The Glory of Christ and His Church—Living Out the Fire
Fan into Flames
This past weekend, God’s presence and holy fire burned in our midst. Beginning on Friday night during our Encounter Night, God began to move. His presence grew through the weekend, and our Sunday morning worship service became a holy moment in the weighty presence of God.
Revival fires are beginning to spread around our nation. Revival broke out Wednesday morning at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky during a chapel service. Students, faculty, and now others from the area and around our nation are going to the non-stop meetings there. God is moving, and His fire is spreading!
True love is passionate; it is an unquenchable fire. God’s love for you will never extinguish. However, you can quench the fiery presence of God and His love in your life. Your ability to maintain the fire of God’s love and presence in your life is vital. Your passion and intimacy with God is not automatic; you have a part to play in the process. His grace enables you to maintain the fire of His love and presence in your life.
Paul said to Timothy, “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you” (2 Tim. 1:6 NLT). The pursuit of God’s presence positions you to fan into flames God’s passion and spiritual gifts.
John Wesley, a founder of the Methodist Church, said of this verse, “I remind thee of stirring up—literally, blowing up the coals into a flame—the gift of God—all the spiritual gifts, which the grace of God has given thee.” Both the Apostle Paul and John Wesley knew that it was not enough to have gifts imparted; the recipient had a responsibility to steward the presence of God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Maintaining the Fire
The Israelites were instructed in Leviticus to maintain the fire on the altar:
“…the fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must never go out. Each morning the priest will add fresh wood to the fire and arrange the burnt offering on it… Remember, the fire must be kept burning on the altar at all times. It must never go out.” (Lev. 6:12-13 NLT)
God prescribed an order of worship to Moses and the Israelites that required their participation. They had to bring and offer a sacrifice, a first-born male of the heard or flock. The blood and animal parts were offered upon the altar as a sacrifice to God. Even the fire on the altar had to be placed in order and maintained. To have a hot fire, you need hot coals—you must be intentional.
The Levitical worship was a type and shadow of the sacrifice to come with Jesus, the lamb slain before the foundation of time for humanity. Jesus, the perfect and spotless one, was offered willingly for you and me. The Holy Spirit, given through His sacrifice, provides us fellowship with God and enables us to carry the fire of His love. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11 NKJV).
With the New Covenant, sealed in the very blood of Christ, we have union with God and unhindered access to His presence by Holy Spirit. However, like the Israelites of old and their free will sacrifice, you must offer your life willingly upon the altar of God’s love and fiery presence. This invitation is open to everyone, beginning with salvation and walking in His Kingdom power.
Practical Steps to Maintaining the Fire of God in Your Life
Paul gives an important first step for maintaining God’s fire in your life—it is complete surrender.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2 NLT)
Did you notice how Paul uses language similar to the instructions given to the Israelites for their worship? In fact, Paul is pleading with the reader to “give your bodies to God.” This was no different from an Israelite intentionally giving a pure and spotless sacrifice from the flock or herd. God will not force your sacrifice—you must offer it freely.
Your surrender to Christ as a living sacrifice is voluntary, and your life becomes a pleasant aroma before him. You present your body as living and holy. When the Levites brought the sacrifice near, they had to wash the organs and limbs with water (Lev. 1:9). Through Christ, the Spirit, and His Word, you have been washed clean—so live holy (1 Cor. 1:30). Choosing to live surrendered is the first and most vital step to maintaining the fire of God’s love in your life.
You must pursue finding and knowing God. Living in ongoing encounter with Him keeps your love for God alive, fresh, and fiery. Love is passionate and pursues God zealously.
Surrender and yield your emotions to God. Do not let your emotions dictate your life; rather, allow your mind and emotions to be transformed to think and act like heaven. Character is key, but so is a supernatural worldview—this only comes as you allow the Holy Spirit to transform you.
In Leviticus chapter nine, as Moses and Aaron entered the Tabernacle, God’s glory appeared, and fire came forth from God’s presence to consume the sacrifice (Lev. 9:23-24). Fire fell as they stayed surrendered, humble, and obedient to God. They worshipped in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23). How can you maintain the fire of God’s presence? With ongoing encounters through a surrendered life; there is no substitute.
God will provide the fire; you must be positioned, surrendered, and expectant as a living sacrifice. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead, fill, and empower you daily (Rom. 8:14). Stay humble. Stay surrendered. Live in his Holiness. Holiness is Christ in you, but you must let holiness have its way! The fire of his holiness burns passionately in those whose hearts and lives stay surrendered to God.
Pray without Ceasing
The second principle to maintain God’s fire in your life is to pray without ceasing. Paul writes to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17 NKJV). Prayer is communion with God and abiding in His presence. Prayer is more than just petitions. Prayer is also two-way dialogue with God. God has things He wants to communicate and reveal to you—beginning with how much He loves you. Prayer positions you to receive the Father’s love and embrace—your heart is then “strangely warmed.”
In fact, God promises to make prayer a delight and joy. The prophet Isaiah wrote,
“I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer… my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isa. 56:7 NLT)
While this was a promise to the children of Israel under a different covenant, the principle remains; God delights in drawing us near to Him and filling us full of joy as we pray and abide in His presence. The result is that you continue in devoted relationship to God, others are impacted, and people are drawn to Him. Prayer positions you in God’s presence to receive more from the Holy Spirit.
Regarding petitionary prayer, Jesus said in Luke 18:1 that, “Men should always pray and never give up” (NLT) or “lose heart” (NKJV). He concludes the parable of the persistent widow who found justice by asking a rhetorical question, “So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7 NLT). Jesus states clearly that, not only will God answer, but also, He will answer quickly. Prayer keeps you focused on Almighty God—circumstances fade and faith for answered prayer keeps you secure in His love. Prayer fuels the fire of passion, love, and devotion to God in your life.
Learn to pray and worship “in the Spirit.” Paul makes it clear in his writings that the person who prays in an unknown tongue edifies himself or herself (1 Cor. 14:4). There is a spiritual self-edification and strengthening for the believer who chooses to pray privately in their prayer language. Tongues and the gifts of the Spirit have not ceased with the completion of the Bible and should be desired by believers (1 Cor. 12:7-11).
I frequently pray in the Spirit to “fan into flame” the Holy Spirit’s presence and gifts of God. Jude 1:20-21 says:
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (NKJV)
Praying in tongues, or in the Spirit, edifies and builds you personally and helps you remain aware of God’s love and presence.
Worship with Passion
The third principle to maintain God’s fire in your life is to worship with passion. “…Come before His presence with singing…enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise, be thankful to Him and bless His name” (Psalm 100:2, 4 NKJV). The book of Psalms was a songbook of praise and worship to God. Praise and worship should declare, as the book of Psalms illustrates, the splendor, majesty, goodness, and power of God. Worship lifts you into revelation and encounter with God—suddenly life’s distractions fade and the brilliance of God’s greatness shines through.
David’s tabernacle consisted of Levites to worship the Lord day and night, “…four thousand praised the Lord with musical instruments …to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening” (1 Chr. 23:5, 30 NKJV). The early Church records how significant worship is, “so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name…” (Acts 15:16-17 NKJV, see also Amos 9:11-12). When worship is a central component in your life and in the life of the church, God’s Spirit moves, miracles flow, and multitudes come into God’s Kingdom. God looks for true worshippers in this hour who seek Him above everything else (John 4:23).
Worship is essential to maintain the fire of God in your life. Worship changes the atmosphere. Worship releases God’s glory and power to work wonders in your midst. Worship is not something you do before the teaching on a Sunday morning; rather, worship is the essence of your relationship with God. Your life is worship to God, and each day, worship should flow through you back to the Lord.
Paul tells the Ephesian church, “…be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts…” (Eph. 5:18-19 NLT). To be filled with more of the Spirit is to maintain a heart of thanksgiving and worship to God. Worship with songs that declare the truth of Scripture and of God’s Kingdom—your worship then becomes like prayer. Worship with prayerful intent; this helps stir the fire in your heart by the Spirit for God and His purposes.
In the book of Revelation, we see a picture of worship, “…four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp (worship) and golden bowls (prayer), full of incense which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8 NKJV, italics added). Prayer and worship intertwine as incense toward Heaven. Incense requires fire to burn. The fire comes from the Holy Spirit to live surrendered to God in worship and prayer.
I have discovered personally that when I begin my day with worship and prayer to God, the fire of His presence rekindles fresh. The “coals” of my heart begin to burn bright as the Spirit fans into flame my love for God when I choose to worship. Sometimes, I must offer a “sacrifice of praise.” My flesh may not “feel” like worshipping God, but my spirit longs to draw near to Him once again. I choose then to “push past” my carnal nature and draw near to God. Sometimes, those are the days that His presence is the strongest and sweetest.
Consume God’s Word
The fourth principle to maintain God’s fire in your life is to consume—read, meditate, and study—God’s Word. Moses declares in Deuteronomy the significance of God’s Word to the Israelites,
“Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3 NLT)
The principle is true for us today as well—the world cannot meet all our needs—only God and His promises can satisfy the depths of human need. His word is like daily manna—like the children of Israel, we need fresh manna every day to remain strong and maintain God’s fire. If you are living off yesterday’s “manna,” it has become stale—you need God’s revelation today.
Jesus is the living Word, the bread of life. Choosing to feed daily on God’s written Word and abiding in Christ strengthens you and maintains His fire in your life. Psalm 119 speaks to the value and necessity of God’s Word in your life; “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you…Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver…Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:11, 72, 105 NLT).
Hiding God’s Word in your heart strengthens you against temptation and falling into sin. His Word makes you wise and is more valuable than great riches. The wisdom of God will empower you to accomplish what money cannot give. God’s Word guides your path and illuminates your way; your destiny unfolds through ongoing encounters with God and unfolding revelation from His Word.
The Word reveals God and builds faith. Paul writes, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17 NKJV). His Word brings you into an encounter with Him. Faith is a gift and develops through obedience with God. Daily, as you read and meditate on His Word, you experience fresh encounters with Jesus.
His Word silences fear, provides hope, strengthens the weak, and stops the enemy. His Word is ageless. Meditate daily on God’s Word—it keeps His fire burning in your heart.
Another principle to maintain God’s fire in your life is to serve others. Jesus revealed servanthood. He humbled Himself, came to earth, and served others (Phil. 2:5-11). He said the greatest among you would be a servant of all (Matt. 23:11). Jesus also commanded His followers to “go!” There is a “go” in the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20). To make disciples of all the nations requires a steadfast commitment on our parts to reach and serve others.
James states clearly, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (Jam. 1:27 NLT). Learning to serve others and those in the margins of society keeps you close to the heart of God. As you serve the least, the fire of His love and passion will burn in your heart. Many grow cold because they stop serving others and helping the needy.
James goes on to say in a later chapter, “What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your cravings that are at war in your own lives?” (Jam. 4:1 CEB). Most conflicts could be eliminated in our relationships if selfishness and pride are removed from our thinking and attitudes. Learning how to humbly serve others—within and outside the local church—helps free you from selfish attitudes and positions you to walk in God’s love and compassion for others.
Humility will take you beyond your comfort to minister to those in the margins of society. As you serve the least, you stay focused on God’s mission, and you remain positioned to avoid the corruption that is in the world. Learn to go to the least with God’s love and compassion to remain ablaze in His love and presence.
Lastly, as you take the gospel to the world, remain in God’s peace and joy as you serve others. While doing so, learn to embrace suffering if required. If you believe you are above suffering for Christ, you have a distorted understanding of God’s grace. The New Testament reveals God’s grace sustains us as we go and experience suffering for the sake of the gospel. This understanding will keep your heart steadfast in Jesus and help you to maintain your love for God when trials come.
God is always good, but trials and suffering occur in life as you serve Jesus and others. Paul said, “But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17 CEB).
A song that captures the cry of a generation desiring to be filled with God’s presence and fire is a Jesus Culture song called “Set Me Ablaze,” written by Bryan Torwalt, Jacob Sooter, Katie Torwalt, and Mia Fieldes. Here are some of the lyrics; make them a prayer and may you maintain the fire of God in your life!
Set me ablaze, set me ablaze
Till it’s all that I know
Set me ablaze, set me ablaze
So I’ll never grow cold…
Breathe, come and breathe
On the coals of my heart
May Your fire start…
Breathe, come and breathe
On the coals of my heart
Keep me burning…
Set me ablaze, set me ablaze
With a single obsession
Set me ablaze, set me ablaze
With an endless passion…
Your fire, burn brighter
Deep inside my heart
Consume me, reach through me
I want all You are…
I pray that you encounter God afresh this week and that the fire of His presence takes you into a new understanding of the depths of His love for you. Remember, the fire of the Holy Spirit’s presence ignites in hearts that are surrendered and undivided to God. Anything less allows the embers of one’s heart to become cold and lukewarm. Draw near to Him today!
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Living Out the Fire”: