Summary: Jesus said, “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). It’s time to get ignited with the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives!
THE FIRE OF GOD
(October 2005 - Bible Fellowship Sunday am)
ILLUSTRATION: Let me begin by telling you a story about a man who was going skydiving for the first time. He had taken all his lessons and it was time for his first solo jump. So he jumped out of the plane, but he panicked and couldn’t remember how to open his parachute. As he was falling rapidly to the earth he suddenly met another guy who was going up. So he seized the opportunity and shouted, "Hey, buddy do you know how to open a parachute?" The guy shouted back, "No! Do you know how to light a propane stove?"
It’s not wise to play with fire! Maybe that’s why God chose fire to be the symbol of His presence. It’s all throughout the Bible:
· Moses met the presence of God as a flame of fire in the midst of a bush (Ex. 3:2).
· The people of Israel confronted the presence of God at Sinai where fire came down from heaven upon the Mountain (Ex. 19:18).
· Solomon dedicated the Temple and fire fell from heaven and the glory of the Lord filled the temple (2 Chron 7:1).
· Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days had God’s throne as a fiery flame and a river of fire came out from it (Dan. 7:9-10).
“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49).
· Jesus is a flamethrower! “Our God is a consuming fire!” (Heb. 12:29).
STORY: 1 Kings 18:21-40. Background – nation under wickedness (Ahab & Jezebel)
“21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God." So all the people answered and said, "It is well spoken." (paraphrase rest).
36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again." 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!" 40 And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!" So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.”
· Prophetic picture of Canada – we must pray and sacrifice for the fire – for our nation!
1. WE NEED THE REFINER’S FIRE:
“Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the Lord of hosts. "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord An offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:1-3).
STORY: The Black Death
In 1665 the residents of London were dying by the thousands each day. The bubonic plague was spreading from house to house because of the unsanitary conditions. Rats and fleas spread the germs throughout the city. Almost 30,000 people died, almost a third of London’s population at the time. This plague was so bad experts say the entire population of London would have died if it had not been checked. But on September 2, 1666, the Great Fire of London broke out and burned uncontrollably for five days. Most of the structures in Medieval London were wooden, and almost the entire city was reduced to ashes. But when the fire finally died, the people discovered many of the rats and fleas had been killed in the fire and the epidemic of the Black Death was halted. The fire cleaned the city of the impurity that was killing its people.