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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Doubt - Jeremiah (1)

We all have tough times. We all have problems and issues to deal with. We may feel sad. One set of trouble frequently tumbles right into another, just like dominoes.

Texts: Jeremiah 27:3-10, 31:15

There were many great people in the Old Testament who had difficult times. There were times when there was spiritual darkness in their lives. They had doubts. They felt desperate. And, all of these feelings made their spiritual lives uneasy at times. The fact that they were able to rise above their situations should encourage us all.

The same thing happens to most of us today. We too, have periods of spiritual darkness. We face times of confusion, and we suffer personal pain and despair.

We can share these seasons of doubt with many Biblical characters, but right now we will focus on an episode in Jeremiah’s life. Jeremiah was a bullfrog...no, wrong lesson. Jeremiah was a prophet who had some doubts, or at least a season or two of doubt.

His messages had particular worth in two ways.

First, he understood how very great God is. The messages he delivered to the people demonstrate this clearly.

The second valuable thing was his personal life of prayer. These passages are called, ‘The Confessions of Jeremiah’. These passages need special study. They are: Jeremiah 11:18-23; 12:1-6; 15:10-21; 17:9-10, 14-18; 18:18-23 and 20:7-18.

Here, he is not standing in front of the people, blasting out God's message and judgement. He is crying out to God in dreadful pain and despair. He cannot understand why he is suffering. He begins to feel that his messages have been a failure. Then, perhaps the worst part is that he begins to think that God doesn't seem to really care about him.

These passages help make Jeremiah feel real to us. This could not the superman-hero-prophet of the scripture. He is like a real guy. We see a man who has been loyal to God and faithful to the message and faithful to the process. He has been in a horrific powerful struggle with his enemies, his competitors. So now, after all this, he is faced with enemies both inside and outside himself.

When he talked with God, he could speak passionately to the people. He could give strong messages from God, without any sense of fear or trepidation. God called him to a very difficult task. He had a hard message to give. He had to declare it very clearly.

He must tell his people that punishment was coming soon (Jeremiah 1:14-17). He knew just how terrible this would be. He could see clearly what devastating things lay ahead for the Israelites. He has to talk about the mother of all downsizings!

The prophet’s message was not going to be popular. The people he was trying to reach with these words were content. The people were happy with things as they were, aren’t we always. They felt that their religion made them safe. This made his task much harder.

Change is hard, especially if we are comfortable in our functions and dysfunctions.

What changes have you been forced to make in your life?



Bkangel said...

Another one, that speaks directly to me. I do not doubt that God will provide & see me through my Jeremiah times. I just get so very weary & sometimes wonder what is my purpose, what am I accomplishing. Right now the focus @ my church is mentoring & ministry. How can you be a mentor, when you need to be mentored? How can you know what your ministry is, when your life is.......?

Doc said...

A few weeks ago, we talked about Paul, Silas, Barnabas and Timothy... We are to mentor and be mentored at the same time. As we continue to learn from our mentors, we work alongside people who are the same stage as we are, and we are to pour ourselves into the lives of others.