Summary: Asking God to help us "burn brighter" in the upcoming year.
Ignite Our Wicks in 2006
Ok, everyone, I want you to sing along with me if you know this song.
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.
Give me oil in my lamp I pray.
Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning, burning, burning,
keep me burning ‘til the break of day!
This morning, I don’t believe that it’s the availability of the oil, as much as it may be the condition of our wicks that keep us from burning brightly for Christ.
In Matthew 5, Jesus is speaking to a large crowd, but more directly to His disciples, and He says this (v. 16), “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
This morning, I’d like for us to look at the condition of our wicks (our heart’s condition) and see if there are some changes needed in order for us as individuals, and as a congregation, to shine brighter and better for God in 2006.
It’s amazing to see how many times light, and lamps, and lampstands (or candlesticks) are referred to in Scripture. With multiple references, I felt that it would be well worth my time to research the art of maintaining oil lamps, being as these lamps have been around since 1,500 B.C., and they were the lamp of choice in Christ’s day. In my searching I discovered some interesting facts about these lamps that can relate directly to our spiritual lives.
I’d like for us to focus on and search out answers to this single question…
What is potentially wrong with a wick that won’t burn brightly?
1. One of the things that is vital for a wick to burn brightly is that it must be soaked in oil.
a. The wick is typically made of cotton or some other absorbent material…and as the wick absorbs the oil, the oil provides the fuel and burns.
2. I thought the imagery here was too god to resist. In the Bible, you’ll find that many Scriptures that refer to oil actually relate it symbolically to the Holy Spirit.
a. This is such a great fit. In order for us to burn brightly we
must allow the Holy Spirit to saturate us or fill us.
b. The supply is abundant. We do not have an oil shortage when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s availability and desire to fill us, but it’s the condition of the wick, or our hearts, that determines if we will burn brightly or just spark and burn out.
c. We need to give diligence to soaking up God’s Word, and obediently responding to His direction. Being filled with the Holy Spirit.
3. Ephesians 5:18 says, And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation (harmful self-indulgence), but be filled with the Spirit.
The Amplified Bible reads this way…And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (it cheapens your life); but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.
Nothing else provides the necessary fuel for the Christian life
Another potential problem with our wick (or heart) is that it…
B. Needs Trimming
1. I had always heard this expression when relating to candles or kerosene lamps, but I never understood why you need to trim them or what was involved with the trimming of a wick.
- We even sing about this process in one of our old hymns written by Fanny Crosby…maybe some of you remember the song…sing it with me…
“When Jesus comes to reward His servants, Whether it be noon or night,
Faithful to Him will He find us watching,
With our lamps all trimmed and bright?”
2. All the information I read about oil lamps confirmed this single point…if a wick goes untrimmed & uncorrected it will do nothing more than smoke and cause a mess.
- its ability to deliver light will be rendered ineffective.
3. Spiritually speaking, this is where we often find ourselves.
a. Doing things just for the sake of doing them. There’s really no power or passion or light behind what we’re doing, it’s just smoke…and it has the potential of causing a mess.
b. What happens when we just go through the motions, is our hearts, like a wick, grow crusted and hard.
• Our hearts need to be trimmed
• Our attitudes need to be corrected
• Our priorities need re-defining
c. We need to realize that it’s not about me…it’s not about growing our church…it’s all about bringing the light of Jesus Christ to this community so that people will glorify God.
d. Listen to what David writes in Psalm 51:10-13
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.