June 11, 2020
God, in every age, has needed prophets. One of the great mercies of God is that He has always raised up His needed men, called by Him and equipped by Him to speak His word to His people. And as darkness increases in a nation, He needs them all the more.
Jeremiah was such a man. And the reason that he successfully did his job (and the way we should do ours) is found in the opening chapter of Jeremiah.
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4)
Jeremiah's calling was not his idea. It was not, "I wonder what I could do for a living?" He was set apart. In fact, from heaven's perspective this happened while he was still in the womb. Long before the need was known for a man who would boldly proclaim God's word, there was the provision.
"Then I said, "Alas, Lord God! Behold I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth." (vs. 6)
Every preacher worth his calling is a man who lives with a continuing sense of his own inadequacy. The man who gets in trouble is the arrogant pastor who doesn't see his constant need of God. Only God can equip us for the task. Like Paul, we must come to our task with "weakness, fear, and much trembling." It is not a cowering fear, but the holy realization that "unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain."
A true man of God realizes that he cannot rely on his persuasive speech and clever words. Unless God comes, we have nothing to give to our people.
But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you," declares the Lord." (vs. 7-8)
The reassurance for the prophet is that where there is a calling from God there is an equipping. And, most importantly, there is God's presence, and everything flows from the presence of the Lord. If we have Him, we have all we need. Without Him, we have nothing.
Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth." (vs. 9)
There is no substitute for this. Years ago, as a young preacher, I was stumped one week on what to preach. Sunday was coming and I had nothing. Finally, in desperation, I prayed a simple prayer: "Lord, what do YOU want to say to Your people?" The Lord opened up the heavens and gave me His Word for His people.
I have a simple sheet of typing paper with those words on it taped right before my eyes in my study. It has been there for 40+ years. And God has been faithful to answer that prayer, over and over again.
Preaching is from the Word of God, rightly divided. Which means that preaching that matters and lasts is from heaven. It is when God takes His word and ignites it with His power, both in the heart of the pastor and before his congregation. God gives the specific word He desires to communicate to the sheep He loves. And, He is good at it. Wise is the pastor who simply, faithfully, diligently studies and listens and waits for that igniting Word from above to deliver.
"See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (vs. 10)
It is a two-fold task. We are to go hard against that which is not of God. Idols must be torn down, sin exposed, strongholds destroyed.
But that is only the first part of our task. The rest is to "Build and to plant." You cannot do the second without the first. But the first is incomplete without the second.
The true man of God who has been called by God, who relies on God and brings a Word from God is a powerful and incredibly needed instrument in God's hand and in his world. God has carried His kingdom along by such men. And privileged are the ones who have this calling and this task.
Father, thank You for calling men out to proclaim Your Word. Give them courage, Lord, in this darkening time. Give them truth to know exactly what You want to say to Your people. And give them Divine Unction to ignite their words with fire.
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