Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fire in the Whole

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Jeremiah 19, 20, 21

Jeremiah 20:7-9 (NIV)

7 O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. 8 Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the Word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. 9 But if I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)

12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

Good morning!

When I was a little girl, my family would visit Silver Dollar City® in Branson, Missouri. Our favorite time to visit was in the fall, while the leaves were turning into a flame of brilliant color all along the Ozark Mountains. I fell in love with the annual craft festival. My favorite booth was the glass blowing booth. I’ve never seen anything like it – how something so beautiful and resilient is borne from a hot flame and the breath of a master glass blower.

A trip to the theme park would not be complete without taking a ride on the “Fire in the Hole!” This mysterious roller coaster/water ride was buried inside a dark and looming cave. We would board the cable cars and travel slowly in the darkness of a cool and damp tunnel, while listening to the eerie cries of captives in the darkness. They would shriek and scream, appearing out of nowhere as we rode by. If that wasn’t enough to scare you silly, one would find themselves climbing slowly up a hill at a very slow pace. The cave was so dark you could not see the hand in front of your face. Just when we would reach the top of the steep climb, a loud voice would shout, “Fire in the hole!” And down, down, down we plummeted as fast as any roller coaster could go, through a wall of flame and into the cool waters flowing down from the waterfall up above. On a hot summer’s day, this was the perfect way to cool off. My father used to have this sinister laugh going during the ride. His voice would echo throughout the cave. I can still hear it in my head today. Total darkness is frightening, even for the bravest people I know.

Jeremiah was angry with God. He felt he had been deceived. The Lord filled Jeremiah’s heart with His Word and he willingly went and spoke what he heard God say. The people rejected Jeremiah’s teaching. They refused to listen to his voice. He was insulted, reproached and abused on a daily basis. Yet, despite Jeremiah’s deep-seated anger, he simply could not help himself from speaking the Message. It was as if Jeremiah’s heart was on fire, totally consumed; and the flames would not be quenched. He felt the fire in the whole of his life, buried deep inside his bones. Jeremiah could not contain himself. The Word of God must be proclaimed.

The Apostle Paul understood the fire that burned within Jeremiah. He received His baptism on the road to Damascus, when the risen Lord appeared and said, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” In times of dire punishment and physical pain, Paul wrote these words, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Phil. 1:14 NIV) Paul knew that the fire in the whole of his life was the flame that would ignite a mission and ministry around the world. His passion for preaching the Gospel message would catch hold of the hearts of those who were seeing Jesus Christ for the very first time. Son of God, Son of Man, Emmanuel, offering salvation to humanity that had turned away from Him. Paul saw his suffering as a ray of hope for those who found themselves burning to preach the Gospel message.

Paul’s example, along with the prophet Jeremiah, continues to fan the flame in the lives of Christians everywhere. Do you have a fire in the whole of your life? Have you found that you simply cannot contain the Word of God any longer? Is He giving you a message to speak? It is not always easy sharing that fire with others. Some will judge you harshly, and others will simply ignore the message. If God has called you to speak His Word, do not be afraid of the fiery darts of your neighbor. The greater pain is when we do not allow the Word of God to flow from our lives for fear of judgment or rejection. That flame which burns inside your bones is the catapult to finding living water. Do not be afraid to tell what you know to be true.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding


Pray for: courage to speak the Word! God did not deceive Jeremiah and He will not deceive you. His Word has been given for all people everywhere. If you feel that fire burning in your bones this morning, do not put Him off another minute. Get out there and tell His story. You may not win any popularity contests in this life. Christ promises that the living water He offers will fill you up, quench your thirst, and send you out to share the love of the Lord with a world who desperately needs to know Him.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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