Does Your Calling Consume You? [Called Series]

flight

And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ . . . – Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV)

Does your calling consume you?

In your every waking moment, do you know what He has created you for?

Are you daily and hourly walking in your calling?

The weight of your calling can be likened to an airplane — it is indeed weighty in regard to its responsibility.

Luke 12:48 speaks to this tension:

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Yet the enabling power Father has so richly bestowed on you is much like how an aircraft is able to take off and fly tens of thousands of feet in the sky.

2 Corinthians 9:8 describes this promise:

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (NIV)

The prophet Jeremiah’s calling consumed him:

“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.'” – Jeremiah 20:9

The combination of the pressures of our lives, the demands of ministry, and the inevitable discouragement from those who don’t understand, believe in or appreciate our calling, at times can feel like an unbearable weight.

As a prophetic intercessor, the weight of my calling often weighs heavy on my heart and mind. During a particular heavy season of spiritual and personal attack, the weight of my calling seemed unbearable.

I was sitting on the stairs in my deserted place of work. I held out my hands and prayed, “Father this calling is too heavy, please take it back.”

As I prayed, I sensed a weight was lifted from out of my outstretched hands and yet in its place a feeling of a vacuum. After a half hour passed Father spoke, “You have no idea what stood in the balance of eternity with your request.”

And as the weight returned to the palms of my hands Father continued, “Never give your gift back to Me again.”

In the here and now, it often seems easier to lay our calling aside than to continue on in it.

And yet only by daily embracing our calling, only moment by moment letting Father’s calling on our lives consume our waking moments will we be able to say with confidence and passion along with the apostle Paul:

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7

Standing in the balance of eternity – does your calling consume you?

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The Years the Locusts Have Eaten

locust swarmIf God has brought you through or is currently bringing you through such a season in your life, the phrase resonates to the very depths of your soul.

Years of your life have been eaten by locusts.

Substantial devastation and loss have taken place in your life.

Sometimes as a result of:

  • Consequences of your own sinful choices
  • Sinful actions of others done against you
  • Health or physical struggles
  • Spiritual oppression

To which God gives an amazing promise of restoration:

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten — the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you.

You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.

Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. – Joel 2:25-27

The how and when of His restoration in our lives is up to Him. This promise isn’t like an insurance claim we wave before God and demand repayment of our own choosing. Rather, it is a promise of His own righteous restoration and redemption of the destruction and loss that has taken place in our lives.

It is a promise of hope in the devastation that once was a life of abundance.

In His promise, God makes a statement that resounds with His ultimate sovereignty, “. . . My great army that I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25)

God allowed the locusts that have eaten years of our lives. He is the Blessed Controller of ALL things (1 Tim 6:15). No plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). What He has said, that will He bring about; what He has planned, that He will do (Is 46:9-11).

Could God have prevented the locusts from eating years of our lives?
Absolutely, and yet He chose not to do so.

Why?

We would do well to join Job in his conclusion after trying to reason, argue, and demand to know the “whys” from God for his suffering in Job 42:1-5:

Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 

He is the Potter and we are the clay (Is 45:9). He is our Maker and Creator and He owes us nothing, and yet delights to give us everything (Rm 8:32).

In 2000, I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In my early 20’s, it cost me my job, friends, ministry, and health. In 2003, I started having an intercessory prayer team pray over me. As these prayer sessions continued, it became evident that I was not only dealing with physical issues but also a large degree of spiritual oppression.

Before my prayer session in May 2006, I was walking and praying. As I was walking through a playground, I came across 7 folded one dollar bills. As I picked them up, I marveled at how they hadn’t been taken or strewn across the playground and road by the wind. As I held them in my hand, I sensed Father said, “You’ve almost had chronic fatigue for 7 years. I will restore the years the locusts have eaten in your life.”

At that time, I only vaguely knew the promise of Joel 2:25-27. Only after I looked it up, did Father start to connect this promise in Scripture with what He was about to do in my life.

Before Jesus would heal someone, He would ask a very interesting question, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mt 20:32, Mk 10:36, Mk 10:51, Lk 18:41)

The curious nature of this question comes when we remember that Jesus was fully God and fully man during His time of walking the earth, thus He was all-knowing. He knew what they wanted Him to do for them . . . and yet, Jesus wanted them to say it, to believe it, and to own it for themselves.

So too it is with Father’s promises, He wants us to say them, believe them, and own them for ourselves. And one of the hardest times to do that is after experiencing the years the locusts have eaten.

It’s tough some mornings to get out of bed and be faced once again with the devastation, let alone believe a seemingly outlandish promise that God’s going to redeem all this ravaging loss that has clung to your life like frost clings to grass.

Still, Jesus asks . . . and may we be like the father in Mark 9:24 who exclaims in reply, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I pray we believe Him to redeem the years the locusts have eaten in our lives. He will.

Rest Ministries is great resource for those who struggle with chronic illness or pain.

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Guts: What It Takes to Go Forth Victoriously

Finishing StrongGuts. . .

is what it takes to run this race of faith and finish victoriously.

So how do we keep going strong when faced with opposition and difficulties?

. . . with our God-given GUTS.

G – Go towards God

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Phil 3:13-14

U – Use His strength

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! – Hab. 3:19 AMP

T – Treasure the Immaterial (def.)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Mt 6:19-21

S – Steady your Eyes on the Eternal

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. – Heb 12:1-3

Few of us will go through the physical training that Dre Parker went through in The Karate Kid (2010).

But rest assured, all believers will go through a similar spiritual training with Father as our Guide and Coach. The circumstances and situations He brings us through in our lives are His training tools to strengthen us and to transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus (2 Cor 3:18).

Getting and then keeping guts is a tough process. Yet, our personalized training regiment lovingly and wisely comes through the nail-pierced hands of our Savior and Leader who loves us perfectly (1 Jn 4:18), knows us intimately (Psalm 139), and sovereignly controls everything (1 Tim 6:15).

May you take heart as God continues to develop in you — guts.

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5 Treasures to Keep You Going Through the Tough Times

Start of the RaceAt the beginning of the race, we are raring to go (def.), especially when we first come to know Christ or when we first become certain of the calling He has given us in the body of Christ.

It as time goes on and the . . .

  • race becomes harder
  • run becomes more grueling
  • our running partners begin to drop off
  • our enthusiasm begins to wane
  • criticism from the crowd starts to overpower the cheering from the sidelines
  • we start to wonder if it’s truly worth all the blood, sweat, and tears

In our race of faith, the point at which we are starting to grow weary and faint is exactly the point when we need to fortify our spirit and mind with these 5 treasures from God’s Word.

1. Don’t Give Up

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Gal 6:9

The Enemy seeks to try to get us to give up right before the harvest if not sooner. The more he is able to do so, the more he can get us to believe the lie that what we do for God really isn’t worth it. 1 Corinthians 15:58 is a vital truth to have in our mind’s arsenal for doubting times such as these.

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.1 Cor. 15:58 MSG

2. Take Heart

 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. – Is 50:7

Pastor Joseph Tan of The Living Way Church in Singapore does a phenomenal job of explaining how to tangibly do this in his message, “Set Your Face Like Flint” (video also at the end of post).

3. One Thing You Seek

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. – Ps 27:4

Determine in your heart that this truly is the one thing you desire in life. This is your one necessity. Your relationship with Father and your eternal destiny are the only things that cannot be taken from you in this earthly life (Rm 8:28-39).

4. One Thing You Do

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Phil 3:13-14

It’s one of the hardest and yet the most freeing things we will do in life and ministry. Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. Press on toward the prize God has awaiting you.

As long as you’re seeking the prize of people’s approval (Gal 1:10), accomplishment, and fame, this freeing truth will be far out of reach. It is only through true abandonment and surrender that you find the strength and humility to embrace Jesus as:

  • The One you are accountable to and who is in charge of your credibility – 1 Cor 4:5, Zech 4:6, 1 Cor 2:1-5
  • The Redeemer of circumstances and situations you have done everything you could to bring peace and resolution – Rm 12:18
  • The Blessed Controller who is at work in those people and places He has told you to let go of and continue on with the calling He has given you – 1 Tim 6:15

5. Run with Guts (aka perseverance)

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. – Heb 12:1-3

If you haven’t hidden these treasures in your heart, I encourage you to make it your goal to memorize and mediate on one verse a week for the next five weeks.

For more encouragement, listen to Pastor Joseph Tan’s message: Set Your Face Like Flint.

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Is Your Prayer Effectual?

Tearful PrayerBoundless and countless are the circumstances and situations in our lives in which Father waits on “the edge of His seat” for us to pray with unwavering and longsuffering faith and to not be afraid; just believe (Mark 5:36).

Longsuffering can be defined as long and patient endurance of injury, trouble, or provocation.

The King James translation uses the word “travail” in speaking of a woman in childbirth.  Travail means pain, anguish or suffering as a result of mental or physical hardship”.

We think nothing of a woman “travailing” in childbirth; and yet how often are we willing to travail in prayer — to persevere, to endure, to continue calling out to our God who hears, and to embrace the belief that He is the God who gives life to the dead?

James 5:16 (KJV), “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

To be effectual, one is producing or capable of producing an intended effect to be adequate. To be fervent, a person has or shows great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, or enthusiasm.

Can any of these words be used to describe our prayers:

  • Effectual
  • Fervent
  • Faith-filled
  • Longsuffering
  • Travailing
  • Unwavering

Travailing prayer equals prevailing prayer.


Now I know (Promises & Prayers series)

Joy

Promises and Prayers.

My prayer life was transformed when I started praying Father’s promises in Scripture over my family, friends, church, and myself. In 2001, I purchased  a copy of Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore.

Over the years, as I prayed through the verses in it, I would write a name and a date by verses I sensed Father spoke to my heart were promises for one of His beloved sons or daughters. When Father did the work He had promised to do in those verses, I would write another date by the same verse. Sometimes the answer came months or years later, while other answers are still playing out and awaiting fruition in the physical realm.

My Praying God’s Word book became a compilation of amazing testimonies of Father accomplishing exactly what He has promised to accomplish through our prayers:

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us – Ephesians 3:20

Over the last 11 years of praying Fathers promises over His beloved children and over impossible, hard situations, I’ve seen vivid, breathtakingly powerful answers to those prayers. I’ve witnessed amazing transformation in my own and others’ lives through those prayers:

  • Brokenness to Wholeness
  • Wounded to Healing
  • Weeping to Rejoicing
  • Faltering & Fleeing to Running & Victoriously Facing
  • Quietly Fearful to Courageously Bold

As a result, I approach life from a “now I know” perspective.

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm. – Psalm 20:6-8

No matter how:

  • bleak the outlook
  • insurmountable the odds
  • short the resources
  • long the wait

Continue to hold on, for the Lord saves

And when He comes through and rescues you

When He redeems that impossible situation

When He rectifies that relationship that seemed irreparable

When He miraculously moves in that circumstance that seemed nothing but a loss

The more you will see, believe and approach the next boulder or chasm in your walk of faith . . . with a “now I know” perspective.

“I AM the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” – Jeremiah 32:27

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Running (Adventures in Faith series)

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. – Heb 12:1

You are a runner.

Our race started the moment we received Christ, and we will cross the finish line when we reach our heavenly home.

How’s your race going?

Are you . . .

  • getting weary?
  • tired of persevering?
  • slowing down?
  • feeling cast down?
  • wanting to give up and give in?

Take heart and gain courage from remembering the Apostle Peter’s example.

From the time Peter became a disciple of Jesus to the day of His death, he was running and encouraging others in running their own race.

What can we learn from his example:

  • He didn’t go it alone; he partnered with others in both life and ministry.
  • He didn’t run from opposition or run away from conflict.
  • He embraced trials and persecution as realities of this faith journey.

As I read a summary of Peter’s life, I was struck by this last paragraph on BiblePath.com

Of the final days of the apostle Peter in Rome, Italy, Jowett wrote that Peter was cast into a horrible prison called the Mamertine.  For nine months, in absolute darkness, he endured monstrous torture manacled to a post.  In spite of all the suffering Peter was subjected to, however, he converted his jailers, Processus, Martinianus, and forty-seven others.

Peter met his death at the hand of the Romans in Nero’s circus, 67AD.

In utter darkness as he endured unimaginable torture, Peter was a witness to 50+ people who we’ll see in heaven because of Peter’s faithfulness in finishing his race of faith strong.

One of the most eye-opening, faith-focusing publications I receive every month is The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter. It details accounts of our own brothers and sisters around the world who are faithfully running their race in the midst of impossible odds and unimaginable torture and loss. If you don’t already receive this free publication, I encourage you to sign up for it.

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Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. – 1 Cor 9:24

Photo on Flickr by jacsonquerubin

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