But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.                                                  I Peter 2:9

Every one of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus is following Jesus in one of two possible ways:

- We are either following Jesus as a volunteer who joined up with his army somewhere along the line, and now we're doing our part.

- Or, we are following Jesus as someone who has been called by God; and we're in the company of the disciples because no matter what we have tried to do we have not been able to shake off that call.

It makes a tremendous difference whether we're answering a divine call or whether we're just Volunteers.

When you're a volunteer you can do mediocre work and who can kick? After all, you're not getting paid, you're a volunteer.  If they're not satisfied with your mediocre work let them get someone else.  When you're a volunteer, you're still free to ride your favorite hobby horse.

"I'm a volunteer so I'm going to give the Lord what I feel like giving.  I'm going to sing my kind of songs.  I'm going to work with my favorite kind of people.  I'm going to specialize in my kind of religion, I can do that because – remember – I'm only volunteer."

When you're a volunteer you quit when you get tired... and sooner or later you do get tired.

- You get tired of people's ungratefulness.

- You get tired of never getting any appreciation.

- You get your get full of these weird people who always seem to congregate wherever Jesus is...

...and that's the end of it.

Ah, but when your life has come under a divine call it's a very different ball game.

- Your life is no longer your own... belongs to the God who called you.

Nor, can you hand the Lord something half-baked and whimper, "This is the best I can do.  I'm doing all I can Lord,"... because the spirit of excellence, the power to overcome the enemy and do things right is in God's call.

So, you take off your shoes, fall on your face, and offer back to God the best that you have – now heated into a blaze by the power of God's call itself.

When you're under a call from God there is no such thing as getting tired and burning out or quitting.

"I don't like the way they've treated me ...I think I'll quit."

You can do that when you're a volunteer, but not when you're called.

When did the call of God come to rest upon Moses?  You can be sure that the call of God rested upon Moses when he was still in his mother's womb.  But what a long time it took for Moses to find out about it!  It's highly likely that deep in Moses' soul, even as a young man, the call was already sounding. The idea was already there that he was to be a deliverer, just as we inwardly know that we have a ministry to perform long before we perceive that ministry as a call from God.  The call was on him but Moses didn't know it. He spent the first eighty years of his life as a volunteer.

One day when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together; and he said to the man that did the wrong, "Why do you strike your fellow?" He answered, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid, and thought, "Surely the thing is known." When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.                       

                                                                        Exodus 2:11-15

Moses volunteered to kill an Egyptian. Then he volunteered to settle a fight between Hebrews... but it didn't work. He had to flee for his life. And as Moses fled to Midian you can hear him say,

"Man, I'm glad to be out of there.  Why should I waste my time with those ungrateful idiots. I quit!"

Moses is hardly in Midian before he volunteers to be a deliverer again.

But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. The shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. When they came to their father Reuel, he said, "How is it that you have come so soon today?" They said, "An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and even drew water for us and watered the flock." He said to his daughters, "And where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him that he may eat bread." And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She bore a son, and he called his name Gershom; for he said, "I have been a sojourner in a foreign land."                                                                                           Exodus 2:15b-22

This time Moses gets a wife for his efforts, but he is still a volunteer.  And Moses will never emerge, the deliverer he is destined to be until he hears the call of God.

Forty more years pass.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here am I." Then he said, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord maid, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring the up. out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."    Exodus 3:1-10

Now for the first time in his eighty-year-old life Moses is lifted out of himself and set free to be what he was always meant to be… a deliverer. Not a volunteer deliverer, but a God-called, God-anointed deliverer. Now it's not Moses who looms big in Moses' eyes, but God.

"Take off your shoes, you're standing on holy ground."

And that taking off of the shoes was worship.  And that worship led to a life poured out in answer to God's call.

- A life radically changed from what it was.

- A life of excellence.

- A life which never got tired and quit... which endured by the refreshing power of God until the job was done.

"But that was Moses," you say. "I've never seen a burning bush or had visions like Isaiah  or Ezekiel.  I'm just an ordinary follower of Jesus and I can't look back on some white-hot moment when the voice of God shattered the darkness and called me by name."

Maybe you didn't see a burning bush, but you did receive a call.  Even the most ordinary follower of Jesus is given a call superior to any call that ever came to Moses, Elijah, or Jeremiah.

"Of men born of women there is none greater than John the Baptist," Jesus says.

because John the Baptist was the peak in a towering mountain-chain of prophets.

"But he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he,"....

because he who is least in the kingdom of God has received and answered a call from the Lamb of God himself.

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."          Luke 19:1-10

Here is no supernatural sign, no vision, no burning bush.

"Zacchaeus, make haste and come down for I must stay at your house today."

In those words the call of God came to Zacchaeus and his life was changed.

Zacchaeus didn't volunteer... he was called.  And in that Call came the power to make changes he could never make before.  Who knows how long Zacchaeus wanted to be a giver instead of a taker.  He made resolutions and promises to himself, but it never worked.  Now in his call comes the power to reverse his direction.

"Behold, half my goods I give to the poor...."

And who knows how many nights Zacchaeus lay awake thinking of the widows he defrauded.  But he got up in the morning and went right back to it. Now in the call comes power.

"If I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold."

As a volunteer, Zacchaeus found no power.  But now in his call it comes.

For those reading these words who have been unable to break chains of habit or come free from some weakness, we can never do it as volunteers.  But if we connect that chain to the call of the Lord, that chain will break!  It's the call that changes us,

- not our volunteering,

- not our good intentions,

- not the things we do on the treadmill of guilt,

...but the call of God which has come to us, and is coming to us again afresh today.

In the call of God which addresses us afresh each day is all the power we need to accomplish the impossible... all we have to do is answer it.

If we are followers of Jesus we are not volunteers, we are called men and women... called just as surely as Moses was called, or Mary, or Levi, or Zaachaeus.

1. We have been called, and are being called right now,

- to take off our shoes,

- to come down out of our tree, and worship the Lamb.

Worship... not just go through the motions, but really worship with a whole heart.  Mediocre worship, half-baked, half-hearted worship is not worship... it is blasphemy.  It is the worst form of taking God's name in vain.  It's saying, "Lord, Lord," when our hearts are far away.

What a difference it will make in our worship when we, start worshiping God, not as volunteers who can give what we please, but as men and women who have been called by God to draw near, take off our shoes, lift up our hearts, open our mouths, and offer God our very best.

2. And we have been called into a work.

"Come, I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."

"Fear not, from now on you will be catching men." And when they brought their boats to land they forsook everything and followed him.

This is not work for volunteers.  This is work for men and women who are called to fish living souls into the kingdom under the anointing of God's Spirit... and with the best quality work they can possibly give.  Not mediocre token efforts, but wholehearted prayers,

             wholehearted deeds of mercy,

 wholehearted testimony to the goodness of God in Jesus Christ.

God help us to quit being volunteers,

                    to take off our shoes and worship,

and go forth and be the ministers of his kingdom he has called us to be.