Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God has worked in the life of His people since before the foundations of the world--preparing and appointing them for service.

“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.’” [1]

It is most humbling to realise that we cannot boast of anything we possess or of who we are. Before ever life began, God was at work in the life of His child determining who that child would be and how he or she would be equipped to live out life. From a practical point of view, we did not choose our parents, where we would be born or even what genetic gifts we would possess. Some individuals are prepared to argue that we are the result of a sort of genetic crap shoot—a mindless dance of an almost limitless recombination of strands of DNA. However, the Word of God reveals a mighty hand guiding the life of the Christian.

I am not addressing unbelievers who have determined that they are masters of their own fate. Likely, such individuals have scant interest in anything a Baptist preacher might say. For the most part, I am addressing professing Christians who profess to believe in a God who is intimately involved in guiding their lives. Most professing Christians believe that their life is not defined by serendipity or accident. Knowledgeable Christians are confident that God both cares for them and that He has directed their life even before they were born.

Where does a child of God derive such confidence? What has God said to give such comfort to one who believes? The questions are not inconsequential or serendipitous. Rather, such queries lie at the heart of our understanding of who we are and how we are said to be in the image of God. The understanding of our personhood lies at the root of the revulsion we feel in the knowledge of the slaughter of the unborn and motivates our opposition to condoning taking the life of those who require care and assistance. We who know God, who understand His work in our life and our position before Him, are not merely uncomfortable at the thought of taking life; we stand athwart society’s efforts to justify killing the most vulnerable in society. While the teaching of our relationship to the True and Living God is woven throughout the warp and woof of the Word of God, one particular passage in Jeremiah’s writing informs us of God’s work in the life of His child before the child is even conceived.

BEFORE I WAS BORN — The Prophecy of Jeremiah begins, not surprisingly, with the Prophet’s account of his appointment to divine service. He speaks first of the period in which he prophesied. We need to have this information in order to understand some of the prophecies. “The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month” [JEREMIAH 1:1-3].

Jeremiah then gives us the specific statement concerning his appointment. “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.’”

[JEREMIAH 1:4, 5]

This divine announcement will receive our full attention during the message; but it is important to take a moment to note Jeremiah’s response to God’s announcement.

“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.

See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,

to pluck up and to break down,

to destroy and to overthrow,

to build and to plant’”

[JEREMIAH 1:6-10].

In a recent message, I commented on Jeremiah’s appointment to divine service. In that prior message, I stated, “Long years ago I took to heart God’s admonition to Jeremiah when he began his service before the LORD God. ‘Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all that I command you. Do not break down before their faces, lest I break you before them’ [JEREMIAH 1:17]. [2]

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