Responsive Reading: Jeremiah 15:10-21
Key Verse(s): Jeremiah 15:16-17
Background Scripture: John 15:18-25
In choosing God over everything, there is much good in our life, but yet, at the same time, there are hardships that still come our way. Through Jeremiah, we will see one of those hardships to which I believe is a great hardship that many believers deal with today. Though we still have struggles on our journey, we will see today that God fortifies and blesses us to be able to endure and overcome our greatest hardships.
Choosing God Over Everything
There is a decision that we all have to make in this life of ours and Jeremiah would tell you that he chose joy by choosing the Lord. In the first of my key verses, Jeremiah speaks of the joy that he had obtained in his heart when he chose to eat (consume) God’s word.
Taste and see
It is the start of a new year and I wonder how many folks made the resolution of getting into the Word of God? David encouraged that one should taste and see that the Lord is good; he said, “Blessed is the man who trusts in Him (Ps. 34:8)!” Jesus proclaimed that He is the bread of life. He then encouraged all of those that hungered and thirst for life to come unto Him and eat and drink so that they could obtain life (John 6:35-59).
I would tell you today that we all truly need to get into the Word of God. When I say that we need to get into God’s word, I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about just nibbling off or sampling His word, but eating it completely and then digesting it. The Word of God, when we truly eat it and digest it will become a part of our being and make up our walk, our talk, and our every action.
On this note, I think back to when I first began to truly believe in the Lord and that was not when I was baptized at 8 years old. Up until I had truly started to believe in the Lord, I had been nibbling off His word; barely praying, barely studying, barely trying to live in a Christ-like manner. When I first truly began to believe – to get into and consume the Word of God – was when I truly prayed to Him for the first time; a kid with so many questions about the Lord had those questions answered by Him in my adult years.
Again, I encourage that we need to eat, to consume, and to digest the Word of God so that God’s word becomes a part of our being! You see, when God is a part of your being, you are truly in sync and in fellowship with Him; our walk, our talk, and our every action becomes that which is driven by the Word of God. Like Jeremiah, we will be filled with great joy and our hearts will rejoice!
Moving Against the Crowd
Now, when we go about choosing God over everything, the everything tends to not be happy with our choice; life does not magically get easier as our eyes become open to the reality that we live in. We may find ourselves having the same kind of struggle that Jeremiah dealt with in his fellowship and with what he had been commissioned to do by the Lord.
In Jeremiah 15, we will see that the Lord was not done moving against the wickedness of Judah, the southern kingdom. Prior to Jeremiah 15, we can see where Jeremiah spoke on God’s behalf to Judah.
On one occasion, Jeremiah delivered God’s message about the wickedness of Judah and called for them to repent (Jer. 2-3:14). On another occasion, Jeremiah delivered a message that spoke of Judah’s future destruction and captivity because they would not turn away from their wicked ways (Jer. 4:5-31; 10:17-25; 13:18-19).
Jeremiah, I want you to understand, was doing exactly what God had called him to do. Jeremiah was called and sanctified by the Lord before he was even born to deliver the words God had put in his mouth to the people (Jer. 1:4-10). The Lord said to Jeremiah that the words that were put in his mouth were words to “root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant (Jer. 1:10).”
Was Jeremiah a popular person because of the word that he had chosen to live by and was called to share with all of those around him? Absolutely not! Jeremiah was not loved by the people because he spoke against them and their wickedness. In fact, just like Elijah and other prophets of that era, Jeremiah lived under threat because those around him desired to kill him (Jer. 11:18-19).
Not fitting in with the crowd
I think about all of us and that calling which we have taken up and the word by which we live because we went about choosing God over everything.
For Jeremiah, choosing God over everything came with a certain hardship that can be a rather difficult one for many believers. Because Jeremiah chose God over everything and accepted his holy calling, he did not fit in with the crowd. How many of us are ready to not fit in with the crowd?
How many of us have truly chosen God over everything and accepted our holy calling? You see, we all have a holy calling. As Paul said to Timothy, our calling is a holy calling according to God’s own purpose and grace (2 Tim. 1:9). When we choose God over everything, we must be prepared for what’s to come. So, again, I ask: how many of us are ready not to fit in with the crowd because we are going to choose God over everything?
In the second of my key verses, Jeremiah said, “I did not sit in the assembly of mockers [of God], nor did I rejoice [with them]; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with indignation (anger towards the mockers and their way).”
I want this to be very clear: Jeremiah was not saying that he sat alone because the crowd had abandoned him but because he chose to separate himself from the crowd of wickedness. Jeremiah understood his holy calling and did not want to be entangled with wickedness, so he removed himself from it! You see, a blessing of consuming the Word of God is spiritual discernment and with spiritual discernment we know right from wrong according to the Lord.
Should not the child of God separate him or herself from the crowd of wickedness and have no part in their sin? Haven’t we been sanctified by the Lord through the shed blood of Jesus so that we may be a vessel of His (2 Tim. 2:20-21)? Yes and yes! We have been made holy and righteous through the blood of Jesus so why would we ever desire to be entangled with sin again when we have been freed from it?
Scripture repeatedly tells us to flee from sin and have no part with those of wickedness. So, if you truly are going to choose God over everything, then you better be ready to not fit in with the crowd of wickedness! God has set you apart from that crowd to which you, because of your faith, are on the pathway to holiness and righteousness!
Wanting to fit in
Sadly, there are many who have claimed to be of faith that struggle or simply cannot deal with the hardship of not fitting in and being different. Rather than being set apart to be a special treasure in God’s eyes, some rather cave in and strive to be “in the crowd”; this is to say that they rather be loved by the world than by God.
The desire to fit in and be a part of the crowd takes me back to my childhood years in school where everything was like a popularity contest. Whatever the trend or fad of the day was, everyone would do their best to fit in and be popular and a part of the ‘cool crowd’.
For example, you had to have a pair of Jordans in order to be a part of the ‘cool crowd’. Whatever the popular apparel was you had to wear if you wanted to be a part of the cool crowd. In the early 90s, it was having a Starter jacket, and then by the time I was in middle school, you had to be wearing Tommy Hilfiger. By the early 2000s you had to wear baggy pants and a long white-t in order to be a part of the cool crowd.
If you didn’t have Jordans, or whatever the fad shoe was that year, you were looked down on and mocked; you were called a ‘lame’. Being lame was something that, as a kid, you never wanted to be called or known as. If you did not wear Tommy Hilfiger you were not only considered lame but you were ‘broke’. Again, nobody wanted to be called lame, known as a lame, and nobody wanted anyone to think they are broke. The truly sad part about all of this is that we were just children.
What a messed up world we live in when it is seemingly of the utmost importance to some that they be a part of such a crowd as adults. Even though we say that we have matured, everything still boils down to a popularity contest it seems. The truth of the matter is that we all have a nature to where we want to be loved, especially by our peers. Though, I would suggest to you today that you have to be careful about who you desire to love you.
What good ever came from fitting in the cool crowd? I look back on the silliness of it all and I am very thankful for my parents and the other adults that always said you don’t have to fit in and it is OK to be different. Something my parents always taught me was to be my own person. I was taught to be sure that the crowd around me was one that could help me to grow into being a better person.
Again, I wonder, what good comes from trying to fit in today? Some will say that there is no fun in being a child of God. So, I suppose it is fun and comradery to be in the crowd of wickedness and no fun being in fellowship with the Lord – this is a very interesting, yet foolish, thought to have. Are you trying to ‘fit in’ today?
Standing Alone in the Crowd
This, again, reminds me of my school years where the suggestion was that the cool kids had lots of fun while the lame kids had no fun; we sat at home all weekend with nothing to do but be bored. Are we still that immature as adults? Honestly, it is quite a shame that so many folks have not matured and grew from a high school mindset.
I tell you today that we cannot let a high school mindset separate us from the greater joy of being in fellowship with the Lord! Don’t you worry about whether or not you are going to be popular or loved by those around you when having the Lord love you far exceeds that mindset! My encouragement for this year is for you to choose God over everything!
We are never ever alone
Though it is a great hardship to not fit in, I tell you that there comes an even greater hardship that believers face. We will see this hardship while Jeremiah was sitting alone from those that lived in mockery of the Lord; watching the wicked ones live in exuberant joy with one another. After receiving word from the Lord to speak to them about the four forms of destruction coming their way (Jer. 15:3-4), Jeremiah, I imagined, chuckled for a second and then he prayed.
In his prayer, we will see that Jeremiah asked the Lord to remember him, to visit him, and to know that he had suffered rebuke for His sake (Jer. 15:15). When you look deeply into his supplication, the prophet clearly felt aggrieved (being treated unfairly). Jeremiah felt like the Lord had abandoned him while he was living by faith and working on God’s behalf.
How many of us have ever felt like we have given the Lord all of our faith yet He, in return, seems to be too busy tending to the needs of others while leaving us miserable and alone? Again, I tell you that we have a nature to where we want to be loved and as soon as we feel like we aren’t being loved for one second, it doesn’t sit well with us! We can feel abandoned and completely alone!
Have you ever felt abandoned by the Lord? I want to make something very clear to all of you who, like me, have gone about choosing God over everything: we are never alone! God will never leave nor forsake any of us (Deut. 31:6,8)!
By consuming God’s word, the Word has been put into our hearts to dwell there not just for a short period of time but for all the days of our life and beyond! Therefore, we should understand, the Word of God is always with us wherever we go and through whatever it is we may go through! The Word of God does not leave us unless we decide to abandon it!
Because God is faithful, He never leaves us, but would we leave Him? Would we leave God, the joy that He brings, and the peace that He gives, for the world to love us? I hope not! There is far greater joy in the crowd of God than fun that can be found in the world! I much rather be apart from the world and be different – sanctified – than a part of the world and what’s to come to those who are of the crowd of wickedness.
When the Word of God becomes a part of our being we enter into fellowship with the Lord, but not only do we enter into fellowship with Him, we also enter into fellowship with all other genuine believers; we all become brothers and sisters in Christ! Now, I want this point to be very clear: all of those that choose God over everything have each other to also lean on while we are on this journey!
God calls for us to bear with one another and to help uplift each other! Should we see a fellow brother or sister in Christ, and it seems as if they are down in their spirit, we should lift them up! Let us remember that the Lord put His word in the mouth of Jeremiah to build up and to plant; this same thing goes for us as well! We have a word to share that can build up one another!
Yes, our genuine walk of faith, and our fellowship with the Lord, will separate us from the world because as Jesus said, the world will always hate what it cannot understand or what speaks against its wickedness. Yet, at the same time, our fellowship with each other should be a strong bond! I much rather have the love of my brother and sister in Christ than the love of one that is wicked and would rather tear me down; we should fortify each other!
Fortified through fellowship with God
I tell you again that it is in nobody’s nature to want to be rejected or hated. Because of this, some believers may try to soften the message that God has commissioned us to share. The word of God should be shared with humility, yes, but it should also be shared with great confidence and we should live our lives with great boldness.
You see, the truth must be made known so that there is no doubt or hesitation to those who hear it. As the writer of Hebrews stated, “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12).
When you feel like you are alone in the crowd, let us call on these words that the Lord said in his answer to Jeremiah’s prayer. To Jeremiah, God answered and said to him, “I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; For I am with you to save you and deliver you (Jer. 15:20).”
Though he sat away from those who were mockers of the Lord, Jeremiah was never truly alone; God was with Him and the Lord strengthened and fortified Him as well. You and I as true believers, we are never truly alone because the Lord is with us. Not only is God with us, but the Lord has said that He has fortified us as a bronze wall. Not only are we fortified as a bronze wall by the Lord but He has fortified us also with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Again, I say to you today, there is absolutely nothing wrong with living your own life! Don’t worry about trying to fit in — you are in control and not the world! There is nothing wrong with being a child of God; there is nothing wrong with being different – there is nothing wrong with being sanctified. In fact, when you choose God over everything, you are blessed and highly favored. I much rather be sanctified and stand out from the crowd as a treasure in God’s eyes that is blessed and highly favored.