October 27 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore 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.” ~Jeremiah 20:9

OLD TESTAMENT

The sermons and events in today’s readings are set during the reign of the last two kings of Judah—Jehoiachin (598-597) and Zedekiah (597-586). Even though Jeremiah has continued to warn the leaders about God’s impending judgment, they stick to their sinful ways.  Their courts are corrupt, idols dot the landscape from mountain to valley and from city to village, and the worship of God is at an all time low. The needs of the orphan, the widow, and the oppressed are ignored while the kings live in luxury.

While King Zedekiah is meeting with architects and interior designers to expand his handsome palace, Jeremiah is locked up. The king has grown weary of the prophet’s carrying-on so he sends the senior priest of the temple to apprehend him and put a stop to his jeremiads. However, the king still sends for Jeremiah to ask if he has had a fresh vision from the Lord. Perhaps he thought that some time in the stocks would produce a kinder, gentler Jeremiah (Jer. 21:1-7). The prophet continues to hold forth, warning the king of God’s anger and telling him that he had better change his ways and administer daily justice for the poor (Jer. 21:12).

For those who preach, success is defined like this: the people who hear change their ways! Unfortunately, Jeremiah’s preaching only gets him prison time so he is understandably discouraged. Sitting in prison, he complains, “O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived” (Jer. 20:7). God promised that he would be a man of international acclaim calling the nations to repentance, but here he is in prison with the need to preach still burning in his bones. “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in” (Jer. 20:9-10). He tries to encourage himself by recalling that the Lord is with him like a mighty warrior (Jer. 20:11). He tries to commit his cause to the Lord, but he sinks into despair, cursing the day he was born (Jer. 20:12, 14). Even so, in spite of every turmoil and misery, he carries on and remains faithful to his calling.

There is something encouraging about Jeremiah’s discouragement. When we are weary of doing what is right, it is comforting to know that we are in good company. These words from James are apropos: “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered” (vv. 5:10-11). If you are weary like Jeremiah, do not give up. Trust God and carry on. You will be blessed.

NEW TESTAMENT

One of my mentors, a pastor now in his early 70s, surprised me when he said, “Pastors who are too nice won’t last very long.” (I’m laughing out loud just thinking about it.) He certainly did not mean that pastors are to be rude or unkind. What he meant was that leadership in the church is not for the faint of heart. People will run over you if you let them, and when they do, it is not you they are running over but the Word of God. This is why Paul tells Timothy that he is to “fan into flame” the gifts that he has been given and to use them boldly. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Pray for your pastors and elders that they will be bold in their leadership, unashamed of the gospel, and determined to carry out their work with love and self-control. Pray that they act for the good of the church, the cause of the gospel, and the glory of God. Also, take a cue from Onesiphorus whenever possible (2 Tim. 1:16-17). How thankful we pastors and church leaders are for people who seek us out to offer encouragement in a myriad of ways.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.