I MUST Speak!

You may be aware that most preachers have fragile egos. Not me, of course, I am the epitome of self-confidence and humility (I know you know that is a joke, I’ve got my fragile ego, too). Too often we preachers take things personally, maybe too personally (and yes, I still consider myself a preacher, sort of like “once a Marine, always a Marine”). It’s hard not to take things personally when you expose your soul to an audience only to have it criticized by some self-appointed cynics. For some reason some people feel empowered to, as one of my teachers used to say, “Read you your pedigree.” Guess what? That is painful to the ego of even the most humble preacher.


Preachers are in good company. Jeremiah experienced this, too. It appears in Jeremiah 1 that he was called by God to a great mission even before he was formed in his mother’s womb. He was to be a prophet to the nations. As the story unfolds, Jeremiah was not sent to the nations, but the nations came to him. In his calling, God told Jeremiah that Judah would not listen to him and would even fight against him but there was hope for him. Notice Jeremiah 1:19 (ESV):

19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”


Jeremiah got discouraged in his ministry. In fact, he was so discouraged in being rejected that he wanted to quit his calling. Jeremiah had a personal problem about quitting. He could not, NOT preach! Jeremiah 20:9-12 (ESV) reads:

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, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

10 For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.”

11 But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.

12 O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind

let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.


There are some preachers who would rather quit a preaching job than to be censored or silenced from preaching the mission and message God has put on their hearts. But the fire of their calling and mission is in them. They cannot stop speaking. Those preachers who are so captivated by God’s mission for them will find SOME way to speak the message God has given them


I find it interesting that Jeremiah says that his persecutors will be the ones ashamed, not he. They will fail, not he. He even asks for the satisfaction of seeing their exposure and God’s vengeance.


When we do the will of God, we do not need to be ashamed of it. Even when we appear to be unsuccessful. There is no shame in doing the right thing. The “nickels and noses” attitude of American churches would say Jeremiah was a failure. However, God shows us his success was in following through in his calling. He would have failed if he had given up that calling and allowed the leaders of Judah to stop him.


The apostle Paul had a practice to first go to synagogues and preach the gospel on his mission trips. He said, 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16, ESV). From the synagogue he would make his way through the God-fearing Gentiles to the pagans, fulfilling his role as the “apostle to the Gentiles.


In Antioch of Pisidia leaders of the synagogue rejected Paul, Barnabas and their message. Notice their words to the Jewish leaders in Acts 13:46-47 (ESV). Luke writes:

46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

The Gentiles rejoiced that the gospel was also for them (verse 48). Then Paul and Barnabas were forced out of the area, shaking the dust off their feet as they went (verse 51).


I want you to notice something about Jeremiah and then Paul and Barnabas. They did not alter their message because the audience rejected it. They did not stop preaching it because it was not popular. Paul and Barnabas moved on to another venue to continue with what God called them to do. There is a way to get the message of God to people who need to hear it.


Not only is there a message to speak, there is a message to hear. Some prefer the “ear tickling” to a message of contemporary relevance. The fruit of that is being clearly seen today with fearful Christians failing to walk by faith.


If we are not being challenged today to engage the present darkness we are not hearing the right message. Jesus said we are lights to the world and that we are to let our lights shine, where? – In the darkness! When we disengage from the culture and fail to shine we are actually hiding our light under a bushel where it does no good and eventually will be extinguished (Matthew 5:14-16).


I think it is even more serious than that. Jesus told the church of Ephesus that if they did not repent and lovingly reengage the culture with His light, He would remove their lampstand (see Revelation 2:1-7).


Today, I want to encourage us to . . . .

Keep The Light of God’s Message Burning!