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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
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. And we struggle with this today, because two big things, I think. One is we have a Google reflex. Right?
Today, if I don’t get it next day, this is awful. This is the worst thing ever. Why? Because we are used to: if you Google it, you get it. Whatever you Google, it’s instantaneous. And that’s how we think our Christian walk and formation is is just Google it. No. It’s about process. It’s about formation. God is so concerned about who you are and forming you into Christ and He will take His time, He is not in a hurry. You might be in a hurry, you might be wanting to get on with your life. And He says, “You know what? It might take a decade.” And that isn’t a waste, by the way.
Those ten years were not a waste for the apostle Paul. They were forming him. And we complain. I put “we”, me included, and, “Oh, what a waste!” Could it be, could it have been, would you look at it with different eyes that in that He is forming you. He longs to use those years powerfully in your life.
The other reason I think this is hard is not just the Google reflex for us, but we have Instagram envy, don’t we? Isn’t it so hard when you’re looking around and seeing everyone else live their best life, post their filtered reality, and you compare where you’re at, how you’re progressing with who and what others are doing around you, right?
Well, they just got that job, or they just are moving here, or they just had that kid, or they just got this house. And we just compare nonstop. See, the calling on your life is faithfulness.
Okay, I’m going to – God, if I’m faithful with what You put in front of me, You are saying that is more than enough, that’s doing what You have called me to do. First, called to Jesus. Faithful with what’s in front of me, faithful with what’s in front of me. In fact, Jesus would say it this way, “Whoever is faithful in a very little thing will also be faithful in much. Or whoever is unfaithful, or unrighteous in a very little thing, will also be unrighteous or unfaithful in much.”
What is the faithful little that He’s putting in front of you? What is the faithful little for your life that He has placed in front of you that it’s easy to look ahead, “When I get there, then I’ll do this.” “When this happens then I’ll…” And He’s going, “No. Be faithful with what is in front of you.”
Maybe it’s in your marriage. And you’re looking like, “When she finally does this,” or, “When he does this.” And God is going, “No, you be faithful.” Be faithful in your singleness. “Well, when I get this…” No, be faithful right here with what He has put in front of you. It is not waste. It’s formation.
Be faithful in your work. “This job is so hard. I mean, come on. My boss is a jerk.” “Whatever you do, whether in word and deed, do it all unto the name of the Lord Jesus.” And so, I am going to be faithful in this job, not because I’m presenting something for this person, but I am going to work as unto the Christ, as unto the Lord. Could I present it to You? See, we are called to be faithful. Those silent years were not a waste – wasted years – but formational years.
You see, it’s your decisions that you make in obscurity that will shape your destiny. See, we want to be able to rise to those big moments, but those are done and formed in those obscure moments when no one is watching, in the hidden places, when you’re faithful in your daily walk with Him. When you’re just getting up in the morning and you’re just going like, “I just want to know You. I want to spend time with You.” And the little day by day and it’s forming the ever-forming of Christ in you.
I remember when I started out in ministry, someone once said to me, “Ryan, you be concerned with the depth of your ministry. Let God be concerned with the breadth of your ministry.”
In our culture in our day, we are so focused on the outcome or the product or renown or being a somebody and God is not real impressed with that. You focus on the depth. Let God be concerned about the outcome. Let God be concerned with the product. Let Him be concerned with the fruit. Three clear callings for you and I today, we are called to Jesus. We are called to faithfulness.
And finally, is right in our text today, Acts 13, we are called to fellowship. Their specific call, by the way, wasn’t them just hanging out by themselves and had a great idea. “Man, I just think this would be the coolest thing ever.” Nothing wrong with that. Their specific call came out of engaging in fellowship with one another. You had these guys, what were they doing together?
If you have your Bible open, you can read it. What were they doing together? Worshipping and fasting! They’re worshipping. See, we like to be connected. But community takes it deeper. Fellowship takes it even deeper. That you are sharing your lives and that you’re sharing your lives in such a way that you be shaped more into the life of Christ.
Like, when we get together, when we hang out, that you’re like, do you walk away wanting to be more like Jesus with the people you’re hanging out with? You go, like, “Wow! I just was with them and my heart just, it was, I want to be more like Jesus as a result.” That’s fellowship.
See, we are called to fellowship. In fact, the author of Hebrews says it this way. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Like, think about your friends. Think about people that you hang out with. And would you consider, like, how can I spur you on? How can I encourage you towards love and good deeds? “Not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day approaching.”
Called to Jesus, called to faithfulness, and called to fellowship. Here’s something that I see a lot is I see a lot in our, after isolation and we have a hyper-individualistic society and culture. And so, it’s about me. It’s about my thing. And I’m going to kind of figure it out. I’ve got to figure it out all on my own. And by the way, Gen Z, you are, by statistic, the most lonely generation. We don’t want that for you. That’s not God’s design for you. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. It’s why the community of Christ is here.
But here’s what I see on major decisions or figuring out God’s specific calling for your life. I see people do this all the time. They have never asked or been in fellowship with one another and they come up with an idea and here’s what they say to me, “You know, Ryan, God called me to do blank.” And you know what I say? “Well, fantastic! That’s amazing!”
I might be thinking in my head, That sounds dumb. Did you really think this through? But if God called you to do it, if you heard from Jesus, who in the world am I to say differently? Isn’t it interesting how we used these terms, but he actually cuts out the very feedback or the wisdom that we need.
See, fellowship, when you’re with a group of people, they get to see your strengths, they get to see your weaknesses, you’ve been journeying together, you’ve been worshipping together. And then you are invited in, that they begin to discern with you God’s call on your life.
You know when we were planting Awakening as a church, I’ve shared this many times, we never wanted to plant a church, and I never wanted to lead a church. It was in fellowship where this became clear that this was God’s call on our life.
Steve Clifford said, “Okay, would you go at least do this church plant or assessment thing?” And he saw in me and the elders at Awakening saw in us something that we couldn’t see in ourselves and we are really trying to discern what’s next and we had godly community walking alongside. He said, “Go do this church planters assessment thing.” I’m like, “I didn’t even know that existed!”
And it was intense. It was five days from eight in the morning until eight at night. They did this battery of exams and personality profiles. They had two clinical psychologists that you met with and it was all day. I remember one day at some point we are supposed to preach a sermon. This is how out of it I was. I didn’t even know we were supposed to do that. And we have these guys that their entire dream is to plant churches. They came with their bulletins and their PowerPoint for the sermon.
I’m like, I’ve got to write a couple down, notes down for a sermon real quick on this thing.
And what we were was in, there are twenty-two assessors, there were about twenty couples. And they had to come to a unanimous decision on every single couple.
And we were so honest, we were so open. Every struggle we had, everything in our marriage, everything we were just like, “Here it is. We’re not even sure we’re supposed to do this.” But we wanted to hear from God. And they spent the night over every single couple and all twenty-two had to come to a unanimous decision. If they didn’t, they got on their knees and prayed for literally half an hour over that couple and then circled back. And it was either a yes, no, or not yet.
Quite literally, that Friday morning we sat down with a couple of those assessors, expecting them, how the week went, for them to say, “No. There’s no way.” “Fantastic, I’m glad, God, You were clear.” You know?
And these two assessors said, “You know what? We believe God has called you to plant Awakening as a church. You are called to do it now and that you’ll be highly effective for the kingdom.”
I’ve got to tell you, Jenny and I, we were bawling like babies. Because it felt like this moment in Acts 13, where there’s a group that with the Spirit, that directing and praying together and discerning the will of God and speaking in and sending and commissioning and oh that we would do that for one another and that we would surround one another and it’s not like has to stay in this isolated over here, but in your small group, as you are trying to discern a major move, you’re trying to discern whether you should get married or you’re trying to discern a job change and you go, “Would you fast and would you pray and would we move together with the Spirit.” That is the life that God is inviting us into.
See, there are three clear callings. And when we live out these clear callings of Jesus, we then begin to experience and know His specific calling for our life. You see, ninety percent, roughly ninety percent of God’s will or calling on your life is revealed in God’s Word. We obsess over the ten percent and, God, would You show me? God, would You show me who to marry? God, would You show me where to work? God, would You show me where I need to move? God, would You show me what I need to do?
And God’s going like, “I’ve showed you so much. If you just start doing what I’ll show you, then I’ll show you what you need to know.” How do you discover God’s calling for your life? Center your life on Jesus, be faithful with what is in front of you, be faithful with what is in front of you, and engage in Holy Spirit directed community.
Where are you? Where are you? And as you were taking notes, what is your next step? Write it down.
“I haven’t centered my life on You, Jesus. It has been adrift.” Or, “Man, I haven’t been in community. I have been in isolation. I need, that faithful thing, oh man, that got me.” Write it down and take your next step.
Lord Jesus, thank You so much for today, Your grace, for Your Word. Thank You that You are clear with us, that You lead us, that You speak to us, and that You are working and moving and Your will and Your ways are not a mystery, but You have revealed them openly. God, would You give us the courage to take the next step with you to become who You have called us to be and to live out your purpose in our lives? In Jesus’ name, amen.