God calls (a 40-day devotional series)

(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection.  I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)

wpid-devotionals.jpegWhat does it mean to be called by God?  That is one of the most intensely debated and misunderstood concerns among Christians.

It’s obvious, though, that all of us have been called by other human beings at different points in our lives:  called in to the house to eat dinner, called in to the school for a parent-teacher meeting, called in to work for emergency duties, etc.  Each of those callings and, in fact, every type of calling is always related to the caller’s specific purpose. And the called must then leave where they are in order to respond to the caller’s purpose.

I encourage you to pray especially today for God’s Spirit to speak to you in today’s rich, yet potentially difficult devotional.  For we will be looking at the fifth “P” of God’s gospel introduced on the fourth day of creation: purpose.  Yes, the meaning of Life.

Before we get started too much, consider this.  Even though God did not create anything on the Sabbath day, most of us would probably consider that seventh day part of the creation week.  And that would make the fourth day the very center of the week.  So what is the central message of that day? God’s calling for us: “Worship Me.”

Is worship as His purpose for us too narrow, too broad or too boring?  No way!  Think of everything that flows from any object of worship, such as a sports team. The fan’s fierce love determines how they spend a big part of their money, the colors of their clothes, the times of the week they’re not available for anything else, the people with whom they associate and what they tend to talk about, the kinds of gifts they want for the holidays or birthdays, and more.   Worship of anything passionately effects everything!  The more we truly worship anyone or anything, the more our lives will be filled with its substance and subtleties – whether that object of our worship is the true meaning of life or not.

And that, dear reader, is why there is so much debate and confusion about what it means to be called by God: as sinful people, we want to choose the purpose of our lives.  How many times have you heard well-intentioned people encourage someone that “you can be whatever you want to be” and then imply that God will support their decision?  There is no such broad latitude in God’s Word.

On that central day, the Lord established the sun, moon and stars as a celestial calendar for the whole world to see His “signs to mark sacred times, and days and years”. (Genesis 1:14)  And virtually all of those required times of worship also coincided with or centered around God’s provision to Israel, which was the subject of the third day of creation in yesterday’s devotional.  As I’ve mentioned before, the sequence that God describes in the creation week is intentional and pregnant with pictures of Jesus and His plan for His people.

Throughout Scripture, we see several different aspects of what it means to bear the fruit of worship for God. The following are some of the most clear to me:

* Christ-likeness in function, the fruit of God’s image (Genesis 1:27-28), specifically as Prophet, Priest and King (Hebrews 1:3). We’ll look at these in more detail over the next three days.

* Christ-likeness in character, the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:19-23)

* Discipleship, the fruit of His Church (John 15:1-8)

Are you beginning to see the sequence of Jesus’ gospel from the very beginning of His Word? If you haven’t read the four previous devotionals, I’ll summarize.

He came to this undeserving world by His grace (day 1), but He warned us that He could not bless us if our lives remained chaotic and fruitless (day 2). So He did what He alone can do: He drew back the spiritual chaos and danger and provided the sure potential for His people to receive and live in His fruitfulness (day three). And then He called them in to specific worship events that would tell them how they were to respond by teaching them to observe very particular truths represented in certain worship festivals (day four).

All of them had the same basic calling:  “worship Me in all that you do.”  God still has the same basic calling for you and for me. I pray that the following video will give you a taste to learn more about Jesus as pictured in these festivals. For they celebrated specific aspects of Jesus’ salvation that must still inspire our faith and guide our obedience today.  God willing, I will write detailed devotional thoughts on several of these worship events later.

The required festivals are referenced throughout Scripture but are most specifically described in Exodus 23, Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16. And those passages have more serious and beautiful substance and subtleties than I could outline in a volume of books, let alone this post. But, again, most of them involved God’s people receiving His fruitfulness in order that we could and would bear that fruit toward others and for Him.

Consider using the following summary questions on many of the festivals for your own praise and prayer.

As you think of the principle of rest in God’s Sabbath, in what areas of your life are you still resting in your plan and work instead of answering Christ’s call to rest in His fruitful provision?

What would it be like for you to observe a Sabbath Year and witness God’s overflowing provision of your needs? How about a Year of Jubilee in which every 49 years land would go back to the original owner and great debts would be cancelled, freeing them to bear more fruit themselves?

How do you feel about Jesus’ judgment passing over even the greatest, most secret sins in your life, again, freeing you to follow Him to bear and enjoy His fruit?

Where and when do you still call on His strength to leave the cancers of sin and live an unleavened life of sincerity and truth? (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

In what ways are you seeing the Lord’s “in-gathering” of His people to grow, harvest and enjoy His Church?

For what “trumpeted” aspects of Jesus’ first coming and fruit are you most grateful? What will the trumpet of His second coming and fruit signal for you?

How strong is your confidence that Christ’s one-time sacrifice atoned for all of your sins to purify you to stand before God in the Judgment of our fruit?

In your “tabernacling” (traveling through this barren world on your journey from slavery onward to freedom with Him forever), how is He providing for your needs in miraculous ways?

What are some others ways that the Lord’s festivals call you in to worship by bearing and enjoying His fruit?

 

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10435502_855049431182935_4536762765713190951_nUnless otherwise indicated, Jeff Dillard is the author of all posts in this blog, the goal of which is your greater joy in Christ through leadership and counseling.  Jeff and his wife, Lauren, have been married since 1995.  By God’s grace, they have four wonderful children and two grandchildren.  Jeff was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America and commissioned as an Army Chaplain in 1998.  He has Master’s degrees in Divinity, History, and Counseling.  Since 1998, he’s had the privilege of equipping and encouraging others’ faith and service to the Lord Jesus by leading congregations and counseling in multicultural settings across the United States.  Seven of those years have been in Germany, Korea, and Iraq.  For leisure, Jeff enjoys simple time with his family, exercise, playing guitar and trumpet, and trying foreign foods with friends.

Please note that the contents of tools4trenches do not necessarily reflect specific beliefs or practices of organizations in which Jeff works or worships.

You can also follow Jeff on Facebook or Twitter.

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