April 9, 2020
Volume 24, Number 13
Stephen Beach was only doing what I and many other preachers have been forced to do. After social distancing was mandated in England because of the coronavirus pandemic, Beach went online to members of the St. Budeaux Church in Plymouth, southwestern England.
The story carried by Reuters News Service said this was his first attempt at bringing a message of hope through the Internet. On March 19 he had arranged some candles on his desk and was discussing the need to have quiet time in one’s life. And then this happened: “Oh dear, I just caught on fire,” he exclaimed, batting and blowing out the flame on his shoulder. “Oh my word!” (He apparently was not burned in the mishap.)
Being “on fire” is not always a bad thing. In our culture it has become an idiom suggesting enthusiasm or success at something. Red Barber, a legendary sports broadcaster, once referred to an athlete as “running like a bunny with his tail on fire”. In sports it is a compliment for others to say that you’re on fire.
The prophet Jeremiah was not pleased with the assignment given to him by God. He was sent to preach to Judah, a nation that had largely drifted away from God. When Jeremiah spoke God’s word, the results weren’t encouraging: “I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me” (Jeremiah 20:7).
Understandably, Jeremiah was about ready to walk away from his mission. If the people didn’t receive his message, it was their own fault, right? But then he reasoned: “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” (Jeremiah 20:9). He couldn’t be quiet!
Sometimes anger affects us in that way. We are upset with something we see or that we’ve heard, and our temper rises to the boiling point. Finally we “explode” with words we never should have said. An angry person is often described as “a hothead”.
Jeremiah’s “fire”, however, was a good thing. He knew that God was speaking the truth through him, and that truth badly needed to be proclaimed. Thus he resolved to keep on speaking despite the mockery of others, to keep on giving vent to the fire within.
The world needs more “preachers on fire” to speak the truth, even when others may laugh at it. Paul instructed Timothy to do just that in 2 Timothy 4:1-4: “… preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”
God’s word should kindle a fire within our bones. Do I need to heed the words of 2 Timothy 1:6, to “… fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you …”?
Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.
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Copyright, 2020, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).
“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.
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