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December 29 – Following the Call of God

Luke 4:1-30; Ezekiel 44-45; Isaiah 64

If you’re on social media at all, you’ve probably found a site that focuses on your hometown. You know those sites: “We grew up in <insert the name of your hometown here>.” These sites are great spots to remember what you had in common growing up, to talk about changes in the hometown, and to remember hometown heroes. Sometimes we remember that they grew up in our hometown. Sometimes we see the names and yelp in surprise because we had no idea. For instance, I just found out the other day that the actress who played “Ma” Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” was born in my hometown. I hadn’t known that. I know of some other celebrities who were from my hometown, but, honestly, I don’t talk about them much.

We tend to put a lot of pressure on hometown heroes, or famous people we might have a tenuous connection with. When a celebrity comes home, we burden them with expectations because, they’re famous and they’re from our home town, when they may have come only to see family and get some rest away from the problems of their current world. That’s why celebrities often hide behind sunglasses when they don’t want to be recognized. Jesus went back to Nazareth when, not only was He gaining a reputation for His miracles, He couldn’t hide the fact that He was there. He walked into the synagogue, as was His custom, and got to read the Scriptures that day. “’The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:18-21 NIV)

The other reason Jesus didn’t hide was because He had a job to do. He didn’t lower expectations, He raised them. He took a messianic prophecy, read it in the synagogue and told His hometown folks that this applied to Him. That’s when the hometown familiarity really hit hard. “Little Jesus said what? I knew Him when He used to play with my kids. Good kid, never any problems with Him, but the Messiah? No way!” Jesus proclaimed His mission to the people who raised Him, and those who grew up with Him. It as a mission of peace, healing, caring, and proclamation. He was going to be a politician, a doctor, a civil rights activist, and a preacher all at the same time. When a child does this, we smile and pat them on the head. Jesus was no longer a child. He was a man who needed to care for His family and here He was, in effect, telling people that He was the Messiah. That caused an amazing ruckus.

It’s an amazing thing to discover God’s calling in your life, especially if you believe that it will lead to a change of career. When that happens, people will try to dissuade you in different ways. You may be doing good work in your current job, and it doesn’t make sense to change careers. You may need to remember your family, and how they’re depending on you. You may be told to pray about it again, because that job doesn’t seem like you. What’s important is not the opinions of others; what’s important is following God’s plans. Talk it out. Get wise counsel. If you’re married, make sure your spouse is in agreement with you. But in the end, if the Spirit of the Lord is on you to do something, then be obedient to the spirit of God.

Lord, it’s not always easy to follow Your call. So many others have a different understanding of Your call on my life. Help me to understand You, and be obedient to Your wishes for my life.

Daily Devotion by Bob James

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