Missed Calls

We live in a time when many people in the world have cell phones. Those who carry them can be reached at almost any time. However, even though people carry cell phones, they still, at times, miss calls. Some miss them because they choose to. They see the number of the person calling them, they don’t recognize the number, and so they choose not to answer the call. Others miss a call because they are already on the line with someone else. And finally, some people miss calls by accident; they did not hear the phone ring.

In the spiritual life there can also be missed calls. And like the cell phone calls mentioned above they can be missed for different reasons. When Christians speak about calling, very often we are referring to the ministry that the Lord has called us to. This is legitimate because it is a scriptural concept. We see evidence of such calls in the Bible. In fact, some people in Scripture had very powerful calls to ministry. Samuel the prophet and Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) are two people who received very powerful calls to ministry. God’s calls continue. In the contemporary church a person may sense the call to be a pastor, an evangelist, a medical missionary, or a Sunday School teacher. Because we place so much emphasis on this type of call we may miss some of the other calls that Scripture sets before us. The ones I will mention are found in the apostle Peter’s first letter.

The Lord does not want us to follow the desires of our sinful nature, we are to yield to the will and word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to obey the instructions of the inspired text.

In 1 Peter the apostle addressed Christians who lived in a number of different locations, they lived in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1 NIV). His message was the same to all of these believers. In this letter he covered a number of different subjects, one of them was the subject of calling. The Lord has called His people out of sin (1 Pet. 2:9) so that they will be holy (1 Pet. 1:15) in order that they may ultimately enter His “eternal glory” (1 Pet. 5:10 NIV). However, I would like to focus our attention on two other callings that the Lord has placed upon His people.

The first of these two callings is found in 1 Peter 2. In this chapter Peter tells his readers that they are to endure “unjust suffering” (1 Pet. 2:19-21 NIV). Why does he say this? One reason is that he is writing under divine inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16), God wanted this message communicated to His people. But there are additional reasons as well. Peter tells us that as believers we have been called to this, and Jesus is our model in this regard (1 Pet. 2:21). He further explains this in the verses that follow (1 Pet. 2:22-24). Jesus is the ultimate example of one who endured the pain of unjust suffering and we are called to do the same. This goes against our human nature. If we feel that we have been wronged we want justice, we want vindication. However, as believers we are called to be like our teacher (Matt. 10:24-25a). This is a very practical calling that deals with the day to day challenges of living the Christian life. In some places in the world believers are almost daily having to live this out. But in the West this call can be largely forgotten, there is such freedom that this scriptural truth can be overlooked. Peter said that he wrote both of his letters as reminders (2 Pet. 3:1). This is one call that some believers may need to be reminded of.

The second call that I would like to highlight is found in 1 Peter 3. Once again this is a very practical call, it is to be lived out whenever a child of God encounters ill treatment. How often a believer will have to rise to this calling will vary from person to person. Peter’s instruction in 1 Peter 3:9 is very clear, in this verse he tells his readers that they are not to return evil for evil. He even supports his statement by citing Scripture from the Old Testament, his citation comes from a Psalm of David, Psalm 34:12-16. This is God’s intention for His people. This too goes against our human nature. There are times when we want to retaliate and return to the offender what he or she has done to us. However, we must resist that temptation. The Lord does not want us to follow the desires of our sinful nature, we are to yield to the will and word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to obey the instructions of the inspired text. This is better for us and for those who have hurt us.

These two callings may easily be overlooked, but they are essentials in the Christian life. We may need to implement them on an almost daily basis. Our obedience, or lack of obedience, to these callings will to a large degree determine what kind of people we become. And we all know that we are called to be Christ like (Rom. 8:29). The good news in the challenges of life is that God empowers His people to obey these directives. Let us not miss these calls. They are just as important as our call to ministry.

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Jesus On the Holy Spirit

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because He has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor;
He has sent me
to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind
to release the oppressed
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
(Luke 4:18-19).
That is what Jesus read in the synagogue at Nazareth. Jesus had remained at home till He was thirty years old. After briefly asserting His identity as God’s son, Jesus went back to Jerusalem to learn carpentry from Joseph, and when Joseph died Jesus became known as the Carpenter of Nazareth (Mark 6:3). Jesus stayed to look after the carpenter’s shop until His younger brothers were old enough to look after His mother. So at the age of thirty, He set out to find the wild prophet John the Baptist. John reluctantly baptised Him. The Holy Spirit took possession of Him and He withdrew into the desert. There He had a war with the devil and triumphed over His enemy. Jesus began to preach in the towns of Galilee. The news about Him spread. Eventually He came back to Nazareth, and on the Sabbath He stood up in the synagogue and read the prophecy of Isaiah (61: 1-2). Having read it He quietly announced, “This prophecy is fulfilled today” (Luke 4:21). When people today read the words that Jesus read, they skip the first part and focus on the last part of what He read:
  • Preach good news to the poor
  • Proclaim freedom to prisoners
  • Command healing for the blind
  • Liberate the oppressed
  • Proclaim the arrival of God’s redemption
In the last part there is action, and we are a generation that favours activism. However, the subject of our Lord’s reading is the Holy Spirit Himself, not the activity that occurs as a result of the Spirit’s anointing. It was His relationship with the Spirit that was the main issue. The forms of ministry were only incidental to the Spirit’s presence.
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