Summary: This sermon discusses seven traits of believers who blaze as bonfires for Christ!
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.” –Jer 20:9 NKJV
When you read this verse in context with the rest of this passage in Jeremiah 20 you will see that Jeremiah is speaking this as a complaint before God; however, I also want you to this verse in another way. I believe that this verse more than any other statement made in Scripture summarizes who Jeremiah was. Even in the midst of the most ardent ridicule and persecution Jeremiah could not stop preaching God’s word. He couldn’t stop preaching because his heart was a blazing bonfire of passion that compelled him to share. He was a bonfire for God.
I have been thinking about this passage for the last couple of weeks and have asked God how a heart can be set ablaze for Him. In seeking out this answer, I have examined the lives of Jeremiah and Paul--two men whose hearts were set ablaze for God. From Scripture I have discovered seven qualities of bonfire believers.
I. One quality of bonfire believers is that they have completely surrendered everything to God. Surrender may start with salvation, but certainly doesn’t end there. Surrender only starts to become complete when we embrace the cross and fulfill the calling God has for us. Consider what Jeremiah experienced when he first received his calling from God in Jeremiah 1:4-9.
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me: Do not say, “I am a youth,” For you shall go to whom all I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.
Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
The word of the LORD also came to me, saying, 2"You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place." – Jeremiah 16:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)
Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. – Luke 9:23 NKJV
When Jeremiah answered God’s call, he surrendered everything! Though the prophet lived hundreds of years before Christ, he certainly knew what it meant to carry the cross! How God calls us to sacrifice is different for each person. Consider the testimony of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a well-known German theologian teaching in New York in the 1930s when God called him to return to Nazi Germany to make a stance for the gospel there. He did return to Nazi Germany and his opposition to Hitler eventually cost him his life. In the words of Bonhoeffer, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Consider the testimony of Jim Elliot who felt called to be a missionary to the Auca Indians of Ecuador. One of his first visits to these Indians resulted in his death. Was his effort a waste? Consider what Jim Elliot himself wrote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”