Many of God’s children have the misconception that being “called by God” means that
they are to join the seminary and become a minister or a missionary after a beam of heavenly light has burst into their room and told them to do so with a thunderous voice, however, the truth of the matter is that when God calls on us it is usually in a still small voice and unto the common man – like you and me.
We read in 1 Kings 19:11-13 that God called upon Elijah, the humble prophet, in a “still small voice” when Elijah was hiding in a cave, afraid, and running from further service to the Lord. Elijah had already done great things in the Lord’s name at this point. He had called down the fire of God from heaven to defeat the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, (1 Kings 18:20-40), he had confronted King Ahab to inform him that the drought God had brought on the land would end, (1 Kings 18:1-19) and prior to that he had restored life to the widow’s son, (1 Kings 17:17-24). He faithfully did all of these miraculous things in the name of the Lord God of Israel. But when Jezebel, the evil wife of King Ahab, sought to kill him, he then ran and hid in a cave. What I want to point out here is that God called upon Elijah with a still small voice even though Elijah became weak and afraid. Elijah tuned out the world around him by finding a cave to hide in and it was there that God revealed Himself with a still small voice. Elijah already knew God and knew Him well when God gently called upon him to continue His work. This is a lesson for us as well, in that being a believer is a prerequisite to answering the call of God and He will speak to us in His still small voice if we shut off the world around us.
We live in an age and culture where there are always “better things to do” than spend quiet time alone with the Lord. Anytime there is “free time” it is usually spent on self-entertainment. This age of technology has created a cyber world of self amusement so that when the day’s work is done then we are immediately engulfed in our digital devices whether it be TV, the computer, or our cell phones which have now become mini digital do-it-alls. The younger generation of today find themselves walking into walls because their eyes are constantly glued to their cell phones. They have become slaves to the digital world. They cannot hear that still small voice of the Lord because their minds are always too preoccupied with the cyber world. Back in the 19th century, (which was only 112 years ago), when the day’s work was done the only evening leisure was reading by candlelight. In a Godly sense, these were good days but in a humanistic sense, the technological advancements of today’s society are better days. Society sees itself progressing because of technology but I’ll bet from God’s viewpoint of wisdom, He sees our world setting itself up for self-destruction as a result of technology and most disheartening to Him has to be the lack of attention of His calling via the Holy Spirit.
The problem isn’t just a result of technological toys. The problem is the same old problem it has always been – man’s heart. In this Age of Grace that we are living in the Holy Spirit is at work drawing souls to Christ but the physical means that His work is accomplished is through human vessels. The human vessels that are willing to do this work are those that answer the call of the Lord. God can use anyone that is willing. God is not looking for people that are qualified. He is looking for people that are available.
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9a)
God isn’t looking for robots either. He is looking for loyal hearts that love Him and that share in His desire to reach the lost and bring them back to Him. Jesus said:
“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
It is the indwelling Holy Spirit that plants the will of God into our agenda. God speaks to us through our conscience. If our communion with God is achieved through the invisible eye of faith, then His communion with us is through His soft gentle voice into our conscience. The question is are we listening? When King David was near the end of his life and his son Solomon was about to replace his throne, David warned Solomon about listening to the call of God.
“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.” (1 Chronicles 28:9a)
This is a sobering statement for us all. God doesn’t just see our works, He even searches our hearts and knows and understands the intentions of our very thoughts! Romans 2:15 tells us that our own conscience bears witness to the Godly law of right and wrong. So when we are listening to our inner voice we should be careful to discern what voice it is we are following. Even though God speaks to us in a still small voice in our conscience there is another voice that whispers in our ears and that is the voice of temptation from the father of lies – Satan. How do we know whose voice it is we are hearing? For the voice to be from God it should adhere and line up with Scripture. It should uphold the Word of God and be to His glory and purpose. We can only discern this through diligent study of His Word. There are many cults and false religions out there that claim they are following the will of God but they are listening to the wrong voice. They have neglected the full counsel of God and have chosen just one aspect of the Word to branch off into their own agenda. This is not God’s will. We need to know ALL of God’s Word to be able to answer the call diligently.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
There are many of those that do study the Word of God with faith and diligence and yet do nothing with it! That is like going to medical school and never becoming a doctor. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit instills our motivation to serve the Lord and the Bible is our manual for doing so. God has made the task of serving Him and doing His will an available apprenticeship for anyone willing to do so, especially here in America where Bibles are in great abundance. A Bible to the workman of God is like a hammer to a carpenter. Anyone can be employed by God and there is no resume or references needed, only the prerequisite of belief.
If we look at almost all of the patriarchs of the Bible they were all ordinary men that went on to do great things for God with great faith. Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews is full of common men chosen by God to do tremendous work for Him. They are commonly known as “ the heroes of the faith”! Aside from our Lord Jesus Christ these men are my personal heroes. Just consider the faith that these people had to possess to do the will of the Lord. All of the patriarchs listed in Hebrews chapter 11 are from the Old Testament, before Jesus and the cross, so they had to look ahead in faith towards the coming redeemer where the apostles and the New Testament disciples saw Him and had the full revelation of Jesus Christ the redeemer, (as do we)! We are required to trust in what has already been accomplished and is recorded, but they had to trust in what still had not yet come to pass.
Something important to note about the accounts given of all of the people in Hebrews chapter 11 is that they are acknowledged by their faith and there is no mention of their sinful shortcomings even though they all had them. If you go back into the Old Testament and examine each of their accounts you will see that their sins are recorded with their deeds. For instance Noah got drunk (Genesis 9:21), Abraham lied (Genesis 12:11-20 & in Genesis 20:2), Sarah also lied (Genesis 18:15), Isaac lied (Genesis 26:7), Jacob lied and connived (Genesis 27:19), Moses was a murderer (Exodus 2:12), Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 6:25), David was an adulterer (2 Samuel 11), etc. We see all of these shortcomings listed with these saints in the Old Testament because it is before the cross, but when these people are listed in Hebrews, which was written after the cross, their sins are remembered no more.
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:16-17)
Hebrews chapter 11 only records the faith of these patriarchs. This applies also to us because it is our faith that carries our names into eternity. So by faith we should be answering the call of God as these men and women did.
Very rarely do we see people of worldly high stature being called by God in the Bible. God chooses the common man to do His great work. In 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 it says:
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty.
God even chose the womb of a common virgin girl to incarnate His Son into the world to save it from their sins. Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God, who would do the greatest of God’s called work, lived one of the most humble lives ever lived by anyone. He never owned a house, He walked almost everywhere He went, He served His own disciples, He came from Nazareth, the most humblest of towns, (John 1:46), and He humbly and willingly submitted to the authorities even though He was innocent. Christ is our greatest example of how we should humbly answer the call of God.
So what does it mean for the common man in today’s world to answer the call of God? It means that when we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior we have then become among the called. We don’t just accept Christ and kick back in a lounge chair and wait for His coming. We should be telling others about Him! We should want to share the good news of eternal life through simple faith. Starting with our immediate family, friends, co-workers, etc. If God wants you to go further than that then He will let you know in His still small voice. This is where ministers and missionaries hear their calling, after they have already began to serve Him. Sometimes God’s calling may lead us into perilous situations but our faith should overcome any tribulation that the world throws at us, especially when we are doing His work.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
While the saints listed in Hebrews 11 are my Biblical heroes, it is the missionaries of our modern day who forfeit ALL of their lives, putting themselves in harms way by venturing into the most remote and hostile places of the world to spread the gospel to people that have never heard it that are my personal modern day heroes. We should be supporting them with our prayers and if God has blessed you to do so, financially as well. They are the TRUE laborers of the harvest to fullest extreme but we are all called to be laborers to some extent or another. We serve Christ by simply sharing Him.
While it is true that God speaks to us through that still small voice in our conscience, it is also true that God speaks to us through life’s circumstances. It is important to observe the circumstances that God has placed around us and to be perceptive to His presence within it. Everything happens for a reason and we need to trust Him throughout ALL of life’s circumstances especially if you are among the called.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
The above verse is a popular one quoted to those that are enduring any of life’s hardships but the words that I have bolded are often overlooked when it is quoted. It says those “who are the called” according to His purpose know that everything is working for His purpose. That means that those that are not called are living life believing that everything that happens is a random course of events. God’s children know that is not so. There is a divine plan in progress and it is playing out every minute. Everything happens for a reason and God’s chosen are called to accomplish His good purpose. If we are living a self-centered life we won’t see or hear our calling. If we are living a life of self-pity we also will miss the call. We need to be living a victorious life in Christ to be able to hear that still small voice. Perhaps the Lord is calling on you, dear reader. Are you able to hear Him? Be like Elijah and find a nice quiet cave, shut off your digital devices, and you may just find out that God has been calling you for quite a long time. You just weren’t listening!
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:22)