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About this series
Discovering God's Calling on Your Life
The word purpose is defined as 'the reason for which something is done.' So what is your life's purpose? The fact is we all long to know why am I here? Join guest teacher Ryan Ingram for this new series “Purpose FULL – Discovering God’s Calling on Your Life.” Ryan unpacks how we can not only discover our God-given purpose, but live it out even when difficulty, hardship, and conflict come. You’re not gonna wanna miss a single message!More from this series
Purpose full. Why don’t you say that with me? Purpose full. Like, how do you live a life full of purpose. You know life’s big questions. You wrestled with them at one point or maybe you’re wrestling with them.
The question of existence: why am I here? The question of meaning or significance: does my life matter? The question of purpose: what am I here for? And isn’t it true that for many of us, this last year probably shook the foundation of many of those questions. Like, why am I here? What is going on? I don’t even understand what is happening in the world and does anything matter at all? And we’re talking about purpose, hasn’t it felt like for some, like your purpose has been put on pause?
Or for some, you felt like your purpose was lost. Because so much of your life was built around what you did or who you were around. And then all of a sudden, those things were stripped away, whether it was the approval of people or success in your job and now you’re looking around and going, like, “Why am I here? What is really going on?” And I think a lot you just kind of felt like this is just purposeless. What is the point of it all?
And the question is how do we actually live a life and can we live a life full or filled with purpose? Now, what’s incredible about the gospel and the writings of Scripture is God’s Word just begins from the very pages of the Bible saying that you are filled with purpose.
I mean, just think about this. This is in the first couple pages of the Bible in Genesis where it says that you were created in the image of God. Like you’re, I’m looking at image bearers. I’m looking at ones who have intrinsic value and worth who is not an accident, who is not a mistake, one who has been intentionally, carefully designed and placed on purpose.
I like how Dallas Willard says it. He says that, “You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.” Have you ever thought about yourself like that? I mean, think about that. That’s who you are! You are an eternal being.
You will go on forever and you have an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. There’s a point to it all and a point to your life.
And so, what does this mean? First, it means that you were made on purpose. Don’t miss this because some of you need this today. This is the reason God has you here. You were made on purpose. You’re not an accident, you’re not a mistake, you’re not a waste of time. Whatever those thoughts that have been rattling around in your mind are a lie from the pit of hell.
You are made on purpose and as a result, you are made for a purpose. God has such an incredible plan for you and He’s designed you, you're fully and wonderfully made. Knit together and there’s a purpose and a plan and you don’t want to miss it. And the question that all of us wrestle with then is, well, how in the world do I figure out God’s purpose for me? I get it, Ryan. God has a purpose for my life. But what is God’s purpose for my life? Thank you very much. I have been asking that question for decades.
Or better yet, what is God’s calling on your life? And to be sure, this isn’t just a twenty-year-old question. I think sometimes we think about this like, yeah, I remember asking that question when I was in my twenties, you know? And we wrestle with that, you know? We’re wrestling with our, “Why am I here?” And, “What is my job?” And all these sort of things.
But it’s definitely a question in the forties, by the way, twenties – you know why? There’s a little thing, you may have heard of it. You might not have. It’s really not that big of a deal. A little thing called a mid-life crisis where people do the dumbest things, because they realize one thing. The weight of what they have built their life on no longer supports their life. And so, they are looking for something else to bring purpose and meaning and maybe it’s found in a new car, maybe it’s found in a new life entirely.
And then when I talk to those in our church that are in their sixties, seventies, those who have lived life well look back with great contentment and satisfaction
But I have also had too many conversations that look back with regret and pain and, “I wish I would have invested my life differently.” The things I poured my life in, the purposes I thought mattered really didn’t.”
So, how do we discover God’s calling on our life? I want to talk about the divine calling of God, how do you discover it? And give you three specific, clear callings of God in your life today to live that out. And to do that, we are going to dive back into Acts and Acts chapter 13.
If you’ve got your Bibles, go ahead an open up there. And we’re going to look at a snapshot of where Barnabas and Saul get a clear calling from God. This is a clear calling from God. And out of this, we are going to unpack three clear callings for God in your life.
It begins this way, “Now in the church at Antioch, there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” Now notice. “While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart,’” I don’t know why that was my Holy Spirit voice. Okay.
“‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed they placed their hands on them, and sent them off.” Don’t you want that? Like, wouldn’t that make your life so simple? Like all of a sudden, “What?” “Timmy! This is My calling for your life.” Like, fantastic. That would be great!
Like, “Ingram, that is so dramatic!” When is that ever going to happen? Yeah, I would love to have the Holy Spirit say, “Set apart me and here we go!” How do you discover God’s calling for your life?
What’s fascinating though is the backstory to this moment. What led up and set up this moment that gave Paul and Barnabas their specific calling? You see, there is the clear calling of God on your life, His will for your life that when we live it out, then His specific calling for your life will be revealed.
And the challenge before many of us is we want God’s specific calling without living out His revealed calling. You see, I want to give you a little bit of the back story of Paul or Saul. And a little bit of his background because what you’ll see is how God was working to this moment of setting apart for a new season of ministry and it’s what God wants to do in your life, and how He wants to grow and help you become who He has made you to be to live out the purposes for your life.
And so, today, I want to give you three clear callings of God for your life to live out. The first is simply this. You are called to Jesus. You are called to Jesus. This might be, no, it’s not “might be,” this is the most important one. Lean in with me here.
If you miss, if you get nothing out of this, get this. Now, you remember Saul’s story. He was traveling on the road to Damascus. He was a persecutor of the faith, he has a life changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. And as a result, his entire world flipped, the entire direction of his life; his job, in fact, changed. Like, he encountered the risen Savior and it changed everything in his life.
See, your first and foremost calling is not to a job, not to your school, to your education. It’s not even to your marriage. Your first calling is to Jesus. That’s it. You are called to a person first, instead of a task. You are invited into a relationship, not rules.
I like the way Jesus said it. His invitation to you and to me today, He says, “Come to Me.” Like, “Would you? Would you really come to Me?” The invitation has always been open wherever you have been, the invitation has always been there, whatever you have done. “Come to Me.” “Come to Me all who are weary and burdened.”
“Come to Me and I’ll give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you’ll find rest for your soul.” See, the challenge for us is when we’re talking about Jesus being our first calling, is the way we answer that often in real life is it’s Jesus plus something else equals my purpose and life.
Maybe it’s Jesus plus your job or Jesus plus, man, when I marry him or when I meet her. Jesus plus when we’re finally able to have kids. Or Jesus plus success or upward mobility or these sort of things. And it’s just Jesus. It’s just Him. It’s your first, my first calling. Nothing more and nothing less than simply Jesus.
I like how Rick Warren says it. He says, “The first purpose of your life or calling is to let God love you.” Isn’t that good? The first purpose and calling of your life. And he doesn’t say to love God, which certainly that is true. But it’s to let God love you.
You know how you let God love you? You come to Him. You’ve got to come to Him. Like you have a perfect heavenly Father who is eager to hear your voice. A Savior who has suffered and died for you to bring you into relationship. He says, “Just come to Me.” Would you let God love you today? Would you stop putting up the walls, stop putting up the things that I get it, that you have hurts and you have wounds and you have baggage and you have these things that you just build up and you’re just like, God, I’m just so nervous and afraid. Okay, God, I’m a little, I’m just going to come to You. Here’s my heart. And He meets you there every single time. Our first calling, our first calling is we are called to Jesus, called to a person.
The second calling and clear calling of our lives is we are called to faithfulness. We are called to faithfulness.
It’s interesting when you read through Acts and it’s so, it’s kind of hard because we miss it, is we don’t realize, like, you could flip a page and years have gone by. You know? So, Paul is in Damascus, right? He actually spent three years in Damascus, but it’s one sentence in Acts.
And he spends three years in Damascus and then he travels back to Jerusalem and when he goes back to Jerusalem, everybody is still afraid of him, even after three years they’re like, “We don’t trust this guy. We don’t know this guy.”
And I love it – Barnabas. He’s the son of encouragement. He’s the only one that goes to Paul, puts him arm around him, and he actually brings him up to the apostles and brings him into community and into fellowship.
And then the apostle Paul, Saul, then he starts preaching in Jerusalem and some people are getting upset in the city and they want to kill him now. These are people that he would call friends then.
And so, the disciples don’t really know what to do and they set him off to his hometown of Tarsus.
Now, from chapter 9 to chapter 13 where Paul and Barnabas are called out, the amount of time is thirteen years. A thirteen-year span and ten of those years was spent in Tarsus.
He goes back and think about this. The guy who would one day pen much of the New Testament, who would plant hundreds of churches, spends a decade, spends a decade. And what’s he doing? Well, the reality is we don’t really know what he’s doing because it’s called “The Silent Years”. We have nothing recorded. Here’s what we know: he worked the family trade. Because we know he was Paul, he couldn’t help but share about Jesus. And he was just faithful with what was in front of him for a decade.
See, we are called to faithfulness, we are called to be faithful for what is in front of us.