Daily Devotionals

An All-Consuming Fire

When I was a kid, I was a bit of a pyromaniac. I LOVED fire! I know it was kind of hair raising for my dad on more than one occasion. We burned our pine straw each year. I would always throw ‘extra’ things into the pile when he wasn’t looking. When I discovered the flammable tendencies of gasoline, things certainly didn’t get any better. Thankfully at some point I grew out of my need to burn things. But the love of a good fire has never left me.

The Bible talks about the Lord and fire often. In Abram’s dream, God walked through the animals as a smoking fire pot. In Moses’ day, God led the Hebrews with a pillar of fire. Many, many times when sacrifices were offered, God used fire to consume the offering. There are even parts that talk about God as an “all consuming fire.” From the beginning, this language is clearly not something we want to trifle with. Just like a kid in front of a bunch of burning pine straw, we learn not to get too close. But we are also drawn to it. We want to see what happens when certain objects touch it. We want to see how quickly the pile is consumed. We are fascinated by it. But we also learn to respect it. If we treat it loosely, we will get burned.

Jeremiah learned at an early age that God is serious. This one who speaks God’s words, learned quickly that when God tells him to speak, he’d better obey. Jeremiah lived during a time of great upheaval for the people of God. Because they chose to play with fire rather than respect it, they were getting badly burned. Jeremiah was one of the prophets who had to bear this news to the people. To say he disliked the job would be a great understatement. He wept over the news he had to deliver and the reason for its delivery. As a prophet he saw firsthand the devastation sin created in his nation. He was beaten, hated and reviled because of his job. There were points he wished he’d never been born.

All this hardship. All this pain. All this grief. You would think he would just stop speaking. But he couldn’t do that. Jeremiah said to the Lord, every time I think I’ll just not mention Your name “Your word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in!” This is the work of the Lord.

I have a fire in my bones. Sometimes it has to do with the sin and rebellion I see all around us. Sometimes it has to do with the work the Lord is doing in me and wants to do in others. All the time it has to do with Him and the life He invites us to be a part of.

What about you? Have you ever known the fire the Lord brings? Have you ever experienced the burning of the presence of the Lord? The fire we have is directly proportionate to the flammable material we bring to it. You cannot expect rocks to burn. Water won’t burn. There is such a thing as flame retardant. But wood…it’ll burn! And certain kinds of wood burn better than others. I want my life to be a piece of rich pine! I pray for nothing to slow the fire of the Lord as He works in me. And I pray the same for you.

We’ve been given one life to live. I pray we will not waste it gathering materials that mean nothing in the presence of the Lord. Our sin is useless in His presence. Our many words are mostly useless. Our most treasured possessions…you guessed it, unless they are from the Lord, useless. I challenge you to think about what you are bringing to the fire. We know for sure the Lord wants to work in us for His glory and our good. He wants to make Himself known to the world through us. But He will not do that as long as we fill our lives with things that don’t belong to Him. If we want to have a fire in our bones, if we want to experience the all-consuming fire of the Lord, we must bring combustible materials to the table.

What does a life that is ready to burn look like? It will be filled with prayer. It will have what Paul calls the “fragrance of Christ.” It will be a life that craves worship and the presence of worshippers. It will be hungry for the Word and not need an excuse to read, study and meditate on it. It will relish the work and ministry of the Church. It is a life that knows how to recognize the voice of God, and if it is still uncomfortable there, it will know the people around it who can recognize God’s voice. It will abhor evil and evil things. It will love broken, used and helpless people. These kinds of things burn quickly.

“God fill my life with these things; with things you love! Use the combustible materials in my life to build a fire and draw people on the outside into your warmth and presence.”

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