You Are Here…So Now What?


You Are Here, So Now What?

Some help identifying what you are called to do,
wherever you are at in your faith journey.

Let’s begin with what we believe. As Christians, we all have a core group of beliefs that connect us as “Christians”. I came across one of the best descriptions of what Christians believe, known as the Gospel Message, in this video:

 

Or, if you are more of a reader and/or to go deeper click this link.

If you appreciate the are of music, here is video that is based on the Apostle’s Creed. (A statement of what Christians believe that was brought about to defend against misunderstandings and heresies of the Christian religion.)

apostlesCreed

 

Man has had a feeling of dissatisfaction since his fall in the Garden of Eden.

The hole in man’s heart where God once filled is now empty. Man continually tries to fill that hole with created things, but nothing is filling enough nor permanent. One of the great theologians, Augustine of Hippo, said “You (God) have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Jesus is offers that rest.

Where do you stand in light of this FREE Gift from God?

The rest of this page rests on the assumption that you have invested yourself in God’s FREE Gift of salvation. Let’s continue…

 

Your Calling

As one reads and understands scripture from the Holy Bible, there are a few things that begin to stand out. For our discussion, lets look at what God has and is calling us to do in our lives. We can see five distinct callings:

  1. The calling to Follow Jesus.

    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26, NLT)

    • This is not like “following” someone on Facebook.
    • This is not just agreeing with who he is or how he lived a sinless life.
    • This is where we are to become more like Jesus in every decision and act. (Our very nature.)
  2. The calling to be and become.

    • To become more fully who we are in the eyes of God.
      • We are God’s children
      • We are loved by God
      • We are made in God’s likeness
      • We are Redeemed by God
    • This is revealed throughout both the Old & New Testament scriptures.
  3. We are called to love.

    “”Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”” (Matthew 22:36–40, NLT)

    • To first love God
    • And to love our neighbor as ourselves.
  4. We are called to serve.

    After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:15–17, NLT)

    • We are instructed to not just let others know about who Jesus is, we are called to serve them, ourselves.
  5. We are called to create & be a part of culture.

    Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18–20, NLT)

    • As we were a part of God’s original creation, God invites us to be a part of the culture around.
    • Just as Jesus was a part of the culture around Him (He ate with sinners & tax collectors), we are called to love those in that culture too much to leave them there. We are to help create new cultures without negatively condemning what is already there.
    • We are to help make what culture is there, better.
      • (We as Christians in the western world don’t do a great job of this in general. We tend to condemn and avoid that which is “different” or counter to our thinking.)
      • We are to be a part of this world and make it a better place without succumbing to the negative aspects.

All of these callings are encapsulated in Jesus example as He prays to God the FatherlifeWorthyofCalling for our salvation and Jesus’ role in passing on God’s Glory and Blessings:

Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!” (John 17:24, NLT)

This is a part of what Jesus came to do!

As we look at these callings and what we are “to do”, we are must look at God’s perspective of that four letter word…WORK! For some this word can conjure up a pit in your stomach, a grunt of dissatisfaction and a daydream of the weekend to come. For others, you may be smiling from ear to ear with satisfaction. So which is it? What was God’s intent?

Well, if we look at what scripture says, we can get an idea of what work was and is intended to be.

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:27–31, NLT)

Did you catch that? God gave us things to do…work. Then God looked over everything and said it was GOOD. This includes the work He gave us to do.

Have a look at this video:

 

You see, it wasn’t until after the fall (when man sinned) that work became laborious.
We can see this play out as God confronted Adam after he ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil:

And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”” (Genesis 3:17–19, NLT)

So if work is GOOD, and we each have a calling from God, is it possible to combine them? Bible-Verses-About-WorkYes! Actually, I don’t believe they were to be separate. Work (Vocation) and Calling were combined in the garden of Eden before the fall. Man was in perfect harmony and communion with God while “working” in the garden.

This Work/Calling combination is to be done with each other and for each other in love. It is in the divine Trinity of God where we can see this played out.  Jesus invites us into the life of the Trinity as He shares with us God’s love. We are called to pass on God’s love and Glory, as Jesus set the example for us:

“If you love me, obey my commandments.” (John 14:15, NLT)

When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”” (John 14:20–21, NLT)

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.” (John 14:23–24, NLT)

Where do you see yourself? Can you identify with the calling God has for you? Are you responding to that calling throughout your life, and not just at church on Sundays? Do you find yourself living out your calling when you are at work? Are you serving and loving others at your job, in your career?

Maybe you can reconnect calling and vocation in your life in order to more fully life out being a follower of Christ. Maybe you have noticed throughout your spiritual life that your work (vocation) and the calling from God you hear the loudest has changed from time to time. This is not a bad thing! Actually, this is good!

Christians can find themselves in many “places” along their spiritual journey. Although a spiritual path is a great visual for many aspects of one’s spiritual journey, I prefer to think of those “places” on that path more as seasons or stages. Stages are areas we can be in, linger, leave, and sometimes revisit. This image is a great way to look at one’s spiritual journey.

 

StagesInTheLifeOfFaith-diagram_copy

 

This image outlines the Stages of Faith at found in the book “The Critical Journey” by Janet O. Hagberg and Robert. A Guelich. Janet’s website with additional info can be Janet’s Webpage

Their breakdown goes something like this:

 

Spiritual Journey Chart

 

Do you seem to fit into one or more of these stages?

Take a moment and download their Spiritual Life Inventory. By taking this inventory, you may find clarity in the stage(s) your are currently in. You can find the inventory here: Spiritual Life Inventory

You can also purchase their book “The Critical Journey” on Amazon.com or other venues. Here is a link to the book on Amazon. “The Critical Journey”

If you’re like me, you will find that you can see the stages you have been in before. You may even be able to see where you were stuck at times. Maybe you were stuck at a “wall” in your life.great_wall_of_china What’s important to keep in mind is that this is a JOURNEY. You should move from stage to stage, forward, backwards, and sometimes sideways. At times you may even straddle two stages at once. The idea is growth…every time you stand in one of the stages, you should grow from that experience. That is what helps you move from one stage to another. My personal experience I have found that I bounce back and forth through the stages as I enter different seasons in life. (Marriage, loss of a loved one, having children, getting a new job, a new house, etc.)

In addition to identifying your current stage in your spiritual journey, you may want to also identify your spiritual gifts. Your spiritual gifts are gifts of the Holy Spirit to enable you to fulfill your calling(s).

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Spiritual-Gifts-LogoDo you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10–11, NLT)

While they can also aid in your vocation, your vocations tends to rely more on your talents & skills. Gifts, come from God and are not gained through practice, nor can they be taught. Everyone has at least one Spiritual Gift to use for serving and communing with God and others. No Spiritual Gift is “better” than another. Scripture explains this well.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” (1 Corinthians 12:7–11, NLT)

What are your gifts? If you have not put much thought into Spiritual Gifts, or have not identified your gift(s), you can take a simple online Spiritual Gifts Inventory. There are many out there, but to save you some time I am providing one here. You don’t have to use this one, but I would encourage you to take a moment now to identify your Spiritual Gift(s), and then return to this page.

I’ll wait. 🙂

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Welcome back. So, were you surprised by your results? Most likely you weren’t, but the inventory may have illuminated something you may have not been aware of. What were your top three? Do you find that you flourish in those areas? How about your bottom gift? Do you find that you struggle in that area? Are you currently utilizing your Spiritual Gifts currently where you are in life, in your vocation, in your community, in your church?

Let’s look to scripture again to see what happens when one relies on faith in God and the Spiritual Gifts they are given:

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of sampson-lionthe faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.” (Hebrews 11:32–34, NLT)

OK, so now you may be saying, “…but I’m not good enough, strong enough, good looking enough, smart enough, etc.” to do this kind of stuff. That’s OK. No one really is. Keep in mind, if we were already all those things, we wouldn’t have needed a savior in the first place! God isn’t asking us to be 100% ready for a task prior to taking that first step. God wants us to step our in Faith in his provision. We will never step forward in any adventure if we wait until everything is perfect first.

Let’s take the Apostle Peter for example. One moment he is walking on water and the next he denying even knowing who Jesus is. We are not perfect, but we have opportunities to use what we have to serve God and others in love. By the way, Peter finally figured that out after denying Jesus three times. He finally gave in to the fact that he didn’t have the ability to love Jesus with a sacrificial love, but a brotherly love instead. Once he realized this, Jesus restored Peter emotionally and spiritually by asking him to care for His people after He was to die and subsequently be resurrected.

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:15–17, NLT)

That last line: “You know that I love you” is in in response to Jesus lowering the definition of love from “Agape” (sacrificial love) to “Phileo” (brotherly love). Peter admitted his limitations.

Peter-Do-You-Love-Me

So now you should have some basic understanding of your calling(s), your current stage in your Spiritual Journey, your Spiritual Gifts, and some scripture to back up all these pieces. Now what?

Well, that is up to you.

If you know:Questing-skill

  • Who you are in Christ (The Gospel Message)
  • Why you are called to this journey (The Gospel Message)
  • What you are called to (The 5 callings)
  • How your are equipped for life’s journey (Spiritual Gifts)
  • Where you currently stand in your journey (Stages of the Spiritual Journey)

It would seem that the only question left unanswered is WHEN.

When will you take action? When will you answer your calling(s)? When will you take that next step toward growth in your current Spiritual Journey stage?

Only you can answer that. Maybe you already have. If so, what is your next step?

Think about the opportunities God has placed in your life.

Where has God opened a door to love or serve?

  • Talk with your co-worker about Christ’s impact on your life.
  • Disciple a new believer.
  • Take soup to a neighbor in need.
  • Tutor kids at a local after-school program.
  • Lift others up in prayer.
  • Comfort someone who is discouraged.
  • Be a friend who listens.
  • Support your church’s missionaries.
  • Create art/music to express your love of God.
  • The list goes on!

Churches (not the buildings but the body of believers) for centuries have attempted to flesh out what our calling(s) can and should look like. From the Apostles who began the early church to the council of Nicea who diligently fought heresies arising in that time, to Martin Luther who called for a reformation of what the church believed as core principles and how the church acted, to YOU. Yes, you!
How will you act upon what every believer before you had contemplated?

What is my purpose, and how do I fulfill it?

It is my hope that this article has helped you in some way to identify or shed some light on the important Why, What, How, and Where questions.
The “When” is completely in your hands.

If you have questions, or want to discuss any of this, please feel welcome to contact me at: pastorrob@palmyrafirstec.org.

Blessings in Christ,
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Rev. Rob Valentine