Purpose vs. Calling

    I prepared this post back in early November but didn't finish it then.  While I am working on my observations in 2 Thessalonians I would like to share these thoughts from a message preached by Jesse Curtis from Pine Bluffs, WY.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
  Proverbs 3:5-7 (New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update)

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil.  
Proverbs 3:5-7 (Amplified Bible)

    He spoke on understanding the difference between our PURPOSE in life and our CALLING in life.  He said many people think they are the same but Scripture says otherwise.  The primary text for his message was Proverbs 3:5-6.  I included verse 7 above just because I had never really noticed how it all fit together.  These have always been some of my favorite verses but God used this message to help me see them in a whole new way. 
    Every single one of us was created for ONE pupose and only ONE purpose.  We were created to WORSHIP God.  Mr. Curtis pointed out that the Biblical definition of "worship" is to KNOW God as He is and has revealed Himself to be in the Bible; to ACCEPT who He is; and to willingly SUBMIT to who He is in our own lives.  We worship Him by giving Him the glory that only He is worthy to receive.  That's the only reason we are here on earth--or at least it is supposed to be.  However, we confuse it will our calling.  Our CALLING is the things God gives us to do in life in order to carry out our PURPOSE.  God gives each and every one of us different callings.    Our calling includes being a spouse, a parent, or a grandparent.  It includes our occupation or the work God calls us to do.  It includes our service and ministry in the local church.  It includes using our talents and abilities in whatever ways and wherever God chooses.  We are called to fulfill our purpose of worshipping God in all these areas of our life.  That is how we "acknowledge Him" in all our ways--we use all of those areas of life to worship Him.  Wow!!!    
    As I thought about all Mr. Curtis said in his message, I began to realize the awful consequences that come from confusing these two issues.  We see it all around us in the world today.  Instead of worshipping God we worship our calling--especially our work.  The busier life gets and the tougher times are financially, the easier it is for us to buy into Satan's biggest lie.  If you have been through the Truth Project Small Group study you will remember that Dr. Tackett called it the "pernicious" lie:  The lie that life is all about me.  That's what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven--he wanted it to be all about him instead of all about God!!!  
    Remember God's very specific instructions to His chosen people in Exodus 20:3-6: You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.  In Deuteronomy 6:5 God said “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."  Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27 all record Jesus repeating that commandment in response to a question asked to test Him.  As I read through the Old Testament I was continually reminded of how serious idolatry was to God and the terrible punishment Israel suffered for their idolatry. Indeed, God's wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross allowing us to live in the Age of Grace but that doesn't change God's hatred of idolatry.  Nothing in my life is to be more important than God.  That is tough to live out.   
    When I worship my work or my calling, I lose my heart for serving others--I am not concerned about anyone's needs but my own.  I am most like Jesus when I am serving and seeking to meet the needs of others--Jesus had the heart of a servant and He has told me to do the same.  When I focus only on myself there is also no way I can obey the instructions given in Philippians 2:3 & 4:  "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;"      
    When I worship my calling or my work, I lose my commitment to the local church--the body of believers God has placed me in to equip me for accomplishing my callling.  I don't place a priority on hearing God's Word taught nor do I spend time studying it myself when my life fails to revolve around fulfilling my purpose.    
    It is often difficult for me to see how I can use the daily events and tasks of my life as a way to worship God.  I know it is possible, but it is an area of my life where God still has a lot of work to do.  Failure to get these two areas straight will have devasting consequences in our lives.  But nothing is more exciting than thinking of the impact fulfilling our purpose and living it out in our calling could have on the world around us if we allow God to transform this area.  
    One of the closing passages Mr. Curtis had us look at was from Ephesians 3:14-21:  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.   

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