Jeremiah #53 – An exposition of Jeremiah 38:14-28. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, February 15, 2009.
They are powerful words. They are words written more than 60 years ago by a man who suffered greatly for the name of Christ. A man not satisfied with declaring the gospel but rather was determined to live the gospel. These are words that must be heard today:
“If we refuse to take up our cross and submit to suffering and rejection at the hands of men, we forfeit our fellowship with Christ and have ceased to follow him. But if we lose our lives in his service and carry our cross, we shall find our lives again in the fellowship of the cross with Christ…to bear the cross proves to be the only way of triumphing over suffering. This is true for all who follow Christ, because it was true for him.”
Where did we get the idea that if we love Jesus all will be well? How is it we convinced ourselves that nothing bad is ever supposed to happen to us because we belong to God? We certainly didn’t come to that conclusion by reading the Scripture. We did not get there by studying the history of the church. Far from delivering us from trial, hardship and struggle – our faith often invites trouble. To live a godly life in an ungodly world is to ask for trouble. That was certainly Jeremiah’s experience.
40 years of faithfulness resulted in his being imprisoned, beaten, accused of treason and generally despised by everyone. Paul didn’t fare much better. Remember what he said?
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Neither of these quotes would qualify as recruiting poster material but they are both true. They reflect the language of Jesus. “You want to be my disciple? Take up your cross daily and follow me.” Take no thought of tomorrow what you will eat or drink, what you will wear or where you will live…rather follow me. He called for the forsaking of houses and lands or family and friendships – it was about loyalty and devotion. It was about having no other gods before him. The life we’ve been called to as the people of God is a difficult life.
- Faithfulness to God guarantees you will enter into the fellowship of His sufferings.
- When faced with paralyzing fear the godless choose to walk by fear not by faith. (38:14, 19, 24-25)
- Lest we become overconfident – even the faithful are subject to shameful failure due to fear. (38:24-28)