the fire of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. – Ephesians 6:10

I’ve been studying the armor of God over the past few days.  Paul speaks about the armor in chapter 6 of Ephesians, but in the first verse of that section, I was reminded of a conversation I had yesterday with my friend, Mandi.

We were talking about the part in Exodus 3 where Moses comes up on the burning bush.  There he was out tending his father-in-law’s flock when suddenly there’s this bush that’s on fire, but somehow it’s not burning up.  The scripture reads like this:

There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.  Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.  So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.”  Exodus 3:2-3

And it occurred to me then that perhaps the reason for this strange sight was that God was giving Moses a visual.  Not just a visual of His might and His power, although it certainly was that.  But also a visual of what Moses would have to do to accomplish all the things God had planned for him.

God was showing Moses what it looked like to burn with the fire of His Spirit.

God was calling Moses to do something that in the flames of his own passions and abilities, Moses would never be able to pull off.  And even Moses knew that.  He’d even tried to talk God out of the whole thing, giving Him all kinds of reasons why he was the wrong guy…even to the point that God got pretty mad at Moses.

But you know, you can only argue with God up to a point and eventually Moses got it in gear.

I wonder how often Moses thought back to the burning bush that didn’t burn up.

To me it’s an extraordinary picture of walking the path of God being fueled by the Spirit of God.

See, when we try to operate in our own strength, especially in ministry, we eventually burn out.  Every time I’ve ever tried to do something that was more my plan than God’s or something that I’ve tried to force in my own strength, most often I’ve just worn myself out and accomplished little.  I just get totally burned out.

Or worse, I’ve allowed myself to be drawn toward something that really grabs my focus and if I’m not quick to get back on track, I’ve found myself being consumed by something that doesn’t do anything to deepen my relationship with God and if anything, pulls me away from Him.

God’s fire keeps us pure.  It burns away all the unnecessary things that may cause us to stumble and fall off the path.  Peter calls it a refining fire (1 Peter 1:7).  Where all the junk and impurities are burned off and what’s left is pure.

God’s fire keeps our paths well-lit and serves as a guide.  In the Old Testament, the presence of God was often signified by fire.  God’s presence was a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night while the Israelites travelled.  Where the Presence went, the people went.

God’s fire will keep us burning for Him.  If we live the way WE THINK we’re supposed to, trying to produce fruit in our lives, chances are we’ll become prideful trees that produce rotten fruit.  When our hearts burn with love for God, our lives will naturally produce fruit as a result.  We won’t have to keep tabs on our fruit, we won’t have to worry about it going bad because if the fire of God’s love is the driving force behind all that we do, the resulting fruit will be beautiful.

Lord, may we burn only with the fires of Your Spirit that we may be made pure and holy, and that we may be led only by You in all that we do.  May our passions burn for You alone that there might be no other fire that consumes us but Yours.

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In the precious blood of the Lamb…

My son’s a tough little guy for 4 years old.  He’s pretty rambunctious and into everything so it’s not uncommon to find bruises on his little legs where he’s been jumping and crawling around on the floor playing.  He and his older brother wrestle and play and well, needless to say every now and then one of them ends up with a bump or boo-boo.  Praise the Lord we’ve never had any major injuries, broken bones or the like!  As a mommy, when one of my boys gets hurt, it just pains me so bad.  My heart just aches for them.  And Lord have mercy if there are any tears shed.  I can’t hardly stand it!  I just want to scoop them up and hug  away the hurt!

Well, my 4-year-old hit his head on the door hinge yesterday and aside from a nice little goose egg on the side of his head, he also had a small cut…that bled profusely.  You know how it is when you hit your head or your eyebrow.  It seems to just bleed like crazy.  Well, he had blood running down his head, behind his ear, and on his shirt and hands.  He’s had a little cut here and there before, but never anything that caused him to bleed so much.  And as I was wiping the blood off his hands and his neck, I got just this strange feeling.  It struck me as odd at just how precious that blood seemed.  Like it felt wrong to just wipe it off his hands and then wash it off the towel and down the drain.  Something inside me, as silly as it sounds, wanted to scoop it all up and…well I don’t know, put it back in him I guess.  Sounds kinda weird, huh?  I pondered that all night. 

I was reminded in all my pondering of a scene from the movie “The Passion of the Christ” – right after the part where Jesus was whipped and beaten.  At this point, the Roman soldiers have dragged (literally) Jesus back to the prison cell to await the crucifixion.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene are still standing in the courtyard and the ground is covered in Jesus’ blood.  Mary takes these white towels, gets on her hands and knees and begins to wipe up the blood from the bricked floor.  Mary Magdalene joins her and here these two women are mopping up the blood of the man who was son to one, friend and teacher to the other, and Savior to both.  All that precious, precious blood…spillled out  for the forgiveness of sin…for us (Matthew 26:28).  It wasn’t the death of Christ that saved us…it was the blood.  His death had to come for His blood to be poured out but it was the blood that was the atonement for sin, it was the blood that signified a sacrifice had been made, it was the blood that covered the Mercy Seat on our behalf.

Our blood is the life force that pumps through our veins.  It disperses oxygen throughout our body and it removes the carbon dioxide.  If blood circulation is cut off to one part of our body, that part of our body will die.  Without the circulation of blood in us, would could not live.  The blood of Christ is our ETERNAL life force.  It brings us the breath of life and cleanses us from sin.  If we are not covered by the blood of Jesus, we cannot have eternal life.

Never think for one second that the sight of His Son’s broken body did not break the heart of our Father in heaven.  Never think for one second that Elohim Avinu, God the Father, did not ache at the sight of His Son’s blood all over the ground.  Never think for one second that The Almighty’s breath did not catch in His throat with every single drop of blood that fell from our Savior’s body.  Yes, we have been pardoned, but the cost was great.  Our Creator God gave over His one and only Son for us so that we might have life (John 3:16).  He paid dearly for us by the blood of His Son.  And you know what?  Never think for one second that God hesitated.  Never think for one second that you didn’t mean that much to Him.  You, too, are precious in His sight. 

For you know that it was not with perishable things

such as silver or gold that you were

redeemed from the empty way of life

handed down to you from your forefathers,

but with the precious blood of Christ,

a lamb without blemish or defect. 

1 Peter 1:18-19