Hearing His Call
Welcome back. We hope you have fellow travelers to gather with on the road of faith, but if not we’re here to encourage as best we can with the Holy Spirit drawing us near.
Have you heard His call? Are you in a place filled with trouble? Has the trouble driven you to an unusual place?
In this session we’ll begin to process what we heard in You Have a Call.
Father God, open our ears and prepare our hearts to receive what You have for us.
Finding Our Place in the Story
Begin by centering your heart and mind on God.
Take a moment to consider the first week of study.
Look over the notes you’ve jotted down in your homework.
Sit in silence for a few minutes and prayerfully consider these questions:
- What one word or short phrase describes your current spiritual condition?
- What about the condition of those around you? What word or short phrase describes those in your world?
When it comes to sorting out our emotions and understanding our circumstances, it is helpful to remember the Metastory — the great overarching story — to which we belong.
Read Psalm 143:5
- What do you notice about this verse? What is the psalmist systematically doing?
The psalmist is recreating the story he’s heard all his life. He’s remembering how it all started, all that’s happened before he came on the scene, and contemplating his place in the story through what he sees around him.
I remember the days of old…
- What do you think the psalmist is remembering? What are the days of old?
The oldest days we have on record are found in the story of our Beginning. In the first three chapters of Genesis, God tells us what He wants us to know about creation. He reminds us of our role in creation, and how we forfeited the authority He gave us over creation.
- Why is it important for us to remember our beginning?
- What does it bring to mind?
The word remember is a powerful word when you separate it into its two parts: re-member.
To re-member is a call to put the story back together in our lives. To take what we might have forgotten or even disconnected from our own place in His story and re-member it as ours.
When it comes to our beginning, we need to remember we are created beings with a Creator. He is a good sovereign God who loves us. He spoke an elaborate abundant creation into existence for us to live in and He gave us authority over all He made.
Then, we need to humbly remember all the trouble in the world is our fault. We sent the world spinning toward hell when we rejected our good God in favor of a lying snake. But praise God, the story is not over.
I meditate on all Your works…
- What works do you think the psalmist meditates on?
The works of God — all His works — include those from the beginning and His response to our betrayal. All the works He’s been working to redeem and restore the creation we messed up. The Bible gives us the record of His works He wants us to know.
- What can we learn from meditating on all God’s works in Scripture?
To meditate on something is to ponder, give considerable thought to, ruminate. The original language of the Old Testament gives us the picture of a lion’s low constant growl or the constant cooing of a dove. So, to meditate on God’s works means we think about them constantly, maybe even softly speaking them out loud to ourselves. Filling our minds with all He has done.
When we ponder and consider all God’s works from Scripture we discover God’s character, His purpose, and His plan for the world and more importantly our own lives. Meditating on His Word is the primary way we discover who He is and come to know we have a place in the story.
I consider the work of Your hands.
- What does this final piece of the psalmist’s thought life indicate?
The psalmist was looking at his life and circumstances in light of the days of old and all he knew about God and His works.
Here is where we take what we know of our Sovereign Creator and look for His purpose and plan in our story. We consider what His hands are working out in our lives through daily occurrences and our relationships with the people around us.
God is the same — yesterday, today, and tomorrow — He does not change. His purpose, plan, and character are always steadfast and true to His nature. He is Love. He is Good. He is Holy. He is Creator. King. Ruler. He is continually about the work of redeeming what we trashed.
When we re-member we’ve been dropped into an ongoing story, a story where God is the central character and not us, it helps us find our footing when life gets rocky. It reminds us we are not alone and there is a greater purpose and plan beyond our own comfort and happiness.
God is calling us into His work of redemption, restoration, and resurrection.
Gideon’s call all began with a passion for his people to be set free from the oppression of the Midianites. We asked you to look at the definitions of the three words defining God’s current work: Redemption, Restoration, and Resurrection.
- Which word’s definition spoke to the passion in your heart?
Merriam-Webster defines passion as intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; an outbreak of anger; ardent affection, a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept; an object of desire or deep interest.
Sometimes emotions are like little signs pointing to the passion God is stirring within us. When we examine the emotion as an indication of something deeper and begin to ask ourselves questions, it helps us define our passion.
- Think back through your week, what emotion caught you by surprise?
- What passion might be driving that emotion?
Resistance can also be a sign of passion. There are things in our lives that cause us to want to run or escape. We have this “I’m not doing that” attitude. Like Gideon, our response to God’s call is to make excuses or justify our decision to not get involved.
Moses, Jeremiah, and Esther as well others made excuses too.
- Is there something in your life you are resisting? Why?
- Did you find it surprising that many of God’s chosen leaders made excuses?
- What kind of inspiration do you find when you consider excuses as part of our wrestling with God’s call?
Excuses in themselves only become a stumbling block when we refuse to move forward and allow them to rule and reign in our lives.
Gideon clearly saw the truth of his station in life. A member of the least of the clans and one without the ability or stature to do what God was calling Him to do, but this didn’t stop him. Instead he took a step of faith to consider the messenger’s words and believe God’s truth over what he saw with his own eyes.
God Makes a Promise
God’s call comes with a promise.
Read Judges 6:16
- What did God promise Gideon?
God’s promise to Gideon was that He would be with him. He gives the same promise to us. It’s the same promise He gave to Jesus. And no matter how things turn out — whether with a miraculous victory or a heartbreaking crucifixion — we can trust God to be with us and use our obedience for His plan and purpose of bringing about the ultimate redemption, restoration, resurrection.
Read Psalm 143:11-12
- What does the psalmist pray for?
The same psalmist who set his mind on God’s Metastory now prays earnestly for God’s help.
Revive me… bring my soul out of trouble… cut off my enemies…
But he doesn’t ask these things for his own benefit.
- Who does the psalmist have in mind as he prays for himself? Do you hear his desire?
The psalmist’s desire if for God’s glory. God’s reputation. God’s renown.
Revive me for Your name’s sake… bring me out of trouble for Your righteousness’ sake… Let Your mercy be seen by cutting off my enemies…
When we know God’s story and our place in it, we understand it’s all about Him. The psalmist asks to be revived not for himself, but for God’s glory. As he asks for deliverance from trouble, his desire is for God’s sense of righteousness to be recognized. And the enemy cut off only in a way that reveals God’s mercy and steadfast love.
This is different from praying for ourselves to be set free because we’re uncomfortable or we’re being unjustly attacked. Driven into an unusual place by harsh circumstances, the psalmist understands his role in the story. As painful as it may be, he wants God to be glorified no matter what he must endure.
- Why does he feel this way? How does he identify himself to God?
…for I am Your servant.
We are in Holy Week, the final week before Easter, where many of the faithful focus on Jesus’s walk to the cross. From His victorious entry into Jerusalem — Palm Sunday — to the swift turning of events leading to His unjust conviction and crucifixion.
Jesus came to show us how to be God’s servant. How to surrender our lives to His purpose and plan even when it causes us great grief and trouble.
My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?
In all the pain and all the grief, Jesus trusted God the Father, His plan and His purpose for a greater redemption, restoration, and resurrection. It was His place in the Story. And as His followers, it’s our place too.
Imagining Yourself in the Story
Our prayer exercise this week was Imaginative Prayer.
Following Ignatius’ teaching of imagining we are the one God’s messenger visited with a call. We asked you to prayerfully put yourself in Gideon’s place and interact with God.
- Was there a moment of inspiration during your prayer time?
- Did you find this type of prayer challenging in some way?
- Did you notice any resistance, or excuse making? maybe a letting go of some sort?
- Overall, what did you hear God speaking during your prayer time?
We hope you are beginning to recognize where the troubles of the world or your life are stirring a passion and driving you to a place to hear God’s call on your life. Remember, we all have a place in His story, and we are all given a manifestation of the Spirit to let loose in the world for God’s glory.
Let’s continue our journey.
Taking a Step of Obedience
As we continue to consider our passion and listen closely for God’s call, let’s return to Gideon’s story.
Read Judges 6:16-18
Spending time with God opened Gideon’s ears, helped him define his passion, and move past his excuses. From this moment on we begin to see the manifestation of the Spirit’s work in Gideon’s life. His love for God and desire for redemption, restoration, and resurrection sparked a desire to give a gift and receive confirmation for all that he experienced with God up to this point.
Let’s spend a few minutes exploring the idea of confirmation. The simple fact is we often want confirmation before saying yes to God’s call. It’s part of our faith wrestling, and in our estimation it makes things easier, more logical, even understandable. Yet, in our experience confirmation isn’t first on God’s list. Instead, we take steps of faith and confirmation comes along the way.
Like Gideon, Moses wanted confirmation too.
Read Exodus 3:9-12
- What similarities do you see between Gideon and Moses’ response when they first heard God’s call?
God’s people were in a similar state during the times of both Moses and Gideon.
Their relationships with God led them to a place of oppression, desperation, and even slavery.
In both of these eras the people cried out to God for deliverance.
God faithfully answered their prayers through Moses and then through Gideon.
Moses, like Gideon, also made excuses and received God’s promise, “But I will be with you…”.
Moses didn’t directly ask for a sign like Gideon, but all his list of excuses and wanting to know God’s name revealed doubt about who was calling him. So God, knowing our hearts better than we do, offered Moses a sign of confirmation at the end of verse 12. It reads,
…and this will be a sign to you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.
Genesis 3:12 ESV
- What do you notice about the timing of God’s sign?
- Does this seem like confirmation that would inspire you to get moving?
Confirmation is a spiritual manifestation of our steps of faith and it usually, or often, occurs after we begin to move forward in obedience. The only way Moses would know he was really hearing from God was to follow God’s lead and accomplish what God called him to do.
Mordecai encourages Esther with these words, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this” –Esther 4:14 ESV (emphasis added). In other words, we can’t be for certain, but who knows…
Looking for confirmation is a natural part of following God, but it doesn’t always come in advance. In fact, it often happens once we’ve taken steps of obedience to prepare a gift for the Most High God.
Gideon’s first step of obedience was to run home and prepare a gift.
So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour.
Judges 6:19 ESV
When the Holy Spirit stirs passion in our hearts, and we hear God’s call to follow him, it is time to respond. During our guided prayer time let’s consider how Moses, Esther, and Gideon responded to God’s call.
Get in a comfortable position.
Take a deep breath. As you exhale let go of all that is running through your mind.
See Moses as he approaches the burning bush that is not consumed.
Hear God speak, “Take off your shoes, for you are standing on holy ground.”
Listen as God and Moses discuss God’s plan to free his people.
Watch as Moses leaves the conversation and heads back home to talk to his father-in-law.
Consider Esther as she listens to her servant bring a message from Mordecai.
Feel her heart jump when she fully understands her people are about to perish.
Hear the words of her servant delivering her uncle’s message, “Do you think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive? If you persist in staying silent, help and deliverance will arrive from someplace else, but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for such a time as this.”
Like Moses and Esther, God speaks to Gideon, “Go in this might of yours. Save Israel from the hands of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”
Each of them heard God’s call.
What passion is God stirring in your heart?
Each of them made excuses.
What excuses are you making?
Each of them resisted.
What are you resisting?
Each of them took a step of faith and obeyed.
What step is God calling you to take?
Close your time of imaginative prayer with the lyrics Available.
Until Next Week…
In preparation for our next session, we invite you to study with us.
Here is the link to a PDF of the work.
Be available.Stacy & Carol