Ezekiel 2:3-5 and Fulfilling Calling and Responsibility

phone-callSometimes I think we make it more complicated than it is to fulfill God’s calling on our lives and live up to the responsibility he gives us. Perhaps it is because we see in the Bible and in ancient and modern Church history stories of how people did mighty and amazing things for God. Perhaps it is because of fear and insecurity. Whatever the reason, Ezekiel gives us a reason to think differently about it. God comes to Ezekiel while he is in exile in Babylon and calls him to preach to the other exiled Jewish people there. Part of his calling follows:

He said to me: Human one, I’m sending you to the Israelites, a traitorous and rebellious people. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. I’m sending you to their hardheaded and hard-hearted descendants, and you will say to them: The Lord God proclaims. Whether they listen or whether they refuse, since they are a household of rebels, they will know that a prophet has been among them.

That is a tough calling to live out and a lot of responsibility. These people are exiled because of unfaithfulness to the Lord. They have been captured, led away, lost everything they owned, no longer have a home–all because of their unfaithfulness–and Ezekiel is sent to them to preach to them. I would imagine there was some trepidation on Ezekiel’s part with this task the Lord has given him. If the people would not listen when they were in Judah and Jerusalem and had an opportunity to repent and avoid this punishment, why would they listen now?

But notice what the Lord says. It does not matter whether the people accept what you say or not. You will be faithful if you do what I say and speak to them. Their response is their responsibility. Your obeying me is your responsibility.

That really takes the burden away from Ezekiel. He is only responsible for himself and his faithfulness to God. This is as it is with all of us. We are only, ultimately, responsible for being faithful to the Lord in what he has called us to do. Obviously we want to fulfill that calling in the best way that we can so we fairly and accurately represent the Lord as his faithful ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:13-21), but other peoples’ responses to what God has called us to do is their responsibility, not ours.

God has called us all to love and to share the Good News with others. What their response is to that message is between them and God. We need to make sure we are being faithful to what God has called us to do.

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Esther 4:13-14 and God’s Calling on Our Lives

Queen Esther before the King.

Queen Esther before the King.

Every Christian has a calling on their lives. The Lord, for whatever reason, has chosen to use people to effect his will on earth. When we become Christians we say yes to working with God to accomplish that will. We are given an awe-some privilege to be able to work with the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, to accomplish what he wants in the world.

Esther saw this firsthand. Her cousin, Mordecai, informed her of a terrible development with regards to the Jewish people and then reminded her that God uses everyone:

Don’t think for one minute that, unlike all the other Jews, you’ll come out of this alive simply because you are in the palace. In fact, if you don’t speak up at this very important time, relief and rescue will appear for the Jews from another place, but you and your family will die. But who knows? Maybe it was for a moment like this that you came to be part of he royal family.

God can and will use everyone. John Wesley said it best:

We should every one of us consider, for what end God has put us in the place where we are? And when an opportunity offers of serving God and our generation, we must take care not to let it slip.

What opportunity has God given you to serve him and your generation?

Joshua 1:5-6 and Confirmation From God

be-strong-and-courageousThere are times when we need confirmation from God that we are doing what it is he wants us to do.  Graciously, God gives that confirmation.  The story of Joshua is a perfect example of this truth.  If anyone was sure of his calling, it was Joshua.  He went up the Mount Sinai with Moses alone.  He had a promise by God that he would enter the Promised Land when everyone else of his generation (except Caleb) would perish.  He was brought before the Tent of Meeting with Moses and the Lord spoke directly to him and told him he would be Moses’ successor.  Moses laid hands on him to, in essence, ordain him and pass the Spirit to him.  Joshua was exactly where he was called to be.

Then the Lord speaks to Joshua and the situation becomes very real, “My servant Moses is dead.  Now get ready to cross over the Jordan” (1:2).  Now it is real.  Now the Lord is asking Joshua to leave the comfort of the camp and the familiarity of the wilderness for the struggle of leading the people, fighting the nations, and possessing the Promised Land.  This is the reason he was called by God, yes, but it is also beyond what his experience was shadowing Moses in the wilderness.  This is the fulfillment of God working in the world, bringing the people into Canaan, and that is a lot of pressure and concern–especially when we remember that this people Joshua is leading does not have the best record of being faithful to the Lord.

It is here, right after the command to “Go,” that God confirms this calling to Joshua:

No one will be able to stand up against you during your lifetime. I will be with you in the same way I was with Moses. I won’t desert you or leave you.  Be brave and strong, because you are the one who will help this people take possession of the land, which I pledged to give to their ancestors.

These are words of comfort and confirmation that the Lord is with Joshua.  It is a reminder that because the Lord is with him, Joshua is to be brave and strong.  There is no need for fear and God’s strength will be with him.  This is such an important point that God uses those same words two more times–“Be very brave and strong,” (1:7) and “I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I?” (1:9).  It is easy to get the sense that Joshua needed to be reassured that God would fulfill his promises and that Joshua had no need to fear.

To make it abundantly clear, though, that this was from the Lord, God confirms it another way.  He uses other people to reaffirm the call to be brave and strong.  When Joshua approaches the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to call them to arms and fight for the rest of Israel (since they had elected to settle on the west side of the Jordan and not in the Promised Land), they echo God’s words to Joshua.  “Be brave and strong!” (1:18).  God uses other people to deliver the same message to Joshua.

This is one way God confirms his calling and messages to us.  He prepares us in life for what we are to do (all of Joshua’s time with Moses).  He has key events in our lives to shape and direct our paths (Joshua’s commissioning at the Tent).  He speaks to us (sometimes audibly, other times to our hearts).  And he uses others to reiterate what he has told us (through the two-and-a-half tribes).

If you need confirmation from God, look over your past and see the trajectory God has taken you.  Pray and listen for his guidance.  And pray that the Lord would use others in your life to reiterate or repeat what you believe God is telling you.