I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT)
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
Living in Florida, residents enjoy great weather and warm conditions most of the year. In exchange for such luxury, we do not usually have a period of fall with the changing leaves and beautiful masterpiece of color painted across the trees. There may be a cool day surrounded by several warm days. However, the moment the pumpkin patch surfaces at the local church everyone breaks out boots and scarves to celebrate fall. Bonfires are a big hit not only up north but even in the south. Not meant for heat, but rather the grand display of power and light. It is still 80 degrees outside yet my kids have already participated in bonfires with their friends. We are drawn to fire. It is cozy and comfortable as long as we are beside it. Fire is not scary when contained but the thought of being doused in it is not appealing. As Christians, we would like to choose the seasons and temperature of our life. We want to be warm but God-forbid it is too hot. We want all the benefits of fire such a light, warmth and the other resourceful things that it can do. But we have no desired to feel the flames of refinement that come with our belief.
We have mastered fire and put a harness on it called electricity. Electricity takes the power of fire and uses it to produce endless energy. Light is immediately expressed by the flip of a switch. Heat is made when we turn up the thermostat. Dinner is cooked by preheating the oven. All is made possible by electricity or gas that has been channeled to produce the energy that is needed to meet our needs. It is all the product of a spark. Electricity is sparks generated by constant friction in a power plant that is funneled to your home through a power line. Gas is pumped into homes where at some point it encounters a flame or pilot light that produces the fire needed to heat or cook. We take for granted the spark because we have the fire. But you cannot have a fire without the spark. This will make more sense as we talk about life beside the fire.
Matthew 3:11-12 (NLT)
“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
John the Baptist told his follower that when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came that He would baptize with the Holy Spirit AND fire. Yeah for the Holy Spirit, but let’s just forget about the fire. Churches do not talk about the Fire of God promised by Jesus because let’s face it, it’s just not comfortable. So that adopt the old adage, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” So instead preachers, pastors and the like talk about the topics in the Word of God people like…but will never have. See those things are reserved for God’s Children who live by faith and confident hope that can never be found outside of the Presence of God. God identifies His Children by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings with Him a spark that starts a fire in our soul. God is looking for Light. Jesus told people that He came into this world to set this place on fire. He went on to tell them that He wished it was already burning indicating there was a lot of work to do. (Luke 12:49) For those who are enduring fiery trials and are concerned that they are being punished, this should bring you great hope. If fiery trials are present in your life, it should be encouraging because it means that there is genuine faith that the Spirit of God is working to move from the inside of you to the outside. He is just clearing away all those things that get in the way of the Supernatural Power of God reserved for our life.
I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT)
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
Peter wrote a letter to the churches and this is an excerpt from one of them discussing the “fiery trials” they were going through. Mind you, the church was experiencing horrible persecution and Christians were dying every day for their beliefs. This is not the case of modern day Christians in America no matter how bad we complain about the state of affairs. Peter was one who could testify to life by the fire. It was Peter who would deny Christ not once, twice but three times before morning which he did. It was trial “by the fire” and he failed completely. Jesus had warned him but he still did it anyway. (Luke 22:54-62) This would be a terrible tragedy if that is where the story ended but it is not. After Jesus finished His Work on the Cross and was resurrected, He would visit His Disciples before ascending to Heaven to claim His Seat at the Right Hand of God. Peter had decided to return to his old life. Jesus was about to introduce this man to grace. Complete grace. Perfect grace. The spark that would light a fire so deep in one man’s soul burning away fear and doubt so he indeed would become foundational in the building of Christ’s Church. Where did Jesus meet Peter? By the fire, Jesus prepared a meal for Him there to commune with Him. It didn’t matter that Peter had denied Him three times when grace was applied. All that mattered is that Peter return to the fire to fellowship with the Lord. (John 21:7-9) Intimacy is restored when all that remains is faith, hope and love. But sometimes it takes a fire to burn away all the junk we stack on its foundation. Peter warned others not to be surprised by fiery trials they go through. Be glad. They will make us partners with Jesus Christ so we can experience the wonderful joy of seeing His Glory manifest in our life.
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:33-35 (NLT)
By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.
Give me faith to trust what you say. That you’re good and your love is great. I’m broken inside I give you my life. (Give Me Faith – Elevation Worship) Powerful lyrics from a powerful worship song that many churches belt out on a regular basis, but have those who sing this song really listened to the words they are singing. Do you know what you are asking for? Faith is tested by fiery trials to reveal its validity. You are in essence asking for God’s Fire to light up your heart and soul. You are telling God to bring on the heat. He is a Devouring Fire. (Hebrews 12:29) You are playing with matches without reading the warning label to ask God for faith and not expect fire. We read Hebrews 1 but need to read the entire chapter to understand what may be required. I did not know faith until I was broken. You cannot see the foundation of life until everything else is stripped away and you have nothing to stand on but that foundation. Will it survive the test of fiery trials? God will continue to test our faith if our heart’s desire to be with Him forever otherwise we may not make it. Faith is a requirement of forever. What is the foundation of your life today? If you want it to be faith, you will be tested over and over again. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. (I Corinthians 3:12-14)
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
A true friend is one who is honest with you all the time. They do not withhold their opinion in fear it will harm the friendship. Of course, a friend is always conscious of their companion’s feelings and will stop at nothing to be gentle. When iron sharpens iron, it creates friction that will produce a spark. A spark is always necessary to create a fire. There will be two bodies that rub together and create friction. To be a friend of God will produce such a response. Abraham had faith in God that produced righteousness. Now in close proximity with God, his faith was still tested even though God called him a friend because God knew that He wanted to spend forever with Abraham. Jesus was the Light of the world while He was here. When He left, the Lord left us with the Holy Spirit AND His Fire. (Matthew 5:14-15) So you can expect fiery trials as the Person of Christ (His Spirit) encounters our flesh (sinful nature) and works to reveal the foundation of faith that was given to us by Jesus Christ. The fire burns away everything that stands between us and God. It restores our friendship with Him completely producing everlasting and inexpressible joy even when there is pain and pressure. Don’t be afraid of fiery trials because His Glorious Goodness is revealed in the Light of His Love. You can live by the fire and survive. You can live in the fire and thrive!
Daniel 3:20-27 (NLT)
Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames. But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!