I chose You!

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

When I was a kid on the playground, all the kids would decide which game they wanted to play then they would choose teams. You never wanted to be the last one chosen, it usually meant you were the weakest at the game and the team really didn’t want you anyway. Unfortunately, many people have deep wounds from those times of rejection. The sense that you don’t measure up is a recurring theme in life.

One of the joys I’ve had through the years is prison ministry. Going into a jail pod to lead a group of prisoners in what they call ‘chapel service’ is one that began in fear for me but has transitioned into delight. The opportunity to express the unconditional love of God to men who feel less than worthy, those who think their sins may be unforgivable or who have been told all their lives they will amount to nothing is one so many people need to hear.

When Jesus was teaching His disciples what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God, He began to use concepts they were familiar with.

Growing, tending, and harvesting grapes was a common theme in the culture of ancient Israel. Jesus began to relate the similarities of this process to what it means to being grafted into His vine. Once grafted, producing fruit, allowing God to trim you through trials and obedience, while remembering where your source of life comes from.

The reason: John 15:8By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

The opportunity to take part in God’s Kingdom, to bring glory to His name, and to bear fruit is an opportunity that should not be taken lightly. The opportunity is one that has come, not because we are better, have a higher position or worthy of more honor, the opportunity comes simply because God calls you.

The promise to those who accept this call is that as we bear fruit according to the life He has given us, He promises to supply all our needs.

Many have taken this scripture to mean God will give you all your hearts desire. The ‘name it and claim it’ movement was founded on this concept of self-indulgence and the hope for gaining worldly possessions. Those who have subscribed to this pattern of hedonism have lost sight of God’s intended purpose….His purpose!

When you ask the Father “in His name”, is the key phrase. To ask “in His name”, is to ask according to His will and purpose, not your own. The servant who was called must remember they were called to go about their masters business. The way they find out what that business entails is to speak with their master, understand His heart, know His thoughts, and find out what’s important to Him.

John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

The beauty of God’s love for us is that He wants to share His heart with us! He likewise doesn’t Lord over us like slaves but has invited us to be co-workers with Him in His Kingdom. We are called to simply come along side what He is already doing.

This thought of how to serve God is one that many successful missionaries have understood quite well. Knowing that the work being done is of Him first, allows the pressure of success to not be on our shoulders but rather in His mighty hand. The Lord takes the lead, and as we serve Him in His work, He promises many things He will do because of it.

1 Chronicles 28:20And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.”

This promise that David was reminding his son of, is the same promise we can rest on as well. The Lord will never leave you alone. Once you are His, He will guide you in the way should go.

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.”

God’s guidance must be the most common prayer in the life of a saint. The promise to guide us with His eye is a promise to lead us as we go. The Lord gives us vision for His purpose as we step out in obedience, He simply looks for a willing heart.

So what are the gifts God imparts to those whom He has called?

1 Corinthians 12:4-7There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:”

There are many gifts of the Spirit, some obvious and some not so obvious….the focus must be on what the gifts are for and from whom they originate. The direction of interest has far too often been on acquiring gifts and not exercising the ones you have.

I’ve been a apart of many studies that attempt to figure out your gifting, and frankly, I’ve always seemed to fail these tests. I may check out as having one gift the first time I try the self test, then a completely different subset of gifts the next time I try it. I know, many pastors who subscribe to these practices are probably well intentioned, I just don’t think they are the best practice for building up the body of Christ.

What is best practice?

Doing the will of God for your life!

As you go about exercising your faith, God leads you into your strengths. The gifts are meant to be exercised in conjunction with obedience to the Spirit of God, not to be held up as if you just opened a gift on Christmas and want to show them off.

What is the will of God?

1 Thessalonians 4:1-4 “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,”

Sanctification: the process of making or becoming holy, set apart. The (process of advancing in holiness); use of the believer being progressively transformed by the Lord into His likeness

*We are called to become more like Christ everyday. We are to have His heart. We are to desire His will. We are to rejoice in trials and rejoice in truth. Our calling is not going to look anything like the world. Want to know a good way to know whether you are being sanctified?—-if the world begins to hate you. Jesus reflected on the response of the world in the last days:

Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”

This idea of the world hating those who have accepted God’s call is not new, Solomon saw this in his day as well as Jonah, Moses, Abraham and all who have loved the Lord our God.

Proverbs 29:27An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way isan abomination to the wicked.”

Just a quick note…to all those who subscribe to the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination:

Romans 8:30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

Who did God predestine or call?

2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

God calls everyone!

Paul is saying that those {whom God knew who would accept His call}, are the ones He has justified, and yet the call goes out to all.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

You have been called..have you heard it?

I encourage you, don’t delay in your response, the day of the Lord is at hand, trust Jesus with your life and accept this great honor of being called in the Kingdom of God.

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