As Lifeway Church continues the “Higher” series, we take a look at how you can answer the upward call of God. There are multiple parts to this, and they are as follows:
1. You need to have a CLEAR PICTURE of where you want to be to answer the upward call of God.
2. You need the right PROCESS to fulfill the goal of becoming more like Christ.
3. You need the right HEART to go through the process of becoming like Christ.
Today, we look at the first step. Before answering the upward call of God, we need to get a clear picture of where we want to be. Let me begin with one statement; holiness is surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. If you haven’t done that, then your picture is going to be fuzzy or outright wrong. Jesus Christ’s example is the high bar that we ought to rise up to. God does not lower the standard so we can easily step over it. No, He instead raises our power to meet it. But if your image isn’t clear, then how do you reach that high bar?
Let me tell you a little bit of my picture. I was raised mostly by a stay-at-home mother, my role model. My father was on the road working as a truck driver, and I didn’t really get to see him all that much. I wasn’t raised in a church, nor with the Bible. It was most definitely a secular upbringing.
At the age of 15, my father was no longer in the picture due to some very difficult circumstances. My mother had to go to work, my older brother was serving overseas in the National Guard, and I had to get a job to help ends meet. My mother became extremely bitter and angry. She modeled that response to me, and I was more than happy to duplicate it. I went around with anger and hatred in me at almost all times and grew up with almost no friends. To make matters worse, every time I looked in the mirror I saw the image of my father, and I was reminded of his failure to his family. It shaped how I would react to the world around me for the next six years of my life and how little I valued myself as a person.
I began hating God and called Him a coward because of what He allowed to happen in my family. If He loves us all then why do bad things happen to families? Why did bad things have to happen to me? I was swimming in a sea of self-misery and anger, and I didn’t want to have anyone help me get out of it.
No. More than that, I just didn’t think anyone could.
Fast-forward to 2010, I had just turned 21 and found myself associating with a very different group of people. I was connecting with people that actually cared about me, wanted me to succeed, and saw only the best in me. Little did I realize that when I started spending time with these people that that was the first step I was taking toward Jesus. This group of friends eventually influenced me to surrender my life to Jesus. They modeled something for me that I hadn’t seen before; unconditional love and acceptance, while not lowering standards.
Since then, I’ve come to realize that I was judging God – and myself – incorrectly. Instead of knowing that God is the ultimate loving and caring Father, I was looking at Him through the distorted lens of my earthly father. If my dad failed me, and he’s supposed to love me, how could the all-knowing and all-powerful God love me when He knows my sins?
I bring all of this up because the picture you currently see in your life is directly connected to the process you’re living now. That manner of conducting yourself, whether intentional or unintentional, is perfectly designed to continue giving you the results that you’ve been getting. And, for me, my picture and process were negative. It was self-doubt, self-loathing, anger, and bitterness.
We all form habits and lifestyles that directly affect how things turn out for us. In fact, our brains are specifically wired to take the habits and processes we use and create a routine for them, saving brain power and simplifying our lives. But a lot of those habits we form are negative and need to be changed. It takes a new process to change those habits. It takes a coach. And there is no better coach than God, using the image of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives to change our image of what life can be so we can chase after the high call of God on our lives.
To listen to the message that inspired this post, click here: https://lifewaychurch.life/media/higher/
To listen to other message series, visit the lifeway media page at https://lifewaychurch.life/media
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