Jerry Locke
Series of 11 Short Studies
FAMOUS FAILURES - Part 11 - Jeremiah —
Disavowed The Ministry Of God

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FAMOUS FAILURES - Part 11 - Jeremiah — Disavowed The Ministry Of God


In this study series on Famous Failures we have visited . . .

· Adam—defied the command of God. God used a symbol to get his attention—an animal slain for his sin.

· Moses—disregarded the plan of God. God used to get his attention? A sight—the burning bush.

· Jonah—disobeyed the Word of God. God used a storm to get his attention.

· Peter—denied the Son of God. God used a sound to reclaim him—a crowing rooster.

· John Mark—deserted the work of God. God used a servant to reclaim him—Barnabas.

· David- defiled the purity of God. God used a sermon to reclaim him.

· John the Baptist—doubted the purpose of God. God used a scripture to set him right.

· Elijah—discouraged about the protection of God. God used a "a still small voice."

· Samson—despised the gifts of God. God used a "stronghold" to expose his heart.

One final famous failure --- Jeremiah. He is called the "weeping prophet," Jeremiah 9:1; 13:17 and the "lonely prophet" because he was commanded not to marry, 16:2, and the "reluctant prophet" because he initially tried to beg off the assignment of being a prophet, 1:6. Yet for more than forty years Jeremiah faithfully preached God's message of judgment to backsliding Judah.

Think of all the good and wonderful things Jeremiah did.

· He preached, 14:1-6.

· He prayed, 14:7-15:9.

· He was persecuted, 20:1-6.

This is where the worm turns. Jeremiah had a brief event that we could classify as a failure. Life got unbearably difficult for Jeremiah; at least that's what he thought.

Jeremiah 20:7-9a "O Lord, thou hast deceived, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, violence and spoil; because of the world of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name..."

Have you found this to be so? Life is full of adversity and adventure and sometimes we cannot tell the one from the other.

* Some adversity will in the end really be an adventure which we will recall with rejoicing.

* Some adventures will in the end be an adversity which we will recall with regret.

At a boat-rental concession, the manager went to the lake's edge and yelled through his megaphone, "Number 99, come in, please. Your time is up." Several minutes passed, but the boat didn't return. "Boat number 99," he again hollered, "return to the dock immediately or I'll have to charge you overtime." An assistant said, "Boss, something is wrong here. We have only 75 boats. There is no number 99." The manager thought for a moment and then raised his megaphone. "Boat number 66. Are you having trouble out there?"

That's where we find Jeremiah. His life has been turned upside down.

1. Jeremiah's Difficulty.

"O Lord, thou hast deceived, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I speak, I cried out violence and spoil; because of the world of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily." Jeremiah 20:7-8

Things were not going well for Jeremiah.

* His nation was soon to be in ruins. It was going down the tubes in front of his eyes. Israel would soon hear the shouts of the invading Babylonian army coming into their land and carrying them off into captivity.

* His ministry was being soundly rejected, v. 7, 8. It is strange, but everyone wants and expects truth in all areas . . . except those that are spiritual and eternal.

- Financial truth . . . stock market and tax time.

- Medical truth . . . check up.

- Political truth . . . at least before recent days that was so.

- Spiritual truth . . . you are intolerant, without feelings. Our politically correct world does not know how to deal with spiritual truth!

I don't know what difficulty you may be going through right now. But I do know two things:

(1) Life can be hard at times.

(2) And life can be a whole lot harder than it is right now for you.

Life can become difficult, nearly unmanageable.

2. Jeremiah's Discouragement.

Our difficulties can bring on discouragement. Life can be discouraging, can't it? Yes, it can. Hymn 369 is a favorite hymn, What a Friend We Have In Jesus. Verse two goes like this.

Have we trials and temptations? (got enough time)

Is there trouble anywhere? (everywhere)

We should never be discouraged.

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

I personally think we should rewrite that verse, We should never stay discouraged. Discouragement does come.

* Sometimes I am discouraged at others.

* Many times I am discouraged at myself.

* A few times I am discouraged at God, v. 7 "O Lord, thou hast deceived me . . ."

In those times of difficulty and discouragement . . .

3. Jeremiah's Decision.

"Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name." Jeremiah 20:9a.

During Operation Desert Shield in 1990 in the Persian Gulf an Iraqi soldier, covered with filth from head to foot, still managed to keep a pure white handkerchief so he could be able to surrender!

That's what Jeremiah was doing . . . waving a white handkerchief in surrender, throwing in the towel, giving up, calling it quits, riding off into the sunset.

Have you ever seen so many quitters in your life?

* Students about this time of year, who are just getting started, will be quitting. The papers to write, the projects to finish, the test to take . . . instead of pushing ahead, many will give up. They lose their time, their money, but most of all they lose part of themselves by quitting.

* Marriages . . . honeymoon, both on their best behavior, traveling, eating out. Honeymoon ends, the garbage still has to be taken out, the rent has to be paid, the old car still has to be patched up, breath so bad you can see the words as they come out . . . and off to the divorce courts they go. Former Education Secretary William Bennett said recently he attended a contemporary wedding where the bride and groom pledged, in their wedding vows, to remain together, "as long as love shall last." Bennett said, "I sent paper plates as my wedding gift."

* Health club memberships set records in January but by March the drop out rate takes over. I heard about a young lady who determined to lose 78 pounds and in fact got started great and lost 16. But John 6:9 kept coming to her mind, "But what are they among so many?"

* Churches today aren't growing by salvation and baptisms, but because people quit one church to join another. 85% of church growth is from transfer of people from one church to another.

The world is filled with truly talented and gifted people who are complete failures. Why? Because they give up when the going gets tough. Excuses abound for deciding to quit. The sidelines are filled with people who have quit the team.

"Life is not fair." God never promised us life would always be fair. In fact, I have found in life there are more valleys than mountain tops — more lows than highs. "O Lord, thou hast deceived me . . . " Jeremiah 20:7a. God doesn't make mistakes. He has a purpose and plan for every trial we face. Charles Spurgeon said, "God is too good to be unkind, too wise to be mistaken, and when you cannot trace His hand — you can always trust His heart."

"I am too old." This is probably the worst excuse for quitting I have ever heard! You're never too old! My advise is to get up out of that rocking chair, throw away your cane, God can still use you, no matter your age. Joel 2:28 says "old men shall dream dreams." Psalm 92:14 says, "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age." Whatever your age, God has a ministry for you! Maybe you can't run as fast or walk as far as you use to...or speak as well, but you are still of value to God!

"I have no money." Financial problems abound. How many have some financial problems? Nobody wants to admit the obvious. Listen, financial problems are real. The pressure can nearly be overwhelming.

- Pray.

- Make sure you are honoring the Lord by tithing. Some of you may be trying to justify why you're not tithing. "I'm too deep in debt." Well, who signed for that debt? Robbing God compounds the problem, it never makes it easier. Give God what is rightfully His.

"I am afraid." Maybe, but that is never a reason to quit. The Lord uses times of fear to teach us reliance on Him - to step out in faith, believing He will take care of us. All of us are afraid at some time...of some things (cancer). Do you know what I am most afraid of? I am most afraid of not pleasing the Lord...honoring the Lord… glorying the Lord.

4. Jeremiah's Deliverance.

Jeremiah 20:9b "I could not stay . . ." That is, he could not quit.

God used "a fire shut up in his bones." "But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire . . . " God used the power of the Scripture to recover Jeremiah. How powerful in His Word! This "fire" took over.

It was also a personal Word. It reached Jeremiah's "heart." The very Word that Jeremiah had preached to others, now God turned it on him.

Scripture should keep us from quitting! The presence and power of God's Word will keep you from quitting. Psalm 119:11 says "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Quitting is basically a lack of trust in God. God's Word in us will build our faith. Those fellows on the road to Emmaus were ready to quit and God's Word fired them up. "Did not out hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scripture," Luke 24:33. They came down with a holy heart burn and instead of resigning, they re-signed!

Strength that God can give you can keep you from quitting. Do you know when we want to quit? It is when we are discouraged and defeated and weak. But that is exactly when we can know the strength of God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God says, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." then Paul says, "When I am weak, then am I strong." Listen, we are in a supernatural work and a spiritual fight that requires more than your strength! It requires the strength of Almighty God.

* When the devil sees a fellow ready to quit, he always helps him.

* When the Lord see a believer who will not quit, He always helps him. Whose help do you want?

Seasons should keep us from quitting. Life is about seasons. Sometimes it is summer, other times it is winter. Sometimes spring, other times fall. "And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not," Galatians 6:9. Sometimes life is about plowing, sowing, watering and waiting . . . take heart it is also about reaping! And the only thing that will keep us from reaping is if we quit before the harvest!

Souls should keep us from quitting. There are 5.8 billion people in the world, the majority of whom need to hear about Jesus Christ. God needs all believers to do their part.

I have been asked what Ezekiel 33:8 means. "When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thus shalt surely die; if thou does not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." Some look on this as just an Old Testament warning. But listen to Paul in Acts 20:26-27. "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." No one could point their finger at Paul and say, "You never told me about Jesus." Paul could say, "I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I never quit telling you bout Jesus.

The purpose of warning the sinner is to save his life through Christ. The purpose is not to condemn the sinner. We dare not have a holier-than-thou attitude toward sinners and delight in condemning them. My doctor did not tell me with glee that I had cancer and left untreated would die. Rather, he is setting forth at once to use his ability and knowledge to save my life.

Our Savior can keep us from quitting. Hebrews 12:1-3. Jesus endured the cross. He could have called 10,000 angels, but He died alone for you and me. Jesus endured the contradictions of sinners when they mocked Him.

Pastor Ivan Downing had determined to retire from the ministry, so one Sunday he told his congregation. "I wear two hearing aids and tri-focal glasses; I have a partial plate and I sometimes walk with a cane. It seems to me that the Lord is telling me its's time to retire."

After the service, a white-haired lady told the pastor, "Reverend, you have misinterpreted what the Lord has been saying to you. He's not telling you it's time to retire; he's telling you that if you keep going, he'll keep you patched up."

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are lows, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but DON'T QUIT.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he just stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow.
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worse, that YOU MUST NOT QUIT.

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