Summary: Who needs a word from God today? Jeremiah shows us how much we all do!
I was in a preaching class last year and had an eye opening experience. We viewed two videos of preaching. One was a guy who told a moving story about he and his two year old son going on a walk in the woods together and it began to rain. The rain turned into a storm and the little boy was scared to death. The dad was hurrying home as quickly as he could, but the little boy was frantic and screaming. The dad has been carrying his son on his back and they are both soaked to the bone. Finally, as the little boy keeps screaming his dad takes him in his arms and holds him really close and repeats over and over: It’s Ok! I’m here and I’m going to take care of you! We’re going to be home soon! It’s ok.
Then the preacher made an application. He said that God loves us and when life comes down hard on us God is with us and he carries us. God will never let us go. He loves us and he wants us to know that we are safe with him. That was the message.
It was a really encouraging message. Very moving and very easy to identify with, it made us all want to be able to communicate the message of God’s love as clearly. But there was just one thing missing: scripture.
The next video was a sermon from 1 Timothy chapter 1. The preacher read the passage and explored what it said with really good skill. He showed how Paul repeated the word faith over and over in the first few verses and then how he warned about some who had departed from the faith. He explained who Paul was and who Timothy was and who the church was in Ephesus where Timothy was preaching. He made the text come to life for me.
Then he made an application. He said that one of the things Jesus Christ came to build in us is saving faith. That faithfulness to Jesus is foundational to our life in Christ. He reflected on the faithfulness of God to us and how God’s love was shown so clearly in Jesus Christ. By faith we receive God’s victory and to depart from the faith is to walk away from the Lord himself.
It was a really great message. There was both emotion and information that came home to me. I was moved and encouraged to walk closer to God and trust him more. It made me want to communicate the scriptures to others with that kind of clarity.
But, in the discussion that followed, I heard something that bothered me. Several of the students didn’t like it. They preferred the first message, the one without any reference to God’s word. Someone even said, “I want to be able to preach the Bible without having to mention it.” I was floored.
I couldn’t help but think, “having a form of godliness, but denying it’s power.”
Then it really hit me. What happens when the churches are filled with preachers who tell stories and impress everyone with emotional man made chicken soup for the soul and do not preach the word of God? Now, I’m not against a good story! What I’m saying here is that moving stories are not a replacement for the Word of God. Muslims and Buddhists have moving stories. What people need is the Word of God.
Sometimes God says things in scripture that comfort us and make us feel good, but sometimes God says things that can and should awaken us with fear and trembling. Any preacher that hides the warnings of God from the church is a false teacher! Any Christian who listens only to that which tickles his or her ears is rebellious against God and walking in darkness.
Hear the word of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah concerning these very things.
Jeremiah 23:9 My heart within me is broken Because of the prophets; All my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, And like a man whom wine has overcome, Because of the LORD, And because of His holy words.
10 For the land is full of adulterers; For because of a curse the land mourns. The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up. Their course of life is evil, And their might is not right.
11 "For both prophet and priest are profane; Yes, in My house I have found their wickedness," says the LORD.
12 "Therefore their way shall be to them Like slippery ways; In the darkness they shall be driven on And fall in them; For I will bring disaster on them, The year of their punishment," says the LORD.
13 "And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: They prophesied by Baal And caused My people Israel to err.