Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: No one is beyond starting over again.


Jeremiah 18:1-5

A product with which most of us have grown up is Ivory soap. Besides being 99.44% pure, it has two uncommon qualities among soap. (1) It floats, and (2) it is the oldest of the best-sellers. But, it hasn’t always been that way!

Years ago Ivory soap was just another brand among many. But then, one day, a factory foreman blundered by leaving a batch of new soap unwatched in the cooking vat during noon hour. His lunch was delayed and the soap over-cooked. However....

Rather than report the mistake and risk losing his job, the foreman decided to make the best of it. He shipped out the batch anyway. It seemed to clean as well - although it WAS much lighter.

The results surprised everyone. Because, rather than complaints, the company was deluged with orders for the new ’floating’ soap. So, rather than being fired, the foreman was promoted when he cooperated with the company chemists to revise and modify the old formula to make the soap that floats.

Many who have made mistakes of have learned that there can be "Blessing from blunders" - "a silver lining behind every dark cloud" - that "good can come from grief - and profit may come from peril" - We have been told, and often tell others to "pick up the pieces and be positive" - "move on" - for, "it is always possible to make something better out of something bad." Beloved, that is exactly the way God works with us. There are many times that we may do wrong; a mistake of yielding to the flesh marrs our life. Our attititudes and action cause us to fall short of God’s intended design, but He does not toss us aside as something that is worthless, or useless. Rather, He remakes us (over and again, if necessary) until He has completed in us that which He purposed before we ever were.

This morning, as we look at the text, we must preface it by pointing out the fact that Jeremiah, the prophet, had a lesson to learn; a lesson that involved the patience of God with His people who had consitently rebelled against Him.

As we look at the first chapter of the book which bears his name, we find that Jeremiah was called and sanctioned by God. He was ordained to be a prophet unto the nations. It is believed that Jeremiah was just a young man of 21 years of age. He was also a man without experience in this field of prophesying....but, age and lack of experience did not matter because when God called him, He also equipped him for the task.

Verse 10 of chapter one reveals to us the tremendous responsibility which had been laid upon Jeremiah, for God said: "See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to thrown down, to build and to plant."

I suppose that the best illustration of this call from God, is that of a field being cleared and prepared for use. Over on North Litchfield road there is just such a field. A few months ago it was overgrown with scrub brush. But one day, as I drove by I noticed that all the brush had been cut down. Then later, I passed by and saw men with small ’bobcat’ loaders digging up the roots of the trees that had been cut down. Placing them in a large pile, they were then burned. Soon the field will be completely cleared, and no doubt, planted and an eventual harvest will come of it.

Beloved, this was exactly what Jeremiah was to do in Israel and Judah. He was to go in and prepare the hearts of God’s people for restoration that would lead to their usefulness to God. They had become overgrown with the thorny scrub-brush of idolatry. Their love for God had been choked out by their indifference to Him....and the message God would send unto his people through his prophet would change them!

Now, in the first chapter, we also find that Jeremiah made excuses because He did not want to accept the challenge of so great a responsibility. He said, in verse 6, "...behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child." But God refuted his excuse by saying, "say not I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee....behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.....therefore, gird up thy loins, and arise and speak all that I command thee....be not dismayed at their faces....for I have made thee this day, a defensed city, an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land....and they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee, for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.

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