Word on Fire

Paul writes to Timothy

'I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you'
(2Tim 1:6)

so, to help the church with this, we offer this brief word, because

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord'
(Jeremiah 23:29)

Fire Kept Burning

Have you noticed the phrase in scripture 'an offering made by fire'? It's used 19 times in Leviticus and Numbers to describe the Old Testament offerings with which Israel was to approach God. The offerings prefigured Christ, and have been fulfilled by him, but they still have a purpose to believers. One purpose is this: to show us the character of the offerings we are to give and the sacrifices we are to make. I don't have time to go into them here, but there is one small point that I believe God wants me to raise. Because our offerings (money, time, worship, works etc.) are only acceptable by fire, the fire must be kept burning (Lev 6:9).
Long ago, the fire died out in many Christian churches - and I'm not just referring to the 'easy' targets of mainstream denominations. Some readers will be familiar with the observation made by Dr Mark Stibbe (and others) of a decline into 'charismatic liberalism' by many modern, or 'new' churches. We need the fire, brothers and sisters! 'Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour' (Ro 12:11). The Greek for 'fervour', dzeho, means 'to boil with heat' or to 'keep on the boil'. This is by fire, friends, not by spiritual microwave. There are no easy routes to the God-filled life. Likewise, we are to be lamps and lights in the world (Jn 5:35, Mt 5:14) - not battery-powered but on fire!
Lev 6:9 tells us to keep the fire burning 'on the altar'. There are no altars today, because an altar is for the shedding of blood, and the blood of Jesus has been shed once, for all. The 'altar' today is our life - dying to self, living to God, counting the world as rubbish, but burning with holy flame for Jesus. Lev 1:7 reinforces the message: 'The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire'. Today's sons of Aaron, today's priesthood, are you and me, the church, all believers. Have you made 'arrangements' for adding fuel to your fire, daily? What is your 'wood'? We may allegorise, theologise, hypothesise, or simply use our eyes - God provides fuel for his fires - but make sure there's some fuel being added!. What arrangements do you have, and are you keeping to them?
We use a saying 'don't rest on your laurels', referring to the laurel victor's crown in ancient Greece. Lev 6:10 shows by another metaphor that we need to press on, new acceptable offerings and new victories every day. Old offerings and old victories were good, but they should be replaced daily. Just as our God is always doing 'a new thing (Is 43:19), so should we. Remove the ashes! And friends (let me say this gently), don't think that you can fake a fired-up life. Outward hype isn't fire, just as clothes don't make the man. If you're carrying around 'ashes' in your life, don't hypocritically wear priestly outer garments of pseudo-Christian words or works. Get really fired up for Jesus. An ash-carrying life isn't befitting a member of the royal priesthood of Christ. People will see through the faking, and the name of Christ will be tarnished. Let the fiery, consuming, love of God burn in every part of you as you approach him. Live the life. Light the fire. Fan the flame - and keep it burning!