Tag Archives: calling

People of destiny

Jeremiah 1:4-10
For Sunday, August 21, 2016
Year C, Proper 16

What difference can I possibly make in the world?  In our weaker moments all of us ourselves this.  The answer is every difference, if we would only understand the calling God has on each of our lives.

Jeremiah the Prophet

Jeremiah is one of my favorite characters in the Bible.  He became such when I came to understand something God directed him to do later in life.  God said, “Jeremiah, the Babylonians are coming to overrun your country.  So I want you to buy land in your hometown of Anathoth.”  Who would buy real estate in the face of an impending Babylonian invasion?  Only someone who knows the end of the story.  Jeremiah bought that land and it worked out very well for him and his descendants.  Likewise, we once bought real estate in Siberia.  Despite very long odds it worked out for us too!

What moved Jeremiah to make that purchase is what we read about here in Chapter 1.  God had a call on his life from before he was born.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (v. 5).  The same is true for each of us!  Ephesians provides confirmation: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).

We may not be called to be a prophet as Jeremiah was.  But look at all the other aspects of Jeremiah’s call from chapter one that do apply to each one of us who follow Jesus:

  • We are known by God (v. 1a)
  • We have been set apart  (v. 1b)
  • We have been appointed to a specific calling (v. 1c)
  • God’s words have been put in our mouths (through the Holy Spirit) (v. 9)
  • We have divine authority to speak to nations (v. 10)

Jeremiah’s reaction was the same one we have.  “But Lord, I’m only a child” (v. 6).  What the Lord said to Jeremiah then he says to us today:  “Do not say, ‘I am only a child’.  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (vv. 7 – 8).

So said Jesus to his disciples as his last words before ascending to heaven.  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18 – 20).

A preaching outline

Becoming people of destiny (3 touchstones):

  • We are called from before our birth (vv. 4-5)
  • We are commissioned to proceed (vv. 6 – 8)
  • We are commended with divine authority (vv. 9 – 10)

Points to ponder:

  • Do you believe God has a call on your life?  If not, where does the argument above fall short?
  • Do you know what your specific calling is?  Here is a great resource to help.
  • Have you embraced the divine authority of your call?  If you did, what difference would it make?

 

Does our performance match our profession?

The parable of the talents, as depicted in a 1712 woodcut. The lazy servant searches for his buried talent, while the two other servants present their earnings to their master.

The parable of the talents, as depicted in a 1712 woodcut. The lazy servant searches for his buried talent, while the two other servants present their earnings to their master (1).

Matthew 25:14-30
For Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014
23rd Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 28)

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away (Matt. 25:29).”  

The parable of the talents is well known.  A contemporary outline might go like this.  There were three employees at an investment firm.  The owner is about to go on a summer hiatus.  He gives the first employee, an “A player”, $500,000; the second, a “B” player, $200,000, and the third, a “C” player, $100,00.  He asks them to steward these funds responsibly.  When the owner returns in the fall, he calls the three employees into his office to report on their work.  The “A” player reports back with $1 million, a 100% return on investment.  The owner is very pleased.  The “B” player reports back with $600,000, also a 100% return on investment.  The owner is very pleased again.  The third employee reports back with the same $100,000 he was given.  The owner is not at all pleased.  This third employee has done nothing – not even depositing the money in a savings account to earn minimal interest.  The owner takes the $100,000 from this third employee, who is fired on the spot, and gives it to his “A” player.

So what’s the point of the story.  I love how R.T. France puts it:

What ultimately condemned this disciple, and made him unready to meet his Lord at the parousia, was the fact that he had proved to be “useless” for the kingdom of heaven. Like the man ejected from the wedding feast in 22:13, his performance had not matched his profession (emphasis mine), and it is only those who “do the will of my Father who is in heaven” (12:50) who ultimately belong to his kingdom (2).

Does my performance match my profession?  I profess to be an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven, carrying the best news that anyone could ever here, that there is a God who created them, understands them, and offers them forgiveness and a new life.  He commissioned me to advance this message before he ascended to heaven.  He’s coming back and he’s going to ask me what I did with my commission.  Will I be one who acts with “entrepreneurial boldness” (R.T. France again) or one who buries what I have in the ground?

My performance does not match my profession to the extent that it should.  I waste way too much time watching television.  I commit to things that I shouldn’t and fail to follow through on things that I should.  My performance in private and with my family needs improvement.  The good news is that I have already made some good investments privately and publicly and I’m empowered by the Holy Spirit to continue in these.  I’m going to enjoy making some course adjustments today and pursuing the fantastic calling given to me.

How about you?  When you look at your own performance, where are you doing well?  Where do you need to do better?  Please share your comments below.

Points to ponder:

  • What have I done this week to fulfill the mandates of my calling?
  • Do I even know what my calling is?
  • If not, what commitment will I make to discern it?

Suggested resources:

(1)  "Parable of talents" by Unknown - A Woodcut from Historiae celebriores Veteris Testamenti Iconibus representatae, taken from http://www.textweek.com/art/parables.htm. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parable_of_talents.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Parable_of_talents.jpg

(2)  France, R.T. (2007-07-27). The Gospel of Matthew (New International Commentary on the New Testament) (pp. 956-957). Eerdmans Publishing Co - A. Kindle Edition.