Jeremiah is one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. He knew what it was like to be a door knocker. Rather than be invited to come a speak to his neighbors and to the king, he was given a commission by God to go and preach (Jer. 1:17). Like our evangelism, God knew it would be both emotional and physical work for Jeremiah because he told him to “gird up his loins.” Jeremiah’s preaching was not well received. In Jeremiah 20:7, he said, “…I am in derision daily. Everyone mocks me.” Have you ever felt like no one wanted to listen to the gospel? Jeremiah became so discouraged that he thought about not persisting in trying to provide God’s word to people who did not appreciate it. Yet, we thank God for the conscience. Jeremiah’s feeling of obligation to God was greater that his disgust at the people. Here is the way he said it, “And if I say, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I cannot contain” (Jer. 20:9). Jeremiah was greatly ill treated during his time of prophesying. But as is true with any great servant of God, his love for God overcame any discouragement. The fire inside was greater than the fire outside.
Over half a century later, Peter and John angered the priests and Sadducees and were thrown into prison. When they were threatened and commanded not to preach, the fire on the inside shone through to the outside and they answered, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). The fire in Paul also showed when he said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation…” (Rom. 1:16). In light of this great power, should not the fire of God’s word be burning within us? Peter and Paul, Jeremiah and John all had a burning fire in them. They loved the souls to which they were preaching. That created the fire within. They loved God. That stoked fire to a white hot heat.
The world is without hope without the gospel. Let’s you and I stoke the fire within to the heat that will cause us to declare “I cannot contain…” and “I cannot help but speak…”