by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
Summary: I don’t want my Christian life to be like a sputtering candle, but like a roaring bonfire. It takes effort to keep burning with holy fire, but the results are well worth it.
James 3:5-6 ...Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. (6) The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
•• This is a negative illustration of how a spiritual source (here, “hell”) can set a portion of a person on fire (here, the tongue), and how that in turn will affect the entire person.
•• Just change the source to heaven, change the affected portion to our hearts, and watch the holy fire burn!
•• The principle is clear: any portion of our lives that is “set on fire” has the potential to set our entire being on fire. We should be greatly desiring that our hearts be set on fire by God for Him and His work. If our hearts are on fire for the Lord, we will begin to speak forth for Him with power and effectiveness, because “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart” (Matthew 15:18). Lord, cause our hearts to burn with holy fire!
Zechariah 8:2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: "I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her."
•• Even God Himself is said to be “burning” with His passion for that which He cares about.
•• Personally, I’m not content to plod along day by day, just waiting to die and go to heaven. I want to “burn” with zeal for the things of God in this life ... and then go to heaven in God’s good timing.
•• This much-to-be-desired holy fire, this sacred passion, comes into us in several ways. Let’s go see.
Matthew 3:11-12 ...He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. ... gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Acts 2:1-4 ...They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit...
•• A big measure of holy fire comes in the baptism with the Holy Spirit. When I was filled with the Holy Spirit in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1971, I experienced a substantial and enduring increase in my excitement for the things of the Lord.
•• Matthew 3:11 tells us that it is a baptism with Holy Spirit fire. Professor D.A. Carson writes of the Greek grammar here: “...the one preposition [en] governs both ‘Holy Spirit’ and ‘fire,’ and this normally suggests a unified concept, Spirit-fire or the like” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary on Matthew, p. 105). The Holy Ghost baptism is an impartation of Spirit-fire!
•• Matthew 3:11f also indicates that the baptism with the Spirit will have the effect of burning out the chaff. So this Holy Spirit fire has also a beneficial cleansing effect in our lives.
•• 1 Thessalonians 5:19 “Do not put out the Spirit's fire. Don’t quench it! Let it burn!” Let the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire cleanse you and empower you. Don’t resist it; “let it burn!”
Luke 24:30-32 ... "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
•• Let your heart burn from the presence of Jesus. That’s what the men on the road to Emmaus experienced when, even unknowingly, they were in His presence.
• Hebrews 12:2-3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.... Consider him...” Let that be your daily practice. Fix your eyes, your focus, your attention, your thoughts, on your Lord and Savior, Jesus. And begin to experience greater fire in your hearts from your awareness of His presence with you.
Jeremiah 20:8-9 ...if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
•• The purpose of this holy fire, of this godly passion, is expression. It must not, it “cannot”, be held in. The prophet experienced an inner pressure to speak, to declare, to express the name of God and the word of God. The bottled-up word of God was “like a fire” inside him, and he could not hold it in.
•• If you bottle up fire, pretty soon it dies out. So open up! Speak out His word from within you. Two things will happen: (1) the fire will touch others; and (2) God will feed and increase the fire within you.
Luke 12:35-36 Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return...
•• If left untended, every fire goes out. I enjoy camping, and I especially enjoy campfires in the evening. They blaze brightly and bring much cheer ... until you stop feeding them new logs, and pretty soon they go out. There is a spiritual lesson there.
•• Live a life of spiritual readiness. Tend your inner fire, keep it burning. Otherwise, it will fade out and end up being only faintly glowing embers.
• Treasure the Holy Spirit’s anointing ... stir it up.
• Fix your eyes on Jesus. Let Him talk to you and open His Word to you.
• Share the fire, express it, give it out, speak up.
•• Do these things, and God will keep His holy fire burning within you. And you will find yourself continually bearing fruit for Him, both in your own life and in the lives of others.
©1995, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.