We may give up on God, but He never gives up on us
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. – 2 Timothy 2:13
4 The LORD gave me this message:
5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
6 “O Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
7 The LORD replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.
8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
9 Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth!”
10 “Today, I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”
It is well-known that Dr. Billy Graham became a Christian in Charlotte, N.C., in 1934 during a meeting led by Dr. Mordecai Ham. However, it is not well-known that a group of laymen, including W.F. Graham, Billy’s father, and T.W. Wilson, Sr., father of Graham’s associate evangelist, Grady, were responsible for the campaign.
Mordecai Fowler Ham (1877-1961) was one of the most well-known preachers of the American south of his day. More than 300,000 people were converted in his crusade-type meetings. Dr. Ham’s version adds some interesting details.
Dr. Ham relates: Two young high school boys attended our meeting. They thought everything I said was directed their way, so they decided to take seats in the choir, where I couldn’t point my finger at them. They didn’t pretend to be singers, but they wanted to be behind me. One night a man spoke to them during the invitation and said, “‘Come on; let’s go up front.” Billy and Grady both went to the altar. Billy accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and became a child of the King. Grady dedicated his life to Christian service.
Billy didn’t like being told that he was lost and going to hell. He got out as soon as possible and said, “I am through,” but he was miserable all night and the next day and admitted, “I couldn’t get there soon enough the next night!”
I recall telling Billy and Grady to sit in the preachers’ section after coming forward. Billy sat there for two months. In Billy Graham’s thinking, at that time, his hero was Babe Ruth. Our meeting changed his hero from Babe Ruth to Jesus Christ. The Father was directing everything that took place during the meeting. There was no earthly explanation for what occurred (billygraham.org).
Mordecai Ham was converted when a young man. He felt the stirrings of a call to preach, but he resisted surrendering. Having watched his father and grandfather barely scrape by fueled his personal ambition. He was determined to make a personal fortune first. He attended a local college, studied law, and soon found early business success.
In 1899 his life was radically changed when he watched his grandfather die. At that moment, a mantle of sorts was passed from grandfather to grandson. Ham later referred to the experience: “Seeing him die did more than anything else to convince me of the reality of Christian experience” (billygraham.org).
There is something about fallen DNA. We often say no before we say yes. So it was with Billy Graham, Mordecai Ham, Jeremiah the prophet, and many children of the King.
“When God calls, He equips us with what is needed to carry out the assigned task. For Jeremiah, it was the promise of God’s presence and deliverance from any threatening situation that the reluctant prophet needed to hear” (Huey).
Father thank You that You have called me to serve You. Like Jeremiah and so many others, I have resisted You. Thank You for not giving up on me!
When the Father selects someone to serve Him as a prophet, He calls them into His service. Many of the prophets’ calls are recorded in Scripture. Among them are the calls of Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Amos, etc. Jeremiah would have been well aware of those called to be among the Father’s servants. When the Father approached Jeremiah as a young man, he felt that he could never measure up to the likes of Isaiah or Moses. They were giants in Jeremiah’s eyes, the rock stars of his day. Jeremiah’s response boils down to, “Who me, I can’t do it!”
“Jeremiah hesitated as he looked at the work before him and the wickedness around him, and when he looked at the weakness within himself, Jeremiah was certain that he wasn’t the man for the job” (Wiersbe).
The Father was undeterred. He had chosen wisely. He could see the end from the beginning and was well aware of the struggles that Jeremiah would face and his ultimate success. He could see through Jeremiah’s lame excuse of being too young. He knew Jeremiah’s real problem. It was unspoken fear.
The Father assures Jeremiah that his mission was already mapped out. The Father would provide all the content of His spokesman’s messages. But more importantly, the Father promises Jeremiah His immediate presence in his life; He will be with him no matter what. “God’s reply demolishes both the given reason, inability, and the real reason, fear. The call is anchored in who God is” (Martens).
Jeremiah faced tremendous opposition and persecution. More than once, he broke down. He wanted to throw in the towel. He wished he could give up his call.
15 Then I said, “LORD, you know what’s happening to me. Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors! Please give me time; don’t let me die young. It’s for your sake that I am suffering.
16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts. I sat alone because your hand was on me. I was filled with indignation at their sins.
18 Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.”
Jeremiah was a conflicted man. He is almost schizophrenic. He’s a man of faith but also of fear. He is a man of courage but also great sadness and deep inner conflict. Of course, he blames God.
7 O LORD, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me.
8 When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the LORD have made me a household joke.
9 But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!
But ultimately, Jeremiah regained his composure and stood resolved, confident, and even joyful. Why? He knows the Father. Jeremiah also knows that the Father tests his children to approve them and give them confidence. The Father searched Jeremiah’s deepest thoughts and secrets. He wanted Jeremiah to recognize that He knew everything about him, and it didn’t matter. He was the Father’s chosen servant, and Jeremiah was under the Father’s protection.
Regardless, Jeremiah was so downcast that he literally wished he had never been born.
Jeremiah 20:18 Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.
The Father’s response is classic. And stands His words of encouragement for all children of the King for all time.
19 This is how the LORD responds: “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!”
20 “They will fight against you like an attacking army, but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze. They will not conquer you, for I am with you to protect and rescue you. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
21 “Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men. I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”
The Father assures Jeremiah once again of Who is standing with him. But the Father is also beside him.
11 But the LORD stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him, my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, you test those who are righteous, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you.
13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors.
The word of God is like an unquenchable fire within the hearts and souls, the deepest recesses of His servants, the prophets. They cannot, not speak His message!
What burns within you?
© Dr. H 2022