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Troy Cummings

Fire in My Bones 

Does God’s word burn in your body that you have to speak it?

Jeremiah 20.7–13

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 16, In the year of our Lord, 2014


  1. This is a sermon from Troy Cummings, 
    1. who was my Greek and Hermeneutics teacher in preaching school.
      1. He died on May 21, 1999, and Steve Lloyd and I did Troy’s funeral.
      2. I preached part of this sermon at that funeral.
    2. He gave me many articles he had written and other projects he had done, but
      1. to the best of my memory he gave me only one sermon outline,
      2. the one that I am going to preach today.
    3. Most of the comments will be mine, but
      1. he introduced the Scriptures and
      2. I know how he would have commented on them.
  2. My intention in this message is this. 
    1. If you had know brother Troy Cummings,
      1. you would have been impressed with the fact
      2. that a fire burned within him.
        1. I want you and I
        2. to have that same fire.
    2. The passage I will use today will demonstrate that fire.


  1. Jeremiah Had a Fire Burning in His Bones 
    1. Historical setting
      1. The Law of Moses had warned,
        1. that if Israel played the harlot by going after other gods,
        2. the Lord would punish Israel by sending them into captivity.
      2. Jeremiah and several other prophets warned
        1. that the captivity was near,
        2. unless the people repented.
    2. Immediate context
      1. Jeremiah’s preaching seemed to have no effect on the people.
      2. Jeremiah 6 summarizes what the prophet spoke, but
        1. it also summarized how the people responded,16 Thus says the Lord:

          “Stand in the ways and see,
          And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
          And walk in it;
          Then you will find rest for your souls.
          But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
          17 Also, I set watchmen over you, saying,
          “Listen to the sound of the trumpet!”
          But they said, “We will not listen.”
          (Jer 6.16–17)

        2. When you move into chapter 20,
          1. you will read one of the many ways
          2. in which people persecuted the prophet,1 Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord (Jer 20.1–2).
    3. In verses 3–6, Jeremiah prophesied against this man,
      1. speaking of the captivity.
      2. However, all of this discouraged Jeremiah.
    4. Then you come to Jeremiah 20.7–13,
      1. especially verse 9,
      2. Troy’s favorite passage, and
        1. I know that all of us at some point in time,
        2. over some kind of an issue,
          1. have experienced what is written in this passage,7 O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded;
            You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.
            I am in derision daily;
            Everyone mocks me.
            8 For when I spoke, I cried out;
            I shouted, “Violence and plunder!”
            Because the word of the Lord was made to me
            A reproach and a derision daily.
            (Jer 20.7–8)
          2. Jeremiah had spoken what God commanded, but
            1. the people mocked the prophet for it.
            2. They persecuted him.
          3. He thought about not speaking anymore on God’s word.
            1. However, when the word of God fills your heart, and
            2. you have a passion for it,
              1. knowing that it is the truth,
              2. you cannot keep quiet for long.
      3. This happened to Jeremiah in spite of the persecution,9 Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him,
        Nor speak anymore 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.
        (Jer 20.9)
        1. Sometimes we get fed up with people’s reaction to the truth.
          1. So, we do as Jeremiah did and
          2. we decide not to say anything anymore.
        2. However, this leads to a burning fire inside.
          1. Hold a hot object and eventually you have to let it go.
            1. Like holding a hot potato, or
            2. removing a hot dish from the microwave, or
            3. even as a covered pot of boiling water has to let off its heat,
              1. otherwise it will make a mess,
              2. so it is with God’s word.
        3. It is not designed to stay inside the heart.
          1. You will hear error, or
            1. you will see an application, or
            2. you will have just discovered something
              1. that is wonderful and
              2. you want others to see it also.
          2. Surely, you have had a similar experience
            1. with something other than the word of God.
            2. Perhaps it was a political issue.
              1. Perhaps you heard a fallacious excuse for someone’s crime.
              2. You knew the truth and
                1. it started boiling up inside of you, and
                2. you had to say something,
                3. even if it was just to someone in your family.
    5. Jeremiah continued,10 For I heard many mocking:
      “Fear on every side!”
      “Report,” they say, “and we will report it!”
      All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying,
      “Perhaps he can be induced;
      Then we will prevail against him,
      And we will take our revenge on him.”
      11 But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One.
      Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail.
      They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper.
      Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten.
      12 But, O Lord of hosts,
      You who test the righteous,
      And see the mind and heart,
      Let me see Your vengeance on them;
      For I have pleaded my cause before You.
      13 Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!
      For He has delivered the life of the poor
      From the hand of evildoers.
      (Jer 20.10–13)
      1. Jeremiah was discouraged, yet,
      2. he knew in the end he would win for speaking the truth.
        1. Therefore, the prophet praised God.
        2. We should do the same.
    6. What was this fire and why did it burn Jeremiah’s heart?
      1. His character:
        1. Jeremiah was a strong man of God.
          1. He did not take a poll to find out the popular position.
          2. He did not want to know what the world wanted to hear.
          3. He knew nothing of political correctness.
        2. He had deep convictions.
          1. He had spent time
            1. in prayer, and
            2. in the word.
          2. Spending time with God does not produce a wimpy man.
        3. Jeremiah was fervent in spirit.
          1. That happens when you get God’s word in you.
          2. It moves your body to have to do something.
        4. Jeremiah had moral courage.
          1. He had the boldness to face the error of his day.
          2. Even if he had to do so alone and against the popular people.
      2. Therefore, he determined to speak whole truth.
        1. One who knows God’s truth and,
        2. one who knows the nature of sin
          1. has to speak against sin, and
          2. for God.
      3. You cannot lock up such a spirit.
        1. It overflows in a bold presentation.
        2. It comes out in spite of strong opposition.
          1. Even if you try to hold it in, you will not be able to hold it back.
          2. As Paul said,9b …the word of God is not chained (2Ti 2.9).
    7. According to Matthew 16, people thought of Jesus as Jeremiah.
      1. When Jesus asked His disciples the popular opinion of Him,
      2. Matthew recorded this,14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matt 16.14).
        1. They could see the fire of Jeremiah in Jesus.
  2. Old Testament Preachers 
    1. You will understand First Kings 22
      1. when you become known for bold speaking of the word.
      2. Someone will ask you to change the message,
        1. to tone it down,
        2. to make it positive,
          1. for people who cannot stomach the word of God,13 Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.” 14 And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak” (1Ki 22.13–14).
    2. Psalm 40.9–109 I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness
      In the great assembly;
      Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,
      O, You Yourself know.
      10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
      I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
      I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth
      From the great assembly
      (Psa 40.9–10)
    3. Psalm 119.1313 With my lips I have declared
      All the judgments of Your mouth
      (Psa 119.13)
    4. Isaiah 62.1, 6–71 For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace,
      And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
      Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
      And her salvation as a lamp that burns.

      6 I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
      They shall never hold their peace day or night.
      You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,
      7 And give Him no rest till He establishes
      And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
      (Isa 62.1, 6–7)

  3. New Testament Preachers 
    1. Luke 24 shows how someone gets a burning heart.
      1. If you think back on sermons and classes you have heard, and
        1. on passages you have read,
        2. you will know exactly what happened to these two men.
      2. Two disciples of Christ talked about
        1. what had gone on in Jerusalem
        2. during the previous three or four years, and
          1. especially about the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.
          2. Then Jesus joined them, but
            1. they did not recognize Him.
            2. He asked of their conversation.
          3. He explained the Old Testament.
            1. Then He disappeared, and
            2. they realized who He was,32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24.32).
        3. Has that happened to you?
    2. Acts 4 shows two of the apostles.
      1. How or why did the apostles became such bold preachers?
        1. They risked their lives constantly.
        2. Yet, their preaching changed the world forever.
      2. When authorities told them to preaching, this happened,18 And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4.18–20).
    3. Acts 5 shows that it happened again, but
      1. these men had a fire in their bones, and
      2. they could not contain it,27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5.27–29).
        1. The fire burned in their hearts and
        2. a threat from murderers of the Son of God,
        3. could not stop these men.
    4. Second Corinthians 4 gives the basis of operation of Paul.
      1. Knowing what you know about this apostle,
      2. that he also had a fire in his bones,
      3. you will then see why he is a man we quote so often,13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” {Psalm 116:10} we also believe and therefore speak (2Co 4.13).


  1. Sometimes we do not know what to say or how to say it. 
    1. Feed your heart the word and
      1. you shall overflow with the word.
      2. Like adding wood to a fire,
        1. keep putting the word in your heart,
        2. till it cannot be contained.
    2. Spend time in the Scriptures everyday.
  2. Know Christ through the word and 
    1. there shall be a fire in your bones.
    2. Rekindle that fire in yourself today.