Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday 12th July, 2020
I don’t know about you, but this week particularly, I’ve had a new appreciation and understanding of just how quickly our world is changing – and how increasingly volatile it seems to becoming.
In my lifetime, as much as I can remember, I have never seen borders closed between States in Australia like they are right now – let alone Australian borders closed to every other nation.
I’ve never lived through a worldwide pandemic.
America has had its moments over the years – but what a mess it’s in right now – with 63,000 new cases a day, and well over 130,000 deaths – and the President said last Tuesday that “America is in a good place” regarding the pandemic.
I won’t even get into what’s happening in China…
I know you are sick of hearing it all – so am I… We can’t do a thing to change most of what’s happening in the world – except to pray – that’s the most important thing we can do!
But there’s something else we can do. We can make sure we are living the best version of who we are in our little part of the world.
As I relooked at my message from last week about building the household of God, I could see it was mainly about God building us together as a strong and united and functioning house…. Where each one of us finds their place in the building….
I think that’s an appropriate message for these times we are in and especially as we regather together.
But right at the end of that message, I drew us back to what is actually mentioned a number of times in the New Testament – and that is for each one of us to walk worthy of the calling to which we have been called.
I quoted Eph 4 – where Paul starts out in verse 1 by saying:
Eph 4:1, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called…”
I want to continue on with that this morning and tease out a few things about what that really means – to walk worthy of your calling.
And would you believe, I’m right here – at this moment in preparing my message, and up pops a video on the corner my computer screen, from Pastor Craig Anderson from Melbourne.
Craig is one of the longest serving pastors in INC. I’ve known him for about 25 years.
He’s on a small team of pastors that I’m also part of – who help Gary Hourigan oversee all the INC Network75 churches – those pastors who have churches heading towards 75 people.
Anyway – Craig just pops up in this video with the title – “Is God Calling You?” And he shares the beginnings of his own personal journey in following the call of God on His life.
God is so good – and so affirming and encouraging. This has happened a number of times to me as I’ve been preparing a message. Something happenings in the middle my preparation that draws my focus in the direction the Holy Spirit wants me to go.
And what his little video reminded me of – was the beginnings of my own journey in discovering and then walking in my calling. And so I really think what the Holy Spirit is saying to all of us – is to not lose the heart of what we are called to.
If we want to walk worthy of the calling – we have to stay in touch with the heart of it.
I have a few interesting points to share with you today – I think they are important.
But to be honest – there’s something so much deeper than the points I want to make – it’s the heart of our own personal journey – and the heart for the household of God – His church.
My calling was birthed out of the most incredible encounter with the love of Jesus – a very similar story, it turns out, to what happened with Craig Anderson.
And the more I think about it – the more I realise that our calling – whatever it is – whether it’s to pastoral ministry, business, education, the arts….
Whatever it is – it needs to be somehow birthed out of the touch of God on our life… whether it’s His divine love – whether it’s out of revelation – out of a supernatural encounter – out of some kind of heart transformation – out of the Word of God speaking personally to us – or our spirit being activated by a powerful touch from heaven….
When you have that supernatural encounter – you can endure – you can persevere – you can overcome – and break through the challenges and obstacles that we all inevitably face on the journey.
My encounter, as I’ve shared a number of times before, was in a motel room at Sydney airport, following a weekend with 60 men – called the Walk to Emmaus. It was a pretty hectic but very powerful weekend.
It was Sunday night – I was sitting there on the bed, by myself, pretty tired… after having been dropped off to catch a plane home on the Monday morning.
All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with the love of God. I can’t explain it. It was like waves and waves of love washed over me.
That moment changed my life. The weekend changed my life – but that particular moment – was all God….
It started a chain reaction of events – a new job – but that wasn’t the answer. Then full time study for three years. Another two years bible college – then Venese and I both becoming Assistant Pastors at what is now called Citipointe Brisbane. And eventually back here to Ballina as Pastors of Seacoast Church.
It was all preparation for Seacoast.
The whole journey was a heart preparation for these past 20 years.
So what does it mean then to walk worthy of your calling? Because this phrase is used not only in Eph 1, but in other verses as well.
Colossians 1:10 New King James Version (NKJV)
10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him…
1 Thessalonians 2:12 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling…
Revelation 3:4 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
I want to focus mainly on the Colossians scripture this morning, and read the verses surrounding verse 10 – to get this whole thing in context.
Firstly though, one thing we need to clarify, is what the word “worthy” actually means here.
Because when it comes to our relationship with God – our place in the kingdom – our own worth does not even register. God alone is worthy.
For us to walk worthy – isn’t about our own worthiness. It’s not because we are deserving or have earned any kind of worth in ourselves.
The centurion Sith the sick child said to Jesus that he wasn’t worthy of Him even coming under his roof.
John the Baptist said he wasn’t even worthy to untie the straps of Jesus’ sandals.
The root meaning of the word has to do with “befitting the worth of someone else.” It’s all about the worthiness of God.
Our worth comes only from being declared worthy in Christ. It’s the life of Christ in us that gives us our true worth.
Walking worthy is more about walking by faith – walking in our calling – and trusting in God’s love and grace towards us — and living in a way that fits with the glorious nature of God Himself.
So what does this kind of life look like?
As I said – we are going to look at Colossians 1 – and the surrounding context as Paul speaks about walking worthy.
Col 1:10-12, (NKJV) “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
No. 1 – the first thing about walking worthy comes from verse 10 – “being fruitful in every good work…”
This is talking about every good work that you are called to. You aren’t called to every good work that could ever be done in the world. That’s crazy.
Imagine trying to respond to everything you hear and see – especially when we are connected to the whole world through the internet.
I know I get overwhelmed by the needs of people, ministries, humanitarian organisations…. And all the images that you see on social media. They are all good works. But they are not all part of my calling.
There is a calling for you and I to certain good works that we discern we are meant to respond to – and when we walk worthy of our calling, good fruit will follow.
Not only that –
John 15:16 New King James Version (NKJV) says:
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”
It’s one thing to bear fruit – it’s another thing to bear fruit that remains. Fruit that in turn multiplies – and changes people’s lives forever.
Fruitfulness in your life and ministry is one of the ways you know you are walking in your calling.
No. 2 – verse 10 also says – “increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Walking worthy of our calling involves growing in our understanding of God. It means diving into the Word of God and to be built up and strengthened by it.
If we are going to be the feet and hands of Jesus – His ambassadors on the earth – then we need to know Him – know His life – His works – His words – His heart for the Father – His heart for others…
We need to be prepared to be challenged and convicted by various parts of the bible that make us feel uncomfortable.
God wasn’t made in our image – we are made in His. And His ways sometimes challenge what we feel – and how we see things…
It’s about increasing in the knowledge of God – and then increasing in our effectiveness in our calling – but more than that – as I’ve said – your heart changes – your inner man changes as you allow the Word of God to wash over you.
No. 3 – verse 11 says “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…”
I think I brought this up last week – but a life worthy of the call of God is one that will have strength – strength with all might – and it comes from His glorious power.
You see, it’s not strength and power from our own natural man. It’s strength and power from God’s Spirit within.
This is talking about our emotional strength – our mental strength – our spiritual strength – our ability to endure and persevere – to have patience and long suffering.
I really don’t like that word – long suffering – but without it – we crumble – we fall down – we fall short of the finish line.
We can walk worthy because it’s His strength and power – not ours.
I know what it’s like to try and deal with things in my own strength. It’s hard. It can be overwhelming. But the older I get – the further along the journey I get – the more I realise – my own inner strength will never be enough.
In fact, the bible says – as you already know – that when troubles come – persecutions – distresses – it’s when I am weak, then I am strong. Strong in Christ’s strength – not mine.
I don’t know if you remember, but Terri Hourigan gave Venese and I a prophetic word when she was here last. It was around the time of the bush fire’s.
And I guess she was picking up in the spirit that we were facing some challenges and battles – which is nothing new…. It’s part of the territory of leading an awesome church!
If there was no battle, I’d be wondering if we were actually impacting the kingdom at all.
It’s just things that normal church life throws up every now and then…
And Terri simply said – let the fires burn! I took it that she was saying – God is in the fire…. He’s got it. It’s burning for a reason. And I wasn’t to be running around in my own strength and power – trying to put it out. Let God deal with the fire.
My role – my calling – it to remain strong in Him and trust Him to do what only He can do. It’s a pretty good deal. I can do nothing – He can do everything.
And we need to be long suffering because we are in this journey for a long time. The word endurance seems to be coming up a lot lately.
Endurance takes strength of mind – strength of emotions – strength of character…. And it all comes wrapped in a package of joy.
Holy Spirit joy is also our strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
Joy is a fruit of the Sprit. It’s also the fruit of walking worthy of our calling.
Which leads into the next point…
No. 4 – verse 12 – “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
Being thankful – having a genuine heartfelt joy and gratitude for our walk with Him – and our calling – is really critical to our long term health spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
If you want to walk worthy of your calling – then make sure you maintain a heart of gratitude. And express it.
Who wants to be around someone who is supposedly walking in their calling – and they are grumpy and negative all the time. It happens. I’ve seen it.
When you lose the heart of why you are doing what you are doing – then it’s probably time to reassess what’s going on.
A negative, critical and complaining “doer of good works” is not someone who is walking worthy of their calling.
Character and heart is so much more important – I believe – than what we do. If there’s no joy – no thankfulness and appreciation – then something is wrong.
And it doesn’t glorify God when we are in that place – let alone what it says to those around us.
But I also love what else this verse says – that the Father has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
If we are to walk worthy of our calling – we will walk in this incredible revelation and truth – that our heavenly Father Himself has given us an amazing inheritance – an inheritance of the saints in the light.
Our inheritance is eternal life with Jesus Christ. We should be walking in and talking about and celebrating who we are as sons and daughters of God – ones who have already inherited eternal life.
That should be flowing into all that we do…. We already have a rich inheritance that cannot even be compared to the limited riches of this world.
It’s about living out that inheritance with all the other saints in the light.
In the light means – in truth – in revelation of God – in purity of heart – in our joy – a joy that nothing can take away.
The light speaks of holiness – which again, means set apart for God.
Your calling is part of your being set apart for Him – honouring and serving him with your gifts – and with the light that you carry – because you have been made holy.
John 8:12 New King James Version (NKJV)
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Ephesians 5:8 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
1 John 1:7 New King James Version (NKJV)
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
There’s something very powerful about the Father having imparted to us the inheritance of the saints in the light.
We are holy because He is holy. We walk in the light because He is the Light of the world. We are cleaned because of His our blood.
Anything of our worth is totally because of who we are in Christ.
Let’s live a live worthy of our calling by joyfully and thankfully doing those things we are called to do – being strengthened by the Word – producing fruit that remains.
I haven’t spoken much about what our calling might be – because we are all called to different things. But everyone has their place. Everyone, as I said last week, has a place where they fit perfectly in the household of God.
But as you walk in your calling – as you shine as a light in the world – you are bringing the glory of God into your everyday life and the lives of those you touch.
It’s out of who you are as a child of Christ that you walk worthy.
As we regather together, I believe it’s a time of reassessing many things. Who we are and what we are called to is a big thing to look at again. So is who we are as God’s household.
He is faithful. We are His church. We can’t achieve anything in and of ourselves. But our Jesus said He would build His church – the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And the church will become the glorious Bride that He is calling forth.