This is the 3rd sermon in the “Live Your Calling: What On Earth Am I Here For?” series.
We looked at your first calling in life which is the calling to be loved.
God doesn’t want you to do anything first in life.
That’s the bedrock of everything that happens in your life.
You must learn to let God love you.
Second of the callings in life which is you’re called to belong.
You weren’t made to go through life all on your own.
God made you to belong to his family which is the Church.
It’s the family of God.
The third one which we are talking about today is:
You’re Called to Become.
These actually are building blocks that build on top of each other.
We cannot become the person God wants us to be unless you are loved and belong first.
It is only being loved and belonging that we’re able to do the becoming in life.
As little kids we often wanted to become some things… let me just ask you.
How many of you when you were a kid you wanted to be a fireman, a policeman or an astronaut?
Those are the most common.
How many of you wanted to be a nurse when you were growing up?
Here’s the more likely question:
How many of you did not become what you thought you would become when you were eight years old?
But the Bible says that God created you not just to be loved and not just to belong but the third calling in life is you are called to become.
What is a calling?
We said that’s the same thing as a purpose.
God has five purposes for your life.
God has five reasons for creating you.
God has five assignments.
Five rationales for your life.
The callings of God are the purposes of God for your life.
The Bible uses the word “calling” at least ten times more often than the word “purpose” when it talks about our life.
One of the theme verses for this series on living out your calling, God’s purposes for your life, is Romans 8:28 in the Bible.
“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance and he chose them to become like his Son, so that His Son [Jesus] would be the firstborn with many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:28-29)
It’s not all good, but God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him.
Note that calling and purpose go together.
Our calling in life is our purpose in life.
[It is amazing that before we were even born God knew us.]
We were His idea:
We are not an accident.
For God knew his people in advance.
God’s desire has always been for us to “become like his Son.”
That’s our third calling in life.
Once we get into God’s family God wants us to grow up and become like our older brother Jesus Christ.
Write this down:
My third calling in life is to become like Christ.
What does that mean?
You’re not going to be a god.
You’re never even going to be a little mini-me god.
God is God and we’re not.
Just as well!
But God wants us to become godly.
In other words, He wants us to take on the characteristics of His family.
Like Father, like Son.
The Bible says that God is:
These are called the fruit of the Spirit.
They’re a perfect picture of Jesus.
If we’re going to become like Jesus it means to be filled with love.
To be filled with joy.
To be filled with peace.
To be filled with patience, etc.
Five times in the Bible it compares becoming like Jesus to running a race.
It is the race of life.
Life is not a fifty-yard dash.
It’s a marathon.
And we’re running this race right now.
And our goal is to become the man God wants you to be.
The Bible talks about walking the Christian walk.
It talks about running the race.
It talks about finishing the course.
I would like to leave with us today eight principles about running a race.
I call this the Marathon to Maturity.
This is how we get to where God wants us to be in life.
God doesn’t want us to stay the same.
He doesn’t want us to be in spiritual diapers our entire life.
He wants us to grow up.
And what is full maturity?
Look at Jesus!
How do I run the marathon to maturity?
How do I finish the race?
1. Simplify my life.
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
I have to cut out and clean out and discard all the junk that’s holding me back from becoming the person God wants me to become.
I have got to clean out the clutter, the mess.
I have got to clean out my mind.
I have got to clean out my schedule.
I have got to clean up my relationships.
I have got to get rid of unnecessary baggage.
In other words you don’t run a marathon wearing nine layers of clothes.
If you see someone running a marathon they strip down to the bare essentials – a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and the lightest pair of shoes you can find.
We don’t want to be carrying extra baggage through our life.
We must eliminate the diversions, the distractions, the detours, the dead ends, the time wasters.
“Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up, let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.”
God has a particular race for our life and only we can run it.
And everybody else has a race that God wants them to run.
Here’s the problem:
Everybody wants you to run their race.
Everybody has a plan for your life.
Your parents wanted you to run the race they wanted you to run.
You may be married to a husband or wife who wants you to run the race they want you to run.
You may have a boss who wants you to run a race he or she wants you to run.
But you’ve got to decide this:
Who’s race am I going to run in life?
I can run my own race.
I can run the race somebody else wants me to run.
Or I can run the race that God created me to run.
We can’t run all three.
I can’t do God’s plan for my life and my plan at the same time.
And I can’t do your plan for my life and God’s plan at the same time.
So the starting point, if you’re going to win at the race of life, you’ve got to decide which race are you going to run?
We must learn to pray everyday:
‘God, I’m going to strip off everything that is holding me back from running the race you have for me…the sins that mess me up…the things that hold me back…the habits and the hurts and the hang-ups that hold me back…the wrong expectations… etc’
We can’t please everybody else and please God.
We’ve got to decide did God put me on this earth to please my parents?
To please my girlfriend?
To please my teacher? To please my club, my fans, my peers, partner?
Or did God put me on this earth to live for the plan that He made me for?
When you’re doing that, we’re saying God, I’m ready to become the person you made me to be.
2. Don’t get impatient or in a hurry.
This race is going to take your entire life.
You’re not going to finish it in a week, a month or even next year.
God’s plan to make you the person he wants you to be is a lifetime plan.
It’s going to take you your entire life and you can’t run the race quickly.
It’s not a short fifty-yard dash.
It’s a marathon.
So you don’t get impatient.
God says I’m not in a hurry growing you to where I want you to grow.
When God wants to make a mushroom he takes six hours.
When God wants to make an oak tree he takes sixty years.
What do you want to be?
A mushroom or an oak tree?
I want to be solid like an oak tree.
I want my life to be deeply rooted.
I want to be strong, stable, secure so that when the rough winds of life and the storms of life buffet me and when I get blown over by problems and pressures and suffering and sorrow and scandal and loss…whatever it is, it doesn’t blow me away because I am as solid as an oak tree.
It takes time to become a person of God!
I am sure the apostle Paul when he got saved at 33, was ready to turn the world upside down!
But God said, ‘Stop I need to shape you first, it will take 14 years!’
God is never in a hurry!
So we need to just relax and realize that He’s not impatient with us.
Champions know how to pace themselves.
“Let us run (the race of life) with patience the particular race that God set out before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Take baby steps each week.
When we take a baby step every week we’re making progress.
3. Spend time focusing on Jesus every day.
Spend some time focusing on Jesus every day.
Why do I need to spend some time focusing my thoughts, my mind on Jesus?
Because we become what we think about and focus on daily!
If you want to become like Jesus you need to think about it.
We become like whoever we spend the most time with.
If you hang out with people who have no ambition, you’re going to have no ambition.
If you hang out with people who are critical, you’re going to become critical.
Whoever you spend the most time with is who you’re going to become like.
Like the old cliché,
‘You can’t soar with the eagles if you’re running with the turkeys.’
So we do not spend time with people that are continually tearing us down.
We want to spend more time with Jesus; He is perfect in every way!
“We do this [in other words run the race of life] by keeping our eyes on Jesus, [That’s focusing on him every day] on whom our faith depends from start [that’s the beginning of your race in life] to finish [the end of your race in life.]” (Hebrews 12:2)
We cannot become like Jesus unless we spend time with Jesus.
Jesus liked to go to a standard place where he could talk to the Father.
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives to pray.” (Luke 22:39)
Notice it says went out as usual.
That means it was his habit.
It was his custom.
He liked to go.
You need to choose a special place where you meet God every day.
Here’s the thing.
The more time you spend with God the more you’re going to become like him.
The more time you spend reading the Bible and studying about Jesus, the more you’re going to learn his love, his patience, his peace, his character in your life.
The Bible tells us that Moses spent so much time with God.
One time he was up on Mount Sinai when he was getting the Ten Commandments and he’d spent months alone with God up on this mountain.
When he came down, he had spent so much time with God, he literally – the Bible says the people said he glowed.
He had a presence about him that actually glowed.
He’d spent so much time with God.
For a while he wore a veil to hide this glow.
“All of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
All of us, what we want is a quick fix in our life.
We want one thing that will take away all of our problems and all of our hang-ups and all of our fears instantly.
So we go around looking for that one book to read that will change my life.
That one message to listen to on a Cd that will change my life.
We want to take a pill.
Find a magic bullet.
Have an experience and boom!
It’s going to instantly transform me and all of a sudden I love everybody!
It isn’t going to happen.
It doesn’t happen that way.
There is instant mashed potatoes.
There is instant coffee.
There is no instant spiritual maturity.
It takes time!
So as I spend time focusing on Jesus every day it says we become “more and more like him.”
Then it says we “reflect his glory.”
If you spend time with God you’re going to start reflecting the qualities of God – His love, His joy, His peace, His patience.
This reflection actually has a biological basis in our brain.
I was reading an article from Rick Warren and he said that:
‘Scientists have discovered that inside our brain we have what are called mirror neurons. These mirror neurons allow us to feel what other people feel when we look at them. This is why we’re able to empathize and sympathize with people.’
So for instance, if I were to yawn right now half the church would start yawning.
Your mirror neurons are firing.
That’s why when you go to a movie and you see somebody in a scary situation your body gets scared.
The mirror neurons are firing in your body.
When you see somebody win a game and they’re celebrating, you feel that same joy.
You didn’t even play the game but you felt it because your mirror neurons are enjoying the win that that guy just had.
It allows you to identify.
When somebody’s sad, you feel sad.
Those are your mirror neurons at work.
When you spend time with God and you focus on Him, your mirror neurons begin to reflect God’s love, God’s qualities in your life.
4. When it gets hard, remember the reward!
When life gets hard you need to remember the reward.
We will go through problems and pressures and trials and difficulties and ups and downs.
And God will use it all to make you more like Jesus.
The next time you start to ask, why is this happening to me?
You need to realize that God wants to use it to build your attitude.
To build your character.
God wants to use it to make you like Christ.
Instead of asking Why you need to say, What?
What do you want me to learn from this situation?
The Bible says that Jesus learned obedience through suffering.
The Bible says Jesus was made complete through suffering.
So you shouldn’t be surprised when problems come into your life.
Because this isn’t the easy stage.
That happens in eternity.
In eternity no more sorrow. No more suffering. No more sadness. No more problems. No more difficulties.
But right now you’re going to have all kinds of problems.
Because this is where you do the character development.
Where you’re growing.
When life gets hard you need to remember the rewards.
Problems are part of the process.
“Jesus did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up.” (Hebrews 12:2-3, TEV)
“After you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever.” (1 Peter 5:10, NCV)
So we have short-term problems on earth for long-term glory in heaven.
God does not promise an easy life here on earth.
Because this isn’t heaven.
This is earth.
Everything on this planet is broken.
Is there pleasure on earth?
Of course there is.
Are there happy times on earth?
Of course there are.
Are there moments of joy on earth?
Are there times when things are going great?
But as a general rule life is hard.
This is intentional.
We’re learning through the school of character development the character that we’re going to carry with us into heaven.
“For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (Romans 8:16-17)
I don’t like that part.
Let’s just cut that part out of the Bible.
It says if you’re going to share in his glory then you’re going to share in his suffering.
No guts, no glory.
No pain, no gain.
This is part of life.
Don’t be surprised.
And when life gets hard you need to remember the reward.
Let us continue to remember:
“In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Say that many times this week.