Jeremiah, like Moses, made objections to God's call. Jeremiah's excuses were "I do not know how to speak" and "I am only a child" (Jeremiah 1:6). I don't know how old Jeremiah was when God called him, but being young seems like a good reason to postpone being a prophet. However old he was though, God did not accept that as an excuse. In fact, God said, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you" (Jeremiah 1:7-8).
As with Moses, God promised to tell him what to say. As with Moses, God promised to be with him. As with Moses, God sent him to a hostile audience. God did not promise that Jeremiah would not suffer for being a prophet, but he promised to rescue him. "Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," he assured Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:18-19).
On the outside, it might look like Jeremiah was a failure because, on the whole, the kings and the nations did not listen to God's word through him. But in God's eyes he was successful because he completed the task God gave him; he fulfilled his calling; he was obedient. He did not let his original excuses - I don't know how to speak and I'm too young - hold him back.
For reflection: How obedient am I to answering God's call? Do I trust God to give me the words to speak when I need them?
Let us pray. Lord, here I am. I trust you not to call me to do anything you will not enable me to do. I place my trust in you.
We can learn about how God works by looking at how he calls people to help him. Earlier we went through the numerous objections that Moses gave God for not going to speak to Pharaoh. Today let's look at the call of Jeremiah. God begins by telling Jeremiah that he knew him before he was born and that he determined even then to appoint Jeremiah as a prophet (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
What God says to Jeremiah is true for each of us. God knew us before we were born. He gave us life in the womb. He appointed some specific task for each of us. It may not be as a "prophet to the nations" as it was for Jeremiah. It may not be to set a nation free as it was for Moses. But we each have a purpose. The basic purpose for each human being is to know God, to love him and to serve him in whatever way God asks.
For reflection: Knowing, loving and serving God are my tasks. Where am I with each of these?
Let us pray. (based on Psalm 139) Lord, you know everything about me - the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet you surround me with your love and your presence so much so that I cannot escape them. You think of me day and night. I am always on your mind. Thank you for knowing and loving me so thoroughly.
When God calls people to do his work he accepts no excuses. Take the example of Moses and his conversation with God at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17). When God tells Moses he is sending him back to Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery under Pharaoh, Moses' first objection is, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" Next Moses tries "What if they ask me what your name is?" Then, "What if they don't believe me or listen to me?" Still not willing to go, Moses objects, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." Like any good salesman, God answers every question and meets every objection. Finally Moses gets right down to what he really wants. "O Lord, please send someone else." And God gets angry. Even so, he doesn't let Moses off the hook, he simply assigns Aaron to go with him.
When God wants us to do something, he accepts no excuses. Arguing with God is useless; he has all the answers. When God calls, he qualifies, equips and empowers the person called. As reluctant as Moses was, he still succeeded.
For reflection: What has God called me to do? What excuses am I giving for not doing it?
Let us pray. Father, you are the God of No Excuses. You are God Who Calls, God Who Qualifies, God Who Equips and God Who Empowers. I come to do your will.
Let us spend today praising the Lord for his goodness.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. From everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. (Psalm 103:1-5, 8, 11, 17-18)
Let's return to the post of a few days ago about "Big Air". I'm still pondering the questions I posted for reflection: What is the new normal to which God is calling me? Where have I settled for less than God wants? What new moves does God want me to develop?
Personally, I don't have any answers for those questions yet, but I feel like they are coming. I just need to be persistent in asking those questions of God and the answers will come.
The scary thing about a new normal is that it means change. We always hope change is for the better, but sometimes it is not. Life changes bring a new normal: graduations, marriages, children, divorces, deaths, new jobs or no jobs. Storms can bring a new normal too, whether it's a tornado, hurricane, flood or drought. I believe, though, that we can trust that any new normal to which God calls us is ultimately for the better.
For reflection: Let us continue to listen for the new normal to which God is calling us. Where does he want us to soar when we have only walked before? "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Let us pray. Jesus, to what new things are you calling me? I want your normal to be my normal.
The team skaters at the Olympics are graded mercilessly on the execution of certain elements. Are they performing their moves in unison? How elegantly do they get in and out of a lift? Do their movements express the mood of the music? They are expected to achieve perfection throughout the entire program. They work years toward a flawless performance for those few minutes on one day of their lives.
Perfection is a tall order. Having judges watch your every move and grade you on it is nerve-racking. But the athletes have gotten used to being criticized by their coaches, and made to do it over again, until they get it right.
There is a place in the Scriptures where Jesus tells us to be perfect. "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" is part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:48). In this section of Matthew, Jesus is giving instructions for living which go beyond the letter of the law. It was the religious leaders of the day who were acting like Olympic judges, watching and grading people on who was keeping the law and who wasn't. But Jesus was telling them that they had it wrong. They were looking at the lesser elements. Their scoring was skewed.
When Jesus said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," he was referring to being perfect in love. Don't just love those who love you; love your enemies. That way lies perfection.
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, I want to be perfect for you. I want to be in sync with you. I want to work in unison with you.
Snowboarding, free skiing and other events have been added to the Olympic games in recent years. These are sports that only developed recently. People invented these sports. They invented the equipment; they invented the moves. Someone did it first and then spread the word.
Usually these innovators are young people who are willing to try anything. They don't have a fear of failure (or many times a fear of death). When they get to a certain age, they retire from the sport to get married, raise families and pursue other dreams. They settle down; live normal lives.
I'm not sure as Christians that we should settle down and live normal lives. We should be the ones trying new things in the Spirit, finding new ways to achieve healing, working miracles to feed the hungry and house the homeless, even raising the dead. We should be the ones soaring above the earth in the Spirit, being transported supernaturally to other places, getting "big air". These are radical things in the Spirit today which for Christians should be the new normal.
For reflection: What is the new normal to which God is calling me? Where have I settled for less than God wants? What new moves does God want me to develop?
Let us pray. Jesus, in you all things are possible. I want to know you and the power of your resurrection. I don't want to settle for less than you have planned for me and will enable me to do. I want to keep pressing on toward that to which you have called me. With you I have no fear.(based on Matthew 19:26, Ephesians 3:10, 13-14 and 1 John 4:18).
"He'll have to change his mindset for this race," the speed skating commentator said as another group prepared for a qualifying race. The young people in the Olympics are often described as envisioning their entire routine before they take to the ice or the slopes. They've been taught to picture themselves perfectly executing their routine, their race, their downhill run. If they can't picture it, they won't attain it.
To return to the sports world, for many years no one ran a mile in under 4 minutes. It was thought to be impossible, until someone did it (Roger Bannister). The bar was raised and runners began to think in terms of less than 4 minutes. We too can raise the bar of what we expect God to accomplish through our lives and in our world by putting on the mind of Christ and remembering that he can do more than we can ask or imagine
"Keep on keepin' on," is an old exhortation. I think it stems from St. Paul's words to the people in Philippi: "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12b-14).
As I watched some of the figure skating at the Olympics last night I heard one of the commentators say that the couple skating had practiced a particular move for years before putting it in the competition. How many times did they fall, do you think? At the end of one year of trying, did they want to give up? No. They ignored how many times they failed and pressed on, kept on, straining toward perfection, having in mind the Olympic gold, the prize which called to them.
For reflection: Jesus never gave up. Paul never gave up. Peter never gave up. What has God called you to do that you have not yet accomplished?
Let us pray. Jesus, I thank you for taking hold of me. I am pressing on to take hold of that for which you took hold of me. I am forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I am keeping on toward the goal you have set for me.
Now that the Olympics are upon us we are inspired by the Olympians' dedication to training and competing in their chosen sport. They train and compete for years in preparation for World Championships and Olympic gold. They maintain a proper diet, a tough mindset and practice, practice, practice.
Perhaps St. Paul was something of an athlete too because he used many sports metaphors in his letters. He wanted to encourage people to keep going on, moving forward, never giving up. Paul said, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training" (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
What type of training do God's people need in order to keep living the Christian life? Studying his word (the proper diet), praying (a tough mindset), and practice, practice, practice.
For reflection: Today let us feast on a word that leads to a proper mindset and takes a lot of practice. "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
Let us pray. For our prayer today, find in a quiet place, a comfortable position, and soak in the love of God.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.