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What is Your Burning Fire?

August 6, 2020

"Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
Jeremiah 20:9

 

Last week, I took us to Jeremiah’s call to the ministry, recounted in Jeremiah 1:4-10.  There I noted that God has an answer to every objection we might give to His call to step outside our comfort zones in obedience to Him.

 

    • God was the One sending him (v.7).
    • God was the One going with him (v.8).
    • God was the One giving him the message (v.9).
    • God was the One giving him a purpose (v.10).

 

One would imagine that was the end of the story and the end of the struggle.  God’s seal on Jeremiah’s life was secure and he would go forward in boldness and unwavering confidence, winning tremendous victories for God’s glory. 

 

But if I learn anything about the giants of the faith recorded in Scripture, it is that they were susceptible to weakness and discouragement.  They were frustrated when people did not respond properly to God’s message.  They got impatient when things did not develop as quickly as they thought they should.  At times, they lost sight of the larger picture.  Maybe that is why their narratives resonate with me.  I manifest those same weaknesses – and so do you.

 

Jeremiah had one of those moments of “crisis,” in Jeremiah 20.  But this time he did not hear God’s voice soothing his troubled soul.  That is because God’s answer had arrived long before the crisis.  Notice the progression – the internal conversation – that is recorded in Jeremiah 20:7-9.

 

    • The opposition overwhelmed him (Vv.7-8). Despite God’s warning at His call (Jeremiah 1), Jeremiah reached a breaking point.  It felt as if everyone had turned against him (“every one mocketh me”) and there was no break on the opposition (“I am in derision daily”).  The more he spoke out against evil, the worse the situation appeared to get (“the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me”).
    • He finally “gave up” (v.9). The human mind and body have their limits when it comes to responding to seasons of stress.  Jeremiah believed that he had reached those limits and was already past them.  If God would not bring relief, he would claim it for himself.  Except, his solution was to get out of the ministry, altogether.  In reality, for the moment he lost sight of the four things God had promised him, in chapter one.
    • He regained his focus (v.10). Jeremiah does not tell us how long he went on like this.  Was it a matter of minutes?  A matter of hours?  Days?  Ultimately, the timeframe is not important.  What is important is that, over the time of ministry, he had come to understand how important the message was and that he would never be genuinely happy or satisfied without following God’s path for his life.  The message burned inside of him, like a fire that could not be quenched.

 

I wonder if we have lost some of that fire - if the importance of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) has been superseded, in our hearts, by temporary pleasures that cannot offer true happiness and satisfaction.  Oh, that my spirit would be recharged by the infinite Spirit of God and that He would re-ignite an unquenchable fire in me to walk with Him and obey Him unconditionally!

 

Pastor Dan

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God Always Has an Answer
July 30th, 2020
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”
Jeremiah 1:5

 

My devotions recently led me back to Jeremiah’s call to the prophetic ministry, in Jeremiah 1.  I have always considered him to be one of the “giants” of the faith – a man who faithfully proclaimed a message, even though it was not readily received.  His was a ministry that impacted the ministry of others, generations later, like Daniel and Ezra.  He served with a single-minded focus on God and pleasing Him.

 

So, I guess I never really gave much thought to the fact that Jeremiah, like other spiritual “giants,” was initially hesitant to take on the task to which God was calling him: “Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child,” (Jeremiah 1:6).  In fact, an inability to speak seems to be a common excuse given (e.g. Moses – Exodus 4:10).

 

When God places a call on someone’s life, He will not allow excuses to get in the way.  Just as He did in other cases, God faced Jeremiah’s objections head-on, not focusing on why he could NOT fulfill God’s mission but on how God would equip him so that he COULD fulfill His call.

 

    • God was the One sending him (v.7). Jeremiah did not go in his own authority.  He had the commission and backing of omnipotent God.
    • God was the One going with him (v.8). Jeremiah would experience periods of loneliness and discouragement because very few others would stand with him and back him up.  But he was never really alone because God promised him His presence (see also Hebrews 13:5).
    • God was the One giving him the message (v.9). Jeremiah did not have to come up with the content to proclaim – whether he spoke to kings or everyday people.  God’s commission included a promise to tell him what He wanted said.
    • God was the One giving him a purpose (v.10). The reason Jeremiah’s message would be so unpopular was because it involved pointing out sin, at all levels of society, and God’s coming judgment.  Other, more popular prophets were proclaiming messages of peace and blessing, ignoring the nation’s disobedience to God’s law.  But the key difference was that Jeremiah was preaching GOD’S message and His promise of what was to come.  It may not have been popular, but it was right (see also 2 Timothy 4:1-4).

 

Who has God called you to reach, today?  What soul has God impressed upon your heart, with which to share the Gospel?  It is easy to come up with excuses – my weakness; my fear; the unpopular nature of the message.  But God always has an answer.

 

Pastor Dan

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August Meditation 

July 28, 2020

If you’ve been following along and reading our blog posts since we started several months ago, you may recall around the end of each month I try to share with you some of the verses that I will be meditating on or memorizing for the upcoming month. Up until this point most of those have been from different books scattered throughout Scripture. But for the month of August I want to hone in on a particular passage. And I’ll explain why in just a moment. But the passage that I’m aiming to have at the forefront of my thinking is:

2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

James 3:2-13

What I say and how I say it has always been a struggle for me. This passage in James has been one that over the years has helped me gain victory (most of the time) in this area. Yet, I’ve been convicted lately in regard to social media. More specifically with my response to the things I see and read. As we all know, tensions are high right now, and I desire for my voice, whether spoken or typed to be uplifting and unifying. May the things I say or the things I share build others up and point others to Jesus.

I’d love for you to potentially consider memorizing some of or even all of this passage with me in the month ahead. May God bless you as you look to apply His word to your life.

Pastor Rod 

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Digging Down and Growing Up

July 23, 2020

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Psalm 1:3
 

When I reflect on my childhood, I do so with great fondness.  Names and faces of people, who were influential in my formative years, come flooding back – names like Cheatham, Tuck, Bowden, McKinney, Garthwaite, and Hicks.  Some have gone on to Heaven.  Others are in the sunset years of their life.  There are still others with whom I have lost contact.  But there is rarely a day that goes by when I do not think of at least one of them and thank God for the way that He used them in my life.

 

My early years were not only noted for the people that shaped them, but also the frequent moving.  When I was born, my father was training for the Gospel ministry in Phoenix, Arizona.  When I was one, our family moved to Dallas, Texas, where he continued his studies for his master’s degree.  After graduation, he became the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Lenoir City, Tennessee.  All told, in my first fourteen years, I lived in four different houses and attended five different schools.  One thing I was not familiar with, in those early years, was putting down roots.

 

One of my devotional readings, on Wednesday morning, made me think of those early years and how many lives are lived like that today:

 

“Author David F. Wells wrote, ‘Today, we are neither rooted nor do we have much sense of belonging.  We are in fact the uprooted generations, the disconnected, the drifters, the alone.  We are being blown around by the windstorms of modernity.  Our roots in families, place, and work have all withered or been cut off.’  That may be true of our culture, but it does not have to be true of us.

 

There may be times when we need to relocate for family or work reasons, and sometimes it is God’s will for people to move.  However people frequently drift from one place to the next for less compelling reasons.  We need to put down deep roots wherever we are.  There needs to be a depth of commitment – to family, to God, to church – that is unable to be shaken by anything that occurs.

 

Psalm 1:3 promises that a believe who loves and meditates in the Scriptures ‘shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.’  This is the key to a stable and productive life.  A fruit tree that is moved every year is not going to be a healthy and productive tree because it has no time to take root.  Rather than constantly being driven from place to place by changing ideas and circumstances, we need to make the commitment to stand firm.”

 

Pastor Paul Chappell

 

Maybe your childhood was like mine – always moving.  But allowing yourself to take root, wherever God places you and for however long, is an important component of your spiritual development.  As a brother-in-Christ, I would encourage you, for instance, to really dig your roots into your church family.  If it is faithful to the preaching of God’s Word, make it yours (by committed membership), invest in it (by faithful giving and service), and allow it to invest in you (by faithful attendance).  That is a major part of God’s plan for your growth.

 

Pastor Dan

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