Vocation Series 1 / 27th Jan 2019 // What’s your Calling?
Readings: John 21:15-19 / Psalm 37:1-6
Recommend ‘Life is for Giving’ book by Andy Rider (this preach is basically sponsored by it…)
You might not know that this diocese, ie: the area of the CofE we are in – the Diocese of Chichester – has a different theme for each year. Last year was the year of the Bible for example. And this year is the year of Vocation. So during our evening services we are looking at the theme of vocation.
Now, commonly people hear the word vocation and think it’s all about discerning a call to ordained ministry, but that is just one thing God might call you to, Vocation and calling is about so much more than that.
Vocation really, means what you are called by God to be and to do.
To be a follower of Jesus, to personally commit to him,
but also how that plays out– to live a life worthy of that calling to bear his name as a Christian.
The overwhelming theme of this series is around finding what God has called each of us to be and do, and for each of us to seek God, for that calling.
We might do this looking at 3 areas:
- To be, just to bebefore the Lord, as he has made us.
- To be followers of Jesus
- And also the doing – to be a type of person, a thing, or to inhabit a role…
Today we’re going to look at this idea of being and doing, and how we can work out what our vocation, or calling, might be.
So today we start with Simon Peter. I love Peter, because we see he’s just a normal guy and he messes up sometimes, which is encouraging for us normal, non-Saint, didn’t see Jesus miracles first hand, struggling with faith sometimes, type people.
Peter was a bit hot headed, over-enthusiastic and in that, sometimes made mistakes.
In Matt 4 we see Peter as one of the first to be called to follow Jesus, to be a fisher of men, then later, in Matthew 14 when Jesus walks on water, Peter gets all super enthusiastic and says ‘Jesus, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water’. He’s like if it’s really you, do something amazing and show me.
Jesus is like ‘okay…., come on then…’
And Peter jumps out onto the water but then his enthusiasm fails him, he starts to doubt and begins to sink. And so he has to cry out to Jesus to save him,
Jesus says:. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Then in Matt 16, Jesus asks Peter who he is and he nails it:
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus goes on to call him to build his church, telling him he is the rock.
So we think he’s got it all down, finally Peter has understood… and then at the last supper he shows he still hasn’t grasped it all as he won’t let Jesus wash his feet, and then again with that enthusiasm says to wash all of him before Jesus explains to him what it’s all about.
Then we see in John 18, Peter cutting off the ear of the High Priests servants, as they come to arrest Jesus,
and finally he denies Jesus 3 times, right when it really counts, as Jesus is going to the cross.
Peter was not a perfect follower of Jesus, by any stretch of the imagination. But the point is that we are called within our mistakes and our brokenness. Jesus knows who we are and loves us all the same. Loves us enough to have us do his work for him on earth.
I constantly ask myself why on earth God would call someone like me to be part of this church – let alone into ordained ministry. With a mispent path, and a bit like Peter in my hot headedness, and if I’m honest, sometimes a bit sweary too – why me?
But the fact is God calls us all, to work for the kingdom, for God’s glory, and in our differences we reach different people for the kingdom.
One thing we must remember, and we see this with Peter – and it’s the same for each of us, is thathis first and primary calling, was to follow Jesus andthen, secondlyto be part of Jesus work.
We can read this in Matthew 4: 18-20
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
Jesus calls Peter to follow him first and then gives him the purpose – to fish for people – to share the good news of Jesus.
And that’s the thing, we are first called, whoever we are, our primary calling is to be followers of Jesus Christand to live out what that means in our daily lives, that is the same for each of us. We can see this throughout scripture.
God calls all believers to love the Lord our God with all our heart (Deuteronomy 6.5);
to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11.44);
to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6.8).
and Jesus echoes this general call to all who would follow,
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Following Jesus means:
Believing and turning to him
Seeking to be more like him and revealing him in our daily lives in the way that we are
And we can do that by
Seeking to be the person he made us to be.
I love this line from Psalm 37 as we heard earlier on,
Let your delight be in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire. Psalm 37.4
God wants us to be happy and fulfilled, that’s God’s desire for us, and when we are fully tuned in to God we see and become who we were always intended to be.
Tim Keller said:
So, what or who are you building your identity on?
Are you responding to your first calling to follow Jesus? And to be the person he made you to be.
AND it’s from the place of knowing God’s love and who God has made us to be that we are called into how we use that…
We have to BE before we DO….
Nick Vujicic, author and motivational speaker (born with a rare disorder, with no legs or arms), says:
‘From before you were born you were created the way you are because God wanted one like you! ‘I know for certain God does not make mistakes, but he does make miracles, I am one, you are too.’
You can’t do this on your own,
AND it’s from the place of knowing God’s love and who he has made us to be that we are called into how we use that…
We have to BE before we DO….
All Christians have this foundational calling, and it is fundamental for any other. What we do with our days, we do with our lives. Quote from book
And for Nick, it was from that place of accepting himself, as God had made him, that he was able to step into his calling, to share the gospel, to inspire people with his life and tell people about Jesus.
So, for us, what are we called to do?
what do wedowith our lives, more specifically. A call that takes who we are, created by God for a particular purpose and then we offer it back to God.
might be a lifetime’s work, a one off event, a job, a time or season in your life. It might be an individual calling for you, or perhaps for a few people together, it might be something that changes over time.
And we need to discern what God is calling us to, as individuals specifically and for the right time.
And God calls each and every one of us, no matter where we are at – because God made each of us and God loves each of us, just as we are.
And not only that but God uses all things, redeems our lives, our past, rather than limiting us by it.
So for me, I said earlier I question why God called someone like me. But I know that having had a bit of a wild youth, I can get along with those who are struggling with drink and drugs, I understand some of what they are going through. Last week, just outside here one of our local street community was walking past, saw me as I was leaving and came up and just gave me a big hug. That that comes from the time I have spent chatting to him, forming a relationship with him. And you know it brought tears to my eyes as I realised that it felt like redemption, nothing in my life has been wasted…
I love that in Peter’s story we see that too, as we read in our passage today, that Jesus not only redeemed Peter’s mistake of denying him, but in that he called out his destiny, his future, his CALLING.
3 times we know that Peter denied Jesus:
We read in Luke 22:
A servant girl seeing Peter says:“This man was with him.”5But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him”
someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him…
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
3 times he denied knowing this man who he had left everything for,who he had followed across the country, who he had seen do amazing signs and wonders,
and yetwhen it came down to it, he succumbed to fear and he denied ever knowing him.
I love that there’s always a but…
But. Jesus took his fear and his denial and his pain, and he redeemed it we read in today’s passage.
3 times he asked Peter if he loved him and 3 times he gave him a purpose:
do you love me more than these?”
Peter: “Yes, Lord,” “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,
(he didn’t realise what Jesus was doing)
“Do you love me?” He said,
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
We already know he’s told Peter he will be the rock on which he will build his church and now he’s really calling him into it. Calling him to be a Pastor.
To look after those who follow Jesus, to feed them, nurture them…
And we know that is exactly what he did, he got over the pain and his mistakes and stepped into what Jesus called him to.
How do we know our calling?
Now of course discerning what God is calling you to might not be quite so simple or obvious of course as it was for Peter. The key is to be open to hearing from God and so often we aren’t even listening, or as in my case in total denial about the whole thing!
And God can and does use just about anything to equip us and point us towards the adventure in store for us. I know that because when I was feeling called into ministry he even used a double glazing salesman who came to our house to encourage me to focus on what God was calling me to.
God uses everything and anything!
And God needs people doing all sorts of things.
This week I had a lengthy meeting with someone from the Church of England, who is part of a research team called the Witness Project, looking at case studies of churches doing witness well. I spent most of the day with this chap and introducing him to people doing different things in the life of TRINITY and sharing about how God is at work here. At the end of the day I felt so encouraged. It wasn’t that I don’t know what is happening here, I do. But to hear it all laid out like that and how God is working through so many different people was so encouraging.
And part of that was that I realised as we went through the conversations that this is a place where people are encouraged to explore their gifts and passions for the kingdom.
Where people have truly heard God about what is needed here and how they can address a need and have got on with it. Janette with Southover Care, or other Jeanette with Southover Counselling, are great examples of people who had a sense of their own gifts, of the needs of the community and how God might be calling them to address those needs.
Zoe and Joy at Café12/31, using their talents both in the kitchen and through their love of people to bring light and joy into the lives of the customers to the café.
Emilie with Trinity Voices, using her love of music and singing, to bring people together, to have fun together but in that to bring Jesus also.
Alex through dance; Emma with boogie bunch; Marcus and others who cook for Alpha; the Monday club team; Tom with the 18-25s, there are so many and sorry if I didn’t mention you – so many examples of people who have sensed God highlighting a need, seen how their gifts can address that need and have got on with it, for God’s kingdom.
Sometimes a calling can be as simple as that – knowing how God has made you and using that for the kingdom –
what are your gifts and talents? How might God be calling you to use them at this point in your life?
How do we know? //
But if we truly want to know what God is calling us to we also need to seek God in it.
How can we know what God wants us to step into if we aren’t asking or listening?
Some things we can do to seek our calling
Look at ourselves
So, firstly, look at who God has made us to be – what are our gifts and talents as we’ve just looked at. Or do you have a sense of something you might like to do, however unlikely it seems. Or is there something you have fallen in to that was unexpected but seems right.
Why not explore some of these areas, how might you push doors to step further into them?
Seems simple: but ask God, Lord what are you calling me to?
Rick Warren says that:
We often miss hearing God’s voice simply because we aren’t paying attention.
Ask and listen! And then look for answers
Listen to the unusual/ Look for signs…
God speaks to us in so many ways and sometimes that means unusual things that grab our attention.
If you ask God a question, listen and look for the answer.
And ask others, those who know you best, if you are sensing God asking you to do something, does that make sense to the people who know you well, sometimes our friends know us better than we know ourselves,
but can also pray for us, for wisdom as we seek what God is calling us to.
Get help and advice exploring what might be the next steps…
Believe in yourself.
Believe in yourself and in who God has made you to be.
Jackie Pullinger as a young girl in the 1960s went to be a missionary in Hong Kong. Everyone told her not to, they thought she was crazy going by herself, as a single young woman, with no organisation to support her, but she knew what God was asking of her and she went anyway. And God used her mightily to impact people living in darkness in the walled city.
She knew she was doing God’s work and nothing would hold her back from it
So believe in who you are. Be bold and have courage in that.
So, wherever you are at, at whatever stage of life,
seek God in prayer,
listen and look for answers,
ask other for advice and
be the person God has made you to be,