What better way to gain clarity and courage for Christian calling than to learn from the men and women that God called in the Bible? Some were victors, and some were villains. All were flawed. But God accomplished His purposes through even the worst of them.
Learn from all of these victors and villains how to maximize fruitfulness and joy in your own Christian calling.
This blog is set up for any kind of reader:
- If you love to scan-read: Read the takeaway from each character's calling, and prayerfully answer the quick question at the end of each section.
- If you love to read, meditate, and pray in detail: Click the box for the relevant Scriptures, read the entire blog in detail, prayerfully answer the questions, and click the additional resources.
- Either way:Enjoy the fun icons and pictures that I added just for your enjoyment! 🙂
5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6So theLordwas sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.7And theLordsaid, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.”8But Noah found favor with the Lord.
9This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.10Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence.12God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.13So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!
14“Build a large boatfrom cypress woodand waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior.15Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.16Leave an 18-inch openingbelow the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.
17“Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die.18But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives.19Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood.20Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive.21And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.”
22So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.
Key Takeaway from Noah's Calling:
For maximum impact in Christian calling, do what God tells you to do, even if it doesn't make sense, and even when others don't understand.
God gave detailed instructions to Noah about his calling: exactly how to build the ark, fill it, shut it tight, ride out the flood, and eventually emerge from the ark to view God's eternal promise—via a rainbow—that God would never again destroy the earth by flood.
In spite of the hard work and ridicule Noah must have endured, and in spite of the fact that Noah was not perfect, Noah obeyed God.
None of us will obey God perfectly in Christian life and calling. But the more we do, out of genuine love for Him, the more fully we will experience His joy and fruitfulness.
What do you sense God has prompted you to do, even though it doesn't yet make sense?
1 TheLordhad said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.2I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.3I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
4So Abram departed as theLordhad instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.5He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan.
Key Takeaway from Abraham's Calling:
In Christian calling, God often tells us WHAT to do before He shows us HOW to do it.
God called Abraham (or Abram, as he is still known in the verses below) to leave his home and extended family and step immediately into his calling, even though Abraham had no idea where he was going, what difficulties he would face along the way, or how he would be a blessing to all families of the earth. And yet, from Abraham's family would eventually come the Savior of the world.
Even when we strongly feel that God is calling us to do something, sometimes we doubt because we don't understand HOW we will do it. But we need not fear. This is NORMAL! Step out in faith anyway!
What has God told you to do that you don't yet know HOW to do? What does He want to do in the meantime?
7Then theLordtold him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.8So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.9Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them.10Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”
11But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”
12God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”
13But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” 15God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh,the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,
my name to remember for all generations.
16“Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you.17I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.”’
18“The elders of Israel will accept your message. Then you and the elders must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, ‘TheLord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So please let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to theLord, our God.’
19“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him.20So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go.21And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed.22Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.”
1 But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”
2Then theLordasked him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.
3“Throw it down on the ground,” theLordtold him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.
4Then theLordtold him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand.
5“Perform this sign,” theLordtold him. “Then they will believe that theLord, the God of their ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—really has appeared to you.”
6Then theLordsaid to Moses, “Now put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out again, his hand was white as snow with a severe skin disease.7“Now put your hand back into your cloak,” theLordsaid. So Moses put his hand back in, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body.
8TheLordsaid to Moses, “If they do not believe you and are not convinced by the first miraculous sign, they will be convinced by the second sign.9And if they don’t believe you or listen to you even after these two signs, then take some water from the Nile River and pour it out on the dry ground. When you do, the water from the Nile will turn to blood on the ground.”
10But Moses pleaded with theLord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
11Then theLordasked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, theLord?12Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
13But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”
14Then theLordbecame angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you.15Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do.16Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say.17And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.”
18So Moses went back home to Jethro, his father-in-law. “Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt,” Moses said. “I don’t even know if they are still alive.”
“Go in peace,” Jethro replied.
Key Takeaway from Moses' Calling:
God encourages and enables us beyond our fears and objections about what He calls us to do:
- "Who am I to do this?" God will be with us.
- "Who are you, God?" The Almighty God of the universe is the one who calls us, and He will fulfill our calling.
- "What if people won't listen to me?" God will open doors, perform miracles, and whatever else it takes to accomplish His mission.
- "I'm not good with words." It's not our words, but God's power, that will accomplish His purposes in our lives.
- "Please send someone else." God patiently helps us through our sense of inadequacy to complete our calling.
Moses feared that he would not be able to do what God told him to do. But God overcame his fears and objections. God will do the same for us. <3
Which of the above objections do you have in your calling? How is God encouraging you in spite of them?
4. Joseph, Son of Jacob
Genesis 37:1-11, 42:6-9, 50:14-21
1 So Jacob settled again in the land of Canaan, where his father had lived as a foreigner.
2This is the account of Jacob and his family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks. He worked for his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. But Joseph reported to his father some of the bad things his brothers were doing.
3Jacob[a]loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe.[b]4But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.
5One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever.6“Listen to this dream,” he said.7“We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”
8His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.
9Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”
10This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?”11But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant.
6Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground.7Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded.
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.”
8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him.9And he remembered the dreams he’d had about them many years before. He said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”
14After burying Jacob, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s burial.15But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.
16So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us17to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept.18Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.
19But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?20You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.21No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.
Key Takeaway from Joseph's Calling:
Even through mistakes and sins—our own and those of others—God fulfills His calling in our lives.
Joseph ended up a slave in Egypt partially because of his youthful insensitivity to what God had called him to do, appearing arrogant and holier-than-thou in front of his jealous brothers who sold him into slavery.
But God still accomplished His good purposes through Joseph. Joseph's seemingly arrogant dream that his father, mother, and brothers would bow down to him materialized when Joseph rose from slavery to become second-in-command over Egypt.
Joseph's position of authority, together with His God-given ability to interpret dreams about the future, enabled him to save the Israelites from extinction through famine. And from the Israelites would come the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
God continues to work through mistakes and sins—our own, as well as those of others—to accomplish His purposes in the world.
How have your own—or others'—mistakes and sins hindered your Christian life and calling? How will God redeem them for His good purposes?
1 After the death of Moses theLord’s servant, theLordspoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said,2“Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.3I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you—4from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Seain the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ 5No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
6“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.7Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.8Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.9This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
10Joshua then commanded the officers of Israel,11“Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land theLordyour God is giving you.”
12Then Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He told them,13“Remember what Moses, the servant of theLord, commanded you: ‘TheLordyour God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’14Your wives, children, and livestock may remain here in the land Moses assigned to you on the east side of the Jordan River. But your strong warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them15until theLordgives them rest, as he has given you rest, and until they, too, possess the land theLordyour God is giving them. Only then may you return and settle here on the east side of the Jordan River in the land that Moses, the servant of theLord, assigned to you.”
16They answered Joshua, “We will do whatever you command us, and we will go wherever you send us.17We will obey you just as we obeyed Moses. And may theLordyour God be with you as he was with Moses.18Anyone who rebels against your orders and does not obey your words and everything you command will be put to death. So be strong and courageous!”
Key Takeaway from Joshua's Calling:
We can be strong and courageous in Christian calling because the Lord our God is with us wherever we go.
After 40 years of wandering in the desert, God finally called Joshua to lead the Israelites across the mighty Jordan River into the promised land. Four times in these Bible verses, God told Joshua to "be strong and courageous."
So also, God calls each of us to "be strong and courageous" in what He calls us to do. We can do that because God promises that when we stay connected to Him and obey Him in our calling, He will go with us and give us success. God will do what He has promised.
How does God want to encourage you to be "strong and courageous" in some aspect of your Christian life and calling?
1 Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove.He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.
2But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”3So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”
4Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from.5They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.”6(Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.)7So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.
8Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them.9“I know theLordhas given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror.10For we have heard how theLordmade a dry path for you through the Red Seawhen you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed.11No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For theLordyour God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.
12“Now swear to me by theLordthat you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that13when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”
14“We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when theLordgives us the land.”
15Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window.16“Escape to the hill country,” she told them. “Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way.”
17Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions.18When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house.19If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death.20If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.”
21“I accept your terms,” she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.
22The spies went up into the hill country and stayed there three days. The men who were chasing them searched everywhere along the road, but they finally returned without success.
23Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them.24“The Lord has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.”
Key Takeaway from Rahab's Calling:
God calls all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds to accomplish His purposes.
Rahab was a prostitute, a citizen of a nation at war with the Israelites. Before the Israelites attacked Rahab's town, she probably had no idea who God was. She probably helped the Israelites primarily in order to save her own skin.
But in the process of doing so, she declared her faith that God is "the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below." And God worked through her to fulfill His promise to the Israelites and to preserve the ancestral lineage of Jesus.
God can call ANY OF US to accomplish His purposes on earth!
How will God give you victory in life and calling in spite of your past? How can you encourage someone else in the same way?
11Then the angel of theLordcame and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites.12The angel of theLordappeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, theLordis with you!”
13“Sir,” Gideon replied, “if theLordis with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘TheLordbrought us up out of Egypt’? But now theLordhas abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”
14Then theLordturned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
15“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”
16TheLordsaid to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”
17Gideon replied, “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me....
...20The angel of God said to him, “Place the meat and the unleavened bread on this rock, and pour the broth over it.” And Gideon did as he was told.21Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand, and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed all he had brought. And the angel of the Lord disappeared.
25That night theLordsaid to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it.26Then build an altar to theLordyour God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.”
27So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town....
...36Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised,37prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.”38And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.
39Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.”40So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.
Key Takeaway from Gideon's Calling:
A healthy Christian self-confidence—in who God has created us to be, and in what God has created us to do—is foundational for Christian calling.
Gideon had a serious inferiority complex. As God called him to rescue Israel from the Midianites, Gideon hid from the Midianites in a winepress. Gideon asked God how in the world he could lead Israel to victory over their enemies, since Gideon was the weakest person in the weakest family in the weakest tribe in Israel. Gideon asked for three signs from God before he did what God called him to do. And even then, he only partially obeyed.
God did accomplish His purposes through Gideon. But Gideon's ongoing lack of self-confidence in his own calling repeatedly limited Gideon's impact in God's Kingdom.
For additional insight about what Christian self-confidence is and why it's important in Christian life and calling, click this blog title: Christian Self-Confidence.
Click the link for the blog "Christian Self-Confidence" above. How do you hear God speaking to you through that blog?
Judges 13:1-7,24-25, 14:5-6,18-20, 15:14-15, 16:20-22
1 Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years.
2In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children.3The angel of theLordappeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son.4So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food.[a]5You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”
6The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name.7But he told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’” ...
... 24When her son was born, she named him Samson. And theLordblessed him as he grew up.25And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he lived in Mahaneh-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol.
5As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah.6At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it. ...
... 18So before sunset of the seventh day, the men of the town came to Samson with their answer:
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
Samson replied, “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle!”
19Then the Spirit of theLordcame powerfully upon him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother.20So his wife was given in marriage to the man who had been Samson’s best man at the wedding.
14As Samson arrived at Lehi, the Philistines came shouting in triumph. But the Spirit of theLordcame powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists.15Then he found the jawbone of a recently killed donkey. He picked it up and killed 1,000 Philistines with it.
20Then she cried out, “Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!”
When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize theLordhad left him.
21So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.
22But before long, his hair began to grow back.
28Then Samson prayed to theLord, “SovereignLord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.”29Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands,30he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.
Key Takeaway from Samson's Calling:
We need to deal with habitual sin to experience God's maximum fruitfulness and power in our calling.
If we continually disobey God, He will still love us. But we might lose—at least temporarily—His power for our calling.
God called Samson even before he was born. He was to be set aside as a Nazirite, a special servant of God who would rescue Israel from the Philistines. As a Nazarite, he was never to cut his hair.
Samson's life started well, because the Bible says "the Spirit of the Lord began to stir in him" while he was young. Three more times, the Bible says the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson, even though Samson lived recklessly, enabling Samson to accomplish great feats of physical strength.
But Samson grew into a pattern of reckless presumption that God's favor and power would always be with him, no matter what he did. So after Samson allowed his hair to be cut by a treacherous woman from the enemy Philistines, he assumed he would still have the great strength God had given him. But for the first time in his life, his strength failed him, and the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes.
Tragically, the Bible says, "He didn't realize the Lord had left Him."
In our Christian life and calling, God's love for us indeed does endure forever. But we never want to presume that God will continue to protect us from negative consequences of sustained disobedience.
Ask God to reveal and help you overcome any habitual sin, for maximum joy and fruitfulness in your life and calling.
Ruth 1:1-18, 4:13-18
1 In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. 2The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.
3Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons.4The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later,5both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.
6Then Naomi heard in Moab that theLordhad blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland.7With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.
8But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may theLordreward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me.9May theLordbless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.
10“No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”
11But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands?12No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what?13Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because theLordhimself has raised his fist against me.”
14And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi.15“Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”
16But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.17Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May theLordpunish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”18When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.
13So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, theLordenabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son.14Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise theLord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel.15May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”
16Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.17The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.
18This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:
Perez was the father of Hezron.
19Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
20Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.[h]
21Salmon was the father of Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed.
22Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David.
Key Takeaway from Ruth's Calling:
Christian calling is not primarily DOING, but BECOMING who God has uniquely created us to be.
Ruth did not seem to hear a specific calling from God. Instead, she authentically lived out her identity as Naomi's mother-in-law, following Naomi to a new land after Naomi's husband and sons died, one of whom was Ruth's husband. The result was that the lineage of Jesus continued on through Ruth and Boaz, the husband she met in the new land.
From our authentic BEING-calling comes our uniquely personal DOING-calling. For additional insight about that, click this blog: Discover and Live Your Core Values.
Click the link for the blog "Discover and Live Your Core Values" above. How do you hear God speaking to you through that blog?
1 Samuel 3:2-21
2One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed.3The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernaclenear the Ark of God.4Suddenly theLordcalled out, “Samuel!”
“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?”5He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.
6Then theLordcalled out again, “Samuel!”
Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.”
7Samuel did not yet know theLordbecause he had never had a message from theLordbefore.8So theLordcalled a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
Then Eli realized it was theLordwho was calling the boy.9So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak,Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed.
10And theLordcame and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
11Then theLordsaid to Samuel, “I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel.12I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family, from beginning to end.13I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming Godand he hasn’t disciplined them.14So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.”
15Samuel stayed in bed until morning, then got up and opened the doors of the Tabernacle[c]as usual. He was afraid to tell Eli what theLordhad said to him.16But Eli called out to him, “Samuel, my son.”
“Here I am,” Samuel replied.
17“What did theLordsay to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!”18So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn’t hold anything back. “It is theLord’s will,” Eli replied. “Let him do what he thinks best.”
19As Samuel grew up, theLordwas with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable.20And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of theLord.21The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.
Key Takeaway from Samuel's Calling:
Frequent back-and-forth conversation with God maximizes joy and fruitfulness in Christian life and calling.
When God called out to Samuel, Samuel didn't recognize God's voice. Instead, Samuel thought his mentor, Eli, was calling to him. Eventually, Eli wisely told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if someone calls again, say, 'Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.'"
In our Christian life and calling, we need to become very good at hearing and talking transformationally with God.For an extensive blog about how to do that, click here: Conversation with God.
Click the link for the blog "Conversation with God" above. How do you hear God speaking to you through that blog?
11. King Saul
1 Samuel 9:15-27, 10:1-24, 13:13-14
15Now theLordhad told Samuel the previous day,16“About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him to be the leader of my people, Israel. He will rescue them from the Philistines, for I have looked down on my people in mercy and have heard their cry.”
17When Samuel saw Saul, theLordsaid, “That’s the man I told you about! He will rule my people.”
18Just then Saul approached Samuel at the gateway and asked, “Can you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”
19“I am the seer!” Samuel replied. “Go up to the place of worship ahead of me. We will eat there together, and in the morning I’ll tell you what you want to know and send you on your way.20And don’t worry about those donkeys that were lost three days ago, for they have been found. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.”
21Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”
22Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and placed them at the head of the table, honoring them above the thirty special guests.23Samuel then instructed the cook to bring Saul the finest cut of meat, the piece that had been set aside for the guest of honor.24So the cook brought in the meat and placed it before Saul. “Go ahead and eat it,” Samuel said. “I was saving it for you even before I invited these others!” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
25When they came down from the place of worship and returned to town, Samuel took Saul up to the roof of the house and prepared a bed for him there.26At daybreak the next morning, Samuel called to Saul, “Get up! It’s time you were on your way.” So Saul got ready, and he and Samuel left the house together.27When they reached the edge of town, Samuel told Saul to send his servant on ahead. After the servant was gone, Samuel said, “Stay here, for I have received a special message for you from God.”
Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession.2When you leave me today, you will see two men beside Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah, on the border of Benjamin. They will tell you that the donkeys have been found and that your father has stopped worrying about them and is now worried about you. He is asking, ‘Have you seen my son?’
3“When you get to the oak of Tabor, you will see three men coming toward you who are on their way to worship God at Bethel. One will be bringing three young goats, another will have three loaves of bread, and the third will be carrying a wineskin full of wine.4They will greet you and offer you two of the loaves, which you are to accept.
5“When you arrive at Gibeah of God,where the garrison of the Philistines is located, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying.6At that time the Spirit of theLordwill come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person.7After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you.8Then go down to Gilgal ahead of me. I will join you there to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. You must wait for seven days until I arrive and give you further instructions.”
9As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day.10When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, they saw a group of prophets coming toward them. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy.11When those who knew Saul heard about it, they exclaimed, “What? Is even Saul a prophet? How did the son of Kish become a prophet?”
12And one of those standing there said, “Can anyone become a prophet, no matter who his father is?”So that is the origin of the saying “Is even Saul a prophet?”
13When Saul had finished prophesying, he went up to the place of worship.14“Where have you been?” Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant.
“We were looking for the donkeys,” Saul replied, “but we couldn’t find them. So we went to Samuel to ask him where they were.”
15“Oh? And what did he say?” his uncle asked.
16“He told us that the donkeys had already been found,” Saul replied. But Saul didn’t tell his uncle what Samuel said about the kingdom.
17Later Samuel called all the people of Israel to meet before theLordat Mizpah.18And he said, “This is what theLord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you.19But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ Now, therefore, present yourselves before theLordby tribes and clans.”
20So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before theLord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot.21Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before theLord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared!22So they asked theLord, “Where is he?”
And theLordreplied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”23So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.
24Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man theLordhas chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”
And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
13“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command theLordyour God gave you. Had you kept it, theLordwould have established your kingdom over Israel forever.14But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
Key Takeaway from Saul's Calling:
We can overcome our "dirty little secrets"—our sins and hangups that limit our Christian life and calling.
God called Saul to be king of Israel. Then God gave Saul a new heart, after which Saul began to prophesy.
And yet, Saul seemed unconfident in his calling. When Samuel introduced Saul as King of the nation of Israel, Saul hid among the baggage! This lack of confidence in God and in himself—along with additional character flaws—eventually prompted God to replace Saul as king.
To read a blog series about how to emerge victorious from our sins and mistakes, click this blog: Dirty Little Secrets.
Click the link for the blog "Dirty Little Secrets" above. How do you hear God speaking to you through that blog?
1 Samuel 16:1-13,17:41-50, Acts 13:22
1 Samuel 16:
1 Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”
2But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
“Take a heifer with you,” theLordreplied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to theLord.3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”
4So Samuel did as theLordinstructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”
5“Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to theLord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too.
6When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is theLord’s anointed!”
7But theLordsaid to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. TheLorddoesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but theLordlooks at the heart.”
8Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one theLordhas chosen.”9Next Jesse summoned Shimea,but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one theLordhas chosen.”10In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “TheLordhas not chosen any of these.”11Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”
“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”
12So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.
And theLordsaid, “This is the one; anoint him.”
13So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
1 Samuel 17:
41Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him,42sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy.43“Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods.44“Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.
45David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of theLordof Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.46Today theLordwill conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!47And everyone assembled here will know that theLordrescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is theLord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
48As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.49Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.
50So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword.
22 God said, "I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do."
Key Takeaway from David's Calling:
If the path of your Christian calling is not straight, pleasant, or clearly obvious, take heart—you're normal!
No one would have ever suspected God to choose David to be a king. He didn't look like a king, and he was a lowly shepherd. David's brothers disparaged him.
Yet, David defeated Goliath and persevered through more than a decade of persecution before assuming the throne after King Saul's death. And God developed David's strength, courage, and leadership skills through these difficult experiences.
In fact, God said about David, "I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart."
God often develops the character and skills for our calling through lengthy unpleasant circumstances. That's not a comforting thought, but it's heartening to recall that God developed even the heroes of the Bible in exactly the same ways.
How does God want to encourage you in your Christian life and calling, especially in the confusing parts?
1 Chronicles 28:1-10, 29:23-25
1 David summoned all the officials of Israel to Jerusalem—the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of the army divisions, the other generals and captains,the overseers of the royal property and livestock, the palace officials, the mighty men, and all the other brave warriors in the kingdom.2David rose to his feet and said: “My brothers and my people! It was my desire to build a Temple where the Ark of theLord’s Covenant, God’s footstool, could rest permanently. I made the necessary preparations for building it,3but God said to me, ‘You must not build a Temple to honor my name, for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.’
4“Yet theLord, the God of Israel, has chosen me from among all my father’s family to be king over Israel forever. For he has chosen the tribe of Judah to rule, and from among the families of Judah he chose my father’s family. And from among my father’s sons theLordwas pleased to make me king over all Israel.5And from among my sons—for theLordhas given me many—he chose Solomon to succeed me on the throne of Israel and to rule over theLord’s kingdom.6He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will build my Temple and its courtyards, for I have chosen him as my son, and I will be his father.7And if he continues to obey my commands and regulations as he does now, I will make his kingdom last forever.’
8“So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel—theLord’s assembly—I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of theLordyour God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance.
9“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For theLordsees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.10So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”
23So Solomon took the throne of theLordin place of his father, David, and he succeeded in everything, and all Israel obeyed him.24All the officials, the warriors, and the sons of King David pledged their loyalty to King Solomon.25And the Lord exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel, and he gave Solomon greater royal splendor than any king in Israel before him.
Key Takeaway from Solomon's Calling:
Sometimes the most impactful part of your Christian calling is to disciple and mentor your children or other family members.
David discipled and equipped his son Solomon for his eventual calling. God told David that Solomon would be the one to build the Temple, and that Solomon would succeed David as king. David encouraged Solomon to worship, obey, and serve God, so that God's purposes in and through Israel would be accomplished.
The result? The Bible says that Solomon was exalted by God, succeeded in everything, won the loyalty and obedience of the people, and had greater royal splendor and wisdom than any other Israelite king.
Never feel "less than" if your "only" Christian calling is to your children or other family members. Only in heaven will you discover how impactful your calling has been!
If your primary calling is to disciple and mentor your children or other family members, ask God for a specific word of encouragement and guidance.
Nehemiah 1:3-2:6, 12:27
3They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.5Then I said,
“OLord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,6listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned!7We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.
8“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations.9But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth,I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’
10“The people you rescued by your great power and strong hand are your servants.11O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” In those days I was the king’s cup-bearer.
Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence. 2So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.”
Then I was terrified,3but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”
With a prayer to the God of heaven,5I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
6The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request.
27For the dedication of the new wall of Jerusalem, the Levites throughout the land were asked to come to Jerusalem to assist in the ceremonies. They were to take part in the joyous occasion with their songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres.
Key Takeaway from Nehemiah's Calling:
It's good to follow Nehemiah's example in our Christian calling:
- Allow our hearts to be captured and broken by the needs that cry out to us.
- Fast and pray for God's guidance.
- Repent of any sins that might be standing in the way.
- Believe and act upon God's promises.
- Ask humbly for open doors that only God can open.
- Boldly act when the time is right.
- Give thanks when God provides.
How does God want you to apply the process above in your own Christian calling?
Esther 4:1-17, 9:1
1 When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. 2He went as far as the gate of the palace, for no one was allowed to enter the palace gate while wearing clothes of mourning.3And as news of the king’s decree reached all the provinces, there was great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes.
4When Queen Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was deeply distressed. She sent clothing to him to replace the burlap, but he refused it.5Then Esther sent for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs who had been appointed as her attendant. She ordered him to go to Mordecai and find out what was troubling him and why he was in mourning.6So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the square in front of the palace gate.
7Mordecai told him the whole story, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews.8Mordecai gave Hathach a copy of the decree issued in Susa that called for the death of all Jews. He asked Hathach to show it to Esther and explain the situation to her. He also asked Hathach to direct her to go to the king to beg for mercy and plead for her people.9So Hathach returned to Esther with Mordecai’s message.
10Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay this message to Mordecai:11“All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.”12So Hathachgave Esther’s message to Mordecai.
13Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed.14If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
15Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:16“Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”17So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
1 So on March 7the two decrees of the king were put into effect. On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but quite the opposite happened. It was the Jews who overpowered their enemies.
Key Takeaway from Esther's Calling:
Never give up in your Christian calling—even when all hope seems lost—if you believe you are doing what God has called you to do.
The book of Esther is the only book of the Bible that does not mention God. But we see God's providence throughout the book. God put Esther in just the right place at just the right time to save the Israelites from destruction by a corrupt and brutal Persian empire.
The most famous verse in the book of Esther is when Ether's cousin Mordecai says, during a crucial time of decision in Esther's life and the life of the entire Israelite nation, "Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?"
Don't give up in your calling. God has put you here for just such a time as this! And He will accomplish His purposes through you!
In which part of your Christian calling have you almost lost hope? Ask God how He wants to encourage and guide you to persevere.
8Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
9And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people,
‘Listen carefully, but do not understand.
Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
10Harden the hearts of these people.
Plug their ears and shut their eyes.
That way, they will not see with their eyes,
nor hear with their ears,
nor understand with their hearts
and turn to me for healing.”
11Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?”
And he replied,
“Until their towns are empty,
their houses are deserted,
and the whole country is a wasteland;
12until theLordhas sent everyone away,
and the entire land of Israel lies deserted.
13If even a tenth—a remnant—survive,
it will be invaded again and burned.
But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down,
so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”
Key Takeaway from Isaiah's Calling:
When God calls us to do something we'd rather not do, He will give the encouragement, ability, joy to empower and encourage us.
God had just told Isaiah that Israel was doomed to endure devastating military conquest and decades of horrific exile because of their sins. And yet, after God asked Isaiah whom He should send as a messenger of unfathomable woe to His people, Isaiah volunteered, "Here I am! Send me!"
Often, Christian calling feels exciting and full of wonder.
But sometimes, God's calling is hard, and not at all what we would choose for ourselves.
However, even then, God will give us the courage to respond, as Isaiah did: "Here I am! Send me!" And we will rejoice that God accomplishes His purposes through us.
Has God called you to do something—even a seemingly minor task—that you don't want to do? Tell God how you feel, and ask Him for His enlightenment and encouragement.
17. Jeremiah and Abraham
Jeremiah 1:3-16, 29:11; Genesis 17:15-17
3TheLord’s messages continued throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of Josiah’s sons. In August of that eleventh year the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives.
4TheLordgave me this message:
5“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
6“O SovereignLord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
7TheLordreplied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.8And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, theLord, have spoken!”9Then theLordreached out and touched my mouth and said,
“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
10Today I appoint you to stand up
against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down,
destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up
11Then theLordsaid to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?”
And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.”
12And theLordsaid, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching,and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”
13Then theLordspoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?”
And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.”
14“Yes,” theLordsaid, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land.15Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, theLord, have spoken!
“They will set their thrones
at the gates of the city.
They will attack its walls
and all the other towns of Judah.
16I will pronounce judgment
on my people for all their evil—
for deserting me and burning incense to other gods.
Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands!
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
15Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah.[c]16And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”
17Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?”
Key Takeaway from Jeremiah's Calling:
God calls people of all ages into His service.
When God called Jeremiah to deliver a dark message of doom to the nation of Israel, followed by a wonderful message of hope, Jeremiah objected, "I can't speak for you! I am too young!"
So also, Abraham doubted when God told him he would have a son at the age of 100—a son whose descendants would become the nation of Israel and from whom would come the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Even today, we tend to underestimate the potential impact of the people at both ends of the age continuum. But this is unbiblical! God calls us to do important things at every age!
Click this blog for encouragement and additional biblical info about Christian calling in later life: Never Too Old for Christian Calling.
Do you struggle with feeling too young or too old for Christian calling? Ask God to tell you clearly His truth about that. If you think you might be too old to have a calling, click the link for the blog "Never Too Old for Christian Calling" above.
1 The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.”2So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll.3“Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
4Then he said, “Son of man, go to the people of Israel and give them my messages.5I am not sending you to a foreign people whose language you cannot understand.6No, I am not sending you to people with strange and difficult speech. If I did, they would listen!7But the people of Israel won’t listen to you any more than they listen to me! For the whole lot of them are hard-hearted and stubborn.8But look, I have made you as obstinate and hard-hearted as they are.9I have made your forehead as hard as the hardest rock! So don’t be afraid of them or fear their angry looks, even though they are rebels.”
10Then he added, “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself.11Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the SovereignLordsays!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.”
12Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard a loud rumbling sound behind me. (May the glory of theLordbe praised in his place!)13It was the sound of the wings of the living beings as they brushed against each other and the rumbling of their wheels beneath them.
14The Spirit lifted me up and took me away. I went in bitterness and turmoil, but the Lord’s hold on me was strong.
Key Takeaway from Ezekiel's Calling:
God sometimes calls people in extremely unusual ways—even though visions, dreams, etc.
In the Bible, the book of Ezekiel is one of the most difficult to interpret, because of the apocalyptic, visionary, and symbolic language. Yet, God delivered the prophet Ezekiel's calling through this kind of enigmatic imagery.
God still sometimes calls people through visions, dreams, and other unusual ways. Of course, it's important to test what we believe we hear. But it's just as important not to dismiss what we sense, just because it seems strange or doesn't immediately make sense.
If God has communicated all or part of your calling in an unusual way, ask Him to clarify and encourage you for encouragement and impact.
Jonah 1:1-3,13-17; 2:1,5-10; 3:1-6
1 The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
3But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. ...
... 13The sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 14Then they cried out to theLord, Jonah’s God. “OLord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. OLord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”
15Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!16The sailors were awestruck by theLord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.
17Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. ...
...5“I sank beneath the waves,
and the waters closed over me.
Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
6I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
I was imprisoned in the earth,
whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, OLordmy God,
snatched me from the jaws of death!
7As my life was slipping away,
I remembered theLord.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
in your holy Temple.
8Those who worship false gods
turn their backs on all God’s mercies.
9But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
and I will fulfill all my vows.
For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”
10Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
1 Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”
3This time Jonah obeyed theLord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.4On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”5The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.
6When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes.
Key Takeaway from Jonah's Calling:
God offers restoration and fruitfulness even when we run from our calling.
God called Jonah to preach God's news of salvation to his enemies. Perhaps understandably, he refused. Instead, Jonah "went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord."
So God sent a big fish to swallow him! Desperate, Jonah prayed. Only then did God break through Jonah's resistance and transform his heart, so that Jonah finally told God he would do as commanded. The fish spit him out, he preached salvation to his enemies, and they repented.
When God calls us to do unpleasant or scary things in our calling, our tendency can be to run or worry. But when we take our fears or resistance to God, He transforms our hearts so that we resume our calling in His joy and power.
Are you running from some something God wants you to do? Talk with God about it, ask Him to change your heart, and move forward in new life.
20. Judas Iscariot
John 6:70-71, Mark 14:17-19, John 13:27-30, Ephesians 6:10-12
70Then Jesus said,“I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.”71He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.
17In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve.18As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
19Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
27When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him,“Hurry and do what you’re going to do.”28None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant.29Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor.30So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
10A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.12For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Key Takeaway from Judas Iscariot's Calling:
Satan will oppose us in our calling, but God offers victory over him.
The Bible says that Jesus chose (called) Judas Iscariot, even though He knew Judas would betray Him.The Bible even says that Satan entered Judas so that Judas betrayed his Lord, resulting in Jesus' arrest and crucifixion.
Even so, God's grand plan for the salvation of the world prevailed. After being killed on the cross, Jesus rose from the dead to give us victory over sin and death.
Even today, God calls people who sometimes go—inexplicably and sometimes horribly—sideways in their Christian life and calling.
The prophet Jeremiah predicted Judas' betrayal of Christ hundreds of years before it happened. But in my opinion, that does not mean that God predestined Judas to betray Christ; God simply knew in advance that it would happen. I believe—because the story of salvation permeates every book of the Bible—that if Judas had repented, God would have forgiven him and Jeremiah would never have predicted his betrayal.
The enemy, Satan, WILL oppose YOU in your calling. This is the spiritual warfare of which Paul spoke in the book of Ephesians. But we do have the armor of God and the eternal presence of God to remain victorious over evil, when we yield to Him.
Don't let your own failures in life and ministry isolate you from God and destroy your ministry. No matter how egregiously you have failed, go to God in authentic repentance, and He will restore you.
Also, when people you admire go sideways in their calling, pray for them to be restored, and believe that God will accomplish his purposes through their repentance.
If you sense Satan's opposition in any part of your Christian life or calling, read Ephesians Chapter 6, and ask God how to put on His full armor.
21. Mary and Joseph
Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:19-21
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee,27to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.28Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings,favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
29Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.30“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.32He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.33And he will reign over Israelforever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.36What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.37For the word of God will never fail.”
38Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
20As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.21And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Key Takeaway from Mary's and Joseph's Callings:
When Christian calling seems impossible, we can trust God to give His wisdom WHEN—but often not BEFORE—we need it.
Mary and Joseph initially responded to the news about Jesus' impending birth with logical objections. For example, Mary asked, "How can this be?" Joseph decided to quietly divorce Mary.
But the angel gave Mary and Joseph spiritual eyes and ears to perceive God's activity.
So also, when God calls us to do the seemingly impossible, we can trust God to give us His wisdom and guidance at just the right time.
If you need wisdom but God has not yet given it, ask again! If you still don't hear anything—and assuming your conscience is clear—ask Him to accomplish His purposes while you wait.
13Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.14But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
16After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were openedand he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
Key Takeaway from Jesus' Calling:
Our confidence and courage for Christian calling comes from believing—deep in our souls—that God loves and values us for who we are.
Jesus' baptism happened immediately before the most important three years of His ministry on earth. Yet, God did not begin Jesus' earthly calling by telling Him what to do, but by lovingly and powerfully affirming who Jesus was—God's own dearly beloved Son.
Only as we FULLY BELIEVE that God loves us and values us—no matter what, for who we are and not just for what we do—can we uniquely DO what God has called us to do.
Click this blog to learn more about how to discover who God has uniquely created you to be: Become Who God Created You to Be.
Click the link for the blog "Become Who God Created You to Be" above. How do you hear God speaking to you through that blog?
23. Peter, James, and John (Fishermen)
18One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.19Jesus called out to them,“Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”20And they left their nets at once and followed him.
21A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too.22They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
Key Takeaway from The Fishermen's Calling:
God calls people in both spectacular and seemingly more mundane ways.
Peter, James, and John formed Jesus' "inner circle" of disciples. So you might expect Jesus to call them in uniquely spectacular ways. But no! Jesus simply said to them, "Follow me," and they did it!
In other parts of the Bible, God sometimes called people in spectacular ways, such as Moses at the burning bush and Paul on the road to Damascus.
But sometimes in the Bible, God called in seemingly mundane ways, such as the calling of these fishermen.
When we don't see or sense anything out of the ordinary as God saves us or calls us, we might doubt that we are saved and called. But every person's calling story—or conversion story—is different. Each is equally valid and potentially impactful.
What kind of testimony do you have for how God saved you and how God called you—spectacular or seemingly mundane? Rest assured that either is fine! Ask for God's encouragement in that.
9As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth.“Follow me and be my disciple,”Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
10Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.11But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
12When Jesus heard this, he said,“Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”13Then he added,“Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Key Takeaway from Matthew's Calling:
Jesus begins everyone's Christian calling with this essential step: "Follow me and be my disciple."
Matthew collected taxes from from his fellow Jews on behalf of the occupying Roman government, so he was viewed and treated as the scum of the earth. Yet, Jesus extended the same simple but profound calling to Matthew as to other "respectable" disciples: "Follow me and be my disciple."
Click this blog for more help about how to begin following Jesus yourself, or how to help someone else do that: How to Know You're Saved and How to Help Someone Who Isn't Sure.
What basic discipleship steps do you still need to take? Pray the prayer of salvation? Get baptized? Learn how to pray or read the Bible? Discover your spiritual gifts? Learn how to share your faith (see the link to the blog in the previous paragraph)? Something else?
25. The Female Disciples of Jesus
Luke 8:1-3, Romans 16:7
1 Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, 2along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons;3Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.
Greet Andronicus andJunia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did.
7Greet Andronicus andJunia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did.
Key Takeaway from the Female Disciples' Calling:
God calls both males and females to salvation and impactful ministry in His Kingdom.
Many biblical scholars even believe that the woman Junia—rendered as the masculine name "Junius" in some translations—was one of Jesus' apostles, perhaps as the apostle Paul, saved and commissioned after Jesus ascended to heaven.
Click this blog to learn more about roles of women in God's Kingdom: Being Female in the Image of God: And about Women's Roles in Ministry.
Are you limiting yourself or someone else because of gender roles in the Kingdom of God? Click the link for the blog in the previous paragraph.
26. John the Baptist
Luke 1:80, 1 Samuel 2:26, Luke 2:52
80John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
1 Samuel 2:
26Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people.
52Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.
Key Takeaway from John the Baptist's Calling:
Strong physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual health are foundational for a joyful and fruitful Christian life and calling.
The Bible says that John the Baptist, Samuel, and even Jesus grew in the same healthy ways during their youth: physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, and spiritually.
Ultimately, of course, God is the one who indwells and empowers our Christian life and calling. But our physical fitness, emotional health, healthy relationships, intellectual wisdom, and spiritual growth undergird our own responsibility—our own part—of our joy and progress in God's Kingdom.
What steps is God prompting you to take to become more physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, or spiritually healthy?
27. Philip and Nathaniel
43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him,“Come, follow me.”44Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown.
46“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.
47As they approached, Jesus said,“Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”
48“How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus replied,“I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”
49Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”
50Jesus asked him,“Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”51Then he said,“I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”
Key Takeaway from Philip's and Nathaniel's Callings:
God "sees us"—and lets us know He "sees us"—in ways that endear Him to us, to encourage and launch us into our Christian life and calling.
Why in the world would Nathaniel suddenly proclaim that Jesus was the Son of God and the King of Israel—just because Jesus said he'd seen Nathaniel under the fig tree?
I believe that Jesus' words to Nathaniel—about being a "genuine son of Israel," "a man of complete integrity," and "under the fig tree before Philip found you"—had special meaning to Nathaniel, and that Jesus showed Nathaniel that He was God by telling Nathaniel these things about him that only God could know.
So also, God speaks to each of us in uniquely transformational ways, convincing us that He truly "sees us," thereby transforming our hearts and encouraging us in our Christian life and calling. For example, God spoke to me in such a way through—of all things—an ordinary bird in our backyard! Click this blog to read that story: God Approves of You.
Click the link for the blog "God Approves of You" above. How do you hear God speaking to you through that blog?
28. The Samaritan Woman
4He had to go through Samaria on the way.
5Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.7Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her,“Please give me a drink.”8He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
9The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10Jesus replied,“If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?12And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13Jesus replied,“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.14But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
16“Go and get your husband,”Jesus told her.
17“I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said,“You’re right! You don’t have a husband—18for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
19“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet.20So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,where our ancestors worshiped?”
21Jesus replied,“Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.22You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.23But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.24For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26Then Jesus told her,“I amthe Messiah!”
27Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?”28The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone,29“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?”30So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
31Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32But Jesus replied,“I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”
33“Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.
34Then Jesus explained:“My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.35You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripefor harvest.36The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!37You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true.38I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”
39Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”40When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days,41long enough for many more to hear his message and believe.42Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Key Takeaway from the Samaritan Woman's Calling:
Whether or not we can articulate a specific "calling" in our lives, God is nevertheless at work, accomplishing His purposes through us.
What was happening when the Samaritan woman witnessed to her village about Jesus transforming her life? Was she simply being her usual talkative self? Was she expressing a newly endowed spiritual gift of evangelism? Or was she answering God's full-blown calling to ministry?
Regardless of how God would have described her calling, she did indeed have one! The results make that obvious, because the Bible says that many of the villagers believed in Jesus because of her witness.
Sometimes, it's hard to know whether what do in the Kingdom of God is an expression of our personality, a spiritual gift, or a calling. We need not worry too much about those distinctions. Christian calling can include many different expressions through different seasons. They all combine to complete God's beautiful tapestry of our lives.
Ask God for His specific encouragement about how He is indeed accomplishing His purposes through you, regardless of whether you feel a specific "calling."
Acts 6:8-15; Acts 7:1-2,51-60; John 15:18-27
8Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.9But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia.10None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.
11So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.”12This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council.
13The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses.14We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazarethwill destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.
1 Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these accusations true?”
2This was Stephen’s reply: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. ...
...51“You stubborn people! You are heathenat heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!52Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered.53You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”
54The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage.55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.56And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
57Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him58and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”60He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
[Jesus said,]18“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.19The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.20Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.21They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.22They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.23Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.24If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father.25This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
26“But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.27And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
Key Takeaway from Stephen's Calling:
In our Christian life and calling, we WILL be persecuted—some to lesser degrees, but some to horrific extremes—because of our faith in Christ.
Stephen paid the ultimate price for his faith in Christ. When he told a large crowd of Jews the truth—that his hearers needed to repent their sins—they promptly killed him by stoning.
Jesus told his followers then, and He still says to us today, "Do you not remember what I told you? 'A slave is not greater than the master.' Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you .... They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me."
So also, we will be persecuted for our faith. But Jesus encouraged us even in that: "I will send the Advocate—the Spirit of truth." The Holy Spirit will give us the strength, courage, wisdom, and perseverance we need for whatever God calls us to do.
Pray for persecuted Christians around the world. And ask God for the courage to stand strong yourself.
10Now there was a believerin Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling,“Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord!” he replied.
11The Lord said,“Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now.12I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
13“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believersin Jerusalem!14And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
15But the Lord said,“Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.16And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
17So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”18Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.19Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.
Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days.
Key Takeaway from Paul's Calling:
We give thanks to those who helped us to grow in our Christian life and calling, and we commit to help others do the same.
The apostle Paul (known as Saul before Jesus saved him), a dedicated Jew, opposed the new Christian faith so strongly that he authorized the arrest and execution of Christians. But after Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and was temporarily struck blind, Ananias and the believers in Damascus helped confirm Paul's new calling to Christ and helped launch the fledgling apostle into his calling to take the Gospel to that region of the world.
The Bible is full of people who helped encourage, equip, and launch fellow believers into their calling. For example, in the Old Testament, Eli helped Samuel, Samuel helped David, and David helped Solomon. In the New Testament, Ananias helped Paul, Paul helped Timothy, and Timothy helped the people in the church at Ephesus.
So also, God calls all of us to learn and grow in Christian life and calling through the help of our spiritual mentors. In turn, God calls us to help others learn and grow in their own calling.
Thank God for the people who helped you grow in your Christian life and calling. Ask Him how you can help someone else do the same.
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January 12, 2021