If there was ever a person who knew he was submitting to God’s calling on his life, it was John the Baptist. By applying Luke 3:4-20 to the question, “How can we know when we are submitting to God’s call on our lives?” we can discover at least 5 ways.
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1. You Will Know You Are Submitting to God’s Call on Your Life When You Are Doing What the Bible Says About You
Who you think you are will dictate what you end up doing in life. If you think you are a screw up who always chooses the easiest path in life, this is the call you will follow. But if you reject the lies this world throws at you and you embrace the truth proclaimed about you in Scripture, you will follow God’s call on your life.
Look at how this played out in the life of John the Baptist. As Luke 3:4-7 states:
As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”’ He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’”
John knew who he was, “therefore” he knew what his calling was. While John was individually and literally prophesied about before he was born, if you are a Christian you too were prophesied about before you were born. As 1 Peter 2:4-6 says of us:
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’”
This is your calling. You are a royal priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. When you accept this about yourself, you will then submit to this call on your life.
2. When You Are Submitting to God’s Call, You Will Be Focused on the Fruit and Not on Titles
In our flesh, we love our titles. We go to school to get letters behind our names. We work hard to get promoted with a better title in our careers. We want to get married so we can from boyfriend to husband or from girlfriend to wife.
Of course this doesn’t have to be bad. It’s really about the motives we have for wanting these things. But notice the danger John talked about in trying to find our identity in the wrong titles. In Luke 3:8-9, he said:
Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
The Jews were proud of their heritage. They loved being “sons of Abraham.” But John warned them their titles were worthless if they were not bearing fruit for God. Likewise, God won’t call you to pursue a title that puffs up your ego. He will call you to a task that brings him glory.
You may receive a title that the world admires, but this is not the reason God gives us these roles. He gives us power over others in order to serve the people we lead (Mark 10:42-45).
3. When You Are Submitting to God’s Call, You Will Serve God Where You Are Rather Than Waiting to Serve Him Until Everything Is Just Like You Want It to Be
I personally use the words “your purpose” and “your calling” in two different ways. I believe our purpose as Christians is always the same – to glorify God. But our callings are the individual ways that God is leading us to glorify him. Your purpose will never change but your calling can change many times throughout your life.
Therefore, wherever we are at in life, that is where God has called us to fulfill our purpose. Notice what John said in Luke 3:10-14, which states:
And the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’ And he answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.’ Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, ‘Teacher, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Collect no more than you are authorized to do.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.’”
Notice that when all three of these different groups of people asked John what they should do now that they wanted to follow God, he didn’t tell any of them to change their earthly positions. Rather, he told them to start serving God in those earthly positions. He told the citizens to be generous to glorify God, he told the tax collectors to be honest to glorify God, and he told the soldiers to be honorable to glorify God.
Likewise, when you are submitting to God’s call on your life, you won’t wait to serve God until you get the exact earthly position you want. Rather, you will serve God right now, in the position he has you in now, and you will do it for his glory.
4. When You Are Submitting to God’s Call, You Will Be Bringing People to a Point of Decision About Christ
Whether you are preacher proclaiming the gospel or you are an accountant crunching numbers, our lives, actions, and words must make a clear statement about who Jesus Christ is. Our calling as Christians is to bring Christ wherever we go in life. People will then be forced to decide about Jesus for themselves. They will either reject him as we proclaim him in our words and deeds or they will embrace him. Notice how John knew that his calling was not about him. It was always meant to be totally focused on Jesus Christ. Luke 3:15-17 states:
As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, ‘I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’”
5. When You Are Submitting to God’s Call, You Will Keep Going Even When It Costs You Personally
A true spiritual calling from God will always cost you. This world hates Jesus. If you are a light for Christ, many will be drawn to Jesus through you and many will hate Jesus through how they treat you. You are his ambassador in your calling. When you do what the King says and you don’t back down when the world hates you for it, you will suffer. As Luke 3:18-20 states of John:
So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.”
John the Baptist was the person Jesus spoke most highly of when he was on earth. In Luke 7:28, Jesus said of him, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John.” Soon after Jesus said this about him, John was beheaded in prison because he would not back down from Herod and his wife (Luke 9:7-9).
Don’t think you are missing God’s call just because you are suffering. Oftentimes this is the clearest sign you are submitting to his call on your life. Stay faithful. While you may suffer for a little while, if you remain faithful, God will reward you with far more than you gave up for him (1 Peter 5:10).
As Romans 8:18 proclaims, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
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