Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 8 Ordinary Time - Protestant

Today’s Scriptures: From the Book of Common Prayer

Psalm 146, 147, 111, 112, 113

Numbers 27:12-23

Acts 19:11-20

Mark 1:14-20

Today’s Question: How do we know a true calling from God?

Today’s Reflection:

Even on my week of vacation, I continue to get requests (assignments) from work to complete. Sometimes things just need to get done regardless of our personal schedule, and when the boss calls, one has to answer. Callings from God happen he same way. The command comes, not when we are ready for it, but when God needs it.

The passages in the Psalms today focus on praise of God for the many things he does for his people. They both present the works of God and his endurance in comparison to the temporary nature of mankind’s plans (146:4). They remind us that despite his love and care for us, the way to maintain the status as one of his children requires us to hold the proper level of respect for God and recognize our rank in comparison to God.

After wandering in the wilderness for the appointed time in punishment for challenging God, the time came to appoint a new leader who could lead the Israelites into the promised land. The passage in Numbers gives us the details as God offers Moses the opportunity to see the land before he dies. Moses knows that the people need a strong leader and asks God to appoint his successor. God chooses (calls) Joshua and provides the directions for his presentation to the people. Just as with the establishment of the priestly order, the process to prepare and present Joshua to the people establishes him as one who is called of God. Joshua had already stood up to the masses by being one of the two spies who said they should go in and claim the land the Lord had promised. He demonstrated a complete faith in God when almost everyone else doubted. As a result, he was allowed to live and go into the land after the time of wandering. God rewards that constant faithfulness by calling him into the leadership of his people

The transformation of Paul marks one of the greatest changes in a person in the Bible and offers an example for us all – that no matter where we start, God can do great works through us. The passage in Acts shows just how strong the power of God can be through those who answer his call. Paul went from prosecuting the followers of Christ to having so much power, that cloths that touched him had power to heal. Others, in seeing that power, started to imitate him and use the same language, but because they were not acting on a call from God, the response turned on them. A call from God cannot be “created” out of our own desires, but must originate in him. Acts 19 shows us how overwhelming a call from God can be and the folly of those who would seek to act outside God’s command.

In a brief passage in Mark, we see Jesus starting to call his disciples. He saw the individuals to be part of the closest portion of his ministry and as he walked along, he invited them to join him. The key word in each of these encounters is, “immediately.” Those who heard the call from Jesus acted immediately to follow that call. His invitation proved irresistible.

When God selects someone for a ministry, that call carries such magnitude that it is irresistible. The call is unique to the person and does not present itself to others and cannot be duplicated. The call from God furthers his kingdom which may or may not further our personal life plans. Today’s passages show positive responses to God’s call and prove worthy of the praise we see in the Psalms. The Bible also has examples of those who did not accept God’s call and the consequences proved as negative to them (Jonah for instance) as the benefits were positive for those who followed the call. While we receive lessons in caution from those who do not follow the call of God, we also receive encouragement by seeing the success of those who did.

Throughout this year, we have seen many examples of those who followed a direction from God and acted in full faith that what he would have them do. In modern times when we have “proof” of so much. I know I find it much harder to act on faith, but the more I come to understand the difference between science and faith in life – and they each have their role – I am convinced that faith’s power remains as strong as it did in the time of those who walked with Jesus and heard the words directly from his mouth. Perhaps it is harder to accept a call when it puts the livelihood we have built up at risk. We live in a time when we have so much more that binds us down, but the more we study God’s power to accomplish what he wants, the less of a risk it seems to follow his call in faith.

Today’s Prayer:

Let us give up our fear and hear your calling for what it is, that irresistible, immutable force that ultimately furthers your kingdom, God, and makes our lives richer.