Jeremiah 20:9 - If I say, "I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His Name," there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
It is amazing to see the causes that can take hold of people. I have friends who "bleed purple," the color of the Minnesota Vikings. I know people who love the sport of curling and dedicate hours each day to its pursuit. Still others are passionate about this rock band or that craft beer, this politician or that newly designed car. They explode with a zeal and loyalty that can only be described as passionate.
Actually, it is refreshing, this rush of energy given to pursuits, even pursuits I would never consider worth my own time or energy. Fifteen hours per week playing chess or twenty hours watching a favorite news channel, these do not match up with my idea of a good time. But I tell myself at least they're passionate about something. At least, when engaged by their chosen cause, their adrenaline rushes and their voice rises in intensity. They are alive, in other words.
We are all drawn outside ourselves to pursuits that fill our lives with purpose. Often these pursuits find us. We become golfers, art lovers, weekend explorers, connoisseurs of good wine. Perhaps someone invited us in. Or maybe we stumbled our way into it. Either way, the activity has captured us and owns us at least for a time.
There are other causes, though, that take hold of us from within. They are forged in the fire of our bellies, or as Jeremiah puts it, in "a burning fire shut up in our bones." These causes run deeper than a fine Cabernet or a well-played checkmate. These are callings that will not let us rest, long-term callings, tucked away in our hearts and maybe forgotten for a while but sure to surface again and again. We may try to stifle these heart-grown causes, but they are relentless. They will not be silenced.
For the weeping prophet Jeremiah, it was his calling to bring judgment and hope to Judah that seized him from within. It brought him ridicule and isolation, beatings and torture. Yet when he tried to silence his own prophetic voice, the fire within was just too strong, and so he wept and spoke and sang his songs—which is what prophets do.
Lest we miss it, it was not an entirely internal matter. God put Judah on Jeremiah's heart. God's Word became for Jeremiah a burning, a passion, a zeal, a dizzying reality that would not let him be silent. How did the prophet Amos say it? "The lion has roared; who will not fear; the Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3:8). It was an explosion of Word, a fountainhead of witness, that took hold of Jeremiah from within. He was his message.
In a secular culture, where talk of God is rare, Christians may grow silent. At a time when people have little patience with pointing fingers of judgment or enthusiastic calls to repentance, Christians may retreat to their families or their churches. When so many people feel no need for grace or forgiveness, Christians may throw up their hands and maybe even cry over how godless the nation has become.
Then there is once again the fire in the bones that will not let us rest. There is the Gospel planted in our hearts and begging to be spoken. Suddenly, there is a moment when what needs to be said is nothing less than "God has shown His love for you in Jesus Christ." We say it. We can't help but say it. What has been hidden becomes real again, fired by the Spirit within, and we are alive.
WE PRAY: Lord, let Your Word flow from my heart set on fire by Your Spirit. Save me from silence. Help me to seize those moments made for my witness. In Your Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Dean Nadasdy.
1. What internal and external forces douse the fire of our passion for the Gospel, silencing our witness?
2. When recently has "the fire in my bones" moved me to witness to Christ?
3. Who personifies for you a bold, passionate witness from within?
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