Called to Greatness II

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Called to Greatness Part II’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 3/24/2019, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click the play arrow above.

You Are Called

Last week[1] we discussed the reality that you are called to greatness. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve done: God has a purpose for your life that is greater than you could ever imagine! You might feel like you’re stuck in a dead-end job today; but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have something great for you.

Moses was, “…tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law” (Ex 3:1) when God interrupted him and called him to greatness. Saul was wandering around, looking for his father’s donkeys, when Samuel, “…took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: ‘Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance?’” (1 Sam 10:1). David was “keeping the sheep” (1 Sam 16:11) when God interrupted his life and anointed him as the next king over Israel! Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what you’re doing now. You are not defined by your present! The only thing that matters is what you will do going forward. You are defined by your future in Christ!

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. – Jn 14:12

You are called to greatness. Are you ready to accept it?

Once You’re Called

That was the good news. Now, are you ready for the bad news?

Just because you’re called, doesn’t mean the way there is going to be easy. Here is the reality: as soon as you accept your call to greatness, you will start to experience resistance. I wish I could stand here and tell you that walking out your destiny would be straight forward and simply; but unfortunately, it’s just not true! Your destiny will unfold over your life; but you’re going to have to break through some resistance on the way.

Just because David was anointed as the next king over Israel, didn’t mean his life would be easy all of a sudden. As soon as he was called to greatness, he faced resistance from multiple places. The purpose of this message is not to discourage you that your destiny will not come easily; it is to prepare you for the resistance that is coming, so you 1) will not be surprised, and 2) will be prepared to deal with it!

Level One

The first layer of resistance David faced came from his family. Before we go any further, take a moment to read 1 Sam 17:1-16. The armies of Israel were gathered against the Philistines. Every morning, the “champion” (v 4) of the Philistines – this giant named Goliath – would present himself before the armies of Israel. He would taunt them. He would beat his chest, talk about how awesome he was, and tell the armies of Israel how pathetic they were.

Nobody wanted to fight Goliath. Saul was the king; but he didn’t want any part of Goliath (v 11). None of the best warriors in the armies of Israel wanted anything to do with this giant, and for good reason: his height was “six cubits and a span” (that’s about nine feet tall!),[2] “the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels” (v 7). When the warriors of Israel heard Goliath calling them out, “…they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (v 11).

But then there was David. David was the youngest of all his brothers; and his three oldest brothers had followed Saul to battle. One day, Jesse (David’s father) sent David on an errand:

Then Jesse said to his son David, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp. And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare, and bring back news of them.” Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. – 1 Sam 17:17-19

Jesse wanted David to bring his brothers some food; so David went.

What I want to highlight is this: what seemed like an errand was actually God positioning David for victory. David thought he was just dropping off food to his brothers; but God was actually bringing David to the battle. God knew Goliath would be spouting off and defying the armies of the living God. God also knew that David was the only man in all of Israel who would not allow Goliath to talk like that.

When David heard the giant challenging God’s armies, David knew Goliath might as well be challenging God himself. Where everyone else saw certain defeat; David saw victory. Where everyone else saw an enemy, David saw an opportunity!

But his brothers didn’t want to hear it:

Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” – 1 Sam 17:28-29

David had done nothing wrong. He faithfully dropped off food for his bothers. While he was there, he heard the enemy asserting himself in a way that David knew was not God’s will. So, he decided to do something about it.

But look how his brother’s responded! Eliab was angry! He mocked David for being a shepherd instead of a warrior. He accused David of 1) pride and 2) insolence of heart.

This is the first level of resistance. David got pushback from his family: those closest to him, who should have supported him the most, supported him the least.

Do you know why I think Eliab was really mad? He was mad because he knew David was a bigger man than he. Eliab had watched as David was anointed in front of his entire family (1 Sam 16:13). Now, Eliab was standing back – afraid of Goliath – as David approached the battle and wondered out loud if he could take Goliath down!

Sometimes the people whom you expect to support you the most, will support you the least! Are you ready for that resistance? When it comes, don’t be surprised; be thankful that you are on the right track.

When I told my parents I wanted to leave a career in finance to take a call into full-time ministry, they thought I was crazy. They tried to talk me out of it. “Think of your future,” they begged me (they’ve accepted my decision since then!). They thought I was throwing away my future by chasing after what God wanted me to have!

I didn’t take it as discouragement; I understood it was resistance. They simply hadn’t heard God’s heart on the matter like I had. I wanted to charge into battle against the enemy, and take ground back for the Kingdom! But not everyone would understand.

Level Two

The second level of resistance David faced came from his mentor. When Goliath spoke, David responded:

“For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” – 1 Sam 17:26

He spoke with confidence and boldness. He stood out so much because of his words that Saul took notice:

Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” – 1 Sam 17:31-32

David wanted to fight Goliath. Saul should have been ecstatic! After all, Saul – as king – was the one who should have been bold and brave enough to face the giant. Now, here was David, offering to take one for the team, and charge into battle against the greatest enemy Israel had ever faced.

But Saul’s reaction was not good. He was anything but ecstatic:

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” – 1 Sam 17:33

Now wait just one minute! Saul already knew about David. Specifically, Saul’s servants had told David that David was, “…a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him” (1 Sam 16:18). So why now, all of a sudden, would Saul forget everything he knew to be true about David, and tell him he wasn’t good enough?

Maybe Saul didn’t think David would win the fight, and he was trying to protect him? Maybe Saul was jealous that David had the courage he lacked? Whatever the reason, David came to Saul – his spiritual leadership – and instead of receiving the support he needed, he got completely shut down. This is the resistance you might face as you embrace your call to greatness.

Now I want to be very careful here. I am not saying you should not seek out wise counsel from people who are “older” (i.e. those who have been a Christian longer) and more experienced than you. I am saying that you should be prepared – and not let down – if they don’t immediately support what you are proposing as you charge after God’s plan for your life.

But watch very carefully how David responded. He did not punch Saul in the face and burn a bridge with his spiritual leadership. He did not go and fight for another nation (i.e. he didn’t leave his church and go find another one because the pastor didn’t agree with him)! David continued to serve Saul, even though Saul didn’t think David could do what God had called David to do.

So, have a conversation with your advisors. Seek wise counsel! Hear them out, and heed their advice. But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what God is telling you to do.

When I was growing up, I played jazz saxophone. I practiced hard all through high school. Our school’s jazz band went to the Berklee College of Music’s annual jazz festival, and we did well. I had a solo in one of our songs, and I won an individual award for musicianship.

When we got home from that trip, I was flying high. I felt like I could take over the world! I asked my saxophone teacher, “What do you think about me moving to New York City to make a living as a saxophone teacher?” His reply? “Do you like waiting tables?”

This was the dose of reality I needed. I didn’t let it discourage me; I just received his comment as something to think about. At the end of the day, I had to discern that God’s will was not for move to move to the world’s greatest city and try to make a living as a starving artist. Sometimes your mentors will give you a healthy bucket of cold water in the face, and keep you from doing something silly; but other times, they might discourage you from charging into a God-ordained battle and taking the victory He promised you. Wisdom means knowing the difference!

David would not let resistance interfere with his destiny. He explained himself to Saul:

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” – 1 Sam 17:34-37a

You see, David had a history with God. God had given David victory before; and David knew God would do it again! David had already experienced a string of smaller victories with God. He knew God’s faithfulness because of his testimony! So when David faced the biggest adversary he had ever faced, he already knew what God was going to do: give him victory, just as He always had before!

Because of David’s persistence, Saul was convinced:

And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” – 1 Sam 17:37b

David was ready to charge into battle. But the resistance he would face was not over yet!

Level Three

The third level of resistance David faced was outright resistance from the enemy. Did you really think the enemy was just going to let walk into your destiny without putting up a fight? Did you think Satan was just going to let you reach out and seize God’s best, without trying to fight you for it?

David was ready for battle; but Goliath would give him the worst verbal abuse he had heard yet:

Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” – 1 Sam 17:40-44

Goliath made fun of David. David had a staff, some stones, a pouch and a sling: exactly what God told him to bring into the fight. But Goliath taunted him that it wasn’t good enough! Goliath’s shield was so big that somebody else had to carry it (v 41). So when David showed up with just a staff and some rocks, Goliath laughed in his face!

And the enemy will do the same to you. Don’t mind what Satan says. God knows what you need. Carry whatever He has told you to bring into the battle you are facing. You don’t need anything else!

David responded to the enemy out loud:

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” – 1 Sam 17:45-47

David didn’t back down when the enemy taunted him. He replied with an understanding that if he had the “name of the Lord” (v 45), he had all the power he needed. Did you know there is power in God’s name? Did you know that at the name of Jesus, every knee must bow (Phil 2:10)? When you charge into battle in the name of God, you are not just fighting for yourself; you are fighting on behalf of God! And when you fight in His name, there is no way you can lose.

By the way, this is how you should respond when the enemy taunts you: out loud. When the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (see Matt 4:1-11), the enemy came with a litany of different attacks; yet Jesus’ response was always the same! He responded out loud, with Scripture. So when the enemy taunts you, respond out loud, with the word of God!

David would not allow the taunts of the enemy to interfere with the supernatural confidence God invited him to have. Goliath laughed in David’s face! Yet David was the one who would be laughing at the end:

So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. – 1 Sam 17:48-51

David used God’s strategy to disable the enemy; and then he used the enemy’s own weapon to cut him apart.

How Will You Respond?

God has called you to greatness! Some people may support you as you pursue His call on your life; and others may not. But what other people say about you is none of your concern.

You might face resistance from the people closest to you. You might face resistance from people in your life you expected to champion you the most. You will face outright resistance from the enemy, as he tries to intimidate you and force you to abandon God’s call on your life! But when resistance rears its head, how will your respond?

Let God’s voice be the only voice you hear: even if the room is full of doubters. When all is said and done, He will bring you to the victory every else said was impossible.

Then, as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” So David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” – 1 Sam 17:57-58

© Michael D. White, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

[1] https://www.citylightnyc.com/podcast/Called-To-Greatness-031019.mp3

[2] https://www.gotquestions.org/how-tall-was-Goliath.html