Craig Groeschel - Is God Calling You?
Who's ready to hear from God's Word today? If you wouldn't mind today at all of our Life.Church physical locations, those who are able, would you just stand to your feet as we prepare our hearts for God's Word? What I'd like to do today is I wanna talk to those of you who know that you are created by God to do something significant, something meaningful, something eternal, something that matters. Many of you, you may sense that it's something big, something unique. Something special, but you don't know exactly what it is and you're not sure where to start.
I wanna share with you a verse that I pray will land in your spirit and build your faith to know that you are uniquely created by God for His glory, called to make a difference in this world. Ephesians 4:1, the Apostle Paul wrote this from a Roman prison, probably around the year 61 AD or so. And he said, Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, "beg you". Do you feel the emotion, I plead with you. "To lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God". I plead with you. To live a life, this one life that you've been given. Worthy of the calling that you have from our God.
If you'd like to elbow bump somebody next to you and just tell them you've been called by God, you've been called by God. You can type it in the chat, I've been called by God. I'm called by God. If for a moment this resonates with your spirit, because you sense that you were created for a reason, a calling, a purpose, a divine destiny because you know no matter what you achieve in this word, no matter what you obtain in this world, you long for more than just success. There's something in you that craves spiritual and lasting significance. The title of today's message is "Is God Calling Me"? and the answer is yes. Our God is calling you.
So Father we pray that by the power of your word, and the presence of your Spirit that you would stir up your church to sense your divine calling for all of us. In your church, as your church, to make you known in this world. We pray this in Jesus' name and everybody said? Amen. Amen, amen.
You may be seated where you are. In our culture of what you might call instafluence where you can become TikTok famous. I'm working on my moves. My daughter Joy is my consultant and you might think I need a new consultant, once you saw my moves. In an age where people seem to be obsessed with things like building their personal brands, securing their side hustle, making a name, becoming an influencer. What I'd like to do is I'd like to attempt to reclaim the sacred language of calling.
What does it mean to be called by God? The root Greek word for calling is honestly one of the most significant and important words in all of the New Testament. The root Greek word is K-A-L-E-O... K-A-L-E-O and it's the root of 16 other very important words in the New Testament. Kaleo simply means to call. I wanna show you some of the other words, just a few of them.
- There's klesis which means calling.
- There's kletos which means called.
- There's paraklete which means comforter. A picture of the Holy Spirit.
- There's parakletos which means the advocate or the intercessor. This is a picture of the Spirit of God.
- There's ekklesia which is the gathering, it's the church, the assembly of believers.
It's ek means out of, klesia comes from kaleo. It means that we are the called out ones. We don't go into a building, we're called into the world. We're called, now when you think about this, if you own it and you recognize that you've been genuinely set apart by God, chosen by God, gifted by God and called by Him to make a difference, that puts a little weight on your day to day doesn't it? Because if you're called by God then you might wonder well what if I miss my calling?
In other words, what if I was supposed to major in such and such in college but now I'm at online college and what if I choose the wrong career? And what if I went to the wrong church and I didn't hear the right message which spurred me on to the right thing and what if I was supposed to ask out that cute girl at life group but I hesitated and now we're not meeting because of COVID and she got sick and she went to the doctor and the doctor asked her out and now I'm destined to marry somebody unattractive and be miserable the rest of my life. What if I miss my calling?
You guys aren't really laughing, maybe you don't have those sick thoughts like I do on the way. What if I take a wrong turn and the train slows me down and my whole life is messed up. If God is calling me, He's chosen me for something special. What if I miss my calling, I'm so confused. What is it specifically if I'm called by God, what am I called to do? It must be something big, it must be something important. If you're taking notes you may jot this down. We have to embrace the truth that calling is about who you are before what you do. When God calls you, He's calling you to a who before He's calling you to a do. This is crazy important.
In fact, I love the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1:9 when he said this. He said, "For God saved us and called us", and let me tell you what he didn't say. He didn't say for God saved you and called you to be a missionary to Africa. He might but that's not what Paul said. He didn't say you're called to be a second grade teacher or you're called to be a professional gamer. How cool would it be to get paid to play video games? Paul didn't say you're called to a task or a job. What he said is this. He said, "For God saved us and called us to live a holy life". It's a who before a do. "God did this, not because we deserved it", Scripture said, "but because this was His plan from before the beginning of time, to show us His grace through Christ Jesus".
God called you to live a holy life. In other words, calling is as much about who you're becoming as it is about what you are doing. You're called to be holy, that Greek word is "hagious". It means to be set apart, it means to be different. In other words, as you follow Jesus, you don't look like the world, you don't act like the world, you don't think like the world, you don't behave like the world. You're not driven by the things that other people are driven by because you've been set apart by God, called by Jesus, infused with the power of the Spirit of God to live a holy life.
When you look at Scripture, it's crazy interesting to me that the Bible never talks about your calling for a career. The Bible talks about your calling to become like Jesus. It's a who before it is a do. So when you recognize you are called by God, a better question than starting with is what am I called to do, a better question is who am I called to become? Who is it that God wants me to become? Because if calling is only about a do, it's gonna get really, really, really confusing.
Now I'll try to unpack this for you just a bit. I'm gonna ask you a question and I'd love for you to participate. At all of our churches, how many of you might suggest that God has called me to preach the Gospel, raise your hands. Some of you are not raising your hand right now so that hurts my feelings. This isn't a trick question, what I'm trying to do is say you might say you're called by God to preach the Gospel, there's a problem. I'm also called probably to be a husband to Amy. How many would you agree?
Now that takes a distinctly different skillset and expression to fulfill that calling. For example, if Amy and I have let's say a constructive discussion. That's preacher talk for an argument. So let's say we have a constructive discussion and at the end of it I say this. For those of you who need to repent of your sins and call on Jesus, raise your hand right now at the count of three. If I say that to her at the count of three I'm gonna be repenting of my sins and calling on Jesus. Because that approach isn't gonna be incredibly effective. It's the different setting and it's a different calling.
So am I called to be a preacher? Am I called to be a husband? And in fact we've been married now 29 years, almost going on 30 years. And even if we have a constructive discussion we tend to work through the constructive discussion. On a good day, we kiss a lot. If we have a difficult day we make up and we might kiss a lot that day too. And along the way because there was a lot of kissing there were a lot of kids. Six of them as a matter of fact and these children call me daddy. Or dad and I'm called to be a pastor, I'm called to be a husband to my wife. I'm called to be a dad to my children and I am still the same person and yet I've got different expressions of the calling.
What I hope you'll recognize in your own life is that who you are is way, way, way more important to God than starting with what you do. In other words, if I'm called to be yes, a preacher and yet I'm not living a righteous life, I'm not living a holy life, I am not fulfilling my calling. If I am not loving Amy and yet I'm really successful in some other avenue, I'm not fulfilling my calling because I might be lacking integrity in some area of my life. I could be a good preacher and work really, really hard and preach a message that you might like and might influence your life but if I'm neglecting my family, if I'm abusing my family I am not fulfilling my calling.
You can see someone who's a charismatic leader but doesn't keep their word and doesn't have integrity. That person is not fulfilling their calling because calling isn't about something important you do in the future. Calling is about your faithfulness to Jesus today. It's about who you are today, not just about what you do in the future.
The Apostle Paul says something that really, really ministers to me in every moment of the day. If I'll let this verse sink in. He said this, he said, "And whatever you do, whether it's in word or deed". If you're doing you enjoy, something that's difficult, something that is right in your sweet sport or something that's really, really frustrating, whatever you do. Do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Whatever you do. You do it as unto the Lord, whatever you do. Calling isn't just about the specific unique do for you it starts with the who and when you're holy and set apart for God than whatever you do, you do it for God.
I wanna show you an example in Scripture and this to me is not only powerful but it's potentially really, really funny. I wanna show you a couple of stories. One is in Mark 10 and the other one is immediately following in Mark 11. In Mark 10 there's two brothers, James and John and they're gonna ask Jesus for a little favor. Jesus give us some favor and essentially what they say is, hey one day Jesus, when you're sitting on your throne, when you're in heaven reigning and ruling, can one of us sit on your right and the other one on your left?
We wanna be important Jesus. When people think of you, we want them thinking of us. Hey look, there's James, there's John on the other side. We wanna be important. And Jesus looks on and He kind of gives them a little message. He says hey if you want to be a leader, first you need to be a servant. He says if you wanna be really important, if you wanna be first, the first thing you need to do is you actually need to be last. He, it's not about just the visibility, you need to have a heart of a servant. It's who you are, not just where you're positioned. That's Mark 10. Two brothers, James and John.
In the next chapter, Mark 11, Jesus and His disciples, they were approaching Jerusalem for the famous moment that we call the triumphal entry. This is when Jesus comes riding in and the palm branches and he's preparing to give His life. And the disciples are very, very likely beside themselves. I don't know if you've ever been with someone that you deem important and you're walking in with them and you're just kind of got going like, I got it going on. Not because I'm up, but because of who I'm with and this is what they're very likely thinking. We are coming into town with Jesus the Son of God at the moment of the triumphal entry. We've left so much to be here. This is the big moment as we go in.
Verse one of Mark 11 says this. "As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem, they came from towns of Bethpage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives". And Jesus did what? "Jesus sent two of them on ahead". What's interesting is Mark doesn't tell us which two. But if I were Jesus, I can guarantee you, the two that had just asked me to be important would've very likely been my object lesson in this illustration that I was just about to do.
With all my heart, I think it's James and John that Jesus sent on this assignment. Here's what He's gonna do. He's gonna send them on ahead and you know what they're thinking. These two, they're thinking we're gonna do something really important. We're gonna cast out demons. We're gonna call down fire from heaven and burn up the whole evil Roman Empire. You know, He has chosen us because of our capacity, because of our experience, because of our leadership skills and here's what Jesus says to them. He chooses two, "'Go into that village over there,' He told them. 'As soon as you enter it, you'll see a donkey tied there that no one's ever ridden. Untie that donkey and bring it here. If anyone asks what are you doing, just say the Lord needs it and will return it soon'".
W-w-w-wait a minute Jesus. We left everything to follow you. Where's my important assignment? Our big calling. Where we get visible recognition. Where we get some clout. Where we get a little attention, where we get some followers. Where we get some, some fame. Come on Jesus, where are you? You're calling us to donkey duty? And I know some of you are like fourth grade boys and you're laughing because I said duty. Okay I know what you're thinking okay, 'cause I was a fourth grade boy and sometimes that fourth grade boy stills comes up and yeah you got donkey duty. And the disciples were about to learn that the size of your assignment never determines the significance of your impact.
The size of your assignment, the very thing in that moment that God might be calling you to do, enabling you to do, inviting you to do, may not feel important in the moment but could be more significant than you could ever imagine. Just like a little shepherd boy who determined in the Old Testament that a very small stone can take out a really, really big giant. Just like a little boy in the New Testament who took his little Lunchable and gave it to Jesus and Jesus took something that seemed small and insignificant and multiplied it to feed 5000 men and a bunch of women and children as well.
You are set apart by God. You're chosen by God. You're called by God. And whatever you do, even if it's donkey duty you do it with faithfulness, you do it with passion. You do it with integrity. Because of who you are, you do it for the one who gave it all for you. It's so much more about the who than it is about the do. These two disciples, these two guys may have had no idea that they delivered the donkey that carried Jesus to His calling.
What did we recognize? You wanna find your calling? What am I created to do? Start with the who. Be faithful to Jesus today and then, when you're faithful, when you serve with integrity, when you love and when you live generously and when you die to yourself, and leverage your life to make Jesus known, when there's less of you and there's more of Him. When it's not about your name or your status or your visible importance, but it becomes all about the one who gave His life for you. Who suffered, shed His blood, gave His life and rose again. So you could be forgiven, your sins washed away. Filled with the very same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, empowered, created. Uniquely shaped, set apart to live a holy life. Then when everything you do, you do for the glory of God, you don't have to find your calling, your calling will find you. It overtakes you, something as meaningless as donkey duty becomes something meaningful when it's for the one who gave His life for you.
What are you called to? You're called to a who before a do. You're called to become like Jesus. You're called to be set apart, to live a holy life. We don't live according to the same values that this world lives toward. And so one day you wake up and you recognize there's someone who's in need. And you're called to help meet that need. There's someone who's hurting and you're called because you're becoming like Christ to stop and to listen to them. Maybe even to pray for them. You might be called right now to love a spouse that's really difficult to love. You might be called to pray for a child that continues to run from God. You might be called by God to confess some sin in your life that's held you back and grieved your soul and believed that the power of the Holy Spirit can change you.
You might have a lot of education, and you know you could do so much more professionally but right now, you're called to love those babies. You're called to love them with the love of Jesus. You might be called to fight for your marriage, when the spouse you're with doesn't seem to have any fight for it. You might be called to build a business and you say but that's not spiritual, that's incredibly spiritual don't let anyone tell you that's not spiritual. Jesus got pretty excited about someone who had five talents and multiplied it to 10. You build that business with integrity, with faithfulness, with passion and you're honoring God when whatever you do, you do it as unto the glory of God. It starts with the who.
So what am I called to do? It starts with a who. I'm a child of God who's been redeemed and forgiven by Jesus of more than you can ever imagine. I'm called to shepherd this church under the good shepherd Jesus. I'm called to lay down my life to serve my bride and I'm called to disciple my children toward the goodness of Jesus. I'm called to collect pens. That's like way up at the top of my list, it really is. Writing pens, like pens. Don't buy me a pen, I don't want your pen. I actually don't even like pens. I never understood why someone would pay like $100 for a pen, I never understood it until I got a nice pen years and years ago from a very important person that I did not know well at the time.
It was probably, I don't know, 17, 18 years ago. That I got a pen that had dated 2000 and whatever it was on it and a handwritten note with that pen, that said, "Pastor Craig, I'm celebrating your faithfulness to Jesus this year. You've served your church well, you've loved your wife, you've been faithful to God and your children and this pen represents a year of faithfulness". I have with me the 2015 pen that I got from this spiritual leader. It just has my name, 2015. And I got pen year after year, it didn't mean a whole lot until about the fourth or fifth year. I started looking forward to the pen because one pen represented day in day out a faithfulness to the calling to serve Jesus.
I met the person probably in 2012 that was sending these pens and I asked him about it. I said who do you send these pens to? And this is so amazing and he said kind of sadly, he said well unfortunately the list of people that receive them is smaller than it used to be and at that moment we kind of shared a knowing look. Like we could almost think about the, the tragic stories of spiritual leaders who burned out or made sinful decisions or found themselves in a bad place and would not have according to those standards, qualified for the pen. And that's why that's up at the top of my list because it's not about just what I do, how big is your church, how successful is your ministry. This represents the who, you're called to be like Jesus.
There's a big part of me that I need to like, confess and I'm not proud of it but there's a big part of me that wants to be important. I wanna do something important. I want you to look and say yeah you've built an important church and you're an important voice and you make an important difference. But what I recognize is this. You know, I'm faithful to Jesus. When I stand before Him one day, He's not gonna say well done my good and important servant. Right? What He may say and I dream about is well done my good and faithful servant. Faithful.
You've been called by God. Set apart, chosen. Not to live a life that's all about you, and your comfort and your name and your desires but a life that reflects the glory of God. Paul said I beg you, I urge you to live a life worthy of your calling. To glorify the one who gave it all for you. You're called by God, it's not a game. Church isn't like an add-on. It's not something you do just like watch a sermon every now and then and try to do good to someone. You're called to reflect the glory of Jesus in all you do. In every conversation, and everywhere you go, you have been set apart by God.
What if when you woke up you just recognized, I have been called by God. Uniquely created, empowered, set aside to live a holy life. To become like Jesus. To make Him known and at the end of the day, your success will not be based on how important you look to anybody else, but your success would be based on the way you faithfully served Jesus today. Success isn't accomplishing something big and significant out there in the future. Success is being faithful to Jesus today. I wanna read it to you again. And I want you to feel it. Imprisoned, falsely accused the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he says, "I, a prisoner serving the Lord, beg you". Hear this as if it's the Spirit of God speaking to you. "I beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you, church, you've been called by God".
So Father, speak to us today. I pray you'd give us the honor God of doing whatever donkey duty looks like for us. That instead of being obsessed with a what or a do, God you'd help us be conformed to the who of your Son Jesus. Set apart to be like Him.
At all of our churches, those of you who would say, I need help from God, I wanna live a life worthy of that calling, would you lift up your hands right now? Just at all of our churches, lift them up. You can just type that in the chat right now. I wanna be worthy of my calling. I wanna be worthy of my calling.
God I thank you that because of the death of Jesus, and because of your resurrection power, we're worthy not because of our goodness but because of His gift and God I pray that the power of your Spirit would speak directly to individuals today. Set us apart God. Give us a passion that whatever we do, God we'd do it for your glory. God wherever we are, God I pray that all during this week and in the weeks and months to come, that your Spirit would nudge us. That we're called, we're equipped, we're empowered, we're chosen to represent the goodness and the love of Jesus in this world. God help us by the power of your Spirit, live a life worthy of the calling upon our lives.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, some of you are going like welp, that's not me at all. I don't know, I'm so far from living life worthy and like, I didn't even know how I would do it and you know, like to serve God or whatever. I'd have to like be so different and I don't even know if I could undo all the bad stuff that I've ever done and let me just stop for a moment and speak directly to you. If you recognize that you're not in a relationship with God I've got incredible news for you. You are one moment, one prayer away from being transformed. Not by your efforts but by the grace and the goodness of a God who brought you here for this moment.
You may feel unworthy, you may feel guilty and let me just be very clear with you, every single one of us, we've sinned against a holy God. That guilt is real but the goodness of God, His love overcomes our sin. Jesus, the Son of God was perfect in every way. He never, ever sinned. As the innocent sacrifice, He gave his life on a cross and our God raised Him from the dead so that anyone and this includes you. Who would call on His name, your sins would be forgiven, you would become brand new today at all of our churches, those of you watching online there. Those of you that you recognize, I need His grace, I need His forgiveness. I want to, I want to know Him. The moment you turn away from your sins, when you call on Him, He hears your prayers, He forgives your sins and he makes you brand new.
All of our churches, you've been searching, you've been longing, you're looking for something more. It's here, His name is Jesus. He is real and He loves you. Those who says I need Him, I want Him. Today I turn from my sin, I give him my life, that's your prayer. Lift your hands high now, all of our churches. As we've got hands going up at churches all over the place. Those of you online, you can just click I need Jesus. Jesus save me and as we have people in all of our churches and even around the world online calling out on His name, would you just pray aloud with those around you.
Heavenly Father, forgive my sins. Jesus save me. Forgive me. Make me brand new. Fill me with your spirit. So I could live a life worthy of your calling. Serving you in all that I do. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. In Jesus' name I pray.