Here Am I Lord, Send Me

commandsThere are promises, commands, and callings of God which each play a specific role in our lives as individuals and also in the corporate body of Christ.  Sometimes we err when we confuse these three very different types of divine communication. Thus, our understanding of their differences can greatly aid us in obeying our Father’s voice.

My intention is not to condemn anyone in this essay, but rather to bring clarity to us in order that we may better understand our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Remember, condemnation is nebulous and hopeless, while conviction is specific and hopeful.

God’s conviction is specific and actionable

Therefore, If you feel convicted by anything you read, simply to confess your sin, repent and make the necessary changes.  We all have sinned and there is none righteous, so realizing you are a sinner only proves you are human.  Just like when a child falls into the mud, all we need to do is change, putting on the clean clothes of His righteousness!

To begin with

To begin with, there are two types of promises that God gives: conditional and unconditional.  Many times conditional promises of God have an “if” clause, which signifies that if you do “A” then He promises to do “B”.  For instance, if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins.  Whether you receive God’s promise of forgiveness, though freely given, depends upon your act of confession.  Sometimes people fail to receive the promises of God simply because they will not take the action necessary to possess them.

God’s unconditional promises

The second type of promise God gives is unconditional.

God says,

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

Isaiah 65:17

This type of promise will come to pass regardless of circumstance, time or people involved. Unconditional promises require no effort on our part.

When God gives you a personal promise it is wise to try to determine what type of promise He is making.  Normally all promises given to us are conditional and require some type of action on our parts.  Sometimes we fail to receive Gods blessings by assuming they will happen without any action on our part.  This is generally not the case and we need to ask God what He requires of us so that we may obtain the promises He so graciously gives.

God’s commands are time sensitive

The next type of communication from God is the command.  Commands are different from promises because they are meant to be obeyed right away without delay.  The Bible states that when God gave the commandment for Abraham to circumcise all the males of His household, he obeyed the selfsame day. When God said to sacrifice Isaac, he got up early the next morning and went.

God never commands you to do something without expecting you to obey immediately.  Whether it seems possible or impossible is not relevant. When Jesus called the twelve disciples they simply left what they were doing and followed Him straightway.  If you are truly a disciple and God gives you a clear command you are obligated to simply obey now.

God’s commands are not optional

Some treat God’s commands as optional.  It is as if people think they can either ignore or modify what He says to them.  However, when God speaks it is time to obey, regardless of inconvenience or circumstance.  In fact, one person wanted to delay following Jesus to bury his father and our Lord rebuked him.  Jesus said “let the dead bury their dead” and commanded him to go and preach the gospel.  If Jesus considered even burying the dead of less importance than obeying His Fathers voice, then our natural circumstances and obligations are of little importance either.

We should try to understand if God is giving a promise or a command, so that we know if we should follow it immediately or wait patiently for its fulfillment. Often times when God commands us, His will needs to be done immediately or we will miss the window of opportunity to carry out His purposes.  As I have said before, delayed obedience is often times no obedience at all. Had not Philip immediately obeyed the voice of the Spirit he would have missed the Ethiopian.

God speaks plainly

Sometimes people actually manufacture confusion so as not to face what God is plainly saying.  Some act confused thinking they have an excuse to disobey God.  However, God understands the difference between real confusion and manufactured confusion.  The “I don’t know or I don’t understand” excuse doesn’t get you out of obeying His commands.

God sometimes calls before He knows we will obey

The third way God speaks to us is through calling us to perform some sort of task or ministry. God sometimes calls us very early, knowing that it will be years before we answer.  Jesus knows what you need to do in order to prepare yourself for the work of His ministry.

Here is a truth,

“God calls years before the actual event simply because it takes years to fashion you into the vessel that can actually be sent.”

Callings, though spread over many years, require us to yield to God’s Spirit and prepare our hearts in order to actually carry them out.  Also, you have to receive the calling deep in your heart in order to be willing to stay the course when opposition presents itself.

In this world, you shall suffer tribulation

Strangely enough, some think that if God truly calls it will be an effortless journey. Unfortunately, those who think such things are rarely correct. A cursory reading of the life of the apostle Paul should convince any rational person that such thinking is gravely in error.

Paul says,

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”

2 Corinthians 11: 23-27

We must lose our lives to save them

High callings in God cost us everything, for they require us to sacrifice ourselves to perform God’s will.  If we want to be true disciples of Christ, we must pick up our cross and follow Him.

Jesus says that many are called but few are chosen.  Indeed many are bidden by God to come, but not everyone actually shows up.  Here is a truth,

“If you do not show up when God calls it is impossible to be chosen.”

For example, a call went out from the King of Persia to all the young and beautiful virgins of the land to come and present themselves before the king in hopes of being chosen as His queen.  Obviously,  only those who answered the call could be considered for this high honor. Here is a truth,

“God demands, at some point, people to take personal action to fulfill His calling.”

Moreover, those who desired to be the king’s future wife needed to go through an entire year of preparation and purification before they were presented to him.  Likewise, those of us who have been called must prepare ourselves or else we cannot be chosen.

If you refuse to obey God…

Lastly, sometimes when those who are called refuse to come they are replaced.  This is especially true with callings. God calls when He has a specific purpose in mind He needs you to fulfill.  If you despise His calling long enough God will call another who will fulfill it.  When Israel refused to go into the Promised Land God brought up a new generation to answer His call.

Listen to God’s promises, commands, and callings

In conclusion,  allow yourself to hear clearly what God is speaking into your lives.  Is His voice speaking promises, commands, or callings or some combination of all three?  If we are being called, are we making ourselves ready?  Are we hiding behind self-made confusion?  All these factors and more play into understanding God’s promises, commands, and callings in our lives. Let us all heed our King’s voice and submit to His will so that in the end we will be counted worthy to be His chosen bride.

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