Posts Tagged ‘calling’

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“Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting rock”

Isaiah 26:4

If you have followed me for long, you realize that I have a Hupomone fetish.  The word is just cool.  So as I was reading Isaiah and Jeremiah, I kept hearing over and over, “These guys are real Hupomone Men”.  Yes, when I read Scripture I often hear things and no it is not always God.  Sometimes it is something like, “There is ice cream in the freezer.”  In this case it really made me focus not so much on the message that these two great prophets delivered but on the lives that these two great prophets lived.  The message made them prophets of God.  The lives make them men of God, Hupomone men.

Last week we established that Isaiah and Jeremiah were Hupomone men because they were called by God.  You may be thinking, “Well that let’s me off the hook.  I am not called to be a prophet!”.  The Romans may have been have been thinking the same thing when Paul disabused them of that idea by opening the epistle to Rome with:

…Jesus Christ our Lord,  through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:4b-7

Yes, we are not all called to be prophets but we are called to obedience, called to sainthood (hagios comes from a root that indicates purity, freedom from sin).  This call for Jeremiah and Isaiah took on the face of the prophetic, serving an Israel that had lost its way.  This call may well be very different for each person reading this blog.  The call is not to a specific vocation but to “the obedience of the faith”.  Jesus makes it clear that the call is not enough.  In his parable of the wedding guests he concludes, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14.  As we look at the story (and I am not going to recount the whole thing here…grab your Bible and read it!) we see that the hapless guest to whom Jesus refers was called to the party but behaved himself out of being chosen to stay.  This is where we see that the call is not enough.  So what is this other thing, this next step that sets Isaiah and Jeremiah and all those Hupomone men before and after them apart from the crowd?

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Joshua in his fairly famous soliloquy before the people of Israel says, “choose for yourselves today”  Isaiah and Jeremiah had many todays in their combined 100 years of prophetic service to God. The next quality that set them apart as true Hupomone men is:

Isaiah and Jeremiah both made a daily choice to serve God.

They came dressed in their wedding clothes day after day.  Even when all of the other prophets were sporting Bermuda Shorts and Hawaiian Shirts, they came in wedding clothes.  Even when the King made it clear that the honeymoon was over, they came in wedding clothes, and while Scripture does not record it, tradition tells us that even when it meant death, they came in wedding clothes.  They were wedding clothes of obedience, truth and purity.  They are the wedding clothes of the Hupomone Man.

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Marked Off Calendar

“Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting rock”

Isaiah 26:4

If you have followed me for long, you realize that I have a Hupomone fetish.  The word is just cool.  So as I was reading Isaiah and Jeremiah, I kept hearing over and over, “These guys are real Hupomone Men”.  Yes, when I read Scripture I often hear things and no it is not always God.  Sometimes it is something like, “There is ice cream in the freezer.”  In this case it really made me focus not so much on the message that these two great prophets delivered but on the lives that these two great prophets lived.  The message made them prophets of God.  The lives make them men of God, Hupomone men.

Last week we established that Isaiah and Jeremiah were Hupomone men because they were called by God.  You may be thinking, “Well that let’s me off the hook.  I am not called to be a prophet!”.  The Romans may have been have been thinking the same thing when Paul disabused them of that idea by opening the epistle to Rome with:

…Jesus Christ our Lord,  through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:4b-7

Yes, we are not all called to be prophets but we are called to obedience, called to sainthood (hagios comes from a root that indicates purity, freedom from sin).  This call for Jeremiah and Isaiah took on the face of the prophetic, serving an Israel that had lost its way.  This call may well be very different for each person reading this blog.  The call is not to a specific vocation but to “the obedience of the faith”.  Jesus makes it clear that the call is not enough.  In his parable of the wedding guests he concludes, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14.  As we look at the story (and I am not going to recount the whole thing here…grab your Bible and read it!) we see that the hapless guest to whom Jesus refers was called to the party but behaved himself out of being chosen to stay.  This is where we see that the call is not enough.  So what is this other thing, this next step that sets Isaiah and Jeremiah and all those Hupomone men before and after them apart from the crowd?

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Joshua in his fairly famous soliloquy before the people of Israel says, “choose for yourselves today”  Isaiah and Jeremiah had many todays in their combined 100 years of prophetic service to God. The next quality that set them apart as true Hupomone men is:

Isaiah and Jeremiah both made a daily choice to serve God.

They came dressed in their wedding clothes day after day.  Even when all of the other prophets were sporting Bermuda Shorts and Hawaiian Shirts, they came in wedding clothes.  Even when the King made it clear that the honeymoon was over, they came in wedding clothes, and while Scripture does not record it, tradition tells us that even when it meant death, they came in wedding clothes.  They were wedding clothes of obedience, truth and purity.  They are the wedding clothes of the Hupomone Man.

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Detour Ahead!  How I have dreaded that sign. Fortunately with today’s smartphone and GPS technology it does not carry the same fear factor that it did when I was younger.  In fact today with a little bit of effort we are able to avoid detours altogether and if we do get stuck in one with a few simple screen touches we no longer have to rely on the often sparsely placed detour signs and can map out our new path to our destination.  However we have not managed a technology that will predict and map out alternative routes to our goals when we hit those life detours that take us away from path of life that we have planned.

1de·tour

noun \ˈdē-ˌtu̇r also di-ˈtu̇r\

: the act of going or traveling to a place along a way that is different from the usual or planned way

: a road, highway, etc., that you travel on when the usual way of traveling cannot be used

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detour

I have been struggling with this topic for some time now.  I originally thought I would be talk about heavenly detours.  How God diverts our path for his purpose and we just have to kind of ride along.  That is certainly how I felt about this latest chapter in my life.  As I looked at the scene pictured about today (Wednesday October 2, 2013), I realized how different my life was just 9 months ago.  January 2nd Nisa Faith had just joined our family after a 10 year Odyssey of losses, tears and suffering.  Allana was feeling a little ill but we were certain a quick trip to the OB, some antibiotics and we would be good to go.  Ready to run that path that seemed to be so obviously stretched out ahead of us, a Spring and Summer of ministry at The Lewis House, working with Compelled, CityLight and our other partners to spread the Love of God.  What a difference 3 days can make.  3 short days and I would be on perhaps the greatest detour of my life, or would I.  God has been really battering me on this subject, because I truly have felt like this was exactly that, a detour.  When in reality it is right on course but instead of my course, or Allana’s course or TLH’s course, it IS GOD’s course.  When we view these events in our lives as detours, we detract from God’s omniscient role as master planner of everything.  I want to step lightly here because I am not writing doctrine on God’s sovereignty nor am I suggesting that God gave this horrible disorder to Allana, or anyone else.  I think that perhaps my concept of our situation whether thought out or not was of God looking down and saying, ” Oh shoot!  Allana has Leukemia, well I guess I can use that for My Glory ’til we can get things back on course.”  There we go, just a heavenly detour and I am so tempted to detour here into writing the very doctrinal statement that I said was not my intent.  Thank God for the delete button.  However what I have found is that God does not take detours.  Allana and I are not on some end around that will eventually get us back on the path that God has for us.  We are on the path that he has carefully laid out for us.

Jeremiah 1:4-5

4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

No detours for God’s consecrated, God’s appointed, God’s anointed.  There is a point in every Born Again Believer’s life that he or she makes a choice to change direction.  However this is not a detour because not only the route changes, the destination changes.  The Believer is no longer on a pathway to eternal separation from God, to hell, but has turned to a path leading to the mind of Christ.  There is an intentional, continual seeking of God’s presence.  It harks more the etymological root of the word than our current usage.

French détour, from Old French destor, from destorner to divert, from des- de- + torner to turn —

First Known Use: 1738
To turn from, this is the very heart of repentance and salvation.  There is one major difference when we submit ourselves to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ there is not just a temporary course change.  There is a change of destination, and I don’t just mean heaven.  Every man has in his mind a course and destination.  What the destination will be is determined by our core values.  Some pursue riches.  Some pursue power.  Some pursue pure evil.  Some pursue the greatest good.  Honestly some pursue nothing at all, seeking to have no destination at all but simply seeing life as riding out each circumstance to the best of their ability only to find that this is in itself pursuing a course to a destination.  When one comes into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ all of  that changes.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28  Suddenly we are on a new course.  It is not one of our own creation but one that God set into motion before the world was created.  This is the confusion.  We conceive of where God has us headed and when things don’t turn out we see it as a detour.  This brings frustration just the same way that an unexpected detour on the road unsettles us.  However when we give God the glory he is do, this evaporates.  “In his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps.” Psalms 16:9  It is the assumption that God has it all under control that allows to continually apply His word to our situation. “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.”   Psalm 119:59.  It is in this place that God affirms us even in the midst of the storm.

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This is  a study that I first wrote before Nisa’s birth and before the present trial that God has placed in our path.  More than ever the depth of God’s love for His people as illustrated by Hosea’s call and response to that call inspires my heart and lets me rest in the knowledge of His Grace.

“When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry ; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.”  So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”  Hosea 1:2-3

Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”  Hosea 3:1

Hosea is first and foremost a love story.  It is a live action representation of the redemptive love story called The Bible.  When I first read this amazing story I glossed over these two passages.  I did not really conceive of what God was asking of Hosea.

It is in chapter three that the reality of Hosea’s call becomes clear. Suddenly all of the technical sniping about the legal ramifications and the arguments over interpretation seem shallow.  Hosea was called by God to create in life a wonderful picture of His love for us, the love that culminated on a cross outside of Jerusalem and was fulfilled by an empty tomb!  It is a love that is sacrificial, one that accepts rejection and seeks redemption.  It is love that forgives offense and pursues atonement but it is a love that recognizes the requirements of holiness and demands a response.  It is a love that understands that in the absence of that response destruction comes.

“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.  You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies.  Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors”  Hosea 10:12-13

In this case I like the NIV’s translation of CHECED (rendered kindness by the NAS), “unfailing love”.  I think this considers well the overall theme of Hosea.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love…”

This foreshadows Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in Matthew 22 when asked what the greatest commandment was.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind soul…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”


The formula is simple: Righteous living = Love.  God called Hosea to graphically demonstrate this love, the love of Righteousness.  He also calls us to love the un-lovable and shows us that this can be done without sacrificing righteousness.  Hosea never accepted and/or condoned her sin but he went and loved her, went and redeemed her where she was at.  In just the same way Christ came to our sorry estate and loved us, redeemed us.  Now he waits for our response.  Just as Hosea required a response from Gomer,

Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days.  You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.”  Hosea 3:3

Here the story of Hosea ends and the application to Israel begins.

“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them.  For the ways of the Lord are right, And the righteousness will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them.”  Hosea 14:9

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Since Allana was diagnosed with Leukemia this place has been a mad house.  People ask the question and I find myself saying over and over, I have had to redefine what is a good day and what is a bad day.  The new normal for Allana, myself and our family is a bad day by the old standards, every day.  As I sit here thinking about this redefining process and my relationship to God it became clear to me that my relationship with God is the catalyst and the key to it.  This is what God does for us.  This is how he grows and draws us close.  A burning bush redefined life for Moses.  Suddenly a good day was risking his life standing before Pharaoh, or before his very own irate people.  I cannot help but wonder if Moses did not wish for the good old days of tending sheep in the hills of Midian.  Joseph had his days redefined in Egypt several times.  An angel by a wine press redefined a good day for Gideon.  Job, well Job is Job and he is perhaps the poster child for the redefining process.  Jesus redefined a good day for the disciples, over and over and over.  Then He redefined it for the universe by dying on Calvary.  I can almost hear God in his best Jerry Maguire impression on that day speaking to His People:  You know our little venture, well it had a big day, a really big day.  Now I complete you!.  Each of these has a real element of BAD to them.  It is important to realize that God does not want us to suffer, but He USES it and yes ALLOWS it because it serves His purposes in achieving Romans 8:28 which outlines the end result of the redefining process.  The good thing about this process is that it has a core.  It is a core that is made of rock hard incorruptible absolute truth.  It is a core that is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and immutable.  What happens is that in all this redefinition we actually come to a single truth.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?   Micah 6:8

Circumstances change but a good day is when we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.  I cannot say that today was a good day, but We believe and we are learning  God give us grace and power to make tomorrow a good day, no matter what the circumstances are.

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“He has done it!” ends David’s psalm 22.  The New American Standard Bible labels this Psalm: “A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise”.  David accepted  that all suffering is simply the path to the miraculous for those who are followers of Jesus.    Nisa will be for us a miracle of new life.  Our family in many ways is born again with the impending birth of this precious girl.  This is an attribute of the miraculous.  It brings rebirth to those it impacts.  Our very transformation from beings steeped in sin and unacceptable in the presence of God to children of the living God and those who are guaranteed an eternity in His presence is perhaps the greatest miracle of all.

If one dares the term, lesser miracles also carry this sense of new beginnings.  They are those points in our lives when our cries of anguish turn to songs of praise.  They are intended to transform on a spiritual level not just impact our physical beings.  It is this spiritual aspect of the miraculous that is so confusing to us.  When we approach the miraculous as simply God impacting our earthly lives (perhaps as reward or even punishment) it fogs the very nature of the miracles.  We become magicians searching for the “spells” or the correct formula of prayer (or behavior) that will manipulate God into acting the way that we conceive that he should.  Paul was singing praises in prison not because he thought this would enable, encourage or force God to act on his behalf.  He did it because he anticipated the miraculous in whatever form it would come.  (Acts 16:25ff)

Right now I can only anticipate and imagine the incredible joy that I will feel when I hold Nisa in my arms.  I am living in the confidence of Paul.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

Paul gives this statement as a basis for his ongoing joy.  He anticipated the miraculous.  Our ability to live out this type of anticipation is a function of the degree to which we embrace the initial miracle of our rebirth into the family of God and our ability to keep our spiritual eyes focused on Jesus.  It is the understanding that the miraculous is not so much about our physical circumstances as our spiritual lives and our relationship with God.  The miraculous operates within its own economy, one established and ordained by God.  It is an economy that ensures  joy for those who live by faith and anticipate the miraculous.

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We had our baby shower for Nisa Faith on Friday.  It was a joyous occasion!  She is truly a miracle of faith.  As I watched our many friends and brothers and sisters in Christ who came to celebrate Nisa with us I considered the nature of the miraculous.  It came to me that as wonderful and amazing as miracles are in our lives they are born from, take place in the midst of and birth burden, or a weight upon our lives.  Consider a story very much apropos to our situation, Hannah and Samuel.  The miraculous event of Samuel’s birth was born out of the burden of Hannah’s barren state, born into the burden of a Spiritual vacuum in Israel and birthed the prophetic burden and kingly burden that would eventually be carried by the house of David and eventually and eternally by Jesus Christ.

It is with incredible joy and godly heaviness of heart that I look at the burden that set the stage for our miracle child.  The burden that miracles are born out of consists of suffering.  It would suggest a corollary for the Christian, for all who have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  That is that all suffering is simply the path to the miraculous for those who are followers of Jesus.  The final assurance of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  This promise seemed stale and far away when we were in the midst of the burden.  Just as the promise of God’s intervention must have seemed distant to a mourning and desperate Hannah as she endured the initial reaction of Eli the priest.  David felt the burden and the distance when he penned Psalm 22, pouring out his soul in verse and weaving a prophetic tapestry of the Messiah under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 

My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.”  (vs 1-2)

David ends this Psalm with a recognition of the burden/miracle relationship and his own rendition of Romans 8:28:

“Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.  They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn:  He has done it!”  (vs. 30-31)

He Has Done It!

Next: In the Midst of Burden

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