Summary: Don’t lose your ambition in the midst of difficult days.
DEVOTED LIVING IN DIFFICULT DAYS
INTRODUCTION: Robert J. Morgan said, “We must never forget that the word persevere comes from the prefix ‘per’, meaning through, coupled with the word ‘severe’. It means to keep pressing on, trusting God, looking up, doing our duty – even through severe circumstances.
William Secker stated, “Times of trouble have often been times of triumph to a believer. Suffering seasons have generally been sifting seasons in which the Christian has lost his chaff and the hypocrite his courage.”
What are these quotes about? They have to do with persevering through pain; making it through times of trouble; being devoted in the midst of difficulty.
Come with me to Jeremiah 24-33. This is sermon number eight. If you will look at the background you will find that Jeremiah has preached some 23 years and the tragedy is very few paid any attention to him. Now God’s judgment has fallen and dark, difficult days lay ahead for the nation. What lessons can we learn from this section?
I. LIVING WITH ADVERSITY
Pay close attention to 24:1. See the word “exile”? How does this apply to us? Will
China, Russia, Iran etc… come over here to the states and cart us off to their land? Probably not. Then what application does this have to us? The point here is that these people have been relocated, repositioned. Their world has been turned upside-down. Life as they had known it had come to an end.
How many people today have experienced a job loss, plant closing, company transfer, divorce or natural disaster such as house fire, tornado, hurricane? This crisis has forced them to relocate in some form or fashion. Have you ever thought that this could be God’s way of preserving and accomplishing His plan in your life? Again Secker wrote, “If Joseph had not been Egypt’s prisoner, he would have never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chains about his feet ushered in the golden chains about his neck.” Isobel Kuhn wrote, “God does not waste suffering…if He plows it is because He purposes a crop.”
A. The Lesson of the Figs – Ch. 24. The ones who had escaped the first invasion thought they were the “special”, “chosen”, “preserved” ones. The exact opposite was true. God will build His future kingdom on the “culled-out” ones. He would build His kingdom, not on those left behind but on those who had been exiled. “If you be without chastisement you are not a child of God, for God chastens those He loves.” Jesus once told a group of Scribes and Pharisees that the sinners and prostitutes were entering the kingdom ahead (instead) of them. God truly has indeed chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.
B. The Lesson on Fate – 25:12. Our adversity may last 70 hours, 70 days, 70 weeks or 70 years! Furthermore, we may not always know or understand the reason for it. Vance Havner said, “God marks across some of our days – Will explain later.” There are many today going through some adverse times, and yet this may be God’s way of accomplishing His will in us.
II. LIVING WITH ADVERSARYS
A. The Folk (26:7-9). Jeremiah had been faithful in preaching the truth. Look at how the folk responded. This is a death threat. Here is a physical threat. Not everyone will like your message.
B. The Yoke (27:2). Without getting into all the implications of this chapter, allow me to summarize what Jeremiah was saying. What he was conveying through this bizarre, odd scene was simply this. Surrender to God’s chastisement. Submit to Babylon’s rule. What is happening can’t be reversed. Take your medicine. Cut your losses. Limit your damages. How often do we short-circuit God’s corrections in our life?
C. The Joke (Ch.28). Hananiah was an arrogant, false prophet. He contradicted all Jeremiah had said. He wasn’t a funny joke but a bad one! He was telling the people captivity would only last two years, not seventy years. Jeremiah went back to his prayer closet and got a clear message from God. Be very careful with God’s revelation.
Jeremiah had his share of adversaries. So it is with us.
III. LIVING WITH AMBITION
In the periods of pain, the days of difficulty and the times of trouble don’t ever lose your ambition. Be devoted even when things are difficult. Look at Ch.29. Jeremiah wrote the exiles a letter of encouragement and exhortation. Read 29:4-14
A. Build Where I Place You.
B. Bloom Where I Plant You.
C. Be Productive.
Here is such practical advice. You do have a future! Don’t let what you can’t do keep you from doing what you can do!
CONCLUSION: Many people have experienced what Thomas Hary has called “That long drip of human tears.” The pink slip has come. The divorce papers have been served. The doctor’s report has not been good. The loved one has been placed in yonder nursing home. The plant has closed. The list goes on and on. Adversity hunts you. Adversaries hound you. Don’t lose your ambition. Keep to devoted living in difficult days.