One of the top questions I was asked when teaching Bible studies is, "How can I know God's calling for my life?" I am sure you have often wondered about the same question, so over the next few weeks, follow me through some steps to test decisions that you are faced with in your life, against some relevant Biblical principles that I have learned and relearned over the years. Walk with me as I lay out these principles to discern between our will and God's call.
Often when we think about God's calling, we think of professional ministers. We harbor this misconception that God "calls" only ministers. The other common mistake we make is waiting for that "lightning bolt" experience that will show us God's calling for our lives as clearly as a new, crisply unfolded roadmap. Often, God gives us only a small piece of the map at a time. For example, look at God's calling to Abraham in Genesis.
Genesis 12:1 (NLT) 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."
Notice the call is "leave your country," and observe that the yet-to-be-seen calling is "the land I will show you." God does not say to Abraham "leave your country and come to Canaan, where I will make you the father of a great nation." God simply says, "leave, then I will show you." My paraphrase of this verse is, "Abraham, first trust Me, then I will show you where your calling is leading you."
I personally believe God uses many different callings throughout our lives to guide us along our journeys. I agree there is usually an overall "big picture" calling for people, but God still uses prompting and other callings along the way to help us stay the course. In other words, the "big picture" calling may be for you to be a schoolteacher, and the other callings are used to guide you along the way to fully develop you into the schoolteacher God has planned for you to be.
When did God first begin dealing with you? He started before the beginning of time. Look at the following verse:
Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.
None of the Biblical principles and truths that I am going to lay out over the next few weeks will work unless you have answered God's foundational calling. His first and foremost calling is for you to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. This is the main calling that I can say without a doubt or hesitation, that God has in your life.
1 Corinthians 1:9 (NLT) God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
John 3:16 (NKJ) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The five characteristics of God's callings (there may be more) are:
1. In the First Person
2. Have Clear Direction
3. Authoritative Commands
4. Great Promise
5. Create Change
Next week, we will begin to look at the first of five characteristics of God's callings, "In the First Person." My prayer is for this series to help you stop, think and listen for God's callings in your life. I look forward to our journey together.
Dear Lord, guide us and direct us to be all that You have designed us to be. Help us to distinguish between our will and Your calling. In Jesus' name, Amen.