As I sit at my desk praying and thinking about preaching at a church on this coming Sunday, my heart becomes more and more burdened. It is one thing to prepare a message, it is very different to let the Spirit burden my heart for the spiritual needs of those who will be present.
My mind went to Jeremiah 9:1; “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1). This dear prophet was very much like me; “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak.” To his feeling of inadequacy, God added the real condition of His people. They had forsaken the Lord for their own comforts and because of faithlessness, idolatry, they refused to repent. In a general sense, the Church is in the same state of heart as Israel was. That, plus my feeling of inadequacy puts me in a very difficult spot – except for my confidence in God.
My tears will not effectuate change in those I preach to. I want my burden to prepare my own heart. There is only one thing that will both prepare the preacher and the people – the work of the Spirit, which could include tears. Paul shed many tears. He reminded the Ephesian elders that he served them “with all humility and with tears and with trials…for three years [he] did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:19, 31). This was true of other churches. “For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4). Paul remembered young Timothy’s tears as he wrote his last letter (2 Timothy 1:4).
The question I must ask everyone who claims to be a leader in the Church; where are your tears over the general spiritual conditions that prevail in the Church today? Academic training, good sermons, and well thought out programs are not enough. Our hearts must be fully engaged with the Spirit of Jesus to learn His heart for His bride. His work alone will bring about change.
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