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Archive for April 2017

5

Answering The Call of God

Answering The Call of God

1 Samuel 3:1-10(NLT) - Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!” “Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did. Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!” Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.” Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”

If you were sleeping and suddenly heard a voice call your name in the middle of the night, what would you do? Now put yourself in Samuel's shoes. He had no idea what was going on. As the scriptures outlined, it was rare for anyone to receive a message from The Lord at that time so he didn't have much of a reference point. Hence, his response was appropriate. In fact, his journey to hearing God's Voice clearly is indicative of what we all experience. Like Samuel, it takes us a couple times before we can comfortably discern God's Voice from everything else around us.

It took Samuel 4 times to recognize The Voice of God. Yet, more importantly, it took Eli 3 times to realize that it was God's Voice speaking to Samuel all along. Samuel was justified for not knowing God's Voice but Eli, the high priest, had no excuse. Maybe that further explains why the first prophetic Word Samuel ever received was a warning of impending judgment from God for his mentor and spiritual father Eli. If you read the preceding chapter you would also realize that Samuel was not the first prophet to warn Eli. God sent a prophet earlier to tell Eli basically the same thing. Since it didn't really work then, God had to repeat Himself which is never good.

Isaiah 6:8(NKJV) - Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

I remember the first time I "heard" the Voice of God. It was during a Sunday morning service at Divine Encounter Fellowship in Arima, Trinidad. I was 17 years old and a group of us had responded to an altar call. We were on our faces in prayer before The Lord when suddenly I felt something shift in my consciousness. My eyes were closed and instead of seeing complete darkness I could see the stars as though I was deep in outer space. I then felt this overwhelming sense that God was calling me into the ministry. I couldn't articulate what He said to me because I actually didn't hear anything. I just felt something all over me and I knew it was God. So in response I told The Lord yes in whatever way I knew at that time. I didn't know exactly what I was agreeing to but I knew who I was in agreement with. As you can see, the rest is history.

Matthew 22:1-4(NLT) - Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

In this parable like most others by Jesus, the King represents God. In addition, the specially invited guests represent His chosen people Israel and the people from the street corners represent the Gentiles. Salvation was first offered to the Jews and the bulk of them rejected it so God offered it to the entire world. It may not have been a good thing that the Jews turned down God's invitation but it was a good thing for the rest of us because that's how we got invited into God's Kingdom. Nevertheless, it's easy to read a parable like this and think; "Who in their right mind would reject the call of God? What could be so important in your life that it could be worth turning down a personal invitation from God?"

Well, think about it! The VIP guests had other things to do. They had things to take care of at home or work. They had money to make. They had their own dreams to pursue. They just didn't have the time to stop living their own lives to respond to The King. They weren't necessarily bad people, they were just busy people. Of course, that doesn't include the group who killed the messengers. Of course, none of us would ever do a thing like that. Now would we? Not so fast! How many prophets have spoken God's truth into the lives of Christians who are sitting on the sidelines and got totally shot down? "Beloved, God says you need to.... Ummm... no thank you. That's not God."

Romans 11:29(AMP) - For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call].

What about you? Do you remember the first time God spoke to you? If yes, what did He tell you? Do you remember the day God called you to serve in His Kingdom? If yes, what have you done? Did you do what He said? Did you read The Book of Jonah? He thought that he could get away from God's call on his life by going in the opposite direction. God sent him for a swim with the fishes. God might be long-suffering and patient but He doesn't forget His call on someone's life. Have you tried to run away from God's plan? If you think you're just not going to do it and things are just going to work themselves out you're in for a big surprise.

Even if you've never heard God's call you have received God's gifts. Guess what? His gifts were given to you for one purpose and that's to carry out His call. If you don't think you're called by God, your gifts will disagree with that notion. The mere presence of natural or spiritual gifts in your life means God has a purpose for you and its directly connected to the use of those gifts. So even a person's inability to hear from God is not an excuse for not answering the Call of God. The gifts He's put into each of us speak to us on behalf of God telling us what He expects of us. They point us in His direction.

Find a place where your gifts can be developed and eventually used in God's service. If you can't do it where you are right now, find somewhere else. You can either stay where you are and use your gifts outside of that place or go to a place where you can use your gifts. Whatever you do, answer God's call on your life. He is never going to change His mind regardless of what you do. The only thing that changes is that the longer you wait, the less time you have to do the same thing.

Romans 12:4-8(NLT) - Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Each person in The Body of Christ has unique gifts which accompany specific functions. When you see The Church as a body you will realize how important you are, not just to God but to the rest of us. Do you know what it's like to be missing a body part? Even if all of your body parts are present, do you know what it's like when you have body parts which don't function properly? Now consider every Christian who is out of place and not doing what God has called them to do. Consider the impact their lack of function has on the rest of us. They handicap God's body by not fulfilling their roles. Are you one of those people? Are you the malfunctioning foot that's caused us to limp along for the last five years? Are you the missing finger that has made it hard for us to grasp what God has asked of us? Is it you? If it's not you, do you know who it is?

1 Corinthians 12:12-27(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

We're all in this together. When I answered the call of God on my life it was not just about me, it was about you. When you consider the call of God on your life, it's not just about you or your family, it's about the rest of us in The Body of Christ. We need you to do what God has called you to do and we need you to do it now. God is calling your name. Go ahead and say yes! Until we all do what we are called to do, The Body of Christ is not functioning at its full capacity.

6

The Life-Giving Power of a Prophetic Word from The Lord

1 Thessalonians 5:20-21(NKJV) - Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Prophetic words are powerful. Last Sunday, my father-in-law introduced me to the prophet at his church, Bethel Christian Fellowship in Rochester, NY. With very little small talk, he looked into my eyes and began revealing God's heart to me with complete precision. It blew my mind and warmed my heart in a way that I really needed. Nothing he said was new, but he confirmed and affirmed what God had already been doing in the lives of Angel and I. He confirmed God's call on my life and reminded me of its importance to The Kingdom. He affirmed the gift of teaching I received from The Lord. He reminded me of the prophetic mantle. He encouraged me to keep writing books. He was concise. He was direct. He was precise. It was amazing.

John 6:63(NKJV) - It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

When someone speaks a prophetic Word from the heart of God, those words are "spirit-words". They are life-giving. They revive you. Two weeks ago, Angel and I were guests at the 11th anniversary celebration of Christ United Church in Loganville, GA. It's one of the most prophetic churches in the area. The guest speaker was Apostle Ann Marie Alman of People of Destiny Ministries in Brooklyn, NY. After the message which in itself was life-changing, she walked right up to me and began to prophesy. My goodness! What a Word from The Lord! She encouraged us concerning The Body Church and affirmed what God was doing in the ministry and personally for the two of us. Only The Lord knew how much we needed to hear that.

Isaiah 50:4(NKJV) - “The Lord God has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.

Why am I talking about this today? Because prophecy is real and I am a living testimony of how real it is. In your lowest moments, when you feel tired and worn out from the challenges of life, a prophetic Word from The Lord changes everything. There are people on this earth who have been called by God to speak His Word of Life into others and you need them in your life. I grew up in a household of prophets and almost took it for granted that The Lord spoke to us all the time. We didn't fast and pray for 40 days and 40 nights to hear from The Lord. We just listened.

I woke up this morning at 3:00AM and knew that The Lord wanted to speak to me. Not just that. He wanted to speak to you through me. Let me encourage you. If you have a prophetic gift, there are weary people waiting to hear God's Voice and they need to hear it from you. There are people sitting next to you at work, school or church hungry for a Word from God's heart. If God gave The Word to you, He expects you to deliver it. Do not be afraid. Be who God has called you to be.

1 Corinthians 14:1, 24-25(NKJV) - Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy... But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

Several years ago I sat in a Wednesday night service and watched a young man walk in off the street. He said that he was looking for a church and saw the sign so he came in. The prophets in the house began speaking into his life with such precision that he was completely overwhelmed. He fell to his knees in tears and worshiped God. By the time they were finished, his life was changed forever. It's been about five years since that night and now he's a vibrant part of the ministry. He got married about a year later and his wife is also a major part of that ministry. They had a baby last year and God continues to work wonders through their lives. That's the power of a prophetic Word from The Lord.

2 Corinthians 13:1(KJV) - This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

The bottom line is this. God is speaking but not everyone can hear Him for themselves. That's one reason why He raised up prophets. Another reason is for Him to confirm what He's saying to those who do hear His Voice. In other words, we all need prophets. Those of us who cannot hear from God need to know what He's saying and those of us who can hear from God need confirmation. If you are called to be a prophet, prophesy. If you are in need of a Word from The Lord, find a place where God speaks through His prophets. Don't make decisions without hearing from God first and receiving confirmation.

2 Chronicles 20:20(NKJV) - So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

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