“When we face opposition to God’s call on our lives, we need to walk in the truth, while remaining still in the face of the conflict. God always vindicates truth. Be sure to persist in truth. If you are siding with the truth, you have nothing to defend.”
I sensed the call of God on my life when I left school in 1980. Every kid wonders what he wants to be when he grows up. When I was younger, I was into science in a big way. I loved mixing chemical concoctions in my bedroom, much to the disdain of my brother, as rotten egg whiffs would waft over to his side of the room. I always thought I was going to be a scientist when I grew up. However, God had other plans. At age 18 God placed a very clear call on my life. Every sermon I listened to, every book I read and in my daily devotions I heard the Lord calling me into ministry. At the time I had no idea what that “call” would be.
At that tender age, I was chomping at the bit to launch out into a fulltime Christian work. I made plans to attend Bible college, but then God spoke clearly to me. I visited a church where I’d never been before and where no one knew me. After the message (which likewise confirmed the call of God on my life) the pastor invited people forward for prayer. I rose and walked to the front of the church, expecting the Holy Spirit to affirm my calling through a prophetic word. This he did, however, not in the way a 20-year old ambitious young man wanted to hear. “Indeed, the Lord has called you,” said the pastor as he laid hands on my shoulder. Yes! I thought. Bible college here I come! “But he says to you today, ‘wait and be patient!’” Not what I was expecting to hear. Nevertheless, I had indeed, heard God’s Word: I have called you, Dudley.
Ten years later, after a reasonably successful time in the computer industry, God literally closed the door on my vocation. Try as I may, I simply could not jump-start my career. Then I heard the still small voice of Holy Spirit, “Now! It’s time.” Circumstance, scripture and additional words confirmed what I was feeling. It was time to venture out in faith and enter the ministry; not an easy feat at age 30 with two small children.
Thus, began my adventure of seeking the purposes of God for ministry. After 3-years Bible study, God opened the door for me, in 1994, to develop a Christian radio broadcasting ministry. In 2004 he opened the way for me to finally pastor a church – 14 years after his original call on my life.
During this time, and since, (as is typical for many who sense the call of God) I have suffered intense resistance from the enemy of God’s plans. Jesus said that Satan is the destroyer. The devil invents his own plans to undermine the call of God on our lives. But I am convinced of God’s calling. He has given me his Word. He has called me to serve him in Christian ministry, yet the attacks are numerous: financial difficulty, illness and loss, but to mention a few. However, some of the most proliferous attacks sadly come from within the Church. Through the years I have suffered more than one major conspiracy against my leadership and calling from within the Body of Christ.
Satan hates God’s purposes but our God who calls, is faithful. And God watches over his Word – his calling – to perform it (Jeremiah 1:1-12). Scripture also says, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,” (Isaiah 55:10-11). I have discovered that the calling I have on my life is not mine, it’s God’s. It is not my ministry to defend. God’s Word has called me to serve him and he has promised to watch over his Word to perform it. He told me that his purposes will prevail in my life, provided I continue to acknowledge him in all my ways and trust him to fulfil his plans for me. As it is written, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord,” (Jeremiah 29:11). I have learned to rest in the knowledge of God’s calling and not attempt to defend my ministry.
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord raises up his standard (Isaiah 59:19). And his Word is his standard. Therefore, when opposition comes our way we need to learn to rest in the purposes of God. When conflict arises may we do as we read about in Psalm 37, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37:7). I have discovered the context of when we read the words, “Be still” in the Bible, it usually refers to conflict. When we face opposition to God’s call on our lives, we need to walk in the truth, while remaining still in the face of the conflict. God always vindicates truth. Be sure to persist in truth. If you are siding with the truth, you have nothing to defend. God is watching over your calling.
Hearing the Call of God
Knowing the call of God requires hearing the voice of God. Here are four ways I have found useful in discerning the voice of God:
God watches over his Word to perform it. The Christian scripture is found in the Holy Bible. It is the inspired and objective Word of God. God will always use Scripture to confirm a personal word or a sense of God’s instruction. The Holy Spirit activates Scripture, so always pray before you read.
Scripture presents us with the following attributes for Christian living:
The principles of Scripture are codes or dogma. These includes doctrine, morality and ethics. Example: “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,’” (John 3:3).
Precedent of Scripture involves models, patterns and examples of how to live, as found in the Word of God. Example: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord,” (James 5:14).
The purpose of Scripture involves personal words, promises and direction for the reader. These include hearing God’s call upon one’s life. Example: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19)
The scripture, or Word of God, is not autonomous. It is always accompanied by the activation and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Word and Spirit are synonymous: The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). The Word confirms the actions of the Spirit and the Spirit activates the Word.
We believe God is triune. That is, he is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is God. When you receive a Word from the Spirit, you receive a Word from God. (By the way Jesus, the Son, is also called the Word of God.) Remember, the Word and the Spirit always confirm one another.
Hearing the Holy Spirit’s direction involves a knowing sense in the inner man (or spirit) that the Lord is speaking. This is often termed, the still small voice of the Spirit. This voice can take the form of a thought, a picture or a deep inner sense. The voice of the Holy Spirit is usually perceived in prayer, but not always. The test of the voice of the Spirit is, a) it lines up with Scripture and b) it results in a sense of peace.
God sometimes speaks through signs. Signs may include visions, dreams or revelation by the gifts of the Spirit, including prophecy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge or tongues with interpretation. Sometimes, the Lord will use the sign of a change in circumstances to reveal his purposes to you.
Remember, the objectivity of scripture is always the test for the subjective voice of signs.
Every true Spirit filled follower of Jesus has the Holy Spirit in him or her. Therefore, the Holy Spirit may often prompt someone else to speak God’s Word to you. However, because you also have the same Holy Spirit in you, the word brought to you by another person will always confirm what God is already saying to you. Sometimes, though, we become deaf to what the Spirit is saying to us. Often, this is when the Holy Spirit may prompt a friend to boldly speak out God’s Word.
Again, remember, the subject personal word is always confirmed by the objective Scriptures.
God does have a plan and a purpose for you. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness then you will clearly discover God’s plans. Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways (including and especially your relationships) and he will direct your paths. When the devil challenges God’s purposes for you, keep your eyes on Jesus, who endured the cross and went on to sit at the right hand of God in glory. Always trust in God’s calling; after all, it is his calling and not yours. He will watch over his Word to you to defend his cause.
This article was written by Dudley Anderson of Sure Reality Media and pastor of Cornerstone Family Church. Dudley has a background in radio and is the author of God-Tracking Through the Year and Overflowing Hope. He also writes a weekly GodTracker devotional.