— Brother Phil Enlow: I had a simple thought, and it’s kind of an odd place to start in a way, and it’s in Jeremiah chapter 12. Jeremiah was a young man who seemed like an unlikely candidate to be a prophet, especially in one of the worst periods of Jerusalem’s history. He had to live through some of the…he had to live through the fall of Jerusalem, basically.
He watched the Babylonians come in multiple waves over years. He warned the people and he preached and he gave it his all, and they completely ignored him, and they paid the price. I mean, talk about a tough time to be a prophet.
And, while he was still a young man, you know, talking about talking to the Lord and complaining sometimes, that’s exactly what Jeremiah did in the beginning of chapter 12. And he’s looking around at society and what’s going on and where he’s at and where the wicked are at, and he says, “You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?
“You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. Yet you know me, O Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you. Drag them off like sheep…” (NIV). Now he’s…go get them, Lord. Ever feel like that sometimes? You know, we have all kinds of human reactions to our circumstances and to the way things are going.
But listen to God’s answer to this. It’s not exactly what we would expect. He didn’t sit there and smooth his feathers and say, it’s gonna be all right. He says…verse 5, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?” Thanks, Lord.
( laughing ).
That’s real encouraging. “If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” And then He goes on to talk about what he’s gonna be experiencing. And…so basically, what the Lord’s telling this young man who is trying to find some answers to what’s going on in the world around him, the Lord’s saying, you ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s gonna get a whole lot worse and you need…if you’re complaining about this, you got something coming.
And you know, we are so natured…that there isn’t anybody here who isn’t afraid of a lot more than we would like to admit. And we live in a world of uncertainty. I mean, the reality is, we don’t even know how long the American republic is gonna be here, the way we have known it. That’s just the reality of it.
And we know how, we know what the Word says about the end of the age and how things are gonna get tough. We have had…we’ve said this recently. We’ve had an unprecedented run of prosperity in this country, and most of us have lived our entire lives in it, so it’s just normal. And I believe the Lord is, exactly what’s been said today, He’s shaking up our normal. And I believe God wants us to be ready for that.
And you know, there’s a principle, I guess this is as good a place to go as any…I didn’t really line this out exactly and organize it, which is probably, like I say, a good thing. But, Philippians chapter 4, there’s a scripture that we often quote. And it’s one of those things that we affirm to be true, but I honestly wonder how much of it is really true for us in a very real, practical sense.
Paul is talking about, in the context, that the Philippian people, the Philippian church had sent him a gift. And he was in a difficult place. He was imprisoned in Rome, writing all these letters to the churches. And so, they took the opportunity, finally, to take up an offering and send it so that he could have some practical help, and he was thanking them. Okay, so that’s the context.
And he says…so he says, thank you for doing it. “I am not saying this because I am in need…” verse 11, “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
You know, we sing songs based on that. We all love to quote it and it’s a good thing to quote, it’s a good thing to affirm. But I will guarantee, if we are honest and looking around, there are many things that we could imagine ourselves possibly facing, that we don’t feel ready for. Me? I can’t do that. I could never be that. I could never do that. Persecution is gonna come…oh God, I couldn’t handle that. Well, I couldn’t either…not the way things are, I mean, not in my own strength.
Folks, God has called us to something that is supernatural that does not depend on human strength. It does not depend on any resource that we were born into this world with. And so, that’s something that I see the Lord wanting to teach us, that even in His answer to Jeremiah…do you see past…just the almost passing off what Jeremiah had complained about and asked about, do you see the Lord trying to get his attention, saying wait a minute, Jeremiah, you’re so focused on your little world and how you see things…my God, do you have any idea what’s coming?
I have called you in a unique time in history, and you’re gonna see stuff that will make this look like a picnic, and you’re gonna need Me. You’re gonna need to learn, exactly what Joel and others were talking about. We’re gonna have to have a relationship with God. We’re gonna have to have a walk with Him. We’re gonna have to have an experience with Him where He puts us in the deep end of the pool in various areas of our lives and we’re gonna have to say, oh God!
And guess what? Do you think He’s gonna fail His children? Or do you think He’s gonna come, and do you think this verse is gonna become real? Paul was able to say this, why? Because he’d been there. He says, he learned. Now where did he learn this? Did he go to school? No, this is something he learned in the school of hard knocks, in the school of life.
Every single Christian, every single follower of Jesus, you are in school today and so am I. And God wants us to wake up and realize, God…there’s a journey ahead. We’re living in the world for a reason. It’s so easy to somehow settle into a routine in our lives where we know what to do, we feel capable of doing the things that we are called upon to do, and we just…we acknowledge the Lord, we pray, we come to church, as we say it.
We ‘come’ to church, instead of ‘being’ the church. We come to the church gatherings, we read our Bibles, we sing the songs, we affirm the things we’re supposed to affirm, but God, don’t mess with my little comfortable nest. Because even though I sing, ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,’ or through Christ who strengthens me, either way, it’s the same thing…I can do all those things, but not that. Or not this or not the other thing.
And as soon as God begins to stir up our nest, all of a sudden, I can’t do that, I can’t be that. I’ll tell you, that’s…you don’t have to go far in the scriptures to see that. I just thought of a few obvious examples.
It doesn’t necessarily have to take a lot of time but, Jeremiah himself is a pretty good example of this, because he was just a teenager. How would one of you guys like for the Lord to suddenly show up and reveal Himself in a supernatural way to you and say, I have called you. I knew you when you were in the womb. I have called you and anointed you to be, “…a prophet to the nations.”
Huh? Say, what? Who, me? God, you’ve got the wrong guy. I’m just a kid. I’m just a youth. I can’t do any of that kind of stuff. And the Lord just blows right past that objection and says, I’m gonna put you in a position to build up kingdoms and to tear down others.
Yeah, me and what army? I’ll tell you, if we’ve got the Lord, if He has called us to do something, and it’s Him doing it, and we’re moving as an expression of Him, there is more power in the Word of God than all the armies of the world put together. We serve a God who created everything by just speaking.
That’s what we need, is His words in our mouth. God, deliver us from ever getting to where we are just regurgitating our traditions! We need to hear from God. I need Him this morning. I feel my need. Oh God! I’m convicted listing to Brother Joel. I mean…this is real. We need the Lord!
And the message that He gave to Jeremiah in chapter 12 is one that we need to listen to. We have an opportunity right now to face the future, but to know what to do when it comes, because there are things that are gonna upset our world and change our world in ways that we can’t even imagine now.
And if God were to suddenly say, here, let Me unfold everything that’s gonna ever happen in your life…oh Lord! Or we’d at least say, Lord, take me home. I can’t do that…I’m so weak, I can’t do that.
Well, the truth is, you can’t. And neither can I. And yet, somehow, this young man was able to trust God. God even told him, don’t you back down. When I give you a word, you look people in the eye and you tell them, because I’m gonna back up My word.
But you know, when God reveals Himself or when God puts us in a situation, we need to react. God wants us to react with a faith, and that’s a choice. That’s a choice to say…in myself I cannot handle this. I am totally unable to do what You said to do or to cope with the situation in which You have put me. I can’t handle this, Lord. But by faith, I’m gonna trust in Your promise when you said, I can.
( congregational amens ).
If you want a title, that’s probably as good a one as any…if the Lord blesses this. “I Can.” God wants you and me to face the future, instead of fear and uncertainty, and, oh my God, what’s gonna happen, He wants us to face the future with a spirit that says, I can, because I have a God who watches over me, who has planned everything from the foundation of the world. If He lets the Devil do something, it’s part of His plan.
If you want to read some stuff, you read Isaiah. That’s where I’m at in my Bible reading right now. It’s amazing the declarations of God and His power and His plans. He said, all these things that are happening, I planned them a long time ago. I’ve told you; which of your idols can do that? I’m God! I’m above all!
If that nation over there is allowed to thrive and to rise up and to do all these amazing things, these powerful things, and overcome others, I planned that. I’ll tell you, we’ve got a God who knows how to work His will in this current world. It’s not about this world and what happens here. We want to find a nice, comfortable place where we feel in control. And we try to derive our happiness and our sense of peace from that, and God wants us to have our sense of peace be in Him alone!
( congregational amens ).
He is the only source to Whom we can look. Praise God! But I’ll tell you, God is gonna put people, every one of us, in places where we’re gonna, if we were to look at it naturally and think about our own resources, we would just throw up our hands and say, oh God, there ain’t no way.
You know, just quickly…to recount some of these things, we don’t even have to look up the scriptures, particularly. But you remember Moses. Of course, Moses had the opposite problem, didn’t he? He was a guy who was…who operated out of the throne, the royal family of Egypt, a man mighty in word and deed, the scriptures tell us. I mean, this was a guy that everybody looked to and knew was capable of doing great things, and God had a plan to use that man, and He said, he ain’t ready.
Do you know God, when He wants to do something, He doesn’t look for the strong, the capable, the wise, the smart, and say, now there’s somebody I can use? They can help me out with all their natural ability. It doesn’t work that way. Everything that originates in Adam, in us, if we rely upon that, it will get in God’s way. God chooses the foolish and the weak and those who are nothing in the eyes of the world. Praise God!
So, if you are feeling small and weak and afraid today, God wants you to rise up and say, wait a minute. I am a child of God. He is on the throne. He will never put me in a situation for which I am unable, because it’s not my ability that’s gonna carry me through. It’s what He puts in, it’s what He works in me.
So, God had to do something…and He got Moses in a position where all he could do was run away to Midian, way off in the desert. And, he married a girl there and settled down to raise sheep, and 40 years went by. And as far as Moses was concerned, this was his life. He was just gonna live it out. Everything was fine. Every day was the same, but it was comfortable. He didn’t have any real, major problems, until he saw a bush that was on fire and yet didn’t burn up.
And you remember the story of how he went over to see that and all of a sudden God speaks to him out of that burning bush. Take off your shoes, you’re on holy ground. And the Lord begins to reveal what His plan is for Moses.
And Moses says, yeah, I’m Your guy! No, he didn’t do that, did he? He argued with the Lord over and over again. And he got to the point where the Lord answered every one of his questions! They won’t believe me…here’s some miracles you can perform. Over and over again, he objects and he resists the Lord.
Basically, why is he doing that? Well, there are two things. He didn’t feel like he had the capability to do it. And he didn’t really want to. He was comfortable. You know, we’ve got both problems, don’t we?
But anyway, the Lord…finally, I mean, he got to where the Lord had answered every one of his objections, and he still said, send somebody else, Lord. So, the Lord allowed his brother Aaron to go with him in the process, but he still had to go, didn’t he? And, what happened was, the mightiest prophet of the Old Testament, known to people as the meekest of men…but there he was, doing all those amazing things. Why? Because God…a mighty God was able to work through a willing vessel.
And all the mighty things he did…now, was he perfect? No, we had the reference this morning of him smiting the rock…and you see his humanity come out. But I’ll tell you, there’s a lesson, that should be a lesson to us that God could take somebody ordinary…Gideon is an obvious example.
It’s interesting, Moses ran away to the Midianites and that’s where he was living…the Midianites were the enemy when Gideon came along. They were oppressing the people, and an angel shows up and says, hail, “…thou mighty man of valour.” (KJV). Or something like that.
Who are you talking to? This guy had no idea of doing anything except surviving one day after another. Keep your head down. Just do your stuff, don’t worry, don’t rock the boat. Anybody here kind of natured that way? I think we all are in some fashion. I don’t think we’ve got too many crusaders here who are out to fix the world. You ain’t gonna fix it anyway, I’ll guarantee you. But the reality is, a lot of people just want to be comfortable, and that’s all he did.
But the Lord got his attention and even allowed him to put the Lord to the test, and say, if this is really you…you know, the test with the fleece. And we know how all that turned out. God brought a mighty victory through Gideon.
And, others in scripture…I can’t even remember who else I was gonna say. But that’s all right. It doesn’t really matter. The principle is there. One other example, though, of how the Lord has to work in us, is the one we have used so many times and that’s Peter. And Peter’s another one like Moses. God had the opposite problem. All you had to do we tell Peter to do something…yes, Lord, I can do that!
And God had to bring him to a place where he felt an utter failure to the point where I guarantee that he thought that there was no hope for him. But the Lord’s word to him was this, and we’ve heard this so many times. When you were young, you girded yourself, you dressed yourself and you went where you wanted to go. But when you’re old, you will stretch forth your hand, somebody else will dress you and carry you where you don’t want to go.
I’ll tell you, we’re gonna have to be a people who are willing, and looking, and expecting that we’re going to be put in all kinds of situations, where we’re gonna need the Lord. We’re gonna need to have a willing heart that never just sits back and says, I can’t!
I mean, sometimes it’s an emotional issue, sometimes it’s a physical issue, it’s fear. We’re so much a product of what we’ve been through in our lives. You grew up and there was a bully and you were always the one that was being beat on, and you were the one made feel worthless. And somehow it helps to form your vision of yourself. And you just want to sit there and get through life.
I’ll tell you, the way the world is going, there are people right here, God’s gonna call you, and He’s gonna put His Spirit upon you, in some fashion for something. And your initial reaction is going to be, who me? I can’t do that.
But I’ll tell you, if God has called you…God could take somebody here…I don’t know that this is going to happen. God could take somebody here and put you on a world stage with a word of authority and it won’t be because of who you are and what you are. It’ll be because it’s the purpose and the heart of God.