While returning to the office from lunch yesterday, Justin Berss, my summer preaching intern, and I were discussing some of our favorite Bible verses.
Justin opined that it’s hard to select just one. But when we returned to the church building, he hollered from the adjoining office, I know what my favorite verse is!
“What does it say?”
“Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.”
The prophet Jeremiah had suffered because he preached the Truth to the people of Judah, the princes, the priests and the King. Here’s what God told him to preach.
“Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely.
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed;
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord.
As a result, Jeremiah was ridiculed. He was treated with contempt. Riddled with derisive insults. He was mocked and made a laughingstock (Jer 20:7-8). The personal animus suffered by the Prophet left him disheartened, discouraged, and disenchanted.
Jeremiah was ready to quit. To pack it in. To throw in the towel. Let someone else take the heat! These people won’t listen. And they don’t care. And I’m sick and tired of trying to teach them.
But something happen to Jeremiah. He couldn’t let go. He wouldn’t give up. His heart wouldn’t allow it. The Word of God burned like a fire in his heart.
Jeremiah was discouraged. But he wasn’t defeated. He was battered. But he wasn’t beaten. He was knocked down. But not knocked out. He was hurting. But he wasn’t helpless.
There are several lessons that are good for young preachers, like Justin, older preachers, like myself, and for all Christians.
(1) We all get discouraged at times. This great prophet of antiquity found himself demoralized by the wickedness of His world. The indifference of God’s people. And the failure of the religious leaders to address it.
Not much has changed in 2600 years, has it? Don’t quit because you’re discouraged at the pervasive nature of sin. Every generation has had its share of ungodliness.
(2) Talk to God about your troubles. From the beginning of his call to ministry, Jeremiah enjoyed an intimate relationship with God. Over 700 times in his writing the Lord is mentioned. Jeremiah constantly leaned upon the Lord and went to Him for guidance, counsel and comfort. He acknowledged, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Jer 10:23)
(3) Let God’s Word get into You. We often speak about “getting into the Word. Well, Jeremiah let the Word get into him. Into his mind and heart. And it burned like fire. It consumed him.
When God’s Word is in us, we can’t hold it in. We can’t help but share it. Teach it. Or preach it. Our wicked world needs the Word. Whether it knows it or not.
Let’s overcome our discouragements. Rise above the ridicule. And rise to the occasion by leaning on the Lord in times of trouble. And speaking up and speaking out to a corrupt culture that needs to hear the Truth.
That’s a great favorite verse, Justin! May it serve you well as you faithfully serve Him!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman