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Aug 7 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Jeremiah chapter 1 – 08/06/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning, RefleXion!  The Lord is with you!

This week I heard a conversation that was punctuated by this statement:  “It was a Come to Jesus moment.”  I think they meant it was a moment of sudden realization or recognition that included a paradigm shift, perhaps a life-changing moment.  Were you ever at a revival or crusade where these words were spoken:  Come to Jesus.  What did they mean to you?  Some of us heard them and responded with a “yes” that changed the course of our lives…for sure a life-changing moment.  And oh, yes,  I think we can have more than one Come to Jesus moment!

This week, one dear one in my life realized that she actually felt guilty having to come to Jesus with her difficulty…as if she should have handled it herself.  Another thought that other people would have an answer to her problem.  Others had no hope and felt stuck.  The last time I checked, there are plenty of Come to Jesus invitations in scripture.

Are you tired, worn out, burdened by life?  Great, you’re invited by Jesus:  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

If we don’t know which way to turn?  He’ll show us.  Jesus:  “Come, follow me.”

When a man with a withered hand needed a healing touch, Jesus said,  “Come here.”

When the disciples had been working hard and hadn’t even had time to eat?  Jesus instructed, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

When Peter wanted to  walk on the waves,  Jesus said “Come.”

Jesus told the disciples to let the children come to him.  To the curious and to the confused, he said, “Come and you will see.”

So, what kind of Come to Jesus moments are we experiencing right now?   What are we waiting for?  He says, “Come.”  It very well could be another life-changing moment.

Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus, we come to you in praise and thanksgiving. One day we will come to you in glory—to you, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  There is no moment that we can’t come to you.  Thank you for your invitation to come boldly to the throne of grace.  We welcome your fresh work this morning, your comfort, your guidance, your strength, your healing, your rest.  We come this morning, acknowledging and welcoming your presence with us.  Come, Jesus; come Holy Spirit.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Intro: There are several words in the Bible we don’t understand

They pose a problem for us, because they’re common words,
– and we assume we know what they mean
• that is why we get confused when we come to them
◦ for instance: “name,” “fear” (“Am I supposed to be afraid of God?”), “holy,” and “sons of”
• biblical Hebrew has a small vocabulary
◦ so it has to expand the meaning of various words
◦ that enabled biblical writers to describe spiritual values and experience
– I thought a series of talks on those words might be helpful
• a short dictionary of words that confuse or upset us
But Friday night I had a dream. I approached two strangers–a father and son–bent over a small table. I approached them and asked what they were doing. They said, “We are reading the book of Jeremiah together.”
• even in my dream, it felt good to hear that
◦ after all, Jeremiah is my favorite book in the Bible
◦ when I woke up, I decided to walk you through Jeremiah’s book of prophecies
(not teaching the entire document, but exploring some of its gems)

God and his prophet are having a conversation
Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying . . . Jeremiah 1:4

God came to recruit Jeremiah–not to say that he gave him a choice
– Jeremiah was drafted into God’s service
• it is Jeremiah himself who is telling us the story of what happened
◦ much of this wonderful book is autobiographical
• as a result, I get the feeling that I know Jeremiah – I can relate to him
◦ he never settles into his calling completely
◦ he gets discouraged, he complains, he wants to give up
– the truth is, God gave him an impossible job
• about forty years from this moment, Judah would be conquered by Babylon
◦ Jeremiah’s work was to warn God’s people
◦ but through this whole period, they resist him, argue with him, and plot against him
• Jeremiah has many conversations with God that some scholars refer to as “prophetic dialogues”
◦ what matters to us is that we hear two voices, God’s and Jeremiah’s

When we read that the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah,
– we’re likely to think God spoke to him or delivered a verbal message
• but that is only one part of their encounter
◦ the actual experience involved a supernatural encounter
• the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures were exposed to the divine force of God’s word
– the movement of God’s Spirit and revelation of his word overlap
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath [ruach] of his mouth all their host (Ps. 33:6)
• so God is not simply sharing words with Jeremiah,
• he is at the same time creating the reality that he speaks
◦ he is making and empowering Jeremiah to be this person

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations
Jeremiah 1:5

I’m going to take a risk here, because it will sound too human to speak of God this way
– but it seems like God has been looking forward to this moment
• God had been interested and involved with Jeremiah from conception
◦ even in utero God can tell him, I knew you . . . I consecrated you . . . I appointed you
• now it’s as if God could not wait any longer to activate his prophet
◦ Jeremiah doesn’t see himself as a full-fledged adult, prepared for mature service
◦ but God is eager to get his ministry started, so he recruits him while he is still green
– from his mother’s womb, Jeremiah entered the world with a divine purpose
• he was formed according to God’s design,
• and now that design has is being revealed to him

Jeremiah immediately signals for a time-out
Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth Jeremiah 1:6

He addressed God by name, “Ah, adonai Yahweh!
– rather than jump at the opportunity God hands him, Jeremiah raises an objection
“Behold” – “Just look at me for a second!”
◦ in saying this, we are given a visual impression of the narrative scene
◦ we are looking at a youngster, not a career-age person
• Jeremiah’s reticence to accept God’s offer was a typical response to God–cf. Gideon, Saul, and Isaiah
◦ Moses, whose story parallels Jeremiah’s at this point, could have said “I’m too old” as Jeremiah said, “I’m too young”
◦ but both argued that they weren’t gifted at public speaking
(Moses went so far as to say, “Get someone else who is gifted and send them”)

God’s response to Jeremiah’s objection
But the LORD said to me,
Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord” Jeremiah 1:7-8

We could all benefit from God’s first sentence, “Do not say . . .”
– what holds us back from taking on a challenge?
• from doing something new or daring to step into a bigger arena?
• our negative self-talk: “I’ve never been good at this,”
◦ “I’m not musically inclined,” “I am only …” fill-in blank
◦ “. . . one person,” “a novice (amateur),” “I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me”
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth
• when we play god, that’s where we begin, we use words to create our tiny universe
◦ we fabricate an interior reality with self-talk and then we live in its cramped space
• J. B. Phillips wrote a translation of the New Testament that was popular in 1960’s and 70’s
◦ he also wrote a book entitled, Your God is Too Small — we are our own very small gods
◦ if God challenges us with something big, we don’t have to worry about being too small ourselves
– God is less concerned about our aptitude than our integrity
• the aptitude and ability are his

God’s response to Jeremiah is exactly his response to Moses
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you . . .” (Ex. 3:11-12)
God tells Jeremiah,
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you . . .”
– every once in awhile, we have to remember, that in our prayers we are talking to GOD!
• one way or another, he will have his way
“to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak
• God doesn’t have to accept our explanations for declining his call
– since God is recruiting Jeremiah, there’s no argument that will stand
• God didn’t promise Jeremiah that all would go well,
◦ that he’d receive lots of invitations to speak at conferences, or sell lots of books, or sign lots of autographs
◦ he only promised that he would deliver him
Do not be afraid of them, God says–those people who could reject Jeremiah,
◦ who could ridicule and insult him
◦ we can allow ourselves to be imprisoned by others, we can become slaves to their opinion
• we will never be our whole self until we’re delivered from what others think of us and say about us

God qualifies Jeremiah for his work-related responsibilities
Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me,
Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to over throw,
to build and to plant Jeremiah 1:9-10
(Notice how Jeremiah reports God’s speech in poetry and his own in prose)

I don’t know what to say about the touch on Jeremiah’s lips
– the entire episode speaks of intimacy
– and now it is God’s turn to say, “Behold”
• “Look at what I have just now done”
◦ with the touch, God put his words into Jeremiah’s mouth
• then God says, “See” – not “behold,” but a different word
◦ it means to “perceive”
◦ God is saying, “Jeremiah, be aware of what is happening”

Verse 10 is God’s prophetic “job description” for Jeremiah
– there are two stages to ministry:
the first stage: to uproot, break down, destroy, and overthrow
◦ this has to do with popular beliefs, social behavior and practices, and bad faith
the second stage: to build (but not on the old foundation) and to plant (new seeds)
– as time goes on,
• God will not totally abandon or destroy his people
◦ he does not send his word through prophets, in order to shut people out, but to bring them in
• but their way of life will have to be demolished, in order to become the true people of God

Conclusion: The same God we see with Jeremiah,

Is the God who is here with us this morning
– and his word enters our lives the same way – uprooting, breaking down, destroying, and overthrowing, then building and planting
• he rescues us from our illusions so we can live in his reality
• he corrects or negative self-talk with his divine word
• he liberates us from the need to compromise in order to please others
We need to learn how to receive the powerful word of the Lord
Not in Bible studies or memorizing verses–at least, not exclusively
It begins by “noticing” — being present to, and aware of the world around us,
because God speaks through sky and seas, stars and sand, the silly ostrich and stately lion
And we need to open our hearts to receive the Scriptures
in the same way that Jeremiah consumed God’s words
Your words were found and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,

O LORD, God of hosts (Jeremiah. 15:16)

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