God Speaks, We Listen, We Obey

Jeremiah 1:4-12

by Mack Phillips on January 28, 2007

         There are three things going on in these verses of scripture.  First ,God spoke, Jeremiah listened and then Jeremiah acted. Granted Jeremiah acted only after he whined, "I'm to young" but he acted nonetheless.. 

         If we look closely at Jeremiah most of us would not make him our first choice to be our messenger. We probably would select someone that is:

We certainly would not chose someone that:
- Cries regularly
- Gets depressed
- Has mood swings
- Lacks confidence

- Is twenty years old and has no training.
         We would prefer someone who is dynamic, cheerful, outgoing, and mature.  Using our criteria Jeremiah would have been out of a job.
         Here's what I want you to do this morning with the cards I gave you. During the sermon I want you to write down all the reasons you can think of that God Can USE YOU on this piece of paper. In other words, finish this sentence:   God can use me because: ______. Whatever comes to your mind write it down while I'm preaching.
         Jeremiah suffered from melancholy. People who suffer from melancholy feel things very deeply. They tend to be creative, they usually aren't very confident. They are perfectionists, and are often prone to mood swings. Extreme melancholies may cry often, and they suffer from depression.
         We can see Jeremiah's mood swings in his writing.  Read in JER. 20:11-20 In verse 11 we read, "But the LORD stands beside me as a mighty warrior: before him my persecutors will stumble, and they cannot defeat me".  This is bold, full of confidence in the Lord

         He goes on in verse 13 – He writes, "Praise the LORD, praise the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers." Really upbeat, full of confidence in God, but listen to what he writes in verses 14 and 15 "I Curse the day I was born: May no one celebrate my birth. I curse the messenger who told my father, "Good news- you have a son."  

         In verses 17 and18  he continues to demean himself , listen as I read them. "Oh, that I had died in my mother's womb.  "Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled trouble, sorrow and shame.

         In the span of just a few verses we see Jeremiah change from being exuberant in the Lord to reviling himself.  This is a guy you would want at your next party!!

         I can guarantee that Jeremiah would not get past the first interview if he was interviewing for the job of messenger at Microsoft today.

         BUT GUESS WHAT? God hired Jeremiah!  God knew Jeremiah! He knew Jeremiah would remain faithful, that Jeremiah would be obedient and his years of obedience would make him strong.

         Jeremiah was God's spokesman for 40 years to Judah!  When Jeremiah, however, spoke nobody listened. Jeremiah confronted kings, false prophets, people at the temple and the lack of response he got was over-whelming.  Jeremiah was the Rodney Dangerfield of his time, he got not respect.

         Why did God use Jeremiah? God told Jeremiah in 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." God knew who and what Jeremiah was before he was born.  God also knows you.

         Jeremiah listened when God spoke."  God knows each of before we are born and he speaks to you.

         Have you ever heard God speak to you?  NO? Why Not? Are you not listening?  Jesus told John in Revelations' 3: 20 Look! I stand at the door and knock and if you hear my voice and open the door I will come in."  He speaks to us all of us, we need to listen!!!  One of the ideal times to listen is when we pray.  The great fault we all have when we pray is that we tend to do all the talking. 

         Prayer is often described as talking honestly to God, if that is true, then don't you think that God would like you to stop talking long enough to let him speak and not only let him speak, but for us hear what he has to say?

         What might God be saying that you need to hear?

- Might he be putting an idea for ministry on your heart?
- Might he be telling you to share the gospel with a friend, a co-worker or a stranger?
- Could it be that God is asking you to prepare for full-time ministry? (Brian is the pastor at Highland Chapel, but you are its ministers)
- Could it be that God is telling you to share your faith?
If you want to be used by God, listen for his voice!
         So, what is God's voice going to sound like? Well, it probably won't boom out from the heavens. .  Often, God's voice is located in the things he helps us to see & notice. We see people that need us to take action and we feel something touch our heart.  That is God speaking. 
         Peter and John noticed the lame man in Acts 3: 2-8, he asked them for money but Peter told him he didn't have any money, but I'll give what I have in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazarene. He gave the man the ability to walk.  Peter and John heard the voice of God and acted.
         Philip, in Acts 8: 26-40 heard God's voice telling him to "Go South" saw a man riding in a chariot trying to understand the Bible he was reading. Phillip heard the voice of God and acted.

         There are many instances in the bible where men and women have heard the voice of God and have acted. Listen, hear, then act.
         BUT WHAT DOES IT sound LIKE TODAY?  I had a friend that heard God speak out loud.  Jim was a Methodist pastor, he had gone to college, then to seminary, had a church, but then things began to fall apart.  He left the church, was homeless.  He was in a hotel room, recovering from another drunk when he heard God call his name.  "Jim" get up I love you.  I need you.

         I have heard the voice of God, not speaking to me in a loud voice. I managed for a long time to  ignore it. He nudged my heart, my conscience and called me to do many times.  But I was way too selfish to listen.  But he has kept pursuing me, kept talking to me and I finally have started to listen. I did it "my way" much too long. 

         The reason I am here today as a lay speaker in the Methodist Church is because I finally listened. The reason I am involved in building a men's ministry at First Church is because I have heard God telling me to use the gifts he gave me.

         I heard God saying Mack, you have not been using the gifts I gave you. I knew it was God and not me speaking. I have to be careful to separate ego from what is God's call. I used to do a lot of theater. It is one thing to speak and to perform to entertain, but it is quite another to deliver a message that God places on your heart to deliver. 

         Situations kept coming up where it was obvious to me that God was saying to me obey.  I am finally obeying. 

         If we will listen we can hear God speak to us.  God will speak to us when we are completely unaware, we can be sitting quietly, we can be at work, we can be anywhere.  The question is: ARE WE LISTENING? What might God be saying to you?
         Jeremiah listened and was willing to be used.  Albeit reluctantly. Listen to what Jeremiah said to God in verse 6.  Lord, I can't speak for you, I am too young.  Imagine telling God I Can't!!! And what did God say?  "Don't tell me that you are too young.  You must go where I send you and say what I tell you. Do not be afraid of the people I send you to talk to, for I am there to protect you."  When he calls you he will be there for you

         How many of us tell God that we are too old, too young, too busy, too something to do what he is asking us to do?  God spoke, Jeremiah listened and then Jeremiah did!!! That is what God wants from us!  Listen and then obey.
         In verse nine and ten we read that the LORD reached out and touched Jeremiah's mouth and told him, "I have put My words in your mouth. Today I am appointing you to stand up against nations and kingdoms."

         When God calls you to do something he will equip you to do the job. God doesn't call the equipped, he equips those he calls.  Don't be saying to God I can't!

Here are reasons why God can use you?
- I'm shy

– I'm busy
- I'm retired
- I have no training in ministry. 

- I don't know what to say
GOD says: I can work with that!!
You are God's choice for ministry?
Eph. 2:10, (we are God's masterpiece)  2 Tim. 1:9 (God saved us and called us to live a holy life) You ARE God's choice for ministry! Every member of his family is a minister of His grace!
 THE QUESTION IS: Since you ARE God's choice, are you willing to be used?
         Jeremiah saw what God saw. Look at verses 11 & 12 of today's scripture. God asked Jeremiah "what do you see?"  and Jeremiah said  "I see a branch of an almond tree." And the LORD told Jeremiah, "that's right, and it means that I am watching."
         What does God see that you need to be seeing?
God is seeing the millions of American kids born between 1994 and now, ones that are called the millennium generation, and only 4% of them are bible believing Christians.  God needs the good news taken to the other 96%. 

         God sees mainstream churches where 60% of the people attending are women.  God wants men to come back to the church. Men don't attend church because the church doesn't appeal to their needs.

         If we can get men, men with young families plugged into the church,  93% of their families will come to church with them. If we get kids to come to church 4% of the families start coming to church.  If mother's come to church alone only 17% of the families will begin to attend.  If men attend 93% of the families attend.

-                                           God sees these and other needs that we as God's people need to address. 
         Jeremiah was used by God, because he heard God and he saw what God saw. If we will hear God and see what He sees, we'll be used by God too!
         Take out the card you were given and write on it. God can use me because. . .  I want you to take this card and put it on your refrigerator. Look at that card everyday and ask God to use you.
         God used Jeremiah, he will use you.  God Speaks!  We listen!  We obey!!!  Ask God to speak to you!

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