Called Before Qualified

Introduction

Mark 3:13-15 (NKJV) - {13} And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. {14} Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, {15} and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:

We are all familiar with the twelve disciples of Jesus. These were very special men (except the one who betrayed Jesus). These men went on to change the world by preaching the Christian faith in a hostile environment. Some were killed for preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We would consider men like Peter, John, and James to be very strong men of faith.

However, there is one thing that we should keep in mind. They were all just men and there was nothing special about them before Jesus called them. It is true that God made them who they were and He purposed that they would be the disciples of Jesus Christ. However, besides that they were people like you and I. They had fears, concerns, misunderstandings, and all of the other things that we humans share.

Many people think that they have to get their lives right before God would love them, use them, or even save them. Many believe that God is looking for special people in order to use for service. However, we will see here that such is not the case. If God wants to use you then He will make you a special person and He will qualifiy you for the job Himself. We are going to discuss the progression of the transformation of the disciples in relationship to Jesus calling them for service. You will learn a very valuable lesson about your capabilities as it applies to doing what God wants you to do.

 

Life Before the Call

God is not waiting for you to change so that he can use you, but rather you change as a result of God using you. Let's look back at the disciples in Mark 3:13-15. Now the disciples were ordinary people as we discussed previously. Some were fishermen. James and John were actually disciples of John the Baptist before they began to follow Jesus. So these were ordinary people like any other person.

One thing that you should note is that Jesus called ordinary people to extraordinary things. He called them to do two things.

  1. That they would be with Him
  2. That he might send them out to preach

 

Equipping

The first thing Jesus did was to call ordinary people to be with him. This means that Jesus first wanted to train these men so that they would be able to do what they were called to do. Jesus equipped the men to teach with both knowledge and the Spirit.

You see the thing that we err in is that we try to get our own lives "right" or to a certain point before we think that God would use us. We think that we can change our own lives for the better so that God would call us to service. The bottom line is that we cannot change our own lives so that it is acceptable to God. We are incapable of changing ourselves so that God is pleased with us and calls us.

What we see here is that Jesus called these men in the condition that they were in. However, he first called them to be with him. He called them and then trained them to do the job. Imagine if someone from a large company called you on the phone and asked you to work for them. However, you were asked to work in an area that you have absolutely no experience or knowledge. You might think that is strange because typically we get the education before we are qualified for a particular job. Jesus called the disciples before they were really qualified to do the work. However, Jesus trained them and made them qualified to do what he wanted, namely to preach.

 

Doing the Work

The second thing that we see is that Jesus planned to send the disciples out to preach. That was ultimately the purpose for calling the disciples. What has God called you to do? Are you waiting before you think you are qualified before you do something or are you just going to follow God as he leads you to do whatever he wants you to do.

I remember several years ago how I had been studying the Bible intensely for a few years.  I had been teaching Sunday school at the church I attended. I always wondered when I would be ready to teach, which is what I believed God wanted me to do. It remember asking other ministers and pastors when they knew they were ready to go out and preach. The answer of two pastors made all of the difference in the world to me and I knew that God was talking to me.

The first basically told me that there was no moment in time that he knew he was ready to be a pastor. He said that he just grew into it. He said that one thing led to another. The only thing that he did was to just live what God had placed in him. He simply lived what he was on the inside and how God had made him. Gradually and over time he woke up one morning so to speak and realized he was pastoring.

The second pastor was the culmination to my quest for knowing when I would be ready. Pastor June Austin of Victory Christian Fellowship told me to just do with what I already had. In other words she said that I should just start where I am and tell people what I know now. God had equipped me to a certain level at that time and I should simply minister based on where I was. This struck me like a bolt of lightening. God had been preparing me all of the time and I just didn't know it. Sure I would continue to grow, but I was ready to minister based on where I was at that time.

Well shortly after that (maybe a few days or so if I remember correctly) I was asked to lead a Bible study on my job. It was a daily Bible study that took place at lunchtime. I didn't question whether I was ready since God had already prepared me to know that I was ready with whatever I had at that time. I would have missed much ministering if I had waited until I felt I was qualified.

God will equip you to do whatever he wants you to do. One thing is for sure though and that is that you can always do with what you have. Everyone has a certain level of knowledge of something and in particular the Christian faith. The only thing that we can do is to tell people what we know.

I remember reading something that Bruce Lee said. He said that if you are running as fast as you can then you should not feel as though you should be running faster. In other words, if you have a certain level of knowledge at any given time then you should just be satisfied with that knowledge and do with that level of knowledge. You shouldn't feel as though you should know more than you do because the thing is that you don't. You have a certain capacity at a given time so the only thing you can do is work with it.

 

Examples of God's Calling

Let's look at some select people that God called. Remember that these were ordinary people before
God called them.

Isaiah

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NKJV) -- {5} So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” {6} Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. {7} And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” {8} Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Notice what happened here. Isaiah realized how sinful he was while he was in the presence of God It doesn't matter how clean you may think you are, but you will see how blemished you are in the presence of pure cleanliness. Isaiah's response was an expression of his state relative to the most holy and righteous state of God.

Notice what happens though. God cleansed Isaiah! The seraphim came and purged Isaiah's sins. What did Isaiah do to deserve that or earn that? He did nothing! Why. God was equipping him for what He was going to call him to do. God wanted to send a prophet to Judah to speak against its sins. God sent Isaiah who was now prepared to go.

Of course Isaiah grew in his calling as a prophet, but we definitely would expect that he would have grown in experience as he prophesied to Judah and Jerusalem. God prepared Isaiah and then He sent Him to do the work. Isaiah did not qualify himself.

Moses

Exodus 3:7-10 (NKJV) -- {7} And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. {8} So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. {9} Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. {10} Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

We know the story of Moses well. God called Moses by first getting his attention with the burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. There was nothing special about Moses (except for how God had already made him). Moses was an ordinary person like you and me. However, God called this ordinary person who proceeded to change the world.

Moses did not go to school to learn how to deliver the Hebrews. Moses did not get education such that he would reckon that he was ready to go deliver the Hebrews. As a matter of fact, he tried to talk God out of it. He didn't want to do it at first and came up with several excuses as to why he was not the man for the job. Yet God chose Moses and equipped him to do the job. Of course we know that
Moses did go on to do the job. As great as Moses was we know that he was an ordinary person that God chose to do a great thing.

Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1:4-10 (NKJV) -- {4} Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: {5} “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” {6} Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” {7} But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. {8} Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. {9} Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. {10} See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant.”

Again Jeremiah was an ordinary person. As a matter of fact he may have been a teenager when God called him as a prophet. God had already determined that Jeremiah would be a prophet before Jeremiah was even born. God had already equipped him to do the job even though Jeremiah wasn't aware of that. God sent Jeremiah to prophecy and God was the one that equipped him to do so.
We should use that example in our own lives and realize that God will equip us to do whatever He wants us to do. We don't have to worry about equipping ourselves, though we will most likely take an active role in our training. We shouldn't expect God to wire us up like those in the movie, "The Matrix" and upload everything we need to know about something. God may prepare a way for us to go to school, gain experience while working at a particular place, or become involved in some activity that prepares us for what God wants us to do later.

Like Jeremiah we may think that we are too young, too old, not smart enough, or whatever. However, we should realize that where God guides, He provides.

Abraham

Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV) -- {1} Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. {2} I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. {3} I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God told Abraham (then Abram) to leave his country and go where God would show him. Abraham was an ordinary man who God chose to bless multitudes of people ever since. There was nothing special about Abraham except that God chose him to do a job. God selected Abraham to carry out His purpose for the entire human race.

Again we should realize that we are all ordinary people even though we hold some people up in high esteem. Even the greatest scientists or greatest athletes are still mere people. They were simply trained to do something and they do it well. There is no reason why you can't be trained by God to do something special for him. We just need to get over the fact that we cannot change ourselves or qualify ourselves to do what God wants us to do.

The best we can do is to obey like Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, and Isaiah obeyed. The best we can do is to free ourselves to be who we are so that we can do what God wants us to do.

 

Final Points

The greatest thing that any human being can do in my opinion is to be himself or herself. I don't mean to be anything or do anything. I mean that we should be what God intended us to be. We are truly defined by God not by ourselves or society. Society may categorize you one way, but God will categorize you another. The world may say that you are insignificant, but think how insignificant a few fisherman were over two thousand years ago. Now think of what those same ordinary people did to change the world.

Discover who you are and be that. Learn to first be with God and then do what He wants you to do. Don't look merely at your own circumstances or abilities to determine what you can or cannot do. Instead, just follow God and allow Him to equip you to do all that He wants of you. God made you and God calls you. Just answer the call knowing that God will provide all that you need to accomplish the call.

Don't measure the call on your life in terms of religion. For example, don't think that in order to be a preacher you have to be a part of some organized religion (though you should be accountable to someone just as the disciples and their disciples were accountable to someone). If God has called you to preach then get on the path to preach. You will have to learn what it is you will preach before you can preach it, but God will guide you in that process. God will guide you in whatever he wants you to do.

Some are called to be doctors, lawyers, drivers, etc. It doesn't matter. Besides, your calling and your life are not measured in terms of your occupation. Your life is measured in terms of God's purpose in you. Be all that you can be in Christ. Start moving on the path to fulfill God's purpose on your life. Your life will change because of what you are doing and in this case you are doing what God called you to do. The change comes as a result of doing. You obey God and it changes your life. You don't change your life so you can obey God. We can do nothing on our own.

God is not waiting for you to be qualified to call you.  You will be qualified after He calls you and after you start to do what He says.  Don’t worry about your provisions for what you need to do what God wants you to do.  Just realize that God will provide the things that you need for the things that He wants you to do.  So just go and get yourself on the path that God has prepared for you.  Amen.

 


Called Before Qualified
By Pastor William Cunningham
For Sunday September 17, 2006