January 20, 2011: Jeremiah 1 Devotional Sharing

Read Pastor Ed’s thoughts about todays devotional here: “They will fight against you

Submitted by Hannah Yang, Gracepoint Riverside

Reflect on Jeremiah’s answer to the Lord’s call upon his life (v. 6).  What is the essence of God’s answer to Jeremiah (and the disciples) regarding their adequacy for the task? How firmly have I accepted God’s call upon my life, and how clearly have I set aside notions of my inadequacy and embraced God’s provision for the mission he has given me?

As I reflect on Jeremiah’s answer to God’s call in his life, I see how initially he feels insecure and inadequate for what God is calling him to.  He thinks about the practicalities, the fact that he is being called to be a prophet, and the first thing he thinks about is his own abilities… I cant speak, I am only a child.  He looked at himself and saw that there is nothing there that makes him even remotely close to a prophet.  Maybe he had a preconceived notion of what it takes to be a prophet, that they need to know what to say at the right time, that they need to have presence and authority over people, that they need to be respected among the people and he looked at himself and thought he wasn’t cut out for that.   But to God, none of that matted because in his answer to jeremiah, we can see that God doesn’t even consider his qualification because HE is the one who will do everything.  In vv 7-8, its all about God, not Jeremiah.  He says, go to everyone I send you, and say what I command you, don’t be afraid being I am with you, and I will rescue you.  Jeremiah and his abilities are not even spoken of.  All he needed to do is just be willing and obey.

As I reflected on this, I realized how true this is.  When I are inward focused and just looking at myself and my inadequacies, the result is fear, because I know that I can not do this on my own.  I know that I don’t have what it takes and I start to make excuses because I don’t want to fail and fall flat on my face.  As a sister, and ministering to different sisters thoughout the years, this is such a common attitude that Ive experienced.  There is so much inaction and missed opportunities because I am paralyzed by my insecurities and I refuse to trust in God and trust that He is the one who will give me the words to speak, the courage, the power that I need to carry out His work.  But once I trust in these promises that God is with me and He is the one that will do everything, and that its not about me, then all that fear disappears and I am able attempt new things.  And in my experience, as I attempted these things for God trusting that He is with me, I experienced my confidence in Him being bolstered and my faith in Him increasing.

I was thinking about two sisters who are dear to me this morning.  Its funny because in the past, they used to be among the most insecure people I knew.  They had that mentality of “I do not know how to speak, I am only a child mentality”.  But over the years, I have seen them trusting in God and obeying Him and taking steps of faith and trust in His promise that He will be with them.  And now I see how they are leading people and being prophets in the lives of younger ones and increasing in their confidence because of the Gospel.  I thought about my own life and how I have become less fearful because I focus less on myself and more on God’s power.  Through scary steps of faith, even moving here to Riverside I see how it really isn’t about me.  Even though I felt so inadequate, coming from a really shameful past, not having anything in common with these students, feeling like our team is so small compared to this campus, and wondering what can we really do.  But God has indeed been with us as we experience Him working in the hearts of the students here and now we have over 60 people taking Course 101 and wanting to learn more about the Gospel.  Its so true that its not about me or my abilities but its about God and His zeal and what HE wants to do on this campus.  As I continue doing God’s work, I really want to commit to setting aside any notion of myself and anticipating what God can do through me in the coming year as I trust in His promise… “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  God is indeed the great and awesome God because he chooses to use broken vessels like me to carry to work out His will on earth.  That is really encouraging to me and gives me a sense of greater courage in answering the call that God gives me!

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Submitted by Will Sam, Gracepoint Berkeley

Jeremiah 1:4-10, 18-19
Consider the scale of God’s call upon Jeremiah—“appoint you as a prophet to the nations” (v. 5) and “I appoint you over nations and kingdoms” (v. 10)—and how Jeremiah must have felt about it.  Consider the parallels between this and Jesus’ great commission to the disciples.

What do these two passages reveal about God’s way of working out his will on the earth?
These two passages reveal that God’s way of working out his will on the earth is going to be done through individual people making individual decisions to obey.  When Jeremiah was called by God, he could only feel the tremendous weight upon his shoulders as he was called to be a prophet to the nations.  Jeremiah, a mere man, was called to be a prophet to the nations and the kingdoms, and he was called to prophesy to them what God had commanded him to prophesy, and quite frankly, the message he was going to have to prophesy would be a message of judgment and coming doom for those who refused to repent.  This would not have been an easy message, especially given the fact that he was one mere man.

In Matthew 28, we see that God’s salvation plan is revealed, and it will be accomplished through the lives of the disciples.  Jesus taught His disciples to go out into the nations.  The disciples were instructed to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey.  This message and this instruction has gone all the way down to me.  And as the Gospel spreads, each individual Christian plays out God’s will on the earth by heeding this call – to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.

God’s way of working out his will on the earth, then, is done through individual, specific people.  And as people heed the call; as people make the choice to obey, God’s will is advanced.

Reflect on Jeremiah’s answer to the Lord’s call upon his life (v. 6).  What is the essence of God’s answer to Jeremiah (and the disciples) regarding their adequacy for the task?
What’s really interesting about God’s answer to Jeremiah and Jesus’ command to the disciples is what God doesn’t say.  Jeremiah complains to the Lord by saying that he is too young and that he does not know how to speak.  The disciples, upon hearing Jesus’ command to go out into all the nations, must have felt so small in light of how big Israel was, not to mention the countries nearby, not to mention the whole wide world.  God’s answer is NOT to say – don’t worry, you will be fine because you truly are special, you are gifted and you are capable.  As if to reinforce Jeremiah’s fears, God even tells him, they won’t listen to you and they will fight against you.
Having said that, God’s promise is very clear – He will be with them.  God tells Jeremiah, “I am with you and will rescue you;” God tells the disciples – “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  This is God’s promise and this is the essence of his answer to Jeremiah’s and the disciples’ qualm about their inadequacy.  God is almost seemingly saying – Yes, I know, you are likely not adequate for this task, but that’s not the point.  The point is that I am going with you.  Since I am with you, be of good cheer and have faith because I will go ahead and I’ll be the One at work.
How firmly have I accepted God’s call upon my life, and how clearly have I set aside notions of my inadequacy and embraced God’s provision for the mission he has given me?
As I’ve had the privilege to engage in College ministry for the past 4-5 years, as our church has expanded, grown, planted churches, etc., I have really come to see that I am indeed called to be a prophet to this generation.  I would like to say, as well, that I am clearly aware that my own notions of inadequacy have been wiped away clean and God’s provision is all that I rely on daily.  This would not be true, however, as I’m very often plagued by the sense that is not quite inadequacy per se, but pride in a different form.
For me, I often struggle with that sense of “man, I’ve got something to really give to the Lord, He’s probably happy I’m on His team now!”  Now while this is obviously a very extreme form of the feeling, it is actually rather accurate in terms of how I will sometimes feel about myself and my ability to live out God’s mission in my life.  Just like inadequacy, however, this pride ultimately pushes me off the path of living out God’s will because I really don’t have enough strength to fulfill the mission simply based on personal willpower and zeal.  After ministry failures, personal character flaws that keep coming back up, and situations that arise to show me who I really am and what I’m really made of, I fall back into the reality that this Christian life is only possible if I embrace God’s provision.

Note what God tells Jeremiah in v. 5 in light of Jeremiah’s sense of inadequacy for the task God is calling him to.  Do I have a sense that God has known me all my life, and that he has been directing and guiding me long before I became aware of his specific call upon my life?
One thing I often fail to reflect on deeper is the fact that God really has known me all of my life.  I made my decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 21 years old.  God’s place in my life, however, was not absent in those 21 years prior to my decision.  In fact, over the years, I have felt God really reminding me of the many different people, events, things that happened in my life throughout the past that have been glimpses of God.

For me personally, my Mom and Dad both were baptized as believers shortly after I was born.  I grew up in the church until I was around 5 years old.  I actually still remember some of those Sunday School classes.  I remember not liking them, of course, but you know, I can still recall watching a cartoon of Saul’s conversion on the Road to Damascus.  I don’t know why this visual memory is there, but I do recall feeling warmly cared for by my Sunday School teachers.  I remember other instances throughout my life when I would pop my head back into church – whether for Service, or through a friend’s invitation to a Youth event, or some Christian concert I somehow got invited to; or even in my freshman year when a friend of mine invited me to Gracepoint Sunday Service, where I met some of the older leaders at our church.  God wasn’t present, but He certainly wasn’t far.  I even recall how I was so saddened by my dog’s sudden death in the fifth grade that I made some strange commitment to pray every night before sleeping (maybe it was for my Dog).  My prayers were probably theologically all messed up, but that constant line of communication between myself and God, I think God honored that.

So when I plunged headfirst into moral and spiritual depravity in college, it was to the Christian church that I first turned.  My journey with the Lord, then, wasn’t some “here I am, ready to invite you into my life for the first time” kind of event; rather, it was more along the lines of “well God, I’ve certainly lived long enough away from Your Holy presence and I’ve tasted what that was like.  Lord please forgive me and bring me back to You.”  It was like some long journey BACK to God if nothing else.

Think about the people and groups arrayed against Jeremiah, all of whom would oppose his message, disagree with his words, dismiss his warnings (vv. 17-19).  What does this tell me about the position and relational situation I must be willing to face as I obey God?
As I obey God, I must be willing to be that fortified city, iron pillar and bronze wall.  The biggest problem is that the attacks and opposition come from all angles.  It comes from the Non-Christian who disdains the Christian call to objective truth, the claim that there is but one God, and His Son, Jesus Christ in whom all salvation is found.  It comes from other Christians who aren’t heeding the call of discipleship and cross-bearing as seriously – the battle to define what a “normal Christian life” is, the incessant need or desire to call anything outside of their understanding of following God “radical” in order to paint the picture in the extreme and to draw things back to their understanding of normal.

The battle is clearly going to be relationally difficult because we are, in the end, called to obey God.  And as I attempt to do so, I won’t be given that clear and easy path.  I therefore need to make sure that my relationship with God’s Word is always fresh.  The incessant desires of the heart and the rest of culture and society is to settle down, to not live in the extreme, to not be too into anything.  The call to discipleship, however, is a call to live out our Christian faith with conviction and zeal.

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