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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Missionary Call

Charles Stanley - The Missionary Call

Charles Stanley - The Missionary Call
TOPICS: Mission

God issues three calls to every single person. First of all is the call to salvation. That is a call to confess our sins, to repent of our sins, and place our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Master and our Lord. The second call is the call to sanctification. That is a call to bring our conversation, our conduct, and our character under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The third call is the call to service, and that is a call for us to give ourselves in service to God by serving other people. And in so doing, we fulfill God's purpose for their life, and we also fulfill God's purpose for our own life. And so, every single one of us, God intends to receive three calls: salvation, sanctification, and service.

And I would simply ask you, first of all: How many of those calls have you answered? Have you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? Have you ever come to the place in your life where you are willing to say and have said, "Lord, I want to walk in Your way and in Your will. I want a holy life. I want to walk in a godly way". And you've made a commitment of your life to walk in obedience to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Or have you come to the place in your life also where You've said, "Lord, I'm willing to serve You in any way You see fit to use me, however You have chosen to use me, how You've gifted me, my personality, my talents, my gifts, I'm available to be used any way You choose to see fit".

Now, if you have not, let me ask you a question. Can you give God an acceptable reason for not having yielded to His call in your life? Why would you not be saved? Why would you not walk in a godly fashion? And why would you not serve a God who has gifted you with the gift of life, who has enabled you in so many ways to accomplish and to achieve what you've accomplished and achieved in life? Well, I don't think there's any acceptable reason in the eyes of God. In fact, He doesn't take excuses. If He gives us a command, He also enables with that command everything you and I need in order to accomplish it. And so, the question is: If God has issued these three calls on my life, how many of them have I answered? Secondly, if I have not, why not? And thirdly, what am I gonna do about these calls in my life, at least the one or the two that I have not answered?

Well, God calls us, when it comes to service, to do many things. He may call you to be a schoolteacher. He may call you to be an attorney or a doctor. He maybe called you to be a carpenter. He may call you to be a homemaker or a preacher. No difference what it... it doesn't make any difference. As long as it's God's call in your life. One of those calls is a call to missions. That is, a call to be a missionary. Now, it may be across town or it may be across the seas in some foreign country, but God does call people for very specific reasons, and He calls us to do a very specific work. Many people have been called who've rejected the call. And you may be one of those persons who says, "Now, you know, wait a minute. I'm not even sure God could use me in any fashion. What do you mean God called me"?

Or it may be you would say, "Well, God may be able to call me, but I don't think God's ever called me to be a missionary. In fact, I just don't think He could possibly call me to be a missionary, haven't been to seminary or haven't been to college, I don't know the Bible all that well. I can't preach, I can't sing, I can't teach, and so why would I expect God to call me to be a missionary? Or I just don't think I could afford to leave my family at this point and so forth". Well, let me say something. There are literally thousands of people on the mission field who sat in church and thought the same thing you're thinking. "Why, God couldn't call me". In fact, every time we have a missions' conference, some missionary come up to me and say, "You remember back yonder in so-and-so"?

And usually, I don't. "Back in nineteen seventy-something, nineteen eighty, nineteen ninety-one, we had a missions' conference and you spoke, and here's what you said. And I just said, 'Well, no, I don't think God's calling me.' And then somehow it began to sink into my heart and the Lord finally got ahold of me. Well, here I am on the mission field. Thank you for preaching the gospel and God finally got to me". You know what, they sat there thinking the same thing that some of you are thinking, or that you may be thinking. How could God ever call me to missions? And you can give Him lots of reasons why you couldn't go, but let me remind you of something. God does not issue calls for our consideration. He issues calls, listen, He issues calls not for consideration but for obedience and for surrender and for the answer "yes". Not later, not no, but "yes, God, what would You have me to do"?

So, I want to encourage you not to sit here today, and say, "Well, God, You couldn't possibly be speaking to me. Turn this off, I don't want to hear this". My friend, there are forks in the road. I cannot tell you how important they are. Forks in the road in our life, when at a given moment in our life, God wants to speak to us very specifically about something. This is why it's so important to answer the call to godly living, to answer the call to bring our character, conversation, and conduct under the Lordship of Jesus Christ because listen carefully, you and I never know when the fork of the road's coming. God gives us surprise visits.

And I can say to you personally this morning, that before I ever came to church, I had one of those wonderful, awesome surprise visits from our Lord that He brings into my life every once in a while. Cannot be scheduled, always a surprise, cannot be contained, cannot be controlled, can hardly be described. Those momentary surprise visits of God, listen, to reject Him is the, listen, is the most awesome, disastrous decision you can possibly make in your life. And when you come to a fork in the road and God says, "Here's My call to you. What is your answer? What is your answer"? To ignore that, to suppress that, to repress that, to laugh it off, to sort of shuffle away and say, "Well, you know, later," is a dangerous thing. Because while there are oftentimes second chances, third chances, and fourth chances that God's called, sometimes, once in a while there's a fork in the road and if you miss that fork, somehow it never is exactly like that ever again.

And so I want you to listen very carefully, not for my sake, but for your sake. You may be sixteen. You may be twenty-six, thirty-six, forty-six, fifty-six, sixty-six, seventy-six. You say, "Well, God certainly wouldn't call me to the mission field at sixty or seventy years of age". Yes, He does! A lady walked the aisle this morning and she said, "I've been listening to you for a year, sitting here, and God keeps speaking to my heart and speaking to my heart, and finally this morning I got the message and here I am. I'm willing to do whatever God wants me to do, send me wherever He wants me to send me". So my curiosity killed me. I said, "Well, how old are you"? Most people are willing to tell you. And she said, "I'm sixty-two and I'm ready". So don't say God will not call you.

Now, let me just remind you of how God calls people. Let's go back, for example, and one of the reasons that some people say, "Well, God's never called me," because they look in the scripture and see how God called other people and say, "Well, I've never had one of those". For example, how did He call Moses? Moses walking there in the desert, and all of a sudden, he walks up on this burning bush. It's in a burning bush experience that Moses heard God call him to go to Egypt to liberate the Hebrew people.

You say, "Well, I've never seen a burning bush". More than likely, you won't. Don't expect a burning bush. Now, it may be that God may send you something that is equal to, in its effect and impact on your life, equal to what a burning bush was to Moses. But don't expect God's calls always to be miraculous. That's one way He called people. Likewise, when He called Isaiah. Isaiah, King Uzziah had died, and Isaiah was in the temple worshipping God. He was just in an act of worshipping the Lord. And the scripture says the seraphim, the cherubim, God began to work, and He touched his lips and he said, and God said, "Who will go for us"? And Isaiah, so overwhelmed in the presence of Almighty God said, "Here am I, send me"!

So, in the act of worship, this awesome vision of the throne of God, he heard God's call. Will you oftentimes see a vision, or will you have to see a vision to get God's call? Not necessarily. Is God in the business of calling people through visions? I'm not saying He won't, but don't look for one. That's not God's normal way of calling people. Because you see, they didn't have what you and I have. Now, I want you to listen carefully. Because you may be sitting here and probably... or listening, and saying, "Well, now I've heard all that, but I just don't believe God's gonna call me".

Let me ask you a question. Do you have the courage, do you have the courage to say, "Well, now, Lord, I don't believe that You're necessarily calling me to the mission field, but I am opening my heart to be able to... I do want to hear whatever You have to say". Are you willing to tell Him that? "Lord, I want You to speak to my heart. No matter what I think, what my plans are, my ambitions, my goals, my dreams, God, I want to hear You speak to my heart today". If you will, then He's going to bless you whether He calls you or not.

Now, let's think about this missionary call. And I would say two or three things about it and, first of all, simply this, that the missionary call is a divine call. That is, if somebody goes to the mission field and they haven't been called by God, they're gonna be an absolute failure. There are so many challenges, so many heartaches, so many difficulties at times, more than likely they're gonna be a failure. The missionary call is a divine call. Now, listen to this carefully. It is based on three things. The missionary call is based, first of all, on the divine purpose of God. And what is that purpose? Here's what He says. He says He desires that all men and women, young people alike, come, listen, be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

That's what Paul said to Timothy in First Timothy chapter two. He says He desires that all come, listen, that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. He said, likewise, His great purpose is that none should perish. He says, "Not My will that any should perish but that all should be saved". So that the purpose of God is that His, listen, that He would redeem mankind. That's why He sent Jesus. This Bible, from beginning to end, is the account of God's great redemptive plan for mankind and how He used nations, both the godly and the ungodly, to accomplish His purpose. So, God's divine purpose is to redeem mankind. And so therefore the missionary call is a divine call based on His divine purpose. Secondly, it's based on His divine wisdom.

Now, listen carefully. And that is, God, listen, in His wisdom, He chooses a person as a missionary. He chooses a person to serve Him. And service can be in many various kinds of ways. But when He calls a missionary, He calls a person to serve Him, listen, in His infinite wisdom, God is committed to a... He is committed to equipping you. He has already given you a personality. He has given you a temperament. He has given you the skills and the abilities which you and I are to further and to sharpen up. He has given you the spiritual gifts that you need, whatever they may be, in order to accomplish and to fulfill that mission. So that therefore, you cannot say, "Well, God, I know You've called me to be a missionary, but I'm not equipped and I'm not adequate". And what you're saying is, "God, You aren't so wise after all. You made a big mistake because I'm not qualified, I'm not equipped, I can't do it, I don't speak, I don't sing, I don't do this. God, I can't do it".

What you're implying is that God made a mistake, He's not very wise after all. Listen, listen, it is a divine call. It is a call based on the absolute wisdom of God. He knows why He created you. He knows what you're capable of doing. He knows what you're capable of accomplishing. He knows what He, listen, He knows how He has equipped you to do whatever He's called you to do. A third thing that is based on is this. The divine call of the missions is based on God's personal plan for your life. You see, the tragedy is that so many people live their entire life and never even realize that God, before they were ever born, had a personal plan for their life. And you may be saying, "Oh, my goodness, if He had a plan for my life, I never thought about it, and here I am coming close to death. What is His plan"? Well, let me just say this. He's had a plan all of your life.

You say, "Well, I blew it! I didn't give Him my life back yonder, can He use me now"? Yes! "You mean He can use me at this late point in my life"? Yes! It is a divine call based on a divine purpose that God has in your life. It is a divine call. But secondly, it's a call that requires a personal commitment. Now, in this day and time, there are two things that you don't find very much of: genuine commitment and genuine loyalty. Most people's commitment is very limited and very conditional. And time-wise, don't expect it to last very long. And when it comes to loyalty, it depends on how hot the heat is. It depends on whether you get embarrassed or not. And so there are two things that are missing. But listen, when God calls us, there is only one acceptable, legitimate response: yes! Somebody says, "Well now, you know, I'm willing to go wherever God wants me to go, but I have a few stipulations".

Let me ask you a question. Who do you think you are to bargain with God? How can you bargain with God? If He doesn't make any mistakes and He knows your need and He has the best for you, and He, listen, somebody says, "Well, you know, the Lord called me and I fought Him and fought Him and fought Him". Let me ask you a question. Just think for a moment realistically. Fight against a call from God to take second best, third best, fourth best, fifth best, and risk ruining and wrecking and destroying your life? And once in a while, I hear somebody sort of brag about, "Well, you know, I just, I fought God about this". That is not anything to brag about but to be ashamed of, that you would fight against the living God.

Let me ask you a question. How many battles has He ever lost? That's foolish to fight against the call of God, that gnawing in your soul, that something on the inside of you that you cannot contain, you cannot control it. It is there, God calling, moving, yearning within you, that you would obey Him. And you see, when you and I come to answer a call from God, every once in a while, somebody says, "Well, can you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and not accept Him as Lord? Let me ask you a question. Can you have a nickel without having a heads and tails? No, you cannot. You can't, listen, while you and I may not understand the Lordship of Christ, while you and I may not have any earthly meaning, understanding about that when we first get saved, you don't get Him in sections, you get Him all at once: Jesus Christ my Savior, my Lord and Master.

Now, when He gets ahold of our life and we recognize that He's the Lord, what does He require? It's just this simple: unconditional obedience. How can I say, "Lord, I'm willing to go to the mission fields, but send me to the Bahamas". Now, I love the Bahamas and I have many, many wonderful friends in the Bahamas, so I'm not casting reflection, I'm just saying that'd be a nice, wonderful place to go. "Or God, send me to Hawaii or somewhere like that". And so some people say, "Well, I'm willing to go, but". Whenever God calls you, forget the buts. You can't, listen, it's not my business or your business to qualify a call from God. It is a divine call based on a divine purpose, listen, divine wisdom and a divine plan, personal plan. So, there are no qualifications. I can't say, "Well, I'm willing to go, but now, what about now, Lord, what about my finances now? And what about this? And I wanna be sure You're gonna take care of that".

You know what, when God calls, the only thing I'm responsible for is to say yes. Listen carefully. Are you listening? Say amen. God is responsible for every single decision past the yes. Every need, every enablement, He's responsible for. He's not gonna call you to do anything He's not going to equip you to do. He's listening for yes. He's listening for some who are in their forties, fifties, and sixties to say yes, with all your experience, all those years, and this idea, listen, the one thing God does not want to hear you talking about is retirement. Listen, all these years you have spent and invested your life, learning whatever your vocation or skill or profession.

All these years of experience and knowledge and understanding and your faith and trust in God, and you want to spend the last years of your life doing as little as you can when these years can be the most profitable, impacting years of your life. It doesn't fit who we are. You need to get out of this whole retirement idea. Well, what about my retirement? Listen, God takes care of those who serve Him, period. Unconditional surrender. What does that mean? It means He may send you across a street or across town or across the world. It may mean that He'll call you to preach the gospel, teach the gospel, working in an orphanage, work in... be a nurse. Or He may call you as a doctor to work somewhere where you have little or no facilities whatsoever to do the work that God's called you to do, but you're propagating the gospel.

When I think about all the different avenues of service to which God calls people and all the things that is... sometimes it's manual labor, building churches. These short-term mission projects, they have an awesome impact on the people who go. You may go on a short-term mission, and some of you wouldn't understand what that means, but that means going for two weeks somewhere, or maybe a month or maybe six months or a year, whatever it might be, to some particular area to help build churches, or in an orphanage somewhere. Or in a hospital or in a clinic, or whatever it might be. Teaching, teaching English, all kinds of things. Ways that God can use you, to, listen, use you to impact others. Sometimes, listen, sometimes the call is for a week and sometimes it's for a lifetime. The issue is this, that it must be unconditional on my part.

I can't give God any conditions about how long I'm gonna serve Him and what I'm willing to do and what I'm not willing to do. Because you see, God isn't, listen, He's not obligated to even tell me where He's going to send me until He's ready. And somebody says, "Well, I'm willing to answer the call, but I want to know where I'm going". My friend, you may sit in church year after year after year. God may not tell you where He's going to send you until, listen, until you have said "yes" to His unconditional call. And secondly, He may have to equip you in some ways where you will be able to acknowledge, and your faith will have grown a bit to be able to say, "Yes, God, I don't know how, but I'm gonna trust You".

I think all of us can look back in our life and say, "Oh, dear Lord, if You had required this of me twenty years ago, I just think I'd a died in a pile right there. But now You have encouraged me, You have strengthened me, You've built my faith. You've helped me to understand Your ways and Your Word and Your will". The answer's, "Yes, God, what do You want me to do"? It requires a personal commitment on our part. The third thing I think that's so important about the missionary call is this: that the missionary call involves great challenges. First of all, the challenge is what about your family? And sometimes, a single young man or young woman will say, "Well," to their parents, "I believe God's calling me to missions". "Oh-h-h, now where is He calling you? Is He calling you? Well, surely, He must be calling you somewhere in this country". "No, He's calling me to Southeast Asia". "Well, son, that's on the other side of the world".

That's right. But Mom, I want you to know something. God's over there too. God's over there too. Leaving the family sometimes is a major challenge. Especially maybe when those parents are not as well as they could be. God knows that. It may be often that God will call a man to missions and his wife has a difficult problem with that. God knows how to change her mind. Sometimes the children are such that they think, "Well, what in the world will happen to us"? You know what, God'll show them how He can work in their life. Sometimes there's an emotional trauma. Somebody says, "Well now, wait a minute now. I've always heard that whatever our parents tell us, that surely we should obey our parents at all costs, no matter what".

Well, let me just read you a verse of scripture. Because you may love your parents, and I certainly hope you love them with all of your heart and are willing to take care of them when they get a little older in life and be the kind of godly child you ought to be. But listen to this verse of scripture. I'll give it to you in a moment. I want you to listen. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate," we'll explain it in a moment, "hate mother, father," listen, "mother, father, wife, children, brothers and sisters and his own life also can't be My disciple". "Well, what in the world does that mean? God doesn't want us to hate".

No, here's what He's saying. That He requires such loyalty and devotion to Him that if we obey Him in certain circumstances, it will appear to the people that we love the most or the people that love us the most, "How could you leave me? How could you go on the other side of the world? How could you do this"? It will appear to them that it's anger or hostility or hatred. "Well, how could you possibly love me and do this"? "Because God has called me, that's the reason". No, it's not hatred, it's not animosity, it's not hostility. It is a measure of love that oftentimes is misunderstood. There is a challenge to leave this, to leave the things that are comfortable and convenient and family and friends to be obedient to God. But you know what, to my knowledge, the word convenience is not in the scripture. I never have been able to find convenience in the scripture. You know what, it doesn't fit.

You see, that's not even a part of what we're about. We are about obeying God. There will be times of convenience and times of comfort and times of pleasure and times of happiness, but there'll also be challenges. But I want to remind you of one other thing, and that's this. That the missionary call is always accompanied by the awesome promises of God. For example, what is that promise? And I believe any missionary would say this to you. Of all the promises of God, here's the one I need the most. I need the promise of His presence. What does He say? "I will never leave you nor forsake you". What did He say to those He sent out, first of all? He said, "I'll go with you, even to the ends of the earth".

Listen, when you and I take the first step in obedience to God to answer His call, every single step in that call is accompanied by the presence of the Son of God who could not fail us by leaving us to ourselves. So, listen, for those moments of loneliness, we have His presence. For those moments of weakness, when we feel inadequate. I think about missionaries who face all kinds of obstacles and feeling so inadequate. When they feel so overwhelmed, like a thimbleful of water in a whole ocean of millions and millions of people who do not know the gospel, who have no interest, it appears at first, in the gospel. How do we reach six billion people? How do we reach these one point seven billion people, these language groups? One point seven billion people out there who know nothing about the Lord Jesus Christ.

That seems to be such a large number. What did He say? He said, "And ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost parts of the earth," which means that no matter where you and I go, and where you would go as a missionary, listen, not only do you have the presence of God, you have the indwelling, supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit to enable you to do, to accomplish, to achieve anything, everything that God would call you to do so that it's inexcusable to say, "Well, you know, I just don't think I could do it". God wouldn't call you to do something He would not do through you, listen, with all of His awesome power. Now, He will not call us all to some foreign land. But listen carefully, because He doesn't mean He's not called you and me to missions.

Now, I remember standing in the missions meetings when I was in seminary, hoping God would call me, praying He would call me. Well, He didn't choose to call me to go to a foreign country physically, but He answered my prayer to make it possible for me to preach the gospel to every country in the world, and at the same time stay right here. You give yourself to God, you know what He'll do? He'll choose where He sends you. He'll choose what He does with your life. All He's waiting to hear from you is, "God, here am I, send me". And whatever He chooses to do will be right for you.

I simply want to ask you a question. Have you answered the call to salvation? Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Have you asked Him to forgive you of your sins and, based on what He did at the cross, when He died and atoned for all of your sins, paid your sin-debt in full. Have you asked Him, have you received Him as your personal Savior by saying, "Lord Jesus, I do believe in You as the Son of God and as my personal Savior. I accept You as my Savior, my Master, and my Lord". Have you done that? If not, I want to encourage you to do it, plead with you to do it for your sake. Secondly, has there ever come a time of genuine, listen, genuine commitment to sanctification?

God, I choose to give You my life. I want to live a godly life, a holy life. I want to walk in Your way, and I want to walk in Your will. And I will trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to lead me and guide me, enable me to walk that kind of life. When I falter, when I fall, God, I will confess and repent of that sin and move on. I will not wallow in my unfaithfulness. I will not wallow in my sinfulness, I will not wallow in my disobedience. I will confess and repent and move on in the will of God.

Have you ever made a definite decision to live godly before our Lord? And thirdly, have you ever made a decision:

God, I choose to serve you wherever you send me. Whether it's in my local church. Whether it is serving You in an orphanage, in a hospital, in a clinic, in a church preaching the gospel, teaching the gospel somewhere else in the world, or across town. Wherever it is, God, here am I, I am your vessel, purchased by the blood of Your Son. I am an available servant of the living God. Use me, Lord, to do whatever, whenever, and wherever.

And Father, we pray the Holy Spirit will move in each one of our hearts. I want You to speak to my heart, God, because I do know that we have to live loose. That is, not so entrenched in anything, anywhere that You cannot move us to some place that You have chosen. So, I humble myself before You, Lord, to say, "Lord, wherever you lead, whatever you choose. I pray that every single one of us may offer ourselves without reservation to Your will, known or unknown, in Jesus's name, amen.

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