When we parade successful people in front of the church, what do we see? People successful since very young? My life is different. So is Rick's. And even so were the great heroes of the bible.
WE: We must see this one thing: it is never too late to serve God, and many of us have given up due to failure and doubts.
1. The PROCESS of fulfilling God's call
The life of Moses shows three stages.
"But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God's sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father's house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.
"When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?' But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
"Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 'I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.' And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, 'Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.'
a. The REVEALING of God's Call
God often reveals to us what he wants to do with us, in our desires, in our dreams, but especially, in our personal time with him
- God often does this early, but if we are not spending time with God, we probably wont' hear it
- We should be careful to _______________ __________________ God's call rather than blab it
- We should be careful to be ___________________ and not try to make it happen just because it is not immediate
Examples of how bible people reacted to God's call
- Joseph, the son of Jacob, was ________ ____________ and told his dream to his brothers, who hated him
- Abraham was given the promise of a child in his old age, but when it was delayed, he was ________ ____________ and had Ischmael
- Peter, in zeal, was _______________ told Jesus "I will die for you" and failed
- Mary, the mother of Jesus, after being told, ________ ____________
And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
2. Our EXCUSES for not responding to God's call.
b. The RE-EDUCATION of God's call
- Remember that God wants us to have CHARACTER BEFORE GIFTS so that we don't fail under the pressures of success.
- Remember that natural ability is not enough - we need virtue, depth, faith.
Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
- Moses had all of the social and political and family connections to make something happen.
God's delays are not God's denials, they are his purification and maturation process.
c. The FULFILLMENT of God's call
At some point, God renews his call to us, but we are usually less cocky, more aware of our shortcomings, and more ready to stay in the safety of obedience.
Jesus, when speaking to Peter about his coming failure, said something amazing - "When you have returned, strengthen your brothers."
Maturity comes after seasoning, and moral failure is common among the great people of faith.
a. I can't speak
- MOSES - Exodus 6:11-13
Go back to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and tell him to let the people of Israel leave his country." "But Lord!" Moses objected. "My own people won't listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I'm such a clumsy speaker!" But the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them orders for the Israelites and for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.
God promises to give us the words - this doesn't mean that we don't study or prepare, but it does mean that God will motivate and inspire us
- Jeremiah 7:17 - Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.
- Paul was not an impressive speaker
2 Corinthians 11:10
For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
- The anointing breaks the yoke - not fancy speech
1 Corinthians 2:1-8
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
b. I am not handsome or good looking
- Paul the Apostle was probably not much to look at
c. I'm not good enough, I'm weak, I'm very imperfect
- Even though God has waited until you have more character, our increased self knowledge gives us LESS confidence, not more. We need to rely on him more.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
d. I'm too young
Then said I: " Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth."But the LORD said to me: " 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.
- Young people have some of the most inspiring missionary stories
e. I'm afraid
Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD.
Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you.
Do not be dismayed before their faces, Lest I dismay you before them.
"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
f. I'm too old
When you are called, you are called.
- Abraham was 90.
- Moses started in earnest when 2/3 of his life was gone
- Paul the apostle said that God's timing is his choice, and to some extent, we are dependent upon him
And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me
3. God's REWARDS for fulfilling his call
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.'
"So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' So the last will be first, and the first last.
a. God is GENEROUS
b. God does not reward us the way WE expect, according to how long we've served, but according to his knowledge of our limitations, opportunities, and when he calls us.