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Love is Life

Sermons

God is Calling to Each One of Us

September 29, 2002

Bible Reading

The administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: "O King Darius, live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered--in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." So King Darius put the decree in writing.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?"

The king answered, "The decree stands--in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed."

Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, nor to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day." When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, "Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians, no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed."

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve faithfully, rescue you!"

A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed.

Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve faithfully, been able to rescue you from the lions?"

Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king."

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. (Daniel 6:6-23)

Reading from Swedenborg

"Blessed are those who are called to the Lamb's wedding supper" (Revelation 19:9) means that people who accept the things that relate to the new church have eternal life. People who have eternal life are called "blessed." . . . "Those called" means those who accept. For all people are called; but those who do not accept these things reject the call. (Apocalypse Revealed #816.3)

Glorifying God means bringing forth the fruits of love--that is, faithfully, honestly, and painstakingly doing the work required by our calling. This is a part of loving God and loving the neighbor; it is the bond that holds a community together, and it is the good it does. By this God is glorified, as well as by worship at prescribed times. This is according to the Lord's words, "In this is my Father glorified: that you bring forth much fruit, and become my disciples" (John 15:8). (True Christian Religion #738)

Sermon

When we think about the experience of being called by God, we usually think that it is about ministers or priests--which are roles connected the Divine--or about other special, designated roles. When we hear the expression "God's calling," we assume that it is far from what we do--far from our role in daily life. We might ask, "What does this mean, 'God is calling to each one of us'? God's calling?" We might ask ourselves, "Am I part of God's calling? Do I have the experience of being called by God?"

Do we think that God's calling to each one of us would be like hearing thunder or seeing a flash of lightning? Do we think that God's calling to each one of us would be limited to the big things in our lives? It can come with a big sound; it can come to us with bright colors. But it can also be in small things. God's calling to each one of us is related to even our small concerns. Jesus said:

You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:14-16)

In our daily life, with our occupied mind and heart, we easily miss the voice of God. We block our heart from listening to God's voice and we do not accept the calling because of our discomfort at following the calling. We say to God, "I don't hear you. I don't know what you are talking about. I have my own life, God. I am just a little human being." At this moment we can listen to God's message: "You did not choose me, but I chose you." We can hear a message of comfort. "I chose you" means that we do not do God's work with only our own responsibility, and we do not do it by ourselves. We are helpers in whatever God wills. God chose each one of us, and asks us to cooperate in God's work. We are part of God's work. When we follow God's message, there is God's presence with us, and God's help through angels.

God's calling and God's work cannot be measured by the world's measure. And our following God's calling and our doing God's will--which is the meaning of "Thy will be done"--cannot be measured by the measure of the world. It is not measured by how much we achieve. God's calling is not about success or failure. Sometimes God's calling is about the invisible things.

Then what is God's calling to each one of us? I thought about what we learn from Swedenborg's writings. Part of Swedenborg's message is about our regeneration. Being regenerated would be God's calling to each one us. It doesn't matter who we are. It is better to do things for the welfare of our spirits, and to nurture our spirits. Developing our intentions according to what we learn from the truth, and improving our behaviors to be in harmony with our good intentions, can be one of the messages. We believe in eternal life. We live eternally--or more correctly, our spirits live eternally. Our spirits learn things eternally. This means that it would only be an excuse to say that we cannot improve ourselves because we are so used to who we are.

Even though we may want to avoid being constantly regenerated in this world, the process of being regenerated will continue in the other world. Our growth will not stop at a certain point. Maybe physically our body does not grow after a certain age. But spiritually, our real life--which is our spirit and our love--does not stop growing at a certain age. As long as we are willing to grow and willing to open internally, we will grow forever.

We will not always be happy to hear God's calling. Sometimes it will be painful. Sometimes it will be a real challenge. Sometimes it will be uncomfortable to hear what God wants to say us. Sometimes we will see ourselves in God's message just as we see ourselves in the mirror. And sometimes our spirits will rejoice to hear God's calling. Sometimes we will be peaceful in hearing God's message to us. Sometimes we will respond to God's call positively.

The experience of God's calling is precious to everyone. God ordains us in various ways and for various callings. And the call doesn't always come all at once. Often it comes slowly, developmentally, over time. And sometimes the call comes in everyday, unexpected ways. God calls us to bear fruit for the realm of God. It is not a call to success, but rather a call to faithfulness.

When we talk about being faithful to God's calling, we cannot overlook Daniel's story. Daniel distinguished himself above all the governors. After the king planned to appoint Daniel over the whole kingdom, the other governors tried to find grounds for complaint against Daniel. But they could find no grounds for complaint, or any corruption, because Daniel was faithful. Then they tried to find grounds for complaint against Daniel in his faithfulness to God.

They conspired together and came to the king. They asked him to establish the order and sign a document decreeing that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days except to the king shall be thrown into a den of lions.

Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. Because of the conspirators, Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den.

At break of day the king came near the den where Daniel was, and he cried out anxiously to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve faithfully, been able to rescue you from the lions?"

Daniel said to the king, "My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me."

So many times, our human tendency to want to be worshiped and praised tries to rule our spirits. It tries to build up a strongly self-centered mind to ruin the sacred place for God's presence inside of us. It tries to destroy our positive attitude toward God's calling and God's message. It tries to rule our faithfulness in living according to God's calling. We face the danger that the reigning falsity tries to devour our faithfulness to God, just as Daniel was in the den of the lions. But God sends angels to us to deliver our love to God--just as God sent an angel to shut the lions' mouths.

When we feel that we are not strong enough to follow God's calling, let's try to feel God's presence through the help of the angels. Let's take time to understand God's calling to each one of us through contemplation in our everyday life. Let's open our heart and mind to recognize God's calling, which is renewed day by day. Let's accept God's calling positively, and respond to God's calling to each one of us with our heart. Let's remember God's presence in us and with us through the angels.

Prayer

O God, we hear your calling to us. And we want to close our ears, close our hearts, because your calling requires us to change, to grow, to move forward. Open our hearts and minds to listen and follow your message. Open our whole being to your sacred presence. Keep our soul facing toward you in prayer and receptivity, and deliver us in all our struggles on the path toward you. Amen.

Rev. Min-Heui Cheon