ON FIRE

Jn.5:35 – He was a burning and a shining light.

Christians have a whole different dialect than the rest of the world. I remember being mesmerized by this new language when I first became a Christian. I remember terms like “God spoke to me”, or talking about being “worldly” or “carnal”. One of those terms is being “on fire” for the Lord. What does that even mean? Actually we get a clue in the reference Jesus made to the great prophet John the Baptist. Jesus said John was burning and shining. What was He even talking about? Jesus was saying that John was burning with love for God and shining with prophetic revelation. John stood out in his world because he was on fire. This is how Jonathan Edwards describes this verse.

“That his heart be full of much of the holy ardor of a spirit of true piety. We read of “the power of godliness.” True grace is no dull, inactive, ineffectual principle; it is a powerful thing; there is an exceeding energy in it. And the reason is, that God is in it; it is a divine principle, a participation of the divine nature, and a communication of divine life, of the life of a risen Savior, who exerts himself in the hearts of the saints, “after the power of an endless life”. They that have true grace in them, “they live”; but not by their own life; “but Christ lives in them”. His Holy Spirit becomes in them a living principle and spring of divine life, the energy and power of which is in Scripture compared to fire……Tis by this therefore especially, that a minister of the gospel is a “burning light”; a minister that is so, has his soul enkindled with the heavenly flame; his heart burns with love to Christ, and fervent desires of the advancement of his kingdom and glory; and also with ardent love to the souls of men, and desires for their salvation.”

The fire in an on-fire Christian is God Himself. As Paul said, “our God is a consuming fire”. John had prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Ghost and fire. Those are not two different things, just two different ways to say the same thing. If we get close to Jesus we too will be touched by the fire. We will begin to stand out in the world we live in. Lord, make us burning and shining lights.

FIRE-HEADS

Acts 2:1-3 – On the day Pentecost was being fulfilled, all the disciples were gathered in one place. Suddenly they heard the sound of a violent blast of wind rushing into the house from out of the heavenly realm. The roar of the wind was so overpowering it was all anyone could bear! Then all at once a pillar of fire appeared before their eyes. It separated into tongues of fire that engulfed each one of them.

Fire has always been a picture of the Holy Spirit. The author of Hebrews actually said, “For our God is a holy, devouring fire!” Heb.12:29. On the Day of Pentecost there was an actual physical manifestation of the fire of God appearing as a tongue, or pillar, of fire upon each of those gathered in the upper room. Reminiscent of the pillar of fire in the Old Testament or the fire that fell at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, this fire was falling on the followers of Jesus. This would change everything. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“This was the pillar of fire that led Israel from bondage into the promised land. The same pillar of fire manifested here to initiate a new beginning from dead religious structures into the powerful life of the Spirit. Each believer received an overpowering flame of fire, signified by the shaft of light that engulfed them. It was as though each one received his own personal pillar of fire that would empower him and lead him throughout his life. This was the promise Jesus gave to his disciples of “the one like me”, who would be sent by the Father and never leave them. Today every believer is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. This was the birthday of the church of Jesus Christ.”

The fire of God speaks to us about several functions of the Holy Spirit. His fire purifies us. The more we are effected by the anointing the more His holiness permeates our lives. The fire speaks of God’s power. Like Jesus said, we would be filled with power after the Holy Spirit comes upon us. The fire of the Spirit empowers us to do the works of the Spirit. Fire also illuminates. The Holy Spirit fire begins to bring new revelation into our lives. Fire also warms our hearts filling us with passion for the Lord and a passion for souls.

Send your fire Lord!!! Light us up like pillars of fire to penetrate the darkness.

“Burn me beautiful”

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS

“The Kingdom of the Heavens is like treasure buried in the open country, which a man finds, but buries again, and, in his joy about it, goes and sells all he has and buys that piece of ground.” Matt. 13:44

Jesus spoke an amazing parable about how a man sells all he has because he has found the treasure of treasure. He is speaking of the kingdom of God. Have you too sold out to buy that one field? Life changes when Christ walks into the room. Now we leave family parties, rearrange our weekends for church, and say no to late night office parties. To most of us all the above was never really a sacrifice in light of the love, life, peace that we obtained through the love of God. But there is always a deeper sacrifice somewhere along the line.

Edwards speaks of a true strength that overtakes a Christian, “The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behavior, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world.”

When we meet Christ, he burns us beautiful. Along the pilgrim way there will be difficulties, tests, setbacks and disappointments. Christ warned us of these things and told us to fear not. Edwards writes of this sorrow as beauty when he says, “True virtue never appears so lovely as when it is most oppressed; and the divine excellency of real Christianity is never exhibited with such advantage as when under the greatest trials; then it is that true faith appears much more precious than gold, and upon this account is “found to praise and honour and glory.”

Rom. 8:24 says, “We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” Each step of our journey we are becoming beautified as we are engaged in our joyful anticipation of our union with him. Again Edwards says, “And as grace increases, the field opens more and more to a distant view, until the soul is swallowed up with the vastness of the object, and the person is astonished to think how much it becomes him to love this God and this glorious Redeemer that has so loved man, and how little he does love.”

I’m pretty sure you will have no regrets following the steps of the Master picking up our cross and being made beautiful adorning the robes of righteousness. After all does not our hearts burn within?

LION, CALF, MAN, AND EAGLE

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Rev. 4:6,7 ¶ And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.

This verse is part of an amazing glimpse into the scene in heaven where the Lord is being worshipped by the angels and those redeemed from sin from every tribe on the earth. John gives us a glimpse into the function of the mysterious seraphim that are closely connected to the throne of God. In Isaiah’s vision, as well as the one in Revelations, these “burning ones” are caught up in worship. They apparently lead the worship in heaven. Once there was five of these creatures before one of them fell. You know the one; Lucifer, the chief worship leader in heaven. These amazing angelic beings are totally caught up with the holiness of God. You can almost hear them if you stop and listen, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory. Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty; the One who was and is and is to come”.

The early church fathers used to connect these four creatures to the four gospels. I like Augustine’s version. He said that Matthew corresponded to the lion, Mark to the man, Luke to the calf, and John to the eagle. These comparisons are quite interesting.

Matthew was the gospel written for the Jewish people. Think about it, the lion of the tribe of Judah. The first verse in Matthew refers to Jesus as the Messiah, the son of David. Of course Jesus is that messianic king portrayed by the lion and He rules all things with His mighty word. Mark is said to correspond with the creature with the face of a man. Mark’s gospel was written for the gentiles, the people of the nations. In Mark’s gospel we see Jesus as a man, the Son of Man. We also see Him moved with compassion as He ministers to the hurting members of humankind.

Next is Luke. His gospel starts in the temple and ends in the temple. The calf, the sacrifice of blood for the cleansing of sin, is the picture of Luke’s gospel. Luke gives us a portrayal of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood. He is surely our heavenly high priest. Finally there is John pictured by the eagle. The eagle is known for soaring to the heights and for his incredible vision. This unveils the revelation of Jesus we find in John’s gospel. John takes us to the heights as we see Jesus as the Son of God from eternity clothed with human flesh. In John we find the pinnacle of the Father’s revelation, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

FIRE ALL AROUND

Zech. 2:5 And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”

You want to hear another one of my reforestation stories? Well this one might just take the cake. It happened to be the night after our last day on that job, we had worked for twelve hours in the mountains and were eating dinner around the camp fire when the rangers came and drafted us into a forest fire fighting crew. We spent the next twelve hours fighting a forest fire. There were times that night where we were surrounded by fire. That event always reminded of today’s verse. We are surrounded by the fire of God. There is nothing that can penetrate God’s fire, we are literally surrounded and consumed by His love. Check out Matthew Henry’s thoughts on this verse.

“He is a wall of fire, not on one side only, but round about on every side. It shall be great, for God himself will be the glory in the midst of it. His temple, his altar, shall be set up and attended there, and his institutions observed, and there then shall the tokens of his special presence and favour be, which will be the glory in the midst of them, will make them truly admirable in the eyes of all about them. God will have honour from them, and put honour upon them. Note, Those that have God for their God have him for their glory; those that have him in the midst of them have glory in the midst of them, and thence the church is said to be all glorious within. And those persons and places that have God to be the glory in the midst of them have him for a wall of fire round about them, for upon all that glory there is, and shall be, a defence, Isa. iv. 5.”

Even though we were extremely tired that night (I remember falling asleep standing up leaning on my shovel), I don’t remember any fear. In the midst of that fiery mountain forest we knew we were protected by another fire, we always are. Regardless of what kind of battle you are facing there is a peace in our soul as we trust in our God. After all, our God is a consuming fire.

WALL OF FIRE

Zech. 2:5 For I says the LORD, “will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.”

The Lord calls Himself a wall of fire around His people. He was telling His people in the strongest language that He would protect them totally and permanently. This promise was not only for the earthly city of Jerusalem, it was specially a promise for His New Jerusalem, His church. This promise is for us today.

This word came true for me during one of our tree planting trips back in the 1970’s. I had been working all day, planting trees in the remote coastal mountains of Oregon when I overheard on the crew chief’s radio that a crew truck had gone off of the road. That was all the information we got and I was worried about the worst. Going off the road could be catastrophic, these were winding mountain roads with enormous drop-offs to the river below.  Parris had gone down to town grocery shopping for our team that day, I had a feeling it was her truck that went over the side. Actually, it turned out to be her truck. To make a long story short, the tire tracks of her vehicle went off of the road into space. The truck ridiculously balanced on a sapling, tottering safely for everyone to climb out of the car. It seems like the angelic wall of fire was working. Here are some observations by Henry on this passage.

“It shall be safe, for God himself will be a wall of fire round about it. Jerusalem had no walls about it at this time, but lay naked and exposed; formerly, when it had walls, the enemies not only broke through them, but broke them down; but now God will be unto her a wall of fire. Some think it alludes to shepherds that made fires about their flocks, or travelers that made fires about their tents in desert places, to frighten wild beasts from them. God will not only make a hedge about them as he did about Job, not only make walls and bulwarks about them,  but he will be a wall of fire round them, which cannot be broken through, nor scaled, nor undermined, nor the foundations of it sapped, nor can it be attempted, or approached, without danger to the assailants. God will not only make a wall of fire about her, but he will himself be such a wall; for our God is a consuming fire to his and his church’s enemies. He is a wall of fire, not on one side only, but round about on every side.”

ALLUREMENT

ALLUREMENT

Psa. 39:3 My heart was hot within me;
While I was musing, the fire burned.
Then I spoke with my tongue:

Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift of God. Translating Paul’s words literally, you would say, “Fan the flame”. Paul was actually telling Timothy to stir up his affections for The Lord. They were facing difficult times of persecution, and quite honestly, you are not going to allow yourself to be persecuted for things you don’t feel strongly about. In today’s scripture, David teaches us about the effect of meditating on, or pondering scripture. As he reflected on The Lord and His promises his heart would be enflamed with spiritual passion. If your fire seems to be going dim, try musing, you may be surprised at the results. Here is Thomas Watson’s thoughts on this verse.

“The fire burned. Meditate so long till thou findest thy heart grow warm in this duty. If, when a man is cold you ask how long he should stand by the fire? sure, till he be thoroughly warm, and made fit for his work. So, Christian, thy heart is cold; never a day, no, not the hottest day in summer, but it freezes there; now stand at the fire of meditation till thou findest thy affections warmed, and thou art made fit for spiritual service. David mused till his heart waxed hot within him. I will conclude this with that excellent saying of Bernard: “Lord, I will never come away from thee without thee.” Let this be a Christian’s resolution, not to leave off his meditations of God till he find something of God in him; some moving of the bowels after God; some flamings of love.”

Jonathan Edwards wrote often about the power of spiritual desire, he called it religious affections. Actually, one of his best books goes by the title Religious Affections. In that book Edwards taught about what he called spiritual allurement. He said that if we want to awaken our love for God, “put yourself in the place of spiritual allurement”. One of the ways we do that is musing or meditating on the scripture. There are also other ways to put ourself in the place of spiritual allurement. You can accomplish this by listening to worship music throughout the day, attending worship services where there is an opportunity for spiritual saturation, or spending time with spiritual friends that actually enjoy talking about The Lord.

King David understood the power of allurement. He had been effected both positively and negatively by its power. He suffered greatly for his sinful behavior with Bathsheba. How did that happen to such a great man? It is really quite simple, he fell into temptation after watching Bathsheba from his rooftop. He was allured by her beauty. In the same way, David was often seen dancing in the tabernacle before the ark. David was dancing because of beholding the beauty of The Lord. How do we overcome the temptations we face in this goofy world? Learn from the seasoned man of God (David) ” While I was musing the fire burned”. What are you musing on today?

OIL ON YOUR HEAD, FIRE IN YOUR BELLY

Oil on the head and fire in the belly!
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

We will never get to the point when we can say we have experienced the fullness of the Spirit, just as we can never come to the end of the love of God. It’s a continual fire that is meant to consume us. I see it happen all the time in Christians, they get filled with laughter, or blessed with a new job or salvation comes to their household and then BAM the fire comes! People love to talk about the river of God but boy are they suprised to hear what goes on in the river. Yes, jump in, yes swim in the river and yes drink my friends. But know, my beloved, that as sure as I am writing this, the fire is a coming.
Peter says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Pet.4:10
A.B. Simpson puts it this way; “Has He come to you as a fire? Has He come to consume the perishable and the corruptible, the sinful and the narrow? Has He burned out of you the foolishness, the sinfulness, the weakness, and the selfishness? Will you let Him? O this is a wholesome fire; it is a blessed fire. The thing you want consumed is a wilderness of woods and swamp. When a fire starts in a swamp, how quickly the wild things get out. How the serpents hiss and flee, and how everything is cleansed. God wants to burn the nest of scorpions out of your heart.” (ouch! Me have scorpions and serpents!)
Peter mentions our inheritance and how incorruptible it is, “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” I Pet.1:4-7 Allow the Holy Ghost to finish the work in you.
Mr. Simpson wrote it so well, I dare not change what he is saying, listen to this; “Ask Him to let the fire in. If you have anything wrong in your heart, ask Him to come and consume it. There are things in your bosom that you want burned out. You want it to be as empty as a vessel that has been through the flames. We need not only to be washed out, but to be burned out, if we would be pure vessels fit for the Master’s use. Ask Him to send the fire, and receive it as the fire of love. O for the Divine love that endureth all things, that hopeth all things, that never faileth. Let it burn on and on and never cease — the unquenchable fire of God in the heart. Then shall it be what the fire is in the wheels of human industry, moving the machinery of life. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Before the day closes, you may be like that burning bush, baptized with fire, a glowing thing — little and obscure, but a wonder to earth and heaven, alive with light and glory and purity; nothing in yourself, but, like that wire which runs along your streets, charged with electric fire so that a man would not dare touch it, it is so alive. So you, though little and lowly, may be fiery channels to touch other lives, and make them yield to Him. Let us realize that the dispensation of today is supernatural as that of Pentecost.”
Try me, move me, do want you want with me Holy Ghost!

FIERY TONGUES

FIERY TONGUES

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Acts 2;1-4 NASB

Fire has always been connected to the presence of God. We remember Moses’ burning bush, the pillar of fire in the wilderness, the fire that fell when Elijah prayed, the fiery chariot of Elijah, and the fiery creatures in Ezekiel’s vision. Our God is a consuming fire. Fire fell in Solomon’s temple when it was dedicated and tongues of fire came upon the heads of the believers gathered in the upper room. John the baptist prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. Have you felt the fire lately?
Bishop Ellicott spoke about these fiery tongues in his commentary on Acts, here is what he said.
“What the disciples saw would, perhaps, be best described in modern phrases a shower of fiery tongues, coming they knew not whence, lighting for a moment on each head, and then vanishing”.
John Owen also spoke of the fire as a picture of the Holy Spirit, referring to the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River “The shape thereof that appeared was that of a dove, the substance itself, I judge, was of a fiery substance, shaped into the form or resemblance of a dove, but not the appearance of feathers, colors, or the like. This also rendered the appearance the more visible, conspicuous, heavenly, and glorious.”
What is the fire of God all about? How does it effect our lives? Fire speaks of purification. The fire of God comes upon us and begins to burn away the past. All that remains of our past wickedness begins to be purged from us. Fire also speaks of assimilation. That means everything fire touches becomes like it, everything fire touches becomes fire. The fire of God is God’s transforming agent, making us like Him. Fire also speaks to us about power, the baptism of the Spirit fills us with power to live a supernatural life, a life marked by signs and wonders. Fire also teaches us about revelation. The Holy Spirit brings light or revelation into our lives. We begin to have eyes wide open, the darkness of this world no longer blinding our eyes. Finally, the fire of God fills us with a passion. Our hearts literally get set on fire with a passion for God Himself.
Have you stepped into the fire lately? Maybe today is the day you hear God say, “Take the shoes off of your feet, you are standing on holy ground.”