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YOU’RE NEVER TOO YOUNG

My Favourite Scripture Passages

Jeremiah 1:1-10
12th June 2005

Many people spend the first half of life frustrated because they are too young to achieve all their dreams and spend the second half of life frustrated because they are too old to start achieving. They live always frustrated. Other people discover that they are never too old to learn, nor to achieve. Our School for Seniors has 1500 people over 55 years of age thoroughly enjoying themselves in classes learning to do and understand what was denied them in earlier life. Whatever their age they make the most of living. But young people have not had the experience to discover they are never too young to learn and understand. For example you are:

Never too young to learn to fly: Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, but I asked him where he learnt to fly a spacecraft. He told me it was part of the NASA training program. And before that? He told me he was the first civilian test pilot to fly the X15 rocket aircraft. And before that? He was a navy jet pilot. And before that? Well, he got his light aircraft pilot’s licence when he was 14 at Wapakoneta airfield then rode his bike home because he was too young to drive a car!

Never too young to learn a second language: The earlier we start learning a second language the easier it is. I was speaking to a special motion before Parliament this week urging both Federal and State Governments to spend more money on hiring teachers of English as a second language, so that students from our multiracial community are more quickly taught to learn English. The younger you are the better. Those of us who have studied a second or third language know how difficult it is in later life. You are never too young to start.

Never too young to learn fear, hatred, discrimination, and violence. Those basic responses arise within us from our earliest experiences that terrorise the mind. A child of five years of age is aware of alcohol and drug abuse and an attitude is formed.

Never too young to make life long decisions. I made the choice of the lady of my life and started going steady with Beverley when we were both 13 years of age, and we have been going together steady ever since.

Never too young to respond to God’s call to ministry: God sometimes calls very young people to give their lives to Him and to train for full time service as a minister, a missionary, or a Christian worker of some kind or other. Long before we think the person is old enough, God in his wisdom calls. The Bible often shows God calling people to serve Him in their youth.

It is never too young to learn how to live. On the office door of one of our child care staff, I read the following:

“If children live with criticism they will learn to condemn, if children live with hostility they will learn to fight; if children live with ridicule they will learn to be shy; if children live with shame they will learnt to feel guilt; if children live with tolerance they will learn to be patient; if children live with encouragement they will learn confidence; if children live with fairness they will learn justice; if children live with security they will learn to have faith; if children live with approval they will learn to like people; if children live with acceptance and friendship they will learn to find love in the world.” We are learning from the earliest days of our lives. You are never too young to learn.

In a time of crisis, God often calls a person to speak for Him. In the most difficult period of Israel’s history God called a young man to speak to the people. That man was Jeremiah, but Jeremiah felt he was too young. The times in which he lived were times of national crisis. His work covered the period from 626BC to 580BC and during those 46 years his small nation of Judah was caught between three great international powers at war with each other. The Assyrian Empire was breaking up with two groups within the Empire, the Chaldeans and the Medes, joining forces against the Assyrians.

Down in the South, the Egyptians sent a huge force north to support their Assyrian allies. In the centre of this conflict lay Israel. Caught in the crossfire Judah suffered. Judah sought to impede the military advance of the mighty Egyptians whose forces overwhelmed them killing King Josiah. Then the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar prevailed defeating also the Egyptians. The new King Jehoiakim refused to pay the new Assyrian rulers tribute and so Judah was twice invaded by the Assyrians. Jerusalem was sacked after a dreadful siege, the Temple destroyed and the nation was reduced to rubble with a large numbers of prisoners of war being carried off to Babylon as slaves. “The Assyrians came down like a wolf on the fold, and his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; and the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, when the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.”, as Lord Byron writes.

In the centre of all this international conflict and suffering, Jeremiah was a sane voice amid the conflicting voices of stupid nationalism and gutless fear pointing the nation constantly to God’s will.

Jeremiah was a man of absolute truthfulness. Like Paul, Augustine and Luther, who presented in words their spiritual insights and confessions, totally unglossed and honest, Jeremiah demanded of God answers to life’s greatest questions. His uncertainties about God and his inner conflicts demonstrated authenticity.

Jeremiah was a man of great courage. He spoke boldly and without fear. His words were contrary to popular opinion and provoked great hostility from political and religious leaders. He argued that his nation Judah should not deceive themselves by opposing the Babylonians; he denounced their foolish nationalism and defied the King. He prophesied that their invincible Jerusalem would end in total destruction of the Jerusalem and the sacred Temple. He was not popular but was right.

Jeremiah was a man of uncompromising hostility to moral corruption. He railed against false prophets and those who refused the commands of God.

Jeremiah was a man of acute sensitivity. He loved his land of Judah, its animals and birds, its farmers and fishermen, and he despaired as he saw the policies of his Government leading to the death of his countrymen.

Jeremiah was a man of warm humanity. He was a man of strong sexual passions but committed to a single life so he could serve God. He developed close friendships with powerful men who respected him.

Jeremiah was a man of absolute confidence. He trusted God’s purpose for the future and even though he knew that the policies of King Zedekiah would lead to the ruin of the country, he had absolute confidence that God’s purpose would still be fulfilled even though his people would be exiles in Babylon. To the end he remained an undefeatable, confident witness to God.

In my lifetime, we have never seen a public figure like Jeremiah. Perhaps the nearest to him would be Martin Luther King who for few short years became a prophet of God before he was assassinated; or Mahatma Gandhi who shared some of Jeremiah’s qualities. But I can think of no other man of such greatness.

God called that great man when he was only a youth and Jeremiah was afraid of the responsibility. He protested that he was too young for such a work, but God said “never too young!” Jeremiah grew up in a godly family. His father belonged to the priestly clan. He was well educated and aware of God. Then “the Lord said: I chose you before I gave you life, and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet to the nations.” I answered, “Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say that you are too young, but go to the people I send you to and tell them everything I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you. I the Lord have spoken.” Then the Lord reached out and touched my lips and said to me, “Listen, I am giving you the words you must speak. Today I give you authority over nations and kingdom to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant”. Jeremiah 1:4-10

The young man Jeremiah set about becoming over the next 46 years the voice of his nation’s conscience, the voice that rang out over the clashing confusion of political ideology and war cries, with the firm word of confident truth. He was not too young to hear God’s call and to respond. Young people can believe in Jesus Christ, can trust Him as Saviour and obey Him as Lord.

While I am preaching here our on in law Ron Schepis, who was an elder of this congregation before entering Theological College to train for the ministry, has been preaching in our hospitals. Our son, David Moyes, who grew up in this congregation before leaving to train in Theological College is preaching in the Belconnen Baptist Church where he is Senior Pastor. When David first told me he wanted to be a minister it was a very precious moment in our lives. He was brooding deeply over some problem and I thought it must be some study difficulty he was having in his HSC year. So I took the opportunity to go out with him away from home and we talked together. I asked: “What is troubling you son?” He replied: “For a long time I have had the conviction that I want to be a minister like you Dad, but I do not want to let you down.” I told David that we would be thrilled at that decision but that we would feel he was too young to make such an important decision about God’s call for the ministry. Perhaps after a few years further study or work, he should test God’s call, but right now he was probably too young to hear God’s call to ministry. His answer was clear: “I am older than you were Dad when you answered God’s call to serve Him!”

David was right. You are never too young to hear God’s call. You may hear God calling you right now: “I chose you before I gave you life, and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet to the nations.” And you have replied, “Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord says: “Do not say that you are too young, but go to the people I send you to and tell them everything I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you.”

Samuel heard God’s call at night in the Temple when he was still a boy. Isaiah had a vision of God high and lifted up and hearing God’s call “Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?” answered, “Here am I. I will go! Send me!” He was not too young. Jeremiah was only a youth when God called Him to minister. When the Lord Jesus was only twelve years of age, his parents found him after searching everywhere, in the Temple discussing the Word of God with the leading teachers. He said: “Did you not know I must be about my Father’s business?” He had already heard God’s call. You are never too young!

Like Jeremiah you will need qualities of character to serve the Lord, qualities such as absolute truthfulness, great courage, uncompromising hostility to moral corruption, acute sensitivity, warm humanity, and absolute confidence in God. You are never too young to have these qualities of character.

If you have heard the call of the Lord, then answer the call like Samuel: “Speak Lord, Thy servant hears.” Like Jeremiah give your life to serving Him. Make that decision open and public tonight by coming to the front in answer to God’s call now. If you do not know the certainty of salvation, of sins forgiven and the hope of life eternal, then come to the front and accept it. If you know the certainty of salvation and have also heard the call of God to train for ministry then also come to the front and confirm it. You are never too young!

Gordon Moyes

 

Wesley Mission, Sydney.