on, even in the midst of troubles in this world.

When there’s no good reason for our troubles

Image: Courtesy of The Jewish Museum
“Job and His Three Friends,” by 19th-century French painter Jacques Joseph (James) Tissot.

We have different enemies in our lives at different times in our lives. Some might be people who hate us. Some might be situations like sickness or even death. Some might be financial pressures. Some might be bullying and facing threats from toxic people. We have different challenges in our lives.

But God hears our cries. He hears us when we call out to the Lord. God can come to our rescue not necessarily to slay our enemies. Although at times, that might seems to make most sense to us. It’s like a snap of our fingers and our enemies or difficult situations just disappear, never to be seen again. Would be nice. Ideal isn’t it.

Sometimes, God can help us to begin seeing our situation in a different light. David prayed, “Teach me your way, O Lord.” There is always something we can learn from when there is no reason for our bad things.

Seeing things in a different light can sometimes help us see into God’s mind. We don’t know if there is God’s will in our difficulties. At the time, there might be no good reasons for our troubles. Sometimes, it’s just pure tragedy and things just don’t make any sense. And what we lose can be permanent and will never be restored. Sometimes, we get through it all and come out better. Each person’s situation ends up different.

When there isn’t any reason for all the things that happen in our lives, in the end, God can shape us through these things. God can teach us through it all. God wants us all to remain faithful to him wherever we are.

Ending self-reliance

I’ve been deceived into trusting in my own strengths. We need to seek God and humble ourselves under a Sovereign God. When we are in those anxious moments, and I’ve had my share of them, I need to come to repentance, to come to the realization of my own sin of self-reliance. I’ve hit my head against a brick wall many times. I can be stubborn, yes, stubborn.

God’s word through his Holy Spirit reminds me of the cross and of Jesus’ redemption for the forgiveness of my sins, he renews my confidence to continue trusting in God and his Son Jesus. His grace is sufficient and his power to turn us from ourselves is what saves us. Our victory is not of our own but it is of God.

What’s the Church good for?

The Church is the body of Christ. We also need each other. We need one another to walk with each other. It’s a big help when others can help carry our burdens. This is what the body of Christ can do to help one another.

We need our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and family and friends to support us. Some people in this world have no one. No support whatsoever, and that’s tragic. The church on earth is made up of human beings who are weak. We are limited. And even we as followers of Christ, we ourselves will fail others who need us.

Feeling alone? Turn to God

At times in our lives when we feel that no one is there for us and we are left all alone, it’s easy to lose hope. We think and believe that no one cares, maybe no one even knows about the trouble we’re in. We feel we’ve been forgotten about.

King David said in Psalm 27:9, “Your face, Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do no turn your servant away in anger; do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.” Psalm 27 shows the honesty in David’s heart. He felt abandoned, forgotten, perhaps doubted himself to the point of thinking he should just end it.

When we are in our most desperate moments and have no more solutions, we tend to think up solutions. Problem solving is good. But when our own problem solving isn’t really in line with God’s will, we can easily get ourselves into a bigger mess. We resort to our own human solutions and these might involve hurting others and creating more problems, even bigger problems.

When we are overwhelmed and see no way out of our desperate situation, we feel like we are going crazy. Some turn to distractions to get our minds off their desperate situation. Some turn to alcohol, drugs, pornography, even shopping buying things they don’t have money for. Turning to these things don’t actually solve the problem. They usually compound the problems and make it worse.

Sometimes, the last thing people turn to is God. But when we do turn to God, he calls us to put our trust and confidence in the Lord. But if we realize that our human solutions are in need and we humble ourselves and pray, God in His sovereignty can intervene miraculously in our lives and in the lives of others to bring a God-centred solution.