Sunday, November 13, 2011

What is God calling you to do?

"God's Call", Genesis 11:27-12:5

Phone call from POTUS.  Hello?  Mr. President?  You want me to what?  When?  Biblical Advisor?  Is that in the Constitution?  No, but you don't care about that?  Yes, sir, I heard about what you said.  No, sir, "God helps those who helps themselves" is not in the Bible.  But sir, I'm enjoying myself too much here.  Yes, Runaway Bay.  No, sir, I don't think Gov. Perry is going to hide here after that last debate.  I'll get what?  How much?  And an office?  With a secretary?  Hillary Clinton?  But I think being Secretary of State actually over-qualifies her for the job, sir.  But, sir, I love these people and God is working here.  We just had a man saved here a couple nights ago so I can't leave.  Thank you, though.  You might try calling my Dad.  You did and he didn't believe it was you and kept calling you Todd?  Sorry about that.  Good bye Mr. President.

That was a very flattering phone call.  I'm sure y'all have gotten similar calls.    I'm sure that's common.  I know of at least one other person who has gotten a call from Someone pretty high up.  His name was Abram.  Maybe you remember him better as Abraham.  We'll get to that later.  In fact there will be more than a dozen more chapters in the Book of Genesis dealing with Abraham so we will see a lot more of him.  It's not until the 17th chapter that God changes his name to Abraham so we will see who is this man Abram.

Today we will be talking about God's call to Abram.  It has some similarities to my call from President Obama but not exactly.  As the outline shows there are 3 things I want us to see in God's call to Abram.

I.    It is not about who you are.

II.   It requires sacrifice.

III.  It comes with promises.

Let's look at the text in Genesis 11:27-12:5.

God seems to specialize in taking the most unlikely of characters and calling them into special service.  Ever notice that?  Abram is the first of these but there is a long line of ner-do-wells, misfits, uneducated, inexperienced, scared, and stuttering idiots that God taps on the shoulder and says, "I want you to do something."  You know what I'm talking about.  .

We will see Joseph come on the scene later in Genesis.  He was a young, arrogant, dreaming shepherd and God used him to save millions of people.

Moses was a murderer who was not a good speaker and God used him to convince Pharoah to let all of his slaves go free.

God knew David was a lowly shepherd who would become a murderer, liar, fornicator and more and yet God called him to be king.

And one of the few educated men God ever called said in Philippians 3 that all of his background and upbringing and education was rubbish after he came to know God.

So, the first thing I want us to see with Abram's call from God is that it is not about who you are.  God didn't call Abram because Abram was a powerful political figure of the day.  He didn't call him because of his good looks or for his oratory skills or anything else Abram had going on.  Why did God call Abram?  I don't know.  In Isaiah 55:9 God says, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Maybe he saw the potential Abram had to be a great man of faith and maybe it was because God chose him that he became a great man of faith.  I don't know.  The point is that God's call on Abram was not about who Abram was, it was about who God is.  Here we go again as we read through the Book of Genesis, we have to remember that God is doing more than telling us a history lesson about Abram.  He is revealing Himself to us today.  He is showing us His character and how He works.

We celebrated Veterans Day last Friday.  We have several vets here today and I am proud to know each of you and I'm very grateful for the service you all gave.  I'm sure most of you volunteered.  You chose to serve.  You wrote the country a blank check saying take as much as you need.  It was very difficult.  You had to make a lot of sacrifices and praise God that you did.  Even today we have young men and women sacrificing everything they have in answer to the nation's call.

One reason so many people today don’t hear clearly God’s call or are not fulfilling the call of God on their life is because they are not willing to make sacrifices. And God’s call….

Requires sacrifice.

Many of you recognize the name Pat Tillman.  Tillman played football for Arizona State University and was then drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.  He made the College Football Hall of Fame and was well on his way to a storied pro career with the Cardinals when, in May of 2002, compelled by the attacks on 9/11, Tillman turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army.

He graduated from Ranger school in 2003 and was deployed to Afghanistan where, in 2004, he was accidentally killed by friendly fire in the middle of a firefight with insurgents.

Tillman responded to his country's call and he did it willingly and quickly and with his whole heart and I know that he is just one of many who have made that kind of sacrifice so we don't have to.

Read Genesis 12:1.  God calls Abram and tells him he is going to have to make some sacrifices.  "Leave your country, your people and your father's household..."

Why would God do such a thing?  I mean, couldn't he have made Abram into the person He wanted without making him leave everything he knew and loved?  Does God just want to see if Abram would obey and so he made it extra hard for him?  What kind of god would do such a thing?  That's just mean.

God is sovereign and can do whatever He wants but we get some insight into this by reading Joshua 24:2 that says, "Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods."

Abram came from a family and a country of idol-worshipers.  God doesn't explain Himself and He doesn't have to but it is obvious to us now why He wanted Abram to leave all that.  I'm sure Abram couldn't see it at the time but God was actually being merciful to him.  If Abram had tried to do what God wanted him to do later while he still lived among idol-worshipers, it would be extremely difficult for him and so God told him to leave.

If Abram did have questions or difficulties obeying God, it is not mentioned.  In fact, it simply says in verse 4, "So Abram left..."  He was obedient even though he had to give up almost everything.  He didn't wait for the weather to clear up.  He didn't wait for his allergies to get better.  He didn't say, "Ok, but let me just get a few more sheckels together and then I'll go."  Any parent will tell you that delayed obedience is not obedience but Abram was obedient immediately even though it cost him a great deal.

I know what you are probably thinking right here.  If God told me He was going to bless me and make my name great and curse all my enemies then I would leave the housekeys in the door and leave right away too.  It's obvious that for Abram, verses 2 and 3 mean God is promising to do something incredible.  We have seen that God's call was not about who Abram was and that it required sacrifice and now we see that God's call comes with promises.

In Genesis 1:28 God says to Adam, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Adam messed all that up and then the people of Noah's day sealed it but God's original blessing will now be restored and fulfilled by Abram and his offspring.  Understand that God is going to reveal Himself through Abram's family.  The Law was given through them.  The prophets came from them.  Scripture was written by them.  And to climax it all, His own Son came through them and revealed the Father and the Kingdom and the plan of salvation for the world through His death.  (John H. Walton, Genesis)

"Pastor Todd, all that history is real interesting but what's that have to do with me?"

Well, I don't know.  I mean I don't know what God has called you to do.  I don't know that He has called you to be a great nation but maybe He has called you to serve a great nation like the veterans here today have.

I don't know that God has promised you that He will make your name great but maybe He has called you to make His name great by just telling your neighbor about what's going on down at the FBC Runaway Bay.

I don't know that He has promised to curse those who curse you but we are told in Romans 12:14 to "Bless those who persecute you."

What is He telling you to do today?  I love how the King James version translates 12:1.  "Get thee out!"  Maybe today God is telling you, "Get thee out!"

Get thee out of that extra-marital affair.

Get thee out of that bar.

Get thee out of that bad habit.

Get thee out from in front of that TV.

Get thee out of your comfort zone and go to Nicaragua next June.

But God, everybody else is doing it.  There's nothing wrong with a little bit of this or a little bit of time with that.  And besides, why should I?  My neighbors do it and they are healthy and wealthy.

Well, honestly, that's a good point.  If the Bible taught that obedience to God meant that we would have good health and be prosperous, trust me, I would be yelling it loud and clear but the Bible absolutely does not teach that.  I always wonder how the preachers who say that explain what happened to people like most of the prophets, most of the disciples or Paul or Jesus Himself.

No, we are not guaranteed health and wealth and what he asks us to do probably will involve some sort of sacrifice on our part but do you know what we are promised?  First, God may promise you something besides these.  He may say, "If you do this then I will do that" but no matter what, we are promised a few things if we are obedient.

I grabbed just a few from the Word.  You may want to right down the address of each one and find them later.  But if you want to know what God promises He will do if we are obedient, if you want to know some of the blessings of obedience then first off, he promises to supply all our needs. Philippians 4:19.  I could stop there but I have a few more.

God has promised that His grace is sufficient for us. (II Corinthians 12:9).

God has promised that His children will not be overtaken with temptation. Instead, He assures us that a way of escape will be provided. This promise is recorded in I Corinthians 10:13

God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love and serve Him faithfully (Romans 8:28).

God has promised that those who believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins will be saved. (Read Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38).

God has promised His people eternal life (John 10:27,28).

That's a pretty hefty list but it's only a few.  What is God calling you to do today?  You may be wondering how God calls us today.  It may be through His word.  It may be through prayer.  It may be through a friend or your pastor.  Many times, though, it is just like He spoke to Elijah, through a still, small voice.  That's another promise we have, that the Holy Spirit will come to live inside of us.  Jesus promised that in John 14:16.  He speaks to us, not audibly, but in our spirit, in a still, small voice.

Maybe that voice inside of you is the Holy Spirit saying that you have never asked Jesus into your heart for forgiveness of your sins.  I want to close with another story told to me by a friend of mine who was in the Air Force in Vietnam.  Most of you have met Art and Marilyn Barbour, my friends from Ft. Worth who have visited here a couple of times.  Art told me this story a few weeks ago about being an airplane mechanic in Vietnam.

He said a plane made it in one day with the front tire suspension system completely shot up and unable to rotate down.  The pilot eased it down on the back wheels as soft as he could but had to finally set the nose of the plane on the ground which messed up the front tire gears even more.  They flew Art into the airbase where it landed so he could work on it and Art jacked it up and worked and worked on it, finally getting the front landing gear down but it couldn't be fixed with the parts he had so Art told the pilot he could leave but he could only land once and then the front gear would be useless.

The pilot asked Art if he trusted it.  Art said he did.  He assured the pilot that it would work.  Only once, but it would work.  The pilot then said, "Well, if you believe it will work then get in and I will fly you back to the base."  Art said he did get in and they made it home just fine. 

Some of you are like that though.  You say you believe but you have never actually trusted.  You know the words to say but you have never actually stepped out on faith and told God, "Yes".  Has there been a time in your life when you know for sure that on or about such and such a date you prayed to God to forgive your sins and accepted Him into you life to be Lord and Savior by His grace and through your faith and faith alone?

Today is the day of salvation!!!

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