“And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”
–Ephesians 4:30 (NLT)
Picture yourself with your friends sitting around a nice, cozy campfire. Its warmth draws you to it like a magnet, and the burning logs give off a wonderfully comforting scent. It’s freezing cold tonight, and you rub your hands together as the fire crackles and pops musically.
You had been shivering and your teeth were chattering moments ago, but now the fire has defied the cold. Now you don’t care about the effects of this winter night, and you start to feel toasty all over.
The flames continue to spread their pleasant warmth throughout your body, so you throw your coat aside. You and your friends laugh and tell stories to each other.
But all too soon, it’s time to turn in, and you groan. Reluctantly, you get up and leave the fire’s warmth, knowing that you’ll have to brave the cold once again. One lucky person in your friend group has volunteered to watch the fire, and make sure it goes out safely.
Now that everyone is gone, you begin to think about life–and more specifically, your life–as the fire smolders. Seeing the pale wisps of smoke rising from the fire pit, you contemplate how the winds of adversity have persistently howled around you. Slumping over in despair, you begin to chastise yourself, for you realize that like the smoldering fire, you have spiritually become cold and lifeless.
Then your thoughts turn to God, who has seemed remote and distant for years. You say to Him, “Because I have wandered away from You, I feel like many of my dreams have faded and become little more than the smoke from that dying fire. But that leads us to an interesting question. Whose dreams were they really, in the first place?”
I have asked myself this question when I see my dreams smolder, but actually a better question might be this: “God, if my dreams were from You as I thought, how can I use them for Your glory?”
We often don’t ask this second question and, like children, we act only on our feelings. Like the above fire, the dreams that we don’t bring before God in humility smolder, leaving only the ashes of bitterness. Then we are surprised, for just as a campfire does when it goes out, our dead dreams leave only coldness in their wake. This offers a great illistration., which shows us what scripture means when it speaks of grieving the spirit’s fire.
Just as we experience sadness when we face loss, the spirit is grieved when we don’t obey. So let me ask you the questions I have had to ask myself.
Are the flames that once burned brightly for Christ in your life becoming ashes? Are the dreams you were sure God gave you smoldering? If so, they don’t have to be dying out. We can let the fire of His spirit speak to us.
Remember the man who sat by that smoldering fire earlier? When he saw the fire dwindling, suppose he decided to take some positive action. Getting up, he stirred up the fire and added a fresh log. In seconds, the flames which had been virtually dead came back to life.
In the same way, God is calling us to take action. The apostle Paul Told the young pastor Timothy to stir up the gift that was lying dormant within him by the laying on of hands. Now let’s look at that, and see what applications we can make.
First, we are called to stir up the gifts God has given us through prayer. By prayer, I don’t mean requests for something. In this case, prayer is a time of thanksgiving and worship–a time in which we ask God to search our hearts, cleanse us, and forgive us.
Then there is the laying on of hands. This was not a mystical experience, but many times this ritual was referred to as a sign of ordination in the New Testament. In any case, the laying on of hands shows us the importance of human contact.
In this impersonal age of ours, we all need to remember that we are linked to each other. Many a person who has allowed the fire of the gospel to dwindle has tried to go it alone. So another way to rekindle the spirit’s fire within us is by fellowshipping with other Christians.
Paul uses the analogy of the human body. You have a particular function that I can’t perform, and vice versa. You may not feel important, but you are. Stir up your gift through action, and you will find out where you belong in God’s plan.
Lastly, use the wood of the Word to feed the flames of the spirit. Ask God to draw you closer to Him and give you a hunger for His Word. By making a habit of reading the Bible daily, you will be more likely to live a life of joy in Christ.
Through prayer, fellowship and the reading of God’s Word, let the spirit’s fire shoot up in your life, and you will find that your life will draw others to His warmth.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.