Before We Were Born
Jeremiah 1:4-5 ESV
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 appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Now this was the calling of God on the life of Jeremiah the prophet of God, but there are many elements of Jeremiah’s calling that are included in the calling of God on the life of us who are born of God via God-given faith in Jesus Christ. So, that is what the Lord is leading me to write about today.
Now this first part, where he told Jeremiah that before he formed him in the womb he knew him, and he consecrated him, and he appointed him to be a prophet, this parallels several other passages of Scripture, the first being Psalms 139:13-16 where it says,
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
God has a design and a purpose for each one of us. He has both a collective calling on all of us who profess his name in truth, and he has individual callings for us, too. For we are each unique individuals who our Lord formed in the wombs of our mothers and for whom all the days ordained for us were written in his book before one of them came into being. So his plan and his purpose for our lives collectively and individually were planned by God for us truly even before the creation of the world.
[Ps 139:13-16; Rom 8:29; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Eph 1:3-4; 1 Pet 1:14-16; 1 Co 12]
And here I want to look at 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 (see also Romans 12:1-8 and Ephesians 4:1-16). For we read that each of us is gifted individually of the Spirit with spiritual gifts. And even if we share the same gift with others, we are still individual people and God may have for us to express those gifts in different ways. For example, many of us have been gifted with writing biblical, spiritual, and godly messages, but our writings don’t all look the same. They each, as we do, have their own distinct characteristic traits.
And then we read on in 1 Corinthians 12 that not one of us should think our gifts and our particular body parts are lesser or that we are lesser because we don’t have the same gifts as others whose gifts may be more demonstrative. For we are all necessary, and God did not make us all the same. And then we read that we are not to exclude any of the gifts or any body parts (individual people) thinking we have no need of them, for we are all necessary to the proper working of the body of Christ.
And that calling is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, and it is to be holy in all our conduct. And to be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness (in character) of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as obedient children, we are to no longer be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance (from before we believed in Jesus), but we are to be holy in all our conduct. And this is necessary, too, for the proper working of the whole body of Christ.
Empowered by God
Jeremiah 1:6-9 ESV
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 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.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,
“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.”
Where God calls us, he equips and he trains and he empowers us. For if he doesn’t, it is not of him. For he does not call us to a ministry and then expect us to “figure it out” for ourselves. For if it is of him, it is of the Spirit, not of human flesh. So the Lord is to be the one directing us in what to do and in what to say and in where to go, etc. So, when we write in his power and strength, he should be the one guiding us all the way, even in what research to do, and in what words to look up, and the timing of it all, too.
This isn’t about your natural abilities. It doesn’t matter if you are not a good public speaker or if you stutter or if your mind goes blank sometimes and you have not the words to speak, or even if you repeat yourselves. For God can take what seems not quite up to par in the eyes of the world and he can use it to change human lives and to speak to people’s hearts. I can’t tell you the number of times I have written when I was sick and tired and I wasn’t even certain if what I just wrote made sense, but then someone responded to me that that was exactly what he/she needed to hear. Praise God!
So, don’t limit God! I will tell you that I graduated high school with a 1.4 GPA. That is a “D” average. I started college reading on a 4th grade level of education. I had absolutely not much confidence at all in my ability to learn except in very few select subjects, such as in music, general math, and language. And I loved learning the Scriptures. But I had very low reading comprehension and so I feared many subjects. But then the Lord sent me back to school at age 52, and it was then he taught me that, in his power, I can learn, and I needed that to do what I now do.
So, don’t judge your gifts or talents or abilities by human flesh. And don’t limit yourself by the opinions of the world, either. God is not limited by any of that. For if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, and if you are walking in his ways, and in his truth and righteousness, God can work miracles in your lives, and he can use you in ways you would never have imagined. He definitely has done that with me these past eighteen years, so I am giving testimony of the power of God to do in and through his followers what seems humanly impossible in the sight of human flesh.
So, let God be God. Follow him wherever he leads you and trust him to empower and to strengthen you in the gifts he has given to you to be used for his purposes and for his glory. Be open to go wherever he sends you and to say whatever he gives you to say. And don’t be afraid of the people or their reactions. Make certain you are hearing from God, and that what you are hearing in your spirit agrees with the Scriptures. And make certain of the context of what you are sharing or teaching, but then let God give you the words to speak, and then leave the results in his hands.
[Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Jn 4:31-38; Jn 13:13-17; Jn 14:12; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom 10:14-15; Rom 12:1-8; Rom 15:14; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Php 2:1-8; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; Heb 10:23-25; 1 Pet 2:9,21; 1 Jn 2:6]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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