Jeremiah 1:1-19; Philippians 4:1-7; Psalms 75:6-10; Proverbs 18:14-15
OT: “The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. But I protested, “Oh no, Lord God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.” Then the Lord said to me: Do not say, “I am only a youth,” for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to rescue you. This is the Lord’s declaration. Then the Lord reached out his hand, touched my mouth, and told me: “I have now filled your mouth with my words… Now, get ready. Stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not be intimidated by them or I will cause you to cower before them. Today, I am the one who has made you a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land — against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the population. They will fight against you but never prevail over you, since I am with you to rescue you.” This is the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:4-9, 17-19 CSB)
Isaiah prophesied from the reign of Uzziah through the reign of Hezekiah. Though Hezekiah was a good king who honored the Lord, His son Manasseh and his grandson Amon were not. Manasseh completely rejected the Lord and brought all sorts of idol worship into Judah. Tradition even speculates that Isaiah was brutally martyred during Manasseh’s reign. For several decades, Manasseh and Amon led the nation into a time of great darkness and depravity – until Amon was assassinated and Josiah assumed the throne. It was into this environment that Jeremiah was born.
Because of Judah’s rejection of God and descent into paganism under the rule of Manasseh, God was going to honor His word and bring judgement to the nation. Because of Josiah’s reforms and faithfulness to God, God would hold off judgement for a while – but judgement was still coming. Though Josiah reformed the practices of the nation, he could not reform the hearts of the people. During the time of Josiah’s reign, God called Jeremiah when he was just a youth to prophecy to the nation – to warn them to repent or face destruction.
Jeremiah’s message was not a popular message. Most, if not all, of the rulers, priests and false prophets of the day got caught up in the popular political propaganda of a promised peace and prosperity. They led the people away from God with the positive message that everything was going to be ok – that Judah would be prosperous again. Jeremiah was the lone voice proclaiming the words of God. Though the task that God called Jeremiah to was a challenging one… though all the rulers would reject God’s message and Jeremiah, God’s messenger; God promised Jeremiah, that He would would fortify him and preserve his life. Jeremiah, filled with the words of the Lord, was able to stand firm in the Lord and ultimately prevail. Jeremiah was a man born with a purpose for the time that he was born into. Just as God set Jeremiah apart, from the womb, for a call and purpose; we too have been crafted by God for the times that we live in. That purpose can only be fulfilled in Christ as we stand firm in the Lord.
NT: “So then, my dearly loved and longed for brothers and sisters, my joy and crown, in this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends… Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:1, 4-7 CSB)
Paul concluded chapter 3 of Philippians by encouraging the Philippian believers to reach forward to claim the prize of their call in Christ, and to not allow themselves to get pulled off course by pursuing earthly things. Paul then began the next paragraph (the beginning of Chapter 4) by explaining how to stand firm in the Lord. The manner in which we stand firm in the Lord is by rejoicing in the Lord always. How do we rejoice in the Lord? We don’t allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by worry by taking everything to God in prayer.
Interestingly, the root word for the word translated here as ‘worry’ means to be pulled in different directions. Instead of being focused on finishing the race, worry causes us to take our eyes off the prize and begin looking at all the things that could happen… all the things that could go wrong… all the things that could wreck God’s purposes in our lives. Instead of fulfilling the call of God on our lives, worry pulls us off course to prevent all the roadblocks that could occur. We overcome worry through prayer.
Before saying, “Don’t worry about anything,” Paul reminded the Philippians that the Lord is near. Because He is near in Christ, we can bring everything to Him through prayer, petition and thanksgiving. Prayer is the general word for bringing things to the Lord. It is through prayer that we express our adoration, devotion and trust in the Lord. We begin by coming before the Lord in an attitude of worshipful prayer. Petition (or supplication) is about sharing our needs and problems. After humbly coming before the Lord in prayer, we lay our cares and concerns honestly before Him. Thanksgiving has to do with thanking the Lord for the times in the past when He was faithful. Thanksgiving reminds us of God’s pattern of faithfulness and builds our faith to continue trusting in His faithfulness. As we humbly come before the Lord in prayer, honestly lay our cares and concerns before Him, and thank Him for His past faithfulness, our hearts and minds will be overwhelmed with peace that surpasses all understanding. As God’s peace settles in our lives, worry is replaced with steadfast faith, hope and joy… and by not being pulled in multiple directions by worry, we are able to stand firm in the Lord and fulfill His calling by grace.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that I am not merely a man that is just taking up space in time. I was born (and in You have been reborn) for the times that I live in. I am Your workmanship created specifically for Your call and purposes. Help me to not get sidetracked by fear or worry, but to stand firm by grace through faith as I bring all of my cares and concerns to You in prayer. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.