God calls me – Jeremiah 1:4-10

 

Evening service Summerstrand DRC 18:30 11 February 2018

The prophet Jeremiah wrestles in his book with his calling to proclaim destruction and judgment on the people of Judah and their leaders. His message is that the people forgot God and refused to acknowledge Him. They are so useless in the relationship with God as a worn belt for His body.

Therefore, the Lord is no longer pleased with them and has no mercy with them anymore. And even though it breaks Jeremiah’s heart, he proclaims their breaking, as if they were clay pots. The Lord will break the people and their city. The captivity in Babylon will be their punishment. The Lord will not spare them and let them be taken away by their enemies.

Ironically, however, the captivity is also their salvation. As part of Jeremiah’s call to build and settle, he described the captivated captives as a basket of good figs, and in a letter he proclaimed the Lord’s good mercy to them:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (29:11-12).

This is in a nutshell what Jeremiah’s calling involved. He was faithful and obedient to this. Ever since he was a young teenage son until his death as an old man in Egypt.

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Welcoming

The Insanity of God is the true story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken. After the death of their son, this ordinary couple journeys into the depths of the persecuted church, asking the question- IS JESUS WORTH IT?

How does faith survive, let alone flourish in the places of the world that are over­ come with the darkness of sin, despair and hopelessness? Join the Ripkens as they tell the story of being taught by believers in persecution”how to follow Jesus, how to love Jesus, and how to walk with Him day by day even when it doesn’t make sense.”

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Prayer and thanksoffering

Praise and worship

  • Here I am to worship
  • Bless the Lord oh my soul
  • From the day

Painting on the PowerPoint is from Horace VernetJeremiah on the ruins of Jerusalem (1844) .

Introduction

The prophet Jeremiah wrestles in his book with his calling to proclaim destruction and judgment on the people of Judah and their leaders. His message is that the people forgot God and refused to acknowledge Him. They are so useless in the relationship with God as a worn belt for His body.

Therefore, the Lord is no longer pleased with them and has no mercy with them anymore. And even though it breaks Jeremiah’s heart, he proclaims their breaking, as if they were clay pots. The Lord will break the people and their city. The captivity in Babylon will be their punishment. The Lord will not spare them and let them be taken away by their enemies.

Ironically, however, the captivity is also their salvation. As part of Jeremiah’s call to build and settle, he described the captivated captives as a basket of good figs, and in a letter he proclaimed the Lord’s good mercy to them:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (29:11-12).

This is in a nutshell what Jeremiah’s calling involved. He was faithful and obedient to this. Ever since he was a young teenage son until his death as an old man in Egypt.

Let’s read chapter 1:4-10

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (NIV)

Calling

I want to talk today about calling. And I want to use Jeremiah as a lens that you can think about your own calling as a child of the Lord. Because, I’m convinced that the growth in one’s spiritual life begins with your consciousness of calling.

I want to emphasize five things from the calling of Jeremiah. Then I will highlight a sixth aspect of our calling as a congregation.

1. Jeremiah describes his calling with the phrase: “ The WORD OF THE LORD came to me “. Although he does not expand on the exact nature of it, the rest of the chapter’s descriptions indicate an event that Jeremiah experienced with his senses. At least his ears, mouth, and his eyes were involved, as we deduce from his calling with words, and the contact and visions later described in this chapter.

Why this strikes me is that it actually describes the normal way in which the Lord works with us. By this I do not mean that we will always have extraordinary experiences like him, but that God is talking to us, especially from his Word. Each time we delve seriously into the Word of the Lord, when we take time to think about it, when we take it to heart, the Lord talks to us.

This is what happens when one is in a relationship with the Lord. You can rely on it. In fact, it seems as if the Word becomes like an open electrical wire to you. You just open it and start thinking about its message, and you hear the Word of God for your life.

2. The calling are portrayed as a conversation between God and Jeremiah, as was often the case with other experiences of Bible figures called by God. Abraham, (Gen. 12), Moses (Ex. 3), Samuel (1 Sam 3), Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Ezekiel (Ezek. 1), Jesus (Matthew 3), the disciples (Matthew 4), Paul (Acts 9) etc. In fact, this type of conversation defines their relationship with the Lord. Conversation with God stamps the way they walk with Him.

This is what it means to walk with the Lord. Everything begins with the voice that one hears best in the Bible. And in your obedience to it, the Lord speaks in various other ways and guides one to accomplish the calling you have.

God’s Word is alive and powerful. God’s Spirit testifies in our hearts to make the Word of the Lord alive for us. It’s no different to you. It is the inheritance of every child of God.

3. The calling is always SPECIFICALLY aimed at something the Lord wants to do or want to make happen through your life and through your testimony.

Look, we already know that a calling is not just something prophets and ministers receive. Everything we do, can Indeed be an experience of God’s calling as people and disciples. This applies to every child of God. And God calls and use people in normal occupations and situations.

However, you must still be careful to say that any work automatically is your calling. We can only speak of a calling when we know that the Word of God came to us and He started talking to us and began using us in specific ways and we started walking with Him and His calling for us. Not before.

This is what we are trying to do with the Discover Your Gifts course; that people discover the gifts that the Lord has given them so that they can also find out how the Lord wants to use them and then discover their “calling” if they are of course not already in a calling.   A gift is a special ability God gives you to serve in his kingdom in a special way. I would like once again to present the course. Some of the seniors have already done so, and we can do it over six evenings. Let me know if you are interested.

Thus, calling has a mandate from God; something that He calls you to and a task that He appoints you to. It is God who takes the initiative. And that’s something you know. Something that directs your life. Something you’re connected to. Something that just does not leave you, around which your whole life turns. You can be sure about that.

This we see with Jeremiah. God initially motivate him with four words for his calling :

I knew you, I formed you, I set you apart and I appointed you (given / chosen).

Notice that God knew him before the Lord created him … a profound perspective on life! God creates Jeremiah according to the image he has of him and fulfils this through his formation in the womb and beyond for the calling God has for him.

A life-changing thought to think about!

Interestingly, the same word “appoint ” (given / chosen) is used for describing Abraham’s calling in Genesis 18:19. Amos also uses it with reference to the election of Israel (Amos 3:2):

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.

Peterson translates it so beautifully:

Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him.” (The Message).

Back to Jeremiah.

4. Jeremiah’s response to this is to use his youth as an obstacle as an EXCUSE. It is something that happens a lot to us that we shirk back from the Lord’s calling. ” I’m just a boy,” says Jeremiah, a word used for both babies and smaller children as well as teenagers and young adults.   He was probably not even in its twenties yet. “I cannot speak well,” says Jeremiah, by which he probably meant that he did not have enough “power” to be able to speak, rather than he could not speak fluently.

However, the Lord is not affected by it and encourages him, even more, touches his mouth, the mouth he is concerned with. It legitimizes his words as God’s words.   God’s authority will stamp his words. It reminds us of the glowing coal of fire that touched Isaiah’s mouth when he complained about his unclean lips (Isa. 6:6).

5. God is therefore SERIOUS about his calling and does not let us go. It is the experience of everyone who receives a call from the Lord. God’s calling is unrepentant . You cannot ignore it. You cannot avoid it.

This we also see in Jeremiah. The Lord spells out the content of Jeremiah ‘s calling with six words and two visions (later in the chapter) . And that’s exactly what happened in his ministry.

  • He proclaimed the judgment as well as the blessing of the Lord. The judgement is expressed in four words : uproottear downdestroyoverthrow. The blessing (salvation, deliverance) is expressed in two words: build and plant. It is also about the ratio in which prophecies were delivered, twice as many prophecies of judgment than prophecies of hope.
  • And with the two visions God confirmed that He will act (almond tree) – God says literally he “stands guard” for his words, to do what He says – and that judgment will come from the north (boiling pot – of course, the armies of Assyria and Babylon really came from the east, but they always attacked from the north in order to avoid the road through the Jordanian desert east of Judah).

However, this calling is also connected to the promise that the Lord will keep Jeremiah standing upright, expressed with three metaphors: a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall . The Lord will be with him to save him and make sure he is not overwhelmed.

God is here. He calls each of us to a life with Him. He has a specific calling for each one of us. It often relates to our gifts and to our community. If you know what it is, then connect to it again. If you do not know what it is, ask that the Lord will show you.

Do it now in quiet prayer.

I want to put a sixth and last aspect of calling on the table.

6. It is a fact that we as a RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY also have a calling. We as a congregation are also involved in things that the Lord lays on our heart. Things like the missionaries that we support. Things like the mercy projects we are involved in. What we pray for. We are praying for rain at 17:30 on Wednesday. We would like everyone there so that we can stand united before the Lord and pray for an outcome for our country.

This calling is thus not just far away. It is also nearby. In the ways we serve the Lord together. In the ways we look after each other and encourage and comfort one another to walk in the way of the Lord. In this we are involved together on the basis of our vision: Listen and Live.

Prayer

Final Song

We are more than conquerors

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