Sermon: Your Vocation Summary: Every person has a vocation, which means he is called by God through the Gospel. This calling is not limited to full-time ministry. Features of this calling involve transformation of self, stewardship of resources and ability, redemption and restoration toward our created purpose under the Reign of God. In whatever endeavor we engage in, our vocation/calling will involve these things. Know: Every Christian has a calling from God to fulfill which involves every day life Feel: Compelled to discover and fulfill your calling Do: Discuss the concept of vocation and what scripture says about it. Reflect on the connection between daily life and vocation. Identify ways vocation is expressed, accomplished and fulfilled. Discuss and decide on ways to make vocation more prominent in your life. Text: Various Scripture Reading: 2 Tim 1:8-9 Intro: 1. What is your vocation? What does vocation mean? a. I remember hearing this word the first time in High School - We had a vocational program. Involved training for a trade - You were either in the college prep track, or vocational track b. We often use this word to mean our job, career, or profession - If I were to ask, "what is your vocation?" you would tell me your job title - Vocations include welder, mechanic, crew chief, accountant, teacher, technician, doctor, nurse, custodian, construction, etc. - At Harding, we had a "Vocational Ministry Major" = It was basically a double major = Bible and some other major = Idea was that some ministries can't afford a full-time minister, so vocational ministers work with them c. But this is not precisely what vocation has always meant - From Latin, "vocare," which means "calling" - In medieval church, it was strictly reserved for religious calling = Called to some sort of full-time ministry = Only the "clergy" had a calling 2. None of these concepts of vocation/calling are entirely biblical a. In scripture, "calling" did not refer only to professional ministry b. In scripture, "calling" did not refer specifically to a trade either c. It is definitely and deeply religious. Today vocation has been stripped of its religious and spiritual meaning 3. Will look at the larger picture of vocation/calling a. Define Vocation: A vocation/calling is serving God in your place in life - It is what God has given you to do with your life - Reformation - Reclaimed idea of vocation - not just clergy - 3 classic areas of vocation (reformation): State, church, home - Today, we add employment, which would have been part of home category 500 years ago b. Do we really have a calling in these areas? - On one hand, we not of this world, not be involved in it at all? - On other hand, we called to the world as light and salt - Truth is somewhere in between these extremes c. Better way to phrase the question: Has God given instructions for how we are to operate in the world? 4. We will take a look at how we are to view and operate in various spheres of life according to scripture a. Calling/vocation for most people is not some mystical experience - Most probably will not be called like Paul, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos - We will probably not see a light, vision, or hear a voice - But this not mean discerning God's call in your life is less Meaningful - But may take thought, prayer and reflection b. Some try to figure out exactly what God wants me to do - Assumption - There is one thing God wants me to do, and I had better figure out what that one thing is - (1 Cor 7:17-24) - Indicates there may not be just one thing = Remain in the position in which you have been called = If you can be freed, then by all means, do so = Can serve God either way - What changes is not necessarily what you do, but why you it c. Story of the shoemaker: from H.A. IronsideWhen I was a boy, I worked for a Scottish shoemaker, or "cobbler," named Dan Mackay. He was a forthright Christian and his little shop was a real testimony for Christ. The walls were covered with Bible texts and pictures. On the counter in front of the workbench was a Bible, generally open, and a pile of tracts. No package went out of that shop without a printed message inside. Whenever opportunity offered, customers were spoken to kindly about the importance of being born again. Many came back to ask for more literature or to inquire more particularly as to how they might find God.
It was my responsibility to pound leather fo soles. A piece of cowhide would be cut to size, then soaked in water. With a flat-headed hammer, I pounded these soles until they were hard and dry. It seemed an endless operation, and I wearied of it many times.
A block away was another shop with a jolly, godless cobbler who seemed to thrive. As I looked in his window, I often noticed that he never pounded the soles at all, but took them from the water and nailed them on, still damp.
One day I ventured inside. Timidly, I asked, "I notice you put the soles on still wet. Are they just as good as if they were pounded?" He gave me a wink and answered, "They come back all the quicker this way, my boy!"
"Feeling I had learned something, I related the instance to my boss and suggested that I was wasting time in drying out the leather so carefully. Mr. Mackay stopped his work and opened his Bible to the passage that reads, "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." "Harry," he said, "I do not cobble shoes just for the four bits and six bits that I get from my customers. I am doing this for the glory of God. I expect to see every shoe I have ever repaired in a big pile at the judgment seat of Christ, and I do not want the Lord to say to me in that day, 'Dan, this was a poor job.' I want Him to be able to say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"
Then he went on to explain that just as some men are called to preach, so he was called to fix shoes, and that only as he did this well would his testimony count for Godd. Your vocation/calling comes with guidance from God. Features are - I. Transformation of self A. When God calls us we do not stay the same B. How does this transformation work? (2 Thess 2:14) 1. Called through the Gospel a. What is the Gospel? Death burial resurrection of Christ b. This passages says there is a call involved with Gospel c. Rom 6:3-6 - When obey Gospel, old self die, new self d. We become a new transformed person 2. This means we are called to transformation a. (1 Thess 4:7) - God called us not for impurity, but for sanctification b. 1 Cor 1:2 - We are saints by calling c. Saint/sanctify from the same word d. Means to be set apart, to be made special, changed 3. Called to change - Eph 4:1 - Walk in manner working of calling a. v.17 - Walk no longer as Gentiles walk b. v.22 - Lay aside old self with all its corruption c. v.24 - Put on new self d. Passage then speaks of change of character in this 4. When answer call of the Gospel, God changes/renews you a. Whether husband, wife, son, daughter b. Whether employer, employee, neighbor, friend, etc. c. You are being renewed C. ILL: I was is Belarus a couple years after break up of Soviet Union 1. Christianity flooded into the country 2. Few years later, many employers said they prefer Christians 3. Reasons they have all had to do with their character a. They were honest, trustworthy, full of integrity b. Tended to work harder, did not cut corners c. Overall better employees 4. What happened? God transformed them D. The Gospel calls us to transformation 1. Transform our character, we being renewed, becoming godly 2. Because we are transformed, our work is transformed II. Second feature of our calling: Stewardship of Resources and Abilities A. Change is not limited to become a moral person 1. Some think Christian faith is just about being moral 2. Some think it is about doing religious things, like worship, church 3. Christianity is much more than this. It is a true calling B. Calling of God means transformation of our purpose 1. Not necessarily mean change of what you do, but why a. Saw in 1 Cor 7:17-24 - Remain in position in which called b. Your motivation and purpose changes c. May not change what you do, but why - For God d. May not change what you do, but how - with excellence 2. Our purpose is changed, transformed a. (2 Thess 1:11-12) - Worthy of calling, fulfill work of faith - All work becomes your work of faith, its all for God - Purpose - So that name of Jesus glorified in you - That's why says, "Do all in name of Lord," Col 3:17 b. 2 Tim 1:9 - Called with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his purpose - Contrast is not "our work" vs "his work" - Contrast is "our work" vs "his purpose" - Suggests our work need not change, purpose does c. Our "work" transforms into our "calling" 3. This is what scripture calls "stewardship" a. Say Rom 6 - Old self died, new self raised b. Rom 6:18 - We have become slaves of righteousness c. Slave means we own nothing, we steward for owner d. We work for God as steward, means caretaker, manager 4. Notice - I didn't say the call of God means professional ministry a. What you think of when one says, "I want to devote life to God and serve him" b. Start looking up Bible Colleges, preaching schools c. But call of God is not limited to professional ministry C. ILL: Give some examples: 1. William Wilburforce a. Law student, became Christian, wanted to serve God b. Wanted to drop out and train to become a minister c. Minister friend of his, John Newton, encouraged him to stay in law school, serve God in that way d. Went into government, worked to abolish slavery and did 2. Phil Vicsher - Had a passion for films, but wanted to serve God a. Went to Bible College to train for ministry - Thought those in ministry were ones serving God - Thought everyone else on the sidelines b. Dropped out of school and became filmmaker instead c. While classmates went on become voice of God in pulpits he became voice of Bob Tomato & Larry the Cucumber d. Lot of impact for God with Veggie Tales 3. Need more Christians filmmakers, in gov't, writers, teacher, etc 4. Need those who recognize they have a stewardship D. Not just us that transforms, but our understand of nature of our work 1. Whatever our job, occupation, it is service to God 2. In our profession, we are stewards for God 3. But some make have trouble seeing how their job is service to God III. Third Characteristic: Redemption and Restoration A. I believe that every legitimate occupation place a role in this B. Is there really connection of your vocation to redemption/restoration? 1. Most would say yes. How? Various answers: a. Be a good example. Moral character. Don't cheat, lie... b. Prayer meetings at work, bible study, share Gospel c. Most usually cite moral behavior or injecting religion into the workplace 2. But what about the work itself? a. Can you articulate Christian theory of social order? b. Is there a Christian philosophy of science, math, law, politics, government, sociology, psychology, medicine c. If it is God's world, then yes, there has to be! d. Many Christians clueless, not included in the curriculum 3. Gen 1-2 Reminds us of our original purpose from the beginning a. Rule/have dominion and fruitful and multiply, fill earth b. In other words, fill the earth with the Reign of God - All trades, building projects, activity for Reign of God - All scientific inquiry, harnessing energies, technology, for Reign of God - All building culture, society, its institutions, for Reign of God c. Some call this the Cultural Mandate - We know the Great Commission in Matt. - Cultural Mandate given in Genesis 4. Problem in fulfilling Cultural Mandate - Sin a. Man substituted something for God - Self b. Tried to replace Reign of God with Reign of Man - Reign of man is cruel, oppressive, evil - Comes from the Devil c. Prophets prophesied Reign of God would come - It would crush and replace Reign of Men - It would grow into a great mountain, fill the earth - Finally, King would come, and the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of God and his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever - And we will reign with him - have dominion d. Reign of God came through Christ - Kingdom is at hand - Right now, there are two reigns - But Reign of God is increasing, changing the world = Through preaching the Gospel = Through good works = Good works make us the light of the world = Mt 5:14 - You are light of world, good works - We fill the earth with the Reign of God - Final blow - Jesus returns, his reign destroy others C. ILL: Richard Wurmbrand of Voice of the Martyrs reviewed Atheist Handbook by Freidrich Engels 1. Engels says - Christianity's hope is Heaven, but it does not have the will to carry out social transformation of the world 2. That is a lie which can be easily demonstrated a. Jesus taught us to pray - "Your will be done on earth..." b. Lk 3 - When they asked John the Baptist what to do, John did not say, "strive for Heaven" - Man with 2 tunics share with him who has none - He who has food is to do likewise - Tax collectors collect no more than what ordered to - Soldiers not take money by force, falsely accuse, and be content with your wages c. Jesus told rich man - sell possessions give to poor, follow me d. Jesus publicly accused scribes and Pharisees for devouring widows houses 3. Christianity is not unconcerned for the world 4. Wurmbrand says: a. "Christianity has in its program a social transformation of the world" b. "Christianity is as revolutionary as was communism" c. 2000 years of history demonstrates how Christianity has transformed entire cultures in the world - Rome, Asia, England, Russia, South Africa, etc. d. Unlike communism, our revolution is not destructive D. Ours is a revolution of the heart - it is true transformation for good 1. This is why oppressive tyrants recognize Christianity as a threat 2. Jesus transforms, redeems, and restores us to the heart 3. Transforming everything at the heart transforms families, communities, societies, cultures, the world Concl: 1. As we submit to the reign of God, we promote it as well - This is our calling as a people 2. This is why we are called salt of the earth - we transform everything we touch a. Some of the brightest scientific, philosophical, & artistic minds were Christian b. Names of Christians you might recognize: Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Rene Descarte, Gallileo, Johannes Kepler, etc. c. Could also name musicians, philosophers, artists, etc. d. They promoted the Rein of God & had profound impact on culture 3. We do as well a. We do so through our work - It is in service to the Kingdom - Fulfills our original purpose, cultural mandate - Fill earth with Reign of God - If you fix things, teach, lead, create, heal, etc. - in service to Reign of God b. We also do so while we work - In all we do, we are to share the Gospel - Gospel saves, and we can be transformed 4. All Christians have a vocation - You have a vocation a. It is serving God in your place in life b. Promote the reign of God through your work c. Promote the reign of God while we work - share Gospel d. (inv) ========================================== Small Group Notes: Your Vocation Summary: Every person has a vocation, which means he is called by God through the Gospel. This calling is not limited to full-time ministry. Features of this calling involve transformation of self, stewardship of resources and ability, redemption and restoration toward our created purpose under the Reign of God. In whatever endeavor we engage in, our vocation/calling will involve these things. Open: - What is the best job, task, or activity you have had? Explore: 1. Describe and discuss mankind's original vocation/calling in Genesis 1 and 2. Discuss how various occupations, institutions, scientific ventures, philosophical inquiries, etc. help to fulfill this calling. 2. Read the following: 1 Cor 7:17-24; 2 Thess 2:14; Eph 4:1; and 2 Tim 1:9. Since sin infected and corrupted man, including his moral will and intellect, how is the "Christian" calling both distinct and the same from the original calling in Genesis? 3. How does the Gospel now fit into God's calling for man? In what way does a believer's occupation(s) still fit into mankind's calling? 4. Discuss how the biblical concepts of transformation, stewardship, redemption/restoration fit into the call of God? How does God work through humans in their activities to bring about his purposes? Apply: 5. According to this lesson, discuss how you should understand the place and function of your job and other activities. 6. List your various jobs, activities, and roles you fill in life, including roles you fill at home, church, community, etc.). Discuss how each of these needs to fit into God's purposes. 7. What implications does this have for how you fulfill your role(s)? 8. What would it take to bring your life more into line with the purposes/call of God? Would it simply be a change in perspective, attitude, or would it be a change in your activities, what you do, how you do it, or something else? Prayer: