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What Has God Called ME To?

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 4, 2023 9:00 am

What Has God Called ME To?

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 4, 2023 9:00 am

In this message from Romans 15, Pastor J.D. challenges us to lift our eyes to the ends of the earth. When Jesus left his disciples, he promised that his gospel would go to every nation, tribe, language, and tongue. That task isn’t finished. And God is calling many of us to follow him to the most unreached parts of the planet. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it dangerous? Yes. Is he worthy of it? Absolutely.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. All of us are called to ministry. The call to leverage your life for the great commission was included in the call to follow Jesus. Jesus said, Matthew 4 19, follow me and I will make you a fisher of men, which means when you accepted Jesus, you also accepted the call to missions.

Questions no longer if, the question now is only where and how. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. When Jesus left his disciples, he promised that his gospel would go to every nation, tribe, language and tongue. And guess what? That task is not finished. Today, Pastor J.D. challenges us to lift our eyes and see the whole world.

God is calling many of us to follow him to the most unreached parts of the planet. Is it difficult? Yes.

Is it dangerous? Again, yes. Is he worthy of it?

Absolutely. Our message today is a part of a short, powerful teaching series from the 20th anniversary celebration of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. If you would like to get your copy of the 2023 Summit Life Planner, please visit us online at But for now, grab your Bible. Pastor J.D. titled this message, What Has God Called Me To? When I was a missionary in Southeast Asia, sometimes I used to get on my motorcycle and just go out driving for the afternoon.

Picture Tom Cruise and Top Gun, just a much less cooler version. And I could drive for literally hours and encounter village after village after village where there was nobody, nobody in these villages that had ever even heard about Jesus. There were no churches, no one there had ever met a Christian, no one had ever seen a Bible, no one had ever or probably would ever encounter somebody who would tell them about Jesus. And here's the thing, to get the gospel to those places is hard. It means putting yourself in unfamiliar places, places far away from what you know and your friends and your family.

Sometimes these are dangerous places. Today, I want to talk about God's call on some of your lives to get the gospel to places like that. So if you got your Bible, I want you to take it out and open it to Romans chapter 15. Romans 15, where Paul discusses his own personal call.

I think I was inspired to this, not planning on it, but after our 20th anniversary celebration last weekend. I want you to get out a pen if you have one with you. And I want to give you this morning the two factors that go into discerning the call of God on your life. Because God has one for you. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that. A specially appointed gifting and ministry just for you.

Every believer's got one. Here in Romans 15, Paul is going to discuss his personal calling. Look at verse 15 there in Romans 15, but on some points Paul says, I've written to you very boldly because of the grace given to me by God, a special grace given to me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles and the priestly service of the gospel of God so that the offering, my offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable. Verse 17, in Christ Jesus, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. Verse 18, for I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in bringing the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed. Verse 19, from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum, I have fulfilled, I have finished the ministry of the gospel of Christ, and thus I make it my personal ambition, my unique contribution to the kingdom of God to preach the gospel not where Christ has already been named lest I build on somebody else's foundation. Because as it is written, those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand. A quote from Isaiah 52 15, verse 22.

This is the reason that I've so often been hindered coming from you even though I wanted to come. But now since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, nothing left for me to do, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, a place that in those days had yet to be penetrated with the gospel. The first thing that I want you to notice in these verses is the extremely personal way that Paul talks about his ministry.

Did you see it? I tried to emphasize it. Verse 15, the grace given to me, especially to me by God for ministry. Verse 16, my offering. Verse 17, my work for God. Verse 18, what Christ has accomplished through me. Verse 19, I have fulfilled the ministry given to me. Verse 20, my personal ambition. Paul felt like something personal had been given to him.

Something unique given to him. There were lots of things to do in the kingdom of God. But Paul's specific commission was to preach Christ in places where Christ's name had never been heard. The gospel, of course, is that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, that somebody has to personally receive it for that to become theirs and they can't receive it if they've never heard about it.

And Paul discerned that his calling was to get to the message to those who had never heard it before. Look at what he said in verse 19. He says, from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have finished.

That's what the word fulfilled there means. I've finished the ministry of the gospel of Christ. Verse 23, I no longer have any room for work in these regions anymore. In case you're unfamiliar with this, let me put it up on a map here for you. From Jerusalem to Illyricum, you see how big of a region that is?

That region contained 37 major cities plus hundreds of smaller villages. It had a combined population of over 500,000 people. Y'all, there were at most a dozen churches there with a combined total of probably about 500 members in those churches, 500 believers out of half of a million. And Paul says, my work here is done. How on earth can he say that?

How can he say the work here is finished 500 out of 500,000 and the work is done? Were all those Christians spiritually mature? Were all the justice issues there addressed?

Hardly. I mean, Rome itself was so anti-gospel that Paul would eventually be executed there for following Jesus. And Paul says, my work for Jesus in Rome is done.

Rome had all kinds of justice issues. But Paul was called to take Christ to places where he'd never been named. And so he looked at it and said, my work here is finished. That calling to take Christ where he'd never been named became for Paul a compass for decisions that he made. And so he said to these Romans, he's like, hey, I wanted to be there before, but I couldn't come, but now I can because you're actually en route to Spain and they've never heard in Spain. And God told me to take Christ, but he's never been heard.

And since I'm on my way to Spain, I can stop by and see you for a few minutes. Factor number one in discerning the call of God on your life. This, write it down. Number one, where's the spirit of God moving in my life? Where's the spirit of God moving in my life, in my life uniquely? I often explain to college students or college students that there is a widespread myth in the church. I always call it the cheerios myth of seeking God's will for your life.

The myth goes like this. The myth is that calling, calling in the ministry is a sacred privilege reserved for a select few super Christians conveyed through a mystical manifestation. Like you're staring at your cheerios one morning and they suddenly spell out pastor, Sunday school teacher, missionary. And this is just how God calls you into a service if that's what he wants for you. And if you don't have an experience like that, well, you're just not called.

So just be a good person, right? Stay married to your spouse, go to church, pay attention, pay your tithes. That myth is untrue. Now, sure, Summit, if God ever spells out something to you in your cheerios, by all means, you should pay attention.

But I will tell you, I have stared at my cheerios for years and all it's ever spelled out is ooh, over and over and over again. If that's how God calls, I've never experienced a call. That's the myth. Here is the truth. All of us are called to ministry. The call to leverage your life for the great commission was included in the call to follow Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 4 19, follow me and I will make you a fisher of men. Which means when you accepted Jesus, you also accepted the call to missions. In Matthew 28 verse 18, Jesus' last words to all of us who are his disciples were go, go and make disciples of all the nations, which means if you are a disciple, you are called. The question we say is no longer if you're called. The question now is only where and how. A lot of Christians, I point this out because a lot of Christians are sitting around waiting on a still small voice when they already have a really straightforward verse. If you've accepted Jesus, you've accepted the call to mission because the call to engage in a great commission was included in the call to follow Jesus.

The question is no longer if, the question now is only where and how. So we teach that here and I believe it. But in saying that, what I don't want us to lose is that the Spirit of God does reveal to us in dynamic and sometimes mystical ways what part of the mission, what part of that mission belongs to each of us. You see, there is simply no way for one person to be responsible for everything in the mission of God. Early in my Christian life, and this, I don't know if it has to do with my personality or if it had to do with the kind of sermons I was hearing, but early in my Christian life, I thought I was responsible for everything. I would hear a message about some good work in the kingdom, poverty relief, ministering to the homeless, taking care of foster children, overseas missions, teaching, apologetics, leading public worship, mercy work, and I thought I was supposed to give myself to all of those things.

There's just no way for any one person to be able to take on all those things as a life calling. So at the Summit Church, we often say this, not everything that comes from heaven has your name on it. It may indeed come from heaven, and you should thus be aware of it. You should thus be aware of it. You should be supportive of it.

You should be a part of a church that is doing it, but it's just not for you personally to focus on. Not everything that comes from heaven has your name on it. But hear this. Something does have your name on it, and you have to figure out what that is and get after it. You say, well, J.D., how am I supposed to know what that thing is?

It's not going to be in my Cheerios. Where do I look for it? You typically find out, like Paul did, through prayer, through engagement in ministry, and through involvement in a local church. As you're doing those things, God just starts to put something on your heart here in what we're doing, and it just begins to grow, and it grows.

I always use the example of Nehemiah here, whose heart in the Old Testament, his heart just grew heavier and heavier for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. In chapter two of his book, Nehemiah tells us that he thought about it all the time. He couldn't get it out of his mind. He wept over it. It's where his heart went in prayer.

It's what he dreamed about being a part of one day. That happens to you about something. If it's not happening to you, it's because you're not listening, because God's got something for you. One of the reasons, Summit, that we are fasting together right now is to give you greater sensitivity to what the Lord might be calling you to, to give God space, to reveal to you what he wants from you. You guys realize that the point of fasting is not to make you more acceptable to God. Christians sometimes think that.

They're like, oh, God, I mean, look at me. I'm so hungry now. I am suffering. Now you got to pay attention to me.

No. God has already made you fully acceptable to him in Christ. In Christ, there's literally nothing that you could do, fasting or otherwise, to make yourself more acceptable to him or to incline his heart more to hear your prayers.

That got settled, thank God, at the finished cross of Christ and the empty tomb forever. The purpose of fasting is not to make you more acceptable to God. The purpose of fasting is to make you more receptive to his spirit.

You fast to be able to hear him better, to prove to yourself and to him that you want his direction more than you want anything else in life. And listen, right now, I'm telling you, if you're paying attention, God is moving on some of you for a particular ministry. He is putting a certain people, he's putting a certain place, people in a certain career field on your heart. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. We'll return to our teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to quickly tell you about our latest resource before it's too late. Have you given any thought to what you want this year to look like for yourself? The new year is a great time to take stock of your life and set some goals for ways that you want to grow in the coming months. Maybe you want to start reading your Bible every day, or maybe you want to get better at making time for ministry. Whatever it might be, the 2023 Summit Life Planner will be a great tool to help you meet those goals. We're also including a one year Bible reading plan, and it includes one New Testament and one Old Testament chapter per day and focuses on some of the teaching passages and books of the Bible that you'll hear taught on Summit Life in 2023. So everything aligns.

Learn more by giving us a call at 866-335-5220, or check it out right away at I got a friend who has adopted five kids. Four are from Ukraine and one is from Kenya. And he says, you have no trouble telling which is which.

The four, he says, from Ukraine, he says, I adopted all at one time. I asked him, I was like, well, how'd you come to that decision? He told me that he and his wife just were burdened that those who had experienced the grace of the gospel should become like the gospel, that they should seek to show the mercy that Jesus had shown to them. They should seek it. All Christians should do that. All Christians should seek to show that to somebody else. But he said, my wife and I wondered how we specifically were supposed to do that. I mean, he said, there are so many needs in the world. All he said is, my wife and I are praying about it. He said, I was reading Ephesians 1, where Paul explains that God has adopted believers into his family out of the orphanage of sin, so to speak. And then he said, I came a few chapters later to chapter five, verse one, where Paul says, be an imitator of God. He said, now I thought, what better way for me to imitate God than to adopt a child in need into my family? Well, shortly after that, he goes on a mission trip to Ukraine.

He wasn't planning on this, but he goes on a mission trip to Ukraine. And while he's there, he visits an orphanage. The orphanage director tells him that somebody just a day before had brought in a set of four siblings. The kids were ages two through eight. They're about to be split up and placed in orphanages around the country because it's just nobody was going to be willing to take four kids all at once.

It was too huge of a responsibility. And my friend said, I watched as this worker brought the kids out in front of me. And what I saw were four scared little children, all standing there holding hands.

They thought they were being called in for some kind of discipline. He said, in that moment, I heard the Spirit of God say, those are your kids. His wife wasn't even with him. He called his wife and said, hey, I got some big news.

I got some big news. And his wife was supportive. Some of you ladies just looked over at your husband and said, you are never going on a summit mission trip. But he said, I know I can't take care of all the orphans in the world, but God told me to take care of these four.

Those are your kids. If you are listening to the Spirit of God, he's going to say that to you about something. Not everything that comes from heaven has your name on it, but something does. And it's your job to figure that out and get after it. There's something about which you're supposed to say, this is my work for God. This is my offering, my ministry, my personal ambition, what Christ is accomplishing through me.

Those are my kids. Maybe God's telling you to start a small group in your apartment complex. Maybe you've been watching the news and God has laid the refugee population on your heart.

The nations that have come literally right into our back door. Maybe you sense, like my friend did, that your family needs to take a step towards fostering or adopting. Maybe like Paul, God is calling you to break ground in a new place, a hard place, a place where Christ is not known. Factor number one in figuring out the call of God on your life is asking, where is the Spirit of God moving in my life? Factor number two, even more significantly, what is the Word of God saying to the church? I say even more significantly than factor one because I want you to see that even more important to Paul in discerning his calling, even more important than what the Spirit said to him, was what the Word of God said to everybody. In verse 20, when Paul explains why he's doing what he's doing, taking Christ where he's never been named, I want you to look at how he justifies it. My ambition is to preach the gospel where Christ has never been named.

Why? Because as it is written, those who were not told about him will see, and those who have never heard will understand. In other words, the reason I am doing this is because this is what God said in the Bible has to happen.

Here's why I belabor this. Do you remember how the apostle Paul was called? It's kind of a famous story. Paul was on his way to Damascus when God knocked him down, blinded him with light, and appeared to him in a vision. Jesus said, Paul, take my message to the Gentiles.

I feel like that's pretty clear. If that had ever happened to me and I were asked to explain why I was doing what I was doing with my life, that's where I would start. Wouldn't you? J.D., why are you a pastor? Well, one day I was riding my skateboard to class. Suddenly a bright light knocked me on my rear end, and then Jesus appeared to me and said, J.D., be a pastor.

If that happened to me, that's where we would start in my discussion on why I'm doing what I'm doing. Friend, read this whole chapter. Paul never even one time brings up that Damascus Road experience. Instead, Paul anchors his personal calling. He justifies his personal calling by what God said in the Bible. Why does he do that? Because he's trying to show us that the most significant factor in determining the will of God in our lives is not what we feel but what the Word of God says.

In fact, write this down. You will never properly discern what the Spirit of God is saying to you until you know what the Word of God says to everybody. Look at the verses right before this. Paul quotes from three other places in the Old Testament, not just Isaiah. Verse 11. We didn't read these verses, but verse 11. For as it is written, Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles and sing to your name. That is a quote from Deuteronomy. Verse 10. Again, it is said, Rejoice, old Gentiles, with his people. That's a quote from the Psalms. Again, he quotes a second time from Isaiah. The root of Jesse will come, and him will the Gentiles hope.

Here is what is significant about that. The Jewish people divided the Old Testament into three major sections. The law, the Psalms, and the Prophets. Paul quotes a verse from all three of them to justify what he is doing. It's as if he is saying, look, all the Old Testament is organized around this truth that people who have never heard must hear. If God organized his Bible around that theme, why would I not organize my life around it as well? You will never properly discern what the Spirit is saying to you until you know what the Word says to the whole church. You will never accurately interpret what he's doing in your life until you understand what he's doing on earth.

I belabor this because when it comes to the will of God, we Americans cannot help it. It's just the culture that we live in. We function like narcissists. It's all about me and my life and reaching my potential and finding my happiness.

We're all into enneagrams and personality profiles and strength finders and whatever. I'm special. I'm unique.

I'm a snowflake. What's my purpose? How do I find fulfillment? Can those tools be useful?

Yes, I'm an enneagram, ENTJ type D. I know I've taken all the tests. But before any of those things are relevant, you've got to understand what God is doing in the world and then conform your life to that. Christopher J. H. Wright says it this way. He says, we often ask, where does God fit into the story of my life? When the real question is, where does my little life fit into the great story of God's mission? Paul says, God's main purpose in the world from cover to cover in his Bible and then repeated by Jesus and the great commission as the marching orders for all of his disciples is that people who have never heard the gospel need a chance to hear.

The Joshua Project, which is a missions research agency, reports that today there are 7,398 what they call unreached people groups that make up 3.2 billion people on our planet. Again, the gospel is that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, but somebody has to personally receive that for that salvation to become theirs. And unreached means that as it stands right now, currently, there is no legitimate way somebody there could hear the gospel before they die. Nobody is there focused on reaching them.

There are no churches there. Often there's not even a copy of the Bible in their language. The vast majority of these unreached people groups live in what we call the 10-40 window, which is between the 10th and the 40th parallels, Asia, North Africa, the Middle East.

I want you to get this. Less than 10% of missionary work is done among those people groups. 90% of our efforts are focused on places where there are churches on literally every corner.

94% of all the money that is given in Jesus' name is spent on places where there are already lots of churches. Now, for sure, we have needs here, but I want you to think for a minute of all the ways somebody this morning can access the gospel. This morning, you have to come to this church. You can hear it on podcasts.

You can hear it on radio stations, TV programs, books, magazines. You don't like this church. There are literally churches on every corner.

There's likely another Christian living in your neighborhood. In those unreached people groups, none of that exists. They will pass into eternity without so much as even the chance to hear the name of Jesus. Going there does not mean westernizing them. It does not mean making them Americans.

It's certainly not colonizing them with our broken and defunct culture. It means giving them the opportunity to hear that a Savior died for their sins so they wouldn't have to. This is the focal point of what God is doing on earth, and Paul recognizes that it's got to have a special place in the life of a believer. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of J.D. Greer. And if you missed any part of today's message, or if you'd like to hear more teaching from Pastor J.D., visit our website to browse the online sermon archives.

You'll find this and more free of charge at We're so grateful for everyone who stepped up and joined us so that we could close out 2022 in a solid position. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to give crucial support to a brand new church in Nova Scotia, Canada, and we're also able to expand into more cities so more people can listen and view this teaching daily. So many new opportunities, and we could not do it without you. We're so grateful for you and your partnership with us as we begin a new year of ministry together.

But you know, as important as these one-time gifts are, the foundation of this ministry comes from the ongoing support of our gospel partners, those who commit to regular monthly giving. Ask for the Summit Life Planner when you become a gospel partner today, or when you give a single gift of $35 or more. Just a few more days to reserve your copy, so call us right now at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online at I'm Molly Vidovitch, and I'm so glad that you've joined us today. Be sure to listen tomorrow when Pastor JD walks through how to figure out what God is doing in the world and conform your life to His mission. Listen Thursday to Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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