Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We celebrated our daughter’s sixteenth birthday with a bonfire party. Our friends offered their home for the venue as they live on several acres and had already amassed a huge burn pile. Accepting their offer, I was amazed at the mountain of brush and debris before me. The height of a small building, it was sure to be epic once lit and burning. It was. When it began to burn, the heat radiated several yards away. It burned high and tall. The kids seemed energized by it. However, within just a few moments, it was a circle of burning embers. Once the dry and rotten branches were consumed and the other flammable combustibles thoroughly destroyed, they drew in closer to melt marshmallows and make s’mores. I didn’t really think much about it as we called them into the house to continue the celebration together.
The next evening enjoying some downtime with the kids, the television played in the background. It was a show called “The Human Race.” It was about a man and woman put in the middle of nowhere who must rely on nature to survive. Many shows are set on this premise and I really did not pay close attention or so I thought. When the pair came across a brush fire, they scrambled through the rubble looking for something. They found a small quarter-sized burning ember in the black charred debris. Building a torch with some kindling and dry grass, they carefully set the hot coal in the safe place. This ember represented life to them. It would create the fire that would warm them at night. Cook food. Purify water. So they continued the journey with the ember in the torch. It seemed that favor might be with them. As they slept warm and safe at night; caught, killed and consumed small game; and had plenty of water to drink. Continuing the journey, they came to a river bed with smooth rocks just beneath the surface. With great regard as not to drop the torch, they began to cross. But the slippery rocks got the best of the man and he tumbled into the water torch and all. The two scrambled to remove their life source and began tearing apart the torch hoping that beneath the wet outer layer the ember might be safe inside. I could feel their fear and anxiety. They were clearly distraught and disturbed. They feverishly were looking for the tiniest glimmer of hope. I stopped watching at this point as the conversation demanded my full attention again – thinking nothing more of their plight.
Sunday morning in church, the bonfire and ember came to my mind as our pastor talked about revival. Revival begins in us. It is that ember that was given when we first asked Jesus to be our Savior and set out to make Him our Lord. Our pursuit of Him fiery and passionate as a new found love. Our passion was enthusiastic, zealous and overwhelming. But as it continued to burn away the overt sin, ignite understanding and knowledge to be made into wisdom, and as we settled in to the slow burning sacrificial offering of worship – something inside of us changed. Now we take for granted the tiny seed of faith and flame of hope given to us by the Lord. We are to be living sacrifices – not burnt offerings before the Lord. Jesus was the sacrificial offering for sin that allows us to enter the priesthood of God and become those who keep the fire burning and lamps lit in preparation of His Return. We are revival. Or at least, that is who we are supposed to be.
I Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
If we embrace no other role in our relationship to Jesus Christ, we must fully participate in the royal priesthood. To be the chosen generation, a holy nation , His Own Special People that proclaim His Praises in the darkness calling others to His Marvelous Light. I cannot start a fire without a spark or flame in my heart that is burning. I have been given unconditionally love and acceptance by the Lord to live in His Light openly unashamed and unafraid. What I have to offer will always be better than what anyone has. Do I believe it? Do I live as a royal priest in the Presence of God or attempt to rob the altar of tiny embers just to make it through each day? Today I ask the Lord to start a fire in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of You, God. I want to have a fiery passion for Jesus Christ that burns hot and strong within me rather than a tiny ember under layers of flesh that others must dig to discover.
Exodus 27:20-21 (NKJV)
“And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.”
The royal priesthood of Aaron and his sons were commanded to use the pressed olive oil provided by the Children of Israel to “cause the lamp to burn continually” in the Tabernacle. This was the place that housed the Presence of God in the beginning. This was not the altar of sacrifice where “burnt” offerings lay but rather symbolic of continual and ongoing worship unto God. (Exodus 30:7-8) This is the place past repentance when we find more of our life to surrender to Jesus to keep the fiery passion of pursuit burning giving off the Light of His Love to the world around us. This is a place approached when we move past ourselves, expectations of God and human desire to stand in His Presence and bask in His Glory. This place is reserved for those willing to lay everything on the altar of sacrifice withholding nothing from the Lord. In the Old Testament, the priests carried incense burners that gave off a fragrant aroma before the Lord. (Numbers 16:36-38) We are now the living sacrifices that give off the sweet aroma of praise, worship and adoration to our God thanks to His Son Jesus. Though the vessel has changed – its purpose has not. As living sacrifices who continue to burn for the Lord, we stand between the living and the dead. (Numbers 16:45-48) Are you on fire for Jesus? I know it is an old-fashioned term perhaps unfit for this modern and hip generation. The vessels have changed but our purpose has not. The lingo may have evolved with it, but God’s Word is clear. We must burn for the Lord once again.
Hebrews 12:29 (NKJV) For our God is a consuming fire.
The evidence of grace in our life doesn’t allow sin to prevail. I know what the famous preachers are saying but it is not true. It is a deviation for the Truth and can take one’s very life. Grace enables us to get past our sin and step into His Glory. God is a consuming fire. Anything imperfect will be devoured in His Midst leaving only that which can stand the test by fire. (Malachi 3:1-4) The parts of our life that remain are those acceptable sinless, dedicated and obedient portions. The good must outweigh the bad to endure and be saved. Acceptable sacrifices make it through testing and trials and are not consumed. Saul lived and loved the Lord until he decided to do what he wanted to do rather than obey the Word of the Lord. God told him to destroy the Amalekites. Destroy all they had everything including every person. But Saul spared King Agag and kept the best of his flocks and all that was good. Not exactly what the Lord told him to do, huh? “So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” (I Samuel 15:22-23) How quickly things change? What about Solomon? God offered him anything for his obedience in building the Temple of God. He asked for wisdom and it was granted to him. He was warned by God not to get tangled up with the foreign women for they would turn his heart from the Lord. They did. The one who build the Temple soon built many shrines and began worshipping other gods falling from God’s Grace and Favor. (I Kings 11:4-7) Our passion for God will never survive the test of time without our careful attention to faithfulness and obedience as instructed by the Lord given to His People.
Isaiah 6:6-8 (NKJV)
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
Salvation offers us the Light of His Love. It is in that moment, a person is offered the Holy Spirit. Freely given but not always accepted, our life partner who enables us to keep ignite the tiny ember in our heart into a fiery passion for Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:2-4) Grace allows us to come into His Presence like Isaiah and say, “I am unclean.” The Lord takes an ember from His Altar to give us clean hearts and new minds to come closer, go deeper and fall even more in love with Him than ever before. But this position is sought after not imposed, the Lord will not make you enter the priesthood if you do not want to. Jesus Christ told us that He came to set the world on fire and wished it was already burning. (Luke 12:49)
Isaiah 62:1-5 (NKJV)
For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
The coal from the Altar of God started a fire that would burn in Isaiah and grow stronger. Isaiah no longer lived for the world he walked in but for the Kingdom of God that was coming. So hot was His Passion that this ordinary man after an extraordinary experience with His God could paint vivid pictures of the reality of faith and portray confident hope of that which was coming. We have been empowered by God through the Sacrifice of His Son and delivery of His Spirit to do the same thing and more. Heaven can now touch earth in every man and woman who says, “YES!” to God’s Royal Priesthood. Those who embrace salvation and choose to walk by faithful obedience and total trust in God will have the signs, wonders and miracles once only uttered historically or evidenced in God’s Word. It will be an occurrence when men and women of God just pass by as the embers of their life give off the sweet aroma that attracts others rather than living complacent, compromised lives offering nothing to a dying people.
Luke 12:35-40 (NKJV)
“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.”
“The Lord is not slack concerning His Promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Are you tired of waiting? Tired of giving to God but never experiencing His Glory? Sacrifice is an all or nothing venture. It does not require all of you it is not sacrifice but an offering. Offerings are consumed on the altar. Sacrifices keep burning as God’s Lampstand. Maybe it is not God taking His Own Sweet Time or Jesus stalling? What if it is His Grace holding back until we finally get it right? This is very important. We must withstand the fire of judgment. We must be have something that will keep us through the Ultimate Test. Faith and confident hope belong to God’s Royal Priesthood who continue to long for, pray for, fast for and desire the Lord in the second and third watch of life. They do not climb down from the watchtower hungry or thirsty for natural things, tired of missing out on “life” but give their life to see Jesus when He comes. To know Him and for Him to know them.
Has your fire become a hidden ember? It doesn’t have to be that way. “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7) The New International Version of the Word says, “to fan into flame the gift of God.” This is not a mandate for your pastor, Sunday school teacher, group leader, elder, parents, spouses, or anyone else who contributes to our life. This is our willingness and obedience to God on an intimate and personal level. Imagine the repercussions if men and women spent all week seeking the Face of God, fanning the flame of passion and purpose as directed by the Holy Spirit, praying and fasting in His Presence, so much so that when they went into church the Spirit of God would come bring all the benefits of God to that place. After a few weeks of that kind of incineration, those same people would begin to spread the fire of God’s Passion among the world in which they live until one day, like Paul, just the aroma of our presence so immersed in God it would heal the sick among us without us every knowing His Power was seeping, flowing or bursting from us because we would be too lost in His Love to notice. Life goals. This is my life goal to dig up the tiny ember burning in my heart for Jesus – and build it into a fiery flame that burns brightly for others to see and set this world on fire for the Lord. To bring the spark of salvation, deliverance, healing and revival again. To leave no person or place unchanged until He comes. I don’t want to be like the bonfire that started so bright and burned out so quickly. I don’t want to become engrossed with other things, and let the fire go out. I want to burn in the midst of God’s All Consuming Fire. Lord, let it be me today. Make me a living sacrifice. I want to be holy and acceptable to You.
Psalm 118:24-29 (NKJV)
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.