July 24

Today's Bible Readings
     Judges 7
     Acts 11
     Jeremiah 20
     Mark 6

''Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more 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.": ''For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and a great many people were added to the Lord." (Jeremiah 20:9; Acts 11:24)

            Jeremiah and Barnabas are perhaps as different as any two men in Scripture, yet both of them left an incredible spiritual legacy. The words of our memory verses would be a worthy epitaph on the tombstone of any believer. Some of us who are called to preach can relate to Jeremiah. On one occasion, God said to Jeremiah, ''...be not afraid of their faces." Only a man who has stood in the pulpit facing a sometimes hostile audience could understand what that meant.
            The church of our day needs some men like Jeremiah. Warren Weirsbehas said, “The church has become a non­prophet organization." Our churches may not want prophets, but it is exactly what they need. Most churches seem to want a priest instead of a prophet.
            It takes courage to be a prophet; in fact, someone has said, ''if you are going to be a prophet, you had better plan to be itinerant." According to Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah was called to ''root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down'' before he could ever build and plant. His was a ministry always faced with trouble. In Jeremiah 15:10, he says, ''Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!''
            Then, our memory verse tells us why. Jeremiah would like to have said the things that people wanted to hear. There is a strain within all of us that prompts us to ''go along to get along'', but the prophet has a different obsession. Jeremiah said, ''Your word was like a fire burning in my bones." Jeremiah finally discovered it was better to get along with God than to get along with folks. A man who goes along to get along never qualifies to be a prophet.
             No generation preceedingthis one in America has called for a fearless and compassionate prophet like our generation. The church of our day needs to pray for and welcome men of God who will not compromise with the ungodly practices of this generation. We must have men who will answer to no government or court but only to God. Times like these may call for civil disobedience and only men of God like Jeremiah can lead the way. 
            Then there was Barnabas, a quiet and Godly encourager. We don't know that he was a great preacher, and certainly he was not a prophet, but the prophet needed an encourager, so God provided Barnabas for Paul. He was there to encourage him in his early Christian growth. Remember when Paul rejected John Mark? It was Barnabas who stood by his side and encouraged the discouraged young man of God. We have the Gospel of Mark today because Barnabas was an encouragement to a defeated young preacher. Oh, how we need men like Barnabas in the church today. "Now we know that he was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and faith, and many people were added to the Lord."
            Oh, that we could all leave such a spiritual legacy. Are you committed to finishing well? Whatever your spiritual gift, temperament, calling, and ministry, it is so important that you allow God to finish what He has started in your life. It is imperative that you finish well, and leave that spiritual legacy for your children and grandchildren.

It is amazing that approximately 1 million people live on the Asian island of East Timor. This island is predominantly Catholic with some 90% of the population being Christian. There are bad memories about the birth of this nation. The charge of destruction of life and property, and the forcible abduction of many Timoreseby the departing Indonesianmilitary have left a legacy of hatred and trauma that will take decades to heal. This gives the Christian church a great opportunity to contribute effectively to the spiritual, moral, and economic recovery to help the Timoresepeople. Pray for the believers there and their difficult challenge.

''SUFFERING - suffering overcomes the mind's inertia, develops the thinking powers, opens up a new world, and drives the soul to action."
Anthony H. Evans