Have you ever pondered or meditated or just thought about what an absolute miracle you are? Have you ever thought about that? Do you realize what an absolute miracle you really are? Do you realize that? I am not talking about you being created. Yes, that is a miracle in itself. I am talking about the miracle of your calling.
You and I go to church on an odd day, Saturday. Most of the world goes to church on Sunday. Yet, here we are. Our not eating things like pork, crab, lobster, dogs, snakes, or shellfish is also odd or crazy to most other people. I can remember early on in my calling, in my conversion, when I would go out to dinner with my brother-in-law. He would always order crab or lobster. He would make all kinds of noises and say “Oh, this food is so good, you’re missing out.” He was trying to get my goat and he thought by me not eating those things, there was something wrong with me. We are very careful only to eat meat that God says is clean.
We do not celebrate the holidays of the world like Easter, Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, and Valentine’s Day which is very odd to most people in the world. We keep holy days and the Feast of Tabernacles no matter what those days fall on. You know what? My dad absolutely hated the Feast of Tabernacles. Not because it was the Feast of Tabernacles, but what he hated about it was he thought it was the craziest thing he ever heard of somebody saving ten percent of their gross income and then traveling somewhere and spending every dime of it every year whether they could afford it or not. And, on top of it, going there and sitting in church for eight days. He thought that was the craziest thing he ever heard.
We are very careful only to do the things that God tells us to do even if it means getting fired and losing our jobs. We refuse to work or travel for pleasure or business on Saturday, the Sabbath, no matter what the consequences may be. Again, that is very odd to most people.
Most of us do not curse or swear. Most of us do not get drunk. Most of us do not fornicate or have adulterous affairs. It was about 1979 when I moved to Oregon. This will sound crazy. The guys on the crew that I worked with called me Saint Kim. That is a little hard to believe. I am not a saint and I am not saying that I am. I am in the sense that we all are, but I am not saying I am special or anything.
The reason they called me that is because there were three buildings we were working on and two of them were occupied early on in the job. One of them was not, and we were working on that one building and the other two became occupied. One of the buildings had a lot of women in it. Every man on that crew had a girlfriend whether they were married or not. They were all committing adultery, the ones that were married.
Every night after work they would all go down to the bar that was in the bottom of one of those buildings and meet their girlfriends. One of my friends almost got divorced over it. He was the one that got me to move to Oregon from California. But, I did not participate in that and they thought something was wrong with me, again. So, they nicknamed me Saint Kim, at least on that one project. Most of us do not fornicate or have these adulterous affairs.
Most of us are good employees. Most of us do not steal or lie. Again, this type of conduct is very odd to most people. The reason you and I are so odd and different from the rest of the world is because of the miracle God has performed in each and every one of us. That is the miracle of our calling. Think about that, brethren, as you turn to II Timothy 1.
II Timothy 1:9 Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
Your calling is holy, brethren, because God who is holy chose you. What a miracle. You want to talk about a miracle? Our calling started before the world began. Before we were ever born He knew He was going to call us. We were called in different ways, each and every one of us. We all have our own story to tell on how God called us. My wife’s calling was totally different than mine. Some of us were born into the church and sanctified by our parents. Make no mistake about it young people; you are still called by God, even if you grew up in the church.
My wife’s calling came by way of the Plain Truth magazine, like so many people’s did, and through the television broadcast, The World Tomorrow. My wife took the correspondence course and then she called to talk to a minister and guess who came out to see her? Our own John Ritenbaugh. My wife’s calling was completely different than mine. None of that would have worked with me, but it worked with my wife.
And then my wife started attending church. My wife was only 19 or 20 years old, but I want you to think about how God works with all of us and the way she was called. She was 19 or 20 years ago, a little on the shy side, and intimidated to go to church by herself where there was over 300 brethren in the Norwalk church at the time. She went to church and she was not even dressed properly because she wore really tight skirts. She wore makeup and a lot of jewelry. She had her hair all done up. She really did not fit in with what was going on at church at that time. She walked in there and, of course, a lot of people stared at her and did not know what to think of her skirts because they were exceedingly short. But, that is how it was in those days if you were not in the church.
Guess what happened? You know what God provided for her? He provided an ‘old duffer’ and his wife. This man and his wife took her under their wing for a solid year because in those days at the different holy days you would eat right there at church. There were too many people to have a potluck so two or three families would get together and everybody would eat in the hall together. They took her under their wing and fed her. She had somebody to talk to. They met her the very first Sabbath so she was comfortable because she had someone to talk to and rely on to ask questions. There was also another woman in the church, Sheila Hill, who I think was also taken under the wing by this same old codger.
This man helped her on her first Day of Atonement. On the Day of Atonement, she knew she could not eat, but she did not know about drinking, so she drank water. When she went into services that day, right in the lobby when you went in, there was a drinking fountain. If I remember correctly, it was on the right side. She went up and she had a drink of water. Everybody stared at her and they wondered what was going on. And, of course, this ‘old codger’ came right up to her and he made her feel really good. He said you just committed the unpardonable sin. Of course he was joking! She wanted to die, of course.
He had provided a family to take care of her and make it comfortable for her so she could go to church without anybody else because she was young. You know who this ‘old codger’ and his beautiful wife were? We all know him. John Reid was that old codger. He truly is an old codger now, but he was not then. Thank you John for that. He made my wife’s calling much easier.
My calling was nothing like that. I still have not taken the correspondence course, just not my thing. Debbie and I were very young when we were called. We were the first in our families. Debbie was first. She was 20 years old and I was behind her after her baptism by one year. She went to church for one year and then I began. I was 23 years old at my baptism. God called Debbie’s sister and then God called my mother. Then He called Debbie’s mother, then Debbie’s two nephews, and one of Debbie’s nieces. And then all three of our children. God works in families. We know that. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He works in families, brethren.
God started working with me through money and tithing. That is something I understand. I never would have got the television program or reading the Plain Truth magazine. I would have never read it to start with. But, tithing and money, I understand it.
I wanted nothing to do with any church. When I was a kid my mom made me go to church and I hated every minute of it. My mom was always churchy, though. We would go to church with whatever neighbor would give us a ride so we went to lots of different churches. My mom did not know how to drive so she had to bum a ride to church with one of the neighbors and my sister and I were obliged to go with her. I do not know if my sister hated it, but I did. I was never looking for church. I was never churchy like my mom.
After Debbie started attending the Worldwide Church of God she told me that the Bible said we should give ten percent of our income to the church. She also told me that if I did that, I would be blessed. I want to be blessed, don’t you? I reasoned in my mind that if I gave ten percent of my income, God would give me everything I wanted. I did not want what Ryan [McClure] talked about in Proverbs 22. I did not want a good name. I wanted the gold and silver and I wanted lots of it.
Now, think of this brethren. I begin to tithe. I had 100% of my paycheck and I begin to tithe and I gave away ten percent. I sent it in to Pasadena and everything went along just fine with ten percent less money. I can make all my bills. No problems. But, I was not getting rich and that did not sit well with me. Where was the gold and silver? It had not come. Where was it? I stopped tithing. Now guess what happened. I could not make my bills. I had my ten percent back, but now all of a sudden I could not make my bills. I had ten percent more money, but ends did not meet.
Then guess what my wife said. She was pretty sarcastic. She said, “Because you’re not tithing, God wasn’t blessing you.” I started tithing again. You know what happened? I could pay all my bills once again. But, again, I was not getting rich so I stopped tithing again. And guess what happened again? I could not pay my bills. I did not have enough money. Go figure. You have ten percent less and you can pay all your bills. You get the ten percent back and you cannot make your bills.
God is working with us, brethren. He was working with me at that time. I went back and forth with tithing and not tithing for about six or seven months before I was convinced that I needed to tithe and God would take care of the rest.
John 6:44 No man can come to Me, except the Father who sent Me draws him. ...
God is saying here that we cannot and we will not go to God without His calling and having our minds open to what the world perceives as very odd and unnecessary. God’s way and His laws seem very odd to most people.
And then God says:
John 6:44 ...I will raise him up at the last day.
That is a promise to us, brethren, to the called out ones. He is going to raise us up at the last day.
John 6:65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me [He is reiterating what He said in verse 44], unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
Both your calling and my calling are absolute miracles, brethren. Absolute. God started working with me and calling me first through tithing. Do you know what He used second? The Sabbath. I was not attending church yet, but I was tithing. I just told you how that all worked out. My wife failed to tell me about second and third tithe. Again, this is God working. That was a good thing because if I knew about second and third tithe I probably would have had a heart attack and nothing would have happened.
God knows what He is doing with all of us. One day out of the blue Debbie told me I should be keeping the Sabbath. Now He started working with me through the Sabbath. She said I should not work on that day. Not at my job, not on my car, or not in the yard. I should not go to swap meets. I should not go water skiing. I should not go fishing. She said I should go to church. She got me angry. My response to her from that statement was “I’ll never keep the Sabbath and no one will ever make me keep the Sabbath.”
Guess what happened next. When the sun went down on Friday night and until the sun went down on Saturday night, I was completely exhausted. I was not sick. I just had no strength and no get-up-and-go. I felt fine, but I was exhausted. When the sun went down on Saturday night my strength returned to me. I felt guilty then because I had let a day get away from me that I did nothing on. This went on for a number of weeks. Friday night came and I lost my strength. Saturday night came and my strength returned to me.
Then my wife made another comment to me. It was another smart comment. “It looks like you’ve been keeping the Sabbath, doesn’t it?” Not long after that I gave up and I started attending church. God kept working with me. He proved to me in similar fashion about clean and unclean meats, about keeping the holy days, and He tested me from threats from my boss with losing my job over the Sabbath and the Feast of Tabernacles, things that we have all gone through.
We have all been called is different ways. Each one of us has our story to tell. No matter how you were called it was a direct miracle from God. Plain and simple, brethren.
Isaiah 43:1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”
God is talking to the nation of Israel here. God is telling them He has worked a great miracle. He says I have called you by name and now you are Mine. God has also called all of us by name. He also created all of us. He has also redeemed all of us by the blood of Christ. And, because of all this, we are now His. What a wonderful miracle God has worked in each and every one of us.
I want you to think who Christ called to be His disciples when He was walking on this earth. He did not call great men, brethren. First, he called Peter. Peter was a fisherman. He called Andrew, Peter’s brother and his partner, another fisherman. He called James, another fisherman. He called John, James’ brother. He called the sons of Zebedee, more fisherman. And, John and James did not even have their own business, they worked for their father. They were every day men, like you and I. Then, he called Philip. Maybe he was a fisherman as well, but, if he was or was not, it does not matter. One thing to remember, fisherman really are not great men. They are every day Joes just like us.
Bartholomew was then called and we do not know his occupation. And then there was Matthew, a tax collector. Tax collectors in Christ’s day were looked down upon and hated because they collected taxes for the Romans who occupied their country militarily. You did not really want to be friends with tax collectors. You did not like them for the most part. Then he called Thomas, James, and Simon. We do not know their occupations either.
Then there was Thaddeus and Judas Iscariot. None of these men were great men. Look who God called; everyday men just like us. He did not call professionals, religious leaders, or ordained priests. He did not call pastors, reverends, or clergy types. He worked a miracle in you and me.
God did not call college educated people with PhD’s that had Doctors of Theology. He did not call scholars, scribes, or theologians. This should make us feel good, brethren. He did not call great celebrities or renowned religious leaders. God did not call people in high government positions.
Christ did not call the well-established, high profile priests of His day. He did not call those who, in the eyes of the world, are wise. He did not call people because they were experts in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic. God called fishermen and everyday people, just like us. He also called a tax collector, a man looked down upon in society at that time. It does not say what the jobs or occupations of the other disciples were, but we can be sure that these men were not great men in the eyes of the people of the world.
I Corinthians 1:26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
That is true brethren, but you and I have been called. We have had a great miracle worked within us so we can understand God’s laws and way of life. The people of this world cannot understand what God called us to understand. That is the difference.
We are given a great gift, brethren. The next verse is what I really want to stress.
Ephesians 2:9 Not of works [None of us have done great works, or not most of us.] lest anyone should boast.
God did not call the great or the gifted or the wise of this world, but He did call you and me.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
God called us. He worked this great miracle in us and He is working with every one of us every minute of every day. Do you ever think about that? He is still working with us.
The apostle Paul was selected and called by God, just like all of us, brethren. Just like us. Here is Paul’s calling. It is in Act 9 and I want to go through that.
Acts 9:3-9 And as he [Paul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” [He was scared!] Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. [They were really scared speechless. They were scared out of their wits, probably.] Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
The miracle of Paul’s calling was pretty dramatic, was it not? What God did to him to call him would really get your attention, would it not? First, there was the great light, this blinding light. Second, a voice called him by name. That scared the other men that were with him. Third, the voice told him He was Christ. Fourth, the men that were with him were scared speechless. Paul is now blind and no idea how long he would be blind. Was it permanent or not? Fifth, he did not eat or drink for three days.
Do you think Paul was humble, scared, confused, and maybe even worried about being permanently blind? Do you think any of that went through his mind? Do you think Paul was praying and fasting? Verse 10 says Paul was praying, brethren. He was scared. The miracle of Paul’s calling was out of the ordinary because God had a huge job for him that was to begin immediately. God was not going to take the time that He is taking with so many of us and worked with us over a period of time. He had a job that He needed Paul to start right away.
Your calling and my calling was just as much of a miracle though. Probably not as dramatic, but, nonetheless, a miracle. Go and try to convince someone that the Sabbath is to be kept or the Passover services and foot washing is necessary. Tell them about foot washing and see where that goes for a true Christian to do. Tell them that to be a true Christian you have to wash someone’s feet and see what they think of you. You will get nowhere with the Sabbath, that is for sure. I have tried that a number of times. If you try to convince someone about the foot washing they will think you only have one oar in the water, that is for sure. They will think you are a full-on nut case, probably.
Through the miracle of your calling, God has opened up your mind to accept these things because God has a special job for all of us, just like He had for Paul. Do you know what is so great about the miracle of our calling? Let us turn to Romans 11 and I want to read this out of the Amplified New Testament.
Romans 11:29 (AMP) For God’s gifts and His callings are irrevocable. He will never withdraw them once they are given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His calling.
Do you know what God is saying here? He is saying “I will do My part, no matter what.” All we have to do is to do our part, no matter what. Our part, as we all know, starts with prayer, Bible study, meditating, and fasting. Go to Titus 1 and we will see that God cannot lie. What he says in Romans is not a lie, brethren.
The miracle that God has worked in us is sure. What it says in Romans 11:29 is guaranteed. All we have to do is endure until the end, no matter what. Our calling and our reward is absolutely incredible, brethren.
I Peter 2:9 But you [that is you and me] are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a His own special people [We are different. You might not think so, but we really are.], that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness [and brethren, is this world getting darker all the time] into His marvelous light.
You know what has gotten me thinking about our calling? A statement that a young man said that is only 32 years old, a friend of mine and my son’s. This is what he said. You know, I work all the time. He has a job that pays $15.00 an hour and he also sells car parts on eBay like JB does because JB showed him how to do it. He makes extra money doing it. He goes to swap meets. He is always trying to make a dime. But, he stills lives at home with his parents because he cannot make it on his own. His parents need his help financially because they are struggling with their bills. The times we are living we, is it not?
He said he could not date any girls because they are too expensive. I bet you girls did not know you were too expensive, did you? Well, you are. That is what he says anyway. He said he cannot afford to take them to a movie. He cannot afford to take them out to dinner. He just cannot afford one so he does not go out with any girls.
He said it was extremely hard to make ends meet and to keep going day after day, just to go to work because he was down. He could not see any light at the end of the tunnel. He was frustrated, discouraged, and down on life. And then he said to me, and this is the statement that got me thinking about our calling, he did not care if he died tomorrow. It made no difference to him. He had no hope in the future.
Brethren, I know a lot of us are going through all kinds of hardships. Everything from relationships to sickness to financial issues and just everyday things. Life is not easy anymore. It is easy for us to get the same attitude this young man has, except for one thing. God worked a miracle in all of us. That miracle is, He is now working directly with us with His Holy Spirit. This man does not have that like you and I do.
Ephesians 1:4 Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
Do you see what God is saying here? God is saying that before the world began, you and I were chosen for His purpose, for His predetermination, which is to bestow on us the blessing of the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ. What a blessing!
We should not be frustrated or discouraged, brethren, because we know God is working with us because our minds have been opened to things that the world does not and cannot understand.
Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.
The young man that I just told you about has no hope because he sees that everything in this country and everything in this world is going the wrong way. He believes there is a God, though. But, he does not have the proof that we have. We have the proof, brethren, through the miracle of our calling. That is our proof. But, you and I have the hope of the miracle of our calling, and the light at the end of the tunnel for us should be bright. Let us turn to II Timothy 2 I would like to read this out of the Living New Testament.
II Timothy 2:12 (Living New Testament) And if we think that our present service for Him is hard [and it does get hard], just remember that some day we are going to sit with Him and rule with Him. But if we give up when we suffer [and we know we are going to suffer. Ryan McClure mentioned that too in his sermonette] and turn against Christ, then He must turn against us.
That is something for us to remember, brethren.
This young man that I told you about has not had the miracle of being called by God performed in his life. His time is coming, we know that. But, you and I have already experienced this miracle. This miracle of our calling should give us faith. It should give us endurance. It should give us joy and a sense of wellbeing, no matter what is going on in our lives. And, you know why?
II Timothy 2:13 (Living New Testament) Even when we are too weak to have any faith left [because of what is going on in our lives], He remains faithful to us and will help us, for He cannot disown us who are part of Himself, and He who will always carry out his promise to us.
Brethren, what a promise that is! God promises to keep His promise to us, but, He also tells us that we will suffer. We will have trials. Everything will not always be easy for us and we will be tempted. That is going to happen, brethren.
Philippians 1:29 (Living New Testament) For to you has been given the privilege not only of trusting Him, but also of suffering for Him.
There it is brethren. We will have trials. We will suffer and he calls it a privilege. We will be tested. Then the apostle Paul says in verse 30.
Philippians 1:30 (Living New Testament) We are in this fight together. You have seen me suffer for Him in the past; and I am still in the midst of a great and terrible struggle now, as you know well.
Did God work a great miracle in Paul when he was on the road to Damascus? Yes, he did. He also worked that same miracle under different circumstances with all of us. Did God and does God love Paul? Yes, He does. He loves each one of us. Did Paul suffer? Did Paul have trials? Was Paul tested? Yes, he was. Do we have problems? Do we suffer? Are we being tested? Yes, we have problems. Yes, we suffer. Yes, we are being tested. Look at what Paul says he suffered. Let us go to II Corinthians 11 and this will be out of the Amplified New Testament.
II Corinthians 11:24-25 (AMP) Five times I have received from the hands of the Jews forty lashes but one; [Paul was whipped or beaten five different times and given thirty-nine lashes] three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been aboard a ship wrecked at sea; a whole night and day I have spent adrift on the deep.
I do not know how many of you have been out in the ocean. I do not know how many of us have been ship wrecked or adrift for a whole day and a night, but, brethren, those are real trials. The ocean at nighttime is really black when you are out there adrift. I have been out there and caught in the fog when I could not see twenty feet around me and that alone is scary enough and I was on a fishing boat.
II Corinthians 11:26 (AMP) Many times on journeys, exposed to perils from rivers, perils from bandits, perils from my own nation [the Jews], perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the desert, perils in the desert places, perils in the sea, perils from those posing as believers—but destitute of Christian knowledge and piety.
Most of us have never experienced any of these things, but I am not saying what we go through is any easier. A lot of us are suffering sickness and health problems which are tremendous trials. But, remember our calling.
II Corinthians 11:27 (AMP) In toil and hardship, watching often through sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, frequently driven to fasting by want [meaning he did not have enough food. He was driven to fasting, but he did not want to be there, but he had to.], in cold and exposure and lack of clothing.
Think of all that Paul had to endure. You and I have enough clothes. We get fed every day. We have all kinds of comforts. But, still, we have our trials, brethren. They are different then Paul’s, but they are trials.
II Corinthians 11:28 (AMP) Besides those things that are without [or I do not have any control over], there is the daily inescapable pressure of my care and anxiety for all the churches! [Or for the brethren that he was serving.]
My question to you is: with all Paul went through, did God love him? Yes, He did. Did God call Paul? Yes, absolutely and in dramatic fashion. God talked to Paul in the air and then there was the bright light again and then the blindness. God also loves you no matter what difficulties you find yourself in. God also called you at the right time in your life and under the right circumstances in your life and He helped you, just like He helped my wife. He was with her through John and Delores Reid. They were a tremendous help to her going to church at that time.
God called you personally. He did because if He did not, you would not be here. You would not be here on Saturday. You would be out doing something else. You would be keeping Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and you would not keep the holy days or the weekly Sabbaths, let alone, wash someone’s gnarly feet. You would not do it. Knowing that God has called you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, should strengthen our resolve and it should give us hope and encouragement.
Philippians 3:14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
We have such a high calling that no difficulty or trial should hinder us from reaching the goal. Remember the young man that I told you about? He said he did not care if he died. As he looked at the world and his life, he could not see any hope. He could not see anything positive or worthwhile. All he could see was his trials. He could not see a light at the end of the tunnel.
You and I should be able to clearly see the light at the end of our tunnel because you know what the crazy thing is, brethren? This is the crazy thing. God gives us proof that He has called us and that He is working with us—by the peculiar things we do. We go to church on the ‘wrong’ day of the week. We keep the Sabbath. We keep Jewish holy days. We keep Passover and we wash one another’s feet. When you tell people that, they think you are crazy. We keep God’s laws and on top of all that, we save ten percent of our income to travel halfway across the country and do what? Sit in church for eight more days.
God also gives us proof that He is working with us by what we do not do. We do not go to church on Sunday. We do not celebrate Easter, Christmas, Halloween, or Valentine’s Day. By what we do and by what we do not do, we have to come to the conclusion that God did call us and He is working a great miracle in each one of our lives, brethren.
Our neighbors and some of our family members and friends and others cannot understand what we understand because God did not work a miracle in their minds. Our calling is a miracle of the mind, brethren. And, this alone should keep us from getting into the frame of mind that the young man I talked about has gotten himself into.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
His promise is amazing, brethren; what He is giving us. I want to turn to one more scripture in closing.
Luke 12:32 (AMP) Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear [That is what he is telling us. He says], little flock [and boy are we ever a little flock now], for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!
You and I are called as first fruits to be given a job as kings and priests. To work under Christ, first into the Millennium and then into the Kingdom of God. The light at the end of the tunnel is bright for us, brethren. As you go through trials in your life, remember, God called you. That should give us all comfort.