1 Timothy 1:12-17 (18 September 2022)

Jeremiah and Timothy

No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. No one wants to hear bad news, or to be told they have got it wrong again. That’s why Jeremiah was a reluctant prophet who responded to God’s call to be the prophet to the nations.  He responded in the usual way by making excuses to avoid the job. However, God insisted and fired him up.

As a result he was persecuted, became a laughing stock and was called the weeping prophet. 

His name took on a meaning in our language, meaning don’t be such a prophet of gloom and doom; don’t be such a Jeremiah!

Doom and gloom prophets were called up at different times in the history of God’s chosen people because they were a consistent lot; consistently forgetting God’s faithfulness, forgetting the good times, forgetting their blessings, forgetting God’s expectations.

Instead they found the ideas of strangers too attractive, were found following new ideas easier to follow than God’s guidance and were soon found grumbling and moaning instead of praising God.

You can’t thumb your nose at God like that and think he will think that’s OK.

Well, they were at it again so God decided to act.  He sent Jeremiah to let the people know what he had in mind and why.

In plain language, Jeremiah told them in Jeremiah 4:22

My people are fools; they do not know me. 

They are senseless children; they have no understanding.

They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.

The message was “Have a good look at yourselves because you are making a mess of your lives, of the land I led you to and there will be consequences you won’t enjoy.”

As we read in Psalm 14:1-4

The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’

They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no-one who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?

The recent census of Australians found about 60% of Australians do not believe in God and it seems many in our community are pleased to hear it.

God says to them, “you’re a fool”.

And there are consequences to this because people, our community as a whole, seem senseless to the basic truths, to common sense.  Our community blunders on leaving damage in their trail some of which is in relationships, corruption, lack of justice, mercy and love.  Some of the damage is to our own environment, we foul our own nest. Some of the damage is of international significance.

God sent Jeremiah to tell the people of an inevitable judgement to come in the form of an invading army. The consequences of this are in Jeremiah 4:23-26. What is left by an invading army? Look at what happens in Ukraine even now.

I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone.

I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins 

So what happened as a result of Jeremiah’s warnings?  Look at the record of history and see that what he prophesied all came true.  God’s judgement fell exactly as Jeremiah had warned.

I could play the part of a modern day Jeremiah and point out how people in our community and world are also ignoring, even denying the one who made it all, by living contrary to the maker’s instructions and that there is an unavoidable judgement to come but I know something that Jeremiah did not.

I know about Jesus.

The New Testament reading for today is 1 Timothy 1:12-17

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

In this passage the Apostle Paul starts by speaking for himself. I can only speak for myself. 

Can you speak for yourself and give your own testimony?

I, too, thank Christ Jesus our Lord who showed me the truth of his love for me.  He appointed me to his service, albeit not to such a significant role as the one he called Paul to, but to his service nonetheless.

I was a blasphemer and acted in ignorance and unbelief.  Now isn’t that a common situation for people today. Why don’t people believe in Jesus? I think that’s because people don’t know who he is, what he did and how to respond. There is almost universal ignorance, misinformation, misrepresentation and even outright lies.

I was fortunate that I had friends who explained the truth about Jesus to me and Jesus was gracious enough to help me to understand it. He poured out his grace, his undeserved, empowering favour and gave me faith and love for him as my Lord, King and Saviour.

So we come to a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, a saying that must be believed and is ignored or rejected at our own eternal cost.

Paul calls himself the worst of sinners and I don’t want to compare myself to him but I can say without doubt that the worst sinner in my life was me. 

The fact is that none of us has lived up to Jesus’ absolute standard of purity and perfection. All of us has fallen short of his standards and have a need to repent of our failures and rebellion, to change direction and seek to live to his standards, daily being honest with Jesus and with ourselves.

Wonderfully, Christ Jesus displays immense patience patience with us and is an extraordinary example for us who would believe in him.

Not only does he give us a perfect example of how to live in this life but he also gives us hope for the eternal future - he gives us eternal life.

Don’t allow the idea that this is pie in the sky when you die.  Jesus wants you to have steak on the plate while you wait. Eternal life starts now, it starts as you accept and declare your faith in Jesus, that you know that Jesus, God in human form, came into the world to save sinners.

His crucifixion brought that about. His resurrection and the gift of his Holy Spirit allows you to live it out.

In living it out is to give to our God and King honour and glory for ever and ever.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1415 Modified: 10-10-2022
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