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Kindle the Fire

By Larry R. Lasiter

2001

From a distance they could see the fire as they made their way through the cold waters of the Mediterranean. Victims of shipwreck, these 276 men had been at the mercy of a typhoon for fourteen days. Hungry and suffering from exposure, the small fire served as a beacon of hope and gave them the strength to struggle on to shore.

Many knew that their fortunate escape from a watery grave would be short-lived. Most of them were prisoners of Rome in transit for trial, prison or execution. In fact, had it not been that one of their number had found favor with the Centurion in charge, they all would have been slain before the ship went down. And now with a warm fire in sight they felt the powerful urge to live yet another day.

The natives of this tiny island called Malta had seen the ship from afar. They saw it being tossed about and battered by the surging waves. Realizing the ship could not withstand the beating and that survivors may wash ashore, they quickly kindled a fire, knowing that the men would be terribly cold and in desperate need of warmth. Also, rain had set in and without a fire the survivors would have no means of drying themselves. Certainly, the natives showed extraordinary kindness to these poor men in need of help. 

If you are a student of the Bible this story may sound familiar. It is my paraphrase of the Scriptural account where the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on his journey to Rome. (Acts 27 & 28)

The holy spirit inspired the author of Acts to record that the Natives of Malta had showed "extraordinary kindness" in kindling a fire for these cold men.

In the church today, perhaps there is too much "Be warm and filled" and too little kindling of fires. Notice James 2:15-16,- "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?"

Certainly, Christians should care about the physical needs of one another, but what about the spiritual needs of each other? There may be spiritual as well as physical cold, and for this the kindling of a fire is also needed.

In his letter to the Hebrew believers, Paul said "See to it that no one comes short of God's saving grace." To the Church at Philippi he said "Don't just look after your own interests, but also for the interests of your brethren." To Rome, he wrote, that "The spiritually strong should bear the weaknesses of the spiritually weak." James wrote,- "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20) 
 

TIMOTHY'S SPECIAL COMMISSION

The young evangelist Timothy served under Paul's guardianship in caring for the needs of the scattered congregations. For his role, Timothy was given a special gift from God through the laying on of the Apostle's hands. Timothy had previously received the gift of the holy spirit, but was now given a special spiritual gift that would give him the ability to combat false teachers and kindle the cleansing fire of the Lord to others. God revealed that Timothy would receive this gift through prophetic utterance. 

Notice,- 
"This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith." (1 Timothy 1:18-19) 
 

KINDLE A FIRE FOR THE CHURCH

Notice also that Paul referred to brethren who had fallen away from the truth as being spiritually "shipwrecked". They had failed to weather a storm in their lives and were now drifting in the cold waters of the sea of sin. Perhaps some would survive and make it back safely to shore; for those a fire must be kindled by those already on dry land. Some might see the flame of a fire burning and be drawn to make their way back to the warm embrace of the Lord.

"I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

The original word used here by Paul denotes the kindling of a fire. This is the precise idea which the Apostle had in his mind, using the term "anazwpurein", which means to stir up the fire, add fresh kindling, or to revive the spark into a flame. He is urging Timothy to set the invincible power of the holy spirit and the special spiritual gift which God had given him, against the storms which were causing so many brethren to suffer spiritual shipwreck.

"Is not My Word like a fire?" (Jeremiah 23:29) Indeed, the Word of God is as a fire. There is power to purify in God's Word. The Word, read or heard has the power to warm the hearts of men; to burn away the hard cold wax that holds the hearts of so many captive. David said,- "Wax melts before the fire." (Psalms 68:2)

The Apostle John tells us that in Jesus, the Word became flesh. The day Jesus rose from the grave, He walked and talked with two men on a country road. The two men did not recognize Him at first but later said to one another,- "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us by the way?" (Luke 24:32) 
 

In carrying this "fire"

Paul instructed Timothy to. . .

Retain the standard of sound words which he had been taught by him, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim.1:13)

Be diligent to present himself approved to God as a workman who accurately handles the Word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

Remind the brethren to not wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. (2 Tim. 2:14)

Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. That he must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all and gentle, teaching patiently even when wronged, in the hope that some may "come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil." (2 Tim. 2:23-26)

That he must preach the Word in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. (2 Tim. 4:2) 

The excellent advice which the Apostle Paul gave to young Timothy is applicable to all who minister in the Church of God. That they should not spend much time in disputes or contend about words which have no tendency to make the brethren either wiser or better, but serve only to violate the principles of love and tolerance. Not tolerance of willful sin of course, but of each other's personal and sincere convictions. No serious Bible student has ever found that he was never wrong about a belief previously held. A faithful believer will adjust his beliefs as God reveals and gives him understanding.

Paul argues that these things beget strife and contention in the Church, dividing the brethren into factions and parties, and also causes subversion among the new and weak, opening the door for the devil to engender doubt in the truth of the faith itself.

It is clear that there will always be small differences among the people of God but we need not go to war with one another over every issue. Yes, we must push the devil out of the Church whenever we see that he has made infiltration, but if we spend all our time focusing our warfare on the home front, we will never make inroads into the devil's territory.

Simply put, a house divided cannot stand. Let us focus our attention on delivering the saving message of the gospel of Christ. To allow God through us, to beg the world to be reconciled to their Heavenly Father by receiving Jesus, the sacrifice He has so lovingly provided. (2 Cor.5) It is our Father's business which He has left in our care.

In following Paul's instructions, Timothy would be kindling a warm fire for those brethren who had suffered spiritual shipwreck, and were struggling in the sea of sin and confusion.

Let us pray that God might grant us men today like Timothy, anointing them with special gifts to strengthen and encourage the weak and confused. Men who will not allow Satan to divert them from fulfilling the great commission of spreading the seeds of the gospel. The Seed is the Word, the Word is Jesus and Jesus is life. The Seed of Jesus will bring life to a dying world and release those held in bondage to Satan, the god of this world. Jesus was crushed before the foundation of the world in order that His servants may sow Him as seed, that whoever would receive Him would not perish but have everlasting life.

Let us pray that faithful men and women would sacrifice themselves for the cause of Christ. That some would lay down their lives as kindling, receptive to the fire of the Lord, dedicated to allowing their lives to burn hot enough that their flame might ignite the mighty timbers which could warm the whole house and give light to many.

The kindling must be laid before the consuming fire of the Lord will descend.

And even the mighty and purifying flames of revival must begin with the tiny flames of the kindling.

 

WHY SATAN WANTS TO DIVIDE

Have you ever tried setting afire one piece of kindling? It will not even consume itself. Or have you attempted to build a fire by burning one stick at a time? Again, it will not work. Kindling must work together to consistently hold a hot enough flame to ignite timbers.

The age-old, tried and proven method is to place a group of dry kindling together, each touching, resting and relying on another. They cannot serve to kindle the timbers before they first serve to kindle each other. Then what begins as a small flame in one piece spreads to another which serves to not only spread its flame, but help keep the first stick burning. The kindling, working together, soon grows into a strong and hot enough flame that large timbers can be added. 
 

THE ROLE OF WEEKLY FELLOWSHIP

That is one reason why fellowship in assemblies is so important. That is why the author of Hebrews tells the brethren to "Stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together" for worship and services. (Hebrews 10:25) Can you keep the Sabbath alone at home? I believe you cannot if you accept what Jesus said,- "The Sabbath was made for man," and "It is right to do good on the Sabbath."It is not only a day of rest but of worship and service, ("Stimulate one another to love and good deeds.") 
 

Sometimes building a fire is difficult because the wood is wet and resistant to flame. Such was the case on the island of Malta where Paul was shipwrecked. Remember, "the rain had set in." Though the fire was built for him, Paul also did his part and gathered kindling. This kindling was wet, so Paul laid it near the fire so that it would dry enough to burn.

Likewise, Christians can be in a spiritual condition much like damp wood, resistant to the fire of the Lord. Unlike the two men who walked with Jesus along the road, cold Christians are not immediately warmed by the Words of Christ. But they can be if they are near a fire already burning. In time, they may dry enough to no longer be resistant to the fire.

Hidden deep within the cold, damp kindling which Paul had gathered, was a deadly serpent, lying dormant. After a few moments it was revived by the warmth of the fire and reached up and bit the only man of God on the island. Of all the hundreds of people there the serpent attacked only the servant of God.

This occasionally happens to Christians when serving spiritually shipwrecked victims who are washed upon our shores in dying circumstances. But as servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were never told that our service would be without danger and peril. So we must not become unduly discouraged when we are sometimes "bit" by those whom we have tried to serve.

Sadly, some of them will suffer the same fate as the serpent when they are cast off into the fiery flames of judgment. Jude, the brother of Jesus tells us that we are to have mercy on some who doubt, being weak in faith, and to attempt to save others, "Snatching them out of the fire." (Jude verses 22-23)

The devil gets very active when he sees that one who has been spiritually cold and inactive, beginning to warm up. Let us remember that though the serpent struck out at Paul, the very fire that revived him, destroyed him when the Apostle shook him off into the flames. Paul remained unharmed, protected by the grace of our Lord.

CHRIST IS UNITED AMID DIVISION

The Body of Christ should not be divided, but should distance itself from those who lay a claim to godliness but live in sin, and who refuse to repent.

Jesus said,- "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!. . .Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;" (Luke 12:49-51)

The object of Christ's coming was to rouse men to spiritual conflict, to kindle a fire in the hearts of men which would purify the receptive and destroy the resistant. But the burning of this fire would excite men, stirring up their passions to cause division and discord. The opposition of the Pharisees and Sadducees showed that the fire was beginning to kindle as He spoke. To be sure, these men had become the enemies of God.

Nevertheless, in the beginning of His ministry Jesus offered to kindle a fire for their souls as well, but they preferred to stay in the cold habitation of their traditions. 

It is no different today. Where the holy spirit is kindled afresh, and wherever there are groups of kindling on fire for the will of God, the flames of revival have begun to spring forth.

"Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us. He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days. He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain." (Hosea 6:1-3)

Wherever there are people walking in righteousness and holiness there is also persecution. (2 Tim. 3:12)

There are some in the Church today who prefer to stay in the cold state of tradition, we can't help them. But we can ask God to kindle afresh His fire in us that we may be revived and serve to strengthen and encourage others.

Sometimes the fire must be kindled under difficulties. The sticks may be wet, the hearth may be flooded and the whole atmosphere may be damp and resistant to the spark of God, -yet it must be done, -it will be done, -God will fulfill His promise to bring revival to His people.

The "mighty exploits" attributed to God's people prophesied in Daniel 11 cannot happen without revival. It brings to mind the account where Elijah ordered that the altar of sacrifice be drenched with water before calling upon the Lord to send His fire upon it. Even a water-soaked altar could not withstand the consuming fire of the Lord. Notice,- "Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." (1 Kings 18:38)

Like the Pharisees and Sadducees, some may not want the fire kindled at all. Those who are numb from cold often find a hot fire painful to be near. It hurts at first when the life forces in the body begin to flow much more actively. Some may leave when the atmosphere gets hotter and more spiritually active.

The flame must be sent from above. Once received, it is necessary to nourish the flame by going down on your knees and breathing upon it with warm and sincere prayers and supplications. It must be fed, fueled, remember the natives built the fire but Paul gathered more kindling to keep the fire burning. 

"Ane stick'll never burn! Put more wood on the fire, laddie; ane stick'll never burn!" said an old Scotchman to his grandson. Sometimes, when the fire in the heart burns low, and love of the Savior grows faint, it would grow warm again if it could only touch another stick. What we need next to prayer and communion with our Heavenly Father is communion with each other. Jesus said,- "Where two or three are gathered together, I will be there in their midst" Where the heart burns, love kindles into a holy flame.

God is our consuming fire and He inhabits the praise of His saints. Therefore, let us enter into His gates with thanksgiving, enter His courts with Praise and enter His presence in worship. As the people of God, let us move from thanksgiving and praise into the pure devotion of worship from a simple and pure heart. And let us kindle afresh the purifying fire of the Lord.

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

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