Fire of the Spirit
In these passages we hear that God makes his servants as flames of fire; we're baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire; the fire burns away our sins; the Presence and Power of the Spirit's fire fills us with a burning Passion which enables us to share God's love with others. The Fire of the Spirit represents God within us - His Presence, His Power, His Passion and His Purity, all symbolising the Spirit at work in us.
There are various symbols in the Bible used to represent the Holy Spirit; a dove, water, wind, oil and fire. It's interesting to note that when the Spirit came on Christ who is pure and holy, he descended in the form of a gentle dove but when the Spirit fell on sinful humans, he came as a blazing fire, to burn every trace of sin and so let the light of glory in.
Sometimes just like the disciples at Pentecost or Moses at Mount Horeb, we need to see tongues of fire or have a burning bush experience to truly know the presence and power of God in our lives. But it is not enough to just know that presence, we also need to allow the Spirit to transform us.
The Holy Spirit works from within, he doesn't manipulate rather he enables us by his indwelling presence and power. The Holy Spirit doesn't compel us to obey him but he encourages, prompts and advises us - he may persist but he doesn't insist! However if we are living in the Spirit's presence, we must expect him to guide and direct us and learn to follow his lead - it is a partnership! In 2 Timothy 1:6, Paul reminds Timothy to 'fan into flame the gift of God which is in him'.
Notice Paul says the gift is in him. God gives us the gift of His Holy Spirit but just like Timothy, we have a responsibility to fan it into flame. And if you have ever used bellows which fan a flame, you will know that it takes a lot of effort to get the fire to burn and yet however hard it may be, still as disciples we are to be flames of fire burning for God. So are you a burning flame; or maybe a flickering flame or has your flame been snuffed out?
When we think of the nature of fire, we know it gives warmth and light, a blazing fire on a cold night really warms the heart and the colours of the fire brighten its surroundings. Maybe you have coal fires or burning stoves in your house - my parents have always had a coal fire in every house they've been in and as a child I always found the flames fascinating to watch - there was something quite mesmerising about them. In my flat, I have an electric fire which still gives the effect of a real fire and the flames are still just as mesmerising to watch and can often be much more interesting than the flickering images on the television.
Fire has an attracting quality; it warms; it glows and captures your attention. When we think of the Fire of the Spirit within us, do we allow it to warm our hearts; to glow within us and so attract others to its presence and power? Do we have a passion to serve God and live for Him alone? William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, used to say to his captains that 'whatever else you do - get the fire.' Or as William Blake says in his poem about Pentecost
We need to get the fire and burn with a passion to serve God. As it says in Romans 12:11, 'never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.' Whatever we do, we are to do it with a fervent Spirit and to do everything to glorify God.
Mother Teresa once said, 'it is not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.' Passion isn't just a feeling or an emotion but it is doing what you do with all your heart, always doing your best and never giving up. We need to allow God's passion to live within us but alongside that we need to have the wisdom to tend the fire within, making sure we don't neglect it or let it get out of control.
Fire can easily destroy if allowed to get out of control so it needs to be watched and tended. Also without due attention, the flames can die down and quickly go out. A fire needs to be carefully tended as do our hearts and souls. A fire needs continual refuelling and refilling and it also needs continual cleaning and clearing out. So with the Fire of the Spirit, we need to allow God's Purifying Fire to cleanse and refine us, to burn out any impurities and lead us to a life of holiness.
As the silversmith uses fire to purge the dross from precious metal so God uses His Spirit to remove sin from us, the fire cleanses and refines and turns darkness into light. After being baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire we must continue to pray for more fire so we can continue to blaze for God's glory. The more He fills us, the more He breaks us, the more He sets His fire upon us, the more we become like Him.
We're told in Thessalonians 'not to quench the Spirit's fire.' We need to allow the fire to continue its work in us, to let it burn and to nourish the flames with care and attention.
Think about the condition of your fire within - are you reflecting God's love, His Presence, His Power, His Passion, His Purity?
Our challenge is to be flames of fire burning brightly for God, to be kindled by God's grace, to allow His Spirit to work within us, for His Presence, His Power, His Passion and His Purity to be seen in our lives so we may then be the people that God has made us to be and fulfil His Purpose.
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