When we come to faith in Jesus and start our Christian journey, we face several challenges in our development. Then, we begin to ask whether this path is correct, whether it is worth following, and whether God is directing us or the devil. Jeremiah is talking about his call by God and the powerful, persuasive force used by the LORD in respect of his call. Seduced, used twice in this passage, is from the Hebrew Patha, which, when translated, is persuaded, and interestingly, the same is used in Proverbs 25:15.
Jeremiah stopped preaching and presenting the oracles of God for a while due to the terrible opposition he faced, including bodily harm. Jeremiah could not continue without doing the work of God due to the burning fire of the word of God, which was in his heart. Indeed, the fire of the divine wrath against sin burned so fiercely within him that he couldn’t help but resume work.
Jesus predicted his destiny: to go to Jerusalem, where he would suffer grievously at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes and would be put to death and rise on the third day. Beloved in Christ, it is expected that a loved one would not be happy to see his friend suffer, eventually leading to death. Peter, a rock on which the church was built, is today a stumbling block, allowing himself to be used by the devil. Peter’s action was to prevent Jesus from going to the cross, which ultimately would lead to the salvation of humanity, and Jesus rebuked him for that and made it clear that those words were from the deceiver.
This shows how the devil always takes advantage of challenges we go through or are about to go through to divert our attention from the things of God. The deceiver is always ready to cash in when he realises our vulnerabilities, and this is the time we need to exhibit our resolve to stand firm in the faith, no matter the challenges. We must not conform in any way to the dictates of the world but rather be transformed by the renewal of our minds. When we do this, we will always be in tune with the Holy Spirit and discern what God is saying so that the perfect will of God comes to pass in our lives.
Our God is full of mercy, and we must allow this to move us to worship him in a way that is worthy of thinking beings. Our lives are in his hands, and we are here today because of his grace and mercy, which will always be sufficient for us, even in problems and challenges. We, therefore, must present ourselves as living sacrifices that would be holy and acceptable to God. An excellent moral life that would be exemplary for the world to see and be convicted to come to Jesus.
The challenges will always be there, and so we are admonished to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We all have our crosses to carry; we must not run away from them but rather embrace them, rely on the power of the Holy Spirit and follow Jesus. By following Jesus, we are assured of getting to our destinations because it is through him that we will be able to decipher the voice of God. We cannot just take up the cross and follow; we must also deny ourselves in pursuing. Self-denial is one of the things we cannot move away from in following Jesus, and it involves losing our lives for Jesus’ sake to have life. This is because we will gain nothing when we gain the whole world. Beloved, it is only through Jesus that we will have everything.
There will be challenges when we follow Christ. We must be assured that his grace will always be sufficient for us. Let us take up our crosses and follow him, allow the fire emanating from God’s word to burn in our hearts continuously, and always know that we will be rewarded accordingly. AMEN