I want to talk for a few minutes on the life of my favorite Old Testament character, Jeremiah. My favorite verse in the whole Bible comes from the passage we are going to look at. Also one of my favorite images of God and His power come this passage too. Jeremiah prophesied in a time of political and social turmoil in Israel. The Northern Kingdom had fallen and Jerusalem was threatened to the same fate. At this time of turmoil and pain we can look into the situation and see some encouragement and an example of how to live our lives for God. What got the people of Israel in trouble was that they followed the rules of religion, but they never got the idea of spirituality and relationship with God. In true spirituality God isn’t rules, but a fire within our bones. Jeremiah speaks of God and His Word being like a fire in His bones, I want us to consider what that means and how to apply it today.
Jeremiah is often called the weeping prophet, because the message that he had was nothing but destruction for Jerusalem and Israel if they did not change their ways. If we take an honest look at Jeremiah, we would see he felt defeated. A lot of time we can associate with the defeat of Jeremiah. Two reasons why it is good for us to associate with him, because when we see his difficulty we know that we are not the only ones that suffer trials. There is strength in numbers. And it’s good for us because we need trials in our life. It is good for us to suffer sometimes. I should clarify, it is not good for us to suffer, but much growth comes from suffering. When we suffer, it is often in those times that we grow closer to God. Romans 5:3-5 says, And not only this, but we also exult in our trials, knowing that trials brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Trials build perseverance, which makes it easier the next time around. Perseverance builds character, which makes us better people. Character brings hope. And Hope doesn’t disappoint because our hope is in Christ Jesus and He never changes.
A diamond starts as coal and then as pressure works on it it becomes a diamond…like diamonds through trials/pressure make us better people. Something that I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that life and being a Christian is not for the faint of heart. It takes determination, drive and dedication. They don’t warn you when you are born. Think about a fire and how it burns. Like the forest fires there were in Florida a few years ago. They burned with such intensity and then the firefighters thought they had put them out. But what happened? The fires were now burning underground. Gaining strength, getting ready to rear their ugly heads once more.
Our fire, our passions our burning inside for God, needs to be like that. Our fire needs to go underground when we encounter trials. When the trials press hard, we must let our fire go underground, not out. We need to have a fire burning in us like Jeremiah. Life is hard, and it is hard to keep that desire burning within us. But we have to. Look at what Jeremiah said (Jer. 20:9), But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it. He couldn’t keep is mouth shut! I like that. Even when he didn’t want to speak he couldn’t help it. Even when he didn’t care for those around him who were headed down the wrong path, he couldn’t keep quiet. Jeremiah burned with a desire that I wish all Christ-folowers had. A desire so strong that we don’t allow our own feelings and emotions snuff it. A desire so great that it felt like a burning fire within him.
We have to have that same desire. We have to care for the lost, the hurting, those in need with that same passion. God and Christ while on the earth cared for the lost, the hurting with that passion. Unfortunately, our expressing the love of God is not one of the options in the Bible. We must express the love of God to those around us. The writer of Hebrews tells us for our God is a consuming fire. Our God and His love for the lost must consume us so that we burn inwardly with the desire of Jeremiah.
Have you ever read the book of Revelation? I really like that book. When I think about this desire that Jeremiah had, this fire burning within him, I think that the church of Laodicea needed a preacher like Jeremiah. In Revelation 3:14-22 we are told what Jesus had to say to this church. Unfortunately I think, Jesus would have the same thing to say to most of us… 15‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. There is no place in the Kingdom of God for those without a burning fire within them.
How do we get this kind of fire in our life? It is simple just do what Jeremiah did. He trusted God and the fire came along with the trust and faith that he had put in God. Jeremiah trusted God and protected Jeremiah and as Jeremiah saw that God was trustworthy he began have this fire within him.
Jeremiah 20:11 tells us that God protects us. I like what Isaiah calls God, the Lord Almighty. I love that. Who is stronger that Almighty? Nobody! Look what Jeremiah says about his defense, God: But the LORD is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten. What the heck is dread champion? A dread champion is an awesome warrior, someone who can’t be defeated. Jeremiah says that his enemies will not prevail; they will be utterly ashamed.
I think that sometimes we don’t give God the glory and honor that He deserves. We either see God as a last resort or we don’t see Him at all. God is the champion over all. Name one person or thing that has beaten God. Abe, my brother once said, “I’ll bet He-man can beat up God.” (Dude, mom was so mad at him for that! In his defense he was about 5.) No one can beat up God.
Death has no power over our God. Our God, our defense is stronger than all of our enemies out together. Jeremiah knew that like we do, but like Jeremiah we don’t always act like we know it. Our confidence is in God and in His power, the Lord Almighty.