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Week Three Study Overview: Today we will deal with Jeremiah’s response to God’s call, and talk about how we can claim the same promise God gave Jeremiah.
Key Point of Struggle: Oftentimes, we don’t feel confident responding to God’s call because we are insecure in our gifts.
Key Proof of Comfort: Even when we are afraid and everything seems to be falling apart, God says, “I am with you to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:8
Some historians claim Jeremiah could have been as young as fourteen years of age when God called him to his purpose as a prophet. We can’t be certain of his age, but we do know he was young. He tells us so in his own words. Let’s step back in time and spy on the conversation that started it all.
God: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! “Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Jeremiah 1:6
God: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…” Jeremiah 1: 7-8
I realize this conversation is hard for us to grasp, because chances are we aren’t going to find ourselves in an audible conversation with God. It’s not that God doesn’t speak to us, or that we can’t hear what He says, but it takes a lot more faith when our ears are left out of the equation leaving our hearts responsible to pick up the sound.
God spoke out loud to Jeremiah. This means Jeremiah actually heard the voice of the living God. Wow! You would think a person who has this type of encounter would do exactly as they were told without question, but not our Jeremiah. He needed time to process. You see, he had a lack of confidence and he used this moment to make sure God understood his age and abilities, or lack thereof, before responding to the call.
I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, but I have discerned His whisper in my heart. I know how it feels to walk into a task I wasn’t sure I had the power to accomplish. But, that’s just it; it’s never about my power. Separate from Jesus, I have none. It’s all in His power.
I want to look at the end of Jeremiah 1:8 for a moment. Notice these words voiced by God, “For I am with you to deliver you.” There is an unbelievable amount of power in those words. God told Jeremiah specifically why He would stay with him: to deliver him. He assured Jeremiah that He would be there, and then explained the purpose of his staying: to deliver him.
We talked last week about God designing us with intention. We looked closely at the word before in Jeremiah 1:5, and pointed out that God knew each of us before He formed us in the womb. He set us apart for specific purpose. This week, we learn that when He assigns purpose He makes a commitment to stay with us so that leaning on our own abilities is never an option. And, not only does He commit to staying with us, He commits to delivering us. He won’t give us a task and then standby doing nothing. He is always active. I know that sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but it’s true. In the midst of what seems like our greatest fears, storms, and darkest moments He is there in all His glorious strength ready to deliver us.
Next in the chapter, Jeremiah is given his assignment as prophet; it’s anything but easy:
“… See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down,
to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”
– Jeremiah 1:10
Father God is explaining to Jeremiah the sinfulness of a nation and the calamity coming upon Judah. He makes it clear that it’s Jeremiah’s job to warn the people with commands God will speak through him. The Lord even gives Jeremiah a “heads up” as to what the people’s response will be:
“They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.”
God speaks that phrase once again: “For I am with you to deliver you.” I’m absolutely sure it was because Jeremiah needed to know with all certainty that he wasn’t alone. God wanted to make clear his promise to Jeremiah, so he said it twice.
Listen, in what I do as I writer, equipping women to activate purpose through the power of scripture, I often feel alone, like nobody understands what it is I’m doing. Many years ago, the Lord began giving me the ability to discern situations. I carry people’s stories with me like baggage. They weigh heavy on my heart. Brokenness is on my mind as I write. I talk a lot about purpose because it took me forever to realize I had one that was worth something. Because of that, I feel a fire in my bones to help other women recognize they have worth, not because of anything they can accomplish on their own, but because of the power of Christ in their lives.
Friend, I know life isn’t easy and that Christianity, and the calling attached to it, probably hasn’t owned up to the definition of freedom you thought it might. We are free. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us we can unlock chains and live with brand new breath in our lungs, but the price is high. We will face suffering through a multitude of afflictions. We are not immune from the pain of this world. Why? …Because sin runs rampant inside this place from the Garden of Eden until now. But take heart, Jesus has overcome; this place is not our home!
Hope lives inside the voice of God. It lived there when Jeremiah was breathing the breath of this earth, and it still lives there today. When we can take the words God spoke to Jeremiah and cling to them, accepting those principles for ourselves, freedom begins to settle in. Truth sets us free.
Hold fast! God is with you to deliver you!
- Today in your journal, I want you to rewrite the same conversation we read above, between God and Jeremiah, inserting yourself inside it. Let’s break it down together and I’ll explain what I mean by showing you my examples.
- First, I’m going to add my name to the beginning of Jeremiah 1:5. I often do this when I’m studying, because it helps me to remember that God speaks most powerfully to me through His word. I’ll include the verse as it looks in the Bible and then include my own:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Here’s my example:
“Jennifer, before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…”
- For the end of the same verse, I’ve decided to list two gifts He’s given me as tools to accomplish my purpose according to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. I’ve chosen to list these particular gifts, because I have the most insecurity in these areas. (In case you missed the explanation of redefining purpose according to the Great Commission, click here, back to week one, for a recap.) Remember, God told Jeremiah, “I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Here’s what I wrote:
“I ordained you a writer and speaker.”
- For the second piece of the conversation, fill in whatever you fear, and your reason for that fear. Jeremiah told God he couldn’t speak because he was a youth: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth. ” I’m going to fill in the blanks and give you my own examples.
“Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot write/speak, for I am unsure of my gift and don’t always feel adequate to do what you’ve called me to do.”
- Lastly, let’s look at what the Lord responded to Jeremiah and then rewrite it filling in our own gifts one more time to hit the point home. Here’s a refresher on what God said, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…”
Here’s my example:
“Do not say, I cannot write/speak, for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall write/speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…”
- When you’re finished, go back and read your conversation out loud. I believe when we can insert ourselves into the words, a new understanding will form. We will recognize He has given us each purpose as well as unique gifts we need to help us accomplish that purpose.
Next week, we will discuss how we can be sure it is God who has called us to a particular task.
- If you would like to go deeper in study this week, I recommend reading and memorizing Philippians 1:6. It will help prepare you for next week’s study.
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