Over the next couple days, as we continue to study the significance of prayer as it relates to purpose, I want to tell you how thankful I am we are taking this journey together. Searching for purpose is something we all seem to do, even when we don’t realize we are. It’s so easy for us to stop believing that God wants to work through us. When life gets hard the human condition screams, “stop!” Our flesh not only works to keeps us from moving forward on the path of purpose, but also tries to hinder us from believing we have any purpose in the first place.
Today, we are going to study one small section of a prayer from the prophet Jeremiah. This segment of prayer spoke to my heart when I was grappling with a difficult transition. I’ve found that God often calls me to do hard things. Really, really hard things. Can you relate? I bet you can.
I don’t know if you’ve handled the calling of God on your life the way I sometimes have, but just so you know, I’ve often been caught trying to ignore His map for my life and take my own way. I’ve even tried to convince Him that there must be some type of misunderstanding, because certainly He was calling the girl next door, the lady down the street, or the sweet and kind person who has it all together for this task. He had to have accidently shouted my name instead, right? Wrong. The God of the universe doesn’t make mistakes. He puts a burning deep inside our bones even when life is hard. He tells us to move forward anyway.
Long before any of us living today inhaled the oxygen of this world, there lived a man named Jeremiah who dealt with hard things… really, really hard things! And, thankfully, we can learn from Him. Let’s take a look. Will you please turn to Jeremiah 20? We will be reading verses 7-9 today.
Before we dig into this particular passage of scripture, I’ll give you just a tiny bit of background:
Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet who was devoted to God. He is the author of this Biblical book and his story is told in depth on many levels from personal conflict over the hard tasks assigned to him by the living God, all the way to his experience with opposition, resistance, and persecution regarding the ministry he was called to live.
Throughout his time he witnessed a downward spiral of Jerusalem and the temple. Though Jeremiah lived his calling, he experienced a wide range of emotions through it, which is why I relate so well to the piece of prayer we will study today.
Biblical scholars refer to a certain section of the book of Jeremiah as “Jeremiah’s confessions.” This section of scripture is one of those. He isn’t exactly happy about his calling or how his circumstances are turning out, but there is no denying his wanting to serve God regardless. He clearly holds recognition that there is no other way…
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 obviously in a great deal of personal pain emotionally about what was happening to him as a result of doing the will of the Lord. What I love about this prayer is that, firstly, he opens up to God about exactly how he is feeling, and, secondly, he confesses that even though he tried to deny the purpose of his life, he couldn’t. God placed a fire inside his bones and there was no way he could hold it back.
Don’t hold back the fire in your bones! It was placed there by the Creator for a reason!
First of all, I encourage you to read the above section of scripture out loud and think about how it might relate to you. I’ve been in situations where I knew God was calling me to do or say something, but it wasn’t well received. What I’ve learned is that what God is working in the heart of another has nothing to do with me. I’m only called to be obedient at all times, even when it hurts. Remember that phrase anyway obedience we talked about the other day?
I want to be clear on this point, because I’m not talking about hurting another person with my words or interjecting an opinion when it has nothing to do with me. I’m speaking about times when God has called me to ministry and I’ve experienced opposition with others, or a slow growth that I just couldn’t understand. I’m discussing feeling discouraged from those who it seems have loved me less than they should have. But here’s the thing: From experience, I’ve also learned that if it’s truly the call of God on my life and if He is truly speaking to me, He will continue that ministry to which He’s called me in another way, another place, or another time. He won’t ever stop the work He’s started. And do you know what? I won’t ever quit the work He’s started deep inside me, because I literally feel the fire in my bones. It’s been placed there by the Living God, to keep me moving forward in my purpose.
Maybe you’ve been hurt in ministry. Talk to God about it! Maybe you feel like quitting, maybe you’ve already quit, but you still aren’t content.
I have news: if you stop pursuing the calling God has placed on your life, you won’t ever be content.
You might try to lie to yourself because quitting might be easiest, but overtime you will feel an uncomfortable burn leading you to follow the purpose of your life. And you will! When you do, just remember the words of Jeremiah.
“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”
For today’s homework, write this verse on paper, and then underneath it write about the one thing you feel deep inside that God has called you to do. Write about how you might take steps to go about living that calling over your life. If you’ve been hurt in ministry, seek God about where to start again and how. He came to bind our wounds and He wants you to be whole in your purpose. Maybe you have some forgiving to do. Maybe you need to learn how to function fully in your purpose without receiving an, “I’m sorry.” We all have to walk that road and it’s never easy, but it is necessary. You cannot depend on others; you have to depend solely on God. Worry about His work in your life alone.
Pray for the heart of the offender, don’t depend on it. God will give you everything you need even if that person never will!
Please share on social media today about the burning in your bones. What’s your dream? What do you feel God might be calling you to do? Use the hashtag #ActivatingYourPurpose. After you post, follow the hashtag to encourage someone else who has taken a leap of faith and posted about the burning fire they can’t hold back!
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To find more information about this series, including a landing page of past posts and what’s ahead, click here.