Don’t Let Your Ashes Put Out the Fire

SCRIPTURE – Numbers 4:13; Ezra 4:12

NUMBERS 4:13 (AMP)

[13] And they shall take away the ashes from the altar  [of burnt offering]  and spread a purple cloth over it.

Biblically, the origin of the ALTAR goes clear back to Genesis in the bible when Noah built an Altar and then offered SACRIFICES after the flood (Genesis 8:20).  

Now in Old Testament times, there were many restrictions concerning the Altar.  In Exodus 20:24-26, for instance, the ALTAR was made “of earth or stone that had not been shaped or cut with human hand” AND… “there were to be no steps up to the altar.”

Now the ALTAR was used to make animal sacrifices to the LORD–The PURIFICATION of the Altar was accomplished by sprinkling BLOOD upon it.  Often Altars were erected in places where the LORD had accomplished some great work or had delivered some prophetic message.  Later, the Israelites had ALTARS in the tabernacle in the desert and once Solomon’s Temple was built the Altar was in the Temple.

But the ALTAR’S MAIN FUNCTION, and this is important to remember, was… SACRIFICE and WORSHIP–

And special care had to be taken to keep it Holy– And part of the special care was to “GET RID OF THE ASHES THAT ACCUMULATED ON A DAILY BASIS.”

As a “Word Detective,” I had to discover why this ritual was so important.  Although I have a gas fireplace in my current home, I do remember in the previous house having a wood-burning fireplace insert and heating the entire structure through the Fall, Winter, and Early Spring months.  If I didn’t clean the ASH out of the insert…if I wasn’t careful removing the ASH, I would have to explain to my understanding wife why there was BLACK SOOT everywhere!  If I didn’t remove the ASH daily, the ash would smother the FIRE and cause the flame to be extinguished–NO SPARK, NO FLAME, NO HEAT!

NOW WATCH THIS HERE:  One of the jobs of the priests in the OT was to never let the FLAME on the ALTAR to go out because the FLAME represented God’s Presence.  Since the ALTAR FLAME burned continually, the priest [on a daily basis] would have to go to the ALTAR and scrape the ashes off–because if left there, the ashes were subject to put-out the FIRE and bring down punishment and judgment from God on them and the entire camp and then the priests would have to redress the ALTAR with purple cloth.

That’s it!  Another Holy Spirit moment!!  Many of us need to go and get in a proper WORSHIP POSITION and scrape-off the stuff causing us to miss our deliverance and causing our FIRE to go out.

Some of you reading this might be wondering why you CAN’T get your breakthrough right now.  It is probably because you’re trying to come to God for A BLESSING, but you’re holding onto a mess in your life!

–  You want God to BLESS your finances, but you’re still playing the lottery!

–  You want God to FIX your marriage, but you still want to sleep around.

–  You want to be used by God to minister in the church on Sunday, but you haven’t learned how to get along with the people you see every day.

–  You want that new car or a new house, or a new job, but your BLESSING is being delayed because God is waiting for you to SCRAPE-OFF your ashes!

Have you ever cooked out on the grill and accidentally dropped a piece of meat down through the slots in the grill?  Be honest…if no one was looking, you probably fished it out with tongs, and put it back over the fire, finished cooking it, then took it off the grill, put it on a plate and served it to your guests–but you made sure [when YOU ate] you didn’t get that real black, crusty piece, because you know what it would taste like,

WELL GUESS WHAT…God wants to feed you with the goodness of His Word.  But before you can enjoy the GOODNESS of the Word, you’ve got to remove the ASHES!

Here’s what I’ve learned about ASHES:  I’VE LEARNED THAT ASHES ARE BITTER!

No one, in their right mind, enjoys eating ashes because ashes are BITTER.  Some of us have been eating the ASHES of painful relationships and past experiences for so long, that now, we’re just BITTER all the time with everyone we meet.

The writer tells us in the letter to the Hebrews (12:15):

[15] Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it–  Amplified Bible.

THE STRANGLING ROOT OF BITTERNESS

 

IN OTHER WORDS, I believe the Apostle Paul is telling us, that the ROOT OF BITTERNESS will not only defile us but also the people around us. 

When we FEED on ASHES, that is to say, when we allow the cruel things that were done to us yesterday affect how we feel and function today, we become BITTER, not only within ourselves but to every person we come intact with.

Personally, I’ve discovered over the years, that the ENEMY loves to keep in my face, stuff that hurt me yesterday so that I might be miserable and bitter today.  But thank God for Jesus!  Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” ~ John 10:10 (AMP).  

In other words, Jesus is saying that:  “I’ve come to take off what the devil has put on and to put on what the devil has taken off!”

Have you ever noticed how intensely and ferociously the devil attacks you after you’ve had a divine revelation or experience?  Satan doesn’t usually bother you much while you’re sitting around watching television, or out at the mall shopping, or relaxing on the front porch with a tall glass of ice tea in your hand.  NO…he waits until:

  • YOU JUST CAME OUT OF A BIBLE STUDY!
  • YOU JUST FINISHED LIFTING YOUR HANDS IN PRAISE AND GIVING A SHOUT!
  • YOU JUST MADE UP YOUR MIND TO BECOME A GOOD HUSBAND, A GOOD WIFE, OR A GOOD DAD, A GOOD MOM!

That’s when the DEVIL tries to carry you back to where you’ve just come from causing you to sit down around the Old Campfire and EAT ASHES!

Not only are the ashes bitter, but ASHES PROVIDE NO STRENGTH.

Here’s a known FACT:  There’s absolutely no nutritional value in ashes!

In fact, we’ll grow weaker each day if we “FEED ON ASHES”,

Psalm 102:4 (NIV)  My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forgot to eat my food.

Psalm 102:9 (AMP)  For I have eaten the ashes [in which I sat] as if they were bread and have mingled my drink with weeping.

In other words, David is saying:  “I became so busy dealing with yesterday’s junk that I forgot to eat the bread of life.”  

We all know what happens when we forget or skip a meal.  We grow WEAK!  Likewise, when we fail to eat the fresh bread of life each day, we begin to decline and wither like the grass!  That’s why we need to begin each day with personal Bible study and meditation on God’s Word.  You need to understand that your spiritual strength is directly proportionate to how much fresh spiritual bread you eat daily!  It doesn’t matter how much you consumed yesterday, today’s strength hinges on today’s meal!

ASHES WILL MAKE YOU SICK!

In Exodus 16, when the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning the MANNA FROM HEAVEN, He said, “Gather of it as much as you need, let none of it be left until morning”  (vv. 18, 19).  

However, the Bible lets us know that some people ignored the instruction and kept some overnight and the Bible says that it, “bred worms, became foul, and stank.”

But watch this:  When they followed God’s instructions and gathered FRESH MANNA EVERY DAY, the Word  says in Numbers 11:8 that:

“The people ground it in mills or beat it with mortars, and boiled it in pots,

and made cakes of it, and it tasted like cakes baked with fresh oil.”

 

Anytime you see OIL mentioned in the Bible it represents “The Anointing of God!” – HOLY SPIRIT!

So what I’m saying here is YESTERDAY’S MANNA breeds worms and stinks, and if we try to eat it, it will make us sick, but TODAY’S MANNA will taste fresh and strengthens us!

So you’re going to need to make up your mind despite yesterday’s stinking situation…TODAY you’re going to seek a fresh ANOINTING in your life!

  • TODAY…you’re going to go to a higher level in your RELATIONSHIP with God!
  • TODAY…I am going to get in a proper position so I can HEAR from God!
  • TODAY…I am going to get a fresh ANOINTING!

“I WANT A FRESH ANOINTING AND I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!”

ASHES on the Altar produces in us Bitterness, Weakness, and Sickness.

But when you get a fresh touch from God you receive just the opposite:

– BITTERNESS is replaced with SWEETNESS!

– WEAKNESS is replaced with STRENGTH!

– SICKNESS is replaced with HEALTH!

– And HUNGER is replaced with SATISFACTION!

FRESH OIL is what we need, NOT day old oil!

Before the children of Israel could receive God’s approval concerning the offering of the SACRIFICE, Verse 13 says,  “And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon.”

Before the SACRIFICE could be made, God’s instructions say that yesterday’s ASHES from the Sacrifice must be cleared away and the kingly color of purple had to be draped over the altar.

Before they could receive God’s FAVOR, His BLESSINGS, they had to get rid of the leftover residue and dress the Altar fit for a king!

If you’re needing a fresh anointing from God…PAIN in your body that you had yesterday and may have even woke up with today, but you’ll be able to endure it with a smile because you’ve gotten the ASHES off your Altar!  You should be saying to yourself,  “I want a fresh anointing Lord, and I want it right now!”  The Apostle Paul compares his sharing of the Gospel Message with an ATHLETE1 Corinthians 9:23-27:

 

So what’s Paul saying here?  Simply this:  I must keep my experiences fresh so that after I have fed others around me the good foods of the Word, I don’t wind up “FEEDING ON ASHES!”

“Whatever it takes, come hell or high water, I WILL put forth the effort to build a fresh ALTAR, and keep it clean that I may partake of the ANOINTING of God every day of my life!  Whatever the cost!  I can’t afford to let my ALTAR get ashy!!”

“DON’T LET YOUR ASHES PUT OUT THE FIRE!”

 

______________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Advance Search Settings.

Comparative Bible Translations:  BibleStudyTools.com

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); English Standard Version (ESV).

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting to Inhale God’s Exhale

TEXT: John 20:21-22; Acts 2:1-4slide_12

After the RESURRECTION, John’s gospel account seemed to me at first glance, that the Spirit’s coming is connected with Jesus’ ascending to the Father.  

But then the next thought that came to my mind, how about when the Church was first initiated in Luke’s account, Acts chapter 2?

holy-spirit-2-728

Looking at John’s version of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the verses in Luke’s description in Acts 2, we see that John is emphasizing some different things, maybe wanting to improve on or support Luke’s idea.

So I want to explore some ideas in this blog, not from a doctrinal viewpoint but from a personal one concerning John’s version of our Christian experience of the Holy Spirit. 

The FIRST AND MAJOR DIFFERENCE I found between John and Luke’s story in Acts is one of timing.  In John, the giving of the Spirit occurs on the evening of Resurrection Day (EASTER).

By contrast, Luke records that the Holy Spirit came upon a group of gathered believers, “about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15), for the feast of Pentecost 50 days after Passover and the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

QUESTION:  So did the church begin in John 20:22 or at Pentecost in Acts 2:4?

It’s worth mentioning here, that the Church’s liturgical calendar has followed Luke’s version, which probably dominates our thinking and reflection of how the Spirit came on the church and what it means.

So how do we make sense of this different timing?

JESUS BREATHED (exhaled) the Holy Spirit into the disciples the evening of Resurrection Day, AND…also sent the Holy Spirit in a different way 50 days later.  

That solves all our problems! 

I have learned over the years in bible study, it is not a good idea to try to harmonise variations of different writers because it doesn’t do justice to their particular emphases.

Clearly John in this passage of Scripture is describing the event of the Holy Spirit coming into the disciples, just as Luke is doing in the Book of Acts.

An interesting note here concerning one word “in” or “into.”  Jesus appears in the locked room, declares His peace, commissions them and then BREATHES into them. declaring “RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Many translations use “on” rather than “into”, but the same word used in Genesis 2:7 where God BREATHES into the clay-body of man He has formed to  create a living being – [ [i] In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures used in Jesus’ time].

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Genesis 2:7 {NIV):

“–the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

This verse found in Genesis is but one verse that gives the application of the beautiful picture of a person and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The emblem, under which God’s Spirit is represented to us is the BREATH and AIR, the atmosphere in which you and I live daily and the act by which we INHALE or EXHALE are the GIFTS and manifested POWER.

We can live for days without food, for a lifetime without sight or hearing, but we cannot live for an hour without breath–without breathing in and out.  We cannot see it, we can scarcely feel it, and yet all around us is an ocean of air without which we could not exist, and without which all of our senses we would be blind, deaf, and vain.

I believe John deliberately wants to make those connections, when a new creation comes to life in giving the Holy Spirit–something new is coming into existence and being released into the world.

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What we have to remember, in study of biblical writers, is that they are less concerned with historical facts and more with theological truths.  And it’s the theological truths we want to discern.  So let’s focus first on John’s account.

Notice that his version links the Holy Spirit far more closely with Jesus himself and His ministry.

After declaring PEACE to the fearful disciples, Jesus says,

“As the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.”  (verse 21)

 

The Holy Spirit is not a “force” or “a thing”– He is a PERSON!

Perhaps one of the most important yet least understood truths of the Bible is the infilling and baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I have come to realize that this is an unchanging truth but as God has led me to a deeper knowledge and experience over the years is my understanding of the TRUTH.

When I was first converted, “born again,” in 1972, I was taught that I was FILLED at the moment of salvation and I assumed that this was true.  I didn’t realize that Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit and then promised that the Holy Spirit would baptize them.

The Bible states that we RECEIVE the SPIRIT at the moment we SURRENDER our hearts to Christ Jesus (1 John 3:9; Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

God puts His Spirit within us and we are born as a child of God, BUT…the real POWER to come later at Pentecost is when the power of the Holy Spirit would change the fearful disciples into men that God would use to bring His message WITH…POWER and AUTHORITY! –  (Acts 1:8)

Jesus said, “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 1:5)

THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SALVATION CONNECTION –

I have been asked he question on different occasions, “Is every Christian, those who are “born again”, also baptized in the Holy Spirit, that is, is BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit automatically received with SALVATION?”

Baptism of the Holy Spirit Banner

John 20:22 (NIRV):

[22] He then breathed on them. He said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Here, Jesus breathes into the apostle’s nostrils and they RECEIVE (“inhale”) Holy Spirit, (that is, they are “born-again,” i.e. “saved”) and the Holy Spirit comes to live in the heart of the believer.

However, the BAPTISM in the Holy Spirit is where the living Spirit of God comes on the believer, occurring on Pentecost 50 days later.

Luke 24:49 (AMP):

[49] And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has promised; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed (endued) with power from on high.

Acts 1:5 (NIV):

[5] For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Again, the same PROMISE and we realize that THIS Baptism will come upon the believer.

Acts 2:3-4 (AMP):

[3] And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  [4] And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words].

This is the point where the apostles received the BAPTISM IN the Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit comes UPON the believer.

However, as we’ve seen, there existed a period of time where they RECEIVED the Holy Spirit and were BAPTIZED IN the Spirit.  My belief is these were separated acts, each having a different reason.

SALVATION comes by receiving the Holy Spirit, that is we are SAVED from the penalty of sin.  We become sons and daughters of the King; we RECEIVE the AUTHORITY to act (Luke 10:19 – Believer’s Authority) as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus doesn’t say, “Wait in Jerusalem until you are

born again or converted or put into the body of Christ.”

He says, “Wait until you are clothed with power.”

He doesn’t say, “You shall receive membership in the body

of Christ when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

  • – John Piper –

Sadly, because many people don’t understand there is a difference between the two events (SALVATION & BAPTISM) and don’t, or won’t, seek the greater POWER of God transforming their lives and ministries.  I call it “ineffectiveness” in the Spirit.

Every person who truly REPENTS and invites Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior receives the Holy Spirit.  

1 John 3 calls this God’s SEED in which teaches us, this is when we are born of God, His Seed remains in us.

When the Holy Spirit fills someone, the BLESSING is not for them alone but to EQUIP & EMPOWER them to do God’s will.

The apostles were FILLED immediately and demonstrated that HOLY SPIRIT POWER to preach with boldness, stand before their enemies and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The focus is on God’s will and…HIS WILL ALWAYS produces Fruit.

If a person is NOT producing fruit, they are not FILLED!

The lack of POWER in the modern church as I see it, isn’t because GOD’S POWER is diminished but because we no longer SEEK God with all of our hearts.

To be FILLED by the Spirit, you must be hungry and thirsty for God.

Matthew 5:6 (NIV):

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

A TRUE BELIEVER, one who is born again, is serious and truly hungry and thirsty for God, and will never be satisfied until FILLED.

“SO, WHERE’S THE POWER?”

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.”

I used to just assume that Paul and Luke were talking about the same thing when they used the word “BAPTISM” and connected it to the Holy Spirit–in other words, the Baptism by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13 is the same as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Many scholars and bible teachers make this connection.

My view is not the only orthodox one, nor is it one you have to agree with.  But it is one I have increasingly come to believe is correct and is needed in the church.

Jesus said, “But you [the ‘inhalers’] shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My WITNESSES…”  (Acts 1:8 – AMP).

And the RESULTS of the Baptism of the Spirit?

[40] And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed and admonished with much more continuous speaking and warned them, saying,  Be SAVED from this crooked generation.  [41] Therefore those who accepted and welcome his message were baptized (in water), and there were added 3,000 souls.


CREDITS:

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Commentaries:  John Piper: Topic, The Holy Spirit.  John Piper is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org. and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted–the NIRV: the New International Reader’s Version.

 

 

Reigniting the Olympic Flame

Sochi, Russia Olympic Flame
Sochi, Russia Olympic Flame

Well, after 16 grueling days, the flame was extinguished for the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia and in four years, the flame will be reignited in Pyeoncheng, Korea.

The OLYMPIC flame towered this year over Fisht Stadium so huge, so massive, it literally could be glimpsed from space.

Photo from 220 miles up in space
Photo from 220 miles up in space

The astronauts on the international Space Station took this photo, showing the flaming cauldron as the spacecraft drifted over Russia’s vacation spot on the Black Sea.  The picture was taken from 220 miles up in the air. [photo courtesy of Mail Online].

In a report from Sochi, NBC’s Brian Williams said when the torch was ignited, “the soaring torch is the most powerful, the loudest, of any Olympic Game.”

I wasn’t ready for the flame to be taken down.  In fact, as Christians, we ought to continually be LIGHTING THE FIRE from within.  How OLYMPIC could that be to the unsaved world today.

Being Olympic Ready!

The Urban Dictionary defines “Olympic” this way:  The true original definition of athleticism; being allowed to represent your country is considered the ultimate goal for almost every athlete in the world.

As Christians, what better ways can we represent our Lord and Savior, reigniting Holy Spirit fire in our lives.  The Light of the World, Christ Jesus, shining through us like a grand Olympic Flame to the rest of the world!

Reigniting the Fire!

GOD wants to speak to you today where you sit.  He wants a stirring within your soul, deep from within, a FIRE that wants to breakout and fan across your world.

In this Blog-Post, there is a calling for you to ignite the flame, that fire, to spark something inside of you today…that something being the POWER of the Holy Spirit.  And believe me, that is Olympic!

ARE YOU READY TO BE IGNITED?  Because if you are, the cause is greater than you!  The cause is Christ Jesus:

The Cause of being…

A difference maker,

Sharing the LOVE, 

Sharing acceptance,

Sharing the forgiveness of Jesus with those around you.

The prophet Isaiah said,

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her imputed righteousness and vindication go forth as brightness, and her salvation radiates as does a burning torch”  (Isaiah 62:1 AMP).

Isaiah couldn’t keep quiet; there was a fire that burned in his belly.  He was going to keep telling people about GOD until RIGHTEOUSNESS rang out in the cities, until SALVATION became a blazing torch in the land.

“Evil triumphs when good people remain silent”

Today is the time!  The time to reignite the fire that was maybe just barely flickering within and become no longer by silent, becoming agents of change.

How Can We Ignite the Flame?

We do it with the flame of…PASSION.

Society has categorized our time in history as “passionless.”  They are wrong!  Being bombarded by a multi-media experiences of life…we’re overloaded, pure and simple.  But the flame within our spirit flickers; burns for the intimacy of relationship.  To reignite the fire within, we need to have a PASSION for God.

The Psalmist wrote of PASSION  in Psalm 86:11-12: 

[11] Teach me Your way,  O Lord, that I may walk and live in Your truth; direct and unite my heart to fear and honor Your name.

[12] I will confess and praise You,  O Lord my God, with my whole (united) heart; and I will glorify Your name forevermore.

The Fire Is Protect and Kept in a Safe Place…

The Olympic Flame comes from Athens, Greece each Olympics.  Our source for the FIRE comes from God and to visualize the flame, we need to establish it from within a vertical relationship.

Relationship on the rocks?

In an article, “Relationship on the Rocks?” written by Julie Orlov, she addresses married couples relationships when they grow cold.  She points out the breakdowns that can happen by asking the question, “Where has the spark gone?”  Many couples after some years have gone by, or when the kids have moved out, look at each other as if they’re compatible roommates; the relationship has lost the PASSION!  And for man, there comes a time when that level of complacency is no longer acceptable.

Crying Out to God…

We need to “cry out” to God, not to be complacent in relationship with Him.

OUR Prayer:  Teach me how to be more passionate for You, showing me the way You would have me walk through this life on earth.  God, direct my heart so I will respect, trust, and honor You in all ways, in all things.

Stirring the Flame of Commitment!

We stir the flame until it burns within our soul and we cannot remain silent because…we are PASSIONATE with commitment to God.  And by the way…this conversation we should have with our life-mate…establishes the horizontal relationship as well.

PASSIONATE WITH COMMITMENT!

Not only do we need to have PASSION for God, we need to have:  A PASSION FOR OTHERS.

In Psalm 2:8, God gives us this information:  “Ask of Me, and I will give You [Jesus] the nations as Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession.”

When we have PASSION for God, we will have PASSION to do the work of our heavenly Father, the work of seeing the world come to JESUS.

When we allow the FIRE OF GOD to burn within, comes a passionate heart cry for the lost people in our community and around the world. This is the PASSION I have within my soul and spirit to write a weekly blog.  We all need to have PASSION to dream God’s dreams!!!

The Truth Is the Value of Our PASSION:

Like FIRE, our PASSION will be judged finally by the amount of warmth and light it transmits.

FIRE must be controlled…

To live passionately, we must develop DISCIPLINE.  Fanatics like foresting fires, burning brightly through the landscape, but at the same time, destroying everything that is tender and green in its path!  To be useful, FIRE must be controlled.

To LOVE PASSIONATELY, we need to form the bonds of COMMITMENT.

Inspiration;

Not only do we need PASSION in our lives, we need to also have INSPIRATION.

Talk to people who have been successful in life, they will tell you how they found someone they can point to for the inspiration of their achievement.

If you need some inspiration right now in your life, read the lives of the great men and women of FAITH in Hebrews 11, then reflect on Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.

If you are going to light the torch within, you are not only going to need PASSION and INSPIRATION, you’ll need PERSPIRATION!

Perspiration in Preparation
Perspiration in Preparation

Perspiration–how do we know the fire is aflame?

WHERE’S THE SMOKE?  WHERE’S THE FLAME?

The NBC news anchor, Brian Williams mentioned while in attendance, when the Olympic Flame was ignited in Sochi, the flame sounded like a Jet Airplane taking off at an airport!  Now that would certainly get your attention, wherever you were at the time.

James 2:26 says,  “For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead.”

Questions need to be answered before reigniting the flame–

WHAT ARE YOUR DESIRES?

WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS?

WHAT ARE YOU PUTTING YOUR BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS INTO?

WHAT FIRE IS BURNING INSIDE OF YOU?

We can all come up with EXCUSES, why we can’t, sitting back and doing nothing in reaching people around us to come to JESUS, or we can go for the GOLD; allow the Holy Spirit to IGNITE the fire within while accomplishing great things in Jesus’ name.

Now is the Time!

The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro begin in 2016; where the Olympic Torch will once more be reignited.  But the athletes are in training and getting ready for the games, in the right now!  Their PASSION, INSPIRATION, PERSPIRATION is now!!!  If they waited for 2016 to be prepared, it would mean nothing.

BUT now is the time for us, for the flame to be stirred for igniting the fire within.  RIGHT NOW is the time to be PASSIONATE about life, to not only look to others for inspiration, but to be an inspiration to others around us.

It’s time to PERSPIRE, to get into action before difference makers.

Don’t Wait till it’s Too Late–It’s a Matter of Life and Death!

People are dying around us every day, hour, minute, second–friends, family, co-workers.  And remember, we don’t need to be observed from a Space Station 280 miles above the earth to be seen.  Our Olympic Flame just needs to be reignited to the lost in our cities, communities and our neighborhoods.

Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power] because ALL MEN SINNED.  (Romans 5:12).

For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23).

The HOPE to be Conveyed to others in Romans 8: 

[Romans 8:1-2; 9-19, 24-25].

A Prayer for Lighting the Fire Within:

Father, I know by the current events surrounding my life, the time for Your Sons return is growing nearer everyday.  There are people in my community, my neighborhood, my family that doesn’t know Him.  Your Word says that I need to share the Gospel message as Your Spirit leads.  I desire it Lord.  Light my fire within my heart and give me the right words to say at any given time.  The time IS now!

Thank You Father God, in Jesus’ name.

A Momentary Spark in the Shadows of Darkness

[10]  Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, YET WHO WALKS IN DARKNESS and deep trouble and has no shinning splendor [in his heart]?  Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God.

[11]  Behold, all you [enemies of your own selves] who attempt to kindle your own fires [and work out you own plans of salvation], who surround and gird yourselves (surround yourselves with a belt) with momentary sparks, darts, and firebrands that you set aflame!–walk by the light of your self-made fire and of the sparks that you have kindled [for yourself, if you will]!  But this shall you have from My hand: you shall lie down in grief and in torment.

~ISAIAH 50:10-11 AMPLIFIED BIBLE.

Surrounded by momentary sparks!

Making Scripture PERSONAL!

The Lord obviously wanted me to receive and understand His message in the above verses in The Book of IsaiahWhat do I mean by “personal”?  That’s when a Scripture verse, written to the WORLD, suddenly becomes MINE (or in your case, YOURS).

I recognized that the Holy Spirit had something specifically He wanted communicated.  I roughly understood what the verse meant!  As Mrs. Charles E. Cowman said in one of her books,  “It means we are in darkness” (in relation to some situation we do not understand) “and the temptation is to find a way without trusting in the Lord and relying on Him!”  Instead of waiting on the Lord’s plans, we try to figure it out ourselves.

Serving God in the Midst of Darkness–

There are times in our lives that we find it difficult to see very far ahead.  I remember one time driving home from a retreat with my wife in the local mountains near us.  We had a late supper out and on the way home, the headlights of the car went out.  I couldn’t see a thing!

Doing what men usually do in such circumstances, I pulled the car over to the side of the road.  I then raised the hood of the car, pretending I know what I was doing, then proceeded to tell my wife with all wisdom and understanding: “It’s just an electrical short that had caused the headlights to fail.”  Of course after forty plus years of marriage, Dianne knew I had no idea what the problem was–but kept from making her response, making the situation worse.

Going Ahead in the Pitch of Night!

I decided I couldn’t wait there along side of the road all  night and pulled out into the night.  Dianne’s reaction to my fool-hearty decision was, “You can’t drive home in the darkness without light!”  And of course I had anticipated her question in advance and blurted out, “At least the parking lights are working!” 

As I drove down the dark mountain highway, the Lord whispered in my ear “Mel, try turning the knob on the dashboard back and forth,” or something to that effect.  I did so and guess what?  Yep, the headlight’s ‘dimmer switch’ or whatever you call it had been inadvertently been turned off(who did that?).  We got home finally, but with all the car’s lights working.

Dianne asked me a question after we pulled into the garage:  “Would you have driven all the way home in the darkness without any lights?”  And my definitive answer…”We would have been just fine, regardless.  We were in God’s hands and protection.  My answer sounded convincing.

Our DESIRES Can Sometimes Be Confusing–

Are you experiencing a dark time in your life?  Do you have a wayward child?  Have you experienced financial reversal?  Has someone broken your heart or taken advantage of you?  Are you not able to make sense of what’s happening in your life?

As Christians, we DESIRE to be “overcomers”.  We DESIRE to go to heaven but rather mot die to get there.  In its very substance, LIFE is tragic without JESUS CHRIST in our lives.

Questions We Asked Ourselves In Life–

Life as we know it is filled with “sweetness” and misery; high times and hard times.  As Christians, we desire to be “overcomers” but don’t want much to overcome.

–Do you have a wayward child?

–Have you experienced financial reversal?

–Has someone broken your heart or taken advantage of you?

–Are you not able to make sense of what’s happening in your life?

Thinking We’ve Got It All Figured Out!

We’ve studied our lessons, learned our formulas and memorized the promises of God’s Word.  We think that we’ve got it all figured out and suddenly…we are plunged into a deep, deep darkness.  Why does such darkness come to a Christian?

The question we ask more than any other is “Why?”  WHY did God allow sickness to come to me or a loved one?  WHY did God heal that person and not heal me?  WHY?  WHY?  WHY?

What Do We Do When the Lights Go Out?

When we went to school, we received lesson first, then learned the lessons second.  “Premature Deliverance”…from a situation is when man frustrates God’s work of grace in our lives rather than committing the whole situation to Him; willing to abide in darkness, so long as you have His presence.   REMEMBER, “it is better to walk in the dark with God than walk alone in the light” (Mrs. Cowman).  And that’s what it means.  Often, we have prayed prayers and don’t understand at all what happened.  When in fact, God actually has ANSWERED those PRAYERS. 

PRAYERS like, “Oh God, use me”, or “Increase my faith Lord”, and “Thy will be done”.  And of course, He does have a will for your life, as He has for all of our lives.  But His will is likely to go in directions we never anticipated; areas we never ever thought about or desired.  He will answer those prayers, and all to often we haven’t understood His answers.  This is all consistent with His Word:  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

GOD has directions and plans completely outside-you and that’s the point!  It’s not about you and I.  When He answers those prayers of ours, He begins preparing us for the life and work ahead.  Be abundantly clear here, the work is His and not yours!

THE DEEPEST DARKNESS (ISAIAH 50:10):

This passage of Scripture is not talking about someone who has wandered away from God.  This person fears and loves the Lord: Who is among you who fears the Lord…”

This verse is addressing the person or persons who fears and loves the Lord.  “Fear of the Lord”  MEANS, “love on its knees”.  The person who FEARS God the most–loves God the most.  This person OBEYS God’s voice (v. 10).

There is a distortion of the truth today when a person becomes a Christian–everything becomes like honey and no bees; all sunlight and roses with no rain and weeds.  There is no reason to deny it.

Tens of thousands of Christians across the world fear and love the Lord, yet are experiencing darkness.  More than 150,000 Christians were martyred last year all over the world.

Job said, “Even young children despise me; when I get up, they speak against me” (Job 19:18).

Habakkuk shouted,   “Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help and You will not hear?  Or cry out to You of violence and You will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2).

John the Baptist sent messengers from prison and asked JESUS,  “Are you really the Messiah or should we look for another.”

Each one of these men of God came to a “lights out” time on a ‘dark road’ in life and didn’t understand or comprehend why and what was fully happening to them.

FAITH BORN IN THE LIGHT IS OFTEN DEVELOPED IN THE SHADOWS:

Someone once said that FAITH is like film:  “It’s better developed in the darkness.”

QUESTION:  When have you grown the most spiritually in your life?  When Mr  Trouble comes and knocks at your front door–becoming more mature in the spirit becomes better developed than other times.

So, How Does God Develop Our FAITH In The Darkness?

God says in Isaiah’s passage, it takes two steps:  We are to look to the Lord first—“trust in the Lord” (verse 10).  The Amplified translation uses, “rely on,” “trust in,” “be confident in”.  I like what Warren Wiersbe said, “We live by promises, not by explanations.”

Just because it doesn’t make sense to us at the time, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense to our Heavenly Father.  We must continue to stand on God’s Word, regardless of what’s going on in our lives.  GOD’S WORD never changes and remains constant in ALL of the seasons of life.

The Second Step:

Lean upon the Lord–“let him lean and be supported by his God.”

When you find yourself in the dark and along side a lonely isolated road, you don’t need an explanation–you need God!  It is more important to be with God in a valley of darkness than to be on a mountain peak in sunlight without Him.

There are some things that I want in life that I don’t need, and some things I need that I don’t want.  Only GOD can really discern between bad and good–good and best.  God wants to develop our FAITH; never to doubt in the dark what you have learned in the light.  The TEST OF OUR CHARACTER is not what we do in a worship service but what we do in the dark.

FAITH’S DANGER:

It is better to be serving GOD in the darkness than to be standing alone in “man-made” light (Isaiah 50:11).

One of the most dangerous temptations is to be tempted to light our own fire in the darkness.  If God has permitted the darkness, then we must wait upon the Lord.  We must never get the idea that darkness can overcome light; darkness will run from light.

If you don’t believe this is the truth, then turn on the light in a darkened room and open the closet.  You will find darkness is hiding in the closet!  The only way that DARKNESS can enter is that the light be removed.

So, if the LIGHT has been removed from the situations of your life, then God in His wisdom has allowed you to be in the darkness.  If God is the One who has allowed darkness to come your way, don’t be foolish and light your own fire.  Don’t try to undue what God is already doing.

A man-made fire is deceptive.  It’s like a man getting up in the middle of the night, hearing a disturbance in the house and grabbing a flashlight beside his bed.  And with his flashlight, he goes over to the sundial to see what time it is.

God says that if we light our own fire–[work out our own plans AMP] in the midst of God-planed darkness, then we will suffer.  For an example, God told Abraham and Sarah they would have a child of their own–God gave them a promise.  However, God didn’t fulfill that promise immediatelyAbraham, in the middle of his darkness of doubt, created his own fire with Hagar.  Ishmael was born.  Think about the suffering that followed Abraham and the world because he did not wait on God in the midst of darkness.

IF YOUR SUN HAS SET, IT WILL RISE AGAIN:

Faith’s Daybreak–Psalm 30:5

“For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life.  Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning.”

Psalm 30:5

“[The Servant of God says]  The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He wakens Me morning by morning.  He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]”  (Isaiah 50:4 AMP).

“Come And Light My Fire Jesus”–

God will awaken us in the morning, even though you may be in the dark shadows now, there’s a better day coming!  If you are in darkness, then TRUST GOD, and He will turn every tear into a pearl, every hurt into a hallelujah.

There is a better day coming.

For non-Christians, this is as GOOD as it gets.  And as Christians, this is as BAD as it gets!

A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO TAKE:

Take a walk and enjoy the warmth of a sunny day.  And while you are lifting your face, enjoying the warmth of the rays, the sun-rays of sunlight are already 8.3 minutes old when they reach you.  Even though you can experience the warmth of the sun, you’ve never seen the full power of the sun.  You have felt its warmth but never really seen the sun.

In a like manner, we can feel the warmth of God’s presence, but we’ve never fully seen the glory of God.  But there is a time coming as a child of God, that we will see the face of JESUS.  We will fully see what we slightly experienced in this life.  Just remember when the lights go out, GOD is still there in the midst of your darkness.

There Are Treasures Of Darkness–

Have you ever heard someone say, “The stars are out tonight”?  The fact is, stars are out in the daytime, but we can’t see them because of the sunlight.

The stars are there for us to praise the Lord (Psalm 148:3).  We would never have a star to praise the Lord without darkness.  GOD wants to give you a star so you can praise Him even more.  Our trials become stars in order to praise the Lord in the light that He gives us.

So, when the lights go out…reflect on our faith’s devotion, development, discernment, danger, and daybreak (Light),  in the POWER of the Holy Spirit’s fire.