God Has a Plan for You
O Lord, my Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter, as I come to worship You in spirit and in truth, I humbly pray that You would open my heart to the preaching of Your Word so that I may repent of my sins, believe in Jesus Christ as my only Savior, and grow in grace and holiness. Hear me for the sake of His name. Amen.
Paul describes Israel’s rejection of the Lord. Surely the Word of the Lord was available. The Anointed One was revealed through prophecy in their midst. Yet, He was rejected and despised; and so the Word of the Lord, the revelation of the Anointed One, has been made to those not of the covenant people. Still, the Lord has reserved a remnant from among Abraham’s children, a remnant chosen by grace.
The gracious words of the Anointed One win admiration but not hearts of faith. When confronted by their own unbelief and the inclusion of Gentiles in spiritual Israel, “Joseph’s son” is driven from the synagogue to be thrown from the cliff. Yet the Savior of the nations passes through the angry mob to continue His mission and reveal Himself in Capernaum.
Text: Jeremiah 1:4-10
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”
“What do you want to do with your life?” It's a common question we ask when we're young. Some of you, no doubt, are struggling with that very question right now. After years living at home through grade school, middle school, and high school, suddenly, you're faced with some tough decisions, and life doesn't seem so certain anymore. Do I go to college? Do I enter the workforce? Do I go into the military? Do I get married? What should I do with my life?
And for those of you who are older, perhaps you can remember back to the anxiety that came with deciding where you would go to school, what you would study, and what profession you would enter. And as you look forward now, you're probably also faced with questions: When will I retire? How am I going to retire?
Long ago, a priest's young son from a country town near Jerusalem faced the some tough questions. I wonder what questions Jeremiah may have had for himself. “Will I go to a Jewish school? Will I go into farming or herding? Will I be a priest like my father?" The answer for Jeremiah would be none of these things. In our text today, God reveals the special plan that He had for Jeremiah.
Now, the Lord doesn't come and tell us, as He did with Jeremiah, what the details of life will be. He hasn’t told you directly what job you should do, or what person you should marry. In fact, maybe your life has turned out much differently than what you planned—differently than what you expected. For some of you, that may be a good thing. For others, you may not look at it that way. Yet, no matter how your life has turned out, you can be sure, based on our text, that the Lord has guided your life. You can be sure that the Lord has a plan for you, because I. God chose you to be His child, and as His child, II. God chose you to do His work.
What was it about Jeremiah that caused God to choose him to be a prophet? Was it his priestly background or his connections in Jerusalem? Was it because he was a great speaker, or because he had all of the tools that make for a great prophet? It becomes pretty clear as you read through the book of Jeremiah that none of this was the case. With how often Jeremiah questioned God's decision to make him a prophet, it's a wonder God didn't just skip over him and choose someone who would cause Him less trouble.
So why choose Jeremiah? The answer is that He chose Jeremiah because of His undeserved grace. Throughout the Bible, God seems to make it a point of choosing the most unlikely people to do His work. He chose Moses to lead His people out of Egypt after Moses had spent 40 years in Midian. He chose Gideon, a man from the smallest clan of the smallest tribe, to lead Israel into battle. He chose Saul, the greatest persecutor of the church to be Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles. None of these people deserved to be chosen by God, and yet, God chose them anyway because of His grace.
In business or sports, it's those that have the most talent, the most drive, the most charisma and skill that are chosen for great things. They often earn what they get, but that's not how God works. His choice of you is undeserved and unearned. That is what makes it so remarkable. The Lord says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” [v.5 ESV]
Before we were born, God knew us intimately and He knew that we were His sinful enemies. David states this truth in Psalm 51: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5 ESV). Jeremiah didn't deserve to be God's prophet because he was totally corrupt with sin. We do not deserve to be chosen as God's children because we are totally corrupt with sin. But as with Jeremiah, God chose us by His grace. Through Jesus, His Son, God showed His undeserved kindness to us. Through the perfect life He lived in our place, and His precious blood which He shed to cover our sins, Jesus has made you and me worthy in God's sight. Peter writes in chapter 2 of his first epistle, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV). Think about that—God has called you out of the darkness of your sin into the wonderful light that is Jesus Christ so that you can have your inheritance, so that you can have Heaven.
That God chose Jeremiah out of His pure grace served as a comfort that Jeremiah could count on, and the same is true for us. Just like Jeremiah, God has given us the wonderful assurance that He has always known that we would be His children. He has always known that He would bring us to faith in Him; and it is this truth to which we can cling in our darkest moments—when we are filled with doubt and uncertainty, when we see the depths of our sins and can't imagine how God could love us anymore, when we look at our lives that haven't turned out how we'd hoped and we begin to question our own faith because we struggle with so many things. In those times, we can cling to these words, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” [v.5 ESV]
God has called you. Through His powerful Word and sacraments He has called you to be His own and to live under Him in His kingdom. Despite your weakness of faith and mine, despite your wicked ways and mine, the forgiveness and love of the Lord does not fade. These things are forgiven. You are God's own dear child. Let this be your rock and foundation in life.
There is another part to God’s plan for our lives. Not only has God chosen you to be His child, but He has chosen you to do His work.
What is a typical response you might get when you ask a child to do something? How often do you hear responses like: “Do I have to?” “I can't do it.” “Why can't someone else do it?” We get excuses, and this is not just limited to children. When is the last time you found yourself responding with: “I can't do it. I don't have the skills. I don't have the time. Why can't someone else do it?”
Jeremiah responded to the Lord’s call with the same type of excuses. “Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.'” [v.6 ESV] How often do we make excuses when we have the opportunity to share God's Word with others? “I don't know the Bible well enough. The timing is wrong. Why can't somebody else do it?”
It can be especially easy to make these excuses when we are in the situation of having to confront someone with his sin. So often we just stay quiet, and Satan loves it. He loves it when we make these excuses because souls remain enslaved to sin when the saving message of the Gospel is not proclaimed. Thank God that He has forgiven our sin of keeping silent!
But what are we to do? Listen to the promise the Lord gave to Jeremiah in verses 7-8,"But the Lord said to me: 'Do not say, "I am a youth," for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,' says the Lord.” [vv.7-8]
The Lord said to Jeremiah, “I am with you.” It's the same promise He made to Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and so many others. It’s the same promise Jesus made to His disciples before His ascension, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20), or His words to Paul, “I am with you” (Acts 18:10); and that same promise is for us.
That promise gave Jeremiah the confidence he needed to proclaim God’s Word even in the worst of situations. It’s that promise that we can cling to when we share God’s Word with others. So rather than worrying about what to say, you can pray to the Lord to fulfill His promise and give you the words to speak. When you see a co-worker or a friend living in sin and you need to speak the Law to him, you can cling to the promise that He will be with you. When you face problems with your job or when family problems arise, you can cling to the Lord’s promise and assure your family that the Lord will never leave you.
When the time comes to proclaim God's Word, we have no excuse, because the Lord promises to be with us, and God equips us to proclaim His Word. God says to Jeremiah, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.” [v. 9] Now, God doesn't physically put words in our mouth as He did with Jeremiah, but the Lord has put His Word in our mouths by giving us the Scriptures. The Lord works through us as we dig into His Word. When we take time for personal study and family devotions and when we attend Bible Study and worship on Sunday, the Lord uses these times to equip us to preach His Word.
As we study His Word, it becomes part of us, and the more we read and study it, the more readily it will come to us when the opportunity arises to share it with others. The more time we spend in God’s Word, the easier it will be to apply both the cutting commands of the Law and the healing message of the Gospel in our lives. He not only puts the Word in our hearts for contemplation, but He puts it in our mouths for proclamation.
The task of sharing God’s Word seems daunting, and the biggest concern we have is not knowing what to say. Have you ever been afraid to speak on behalf of God? Have you ever been unsure of yourself when it comes to working for God? Have you thought that you could not be a witness for Him because of your own weaknesses? Do me a favor right now, raise your hand if you have ever felt this way. See, we are all in the same boat on this one.
Everyone gets scared, but to these reservations and hesitations God says, “Shh, be quiet. Don’t listen to your insecurities. Don’t listen to those worries and concerns. Don’t listen to the Devil telling you that you can’t do it. Instead listen to Me. I am giving you My all-powerful Word. I am giving you My very own words to speak. You don’t need to rely on yourself, you only need to rely on Me. This is everything that you need.”
Long ago, the Lord had a plan for the prophet Jeremiah. Before the foundation of the world, He had chosen him to be His child, and He chose him to do His work. The Lord also has a plan for us. He has chosen us to be His children, He has chosen us through His Word to proclaim His Word, and He has equipped you for that work. The Lord has a great plan for you, so do His work while trusting in His promises, knowing that He is with you. Amen.
Mr. Rob Sauers
2nd year Seminary student
Immanuel Lutheran Seminary, Eau Claire, WI