Summary: It is ALL about a relationship with Jesus and it takes discipline to pursue Him. It is NOT meant as a guilt trip for those who do not have a daily quiet time, but practical helps on how to. *May be better preached as series. Lots of content, a bit rushed.
The Fire on the Altar - Leviticus 6:8-13
The LORD said to Moses: 9 “Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar. 10 The priest shall then put on his linen clothes, with linen undergarments next to his body, and shall remove the ashes of the burnt offering that the fire has consumed on the altar and place them beside the altar. 11 Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean. 12 The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13 The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.
In this passage the fire represents the presence of God. There is great emphasis placed on how we should not be outside of God's presence. In terms of following God, there are two main points:
1. It’s about love and relationship
2. Relationships take work
It is about relationship. Jesus was in relationship with His disciples. Look at this verse in John 13:25 (The Message)
“One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder.”
There is intimacy there.
It is not just about relationship, but a loving relationship. In fact, scripture uses marriage to describe our relationship with God. Marriage was used in the Old Testament, including in Genesis with the two becoming one. Throughout the New Testament there are references to Jesus being the bridegroom and His followers are the bride, culminating in Revelation with the wedding of the Lamb.
The analogy goes even a step further to pace emphasis on the intimacy in marriage in Song of Solomon. Greater than the sexual relationship is the intimacy in the marriage.
These all point to the type of intimate relationship the Lord desires to have with us.
2. Relationships take work
There is a fallacy that we have bought into about dating. People often say things like "Marriage is tough; I wish it were easy like when we were dating." But the truth is that we worked incredibly hard when we were dating! We spent so much time on our appearance and we would go so far as avoiding eating certain foods that might give us bad breath. As people are together longer, they actually work less hard.
Can the same be said of my relationship with Jesus? I remember when I first met Him, I was trying to weave every conversation into an opportunity to speak to others about Him. The good is I learned to temper my zeal with wisdom and tact, but I hope I didn't give greater effort in the past to pursuing Jesus than I do now.
You see, God is NOT against effort. He is just against merit. He desires effort, but He doesn't want us thinking we are earning anything from it, especially His love. We cannot earn His love or favor. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He didn’t wait for us and it is a good thing He didn’t. We should all celebrate the fact that God's love for us is not based on our effort or performance! I love this verse: 2 Timothy 2:13 - "If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is." We love him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). He loves us and we want to love Him back.
We are not called to be just converts, but disciples. In 1 Timothy 4:7 we are told to “train yourselves to be godly.” The Greek word used here and in 3 other verses is "gumnazo", from which we get "gymnasium." It literally means “to train with one’s full effort.”
This effort or work is motivated by love and is within the context of relationship.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
We are working while God is working in us. It does take some effort. There are times when you don’t feel like it and it is a “have to” instead of a “want to.”
You will experience the 3 D’s of Devotion: