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It's a Hard Call Life

Jeremiah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Jeremiah was known as the "weeping prophet." Just like Jeremiah, Christians are call to a hard life. This is because we are called to proclaim God's Word, which will bring opposition. In the midst of this hardship, we are also called to trust in God who will defend and deliver us from all opposition.

Introduction:

In the Broadway musical “Annie,” the little red head orphan named Annie sings a song entitled “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” Her life was hard, until she was adopted by a rich millionaire, but the trials and tribulations of her life can’t even compare to the trials and tribulations of Jeremiah, the prophet from the backwater village of Anathoth. Jeremiah has been called the weeping prophet.
Called by God to be a prophet while still a teenager, he was called by God “to pluck up and to break down” all the religious hypocrisy and idolatry of Judah, especially of its ruling class and religious establishment. He was called “to destroy and to overthrow” Judah as he proclaimed God’s judgement against sin and only at the end of his prophetic ministry was he “to build and to plant” with his message of a new Exodus and a new Promised Land.
Not surprisingly his message was not well received, by the commoner or by the king. He was plotted against, persecuted and lived a life of lonely isolation. Forbidden by God to marry or take part in the social life of his community. All his life he carried the burden of the certainty of God’s judgement that was to befall his beloved nation.
All this grief was not by accident, but by the call of God himself. Jeremiah Lived a Hard Call Life! But it is not just Jeremiah who has a call to a Hard Call Life, every Christian does as well. Through the centuries the voice of Jesus still cries out, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16:24) Just like Jeremiah, you are called to proclaim God’s Word to a hostile world.

Just Like Jeremiah, You are Called to Proclaim God's Word

Your Election

Jeremiah’s call began before he was even born:
Jeremiah 1:5 ESV

“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.”

There are perhaps no New Testament books that more closely mirror the theology of Jeremiah than the two letter written by Peter. It comes as no surprise then that Peter opens his first letter with these words:
1 Peter 1:1–2 ESV

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Your Calling

At our conversion, the secret call of God becomes a revealed call that we hear.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Jeremiah was called to proclaim God’s message to his generation and so are we! This does not mean that all of us are called to be prophets or preachers, but all of us are called to proclaim the hope we have in Christ as opportunity presents itself. Peter puts it this way:
1 Peter 3:15 ESV

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Even when we deliver our message with “gentleness and respect”, those to whom we give it will usually respond negatively to it as they did Jeremiah’s message.

Just Like Jeremiah, You Will Face Opposition

This is what makes our calling so hard and don’t assume that the opposition is just external. Perhaps the greatest burden of our calling is internal. We see Jeremiah’s internal struggles throughout the book that bears his name.

Doubts

Jeremiah’s first response to God’s call was self-doubt:
Jeremiah 1:6 ESV

Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”

We also feel inadequate for the task. This is perhaps the number one reason most people do not proclaim God’s Word to others, even in private conversations.

Attacks

The second form in which opposition takes, are attacks from others. On that day God called Jeremiah, he did not hide from him the fact that he would be attacked. Jesus was just as honest with us, “taking up your cross” is not about wearing a piece of jewelry, but about being willing to die the martyr’s death. Peter tells us not to be surprised by persecution:
1 Peter 4:12–13 ESV

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Discouragement

This persecution and rejection leads to the third type of opposition—discouragement. Again this is an internal opposition, but perhaps it is the most powerful of them all. Year after year Jeremiah prophesied that judgement was coming. Even when the armies of Babylon had broken down the walls of every city in Judah and were surrounding the city of Jerusalem, the king and people refused to believe. By all worldly measures of “success”, Jeremiah’s ministry was judge a failure. Even after Jerusalem fell, the people still did not believe him!
For the majority of us, God calls us to be faithful in same things. You will live and die in obscurity. Seeing little fruit for your labor.
God is fully aware of the opposition Jeremiah and we will face. In fact, he calls us to it! But in his call he gives us the grace to overcome it!

Just Like Jeremiah, You Can Trust in God

The Authority of God's Word Dispels Doubts

God’s response to Jeremiah was that it didn’t matter how old Jeremiah was, the words he would speak would be God’s own words.
Jeremiah 1:7 ESV

But the LORD said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;

for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,

and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

Today, we don’t receive prophetic messages in the same way the prophets and apostles did, but we don’t need to. God’s revelation to humanity is complete and is found in Scripture. In his second letter, Peter writes this:
2 Peter 1:19–21 ESV

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

When we stick to Scripture, we can proclaim God’s Word just as confidently as the prophets, because the words we find there are God’s very own words!
God watches over his word to see that it accomplishes its purpose:
Jeremiah 1:11–12 ESV

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

Remember there was a twofold purpose in Jeremiah’s calling—to tear down and the buildup. The purpose of proclamation is to glorify God:
1 Peter 2:9 ESV

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

God’s “excellencies” are seen both in his justice and in his mercy. As we learned in Romans some people are “vessels of wrath.” Our faithful witness and love of our neighbors will make the justice of God wrath all the more glorious someday. It is our job to faithfully proclaim, it is God’s job to use that proclamation as he sees fit.

God's Protection Deflect Attacks

God also gave Jeremiah assurance that he would protect him.
Jeremiah 1:8 ESV

Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you,

declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 1:18–19 ESV

And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”

God's Providence Defeats Discouragement

Jeremiah 1:17 ESV

But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.

It is in the everyday faithfulness of life that God does he greatest deeds. Get up, get dressed, go to work. Get up, get dressed, go to work. Get up, get dressed, go to work. Week after week, month after month, year after year! God is promising that if we are faithful, we will not be dismayed!
You are not called to be a success; you are called to be faithful—God is the one who will make you a success!

Conclusion:

The Christian does not have to content only with a “Hard Knock Life”, but also with a “Hard Call Life”! The promises that God gives Jeremiah and us are enough to get us through this life. The words of the Psalmist ring true, "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Ps 30:5)
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