Unexpected Callings – Amos 6-9

God Calls Us to the

Today’s reading contained similar prophecy to what we have seen over the last few days with a couple short narratives thrown in the mix. One was Amos 7:10-17, when Amos meets with Amaziah, the high priest at Bethel. In this story, we get a little bit of Amos’ background. Threatened by the prophecies of destruction, Amaziah demands Amos leave Israel. Amos responds, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophecy in Israel.’” (14-15 NLT) 

Sometimes, like Amos, God calls us to do the unexpected. He calls us to do tasks for which we were never trained or prepared. Time and time again, all throughout the Bible, there are stories like this. David was a shepherd but called to be King. Peter, James, and John were fishermen, but called to be disciples of Jesus and leaders of the early church. Esther was a mere girl but called to rescue the Jewish people. All these individuals relied on God to sustain and strengthen them. They were not expecting to become heroes and martyrs. It was not in their plans, but it was in Gods’. That is the key for today. Keep an open mind. 

What is God possibly calling you to do? The summer season is a season of transition. Even if you are no longer in school, much of our society is built around the school calendar. Summer is the space in between the last school year and the next. Let this be a time of reflection as you prepare for whatever is next. Ask God to guide you and be willing, like Amos, to do something different. Even the unexpected. 

~ Emilee Ross

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway.

Tomorrow, we move on with the history of Israel, reading 2 Chron. 27 and Isaiah 9-12 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Stop Running from His Call

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

We’ve all heard the story of Jonah and how he tried to run away from God. Of course, we know that didn’t work out too well for him. He had to sit in the belly of a giant fish until he decided that he would listen to God. We all have our Nineveh. It’s that one thing in the back of your mind that you know you need to do but it’s the last thing you want to do. Jonah ran away because he was scared and often we do the same thing. 

 

For a while, my Nineveh was mission work. I heard God speaking to me through the people at my church calling me to get involved but that scared me. I haven’t even graduated high school yet God was calling me to leave the country and do His work. That seemed much bigger than I thought I was able to do. So I just ignored the nagging in the back of my mind for as long as I could. Obviously, I didn’t end up sitting in the literal stomach of a huge fish. However, I always felt drained and never quite right. Eventually, I got the hint and I talked to someone from my church who had decided to sell all her stuff and move to Guatemala for mission work. By the end of the conversation, we were making plans for me to come down and do missions with her for a week. After that God had opened my heart and I felt joy for the first time in a while. This then led to the opportunity to join the LHI team in going to Peru. Both opportunities have been nothing short of a blessing. 

 

The amazing thing is that if God calls you to do something He’s not going to send you into the situation unprepared and empty-handed. I felt unqualified for what God was calling me to do, but all I had to do was open up my heart to what God was trying to show me. So today as you think about what God is calling you to do, whether it be a huge project or just a random act of kindness, let God guide you, without trying to run from Him. 

 

-Maggie Gallagher 

The Best Influence

acts 16 9

ACTS 16

As Paul and his group were traveling around what is modern day Turkey they kept having messages from the holy spirit telling them that they were not allowed to preach in that area, and that they need to go farther, and eventually led them to Greece.  With this the Gospel made its first direct contact with the “Western World” in the city of Philippi. It is here that Paul converts Lydia who is the first known convert in Europe. As they were going along and preaching Paul got in trouble with some of the local officials and they were thrown in prison because of a popular uprising against them.  It was in this prison that Paul and Silas were singing praises to God after being beaten, and an earthquake came and freed them, but they stayed and preached to the jailor instead of running away. Because of their unusual behavior and their powerful message the jailor believed and his whole family was baptized.

 

Throughout this story we see that the people that Paul spends the most time with and interacts with one on one are the ones that he has the most influence on.  Lydia and the jailor both spend time with Paul and invite him to their homes and listen to his message and believe. The leaders of the city who get mad at Paul only see how his message is disrupting their business and how their culture and religion is different from their own and throw them out of town.  In my experience this seems to hold true, that the people you spend time with are the ones that you are going to impact the most for Christ. Many people will post on social media about different parts of Christian culture or parts of their Christian life, but to unbelievers seeing that, all they see is that you are different, just like the city leaders in Paul’s day.  Without being deeply involved in your life they are never going to see the benefits of a life that is free from the bondage of sin. Everybody knows that everybody puts forth their best image online and we have all seen enough stuff online to be skeptical of most of it. The best way to spread the gospel is to be right there day to day with people and praising God even in the worst of times.  This is how they will know that you are truly different.

-Chris Mattison

What Does God’s Word Mean to Me?

psalm 119 30

The question “What does God’s Word mean to me” is a very appropriate question to ask myself during this phase of my life.  I am currently less than a week away from taking on the North Hills Church of God in Springfield, Ohio.  The Ohio area does not offer a ton to me, as I do not have any family there and currently not too many friends, although I look forward to making new friends.  Before I talk more about this, let me rewind a couple of years prior to my freshman year of college.

Prior to college, I lived my entire life in Michigan.  Nearly my whole family lived within a 5 mile radius, I had a great church family, and I had my friends from my school.  I lived very comfortably in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area for 17 years.  I had everything that I wanted: a great family, a great church family, and friends.  There was no attraction to leave the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.  However, I felt called to go to the Atlanta Bible College in McDonough, Georgia.  I had no family or friends really in the area, but I felt God calling me to go to the Atlanta Bible College.  Therefore, I packed up my stuff, and 800 miles later I found myself at the Bible college, far away from home.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Bible college, and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering going.  However, my time came to an end after three delightful years at the Bible college.  It was then time for me to decide what to do after I graduated.  I decided to intern with Andy Cisneros at the Guthrie Grove Church.  This decision was largely based on one, the leadership skills of Andy, and two, the connections I had in the Pelzer, South Carolina area.  Most of my friends outside of my family lived in the South Carolina area, so it made great sense for me to move there.  Also, my then fiancée’s, now wife’s, family lived in the area.  Overall, the area had much to offer me.  The Guthrie Grove Church served me so well, and I again thoroughly enjoyed my time.  Life was great in South Carolina, and I could have very easily and enjoyably stayed in the area and worked with Andy for many years.  However, I felt God calling me to go to the North Hills Church, so I ended my work with Andy at Guthrie Grove.

Twice I moved on from a place that I so much would have enjoyed calling home, and both times were extremely hard.  It was very difficult for me to leave my home in Michigan where I had everything I wanted and go on to a place where I had no connections.  It was also extremely difficult to leave South Carolina.  There were many tears shed in leaving these two areas, and I so badly wanted to stay put.

So here I am today, twice removed from places where I could have very easily laid down my roots and about to head to a place where I have close to no connections.  This is not an easy decision to make, and it is a decision my wife, Jamie, and I have to ponder.  It is a decision that at times brings us to tears, as it is so difficult to leave those whom you love.  Therefore, we ask ourselves, why are we choosing to move away from our loved ones?  The answer is plain and simple.  It is because of what God’s Word means to us.

Jamie and I are making the decision to move on from an area where we had so much to an area where we have close to nothing because of what God’s Word means to us.  God is the reason for this move.  We feel God calling us to move to Ohio and serve the North Hills Church, which we are both excited about.  We have to remain obedient to God’s calling, and we remain obedient because of how much His Word means to us.

God is calling each and every one of you to do great works.  God has a specific plan and purpose for you to fulfill, which is quite awesome to think that the Almighty Creator has a specific plan and purpose for YOU!  We have two choices when we realize God’s calling for our life.  We can either accept his calling or deny it.  It would have been so easy to deny God’s calling for my life because I had everything I wanted in Michigan and South Carolina.  However, the meaning that God’s Word has on my life was all the encouragement that I needed to accept his calling. It is my hope and prayer that everyone who reads this will seek out God’s calling for them and accept God’s calling because of how much God’s Word means to them.  Therefore, when God calls you to do something out of the ordinary like moving away from your family, being a missionary, adopting a child, leading a church, or whatever it may be, I hope you remain faithful to his calling, that whisper inside, because of how much his word means to you.

-Kyle McClain