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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Enabled for Great Things

5"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.  Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that's what I had in mind for you."   6But I said, "Hold it, Master God! Look at me.   I don't know anything. I'm only a boy!"  7-8God told me, "Don't say, 'I'm only a boy.'  I'll tell you where to go and you'll go there.  I'll tell you what to say and you'll say it.  Don't be afraid of a soul.  I'll be right there, looking after you."  God's Decree. 9-10God reached out, touched my mouth, and said, "Look! I've just put my words in your mouth—hand-delivered!  See what I've done? I've given you a job to do among nations and governments—a red-letter day!  Your job is to pull up and tear down, take apart and demolish, and then start over, building and planting."
(Jeremiah 1:5-10)

Jeremiah was called into his ministry as a prophet during a time when Judah, the Southern kingdom consisting of mainly two tribes is Israel (Judah and Benjamin) that remained loyal to David's offspring after Solomon's death.  The nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms at this time - the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom.  Those who made up Judah were loyal to the line of David - serving under a king from the line of David.  Josiah is king at the time he is called into his prophetic ministry.  Josiah is known as a "good king" because he called the nation back to worship of God and God alone - calling for the destruction of the idols that they had come to worship in the land.  Jeremiah did not have a great message to bring to the people of Judah - in fact, it was one of impending judgment if they did not fully repent of their idolatrous ways and return to their God.

Jerusalem was the capital city of Judah - the place of God's Temple and the center of the nation's worship.  During the ministry of Jeremiah, a heartless marauding Babylonian king by the name of Nebuchadnezzar would take Jerusalem and its inhabitants.  Jeremiah would undergo all kinds of torture, rejection and ill treatment during his ministry - beatings by his family, being placed into stocks by the priests, and then imprisonment by King Nebuchadnezzar.  If he had known all this would happen to him from the beginning of his ministry, I kind of doubt that he would have "signed up"!  

The fact of the matter is that the call of God is a difficult thing to avoid.  We may try to escape it, looking for all kinds of excuses for why we are not suited for the calling.  Jeremiah was no exception.  His first "excuse" for not being qualified to be a prophet to the nations was that he was "only a boy".  He wanted to show God how "disqualified" he was because he was untrained - really did not know whatever it was that prophets were supposed to know.  Alas, we see the response of God that age does not matter, schooling is really not significantly important, and the fact that when God calls, he enables.  

If there is a lesson for us in the life of Jeremiah it is just that - when God calls, he enables.  Jeremiah was called to pull up, tear down, take apart, demolish, and then start over with the rebuilding project of making a nation strong in its love and service to their God.  A pretty phenomenal task if you ask me!  My first inclination would be to ask God if he had the right person!  The nation was already torn into two - the pagan kings were rallying to take advantage of the divisions that had occurred.  Now God expected Jeremiah to rise up in his youth and prophesy about their sin, the need for repentance, and that if it did not happen, judgment would be swift!  Can you see why he did not feel he was qualified?

God's enabling is not something we realize at first.  It is often in the steps of obedience that we take that we begin to realize that the calling of God comes with the necessary enabling.  As we begin to dig into the Word, we find that he brings little tidbits of truth to the surface that help us to stand strong.  As we find ourselves stepping out into unfamiliar territory, he comes alongside to give us strength to face the fears head on.  The process of enabling is really the process of equipping.  What we need, we have at our disposal.  Even when we do not fully recognize it.

The next time we feel impressed by God to step out into unfamiliar territory, we will do well to remember that when God calls for our obedience, he also enables (equips) us for that very step of obedience he requires.  He places within us the exact words we will need.  He even brings us into the exact "audience" we need in order to accomplish what his purposes are for our life.  No encounter is ever accidental when we are walking in the calling of God.  We may not "feel" equipped at first, but when the need arises, we have all the moment requires.  This is what Jeremiah learned as he stepped out in faith to do what God required of him.  He had what he needed to face all the opposition, doubt, and lack of enthusiasm he would encounter.  Why?  Simply because God enables those whom he calls into service for him.

If you think that the "calling of God" does not apply to you - think again.  Each believer is called into service for the King of Kings.  Each believer is asked to step up, embrace the call of God on their lives, and to step out in faith to go where he directs, do what he requests, and touch those he brings across our path.  Remember this:  Those he calls, he equips.