The previous post in this series is here
Contentment Makes us Fit for Service
In any case, the point is that Jeremiah hadn’t seen anything yet. The troubles he was having in Anatoth were nothing compared to the troubles he would later have in Jerusalem, Babylon, Egypt. Things were bad not the worst. If Jeremiah thought he had trouble today, he needed to wait until tomorrow. Anyone who gets discouraged, downtrodden, and defeated over little things will never fulfill his divine calling. If even little disappointments tempt Jeremiah to leave his calling, how will he ever cope with real persecution? God had great things in store for Jeremiah. But he would never achieve them unless he was willing to persevere in the little things. He had to be willing to race with men before he could compete with horses.
The same is true for every Christian. If you complain about the simple things God has already asked you to do, then you lack the spiritual strength to do what he wants you to do next. If your troubles keep you from doing the Lord’s work now, you will never have the strength to do it later. If you want to do some great things for God, then you must begin by doing the little things for God. And the only way to do little things for God is to them in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, ©2001), 222.
1 What is the nature of Christian service? What do you think it means to serve God? Is it only in a church? Is it only “religious” or “spiritual”? Give examples of those who serve God.
2 Read Genesis 2:15-17: what the service there? Did our first parents stay content in their service? Gen. 3
3 How are we supposed to approach all of our life’s work? Col. 3:23-24
4 Consider the stories of Moses and David: What did God do with these men before he put them into service?
5 What does God look for in service? 1 Sam. 15:17-23.
6 Read Jonah: How did contentment (or lack thereof) affect his service?
7 If contentment is a willing submission to God’s will (see full definition page 40), then how do you think service for God would be affected by contentment or lack thereof. Consider the examples of Jeremiah, Hosea, Paul.
8 Read Luke 10:1-12 How does Jesus send out the 72? v. 3. What are they to receive? v. 7. How does this relate to contentment?
9 Why might we be tempted to not be content with service to God? How have his servants often lived? Consider the lives of missionaries, martyrs. Consider how much Christian live for Christ today. (Look persecution.org) Consider what it might cost you to be a more devoted servant Christ? How might you be tempted to be discontent with such service?
10 In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Apollyon stops Christian on the way and seeks to dissuade him from continuing on pilgrimage:
Consider again, when thou art in cool blood, what thou art like to meet with in the way that thou goest. Thou knowest that for the most part his servants come to an ill end, because they are transgressors against me and my ways. How many of them have been put to shameful deaths! And besides, thou countest his service better than mine; whereas he never yet came from the place where he is, to deliver any that served him out of their enemies’ hands: but as for me, how many times, as all the world very well knows, have I delivered, either by power or fraud, those that have faithfully served me, from him and his, though taken by them! And so will I deliver thee.
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come
11 How does one give up comforts to serve God — if the loss to serve God is so great? How can one give up such things and still be content in the midst of such loss? Read Philippians 4 and consider what Paul does with his present benefits and comforts; how does he count them? With what does he replace them? How does that knowledge create a basis for contentment?
12 Could one perform true service to God and not be content with God’s provision? Can grudging service be loving service?
CXV. Will ye also go away? Chap. 6:67–69
1 When any turn from Zion’s way,
(Alas! what numbers do!)
Methinks I hear my Saviour say,
“Wilt thou forsake me too?”
2 Ah, Lord! with such a heart as mine,
Unless thou hold me fast,
I feel I must, I shall decline,
And prove like them at last.
3 Yet thou alone hast pow’r, I know,
To save a wretch like me;
To whom, or whither, could I go,
If I should turn from thee?
4 Beyond a doubt I rest assur’d
Thou art the Christ of God,
Who hast eternal life secur’d
By promise and by blood.
5 The help of men and angels join’d
Could never reach my case;
Nor can I hope relief to find,
But in thy boundless grace.
6 No voice but thine can give me rest,
And bid my fears depart;
No love but thine can make me bless’d,
And satisfy my heart.
7 What anguish has that question stirr’d,
If I will also go?
Yet, Lord, relying on thy word,
I humbly answer, No.
John Newton and Richard Cecil, The Works of John Newton, vol. 3 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 434