Pastor Daniel Bramlett
My goal today is to ignite in you a fire for the Word of God, the person of the Word of God and the people of the Word of God. If that cannot be done, we have no real reason to continue with this article. But it can be done! It is not something I can accomplish own my own, though. It is a work that must be done in the Spirit. Only those who are willing to hear will be able to recognize the Lord. It is entirely possible for you to read with your heart closed. You may hear and understand the words, but not experience an ounce of the fire that comes from the presence of the Lord. I do not want that for you. (I’ve already shared my goal with you.) But you must choose it.
Some of you may say “I am too busy, too distracted, or too overwhelmed to think about fire. I’m trying to put out fires as it is!” If that is you, please listen to me. You were created to be in the presence of the Lord. From the time of the Garden forward, the fire of the Lord is what we long for. You may not know it, like when you get a whiff of some kind of food and realize you’ve craved it for a long time or when you have a secret hope that wakes up from time to time when you hear a story or meet a certain person. But the desire for God’s presence is there. He made you with it. It’s time for it to wake up!
Some of you may say you “have no room for another deep relationship in your life. The person of the Word is one who will have to wait for another day.” But the news of Jesus is that there is always room for Him! He so utterly fills the empty cavities of our hearts and lives, it is like there was never a time when He wasn’t there. I challenge you to open the door for Jesus today. I can promise you He will come in.
Some of you may willingly open your heart to the Word and the person of the Word in Jesus, but hesitatingly say “I cannot submit to a love for the people of the Word.” That’s the Church. We are the people of the Word. So many see the Church as a dead place, a place to avoid, a place of pain or a room full of hypocrites. It’s true, we aren’t perfect. The Church has never been perfect. But we are beautiful. Not because we spend hours fixing ourselves up. Not because of the clothes we wear or the popularity of those who gather on Sundays. We are beautiful because we are the House of God; we are the people of the Spirit; we carry the fragrance of Christ. He makes us beautiful. We reflect His grace and goodness. If you see the Church as less than beautiful and good, I would beg you to consider a different angle. Certainly, hurt exists here. Anywhere sin is present, pain will be present. But the pain is not the focus. We are driven by love, not pain. Just like the best relationships in our lives (whoever that is: friends, parents, spouses), we forgive the ones we love. We do this because we cherish the relationship and don’t want it to end. We want it to get sweeter. We are willing to invest in it to that end. The Church is no different, only better! The difference in the Church is we are open! A marriage relationship is closed. A best friend relationship is closed and not easily broken into. A parental relationship is formed at birth and cannot be changed. But this relationship with the Church is open! In Christ, we are constantly throwing open our hearts and lives, inviting the world to taste and see that He is good!
Are you willing for a fire to be kindled in your soul for the Word of God, the person of the Word of God and the people of the Word of God? If so, keep reading.
God has given us His Word for a reason. It isn’t primarily to educate, although it does teach us. It isn’t primarily to give us history, although the story told in its bindings is beautiful, explicit, and captivating. The goal isn’t to make us into super Christians, whatever that is. God gives us His Word to introduce us to Himself. If you want to meet God, get to know Him and experience Him, pick up His Word. But you won’t meet Him by just holding the book. You can’t sleep with it and benefit or watch it intently for a week and mystically meet Him in the mist. You must open it. But pray this before you do: “Jesus, please open my heart and my head as I open your Word.” Then dig in with the same fierceness you would use to tackle a seafood buffet. Read and listen. Wait on God to address your heart. Ask Him to make you sensitive to the voice of His Spirit as He pinpoints your sin. He isn’t a Judge who delights in condemnation. He will spotlight your sin, so your relationship with Him can be sweeter.
I’ve been reading Psalms 120-134 this week. Let me sum up the second one: “Help me, Lord! You won’t rest until you do. You keep me, protect me, and save me. There is no end to the ways I am kept in you.”
Want a fire for the Word of God? Meet with the person of the Word. He is what the Word calls an “All Consuming Fire.” I pray He burns in me until He is all that is left.