As a child, I remember playing with a small flashlight. It wasn’t much fun in the daylight because you could hardly tell it was on. But in a dark room or especially at night, it was amazing to me how it lit things up. As a child, darkness was scary, you never knew what lurked there. But just a little flashlight could dispel that darkness.
As we grow up, we learn that we live in a dark world that is filled with evil. A dark world that needs light to drive the darkness away. Today, we begin a new message series called “Shine in a Dark World.” Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed with the increasing darkness around us. Yet, the darker our world, the greater the impact our light will have.
Philippians 2:15 (ESV) … be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
We live in a crooked and twisted generation that is characterized by the darkness of sin. As we follow Jesus, His light shines through us as lights in the world. These lights do two things. They repel those who want nothing to do with Jesus and they attract those who are ready to repent of their sin. We are tempted to hide our lights so that we don’t stand out in a dark world. But that’s exactly what we’re not supposed to do.
Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The only hope for our world is for believer to let the light of Jesus shine through them, lighting up the dark night of the world. In our new series “Shine in a Dark World” we’re going to look at the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah began his ministry to Judah under the godly king Josiah. Yet, there was no major repentance in Judah and things got darker and darker. Few listened to Jeremiah’s message, yet he was faithful to God’s call.
I believe that the example of Jeremiah will encourage us to let your lights shine in the dark world of our time. Today, our message is entitled “Find Direction from God.” God calls each of us and gives us direction on how to let our lights shine in a dark world. So, let’s have open ears to hear what the Spirit desires to speak to us this morning.
Jeremiah 1:1-2 (ESV) 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.
Jeremiah was born in a village four miles northeast of Jerusalem during the reign of wicked King Manasseh. The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah under King Josiah, a godly king who sought to bring about spiritual reformation to Judah. But King Josiah’s efforts, backed by Jeremiah, would bring about no true change in the hearts of the people. So, what did God say when He called Jeremiah as His messenger?
Jeremiah 1:4-5 (ESV) 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.”
God spoke to Jeremiah and said that He knew Jeremiah before he was conceived in his mother’s womb. Before Jeremiah was born, God had consecrated or set him apart for God’s purpose. This speaks to the life of every person from conception through birth. What was true of Jeremiah is true of everyone, God knew you and chose to create you in your mother’s womb.
God’s call on Jeremiah’s life was for him to be a prophet to the nations. A prophet is someone who would speak God’s word as God’s messenger. While everyone is not called to be a prophet, I believe that God calls everyone to be His messenger.
God had a plan and purpose for your life before He formed you in your mother’s womb. God’s first purpose for every person in these last days is for them to believe in Jesus. Each person has a choice to make, whether they will answer God’s call to salvation or not. Once you answer God’s call to salvation by believing in Jesus, He calls you to be His messenger.
In the New Testament, God calls us to be His witnesses, which is really another name for a messenger. The specifics of God’s call as a messenger on your life will vary from person to person. Many believers have different calls on their lives at different seasons.
When I was in high school, I sought God whether He was calling me to full-time ministry as my father or to a career in science. As it turns out, I followed His call for a career in science for about 25 years. Then God called me out of science into full-time ministry as a pastor.
Now each person whom God calls must make a decision to answer that call. As you answer that call, you will be blessed and be a blessing to others. It doesn’t matter what age or stage in life that you are in. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ignored God’s call in the past. God has a call and a plan for the rest of your life to be His messenger, to let your light shine in a dark world.
To whom are you called? Each of us is called to be a messenger to our families, to our relatives, to our workmates, to our friend, to our neighborhoods, to our schools, and to our church. We act as messengers through both our words and our actions, just as Jesus did. God calls you as His messenger.
Jeremiah 1:6-7 (ESV) 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.
Scholars believe that Jeremiah was about sixteen years old when God called him as a prophet to the nations. His father was a priest, so he was familiar with full-time ministry, but a prophet to the nations was outside of his experience. Jeremiah, as so many others, felt inadequate to carry out God’s call. He was to be a prophet, a messenger, but he didn’t know what to say. God gently rebuked him for questioning his call. And He reassured Jeremiah that He would tell him where to go and what to speak. When God calls a messenger, He always provides the message.
Jeremiah 1:8 (ESV) Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.”
Jeremiah must also have been afraid of speaking, so God commanded him not to be afraid. Not only would God give Jeremiah the message, He would deliver or protect him until his task was finished. Despite unrelenting persecution, Jeremiah continued his prophetic ministry for at least 40 years.
Jeremiah 1:9 (ESV) 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.
God would supernaturally give Jeremiah the prophetic words to speak, both to the nation of Judah and to other pagan nations. God would speak to Jeremiah through His Spirit and tell him exactly what to say. Later in Jeremiah’s ministry, God instructed Jeremiah to put his messages in written form which we have today in the book of Jeremiah. The book of Jeremiah is the second longest book in the Bible, second only to Psalms. When God calls someone as His messenger, He provides the message.
In chapter one of Jeremiah, God begins to give His message to Jeremiah through two visions. The second vision is of a boiling pot coming from the north. The boiling pot represented the Babylonian military campaigns that would come against Judah if they did not repent of forsaking the Lord and worshipping idols. Jeremiah’s message was one calling for repentance for judgement was coming.
Let’s think for a minute about the message that God is calling you to deliver. Our first task as a messenger to the people God calls us to is to see the people in our circle of influence saved. We’re going to see next week, that Jeremiah’s message began with calling the nation to repentance. Repentance is turning away from sin and seeking God’s forgiveness.
Jesus’ message and the message of the early church began with a call to repent. Without a conviction of sin and a repentant attitude, there can be no salvation. This is true for a young child, a young adult, a middle-aged person or an older person.
Now, once a person repents and puts their faith in Jesus Christ, our work as a messenger is not over. We are to teach them to obey everything that Jesus commanded in His Word. God will show you what message He has for each person and each situation. God provides the message.
Jeremiah 1:17 (ESV) But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.
The Lord next prepares Jeremiah for His task, it won’t be easy, it will be work. Jeremiah is not supposed to say what he wants to say, only what God tells him to say. Jeremiah was instructed not to be dismayed or afraid of the people he was sent to. This would not be easy, as Jeremiah is probably the most persecuted prophet in the Old Testament. Yet, listen to God’s promise to him.
Jeremiah 1:18 (ESV) And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.
God was going to protect Jeremiah from all the attacks of evil in the land, whether from kings, leaders, priests or the common people. God was going to put protective barrier around Jeremiah that would allow him to fulfill God’s call.
Jeremiah 1:19 (ESV) They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”
God warns Jeremiah at the onset of his mission that the enemy, his own countrymen, would fight against him. They would try to silence his voice, but they would not succeed. Why? Because the Lord promised Jeremiah at the outset of his ministry that He would deliver him. God prepares His messengers.
Just as God prepared Jeremiah to be a messenger and deliver God’s message, so He prepares you. God has prepared you to give His message to the people He has placed in your life. As you seek God for His direction on a daily basis, He will show you to whom to speak, what to say and how to say it.
Everyone will not receive the message that you bring from God’s Word. Some will react to the message, but know that God is with you. Satan wants you to be quiet and not be God’s messenger. He wants you to be afraid of speaking out for the Lord. But God says, don’t be afraid, let your light shine and I will protect you. God prepares you to be His messenger.
We live in a dark world that seems to grow darker each day. Yet, God has not called you to despair, but to shine the light of Jesus into the darkness. God has called each one of us as believers before we were born to be His messengers. The Lord has saved you and has given you a message of hope and love. God has placed you in a unique circle of relationships to speak the message He has given.
As you seek God, He will guide you as His messenger. The Lord will help you overcome fear and have the courage to let your light shine through your words and your actions. May God help each of us individually and as a church family to shine His light ever brighter to those around us.