Blazing fire or grey ashes?

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My living room includes a fireplace which I occasionally load with wood so that I can enjoy the flickering flame.  If I keep it going, it warms the house as well as being a nice touch to the room! Keeping the fire going demands attention; adding fuel, stirring the embers. That fireplace allows me to enjoy its benefits, but only as I attend to it.

Faith is much the same.  When first lit by the touch of the Spirit, faith burns brightly, warming us with hope.  Remember those first weeks or months after you received the gift of faith through Christ Jesus?  With the weight of sin and guilt lifted, with the promise of knowing God became personal, when the hope of eternal life was yours to own; life blazed in vibrant faith.

Have you tended faith’s flame?

Jesus teaches that tough times will come. Temptation will increase. Persecution will make life tough. Evil will take over all around us. The sad result for some Christians will be that “the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. ” (Matthew 24:12, The Message) If we do not tend the flame of faith, it will fade to dying embers and then to ashes.

Having lived on this earth for 6 decades, I have experienced the various temptations that can lead to the cooling of faith. As a young man, it was the passions of life that distracted.  The next decade brought intense, hard work, the drive to achieve often in direct competition with the demands of Christ. That was followed by that time in life when a sense of ‘been there, done that’ settled onto faith, routine tempting me to neglect the pursuit of the Holy.  In these later years, I am tempted to throttle back, to coast on the spiritual discoveries of the past. Each season has its own tests, but the result of neglect, whatever the reason, will be the dying of the flame.

In his final letter, Paul, a man much battered by life, who kept the faith burning brightly, wrote to a younger pastor to encourage him. The words come to us. “Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7, NLT)

How do we keep the fires of faith burning brightly? There is no mystery about this.  As Paul told Timothy, God gives us spiritual power, transforms into creatures that love, and calls us to self-discipline.

  1. We must use our faith if we want it to consume us.  If we live timidly, retreating from every challenge, choosing only ‘safe’ paths, avoiding every calling that might be costly; faith will cool.
  2. We must continue to pursue the Truth. Subtle deception is a constant threat. We open our minds to the Scripture, we challenge our assumptions, and this adds fuel of Truth to our faith.
  3. We must commit ourselves to the Body of Christ, engaging in regular, corporate worship.  If a log in my fireplace tumbles off of the pile, the flame on it goes out, and a lump of charcoal is left in the morning. We need to be together, our mutual gifts feeding a passionate faith.
  4. We must deal with the sinful nature.  When the Spirit speaks, when our conscience aches, we have a choice:  silence the Voice, deaden ourselves by refusing the call; or making a turn-around, to repentance and confession. These will keep us in Spirit’s Presence, blazing with holy fire.
  5. And, finally, we must remember that Glory that draws us on. The fires of faith are fed by keeping the promises of Heaven always in sight!

Here’s a word from the Word. May it strengthen you in the faith! “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:35-39, NIV)

___________

Oh place in my heart
A passion for Jesus
A hunger that seizes
My passion for You
My one desire
My greatest possession
My only confession
My passion for You

Brian Houston © 1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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