Stage 4 - Testing -- God Tests Your Call
"Much of modern Christian enterprise is 'Ishmael.' Born not of God,
but of an inordinate desire to do God's will in our own way - the one thing our Lord never did." Oswald Chambers
One of the greatest tests you and I will have in our spiritual journey is in allowing God to be our deliverer instead of us. We must avoid helping God fulfill the vision He has for our lives. The temptation to deliver ourselves will always be there. Many of us do not go on in our spiritual life because we prefer to choose what is our right instead of relying upon God to choose for us.
When we are in the place of the valley, our temptation is to seek to deliver ourselves. We must be careful not to deliver ourselves before it is time. This requires spiritual maturity to learn the difference between self-deliverance and God's deliverance of us. Otherwise, we may miss the supernatural deliverance He has planned for our lives. Moses could have gone around the
God encourages us to place our total trust in him and avoid sweating and toiling for outcomes. Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat- for he grants sleep to those he loves.
God calls each of us to learn how to receive from Him based on obedience, not sweat and toil. A mentor told me the way he implemented this practically in his life was to almost withhold his natural gifting to insure God was in it. This means we don't force situations that God has not opened. It means waiting for God's timing. It means breaking open things in the Spiritual so the physical can be manifested. The entire process is designed to create a greater measure of humility and dependence upon God.
Bob Mumford said, "Beware of the Christian leader who does not walk with a limp." He understands the process of preparation. That process must take away all that depends upon our strengths. God works through weak things, not strong things. Weak things reveal greater measures of His power and grace. "Many of us do not go on in our spiritual life because we prefer to choose what is our right instead of relying upon God to choose for us."
When Abraham allowed
Your Inheritance Will Be Attacked.
I will never forget my first meeting with a mentor who has become a vital part of my spiritual journey. I had just shared with him how I was in the midst of some difficult struggles in relationships that were very painful to me. He looked across the table and said, "Os, you should know that Satan will always attack in the place of our inheritance. Your inheritance is in relationships. God uses you to bring others together for Kingdom purposes. Like Abraham, you will always have to take the higher ground in order to receive your inheritance. You will need to be keenly aware of maintaining relationships." I have been aware of this principle ever since.
Where is your inheritance? What has God placed in you for the furtherance of the
Satan set up
Finally, some of you reading this right now need a breakthrough in your life. You need to cast your life upon the life of God. You need to become dead to your own ends. When you come to this place, God can resurrect what is needed in your life. Until that happens He will allow you to go along in life trying to solve your problems in your own strength.
Stage 5 - Confirmation of Your Call -- Personal Revelation of Your Call through Signs and Wonders
So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 
We live in a day when the Church is moving further and further away from its origins. A major denomination has approved the ordination of homosexuals. More and more denominations are questioning the inerrancy of God's Word. The Bible is becoming simply another book to be studied for historical value only. And, some denominations do not feel that miracles occur today.
This is causing a greater separation between those who take God's Word literally and those who don't. Those who take God's Word literally know and experience the power of God. The apostle Paul understood that the gospel broke through in the early days of the movement not because of his preaching and reasoning with the people, but it was due to the power of God. "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."
Even in the early church we see a polarization beginning between those who wanted to have a religion and those who wanted to move in the power of God.
The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around
God has called you and me to have more than a religion. He has called us to have a two way relationship which sees evidence of a miracle-working God. We live in a technologically advanced and skeptical society. People question the motives of anyone claiming to represent themselves in any way that seems out of the ordinary.
However, this does not change truth. The Bible is clear that if we will follow Jesus wholeheartedly, we will experience even greater miracles than what Jesus did. That is a very profound truth.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 
If we are going to get the attention of the world for the sake of the Gospel, it will not be done by great preaching. It will be done by people experiencing something personal in their lives that cannot be reasoned. It was the power of God that broke through the religious spirit of Jesus' day. It will be the same today. It is difficult to deny the power of God when it affects you personally.
We need to experience the power of God in the place where we are called. I believe we will see more miracles in the workplace than in the local church as men and women become aware of God's presence in their daily lives. We are getting lots of reports of this throughout the world as we enter a new move of God among His people in the workplace.
The Bank President
I have a friend named
The Cab Driver
There was a cab driver in the
He decided that the best mission field for him was the local bar in his neighborhood. He began to visit this bar to find the most qualified sinner he could find to minister to. He met the bartender and determined this was his most qualified sinner because he was gay drug addict that was a pimp to 35 prostitutes. He was a "grade A sinner."
The cab driver visited the bar regularly and had a Coke at the bar. He got to know the bar tender. The Lord used the cab driver to win this man to Christ. The power of God moved greatly over this man and he became delivered of his homosexual lifestyle. This man began to radically change his life. He began to share Christ with the prostitutes and all 35 of them came to Christ. They began meeting in the bar for Bible study. Soon the owner of the bar began to notice the change in these people. He got saved. The bar got changed into a church. Then they began 10 cell group churches in the neighborhood. Now that is transformation! That is the power of God breaking through the darkness! That is the normal Christian life that was spoken of in the book of Acts that we have lost in our society. 
The Man from
In 1998 I was invited by my mentor to come to
The next day I got a phone call from a man I had met sixty days earlier who was head of his church's missions focus. He asked me if I could go to the airport with him the following day and that he had a proposal for me to consider.
We got into the car and he began to explain that we were going to pick up a man who was flying in from
I was able to go to
A few moments later we were having coffee. At the end of the coffee time the man said he was seeing a vision while we prayed. It was a picture of a tree that had a lot of ripe fruit on it. "You are the tree," said the man. I began to weep because that was the third such experience I had had in three years. Each time someone described a tree that was in different stages. God was telling me that He was aware of my struggles and that He was not going to deliver me yet, but that He was going to walk through them with me.
I had just come out of the church from a training class designed to help us hear the voice of God better in our lives. As I looked off to the side I saw a woman. The thought that entered my mind was "That woman has had a lot of education. I plan to use that in her life for my purposes." I walked over to her and asked, "Pardon me, but have you had a lot of education in your life?" The woman responded, "Why yes, I have two MBA degrees." I was so excited to share with her the second part of what I heard from the Holy Spirit. This does not happen to me a lot. I pray that it happens more so that I can be an encourager and transformer in my sphere of influence. That is the reason God wants us to be able to walk at a higher level than just our intellect.
I could spend the rest of my time telling you about miraculous stories of God's activity in my life and others. The important thing to realize is that miracles are for today. He wants to perform miracles as confirmation of His activity in your life. It requires faith, humility and obedience. These are the core ingredients to see the power of God released in your life.
Stage 6 - The Fruitful Stage
And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over
When you and I begin to walk in obedience to the Lord we will begin to see the fruit of our lives. One cannot manufacture fruit. It is a natural byproduct of a healthy plant. It does not know what else to produce because it was made to produce fruit. That is a picture of a healthy relationship with God.
When you begin to respond to the Lord out of obedience, God brings you into the destiny He has for your life. Nothing can prevent it from happening if you walk in obedience. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.  God was the one who orchestrated David's advancement to be king of
Many times God's preparation comes through the fiery furnace of affliction and adversity. Joseph's preparation included thirteen years of slavery and prison. Preparation for the leader God calls can be difficult in the
John the Baptist was questioned about his role. Some asked him if he was the messiah. He knew his role. He was to prepare the way for the messiah. He gave the following answer to those who questioned him. "A man can receive only what God gives him." 
John understood a very important spiritual principle in the
Many of us strive to be something we are not. We are not satisfied with the role God has placed us in. I had recently come back from a mountaintop experience. As I attempted to get back into my routine, I found a great cloud of oppression come over me. Each day I attempted to press through it, but with no success. Fear, anxiety, doubt, and unbelief were setting in. I knew I was fretting over my future. I had been in a long period of transition in my work life and was tired of the place of waiting. Yet I didn't understand the oppression. It was definitely spiritual warfare.
That night I was reading a book regarding our calling from God. The author made mention that we can become envious of others when we get into a place where we are dissatisfied. Suddenly, I realized I was guilty of envying where other workplace believers were in their lives. I was "subconsciously" angry that the calling God had placed on my life had such adversity. I had to repent.
As if this were not enough, the next day the Holy Spirit confirmed my assessment in the most unusual way. That morning I turned on my computer to read my own TGIF devotional message that is sent to my computer. The message was on "Envying Others" and included the same scripture reference as the author's in the book. Imagine God using my own words to convict me of sin! The nerve of Him! To make matters worse, at lunchtime I tuned into the local Christian radio station to hear an interview with the same author as he cited the very passage I had read the day before. I was shocked to realize how the Holy Spirit could be so precise in His ability to convict and give proof of His activity in my life.
Sometimes we get calling mixed up. We are first called to Someone, not something. The "some-thing" is a great deal farther down the line than the "Some-one." In fact, I would go so far as to say that our calling could be accomplished through a number of different vocations. We needn't get hung up on thinking that we must be in the "perfect" job. We can think this way if we realize the main thing is being called to Him and modeling our relationship with Him is the most important thing.
Brother Lawrence, who lived in the 1600s was a monk who washed dishes for a living, He made the following assessment of calling. "For me the time of activity does not differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are calling for as many different things, I possess God in as great a tranquility as when upon my knees at the blessed Sacrament." You see, he is saying it was not what I do that allows me to fulfill my purposes in God; it is how well I know the One who made me. He found no urgency for retreats, because in the common task he met the same God to love and worship as he did in the stillness of the desert.
God will bring His servants into their destiny as they come to know him and reflect His life through there's. It is a byproduct of the life in God.
Stage 7 - God Elevates Those Who Obey Him
"So David's fame spread throughout every land, and the LORD made all the nations fear him."
How did a small shepherd boy become the man described as one who seeks after God with a whole heart? David was a warrior. He never lost a battle. He did his vocation well. He had his failures morally. He had many conflicts in relationships. He made many bad choices in his life. Yet, the seed of David became the seed of the Messiah.
The Lord was the orchestrator of the events of David's life. Once David set himself to be a worshipper of God, the rest was up to God. David had to respond to God in obedience. But once he did, God became the conductor to bring him into his destiny. God was the primary publicity manager and promoter of David. The Lord made all the nations fear him. When God wants to put you in a place of authority and position, nothing can prevent it unless you try to orchestrate it yourself. That is a surefire way to prevent it.
I mentioned earlier that my mentor once said "You almost have to withhold your natural gifting to insure God is in it." Sometimes that means holding back our natural skill to insure that God is directing the operation. When we watch God do it, we know that we are not the reason for the success.
I have witnessed this in my own life. For seven years I simply sought God through a difficult period of my life. Midway through the seven years I woke up one day and realized God had placed me in the center of a movement in which he was making me a major leader. I never sought after that position. God gave me that position. I have had to learn what role I am to play and what role I am not to play in the calling. I realize some are called to one aspect of the movement. If I try to fulfill their role and my role too, I have moved into an area God will not give me spiritual authority to be successful. As long as I respond to God in the area where I am called, I will not have to worry about receiving the authority to accomplish my destiny.
Moses had the authority to lead his people. One day God told him to speak to the rock. Moses struck the rock out of frustration with the people and dishonored God in the process. The result was Moses still achieved the objective of getting water for the people. However, it was at the cost of not entering the Promised Land personally.
God honors those who honor him. Jesus honored His father by completing the work God gave Him to do. "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." 
When David was at the end of his life, he made an incredible speech to his people and to His God. David reveals the nature of his heart and how he tried to live his life for the Lord. We see several ingredients for having a proper relationship towards God in the following prayer.
David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
"Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.
We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.
I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.
O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and
David recognized where his success came from. He recognized what He was giving to build the new temple came from the hand of God. He acknowledged God's favor in his life for what he had accomplished.
May we each understand that our ultimate destiny is achieved as we grow in our knowledge, love, intimacy and obedience to our Lord. Amen.
For further reading on this topic we suggest
Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where, Discovery House Publishers, p. 143
- C.S. Lewis, The Problem With Pain
 Isaiah 45:7
Hosea 2: 14,15
Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where, Discovery House Publishers
Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where, Discovery House Publishers
Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where, Discovery House Publishers
1 Cor. 2:4
Anointed for Business, Ed Silvoso, Harvest House Publishers
1 Chronicles 14:2
1 Thess 5:24
 John 3:27
Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God, 1600s
1 Chron 14:17-15:1
1 Chron 29:10-19