1 Chronicles 5:11-26 – God Callings: Plunging Into His Provision

Posted: December 18, 2019 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 5:11-26

Descendants of Gad & The Tribes of the Jordan

I was reading the book, Pastoral Theology, by Daniel Akin and Scott Pace, and found this quote recently,

The authority of God’s call on our lives eliminates other options for fulfillment and satisfaction in our lives. While his call can be resisted (see Jonah), it cannot be revoked. If we resist God’s calling, we invite corrective discipline from God in our lives, but when we surrender to His will, our lives become anchored in His purpose. When people or circumstances become overwhelming in ministry, it is the definitive nature of His call that offers us security and comfort to help us persevere.

It reminded me that the call to full-time vocational ministry is one that will gnaw at you if you do not heed it. You will find no comfort from ignoring it or running from it. It will always be there. If it is a true calling, there will be no satisfaction, true satisfaction, in your life until you accept the call and actively pursue it.

There were times in my life that, because of family tradition (my dad, my uncle, my brother, and my brother’s father-in-law were or are pastors in the United Methodist Church in South Carolina), that I thought I was called to ministry but I would never pull the trigger on actively pursuing it. Why? Because my calling at that time was not real in the sense that it could not overcome my seeking what was comfortable for me more. I had a really good career in corporate accounting with progressively greater responsibilities and salaries over the years. I always had excuses about prior wives who would be unwilling to leave their hometown of Greenville, SC. I always had excuses of having children in school that would be uprooted. Then, it was children in college and so on. I always had excuses of why I could not pursue “the family business” (i.e., pastoral ministry). All of these excuses were because I was ultimately afraid to step out in full faith. I was trusting in my abilities and my own definition of what was comfortable and what was known. It was certainly my expectation that the perfect job in ministry would be one that was right there in the Greenville area and would be just blatantly obvious that it was for me – an easy transition.

But God’s calling to ministry is never comfortable. You cannot rely on your own abilities or your comfort zone or what you have known. God’s calling to ministry is one that He makes you so uncomfortable doing anything else (even if you have done it all your life) that you will not be satisfied until you actively pursue it. My calling began for real in 2011 and built over time to the point that I could not do what was comfortable to me anymore. That included going to a place that I had never lived or never even heard of until I was offered an interview for my first full-time job in pastoral ministry. Even then, the job was not what I had been envisioning as what I thought my pastoral ministry should be. I could have easily given up and returned to the corporate finance world but the call was still there. Still making me feel uncomfortable doing anything else. The call was such that I pursued other opportunities. It would have been easier just to say I give up and go back to the accounting world I knew. That’s where I was an expert. The struggle of that first pastoral position could have defeated a call that was not grounded in the heart of God.

That struggle galvanized my understanding of my call. I was going to do whatever it took, go again wherever God led me so that I could pursue the burden of my calling. Now, I am the solo pastor of a small-ish church in South Carolina and there is so much I do not know about being the “buck stops here” leader, senior, solo, pastor of a church. It can be overwhelming at times. It can be downright scary at times. But the burden of the calling carries me through. That I am outside my comfort zone. That I am probably right now outside my current capabilities as a leader can scare the buh-jeebies out of ya. But the burden, the calling is still there. And, in actuality, I am having the time of my life. That’s the thing about pastoral ministry and the calling to it is that you always are in the understanding that you are way NOT qualified to do what you do but, man, you’re having the time of your life! When you are in God’s call to pastoral ministry nothing else will do, nothing else will satisfy, but you realize that it is not your talents that are going keep your there. It’s the trust in the Lord to carry you along to what you need to learn and where you need to go. I have given up on relying on my own abilities and to pray each morning that God has me where He wants me, teaching me what I need to be taught, and using me to accomplish what He wants accomplished.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through another section of genealogy in 1 Chronicles. This time it was about the descendants of Reuben in 1 Chronicles 5:11-26. In that passage, we see mention of the fact that the Reubenites relied on their own skills and failed to give God glory for what He was accomplishing through them. Let’s read it together now and see how this all relates after you read the passage:

11 Next to the Reubenites, the descendants of Gad lived in the land of Bashan as far east as Salecah. 12 Joel was the leader in the land of Bashan, and Shapham was second-in-command, followed by Janai and Shaphat.

13 Their relatives, the leaders of seven other clans, were Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jacan, Zia, and Eber. 14 These were all descendants of Abihail son of Huri, son of Jaroah, son of Gilead, son of Michael, son of Jeshishai, son of Jahdo, son of Buz. 15 Ahi son of Abdiel, son of Guni, was the leader of their clans.

16 The Gadites lived in the land of Gilead, in Bashan and its villages, and throughout all the pasturelands of Sharon. 17 All of these were listed in the genealogical records during the days of King Jotham of Judah and King Jeroboam of Israel.

18 There were 44,760 capable warriors in the armies of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. They were all skilled in combat and armed with shields, swords, and bows. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, the Jeturites, the Naphishites, and the Nodabites. 20 They cried out to God during the battle, and he answered their prayer because they trusted in him. So the Hagrites and all their allies were defeated. 21 The plunder taken from the Hagrites included 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep and goats, 2,000 donkeys, and 100,000 captives. 22 Many of the Hagrites were killed in the battle because God was fighting against them. The people of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh lived in their land until they were taken into exile.

23 The half-tribe of Manasseh was very large and spread through the land from Bashan to Baal-hermon, Senir, and Mount Hermon. 24 These were the leaders of their clans: Epher,[a] Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel. These men had a great reputation as mighty warriors and leaders of their clans.

25 But these tribes were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors. They worshiped the gods of the nations that God had destroyed. 26 So the God of Israel caused King Pul of Assyria (also known as Tiglath-pileser) to invade the land and take away the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh as captives. The Assyrians exiled them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the Gozan River, where they remain to this day.

In this passage, you will notice that the armies of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh succeeded in battle because they trusted God. Although they had instinct and skill as soldiers, they prayed and sought God’s direction. The natural and developed abilities God gives us are meant to be used for Him, but they should never replace our dependence on Him. When we trust in our own cleverness, skill and strength rather than in God, we open the door for pride. When facing difficult situations, seek God’s purpose and ask for His guidance and strength. Psalm 20:7 tells us, “Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord, our God!”

Also, here in this passage, you will note that these tribes did not continually seek God and began to be prideful. As warriors and leaders, these men had established reputations for their great skill and leadership abilities. But in the eyes of God, they failed in the most important quality – being faithful to God. We must remember that God gives us our abilities and we must recognize He is the source from which they came. We cannot become prideful because it is He that provides us with our talents. Conversely, we cannot shy away from what God challenges us to do because it is hard. As we push on through past our comfort zone, we will and must learn dependence on God. When we are far past our comfort zone, we are in territory that only He can provide the skills, the direction, and the answers that we need.

How does all this relate to going into and staying in pastoral ministry? It reminds us that pastoral ministry is a God-driven calling not our own. We can say that we want pastoral ministry but if it is not a true God calling, we will not actively pursue it. Why? Because we are relying on our own opinions and our own skills and it is easier then to make excuses for why we can’t pursue the calling right now. We can say others are keeping us from it. We can use excuses of money, people and time and so on. But ultimately, if our calling is true we are going to rely on God to make a way for us. That’s the only way that it will work. Pastoral ministry is tough and you can get discouraged so easily and walk away. It is only when we rely totally on God for our calling and our provision within it that we can go headstrong into and damn all the excuses that pop up in our heads. A true God calling in pastoral ministry is one that makes you so uncomfortable that you just have to, you MUST, pursue the calling. Nothing else will do. All the comforts. All your known skills. All the stuff you know. People. Places. Things. It cannot keep you from pursuing your call. You come to rely more and more greatly on the God of the universe. He will provide. He will give the victories. He will sustain you in the defeats. He will teach you what you don’t know. He will be your lifejacket in the rough waters. Dependence on Him not ourselves leads us to pursue our calling into pastoral ministry…because nothing else will do! Nothing else will satisfy than to plunge into that total dependence on the Lord to provide wherever that might lead.

Amen and Amen.

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