Good morning everyone. I apologize about missing yesterday but I was in a place where I did not have Internet connection. I guess that happens from time to time but I was looking forward to starting in on Galatians. I guess today is a good a day as yesterday to get started.
Imagine knowing who you are, what you have to do and who it was that chose you to do it. That would describe most of us at work. We know who we are at work because our co-workers keep identifying us by interacting with us. Often we become the person they imagine us to be because they do not really know all the private stuff that makes us who we are. What we have to do is easy because it was all explained to us in a job description and we get evaluated by that description. We also know that our boss thought we were suitable for the position. It is the reason he hired us instead of someone else. However, the rest of life is not like this.
Most people spend their lifetime trying to figure out who they are. Some pay thousands of dollars to have experts pick their mind and try to define them. Most people wonder around in life with no real goal, except maybe a financial one. But finances do not satisfy the greater needs of our life. Not knowing your purpose in life can be a very disorienting experience. Then there is the question of why we exist. Our existence came about because a man and a woman had sexual intercourse. Even if they were trying to make a baby they did not get to choose the egg or which of the millions of sperm got to meet to make us. This can leave us the sense that we are just here by some fluke of nature. This is how it can feel when you do not know Jesus.
If you are wondering who chose you take the time to read Psalm 139. You are not here by chance but by the design of our God. This same Psalm will also start us on the road of understanding, that God designed us so who we are is also defined by him. The part that is important for our scripture reading this morning is, what is our purpose? We discover that, with our God, we have a general purpose and then we have a very specific purpose. He calls us to join him in what he is already doing. Paul knew this because of two experiences he had.
First, Paul had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. It was there that Paul accepted that Jesus was Lord and where Jesus set Paul aside for his specific purpose. Later, while in the church of Antioch, ministering to the gentiles, the Spirit spoke to the elders of the church:
In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:1-2
These were both defining moments in the life of Paul, that when he was in a place of doubt he would look back and remember he was chosen for the job. It is the reason he was able to write to the Galatians:
Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. Galatians 1:1
As a follower of Jesus it is vital that we know who we are in Jesus. We need to understand what we have been set apart to do, the purpose of our service. Understanding this will allow us to focus on this purpose, as Paul focused, and be used of God in incredible ways. It is also a thing that sustains us at all times, knowing that we were chosen for the job. However, unlike a job in the world, were were not chosen by our ability but by God's grace. This means he knows all about us, all our weaknesses, faults and sins, and still he chose us. This knowledge can be very empowering and with the help of the Spirit can take us on to greater things.
Most of you know about my conversation with Jesus in the top of the apple tree when I lived in Ormstown. That was when he made his will clear to me and when I knew he had chosen me to open our school. That is a defining moment that I look back on any time I begin to fade in my resolve or when I doubt what I am doing. I remember that no man chose me for this. No one asked me to do it. Pastor Roy says how he had no intention for us to start a school, it was only suppose to be a homeschooling support group. And then there was the apple tree experience. We all need these defining moments when we realize that no man chose us, but it was the will of God that put us where we are to do what we are doing.
Sent not from men nor by man.