"I thought, I’ll forget him; I’ll no longer speak in his name. But there’s an intense fire in my heart, trapped in my bones. I’m drained trying to contain it; I’m unable to do it.” Ephesians 5:14 CEB
As a kid I was fascinated by fire. I would watch my grandfather start fires in the fireplace at our family cottage totally mesmerized by the process. I would watch my dad start fires in the fireplace of our home in Michigan with the same wonder and enthusiasm. It amazed me how the process of stacking the wood just so, adding the kindling and starter material, and then lighting the match would create such an intense result. I would love to sit and watch the fire with the flames dancing and warmth emanating. My interest was not in the destructive power of fire. Rather, I was truly interested in how it worked and how certain adjustments could make the fire even stronger and warmer. It really fascinated me.
The one day it happened. My dad asked me if I wanted to help build the fire. OH MY! Did I ever! He showed me how to stack the wood and how to build the kindling and starter material. Then he handed me the match and let me start the fire. It was the best fire any human being had ever made to that point in human history. I was that much more amazed. After that I was able to build and start more and more fires for the family—under the close supervision of my parents. There are several observations I would like to make about the fires I have experienced in my life and the Scripture for this week.
First, fire is incredibly powerful. The prophet Jeremiah writes, “But there’s an intense fire in my heart, trapped in my bones.” Just like the fire we can build in the fireplace, there is an even more intense fire the Holy Spirit sends into our very being. It has the power to warm our spirit and ignite in us a passion. This Holy Spirit fire both gives us power and is a powerful force in guiding and directing our activities. Second, the fire we create in a fireplace is one we work hard to contain. Fire is great when it is contained and controlled. The prophet Jeremiah is saying the opposite is true of the Holy Spirit fire. When we try to contain this fire, it drains us completely. In other words, it is futile to try. The Holy Spirit fire is meant to be shared and catch other people on fire. Finally, we can feel a little bit like a fire master when we build fire in fireplaces or firepits. It is actually a little bit of a false appearance of control. The Holy Spirit fire is uncontainable, which is humbling. It’s humbling to know that there is something incredibly powerful dwelling within you which you are unable to contain. This is the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.
So why do we not experience more of this Holy Spirit fire in our life? The way the Holy Spirit fire is released in our life is through two things: 1) Awareness and 2) Service. When we are aware of God’s Holy Spirit and in tune with the leadings of the Holy Spirit the fire is released. God will not force this fire on us and make us release it unknowingly. God calls us to stay close to Jesus, listen to the Holy Spirit, and respond. The closer we are to Christ the more we see the world and people the way Jesus sees them. When we listen to the power of the Holy Spirit in our life we develop passion. When we respond we do so in service. Finding the place where your passion and service intersect will do more to release the Holy Spirit than anything else. You will not be able to contain it!
So, are you ready? Will you be a Holy Spirit fire source? Stay close to Jesus and have the mind of Christ. Listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit to ignite the passion within you. Respond in service to Christ and the people around you. This is something we do daily to make sure we are spreading the warmth, power, and light of the Holy Spirit fire in our world. Go be a fire starter today! Go spread the fire and share the light! Go make a difference!
This weekend at all four worship services we continue the message series Make A Difference. This is also the theme of our stewardship campaign as we prepare for our 2019 ministry needs. This weekend we will discuss how we can start and spread fires. We also will have a terrific testimony on how God started a fire in one of our members and how the Holy Spirit has been moving in her life. I hope you will join us this weekend and every weekend. The best is yet to come for St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!