Interesting passage, Lk 12:49. "I am come to send fire on the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!" Jesus came to make a difference in this world--to shake the spirits, to open the fountain of redemption, to make mankind anxious for regeneration. To help us ask where we are coming from, where we are going.
Is a crisis of faith today. Externally in our world--liberalism, materialism, humanism, individualism, hedonism. In the religious world--ecumenism, soft theologies, Biblical ignorance. But greatest failure is internal. We are failing, failing God, failing to act, failing self, failing our world.
Christianity urgently needs men and women to send fire to our world. Man and women who are genuinely converted, see God's eternal purpose, have a real message on their hearts, are moved by the love of Christ, are obedient to the heavenly call. Should describe everyone of us, but does not. Here is our failure.
Is a failure because we are not prepared. Have not prepared ourselves, have failed to answer the call when we are prepared.
I. God calls
For our text: Jer. 20:9. The fire Jer felt in his bones, spir fire, originated with God. God's flame burns in the soul of every person called to his service. God called Jer. (1:5). God does not use the same procedure for all. Isa's call was distinct. Ezek was called by spectacular visions (Ezek 23). Jer's call, by contrast, seems natural, usual. God's word comes to him. Jer protests, as you and I often do. But God is calling Jeremiah. God is putting fire in Jer's bones.
II. A consuming call.
When fire is within us, we are consumed. Internal fire confronts the spir coldness in the world, but first confronts the spir coldness w/i our hearts. Ps 39:3 says meditation started the fire. Jer felt the fire. He answered the call.
God w/i us does not consume us, and the world questions his genuine presence within us. Fire can smoulder just so long, and it breaks forth. The cold reception of the message in our world, a message that fails to consumes hearts, is explained by the cold reception of the message in the church of Christ, the very people of God. The spir ignorance of our world is explained by the spir ignorance among us.
III. A convicting call.
Jer's conviction is apparent in 15:15-18. We do not know how the prophet died, but we do not he was convicted and answered the call of God even in the face of death and persecution by his countrymen. A Jewish story accepted by early Xns says Jer died in Taphnes, stoned by his own people. He was undoubtedly persecuted, even imprisoned, but God's convicting call cannot be ignored.
In our heart of hearts, we have wanted to do more than we are doing in missions. I want to give more. Bro, sis, do what God is laying on your heart to do.
Only those with convictions can make a difference in our world. Salesman must be convicted- convinced of the value of the product they offer. We have claimed the fire without the flame of God. The fire has just about gone out in many hearts. Faith slips, hearts sink in doubt.
IV. A continuing call.
God said, you speak what I command (1:7). With the fire of his missions burning inside him, he spoke a short sermon: 22:29. Whether God's message is a sword bringing war or an offering bringing peace, God calls us to continually spread the message as we go into all the world by going into the spheres of our individual worlds.
The call is not continual for many Xns today because we have lost sight of the purpose of our existence. Our question is similar to that of the prophet in Jer. 20:18. To serve God is a difficult task, full of obstacles. To overcome the obstacles, the servant of god must maintain a clear vision of his mission. We have a order, marching orders if you will, and we must respond.
Listen to Paul in Rom. 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:16.
V. A "centered" call--going to the very core of our being.
We get tired, pessimistic, spiritually discouraged. We may react as Jer did. We may resemble Jonah. We may try to hide from God. Elijah escaped Jezebel and argued with God trying to justify his desertion. Some today have deserted the ranks, failed to answer the call, and are arguing with God about why they cannot be more generous, more involved, more active, more faithful. Others like Job and Jer become discouraged and may even become spir rebellious.
Jer was upset with God, 15:18. He discussed his dilemma with God, vowed to forget the call of God, but the fire was centered within him, and his identity as God's person in the very core of his being demanded that he respond. Jer. 23:29.
In the life of every servant of God, there are Gethsemanes of moral depression, Mt. Tabors of optimism. In the middle storms, there is always a calm from God. In the midst of darkness, light shines forth. A child of God cannot leave God because God is within us, central to our being and identity. He calls us--consumes us, continues with us, convicts us, calms us--in the very center of our being.
This truth is reflected in Jer 20:7-9. The fire in Jer bones told him that God was there, in him, with him: 1:8. Jer knew God's presence. The storm left, the clouds of doubt lifted, and he could see God beside him, as he had always been: 20:11.
God not only calls us, but promises his presence with us as we answer his call. God calls again today--continually, convicting, constraining by his love. Hearts want to answer, but remain still during invit song after invit song because of embarrassment, spir inertia, apathy, Satan's lies.
God calls us, and does not set before us anything that needs to be done that cannot be done. Hearts want to answer to be baptized into Christ, but Satan says "wait" or "no" or "it's not important" or even "it's not necessary." Hearts want to answer to come home, but we older folks as just stuck. Hearts want to answer to be generous as our God has been generous with us, but our better judgment and common sense holds us back in preparation for the next depression. We are saving, and the worlds of Haggai convict us--our bags have holes in them.
God calls us--to respond, to send the light, to name the name of Jesus in confession and baptism, and in evangelizing the whole world. Will you do what your heart wants to do? As we stand and sing.
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