Vol. 8-33 – 08-13-2023 – Sandals
Lighting the Path
But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. –Galatians 1:15-17
When I read the account of Amos, I sensed the call to gospel ministry. I taught in the church. Did Bible studies in the community. And had a reputation for mentoring and leading people to Christ. I had not been to seminary but did attempt to go at an earlier time. That is a story for another time.
It was normal that one seeking to follow the Lord’s call to ministry to make the decision known to the church pastor and congregation. I did so. When he presented my call to the congregation, he also told me that I would be preaching the very next week. That was an interesting Sunday.
Following the preaching, the pastor scheduled an ordaining council to interview me, hear my call, and check my doctrine understanding, and my theology. I served as a deacon (more as an elder) in the church, so I was familiar with the process of the ordaining council. Other pastors from the nearby churches were invited to attend. The council met in a large room of the church.
Things progressed as I thought they would. Then a preacher asked the question: What if we vote to deny you ordination? That was a surprise question. But I responded. I told the preacher from the nearby church that the ordination council did not issue the call upon my life, God did. It is to God who I am responsible for the answer to His call. The preacher replied that if I had answered any differently, he would not be in favor of ordination because calls to ministry are always to be a ”God-call” not a call of man.
In that respect, Paul does become a model.
God always wanted me to serve Him. Before I even knew Christ as my Lord and Savior. When I confessed Christ, God called me by His grace.
Some of my friends and supervisors could not understand my intention to leave my employment. I had a great position and good income. How could I set that aside? Amazingly, God crossed my path with people who needed to know Him. So, as I headed to three years on the backside of the desert (seminary), I interacted with people in the community, sharing the gospel.
I have learned some things over the years. I hope as you read this blog that you will learn them for yourselves as well;
- My birth was not an accident or a mistake. The Psalmist writes: My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed in me, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:15-16). That is true of all of us.
- I was set apart for a purpose. Paul did not start out in the way of God’s outcome and purpose for him, He intended. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Again, that is true for all of us.
- I was not trained, and not ready to say I was ready. The prophet Amos responded to Amaziah upon God’s calling him: I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to My people Israel (Amos 7:14-15). You can be a farmer, a tech person, or a manager as I was. When God calls to you to serve Him, He provides all you need to serve Him. He even calls you into church membership. And He builds you up to serve others. That is true of all of us.
- My encounter with God was not by chance. Before the foundations of the world, God determined to have me recognize His love, grace, and mercy. He wanted me. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). Our God is a personal God; He is deeply interested in our lives. Lamps to our feet are required to move through life. The amount of light they give enables us to take one step at a time. (They wore them on their sandals.) It is God’s Word that prepared me for ministry. That is true of all of us, so you need to put your sandals on your feet.
Life’s Real Beginning
For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point, you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. –2 Corinthians 7:11
It took Paul a great deal of introspection to view himself as God saw him. It is that way with all of us. Paul thought he was doing great things for God. That is not what life is. Life is about Him; life is only from God.
What was Paul’s reaction to what he learned about himself?
- Godly sorrow. This is repentance. It is a desire to turn from one’s sin and to restore one’s relationship with the holy God. Sorrow is necessary. To define it as regret is weak. Regret is more often sorrowful in that one has been caught. God’s Holy Spirit convicts/exposes the heart.
- Intensity. This is the immediate desire to pursue righteousness.
- Eagerness to be clean. This is not to avoid punishment, but a yearning for God’s trust and for one not to bring shame to Christ.
- Outrage. This is a contrast with the sin committed. Anger at the world’s system of lies to which one has succumbed.
- Alarm. This is fear. Fear in that the sin committed is clearly against God.
- Longing. This is a heartfelt emotion to desire a restored relationship with God through confession and repentance.
- Concern. This is related to commitment. The one who repents recognizes they must move forward in life maintaining the kind of life that honors the God who has provided salvation.
How long has it been since you have sat under the sky contemplating your life and what God desires to do in it?