Summary: It is God’s grace that makes us what we are -- not the other way around.
Super bowl XXXVIII will kick off in just a few hours. One team will win. One team will lose. Somebody will come up short. And the focus will be on the winners. We
live in a world of winners and losers. Effectiveness, results, and success are part of the
playbook to the game of life.
Even Christians feel the pressure of success. We want blessing and prosperity – be it in our congregation or our personal life – so there is tangible proof we’re successful. Nobody wants to come up short. God’s Word for today assures us that this won’t happen to his people. God has kept some amazing promises and accomplished some amazing facts. So, DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT. 1) God has Chosen You, 2) He Promises to Be with You, and 3) He Gives You His Word.
1) God Has Chosen You
We learn those three truths from Jeremiah. His long ministry stretched over the last 40 years of Judah’s history before they were led captive to Babylon. During those forty years, the talk on Jerusalem’s streets included names like Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh Necho. These two great world rulers were engaged in a battle at Carchemish, which would determine the fate of the Middle East. The Pharaoh was defeated and, as a result, Judah became dependent on Babylon.
Throughout this period Judah, as always, was caught in the middle. Though a small and weak kingdom, Judah was important because it was the land bridge between Babylon to the north and east, and Egypt to the south and west. For this reason, each of those countries tried to control the land of Israel.
As a result, the little southern kingdom (Judah) felt as if they were sold short. They felt as if God didn’t know or care about them – merely pawns in a political war – so they turned away from the Lord. Yet, God wanted the people to know he had never forgotten them. He was in control even if they didn’t realize it. And he made that point evident as he called Jeremiah to be his prophet: The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “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.”
It is important to note that the phrase “the word of the LORD came” appears 21 times in Jeremiah. This is a regular reminder that the Lord desires to communicate with his creation and when he does, he communicates with words. What a marvelous message he communicates to us. The Lord knows all things; he is omniscient. In fact, the Lord “knew” Jeremiah. God had an intimate knowledge of Jeremiah. The covenant God of love thought of Jeremiah not only when he was a cute baby or a teenager. God’s love for Jeremiah and God’s knowledge of Jeremiah began before his birth, even before he was conceived in the womb.
God intimately knows you, too. God’s knowledge isn’t like some abstract data stored on a computer disk. God’s knowledge is active. God’s knowledge brought you into existence. He knew you and made you. He knew you would be born a sinner. He knew you needed a Savior. And he caused his word of salvation to be proclaimed by faithful ones such as Jeremiah, so that the hope of a Savior would be shared. It was the gospel proclaimed to us, which created faith in us and has led us to believe that God loves us.
God’s choice is what made Jeremiah. God’s choice is what made you and me – not the other way around. Such a concept flies in the face of our contemporary world. Business promotions are based on performance. Sports teams win championships by their own efforts. Many people apply such thinking to matters of faith. They think they must make a decision to accept and know God. That is not the case. God considers us worthy because of his choice. He considers us worthy because of what his Son, Jesus Christ, has accomplished for us. It is the Holy Spirit who works a buoyant trust in our hearts to believe and to receive the blessings of God’s grace.
God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations. What a comfort there! God is the one who calls his messengers to the world. I can take comfort in this text because the task of sharing God’s Word with his people is a task that God has given to me; it is not a mission I have chosen for myself.
The same is true for all of us. God has chosen each of us, even before our conception or birth. At our baptism, he made that choice known to us. Look at your own baptism, and you will find the same kind of promise, assurance, and anchor in the Lord as Jeremiah did when he considered how God called him.