Uncontained Fire

Uncontained fires are a relatively common occurrence in western North America, often burning into the colder, holiday seasons of November and December. By the first week of November of 2020, over 8.5 million acres had been consumed by wild fires; at that same time in 2021, more than 6.5 million acres had burned with six uncontained fires still burning, seven contained fires still burning and three new fires started in the first week of November.  It is a costly, deadly, inconvenience every year.

Fire is a useful servant when controlled, but a deadly, destructive tyrant otherwise. This makes the Biblical use of ‘fire’ as an analogy very interesting. There is an eternal lake of fire for death and Hades.1 All four gospels record John the Baptist preaching the coming of One who would baptize in Holy Spirit fire and the ‘tongues of fire’ at Pentecost when that was fulfilled.2 The continually burning flame in the Temple represented the fire of the Holy Spirit.  We read of fire used to refine believers in the same way precious metals are purified by fire.4 God says His word is like fire and He made Jeremiah’s words a destroying fire.5  David described God’s wrath as a fire.6  Is Biblical fire good or dreadful? It seems ‘fire’ is a facet of God’s character that He uses in various ways.

I don’t know anyone who wants to encounter fire intensely and I suspect you don’t either.  We don’t want to be ‘fired’ or have ‘pants on fire’.  The many unpleasant connotations of and ideas about ‘fire’ may inhibit our pursuit of God’s fire.  Even so, we describe people who are enthusiastic or focused on one thing as being ‘on fire’ for that particular concern. Is this a random coincidence?  I don’t think so.

We are told clearly that God sent Jesus to immerse people in Holy Spirit fire. We see the first (Ephesus) and last (Laodicea) of the seven churches in Revelation losing or containing their fiery passion (first love) and fiery intensity (lukewarm), and this condition is readily found in many churches and Christians today. The first church lost it’s ‘lampstand’ and the last church is told to buy ‘gold refined in the fire’ and address their pitiful condition to which they are oblivious. Both churches were/are in serious trouble. Interestingly, Jesus had no criticisms for the second (Smyrna) and sixth (Philadelphia) churches at all. How did the first and seventh churches contain (lose) their fire and what did the second and sixth churches do differently to uncontain or release their fire?  

Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds

• • • Psalms 105:2• • •

Both of the commended churches were evangelistic churches, boldly testifying and proclaiming Jesus’ Name in the face of Satanic opposition. 7 Smyrna endured even unto persecution, torture and death but Philadelphia was promised to be spared the coming trials that test the entire earth.8 Obviously, this is a desirable position, much better than being lukewarm and ‘spit out’!

It is easy to get complacent about any relationship, especially one that is easily manipulated by one side: we usually decide when to interact with God, when and if to go to church, worship, pray, study. When was the last time any of us had to rearrange our schedule because God called?  We tune out without even noticing that we have tuned out. That is exactly why God tells us to be intentional, to “tend” the flame continually,3 to recount God’s goodness over and over and over, to constantly testify of His faithfulness.9 It is not enough to appreciate God’s salvation, we have to speak of it all the time! Will this make us popular with everyone? No, definitely not. Nonetheless, it is the requirement and, according to the voice in heaven, it is the way to keep the fire of Holy Spirit in flame and be the victorious overcomer: They triumphed over him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.10

Each of us has a ‘testimony’, and if we spend a little time meditating on it, we can find dozens of times when God intervened in our lives and protected us, opened a door, brought a miraculous answer to a need or otherwise blessed us. And when we start sharing those testimonies, we will find more divine disruptions in our past and present.11 The Holy Spirit works through our personal testimony and God answers our prayers to speak boldly. We see this example in the powerful prayer of the early church in Acts 4:24-31:

When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “You made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against His Anointed One.‘
27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed. 28They did what Your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

I am convinced that this is a prayer we need today, as “the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain.” Seek the uncontained fire of the Holy Spirit like the early church did, and use your voice to testify of the works of God and the blood of the Lamb. Become a wildfire for God and don't ever let your fire be contained!

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

• • • Revelation 12:11• • •

1.  Revelation 20:14
2.  Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 2:3-4
3. Exodus 17:20; Leviticus 24:2-4;
4. 1 Corinthians 3:13,15; 1 Peter 1:7; Psalm 66:10; Zechariah 13:9
5. Jeremiah 23:29, 5:14
6. Psalm 89:46
7. Revelation 3:8-9; 2:9-10
8. Revelation 3:10
9. Psalm 9:1, 26:7, 35:28, 40:5, 66:16, 71:8-15-17-24, 73:28, 75:1, 78:4, 107:22, 118:17, 145:7; Judges 5:11; Isaiah 38:19; Jeremiah 51:10; Acts 21:19
10. Revelation 12:11
11. Matthew 13:12, 25:29; Mark 4:24-25; Luke 8:18, 19:26; 2 Corinthians 9:10; Isaiah 55:10

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