Imagine this scene: It’s a typical day. You are minding your own business, getting on with life, when your phone rings:
“This is God speaking. Can you hear me? Good, now listen carefully!
I have a mission for you…some very important work for you to do. Now don’t be frightened by that, I actually designed you for these very purposes – believe it or not, you are the perfect person for the job!
I also want to change your eternal destination. Eternity lies before you when you leave this earth. Without Jesus, you will spend it separated from me, but I sent my son so that you can spend eternity with me.
I am calling you. Will you say “yes” to my call?”
You probably haven’t had a phone call from God – but millions – perhaps you – have somehow heard the call from heaven. Some of us tried to ignore it. Some of us tried to resist it. Some of us tried to run. Some of us tried to hide. But the call had come and, in the end, we had to respond!
Stop for a moment and think about that: could YOU have a heavenly calling?
If you’ve put your faith in Jesus, the Bible says that you DO!
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” (Hebrews 3:1 NIV)
To truly appreciate this, we need to understand what a calling is:
A call is a kind of invitation, but because it comes from an authority, it’s not one we can easily say “no” to – we really need to say “yes”! You could say it’s a kind of “offer you can’t refuse”! But this invitation is not from a “Godfather” or government, it is from God himself!
Let me give you a human example of a calling. Some people will tell you that they felt a calling to a certain kind of work – like law enforcement, or teaching, or nursing.
I asked some nurses I know if they felt that their work was a calling – their answer was a strong “yes”. Deep inside, they know that this was what they are meant to do. People like this are devoted to their work. They will say “this is much more than a job, it’s a calling”. Their sense of calling causes them to persist in spite of pressure, problems, bad working conditions and poor pay (if you know any nurses serving in public hospitals, you’ll know what I mean!). This is a calling. It is a mission we’ve been sent on… a really important mission! It is so important that we will make significant sacrifices to fulfil it.
Now when we talk about pressures, problems and sacrifices, calling can sound negative, but a calling is actually extremely positive.
– A calling gives us a great sense of purpose and significance. It means we are not “accidents” or “nobodies”! We were made on purpose and with purpose! We have a difference to make on this earth!
– As we live out our calling, we experience great fulfilment– we are “doing what we were made to do”!
Followers of Jesus, you and I have an even greater calling – a heavenly calling!
– There is ultimate authority behind this call – GOD has called us!
– He has called us out of darkness into light.
– He has called us to follow Jesus.
– He has given us an eternal destination: heaven.
– He has given us a critical mission: to make disciples of Jesus everywhere.
If you have been called by God, this is HUGE! This is not merely a philosophical or theological concept to discuss. This is a reality that we must live out!
God has called! We must answer!
And we need to live it out!!
So what does that look like?
When the call of God grips us – when we really understand that God has called us to follow Jesus– into a new life on earth– and into eternity with him in heaven – then our lives are transformed. As I describe some of the changes our call brings, let the call of God grip you and change you!
Here are three things that happen when we know God has called us:
- Our ultimate goals become eternal – eternal life and heavenly treasure
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my [Jesus’] words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35 NIV)
“…we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth…” (2 Peter 3:13 NIV)
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV)
People all around us are pursuing many goals; chasing after many things. Yet so many so-called “successful” people are desperately unhappy and unfulfilled. It’s because they’re chasing things that simply don’t last.
When we have eternity in our view, we realise that there is little value in chasing earthly treasure. It doesn’t last. We can’t take it with us!
In contrast, if we point people to Jesus – and disciple people who make more disciples, we are building something that will last forever. These are far more worthwhile goals to pursue!
If our end-goal is wrong, we will eventually find that we have wasted our time and energy on the wrong things. So we need to regularly look ahead and ask: “Will this last? Will this matter in eternity? Is this battle worth fighting?” More positively, we should ask: “What can I do now that will last forever?”
Author Steven Covey put it like this: “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” Let’s “lean our ladders on the wall of heaven”! To this we are called!
- We gain courage and strength from our vision of eternity
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)
The prospect of the Cross was so agonising for Jesus that he sweated blood! In anguish, he cried out to the Father for another way. But in the end, he went through with it – because he knew where it would end. He had a vision of “the joy set before him”… sin and death defeated… millions rescued from the oppression of the devil… millions in heaven instead of hell. That gave him the courage and strength to go to the cross.
You and I won’t have to endure that level of agony – we don’t have to bear the sin of mankind – but we will have to endure trials of some sort. We will have to overcomesomeobstacles, resistsometemptations, make some tough choices and persist through some tough times. We will find strength to do so when we follow Jesus’ example and look to heaven! See the treasure! See the joy! This will give you courage and strength!
- We gain a real sense of purpose and fulfilment
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)
When we work out our calling, we feel a real sense of purpose – we are doing something eternally significant! We are advancing the Kingdom of God!
A story is told of a man who went to a construction site and asked several workers what they were doing. One man said “I am laying bricks”, another “I am building a wall”. One man was humming happily as he worked – his answer was “I am building a cathedral!”
At face value, many things that need to be done seem rather ordinary, even insignificant. Getting up early to pray… putting up signs… laying out chairs… packing and unpacking equipment… operating the sound desk or computer… teaching other people’s children… making and serving tea and coffee… visiting a sick person… buying groceries for someone or sending a gift… inviting a neighbour to church when they ask where we’re going. It may look like you’re “laying bricks”… but you are actually building the church with Jesus!
I want to affirm everyone who serves faithfully in a local church. You are working for Jesus! Jesus will reward you in eternity! He is the master builder of his church, but we are on his building team!!
If you haven’t yet found a place to build with Jesus, say to God “here I am; use me!” and look out for opportunities to work with Jesus as he builds. And please don’t just look at church gatherings! Look for opportunities in your home, in your neighbourhood, in your workplace, amongst your friends…
Serving Jesus is such a privilege! He is giving us purpose in life! He is giving us the chance to do something that will matter in heaven! He is giving us ways to earn rewards in heaven!
Let me sum up:
- We – all of us – have been called by God; we have a “heavenly calling”
- When this reality grips our hearts, things change:
- Our ultimate goals become eternal – eternal life and heavenly treasure
- We gain courage and strength from our vision of a glorious eternity
- We gain a real sense of purpose and fulfilment.
New goals… new vision… new purpose!
Let’s respond to that call! Nothing could be more worthwhile, more significant, more rewarding!