Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Jeremiah: Man of Courage

Jeremiah: Man of Courage

Text: Jeremiah 1:1-19
Key Verse: Be not afraid of their faces, for I am with thee to deliver the saith the Lord. 


                Joke:  Captain tells a Sargent that one of his men had a grandparent pass away.  "You need to go out there and tell him."  Sargent tells man "Smith, your grandfather died last night."  The captain overheard and told the Sargent, "You're to blunt.  You've got to be more subtle.  I'm sending you to sensitivity training classes."  2 weeks after the classes were over.  The captain again called the Sargent and told him, "Another one of your men lost his grandfather.  You've got to tell PFC. Rodriegez that his grandfather has died and don't forget what you learned in class.  The Sargent called the men together and had them line up.  "All right, all you men who have grandfathers still alive take one step forward.  Not so fast, Rodriquez!"  You know God is not very subtle either. When He deals with us it is often like a blow from a hammer. It was in just such a manner that He dealt with the prophet Jeremiah.

                The prophet Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet, truly he fit his name.  Jeremiah was called by God to a mission in which he could not succeed, a lifestyle that meant abuse and isolation and a career that meant pronouncing doom on his own nation. How could he stand the pressure and antagonism?  Because God had called Jeremiah and God still calls us to be men in the midst of Crisis.

I.  Call Jeremiah 1:4-8

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

A. God's commission and Jeremiah's omission.

1. God was very direct and up front about his calling of Jeremiah.
2. In vs 4-5 God explains His plan and purpose for Jeremiah. “I ordained thee a prophet.”
3.   In vs 6 though we hear Jeremiah’s pale excuses “I cannot speak, I am a child.”
4.  Then in vs 7-8 God’s power’s power is promised. ”Be not afraid of their faces for I am with thee.”


B Calling all Christians

1. God's plan and purpose
2. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
3 Our pale excuses, “I can't talk to people.  I'm too shy.  I don't know enough about the Bible.”
4. The Promised Power of God is in Christ
a) 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:  that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

5. It’s not about you, it’s about Him! When we get our eyes off our weaknesses and on the power of God through Jesus Christ we will fulfill the call that has been given to every single one of God’s children.

C.  Illustration:  Good Company

1.There are many reasons why you would think God doesn’t want you or can’t use you, but look around, you’re in good company! Moses stuttered. Hosea's wife was a prostitute. Amos' only training was in the school of tree pruning. Jacob was a liar. David was an adulterer. Solomon was too rich. Abraham was too old. Timothy had ulcers. Peter was afraid. Naomi was a widow. By his own confession, Paul was a murderer, as was Moses. Sarah laughed at God’s promise. Miriam was a gossip. Gideon and Thomas both doubted. Elijah was burned out and depressed. Samson was a womanizer and ran with the wrong crowd. Noah got drunk. And just in case you still think you have an excuse not to be used of God, remember Lazarus?  He was dead!

II. Courage Jeremiah 1:9-10 

Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.  See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.


A. God's promise is Jeremiah's power.

1 vs 9 It was God's word put into Jeremiah’s mouth.
2 vs 10 It was God's promise to Jeremiah that would give him courage.
3 It was God’s power that would be unleashed by the preaching of Jeremiah.


B Power in the Promises. 

1 Has God given us anything less than he has given Jeremiah?  Are we fighting a battle without the equipping of God? NO! Look at the arsenal of promises and the potential of power we are given.
2 We have been given God's promise of power.
a) Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
3 God's promises
a) 2 Tim. 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
b) Matthew 10:19-20 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 
4 Yet we must understand that the power we are promised is only unleashed in the proclaiming of the Gospel.
a) Matthew 16:18-19 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
b) 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
5 We must start taking God at his word. We must begin to believe that what God has promised is not just true in general terms but in the specifics of my life and my calling and the situation I am in right now.

C Illustration: Livingstone crosses the River. Lo! I Am With Thee

David Livingstone had spent sixteen years in Africa but had not faced such peril. The missionary was surrounded by hostile, angry natives in the heart of Africa. He was in danger of losing his life and was thinking of trying to sneak away to safety in the darkness of the that night. But something changed his mind and gave him peace and courage. He recorded it in his diary that January 14, 1856:
“Felt much turmoil of spirit in prospect of having all my plans for the welfare of this great region and this teeming population knocked on the head by savages tomorrow. But I read that Jesus said: “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” It is the word of a gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor, so there’s an end to it! I will not cross furtively tonight as I intended. Should such a man as I flee? Nay, verily, I shall take observations for latitude and longitude tonight, though they may be the last. I feel quite calm now, thank God!


D Transition: If we believe and act upon the promises of God then we will be prepared for what often comes next, the Calamities of life even in service to God.


III. Calamity  Jeremiah 1:11-19

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.  And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee,

A God's punishment and Jeremiah's patience

1 vs 11-13 The Coming Destruction
a) The Almond Rod; in the Hebrew there is a play on words; Almond Hebrew word shaaqed, (shaw-kade') and hasten shoqed, (shaw-kad') The almond rod representing God quickly coming punishment upon his people.
b) The Boiling Seething pot; Jeremiah saw a pot tipped with it's boiling, scalding hot contents poured; southward upon Judah, a picture of Babylon boiling into Judah and the violent madness of the Babylonian invaders.
2 Vs 17-19 The Command of God. Jeremiah is told to fulfill his calling, relying upon God for strength.
a) “Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces. I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.  And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee,”
3 The Courage of Jeremiah. Did these promises mean Jeremiah would have no difficulties? Well you tell me.
a) He was beaten, ridiculed, accused of being a traitor.
b) He was called before the king and his life’s work was cut to pieces in front of him and burned.
c) He was thrown into a well where he lived in mud up to his chin and only survived because God sent one of the King’s servants with bread which he would throw into the well.
d) Finally, at the end of his life when his prophecies were proven as true and he was recognized as a genuine prophet of God his final honor was to be kidnapped, taken to Egypt and there away from his people and land he died.
4 The what did the promises of God mean?
a) That Jeremiah would not be stopped.  That the message he carried would not be silenced and the work he was called to do would go on.
b) It has the same meaning to us today.


B Will You Answer the Call in the Power of His Promises?

a) We are commanded to warn of the coming punishment of God. God has said, “This world will end in terror and disaster unknown before.”
b) He has said, “People will die and people without the gospel will go to hell to suffer for all eternity.”
c) He has warned and we have seen, “Families will be destroyed without the foundation of God’s word.”
d) We can see the evidence of lives being ruined and souls that are lost unless people find Jesus Christ.
e) Who is supposed to do something about it? You are! You are called of God to forewarn the fallen, prevent the pain and to reclaim the wretched.
2 Jesus Christ’ Himself is our example of courage in the face of calamity.
a) When Jesus spoke at the synagogue in Nazareth He told of His own call.
b) Isaiah 61:1-4 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.  And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
3 In the midst of calamity, pain and suffering Christ is often the most clearly seen.
a) In the hospital room, who will your friends and neighbors see?
b) In times of pain and trial, who will your family and loved ones see?
c) In the loss of a loved one, who will they look to and find hope?
d) If you have answered the call as Jeremiah did then I believe by the power of God’s promises they will see Jesus.
4 Perhaps we should quit trying to hold on to prosperity and begin to pray for problems that God may be more clearly seen in all of our lives.


C Illustration: Praying For Trouble In Ethiopia          

The following prayer was prayed by an Ethiopian at Soddu, Walamo, Ethiopia: “Almighty God, from the depth of my heart I plead with thee to send us trouble. When our king was exiled we were in much trouble with the foreign [Italian] rulers. We had to meet in secret and were in constant danger of our lives. That was the time when we worked in harmony with our fellow Christians.
“Many a night after I had locked my door and gone to bed, tired from a day’s long journey of preaching and teaching, there came a persistent knocking. Lord, how I wanted to sleep, and surely but they wouldn’t want to be baptized at night and be hunted and chased and put in prison and beaten, but they said they had seen the Christian’s joy and they too wanted that religion. Every night there were more and more.
“We read Thy Word and talked about it and prayed through the nights. We shared our joy in the Lord. We worked side by side with only one desire, to preach and teach the Gospel. Then, Lord, our king came back. The foreign rulers were forced to leave our country...
“We have peace in our land. We baptize in the daytime. We are not beaten. We meet and pray, yes, but we are beginning to grow careless in our zeal for Thee. Jealousies creep in and spoil the harmony. Petty troubles take on in large meetings. We are selfish in our ambitions. Dear Lord, send us more trouble, I pray Thee, that we may forget ourselves and be so dependent on Thee that we have no time to become selfish and jealous of our fellow Christians. For Jesus’ sake. Amen. —Grace Robinson


IV Conclusion: 


A Called to Faithfulness

1 Even in the midst of failure and loss, God expects us to be faithful.  Success by the numbers is for the spiritually immature.  We are not called to have the look right, but the right life.  Success or failure by the world’s standard is meaningless to God.  He calls for faithfulness, service and courage. In the end nothing else matters, nothing.


B Livingstone Thinks It No Sacrifice

1 “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward of healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?
2 “Away with such a word, such a view, and such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.” —David Livingstone

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