God Equips Those He Calls

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When Jeremiah was called to serve as a prophet, God told him he was literally made for it, as covered in a recent post, but Jeremiah’s response was not an enthusiastic one.  Jeremiah 1:6-8 records this exchange:

“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’  But the LORD said to me,
            ‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
            for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
            and whatever I command you, you shall speak.’”

Even though God had just said “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” Jeremiah objects that he was too young and did not have the natural ability required for the job.  Maybe he doubted anyone would listen to him, so God must have the wrong guy.  God doesn’t disagree that Jeremiah was young (he already knew that), but knows that God’s ability is what matters, not Jeremiah’s.  God knew that someday you and I would be reading Jeremiah’s words regardless of his own youth or ability.  God never picks the wrong person for the job.

But if “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”[1] why does the Scripture tell us that one of its own authors doubted and questioned God Himself?

The answer of course, is “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”  We should learn not only from Jeremiah’s prophecies to the people of his time, but also from His experience with God.  In hindsight, we think that because Jeremiah is a book of the Bible, of course he was able to do the work God gave him, but in the moment of his call, Jeremiah had no idea.  So, when we think our ability is not enough the job at hand, we should remember Jeremiah’s youth and remember that “God does not call the equipped; He equips the called,” as the saying goes.  Jeremiah learned this from his own experience, and we may learn from it as well because the Bible records it.

Also, God shows us Jeremiah’s flaws to comfort us when we feel inadequate, not only in ability but also in faith.  Even if we know that “God does not call the equipped; He equips the called,” we don’t always act on that knowledge.  Jeremiah doubts not only his call, but there are other examples, including when he questions why he should buy a field the Babylonians were about to seize.[2]  Doubt is not something that only some Christians feel – we are not alone in our weakness.  Even the Bible’s own authors had doubt because they could not see as God sees.

God is patient when we are honest with Him about our doubts, but He is also honest with us when He says we were literally made to serve Him.  No Christian is inadequate for the work God gives them, for in His power He accomplishes what He wants. He has no doubts and is faithful in providing everything we need.

Sometimes God sends us before we think we are ready, so we can learn to put our confidence in the right place like Paul, who wrote: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13


[1] 2 Timothy 3:16
[2] The story is in Jeremiah 32, which I covered in an earlier post, here.

Called to Be Our Consecrated Selves

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People have moments where they wish they had a greater role in the world around them.  We see other people around us, or in stories from the Bible or in the news, and think we’d like to be more like them.  More influential, more effective, more powerful.  For example, what if I could be a prophet or an apostle?  Or in our modern world, maybe a “social media influencer”?  “Be yourself” is often the advice for finding contentment when we feel like this, but the Bible says we are “to be conformed to the image of his Son.”[1]  So, should we be ourselves, or should we be like Jesus?  What will give us contentment?  While not a full answer, the call of Jeremiah the prophet offers some help.

Jeremiah was not a prophet by accident, because Jeremiah 1:4-5 says:

“Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
            and before you were born I consecrated you;
            I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’”

Here, God calls Jeremiah both to conform his ways to God’s, and also to his own specific task.  Like Jeremiah, every Christian is known by God and called to do His will.  Only God knows why we were each made the way we were made, and in a way God calling us to serve Him is like Him saying “stop living like you’re an accident of a random, purposeless world.”  It is because we were made, not just evolved, that we have purpose, and God has “consecrated” us to that purpose.

Stop living like you’re an

accident of a random,

purposeless world.

But each of us was made differently, also on purpose.  Unlike Jeremiah, my fellow travelers on this blog probably aren’t prophets, and that is part of why Jeremiah needed to be a prophet.  His job wasn’t to call everyone else to be a prophet, but to serve everyone else by calling them to find their own purpose in God.  Jeremiah wanted all of God’s people to take whatever He has endowed them with and dedicate it to Him.  Likewise, being “conformed to the image of” Jesus does not mean we should all be carpenters, but that we should apply His righteousness to every task He puts before us.

Therefore, God’s people should never live like they are an accident.  We are all a valuable work of creation, made to find our good and His glory in His amazing design.  We will find our true selves in the One who made us, and God’s people will have unity in Christ’s character, combined with diversity in the infinite creativity of the people He created.

Be yourself, and also be like Jesus.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10


[1] Romans 8:29

Don’t Leave Love Letters Unopened

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An old friend used to encourage me to read the Bible every day, and his reasoning was: “The Bible is 66 love letters from God.  If you got a love letter from any other person, would you put off reading it?”  It took many years before I really took this to heart, but I always remembered it. 

Dear fellow travelers,

I pass along that story, but I’ll also add more to it.  The best times are not when we just read these letters.  Devotions aren’t just lessons, memorization exercises, a disciplinary action, or a time to pay your dues so you can get on with your day.  They are time spent with Someone who loves you more than anything, and who wants you to love and trust Him more than anything.  Treat Him as you would treat an honored guest, because He is really there with you.

Think of it this way – How often do you get to spend time with someone who fulfills 1 Cor 13:4-7 perfectly?

Someone who is patient and kind; who does not envy or boast; is not arrogant or rude. Who does not insist on His own way; is not irritable or resentful; does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [1]

Nobody else we see today will be nearly as good to us.

We all miss days, even weeks or longer, but He is patient and kind.  We can try again tomorrow or later today, and He will be there.


[1] This paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 was suggested in a devotional I read last year: “August 30.” James Montgomery Boice and Marion Clark. Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment.  (2017).  It was also the basis of a prior post, Jesus is Patient and Kind Even When I am Not

Jesus Does Not Judge a Book By Its Cover

Beginning today, Sunday posts on Driving Toward Morning will focus on guest content.  I didn’t write the fictional letter below, which is attributed at the end.


To: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Woodcrafter Carpenter Shop, Nazareth

From: Jordan Management Consultants, Jerusalem

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

It is the staff’s opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in the background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee, place personal interests above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale.

We feel it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.

Sincerely yours,

Jordan Management Consultants


I found this made-up letter in the introduction to Warren Wiersbe’s book on 1 Corinthians, Be Wise: Discern The Difference Between Man’s Knowledge and God’s Wisdom.  Ken Baugh, who wrote the introduction, says “Even though this is a humorous account, it drives home the radical difference between human and divine wisdom.”  Baugh found it “on the internet,” where it is often attributed to Eating Problems for Breakfast by Tim Hansel, Word Publishing, 1988, pp. 194-195

Be a Cloud of Witness – Psalms of Ascent #8

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The last post on the Psalms of Ascent ended with God’s people dealing with “the scorn of those who are at ease” and “the contempt of the proud” at the end of Psalm 123.  That Psalm emphasized the Lordship of the Lord, who is “enthroned in the heavens.”  Those who follow the kingdoms of the world often have contempt and scorn for those who follow another way, who declare another Lord.  However, Psalm 124 explains that our Lord has not left us alone:

“A Song of Ascents. Of David.

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side—
            let Israel now say—
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
            when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
            when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
            the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
            the raging waters.

Blessed be the LORD,
            who has not given us
            as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
            from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
            and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
            who made heaven and earth.” (emphasis mine)

This Psalm speaks of times when we know only the Lord could have saved us, and we’ve learned that, “When all you have is God, He is enough.”  Sometimes life is hard because of circumstances that force us to depend on Him, and we learn to trust Him and Him alone.  The best way to know for ourselves that He is good is to act on our trust in Him, even when it’s hard or doesn’t make sense.  When God works wonders for us, we should keep a record of God’s power and faithfulness in your life, like the memorial stones Israel placed after crossing the Jordan.[1]

The other thing to notice about Psalm 124 is that it is entirely written with plural pronouns.  David, the author, is telling us that the works of God in our lives, especially when there seemed no other way forward, are to be shared with the community of believers.  “Let Israel now say” is something we do together.  The church must be a community of people who share God’s work in their lives, as a contrast to “the proud” and “those who are at ease.”  The One we serve – and the One they ridicule – wants us to testify to His salvation, and not any other hoped-for salvation.

John Calvin notes on the last verse (8): “The contrast between the help of God, and other resources in which the world vainly confides, as we have seen in Psalm 20:7, ‘Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God,’ is to be noticed, that the faithful, purged from all false confidence, may betake themselves exclusively to his succor, and depending upon it, may fearlessly despise whatever Satan and the world may plot against them.”

We know what God has done for us, but as a community we amplify the common witness of God being faithful.  Hebrews 11 chronicles the faith of God toward His people in the Bible, in order that we may have a “cloud of witnesses” encouraging us not to “grow weary or fainthearted” as we endure hostility from sinners for serving our Lord.[2]  Psalm 124 is part of a liturgy for ancient Israelites traveling to corporate worship in Jerusalem and can be applied to corporate worship today.  God calls all of His people to join the cloud of witnesses.

Therefore, when you attend worship this week, find a way to join someone else’s cloud of witness.  Tell them what God has done for you, that only He could do.  Then tell someone else.  If you need encouragement yourself, pray that God would meet your need.

Dear fellow travelers: Be a cloud of witness.  Show others your memorial stone.


If you’ve missed the earlier posts in the Psalms of Ascent series, the first post is here, and each post links to the next at the bottom.


Note on the series: This occasional Saturday series will cover Psalms 120 to 134.  These “Psalms of Ascent” form a type of hymnal or liturgy that pilgrims could sing or recite on their way to the three annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Booths.  In a modern context, these Psalms are a call to prepare for worship, to rejoice in the Sabbath, and to answer a call to serve God’s church on earth.


[1] See Joshua 4
[2] See Hebrews 12:1-4