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Getting Set Ablaze
This past Monday as I was pondering what to speak about this week Michaela told me about something the Lord had laid on her life heart about fire. As I thought about what she said the concept of the church being set on fire emerged.
And while we say we would like to be set on fire by the Lord, the truth is that we fear it. And so let me just get this out of the way first. And that is, let’s not fear God’s holy fire.
In the natural world when we smell the smoke, when we see the flames, when we feel the heat, something inside tells us to run, to get away as fast as we can, and in the natural world this is definitely the case, and the right thing to do.
But not so in the Spirit, but it’s what we end up doing anyway.
In truth we’re afraid of the Holy Spirit, because He doesn’t do things our way. We’re afraid that He’ll lead us where we don’t want to go, that He’ll put us in harm’s way, and that He’ll make us do things we’re afraid of or that will make us look silly.
But that’s not what happens. If He sends us anywhere He’ll confirm it in our spirit and to us it will be the most natural thing to do.
This has been my testimony, or better yet, my series of testimonies since I became a Christian and what eventually saw me not only becoming a pastor, but also what saw me coming to Mesquite.
I was on a sabbatical and beginning to plan out the next move for our church in Las Vegas. Now I had most of my plans drawn out as to what I saw the Lord leading us into, but then the Holy Spirit opened up His word and my plans went up in smoke.
The Holy Spirit told me that while I could go back to my church and continue to pastor it, His presence wasn’t going to be there for me any longer.
And God may put us in harms way, but He’ll never leave us nor forsake us and He’ll give us the strength and courage to endure the hardship and hell’s fiery flames.
And as far as us doing things we don’t want to do or that will make us look silly, I’d rather be foolish for Christ, than be worldly wise and spiritually dead.
Here’s my point, instead of running away from the Holy Spirit, instead of running away from God’s plan and purpose for our lives, we need to start running to the flames, we need to start fanning to flame the Holy Spirit and get set ablaze, and there are definitely good reasons to do so.
But first we need to understand exactly what fire does. The same fire that melts wax can also harden steel. And the fire of God does both in our lives.
God sends His fire to burn away the impurities of our lives, as well as toughens up our faith. And this is accomplished through many things, but mostly through the trials of life.
“He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:3 NKJV)
The Lord will refine us, and He does so as a refiner of gold and silver. A refiner takes the gold and silver in its natural form and puts it over hot coals and begins to melt it down. As it melts the impurities in the metal comes to the surface, and the refiner scoops it out and tosses it away.
In the same way the Lord refines us. The Lord turns up the heat in our lives and starts to reveal our true nature, our sin nature. And as we confess our sins, He tosses them away.
He sits like a refiner, and a refiner doesn’t sit in his office waiting for results, rather he sits directly over the pot and when the impurities arise he immediately scoops them out. He also knows when the refining process is over when he can see Him image shining back at him through the molten metal.
For us this refining process continues until the day we die as we are being made and formed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Consider the making of steel. The steel that’s the strongest is the steel that has been through the fire many times over and has found itself time and again on the anvil of a metal smith who pounds on and places it back into the fire again. Soon it’s made and fashioned into something of great worth.
God places us in various situations that are difficult to say the least. We call them fiery trials. But the reason God places us in these situations is to test the genuineness of our faith and to produce godly qualities in our lives that we will likewise be of great value.
Consider the Apostle James’ words and let them give solace during these trying times.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4 NKJV).
With this in mind, we aren’t to fear the fire of God? Why, because God is in the fire! The reason we fear God’s fire is because we don’t understand the benefits of being in the God’s holy fire.
Benefits of God’s Holy Fire
This is the story of Moses and the burning bush.
“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” (Exodus 3:2 NKJV)
The Angel of the Lord here is the Jesus. It’s called a Theophany, which is the appearance of God in human form. We see this within the story as He told Moses to take off his sandals because the place where he was standing was holy ground. And Moses fell on his face and worshiped as the Lord said, “I am the God of your father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:6 NKJV)
And from the fire the Lord gave Moses his marching orders to go back to Egypt and through God set the people of Israel free.
God’s holy fire not only directs us, but delivers us as well. In others words, it will not harm us.
“When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2b NKJV)
We see this in the story of Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, set up a huge golden image of himself, about ninety feet tall, and said that everyone was to bow down to the image. Well everyone did, that is, everyone with the exception of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
See how valuable they were as counselors Nebuchadnezzar gave them another chance, but warned them if they refused they’d be tossed into the fiery furnace.
We they refused saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV)
This infuriated Nebuchadnezzar and he had the furnace heated up seven times hotter and tossed them in. But the fire didn’t harm them. Instead what it did was burn off the ropes that bound them. You see in the fire was Jesus Christ walking with them.
When Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire He saw a fourth man whose appearance was like the Son of God.
And so, when we follow the Lord, His holy fire will not harm us, rather it will deliver us.
In connection with this we see the third benefit of God’s holy fire
God’s holy fire not only guides and delivers us, but it also protects us. Speaking of His protection of His people and Jerusalem under His reign, the Lord said,
“‘And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’” (Zechariah 2:5 NIV)
God’s holy fire as protection for His people is seen in their Exodus from Egypt when they were caught between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s chariots.
The Lord both guided them and protected them in a pillar of cloud and fire. It says that the Angel of the Lord, again a title for Jesus in the Old Testament, moved from in front of them and placed Himself between Israel and the Egyptian army. The cloud brought darkness to the Egyptians, but the fire brought light to the Israelites.
God then parted the Red Sea and when the Egyptians followed it says, “During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.” (Exodus 14:24 NIV)
And so God’s holy fire protects us. And lastly,
After Jesus death, burial, and resurrection, and before He ascended into heaven he said to the disciples,
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NKJV)
When the day of Pentecost came they were all together praying when all of a sudden the Holy Spirit burst into the room.
“Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:2-4a NKJV)
They were empowered by the Holy Spirit and began to speak in the various languages of those who were in Jerusalem at that time, and in these foreign tongues they began to proclaim the wondrous works of God.
Here’s a bunch of people who were afraid for their lives, hiding out from the authorities when all of a sudden the fire of God came down, the Holy Spirit descended and filled them and they became empowered by God to fulfill the Great Commission.
And so we should not fear the fire of God, but rather we need to ask God through His holy fire to burn away the iniquities in our lives and make us into those vessels of honor.
We need no longer run away from the fire, but run to it, knowing that God’s holy fire, the Holy Spirit, will direct us, protect us, deliver us, and empower us to live effective lives for God.
One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life.
All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy protested, “Daddy, I can’t see you.”
The father replied, “But I can see you and that’s all that matters.”
It comes down to a choice, do we remain and experience the flames that will hurt and destroy, or will we jump into the flames of the Holy Spirit and our Father’s loving arms.
Let’s get set on fire for God and make a difference in our families, in our community, and in the world.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study