Jeremiah 20:9 (CJB) “if I say, “I won’t think about him, I won’t speak in his name anymore,” then it seems as though a fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I wear myself out trying to hold it in, but I just can’t do it.”
Acts 2:3-4 (CJB) “…they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.”
1 Corinthians 9:16 (CJB) “I can’t boast merely because I proclaim the Good News – this I do from inner compulsion: woe is me if I don’t proclaim the Good News!”
2 Timothy 1:6-8 (CJB) “I am reminding you to fan the flame of God’s gift, which you received through s’mikhah from me. For God gave us a Spirit who produces not timidity, but power, love, and self-discipline. So don’t be ashamed of bearing testimony to our Lord or to me, his prisoner.”
My quiet time readings have been in Jeremiah lately. As always, I have been humbled by his commitment to God’s calling. In a thirty-year ministry in tumultuous times, he brings a message no-one wants to hear. His words are rejected and renounced. He endures beatings and imprisonment. The slander, shame and sorrow take an intense emotional toll on him. He literally wishes that he had never been born (20:14-18). Yet God’s message in him is “a fire…burning in [his] heart” that he cannot suppress or silence. He must speak God’s message, no matter what it costs him. Over six centuries later, ‘fire’ fell on the gathered disciples, and they began to speak “about the great things God has done.” (Acts 2:11). The apostle Paul experiences the same compulsion to preach. He cannot refrain from preaching. And Paul recognises in the giftedness of his young protégé, Timothy, that same fire.
A core purpose for our College – indeed, for the leadership of every congregation – must be to identify those who burn with the gifts of God, to fan the flames and not quench the fire. This week marks the end of the teaching term and, for some of our students, the end of this phase of preparation and the next step of their ministry. May the flame of God’s gifts burn brightly within them.
“To make our weak hearts strong and brave; send the fire.
To live a dying world to save; send the fire today.
Oh, see us on Your altar lay; we give our lives to You today.
So, crown the offering now we pray, send the fire today.”
William Booth (1829 – 1912)