JEREMIAH (who wasn’t a bullfrog!)

Hoyt Axton was a songwriter and wanted to persuade his record producers to record a new melody that kept playing in his head.  The tune was absent of any lyrics but the producers asked him to sing any words to the song.  A member of Three Dog Night said the original lyrics of the song were “Jeremiah was a prophet,” but no one like it.  “Just make up anything.”  And they did!  [Wikipedia – Joy to the World (Three Dog Night song)]

In this Bible Study, I would like to introduce (or reintroduce) you to Jeremiah the Prophet and God’s plan for his life and yours as well.  The words you will read weren’t just ‘made up’.

GOD’S CALLING!

Jesus really does know who we are!

Scripture:  Jeremiah 1:4-10

We read in the story of a man named Jeremiah and how God shares with him how intimately He knows him.

JEREMIAH was a prophet in Israel.  A PROPHET was one who would foretell future events; he was one who would receive a specific message from God to speak to the people; all to do this by the power of God.  A person never decides one day they’re going to be a prophet because somebody said they should be.  You have to have a calling from God to do this.  And it’s actually during Jeremiah’s calling that he discovers something amazing about God.  He discovered that God really knew who he was!

Living In An Impersonal World

When you stop and think about it, when you shop, get your groceries, do your banking, go to school and do your work all in front of a computer screen without ever having to speak to another person…that’s an impersonal world we’re living in.

Living in such an isolated environment makes it difficult to imagine that there’s a God who truly knows who we are; who knows us on an intimate level.  A God who knows you better than any spouse can know you, better than any parent can know you.  God really knows everything there is to know about you.  The God of the Universe knows everything, and I mean everything–“Oh, oh!”– about us!

Our Scripture passage points out some things concerning you and your relationship with God.

Before You Were Born God Knew You (vs. 5).

That’s truly an amazing statement and a true one.  God knew you before you were born.  I remember how excited my wife and I were before each of our three children were born.  We couldn’t wait to see what they looked like, to see who they were.  For nine months they are inside that belly and you are excited about them coming out to meet you for the first time in the recovery room and you introduce yourself to your new child.  We couldn’t wait to see what they would be like.  [*Note:  I might be dating myself but when my kids were born the dads-to-be weren’t allowed in the delivery room.]

But the Bible says that before we were born, God knew us!

The word “know” carries with it the sense of relationship and approval.  In other words, God had a STAMP OF APPROVAL on Jeremiah’s life.  It means that God specifically knew Jeremiah and what he would become.

Obviously, God was speaking to Jeremiah here so you may think that God knew Jeremiah before he was born, but there’s no way that He would know you, the average Joe.  However, God tells us over and over again in His word that He made us and formed us.

There’s no arguing with this Scripture.  He specifically says that God knit me together in my mother’s womb.

David goes on to say, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance.”

You can’t argue the FACT that God knew you before you were born.

Another Scripture puts it quite clear for us as well.

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

For we are God’s [own] handiwork  (His workmanship),  recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works, which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

WE WERE CREATED TO DO GOOD WORKS…and the Bible says that God has prepared us in advance to do those works!  God didn’t just KNOW Jeremiah but He knew each and every one of us before we ever took our first breath on our own.

You might be thinking about why it’s such a big deal that God knows us.

THE BIG DEAL is, if God knows you, that means He knows what you’re going through in life.  If God knows us, that means we’re not alone, you haven’t been forgotten.  God knows the struggles that you are facing.  God knows the temptations that you come up against.  God knows your family situation and He has promised us He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Before we accept Jesus as our Savior, there’s a God that knows who you are…knows what you have need of and wants to meet those needs.  God sees the life that you have come out of, but He also sees the life that you’re going into.

Being Set Apart Should Bring Us Confidence (Jeremiah 1:5)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  [NIV]

God set Jeremiah apart, meaning that God had a specific purpose in mind for Jeremiah before he was even born.  In Jeremiah’s case, his designed purpose was to be a PROPHET.  He was commissioned by God to spread a message of judgment to the people of Israel.  Not exactly what you would call a fun message to preach.  It was if God was telling Jeremiah, “I know you have got a tough message to deliver, but let me tell you something.  I know you!  I am not going to leave you alone,  I am going to be by your side every step of the way as you deliver my message.”

Each person reading this should know that you were created for a specific reason.  Each person was created on purpose for a purpose!  Knowing this indicates to us that no one on the face of the Earth who is a mistake.

NO ONE accidentally came into this world.

Some parents may not have expected you, but NO ONE was an accident because God had you in mind before you were born.

Not only did He had you in mind, but He also had a purpose in mind for you when you came into the world.

We need to hear that message more often.  We hear too much that we are no good; we hear that we were a mistake; we hear that we have no purpose in life, but that’s not what God says.  God made it very clear in Jeremiah’s life that he was here for a purpose.  He even said in Jeremiah 29:11,  “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you,” says the LORD, thoughts, and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome”  [AMP].

God’s PLAN versus Our PLANS

God wants to encourage us and let us know that He has plans for your life.  He doesn’t want you to throw in the towel.  He doesn’t want you to give up and not serve Him any longer.  He wants you to know today that He has plans to prosper you, not harm you.  God wants to be a part of your life.  He knows you and He has set you apart for His purposes.  So many times we don’t realize that God has a plan for our lives so we try to fill up our lives with our own plans, which in turn leaves us empty–that we’ve failed somehow.

“An African Plant May Help Fight Fat”

I read a story this week on the CBS website about an African plant called “Hoodia” that looks like a cactus that grows wild in the desert.  The plant is apparently getting a lot of attention these days because it seems to be a good food suppressant.  Scientists have discovered when you eat small amounts of the plant, it leaves you with a sense of being full when in fact you’re not.

Some of us are filling up our lives with things that we think are making us full and satisfied.  We’re filling our lives up with work and material things; things that physically make us feel good.  It may make us feel good and full for a time, but as time goes on we’re going to discover those things don’t actually make us full; they don’t actually give us a well-balanced and full life.

JESUS CAME TO FILL US UP!

Jesus said in John 10:10 (AMP)

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

The word “abundant” is in reference to being overfilled.  There’s no way a person can have an ABUNDANT LIFE if they feel as though there’s no real purpose or meaning in their life.  They will never feel “stuffed” until they know their purpose.

God told Jeremiah that He had set him apart.  The phrase, “set you apart,” means to separate [sanctified in the New Testament]. In other words, God separated Jeremiah from the rest of creation for a special task.  That was Jeremiah’s calling to perform a special task.

Before You Were Born, God Appointed You (Jeremiah 1:5)

According to Webster’s the word “appoint” means:  “to assign officially; equip or furnish.”

We could read this Bible verse like this:  “I ASSIGNED you as a prophet to the nations (people).”  “I will equip or furnish you to be a prophet to the nations.”

God didn’t really give Jeremiah a say in the matter.  God appointed him to be a prophet before he was even born.  He equipped him to be a prophet before he was born.

Wait a minute here,” you might be saying.  “Don’t I have a choice?  I’ve got my rights!  I have some decisions I want to make on my own in what I do or don’t do.”

That kind of thinking is backward.  The Bible is very clear that we were created for God to do with as He chooses.

Jeremiah 18:6 says:

Think about the above Bible verse for a moment.  Does a ceramic bowl get that way because it chose to be a bowl?  Of course not!  It became a bowl because that’s what the potter wanted it to be.

“What if I don’t want to become what God wants me to be?”

You have that choice. 

He will never make you do something that you don’t want to do.  You don’t have to conform.  If a potter gets a piece of clay that doesn’t conform to the image that he wants it to, the clay becomes useless in his hands.  The problem is that the clay will miss out on being a productive vessel.  I think this is one of the reasons why so many people are misled in life; why so many people feel a void in their lives.  It’s because they are not doing what they were created to do.  The end result of that is always frustration.

Before you were born, God appointed you to a certain task.  Now the question is, are you willing to fulfill the calling that He has on your life?

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CREDITS:

“Jeremiah was a bullfrog” – Wikipedia

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); Bible verses found in photo images are various translations.

HELP WANTED! “Farm-Hands for The Harvest”

It’s Pickin Ready

NOW AFTER this the Lord chose and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two into every town and place…”

“And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farm hands are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”  (Luke 10:1, 2–Amplified Bible).

I was but a new Christian in 1974; 32 years old and on fire about sharing my faith with the lost.  One day after church, I approached the Associate Pastor, who was the pastor of Evangelism and Visitation.  I wanted him to know that I felt a calling to spread the Gospel, door to door, in the neighborhood surrounding the church.  I even quoted from my Bible the passage in Luke 10:2.

Pastor Sid thought it was a good idea and he would help in any way that I needed his help.  He would also place the notice in the church bulletin and announce the timing for the event from the pulpit.

I thought a Saturday morning at 10:30 would be a good time to knock on doors, with a strategy and prayer before we would leave the church.  No one but Pastor Sid showed up that morning.  We both tried again the following Saturday with the same results!  I was so discouraged.  Was I the only one in the entire church who had “the calling”? Was this whole idea just one that I made up in my mind or was it really from God?

THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL

In the agrarian or farming economy of Palestine, the harvest was an ever-present reality.  The idea of the harvest was used not only for bringing men and women to faith in Christ but also for a final gathering of God’s people at the end of the age (Matt. 13:19 and Rev. 14:15).  But here in Luke 10, Jesus has in mind an immediate harvest; a right now kind of harvest!

So often, we look at people with natural eyes, where Jesus looks at their spiritual readiness.  He sees the people of Judea as if they are a huge harvest, nearly ripe, ready for the pickin’.

Fields are typically planted so the whole field becomes ripe about the same time.  Seldom would you go into a field or orchard for selective picking.  Rather, when the whole field is ripe, you bring in the harvesters and reap the whole field at one time.

A HARVEST EVEN IN SAMARIA

While the disciples might hate the Samaritans, Jesus sees a harvest among them:

“Do you not say, It is still four months until harvest time comes?  Look! I tell you raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting.    Already the reaper is getting his wages [he who does the cutting now has his reward], for he is gathering fruit (crop) unto life eternal, so that he who does the planting and he who does the reaping may rejoice together.    For in this the saying holds true,  One sows and another reaps.    I sent you to reap a crop for which you have not toiled.  Other men have labored and you have stepped in to reap the results of their work”  (John 4:35-38–Amplified Bible translation).

How do you view the harvest in your community?  Perhaps all you see is the immorality, the apostasy, as represented by the Woman at the Well. 

But a word from Jesus can turn resistance to openness; unbelief to enthusiastic faith.  The answer is found in His word and His power!

THE WORKERS ARE FEW

“And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farm-hands are few”  (10:2b).

HELP WANTED!

Needed is an unlimited number

of hard-working and committed “farm-hands” with a willingness

and readiness to harvest the fields before they

become ROTTEN!

Plenty of kingdom “fringe benefits” for those who aren’t quitters. 

I am a city boy! Now like a lot of you, I’ve had vegetable gardens, and fruit trees to harvest from but I never required any “farm-hands” to help in the gathering.

Dr. Ralph Wilson is living at the edge of the California Central Valley.  He remarks, “Too few workers at harvest time can be a disaster!  The entire crop can spoil and rot in the fields UNLESS workers are available at the right time.  Workers who are willing to work very hard at the concentrated harvest season.”

Farmers rest in the winter months but during the long summer harvest season, they might be working night and day.  It’s HOT, SWEATY and MUSCLE ACHING work in thee fields and many avoid that kind of intense labor.

Fortunately, Jesus’ workforce is growing; from 12 to now 70!  But it is hard to find committed workers.  Too many people make excuses.  Just prior to the Sending Out of the seventy, Jesus said,

“Become my disciple, side with My party, and accompany Me!  But he replied, Lord, permit me to go and bury (await the death of) my father.  BUT Jesus said to him, Allow the dead to bury their own dead, but as for you, go and publish abroad throughout all regions the kingdom of God”  (Luke 9:59-60–Amplified Bible).

If you were to look at the average Christian congregation in America, how many of the members are actually involved in church “harvesting” activities?  It seems to me that many are involved in what meets their needs and their children’s needs, yet shy away from mission to meet others needs.  “Not in my church!”  Then good for you!

We have an abundance of churches in our community but few workers and perhaps few actual disciples.  Disciples are those who follow Jesus in His work; deny self, take up their cross daily and follow Him.  Their discipleship is not a matter of their own comfort but of Jesus’ mission.  Jesus seeks to recruit us as a worker in His harvest, not just  church attenders.

TOO FEW WORKERS?  THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM IS?

The answer is PRAYER:

Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”  (10:2c).

Why does Jesus say this to His disciples that the answer is PRAYER?  After all, it wasn’t their problem, it’s His.  He shares this answer because soon they will be the harvest foremen in need of workers.  They need to know how to deal with this need in some other way than beating up on the believers; by manipulation and guilt trips.

The word translated “send out” in this verse is noteworthy.  The Greek word is ekballo.  At the root level it means “drive out, expel“; literally, “to throw out forcibly”. 

Secondarily the connotation of force recedes with the meaning “send out“.  The root word ballo, “to throw,” is a violent word, the basis of the English word “ballistic“.

PRAYER is our most important recruitment technique, proceeding any other invitation to the work.  It is also Jesus’ pattern too!

Before He appoints the Twelve, He spends the night in prayer (Luke 6:12).  Who is the Lord of the harvest? God.  What does to ask mean in relation to God?  PRAY!  Ultimately, it is the Lord of the harvest who sends men and women out as His workers, not the foreman.  The foreman merely directs the workers that the Master hires and sends.

“A SENSE OF CALLING”; A NECESSITY!

What does a sense of calling look like?  The apostle Paul wrote,

For if I [merely] preach the Gospel, that gives me no reason to boast, for I feel compelled of necessity to do it.  Woe is me if I do not preach the glad tidings (the gospel)!”  (1 Corinthians 9:16–Amplified Bible)

Sometimes we make an arbitrary distinction between the clergy and the laity.  We use words like “vocation” (from the Latin word for “calling“); to describe a career path in the ministry.  I have heard people in the church say, “I thought I was called once into the ministry.  But now I am too old!”.  You are never too old, for “The harvest indeed is abundant” all around you.

Pastors are no more “called” than you and I to ministry.  That is to say, both you and professional ministers are called by God to serve Him in whatever capacity He chooses.  Whether you are a full-time Christian worker or a “tent-maker”; to earn a living like Paul (Acts 18:3).  You are no less called.

Are you a worker or farm- hand in the harvest?  Do you work in Jesus’ mission, out of a sense of personal calling, or out of duty and obligation to a human leader or organization?

By talking to God yourself, ask Him about what He has for you to do.  Get it from God Himself and then EXPECT!  Be confirmed by your Christian brothers and sisters by the fruitfulness in what He is calling you to do.

Evangelism is NOT a professional job for a few trained men, but it is instead the unrelenting of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.”  by Elton Trueblood.

An Evangelist, according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary: euangelizo, “to proclaim glad tidings,” “good news, gospel;” “a messenger of good,” denotes a “preacher of the gospel,”  Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11.

THE OUTCOME OF THE CALLING?

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!”  (Luke 10:17).

If that verse doesn’t give you the confidence and faith that you will need a laborers, I don’t know what will!

 

             

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