The Call Of God
A little girl had been trying for hours to learn the art of tying her shoes. She became very agitated and started crying. Again and again her mother had to show her how to do it. Finally she got the hang of it, but instead of a smile on her face, she cried louder than when she failed tying it. Her mother asked her with a frown on her face, “Honey, why are you crying? You should be happy, because you're a big girl now and can tie your own shoes.” Through the tears the little girl said, “Now I have to do it all by myself for the rest of my life.” When we hear The Call Of God for the first time and we contemplate how we will respond we have to appreciate the reality – God wants us to be willing to serve Him for the rest of our lives. I don't think it's something to cry about for it's an honour when God reckon us worthy to be in His service, but it's such a responsibility. Until we breath our last breath The Call Of God will again and again come to us as He points to each one of us – “You are the one I'm calling to go and represent me.” We read in Joshua 14: 10 and 11 the impressive words of a man of old age who felt that he was called just as the time when he was young. Joshua said, “Now then, just as the Lord promised, He has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” The prophet Jeremiah was called to ministry in about 626 BC, about one year after Josiah king of Judah had turned the nation toward repentance from the widespread idolatrous practices of his father and grandfather. It was in God's timing to send a messenger to deliver His words so that His people could turn from their sinful ways. This morning we hear the the voice from God just as it came to Jeremiah – “Get yourself ready!”
From Jeremiah 1: 4-10 we see first of all that 1 To Be Called Is An Encounter With God Himself. In verse 4 we see how God took the initiative – “The word of the Lord came to me...” Jeremiah didn't go out in search of God. No, the God of heaven and earth came to him and spoke, just as He spoke to all of His servants we read of in the Bible. That was and always is God's manner of working. Moses had an encounter at the burning bush; Isaiah was overwhelmed by God's presence at the temple when he went there like all the times before to perform duties. But that day in the temple it was different – He saw and heard the Lord. It was so confronting to him what he experienced that he cried out, “Woe to me! I am ruined!” And what about the story we loved to hear as children – the story of Samuel's calling as a child at night. God didn't use the priest Eli to deliver His words to Samuel. No, He took the initiative. He wanted to have the encounter Himself. When was the first time you had an encounter with God? When was the first time He came to you? What was His message? F. B. Meyer once said, “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other; and that the taller we grow in Christian character, the easier we could reach them. I now find that God’s gifts are on shelves one beneath the other. It is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower; that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.” That is so true my friends. With many of the saints who served the Lord we see that only after they left a life of prestige or importance behind God revealed to them His word. St. Paul was a Pharisee, a teacher of the law, a man who had everything on the tip of his tongue to speak about. But it was on the road of Damascus where Jesus made him lower and then he was prepared to be an apostle to the gentiles. Wasn't that the way John the Baptist operated as well? He said, “He has to become more and I less.” Because of that attitude he was better equipped to preach the message of repentance. He could hear God's call over and over again. You know, we all should ask ourselves the question, “Isn't it time that I step down from my pedestal and listen to what God wants to say to me?” Because my friends, there is so much need in the world for God to find people with humble hearts to receive His word and then to go out.
2 God Always Has A Purpose When He Calls Us. Since the beginning of time, He knew who He would use to bring His message to those who need to hear it so desperately. At that point in time in 626 BC, it was to Jeremiah He revealed His purpose. To be the Lord’s prophet at that juncture in history was the very reason for which Jeremiah was born. It was his very purpose for becoming a human being! Listen again to verse 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.” Why are you and I on earth? Why has God given us life? When we ask these questions there are thousands who don't know the reason for their existence. Some would say, “Perhaps to contribute something to this world like an Einstein or some kind of inventor.” Then there are those of whom van Ruler, a Dutch theologian said, “They don't know the reason of their lives. They are like oxen grazing in the fields. They exist but never ask why.” You and I were placed by God in this world for the main purpose to be His witnesses. He wants His voice to be heard and He decided that we would be the instruments for that. Just like Jeremiah God has known each one of us by name before we were born and He knew that we would live were we live to speak in the name of Jesus Christ.
We see from Jeremiah 1: 4-10 that 3 We Are Empowered By God When He Calls Us. We learn from this passage that Jeremiah was quite reluctant to be a prophet. He had an excuse – “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” The prophet wasn't the first to make excuses. Moses told the Lord that he was not a man of words and then he was told to take his brother Aaron with him. Gideon said that he was the least of his family and wasn't fit to go and fight against the Midianites. What are the excuses we hear when God calls people today? Most would say that they aren't competent. “Lord, I think You came to the wrong person. I can't do this task You want me to do.” What was God's response when Jeremiah said he was too young? Verses 7and 8, “But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.” Those were words of encouragement the prophet received. He was empowered by God for the task – “...for I am with you...” There can never be a greater comfort than knowing that God is with us; that He will equip and empower us as we go on the paths of life. And for Jeremiah there was wonderful affirmation of how he was empowered by God. You see, most of the other prophets were just sent to the house of Israel, but Jeremiah was taken beyond the chosen people of God. He was also a prophet to the Egyptians, Babylonians and the Moabites...and there were more nations he reached. A man who complained that he couldn't speak became a wonderful instrument in God's hands. We too are empowered as we represent Jesus Christ in this world. What was His promise to the end of time? “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you...” That promise wasn't just for Peter, John, James and later Paul. No, it was a promise for all ages; a promise for every Christian today in the world – “I will empower you. Therefore I call you now and I send you out.” Can we put our trust in God without the “buts” and “ifs” we sometimes come up with? Yes, it's a call for the rest of our lives, but it's a wonderful way to live and great will be our reward in heaven.