Yesterday was a wonderful day even though it was rainy and cloudy in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
At the invitation of Andy Mitchell, I accompanied him and his friend and new convert, Keith, to the Carolina Preachers Study in Ashville. My friend Joe Greer and his son-in-law, Ben Walker organized the study with over 20 preachers attending. The theme was based on the book of Jeremiah.
It was a time of pleasant association and edifying study. We were encouraged on several levels to learn personal lessons of persistence, dedication, and determination from this great prophet of God.
One of the passages considered that stands out is Jeremiah 20:9. In it we get a glimpse of his heart and passion for preaching God’s Word.
“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.”
Jeremiah had suffered mentally, emotionally and physically because he preached the Truth to the people of Judah, the princes, the priests and the King. They had turned their backs on God, were worshiping idols and engaging in abominable and abhorrent practices that should have caused them to be ashamed. But they were beyond blushing.
When Jeremiah called them to repentance, he was ridiculed. Treated with contempt. Riddled with derisive insults. Mocked and made a laughingstock (Jer 20:7-8). The personal animus the prophet suffered left him disheartened, discouraged, and disenchanted.
Jeremiah was almost 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 happened 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 here, not only for preachers and pastors but for all Christians.
(1) Godly people can get discouraged. 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) God cares about your problems. Talk to Him. From the beginning of his call to ministry, Jeremiah has 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) Allow God’s Word to get into You. We often speak about “getting into the Word,” well, Jeremiah let the Word get into him. Into his mind. Into his heart. Into his soul. And it burned like fire. It consumed him.
When God’s Word is in us, we can’t hold in it. We can’t help but share it. Teach it. Or preach it. Furthermore, when the Word is internalized it will keep us from sin and lift us up.
Let’s overcome our discouragements. Rise above the ridicule. And lean on the Lord in times of trouble. Let the Word light a fire in your heart. And don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out to a corrupt culture that needs to hear the Truth.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman