Here is a devotional sent out from SermonSearch that every preacher needs to read!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Bad News, Good News
Jeremiah would have made a great radio broadcaster. His program would certainly generate a lot of negative mail, but it would be worth it. More than any other Old Testament prophet, his unpopular messages served as Judah's emergency broadcast system. But, even though his warnings were designed for national security, many in that day wished he would just shut-up!
Jerusalem's church crowd resented his sermons but they wouldn't have missed one. They tuned in daily to hear what the colorful, yet fiery, prophet would say next. His stuff was the talk of the town. More times than not his prophecies were loaded with bad news. But not always.
For forty years he had faithfully predicted God's judgment on apostate Judah. And, year after year, hostility mounted to his doom-filled messages. His Temple privileges were revoked. His prophetic writings were seized and destroyed. Arrest warrants were issued. His zealous rivals sabotaged his work. He was abducted, publicly humiliated, tossed down a pit and imprisoned.
More than once he wanted to resign the office of Prophet, but God wouldn't let him. So, he just kept doing the one thing he was born to do.
The inflammatory text that fueled his critics was always the same: "Time is running out. Repent, for judgment is coming." Jeremiah's repetitive warnings became the constant, rhythmic sound of God's clock winding down. Tick...tick...tick...tick... And every ticking moment haunted the Jews.
Few biblical orators have ever used imagery as effectively as the weeping prophet. Judah gasped when Jeremiah said, "The Lord has covered Himself with a cloud so that your prayers will not pass through." They cringed when he announced, "You've eaten delicacies, but now you'll embrace only ash heaps." They wept when they heard, "The tongue of your infant will cling to the roof of its mouth for thirst. Judgment is near."
And, sure enough-time did run out. Judgment arrived and Judah was carted off into captivity.
Unpopular messages have always been a staple with the prophets of God. And, not surprisingly, they're rarely the favorites among God's people. Repentance has never been what people want. But repentance has always been what people need.
Even the Lord lost audiences with unpopular messages. The John 6 crowd, miraculously fed, oh-h-h-h'ed and ah-h-h-h'ed over His ability to cater a fish banquet from a kid's sack lunch. But the after-dinner conversation of "Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood," was a real turn-off. Spiritual indigestion broke out everywhere.
Jesus' critics wrestled with two questions: "Why did He have to spoil a good meal with preaching like that?" And, "How can I get another plate of fish...it's delicious!"
Even the Lord's disciples struggled with His unpopular approach. He asked them, "Does this offend you?" Their clumsy silence shouted, "Yes, as a matter of fact, it does!"
But unpopular messages don't have to be hopeless messages. Bad news is not always fatal news. Jeremiah, for instance, gave good news after Judah's thundering collapse. "I have hope. The Lord's loving-kindness never ceases. His compassions never fail, for they are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness. Therefore I have hope in Him." Even the most unpopular messages can have happy endings.
Strong medicine was never designed to taste good. It was designed to cure the patient. And as long as there's a pulse, we still have time for a recovery.
Vice President of Church Relations