Calling and vision

Our book of destiny:

In Philippians 3:12 Paul writes and says, “That I may lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me.” The word, ‘that’ in this verse speaks about his calling and vision. God had a calling and vision for Paul, and that Paul had to “lay hold of it.” We too, as Paul also have a calling and a vision that God wants us to accomplish, and in the same way, we must “lay hold of it.” We read in Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my substance being yet unformed. And in Your book they are all written. The days fashioned for me, when as there were yet none of them.” God has a “days fashioned for us” and these are written in a book, called, our book of destiny.

Even Jesus, who is our example, had a book of destiny written about Him. We read in Hebrews 10:7, Behold I have come in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will O God.” In 2 Timothy 1:9 we read,(God) saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our words but according to His own purpose and grace given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” Notice the phrase, “given in Christ before time began.” This means that our calling was given to us before time began; He wrote it in our book of destiny.

We have another example of this truth in Ephesians 1:11, “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the council of His will. The word predestined can also mean, to “set the limits beforehand.” From time to time God gives us a glimpse of what is written in His amazing book through the visions and prophesies that we have received

What is our calling?

Our calling is simply, “the understanding of the path we must take through life.” When we understand this path it will affect the way we live, influence our decisions we take and affect our relationships. It will give us confidence, dignity and a goal to live for. This goal will motivate us to obey the Word of God and to discipline our lives.  The Bible says, “Where there is no revelation, (or a goal) the people cast off restraint.” (Proverbs 29:18) 

For example, if an athlete has an opportunity to participate at the Olympic Games and win a gold medal, this goal will motivate him to train and discipline himself. He will not need to be told to exercise, eat the right foods and to take care of his physical body all the time. He will be motivated by his goal. The same is true with our spiritual goals. We will not need to be told over and over to read our Bibles, pray, live holy lives, tell others about Jesus, etc. We will automatically want to do so because we have a goal in life. One of the greatest tragedies in the Church is lack of vision and spiritual goals. There are so many who do not have a sense of calling and destiny!

One of the examples in the Old Testament of a man, who was affected by his calling and destiny, was King David. He was called to be a warrior king and subdue the enemies of Israel. While he was involved in his calling, he was disciplined and obedient to God. However, we read that one day he took a break from his calling and decided to rest. During this break he was tempted with Bathsheba and fell into adultery. However, if he had gone out to war where he belonged, this would have never happened. Being involved in our calling and vision is a strong protection against the attacks of the enemy.

I have seen this in my own life. When I am busy with my calling and ministry, I automatically want to read my Bible, spend time with God and discipline myself. However, I have also noticed that when there have been slack times in my life. I have been the most vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Therefore, the most vulnerable times are when we are idle.

The main purpose of our calling:

The purpose of our calling and destiny is to bring sinners to Christ and to influence the world for Jesus. God wants to use us to increase His kingdom and destroy the forces of darkness. If we lose this focus, our calling will be useless. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save those who are lost.” He also said in John 20:21, “As the Father sent me, [so] do I send you.” Therefore, the main purpose for His calling should be the main purpose for our calling.

Furthermore, calling does not necessarily mean that we all have to become pastors or missionaries, or enter into some sort of full time Christian ministry. God can call us to do many other things as well. For example, in the Bible, Amos was a farmer, Joseph was a politician, Erastus in the New Testament was the town treasurer, Luke was a doctor, etc. There are also many other examples. However, no matter what God calls us to do, we should have one common goal, that is to bring sinners to Christ and to expand the Kingdom of God. If we lose this focus, then whatever else we do will be useless in the eyes of God. For example, if God has called us into secular work, His goal will always be to bring sinners to Christ, whether He uses us there to do it personally, or releases our resources to do

Four important truths with regards to our calling

Firstly, our calling is bigger than we thinkEphesians 3:20 says that God is “able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all we ask or think according to His power that works in us.” We also read in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for those that love Him.”  He wants to use us and do things through us, more than we can imagine or think!  For example, we read about Abraham’s calling in Genesis 15:5 when God told him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea.

Just as God had a huge plan for Abraham, so He also has huge plan for every one of us. It is so huge, that it may even overwhelm us.  That is why we will always need God’s grace and supernatural ability to do what He has called us to do. If we think we can accomplish anything in our own strength and with our own natural resources, then we are probably not doing what God has called us to do!

Secondly, our calling will give us great satisfaction and joy. Jesus said in John 4:34, “ My food, (that which brings Me satisfaction) is to do the will of Him who sent Me...” Jesus said this when He was with the woman at the well. He received such fulfillment for sharing the gospel with her, that He did not even want to eat the food that the disciples brought Him. Philippians 2:13 says that, “God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.” If He calls us to do something, He will give us the desire and willingness to do so. We read in Psalm 92:4, “You O Lord have made me glad through your work.” Doing the work of God is not a heavy obligation but it is a delight and a joy. 

Thirdly, our calling is given by grace. We cannot earn our calling; it is given to us by His grace.  We have already read in 2 Timothy 1:9, “(God) saved us and called us … according to His own purpose and grace…” Furthermore, God does not use us because we have some great ability, or natural talent. In fact He often uses us because we are weak and unable to do God’s will in our own strength. We read in 1 Corinthians 1:27,  that God has “chosen the foolish things … the weak things of the world …” Therefore, no matter how much God uses us, it is all by His grace, and all the glory belongs to Him. 

Fourthly, we will be held accountable for what we have done with our calling.  The Bible says in Romans 14:10, 12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10, that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of what we have done with our lives while on earth. Therefore, even though we have been saved by grace, our rewards in eternity will be according to our works. That is why we have to be serious about God’s calling and do everything to accomplish that what He has called us to do. Paul writes in Philippians 3:13 and says, “One thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press towards the goal of the upwards call of God in Christ.“Our life on earth is like a race we run, the race is on earth, the finishing line is the day we pass into eternity, and the prize giving will be when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Keys to our calling:

Although we cannot earn our calling, there are certain keys that will help us to discover our calling. It is like a door with a number of locks. In order to walk through this door, we need the keys to all the locks to unlock the door. I want to suggest the following five keys:

Key number one: The importance of obedience and commitment:

We must be willing to do anything God that God tells us to do. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. …”  We need to we die to what we want to do, and say yes to what God wants us to do, sometimes even before He shows us what He wants us to do. We have the example of Abraham in Genesis 12:1 where God said to him, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” He had to let go of what he was used to do in order to find God’s calling for his life. God had a great calling for Abraham, because he was so obedient that he was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.  In Joshua 1:16, we find a good prayer that we can pray if we want to pray about our calling, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.” Our calling starts at the cross, where we are willing to do anything that God calls us to do.

Key number two: The importance of right attitudes.

This is especially true when it comes to humility. The Bible says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) Pride is often our greatest obstacle to find our calling and destiny. If we can be free from the desire to impress people and be willing to be hidden from the praise and honor of people, then there are no limits to what God will do through us. We are told in the Philippians 2:5-7, “Have the attitude that was in Christ… who humbled Himself even to the death of the cross, therefore, God highly exalted Him.” Humility and obedience are very important if we want God to ‘lift us up’ into our calling. 

There many bad attitudes that can hinder us from entering into our calling. For example, the attitude of anger kept Moses out of the Promised Land. The complaining, critical attitude of the Children of Israel caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Therefore, it is always important to have a joyful, positive, faith filled attitude.

Key number three: Faithfulness is important.

We can talk a lot about faithfulness, but it’s an important key to our calling. The Bible says in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” For example: David was faithful in tending his father’s flocks, so God raised him up to be a shepherd over all the people of Israel. Joseph was faithful in the service of Potiphar before God raised him to be the administrator of Egypt.  There are many other examples in the Bible

Faithfulness with finances is also important. The Bible also says “if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”(Luke 16:11) True riches, includes our calling and destiny.

We also read in Luke 16:12, “And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? This is referring to the importance of being faithful to those in the ministry, For example, Moses served his father-in-law Jethro, Joshua served Moses, Timothy served Paul, Elisha served Elijah, etc. It is important that we are also faithful to the local church.   In Psalm 92:13-14 we read, “He that is planted in the house of the Lord, will flourish in the courts of our God …, he will bear fruit, even into old age.”  To be planted in the house of the Lord, means to have committed relationships and to be involved in the local church.  Those who wander from church to church and are not accountable to others,

Faithfulness in relationships has a broad application; it can also mean faithfulness to our spouses, our parents, our employers and in our relationships with the opposite sex.       

Key number four: Our relationship with God:

This is the foundation of all ministry and calling and should be a high priority in our lives. It is often in times of prayer and spending time in God’s presence, that we discover God’s calling.  For example we read Acts 13:2, how Paul received his calling during a time of prayer, worship and fasting. In Psalm 16:11 we read, “You have made known to me the path of life, in Your presence there is fullness of joy, at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  In the ‘presence of God’ we will often find the ‘path of life.’

Fasting as a regular practice is often a key to finding our calling. We have already mentioned Paul’s experience in Acts 13:2. We read in Ezra 8:21-23. “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, so that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him, the right way for to go, and for our little ones, and for all our substance…  So we fasted and besought our God for this: and He answered our prayer. Notice, they wanted to find out the “right way to go.” I have heard many testimonies of those who found their calling during a time of fasting. We should never make any major decision without a time fasting and prayer.

Key number five: The importance of holiness and purity.

The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3,This is the will of God – your sanctification (holiness).” When we pay attention to what God wants us to be, He will show us what we should do!  Instead of praying, “God use me!” we should rather pray, “God, make me useful!” Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:20-21, But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore, purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and useful for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” Holiness will prepare us to be useful and ready for God to use.   The Bible says in Romans 12:2 that a renewed mind is essential to “prove the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” If we want to know the will of God, then we need to remove all the ungodly clutter from our minds. It is therefore, important what we watch, read and think about. A renewed mind is able to discern the will of God.

How to enter into our calling:

We have spoken about the five keys to unlock the door to our calling. Imagine that the door is now open. We now need to know, how to go through this door? In order to do so we need to answer three important questions:

Firstly: We need to “give birth” in prayer and faith to that what has God already said to us about our calling and destiny?

We need to ask the question, “What dreams, visions, and scriptures have we already received?” God said to Habakkuk, in Habakkuk 2:1-3, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” He had to write down the vision so that it could be read. Just because we have received a prophecy, does not automatically mean that it would come to pass.

Many prophecies are conditional to our faith and prayers. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18, wage a good warfare according to the prophecies that he had received.” We have the example when Daniel read the prophecy in the book of Jeremiah. He fasted and prayed about it until it came to pass. In the same way, if we are passive and do nothing about the prophetic words we have received, then usually nothing happens. 

Secondly: We need to pay attention to what is really in our hearts.

In Philippians 2:13 we read, “God works in us to will and do of His good pleasure.”If our hearts are right with God, and God is working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure, then many of our desires will be God’s desires.  Nehemiah said in Nehemiah 2:12,I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem.”   God put something in His heart to do! Paul said to the Roman Church, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift …” That longing in his heart was something that God had placed there! Sometimes we can find God’s will by often asking the simple question, “What is on really on my heart” and just do it!     

Thirdly: We need to take the initiative.

1 Corinthians 3:9 says that “we are laborers together with God.”  We do not only work for God, but with Him. Many are waiting for God to tell them what to do, while God is waiting for them to take the initiative and do something for Him. In Proverbs 16:9, we read, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”  As we do the planning, God will do the directing. It is often in the context of movement, that God gives us direction.

We need to take the initiative but also be open for the Holy Spirit to change our plans. For example, God gave Paul his general direction in life, to be a light to the Gentiles. But Paul in turn had to take the initiative and plan his missionary trips. In doing so, he had to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He once planned to go to Asia but God redirected him to go to Macedonia.

We can also begin to do what the Bible has already told us to do, and that which is on our hearts. Even if we have not received a clear instruction, we can preach the gospel; share our faith, pray for the sick, etc. Jesus said in Matthew 10:7-8, “As you go, preach saying, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, freely you have received, freely give.”   Notice that it says, “as you go” and not “as you wait for something to happen!”

What about timing?

There are many examples in the Bible. For example, Moses knew his calling when he was in Egypt, but he had to wait forty years in the wilderness for God’s timing. The same was true with Joseph, Paul and many others in the Bible. A delay in our calling can be as a result of us not being ready or the circumstances not being ready. This is a huge topic which I will cover in another study called the “waiting period.”

How to maintain our calling:

It is easy to start a race, but it is more important to finish it. Paul said at the end of his life, in 2 Timothy 4:8, I have run the race and finished my course.”  Many, who were once powerfully used by God, have fallen away and are no longer doing what God had called them to do. It is one thing to start the race, but another thing to complete the race. Therefore there are a number of important factors if we want to maintain or complete our calling:

Firstly, we must highly value our calling: We read about Jerusalem in Lamentations 1:9, “Her uncleanness is in her skirts; she did not consider her destiny; Therefore her collapse was awesome.” Jerusalem placed a higher value on sexual pleasure, than on her calling and destiny. As a result of it, she lost her calling.  Therefore, we should highly value our calling and not trade it in for anything that the world wants to offer us. If we highly value something, we will protect it and not trade it with something that is inferior. In the Bible we have other examples such as Esau who traded his calling for food,  Samson who traded his calling for sex and the rich young ruler who traded his calling for money, etc. There are many inferior things that the devil can tempt us with to trade our calling, such as sex, pleasure, security, money, fame, comfort, safety, family, children, grandchildren etc. Therefore, we must highly value our calling. 

Secondly, the importance of continual repentance: We must keep short accounts of un-confessed sins before God and ask the Holy Spirit to continue to convict us of anything that jeopardizes our calling. It can be a compromising sin, or a bad attitude, unresolved conflict or a bad habit. David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” 

Thirdly, accountability is important: One of the main reasons why so many of the ‘mighty have fallen’ is that they were not accountable and submissive to anyone. Our commitment to the Body of Christ is very important. Psalm 92:13-14 says,Those who are planted in the house of the Lord … shall still bear fruit in old age.” God has given to us brothers and sisters in the church to protect us, pray for us and encourage us. Lone-ranger Christians very seldom are able to finish the race.

Fourthly, our dependence on God is important: The Bible says in Jude 1:24,Now to Him who is able to keep [a]you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,…”  God can keep us from falling if we constantly rely on Him and look to His grace to sustain us.

Finally:  God said to Queen Esther in Esther 4:14. “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” God has called us for such a time as this and we are living in the most exciting time in history. There is no limit to what God wants to do through us and for us.  Amen