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photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

The Prophetic Calling of Jeremiah – Lesson 1

God always has a plan. There is never an emergency that He has not already provisioned a solution. There is never a crisis that can find Him unaware or unprepared. He never sleeps nor slumbers. And often, as is the case with Jeremiah, He chooses leaders who are unsuspecting of the role they will play in meeting the crisis of a generation.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Let’s let these texts sink in for a moment. Up until the time God spoke to him, Jeremiah had no clue that he had been foreordained to be a prophet. He had not spent his life knowingly preparing for this role. And as he was unaware of this calling on his life, he didn’t study the best practices and most successful strategies to incorporate to become a prophet. He had not worked on his personal branding or established a public profile that would give evidence of his calling. One day he was not a prophet – the next day he was.

We’ve seen this played out in many of our bible heroes. Who could forget Moses, a man with a serious criminal background (he killed an Egyptian) and called to lead the greatest movement of people ever known to man? God chose someone who was out of the loop as far as dealing with the people he would lead and the opposition he would face in doing so. One day he was a shepherd – the next day he was the deliverer of Israel.

We can span the centuries of bible texts and come to the place of the calling of Peter. He too, while a good, just man, had no idea that God had greater plans for his life.

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:18-20

One day he was a man who earned his living by fishing – the next day he was a fisher of men.

But God doesn’t just call unsuspecting men and women to roles they never imagined. In His infinite wisdom He prepares each one for the tasks He asks them to undertake. With Jeremiah He lays out the job before him. His assignment would be one that would cause great opposition. It would not be a pleasant task as he must confront evil in ways that would make him a target for the wrath of evildoers.

Its clear from Jeremiah’s own words that he was taken aback at this request. The gravity of what he would face in undertaking such a role must have felt instantly overwhelming. Surely God had the wrong person this time.

“Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” Jeremiah 1:6

On a smaller scale, I can certainly identify with Jeremiah’s feeling of inadequacy. Often, through providence, conviction or a still small voice, God has made plain to me certain paths I should take in life. Depending on how I imagine the future to be, I have sometimes shrunk back. When I look at myself I just don’t see how I could ever do what I’m convicted I should do.  But God in His wisdom has already planned to meet my crisis of faith, just as He did with Jeremiah.

“Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:8

To Jeremiah, using the vernacular of today, God was saying, “I’ve got this.” I know you doubt yourself but if I call you, I will not only equip you, but I’ll be with you each step of the way.

David, the Sweet Psalmist of Israel, testifies of God’s presence during the good and the bad times.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me” Psalm 23:4

But even greater are the words of Jesus Himself. As He bids each of us to go where he sends us and to do what he asks us to do, we are never alone.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

    • What does being “called” mean to you?
    • Is it true that not everyone is called to do significant things for God? Why yes or no?
    • How can one tell, if at all, that God has called them to a particular role in life?
    • Is it true that since God speaks to us individually, we don’t necessarily need our bibles to give guidance to our lives? Explain your answer.
    • Is it true that every calling of God involves helping others? Why yes or no?
    • Would not Jeremiah be guilty of judging by pointing out the sins of the people? Explain your answer.
    • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Being hesitant to do something big/challenging/unusual for God is a sign of something wrong in one’s relationship with God. Explain your answer.

We close this week’s lesson on The Prophetic Calling of Jeremiah with one short sentence by Jesus. In this one sentence is packed the greatest reassurance of all.

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:14

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

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photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Paul: Mission and Message – Lesson 12

Curtis HallThere are few things more depressing and debilitating than a false sense of hope that is dashed to pieces on the rocks of reality. Just give it to me straight or don’t give it to me at all. Don’t boost my ego at the expense of my destiny. Don’t tell me things you think I want to hear just to make sure I keep listening to things you want to say.

However, when I contrast the words of Paul with the words of many of the modern-day voices of inspiration, there is a distinct difference. Listen as Paul addresses the members of the church he founded in the city of Thessalonica. First he compliments them on their love for each other: “the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” 2 Thessalonians 1:3. I like the sound of that. It must have been remarkable and out of the ordinary.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Paul: Background and Call – Lesson 11

Stoning of Stephen There must have been many sleepless nights. Surely his conscience nagged at him constantly. Although he could proclaim that he was on a holy mission, there were too many evidences that gave ample reason for doubt.

It did not help to bring him any relief to take part in the murder of Stephen. Here was a man with just as much intellect and oratorical skills as himself. The branding of ignorance given to this fledgling group was shattered by the exemplary life and martyrdom of Stephen. Watching this condemned deacon’s face light up with a holy radiance and hearing him proclaim that he could see the Son of God standing beside the heavenly throne, was enough to shake his moral confidence. God was speaking to this troubled soul.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Philip as Missionary – Lesson 10

“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” Acts 8:5

Philip EunuchOur study of Philip launches during a time of severe persecution to the early church. This was more than just having your rights infringed upon and perhaps disrespected in the marketplace. This was a round them up and lock them up time. It costs dearly to name the name of Christ.This week’s lesson on Philip as Missionary takes us back to the good ole days. Those were the days when the preaching of Christ and Christ alone was sufficient. Those were the days when it was all about the spreading of the word of God. Yes those were the good ole days.

We could draw many lessons about how the early church handled this time of persecution. For today, our attention is drawn to the result of their persecution. Did the church collapse and die away? Did the church organize itself against this tyranny and morph into a political power to defend itself? The answer is given in one sentence of scripture.

“Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall