“WISDOM OF LIVING (51) HIGHER CALL”          By Pastor YAU

Text: Philippians 3:12-15                                             May 27, 2007.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    A baseball hero: Diehard baseball fans will remember Kirby Puckett who led the Minnesota Twins to championship victories in 1987 and 1991. Even though he was offered larger contracts by other teams, he stayed with the Twins for his entire career which was abruptly ended when he was diagnosed with glaucoma in 1996 and died in 2006. During his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, Puckett recalled the difficulties he had faced when growing up. His passion to become a professional baseball player was subject to temptation many times. Drug dealers and gang groups repeatedly invited him to join their destructive lifestyle. But whenever temptation enticed him, Kirby remembered that he had a higher calling---baseball.

2)    A faithful Apostle: Most Christians will remember Paul the faithful Apostle of Christ who led the early Christian movement to a tremendous start. He and a few helpers brought the Christian message of salvation in Jesus Christ to most parts of the Roman Empire and established many of the early churches. He wrote letters to these churches which later became half of the New Testament. At his old age, he was imprisoned in the Roman dungeon and was finally put to death for his faith. In his imprisonment, he wrote at least four letters to encourage the early Christians how to endure persecution and to stand firm on their commitment. When he recounted his life, he always remembered the high calling Jesus had given him. More than once he testified that he was not disobedient to the high calling from heaven. (Acts 9:1-9; 26:19)

 

THE NATURE OF HIGHER CALLS:

1)     A higher call is the goal of life: As it was to Kirby Puckett, many people who achieved extraordinary contribution to life because they had set their heart and mind on the ultimate goal they want to achieve. This sets them apart from the ordinary people who may just float their lives wherever the currents of the world may bring them. People with high calling will not easily change course or being distracted by things that may alter their original goal of life.

1)     A higher call is about tomorrow: People who have higher calls do not live their lives for today but for tomorrow. They will set their eyes on achieving the high calling tomorrow even if they have to pay the price of losing temporary benefits today. These people will sacrifice what they may gain today for the good of tomorrow. All higher calls are for long term achievements and therefore only those who set their life for higher results will be able to sustain the challenges of today.

2)     A higher call is bigger than “self”: Most people put the “self” as their purpose of life and they will do all they can to benefit their “self”. But people with higher calls are willing to surrender their personal gain for the higher calls. Many of those whom we respect or admire are people who counted their goals of life bigger than their name, fame and gain. They may not be the most powerful or the richest or the most popular, but they are the most selfless for the good of others.

3)     The best higher call is God’s call: While many higher calls are noble and admirable such as that of Kirby Puckett but the best of all higher calls is the call of God. Many of the human higher calls are focused on human desires and purposes and often times only benefit those who achieve them and are mostly short lived. But the higher calls of God are those for the benefits of others and are of lasing value. We see it clearly when we compare the higher call of Kirby Puckett and that of Apostle Paul.

 

SOME WORTHY HIGHER CALLS: Just list some examples.

1)   Calls for higher personal purpose: The higher call of Kirby Puckett belongs to this category. Calls like this are set for personal purpose and many of them are noble and admirable. They help the person who set them to focus on a higher level of value and purpose. They also serve as the guiding posts along the way of pursuit. People with this kind of higher calls have goals that help them focus on things that are important to them. These people tend to achieve higher and more in their lives than those who just follow currents of the world. It is important to set higher goals for life when you still have time, energy and opportunity to achieve them.

2)   Calls for higher level of dedication: People who dedicate their lives for some worthy pursuits of study, career or ideology. Scholars and artists, research people and archeologists, scientists, philosophers all belong to this category. These people will sacrifice many things others see as important for the field they dedicate their life to because they feel the call to spend their life for that purpose.

3)   Calls for contribution to humanity: People in this category include political, social and moral reformists such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Dr. Sun Yat-san of China, Ghandi of India, President Lincoln, volunteers of humanity, social activists and the like. These people have calls to change social injustice, to elevate moral behavior, to promote equality and to improve quality of life for others rather than for themselves.

4)   Calls to restore spiritual quality: While most, if not all, the above calls are worthy and noble, the results of those calls focus only on human needs on the outside. While meeting human needs on the outside is not wrong or bad, but it never changes the nature of man on the inside. That is why we see many stories of failure on the pursuit of calls of humanity. God has a better way to save man from all of their problems and that is the change of life on the inside through the born-again experience in Jesus Christ. Unless a man is changed on the inside, all political, social and moral changes won’t make him a better person. There are those who have this call: to change man on the inside with the gospel message. It is that spiritual reform inside of a man that will bring lasting results.

 

KEEP YOUR HIGH CALLINGS ALIVE: Some people do not know the importance of having high callings in their lives. Others may have them but can’t keep them alive. Let’s explore a great and successful example on how to have the high calling and to how to keep it alive so our life will make a real difference.

1)   Be obedient to God’s call: The saying that “God never makes junk” is a true statement in regard to purpose or calling in each life. God always has a call in each life He creates. It is the way we respond that call makes the difference of the outcome. When God called Paul to be a messenger of the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul was receptive and obedient to that call. He was well aware of God’s call of his life and he chose to follow through with it. Don’t try to choose your own purpose of life. Seek God’s will and respond to it with a resolute attitude. Paul said he has never disobeyed the high calling God had for his life. (Acts 26:19)

2)   Be persistent in your pursuit: In Phil. 3:12, Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, I press on to take hold of what Christ wants me to take hold of.” Obeying God’s call is never a short term accomplishment. It is a life long pursuit that requires our dedication and persistence. Anything that is half cooked is good for nothing. No one may face more obstacles or resistance than what Paul had faced as he described in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Yet he continued his pursuit to accomplish what God has called him to accomplish. Never quit.

3)   Be focused on your goal line: “I do not consider myself to have taken hold of the call. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining what is ahead.” (3:13)Many good people can’t continue their pursuit of the high calling because they become discouraged by their past failures and setbacks. Others may become so proud of their success and stop going forward because they think they have already done it. Whatever happens in the past, we need to let them go. We need to look forward, explore more and further, go higher and deeper. There is always room for improvement.

4)   Be assured of ultimate rewards: Although we shouldn’t serve the Lord or pursuit the higher call for the purpose of rewards, but God, being the righteous Judge, will not let the faithful go empty handed when He sits on the throne to receive us into His presence. Jesus has much to say in parables on God’s rewards to His faithful. No worldly rewards on any personal high calling may compare to the rewards God will bestow on His faithful servants when we see Him face to face in heaven. Paul says that these rewards are not only reserved for him “but for all who are faithful longing for His return.” (2 Tim. 4:8)

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    We are called with His purpose: When God calls each one of us to follow Him, He has a purpose for each one of us. Paul encouraged us “to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.” (Eph. 4:1) To answer the higher call and to live a life worthy of that call is a noble purpose of life. Check your purpose of life and see if your life is compatible to the high calling God has for you.

2)    If you are lacking behind: Learn from the example of Paul if you are lacking behind on your pursuit of the high calling God has given you. Rekindle your fire, seek His purpose and push forward to regain the lost ground. Focus on the rewards God has promised to give you if you remain faithful.

3)    Life without purpose? If you feel that you don’t have a clear purpose of life, come to Jesus because He is “the way.” Confess your sins to Him and ask Him to forgive. Make Him Lord and Savior of your life and you will see a higher purpose for your life that has all the promises of God in it.