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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1091

A Man’s Life is Not His Own
Part One

September 1, 2013

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1091 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Well, praise the Lord! Good morning.

( congregational response ).

Turn, if you will, to Jeremiah chapter 10. I’ve had a particular scripture come to me off and on for some days now, and a lot of times you just try to put it on the shelf and try to hold it at arm’s length and just say, well Lord, what do You want? But, it seems to keep coming back to me so I’m just gonna trust the Lord will bring out of it what He desires for all of us, certainly beginning with me, but all of us.

I believe there’s wisdom in His Word that we need. We don’t know like we think we do. We need His wisdom as to what the real deal is with life and His plan and His purpose for us.

And you know Jeremiah is known to us as the ‘Weeping Prophet’. He had the sad task of being the major prophet to Israel during the time when they were being conquered by Babylon. You remember the wickedness of the people had grown to the point where God eventually said, I think it was Ezekiel that actually said this…that their wickedness had become worse than the nations they had dispossessed. Think about that. This is supposed to be God’s people, and yet they were more wicked than the nations they dispossessed.

And Jeremiah was constantly, or at least frequently, giving them warning from God saying, turn from your wicked ways. I’ll listen to you. Even Josiah’s reign had not been enough to turn it around. All it did was postpone it. You know, I wonder about this country…if we’re not pretty close to that. But anyway, I won’t make a political speech, because our choice is really between how fast we go into oblivion, not whether.

( laughter ).

 But praise God! You know, God’s over all, isn’t He?

( congregational response ).

But here was Jeremiah, and he prophesied, and one after another the kings of Israel, over a period of some years, were conquered by Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar would come in and take one captive, and set up his brother to be the king, and say, all right, be part of my empire, here’s your job. And the guy would rebel, and next he’d have to come back and lay siege to Jerusalem and set up yet another one. Finally, he said, to heck with this, I’m gonna come in and finish the job, and he just pulled down the walls and the Temple, and just everything was destroyed, and the rest of them were carried off.

And even then they rebelled. The remainder of them ran off to Egypt for help and carried Jeremiah with them in spite of his telling them, don’t do that. And so he lived through a pretty tumultuous time.

But, his prayer…there’s a prayer in chapter 10, beginning in verse 23, that has kept coming to me, and I’m interested in the first part of it. And it’s an interesting insight. Jeremiah begins his prayer with an acknowledgement of something that he has come to know as the truth. He says, “I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (NIV). I think the King James says man’s way, “…is not in himself.” Either way, you get the sense here that Jeremiah has come to an understanding of something about the basic constitution of humanity…that we were never made to be independent creatures.

You know, we commonly refer to the fact that when you come to Christ you’re not your own, you’re bought with a price, and we belong to Him, and that’s surely true. But what Jeremiah is saying goes way beyond that, doesn’t it? He’s saying, in reality, a man’s life, period, is not his own!

Now you think about his own call. I’m sure that he had a sense…he was one of the true remnant who actually still believed in God, and still sought to serve Him. But he was minding his own business as a young man one day, when the Lord spoke to him and called him to be a prophet. He said, I’ve called you, I’ve chosen you…let’s go back to chapter 1, so I can actually look at this. He says in verse 5 of chapter 1, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (NIV). Now how did he get in the womb?

( congregational response ).

You know, you’re gonna see the hand of God. If we really see things as they are, we’re gonna see the hand of God in everything. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you .…” And actually, another reading of the word ‘knew’ is not simply, I was aware of who you were, this is a sense of choice. It does convey a little stronger than our word ‘know.’ “…I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

And, you know, he objects to that and says, “I am only a child. But the LORD said to me, 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, declares the LORD.”

And so the Lord touched his mouth and anointed him, and verse 10 makes an amazing statement. “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Yeah, him and what army? But I’ll tell you, the Word of God is the thing that determines what happens. And Jeremiah came to know in a way that few do, that the affairs of men are ruled from Heaven.

Now I know you remember the story of Nebuchadnezzar himself, who was actually used, in spite of the fact that he was a heathen emperor, was used of God to come in and execute God’s judgment on Israel. But God absolutely revealed Himself numerous times to Nebuchadnezzar.

Isn’t God good? Isn’t He merciful to wherever He can find an opening, He is speaking to the nations? He spoke to the whole world through Israel in its time. During the time when they actually were serving Him, in a measure, God absolutely got His knowledge around the world. But Nebuchadnezzar really didn’t quite understand. He thought that he had built Babylon and it was to his glory, and he was a great king, and he was sticking out his chest. If he had a mirror he certainly was admiring himself in it, thinking what a fine fellow he was, and how he had just…by his own strength and wisdom, he had done this and he had done that.

Well, God had another idea. And so the Lord had a way of showing him and revealing to him, didn’t He? And He even warned him ahead of time so that he couldn’t say, hey, this was a total shock to me. He warned him and said, look, this is gonna happen! You need to watch yourself. And so about a year after the warning had come, he forgot all about it. And he was standing on the wall of Babylon that day, and he just really got proud of himself, thought he’d done something.

And the Lord said, all right, this is the time of the fulfillment. You’re gonna…and so he was absolutely driven…he lost his mind. He became like a beast. He absolutely went out and ate grass for something like seven years as a beast. Can you imagine? Well, how’s your emperor doing these days? Well, there he is out in the field. You know, hairs grew out, his nails grew out like claws, and he looked like anything but the emperor of the greatest nation in the world of that time.

But you know, at the end of the time, God wasn’t through with him. God brought his reason and his mind back. And not only did He do that, there was a revelation that God is in charge. He rules in the affairs of men, He is over all. The armies of Heaven rule. We don’t rule. He sets up one, He brings down another. And if somebody is lifted up, it’s because God has done it, and He’s done it for His purposes. And so, he gave glory to God, didn’t he? He came to realize the same thing that Jeremiah did.

But there’s something about what happened to us in the beginning that has absolutely blinded our eyes and we still think, we vainly imagine that we are fundamentally, self-determining creatures. We have the power to choose and to do as we will. We are independent! We don’t really need God exactly, but it’d be a good idea if we gave our lives to Him. That would be a better choice.

You know, you’ve got places right now that almost paint God as a salesman trying to ‘sell Dan on a better plan.’ It ain’t that way, folks. We were never made to operate as independent creatures. We were made to fill a place of glory and honor, and we were absolutely designed for the purpose that constitutes our highest happiness, our highest good in every possible way.

There is an awesome God who has absolutely created us to share in His Glory for ever and ever. That was His purpose in the beginning. And of course, you remember, as we’ve referred so often to the temptation and how Satan approached…excuse me. Anyway, excuse for that extra puff of air—excuse me for that extra puff of air.

But anyway, the enemy approached Eve, and his appeal to her was basically one of, it’s what you can be—what you can be if you just step out and make your own choices. You’re going to need…if you gain this thing called knowledge, then you won’t need to just be under God and just kind of doing what He says, and just sort of…you won’t be almost like a slave. You can determine your own destiny. You can make your own choices, and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.

Now you think about it, that was the appeal, is the appeal to an independent spirit. Folks, that is as natural to us as breathing. And it doesn’t just apply...it applies to everybody. This is a principle, and somehow he came to understand…Jeremiah came to understand, “I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own.”

Folks, this world is full of people, as Paul said, who have been made blind, by the enemy of their souls, to the reality of how things really are. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News that He has done something about our need and our condition, and if we will surrender to Him and believe His truth and believe His Word, He has the power to rescue us out of this hopeless condition, otherwise hopeless condition, and to enable us to fulfill the purpose for which He made us in the beginning.

Why don’t men see that? The god of this world has blinded them so that they are unable to see. And yet, if you talk to the average person, how do they see themselves? Do they see themselves as just, well, I have no real power to determine my fate. I’m just sort of…I’m bounced from here to there. I just don’t…it’s not in my constitution to run my own affairs.

You know, it’s kind of like the message that, I believe, the Lord gave recently, “Though You Are Evil.” You know, what kind of reaction does any of us tend to have when you say something like that to a bunch of people? Wait a minute! What do you mean? Who are you calling evil?

And on what ground do we make that sort of…do we have that sort of reaction? Obviously, it’s in our nature to say, wait a minute, hold on, I’m this, I’m that. But on what basis? We are simply comparing ourselves with this realm, with other people, and we can always point to somebody and say, well, they’re a lot worse than I am. But the problem is the standard is not man. The standard is God.

( congregational response ).

And you know, you might say, well, I’m not perfect. Well, God is! That’s the standard. That’s why we need a Savior. That’s why we need a Savior. But folks, this is the same deal. I don’t care how smart you are. I don’t care how talented you are. I don’t care what kind of human qualifications you have, it is not in you to operate as an independent being, to determine your own life, to plan your own steps, to work out things yourself! We need someone to help us and guide us!

( congregational amens ).

And if it’s not God, you may live with the illusion that you’re in control, and you are making your own choices, and you have the right and the power to do that. I’m here to tell you today you’re not.

( congregational response ).

You know, you have the picture of the old donkey cart, I guess would be one example. And, suppose you’ve got a kindly owner of the donkey cart and he wants him to go somewhere. Well, if he’s kindly, he’s not gonna sit there and really beat him to death to try to get him to go. But what’s the other way to go, to make him go? You attach a carrot to a stick and you hold it out. But what’s the donkey caring about? He doesn’t care two cents about pulling that load! He wants that carrot.

Oh how easily—how easily we are lead astray. All Satan has…he doesn’t have to jump on you with ‘all fours’ and beat you up. All he has to do is dangle that carrot! And that poor, foolish donkey doesn’t ever quite ‘get it’ to ask, why don’t I ever catch up with that thing? It’s right there. Now we look at the donkey and say, that stupid, stupid animal. But are we any smarter?

( congregational response ).

No, we’re not! Oh, how easy it is for us to be so addicted to trying to gratify something from this nature, that all he has to do is just dangle it just, just out of reach. Oh, if I could just get that. Oh, my problems would be over. I would be happy. I’d fill that empty place that’s on the inside. And the devil will take you to your grave chasing that rainbow that doesn’t exist. Well, the song we sang this morning. “Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?” Anybody here ever caught up to a rainbow?

( congregational response ).

No, you understand it’s very pretty but it ain’t something you could ever get to and touch. It’s always going to be out of reach. Now I know many of you here, or at least some of you were in the meeting last Sunday night down at the camp. I was just so blessed to see the Lord working in hearts. You see young people in all stages of God dealing with them.

But you know it’s not coming from religious indoctrination. God help us. We don’t need that. We need people to have a real living encounter with God that changes their hearts and their lives. It does a work down in here. So, we don’t have to say, know the Lord, know the Lord, know the Lord, they know Him because He’s become real to them.

And how many different testimonies were there of someone who had just chased that pretty rainbow, just tried to scratch that itch? They tried this, they tried that, they tried the other, some way to satisfy that empty feeling on the inside. Folks, we weren’t made to try to satisfy the empty void in our lives by trying to fill it up with something from this world.

And if you…if you’re in that place, you are absolutely under the dominion of Satan and don’t know it. He is leading you, just as surely as that man is leading that poor donkey to pull his cart while all he has to do is dangle the right carrot—dangle the right thing right in front of him, and you’ll keep chasing that, and you will be absolutely…at the same time you’ll be convinced that you’re in charge, you’re the one making the decisions. The donkey thinks he’s in control. He thinks he’s…he doesn’t think he has to do anything. He just wants that carrot.

Oh, God! That’s the condition of humanity. And somehow, Jeremiah came to understand. You know, there’s a scripture, I looked it up this morning, I think it’s in Ezekiel…that kind of confirms one thought. There’s two senses I get out of what he’s trying to say there in the beginning of what it is that he knows. And I think it’s in chapter 18 of Ezekiel. Let’s see if I’m right. Yes.

Now here the issue for Ezekiel was that the people were saying, basically, our fathers have sinned and we’re suffering for it. We’re the ones paying for what they did. And the Lord says, no it isn’t that way at all. But in the process, in verse 4, he says, “For every living soul belongs to me....”

Now we think of somebody who has come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they belong to Him and others don’t. Well, I’ll tell you, in the ultimate sense, every living soul belongs to God. You were made by Him. He owns you. He made you for a reason. The only question is, do men come to really understand that, and do they ever submit willingly to that and say, yes, I recognize that You own me, that You have the right to my life and I willingly cooperate with You? I need a Savior and I recognize Jesus Christ as the one You have given for me. He has met every need…every possible barrier to my fulfilling Your purpose has been met because of what He did. There’s nothing I can do but simply surrender and give my life to you.

Folks, that’s the reality. “I know, O LORD…” Jeremiah says, “…that a man’s life is not his own.” But beyond that, there’s another sense in which, basically, Jeremiah is saying not only does God own everybody, but man lives with the illusion that he is in control, that he has the power to make his own way in the world!

And isn’t that the philosophy that you get preached? Be your own man! Do your own thing! Do something great! Achieve something great! You might do something that’s considered great in the eyes of men, but what’s gonna happen in the end? It’s gonna be nothing…it’s gonna come to nothing.

Oh God, open our eyes to see the way he saw, because this is not the kind of knowledge you get from a book. This is the kind of a knowledge that you acquire by a living relationship with God where He imparts His way of looking at things. God, I want to see things the way…I want to see me, first of all! It’s not just that I want to see everybody so I can point fingers. I want to look in the mirror and say, Lord, I’m not my own. It’s not for me to direct my steps.

I have no ability! It’s not just that I have no right, I don’t have the ability to make those kinds of choices! I am in such condition that if I simply respond to things that rise from me, I will go the wrong way every time! I am so unable to withstand the power of what comes from my nature and the whisperings of the devil, that I have no hope of making my way in this world! God, I need you!

( congregational response ).

So you see how this applies to everyone. Folks, if you’re here without the Lord, I pray God will open your eyes! He doesn’t tell us these things, ‘though you are evil and it’s not in your constitution to be able to run your own life.’ He doesn’t tell us these things to drive us down and make us feel like dirt, as we’ve said. He does it so that we can see things as they really are, so that we can enter into the purpose, the wonderful, awesome purpose for which He called us in the beginning!

Oh folks, I praise Him! I praise Him for what He’s…for the hope that He’s given. What a revelation! Is this the revelation you really have? I mean, think about it. Look in the mirror. Do you live with this illusion that you have power to chart your own course and make your way in the world and yeah, I’m gonna acknowledge God’s principles but I’m the one that’s gonna carry them out. Oh, God! That is self-righteous, self-will! Oh, Lord, I don’t need a bunch of laws to tell me how to do better. I need Jesus!

( congregational response ).

I need a new heart. I need a new spirit. I need someone who can whisper in my ear as I go, “This is the way; walk in it.” I need someone who can teach me in a way that I can understand, because I’m pretty stupid. I’m not sure I’m any smarter than that little donkey that doesn’t know any better than to follow that carrot. I need a Savior.

But how do you see yourself? Is there something in you that just rises up against that and says, no, that’s not so? Oh, check up—check up, because this is reality. This is a man of God who came to realize, came to see himself in a different light than most people around him saw. He didn’t see himself as somebody who could just make his way in the world. “I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own.”