Originally published Tuesday, 16 May 2017.
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Week Four Study Overview: Today we will deal with the inside ache, turned fire in our bones, when we hear from God and are trying to decipher if it’s really Him or our own desires speaking.
Key Point of Struggle: We aren’t always sure if we are hearing the whisper of God or our own desires, and we don’t always want to do what we are called to do.
Key Proof of Comfort: “And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.” – Philippians 1:6
Last time we were with Jeremiah, we witnessed an honest conversation between himself and God. We then took that conversation and translated it into our own lives. What I love about Jeremiah is that he’s brutally honest. We can read his heart and emotions because he wasn’t afraid to share his story with us. We can learn from him because he cracked open his heart and allowed it to pour out over pages that we can still read to this day. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet because of his honest emotion and outward lament. Thank God for the real ones: the folks who let it all out and confess their struggles. They make me feel less crazy in my own search for purpose.
At the beginning of our study, I mentioned that the book of Jeremiah is not written in chronological order, and that we would be jumping to a few significant moments in his life. Today, I want to look at chapters 19 and 20, but before we get there, I want to talk about the call on our lives.
We learned from Jeremiah 1:5 that we are all called, set apart, and given purpose. We each have a mandate on our life to kingdom build while living abundantly within the call. However, we also learned from Jeremiah’s conversation with God that sometimes we are called to do hard things: tasks we would much rather tell God we’ll pass on and wait for the next job He has in mind. And then there are those of us who love the idea of our calling. We think that because we’ve been called that every path will be covered with favor and blessing. However, the longer we wait without gaining the ground we think we should, we become weary. We are shocked by the amount of battles we’re called to fight. Translating battles into blessings is harder work than we can begin to imagine.
- Has God ever called you to a hard task that you weren’t interested in accomplishing?
- Have you ever been excited about the call God placed on your life, but after dealing with extreme challenges questioned if you really heard His voice?
Jeremiah was called to tell the nation of Judah to repent and turn from their sin. Otherwise, there would be judgment. He was a true prophet among many false prophets and priests. God had a plan that Jeremiah had to follow and it usually led him into harm’s way.
In Jeremiah 19 God told Jeremiah this:
“Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests, and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words I will tell you.”
Jeremiah went and did exactly as God called him to do. What happens next is really difficult to swallow, especially now that we are invested in the life of Jeremiah. It pains me to watch this unfold in my mind as I read the words in the beginning of chapter 20.
Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet. And put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord.
God told Jeremiah to speak, he obeyed, and as a result he was beat and locked up. This is so painful because though there are very few of us who can identify with this type of persecution regarding obedience to God, we all face some sort of difficulty while trying to live out our callings.
Doors we think will be opened are locked tightly, friends who we think will support us forget and abandon us without even so much as a prayer, people will get jealous, we will be judged, people will read our hearts wrongly and mistake us for something we aren’t, rejection will come, attacks of the enemy will be strong, and we will ultimately toy with the idea of abandoning our calling.
In case you are dealing with this right now, let me tell you that there’s a danger in giving up. People everywhere depend on your calling because it’s eternal. They need you doing only what you can do. Listen, anyone can start but few finish. We have to set our minds on finishing regardless of how difficult the road.
Jeremiah didn’t take this encounter very well. He, in the honesty we love, tells God exactly what He thinks…
O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.
I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me. 8 For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, “Violence and plunder!” Because the word of the Lord was made to me a reproach and a derision daily.
9 Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.
Jeremiah was persuaded by the call of God and followed it, even though it was painful both emotionally and physically. He came to a place where he wanted to quit, but he couldn’t because there was a fire shut up in his bones.
Have you ever thought that maybe you missed God and weren’t supposed to keep following your ministry gifts/callings/dreams? However, you just couldn’t stop thinking about it because of the inner hunger keeping you on the path? Does this sound familiar? Friend, I feel like this a lot. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years of pursuing my purpose: if I can’t stop thinking about it, if I keep on going even when I want to stop, if little-by-little people encourage me in the moments I need it most when I haven’t told anyone I’ve been struggling, then it is the Holy Spirit inside beckoning me to keep going when I’d much rather quit.
You see, I want to finish my life strong! I want to do what God has designed for only me to do! I want the call of God on my life to persuade me powerfully, because it’s the only persuasion with power enough to make me whole. And I know that if He began this work inside of me, then He will complete it. And He will do the same for you!
- Do you feel a fire shut up in your bones?
The fire in our bones doesn’t always feel good, but it will always be for good.
There is so much more to talk about concerning this. Next week, we are going to continue studying this passage in a different light.
- Today in your journal, I would like you to write about the fire in your bones.
- What is it that you cannot stop thinking about, and pursuing, even though it has proven to be much more difficult than you originally anticipated?
- Have you considered pulling away from your call?
- What has kept you on the path of purpose through difficulty?
- Notice in Jeremiah 20:9 it says, “… but His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones…” We most likely won’t hear the audible voice of God like Jeremiah. We have the Bible, which means we have an entire book of promises meant to fill our hearts with truth. It is the number one way God speaks to us. Do you have a word from the Bible that you hide in your heart? If you do, write it in your journal. Mine is Joshua 1:9.
Sometimes we need to revisit the calling that burns like a fire in our bones. It helps us to stay on track when we remember that God chose us for something very specific. Like Jeremiah, you have purpose!
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