The Bare Soul
October 25, 2009
The following is the message
text and audio recording of a sermon titled "God's Fires" delivered to the
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on October 22, 2009.
God's Fires - October 22, 2009
Psalm 97:2-3 - Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him and burns up His adversaries round about.
While fire has for millennia offered to humankind an energy source to both light and warm our respective lives, most either learn or instinctively know a safe distance to keep from its incandescent glow. A "burn barrel" set up on a cold day at a frozen lake or a snow-laden sledding hill is a pretty good indicator of the degree of daring individuals might have toward approaching its warmth. As a child, we all collected brush wood to feed the flame as we sledded or skated, returning to the warmth of the roaring fire to unthaw throughout the day. Some of us had sense to stay away from the direct flames and the heat of the 55 gallon steel drum. Others got too close and ended up either singing their hair or eyebrows, or melting a pair of nylon gloves or mittens by drying them too close to the heat. A "normal" reaction to fire should generate a healthy respect in most people. However, some might have an irrational desire to be around fire, hence they might be classified as having pyromaniac tendencies . On the other end of the proverbial spectrum are those that have a morbid fear of fire. Dictionary.com defines the word pyrophobia as "... an excessive or abnormal fear of fire". Panic-stricken individuals that run from its relatively safe illumination may have experienced a traumatic experience earlier in life that might cause them to retreat with such vehement fear. Witnessing a loved one that lost their life in a house fire can often traumatize an individual to the point of phobic episodes. While a healthy fear and respect for fire is a normal reaction, irrational and terrorized behavior toward fire are not. Phobias such as this are not easily reversed and often take years of constructive counseling to overcome. Unless, of course, God intervenes.
A normal respect for fire would include not getting too close to the flame, nor too far away in order to enjoy its comfort. God has given us all natural understanding in this regard. However, how much of His wisdom do we possess concerning the nature of God as the Living Fire to both the righteous and the wicked? For surely, scripture states that His nature is as a consuming fire to both sinners and saints (Hebrews 12:28-29). The question that every man, woman, girl, and boy must ask themselves is this: Do I wish to embrace His flame, or shall I run from it in terror? For with God's fire, there really is no "middle-of-the-road, living in the comfort of His glow" existence. One might say, "Let my preacher burn brightly for God ... that's his job, right? As for me and my house, well, we'll just enjoy the warmth of Sunday morning services. After all, don't want anyone to think I'm a fanatic or anything. That's just not my style!" Beloved, God will burn all of us up one way or another. We will either burn for Him in this lifetime, or we will burn without Him in the life to come. Certainly, there will be some saved by the skin of their teeth, so to speak. Paul talks about these in his letter to the Corinthians when he states all men's works will be revealed by fire.
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. - I Corinthians 3:12-15
If there is indeed nothing left that is built on the foundation of Christ's redemption, then the scripture is clear that these will indeed inherit eternal life. However, on that glorious day when standing in His presence, they will have nothing to offer Him but their own selfish lives. Having resisted the sanctifying fires of His presence in their earthly existence, they are now saved only through God's mercy as He sanctifies and glorifies them on that last day. Yet, what is the price to pay if one has lived a selfish life and has in reality deceived themselves regarding their eternal position? Is warming oneself by the "fires of this world" worth the gamble of jeopardizing where they will spend eternity? His Spirit is ours today to both sanctify and purge, creating a vessel that is surrendered for His use (Ephesians 2:10).
In reality, there is far less burning for God in our present world than burning for sin's passions. There will always be one that will prevail at any given time and place in human history. Sin has been allowed to burn out of control because the church has not burned in prayer for a lost world. While homosexuals march in the streets for equal rights, and baby killers speak about the rights of a woman, God grieves that there is no one to stand in the gap and burn with a holy fervor over these blatant expressions of sin that parade through our land. For these are only symptomatic of a much deeper and deadly rebellion towards a holy God. The crux of the problem is this -- THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES! They no longer fear the fires of passion that desire to consume them in this life, nor the fires that will consume them in the one to come. Instead, they should be reverentially giving themselves to a loving God that will consume them with His holy fire in this life and cause them to burn with the brightest of the sun in the next (Revelation 1:16; Romans 6:5). If there were more saints burning for God to send revival to this earth in a global way, then we would hear the words of Isaiah the prophet once again, stating: Sinners in Zion are terrified; Trembling has seized the godless "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?" (Isaiah 33:14). Beloved, when the lost are saying in a wholesale manner once again as the Philippian jailer: What must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30), then we will know that the Spirit of Burning has been loosed upon this world through the power of men and women burning in prayer (Isaiah 4:4).
There are defined moments for every living person to make a decision for Christ. These decisions will dictate how we are to burn for the Lord, for as stated earlier, we will burn for Him one way or another. Some may think of us as being "pyromaniac" for God, intent on burning for Him and nothing else. Many will think that this behavior is socio-imbalanced or psychotic in behavior. Others, may view those with a terror or an angst toward God as those who might be diagnosed as "Theopyrophobic" (fear of the fire of God). These could be atheist or agnostics who subliminally or subconsciously use their supposed denial of God as a cover for their deep-seated fear of the unknown. Then, there are those who try to hover between the comfort of the fires of this world and the Fires of the Lord. This is a most precarious position. While this is normalcy when dealing with natural fire, it is lunacy and a bad gamble when dealing with a God who is a consuming fire. Our first desire should be to give ourselves to Him in this lifetime -- to allow Him to purge and remove from us anything that might hinder His Spirit. Our ongoing desire should be to burn long and bright in this life for His purposes, allowing us the right to shine with Him throughout eternity.
John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." - Luke 3:16.
Lord Jesus, May we all burn with You and for You!
Your Barefoot Servant,
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