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Series: Vintage Faith
This Week: Jeremiah, The Poster Boy for Perseverance
Last weekend we learned about Isaiah: a noble, aristocratic, influential man who had a game changing experience which lead him to become a prophet of God. It seemed Isaiah had the “Midas touch” with the people of Jerusalem. But 100 years later the same nation that Isaiah ever so eloquently turned back to God caught a case of amnesia and turned away from God. This time, God called on Jeremiah to rally the troops. The problem was everyone viewed Jeremiah as “chopped liver” – he just couldn’t seem to catch a break. When Jeremiah spoke, no one listened. His audiences were usually antagonistic or apathetic to his messages. He was ignored and his life was often threatened. Jeremiah was a loner.
With the exception of the good King Josiah, Jeremiah watched king after king ignore his warnings and lead the people away from God. He saw fellow prophets murdered. Severely persecuted himself, Jeremiah often had ‘the tar beaten out of him’.
Get this — Jeremiah served as God’s spokesman for 40 years. Did you get that? 40 years! How did Jeremiah respond? Reading through the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, we are given a detailed accounting of his struggles with agony, sorrow, grief, tears, and complaints. Jeremiah often wondered what was up, why God chose him. Like others before and after him, Jeremiah questioned God’s call on his life: “O Sovereign Lord, I can‟t speak for you! I‟m too young!” (Jeremiah 1:6). By the world’s standards, Jeremiah wasn’t your typical success story. He wasn’t basking in wealth or enjoying the luxuries of life; but, in God’s eyes, Jeremiah was one of the most successful people in all of history.
So, this begs the questions: Why do seemingly innocent people suffer? Why do some people get the tough assignments, while others seem to ‘skate’? What’s the formula God uses to pick the people to do His will? The truth is that we can’t really know the answers to some of these questions. What we do know is that God does not guarantee our earthly security or worldly success in this life. We also know that success, as measured by God, involves obedience and faithfulness.
Regardless of opposition and personal cost, Jeremiah courageously and faithfully proclaimed the Word of God. He was obedient to God’s calling and had faith that God’s will would be accomplished. With his incredible staying power and endurance, Jeremiah really is the poster child for perseverance. Can you relate to Jeremiah, or do you struggle, like many people, to find the long-term commitment, passion, and willingness that are vital to sticking with a task against all odds?
This week’s study is meant to challenge us to tap into the task that God has given us. We may not understand why we are chosen to go through something but we’ll learn that even through our weeping and complaints, our “why me” questions of frustration, discouragement and intense agony, God can help us persevere!
THIS WEEK WE’LL STUDY JEREMIAH—LEARNING ALL WE CAN FROM THE ‘WEEPING & COMPLAINING, BUT PERSEVERING PROPHET’.
Monday — Use ME? …but, I am NOTHING!
Big Point: Like Jeremiah, many of us lack the self-confidence to trust that God can use us. Fortunately, we can overcome this the moment we allow our God to define our worth!
Have you ever received a compliment from someone and said to yourself… “yeah right!”? You wouldn’t think it would be hard to receive a compliment, but something about the process seems to escape a lot of people. Instead of graceful acceptance, sometimes recipients of compliments will revert to a negative rebuttal to whatever nice thing was said. Maybe you feel that the compliment was not accurate, or was exaggerated, and that you, therefore, don’t deserve the recognition. (“Oh, I didn’t really do that much…”). Maybe you don’t feel comfortable calling attention to yourself. (“Oh, this old thing? I just threw it on this morning, it’s not that great…”). Do you ever think “God could never use ME”? I am not charismatic enough, outgoing enough, attractive enough, or good enough. If that is you, you are in good company with Jeremiah. Jeremiah constantly doubted himself and his ability to do what God wanted him to do.
You’ve probably heard people say that surely you have to have selfconfidence to be successful in life or to be used by God, right? Well, God can use you right where you are. You, with all your doubts and questions. The key is allowing God to define our worth so that we can have confidence in Christ.
READ…What does the Bible say?
Jeremiah 1:4-8 (New Living Translation)
The Lord gave me this message: 5“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7The Lord replied, “Don’t say,’I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Philippians 4:12-13 (New Living Translation)
12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
THINK…Find the answers.
According to Jeremiah 1:5, when did God first know us?
Philippians 4:12-13 tells us we can do all things through Christ. What does he give us in order to fulfill this promise?
LIVE…What will you do now?
God created us to be capable of doing many things. It’s likely that our biggest issue falls with our thinking that, on our own, we can’t do what He’s asked us to do. That’s actually a good thing—since we can only do things through Him! However, this requires that we both believe the worth He redeemed for us, and remain content in His will. In what areas are you struggling to overcome doubts about your worth in Christ Jesus?
What does God say about us? Circle all that apply:
- I am not worth it.
- He knows how many hairs are on our heads.
- I am not good enough to be used by God.
- God knows our thoughts before we have them.
How can God‘s truths about us help to erase our self doubt?
PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you overcome any doubts you may have about who you are in Him. Ask Him to give you the confidence to walk on the path He has set before you, and to do it boldly and confidently in Him.
Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Jeremiah 22-26
Ch 22: God never casts anyone off until they first reject Him. When men revolt from God and trample their covenants with Him, He gives them up to destruction, and who can contend with the destroyers He has prepared? vv28,30: Coniah was of David’s line through Solomon, and the throne rights were cut off with Coniah. Joseph, the husband of Mary, was of this line. Had Jesus been born in the natural way, He would’ve had no title to the Davidic throne. However, Mary was of David’s line through Nathan, David’s firstborn, and Jesus being conceived of the Holy Ghost, still holds the royal title to the throne.
Ch 23: Future restoration and conversion of Israel. Message against the faithless shepherds—those commanded to feed God’s people and who pretend to do it, but instead drag them from God—speaking from the product of their own invention, and slighting the authority of His Word. God disowns all prophets who soothe people in their sins. vv5-6: Jesus, spoken of as the branch from David, will rule over and be righteousness (Mediator) for God’s people in the future.
Ch 24: Sign of the figs. Judah’s restoration, but not those of the second deportation. The same providence which to some is ‘a savior of death unto death’ may, by God’s grace, be made ‘a savior of life unto life’. God knows all who are His, and will protect and deliver them whatever may come.
Ch 25: No one would ever receive God’s ‘desolating punishments’ if they didn’t provoke Him with the evil of persistent sin. That which provokes God will be the ruin of man, for the day of His fierce wrath is coming upon all the earth. (vv29- 33): This prophecy leaps to the end of the age, the day when Christ will return to execute God’s wrath (Rev 6-19).
Ch 26: God’s ambassadors must obey His direction and instruction, not compromising to please others or to save themselves. If obedient, they’ll be under His protection; and any attacks they receive will be resented by God Himself.