Fuel for the Fire

Haha! Did ya wonder if I fell off the face of the planet? Nah… and sort of yea…  But as I came to look for something I was working on near the end of 2013, I found this in the draft folder, and I was surprised by what I’d written back there near the end of May…

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Many are crying out for the Fire to fall  – The Fire of His Spirit.

Pentecost is on the way, again. How much do we want this outpouring we are crying out for?

Fire needs fuel to burn. No fuel – no fire.  Pretty simple.

What might this fuel be that is needed for this coming Fire? Certainly we do not want it to fall only to fizzle away…

Romans 12:2 – NKJV

Living Sacrifices to God
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.
It occurred to me, that WE need to be laid out upon the altar. We need to be willing to lay everything down. The Fire will fall, that is not even in question. All that we are and have built will be tested in the Fire. That which was hay, wood and stubble will be no longer.
It will soon be revealed what is Holy, and what was not.
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – this is an amazing concept. This is a beautiful thing. Both John the Baptist and Jesus went about preaching “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. God does not want us to miss Him. God wants us in His Kingdom. He wants us to see Him, see how much He loves us. He wants us in His family – Jesus gave it all that we could be fully reconciled back to the Father. He holds nothing back from us. Are we willing to lay it all down, holding nothing back from Him.
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I did not realize that this has been sitting in my draft folder now for over a month. Oh and how little did I know what was coming my way, or how much of what is written here I’d be living out. I’ve been getting tested in some of that fire most recently, I think many of us have been. A visiting minister told me last weekend, that God wants a sacrifice. He’s willing to release the fire, but He requires a sacrifice. Guess I wasn’t so far off after all.  🙂
More to come, surely..

Bryan’s Gems – ‘It Is Finished”

This one truly is a gem to be shared. I believe you will be blessed.

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It Is Finished

http://readthegreek.blogspot.com/2014/05/it-is-finished.html

Any who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ know at least in some sense what He accomplished.
He died at the hands of our fathers in order to free us.  It was a gruesome death.  Prior to dying on the cross, He suffered torture, humiliation, and shame.  Worst of all, He became sin for us. 

Here’s what the gospel of John tells us about what He did when He realized His mission had been accomplished:

John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ” I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ” It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

He took a drink and passed into death.  I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but this passage of John always had a sense of a feeling of relief in it.  Not just relief from the physical and emotional pain of the crucifixion, but relief in having accomplished a monumental task.  But He was God, in the flesh, so why would He be relieved that it was over for any reason other than being released from the pain?

Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the God-likeness of Jesus that we forget that He was, and is, a man.  His favorite title for Himself was Son of Man, after all.  That’s no coincident.  In order for Him to be fully God and fully man, He’d have to have a soul.  Perfect in every way, yes, but a soul none-the-less.  Jesus was fully lead by the Holy Spirit and obedient in every way, but because of His soul, He suffered like we do. 

Don’t believe me?  Consider the following scriptures:

Matt 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ” Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, ” My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

He was in so much intense turmoil, in fact, that He asked The Father if there were any way “this cup” could be taken away from Him:

Luke 22:41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, ” Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Scripture goes on to mention that Jesus was so completely distressed that He started to sweat blood:

Luke 22:43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

This is actually a real physical condition.  It is brought on by extreme levels of stress.  Jesus was so stressed by what was about to happen that even an angel that was sent to strengthen Him couldn’t relieve the stress.

Have you ever had to face something so stressful that you sweat blood?  How about something so stressful that you couldn’t sleep or eat?  Maybe something that made you sick to your stomach?  We all know stress to varying degrees.  There are even some who have sweat blood like Jesus did.  The closest I’ve come to that kind of stress is running a 3.1 mile race. 

I ran cross country races as a freshman and sophomore in high school.  I found that, while I had the physical frame for it (lanky), I wasn’t very well conditioned to running.  Maybe I was too skinny.  I ended up at the end of my sophomore year with stress fractures in both shins yet still able to run a mile on a track in 5 minutes flat.  What I lacked in physical ability, I made up for with heart.  You see, I never really had any sense of worth until I discovered running.  It was the one place, the one sport, where tenacity alone could see you through.  I resolved to prove myself worthy, no matter the cost.

I trained hard.  I gained in strength and endurance.  But it didn’t matter how much I had grown physically, cross country running is a mental sport.  You can only go as fast as you are willing to endure.  The last races of the cross country season are in November.  In the north eastern U.S., that’s not a good season to be running in short shorts and a tank top.  By the first quarter-mile mark, your skin is screaming in pain.  Your eyes, nose, throat, legs, lungs, and heart will quite literally burn for upwards of 17 minutes.  That’s a long time to remain focused on a goal in the face of overwhelming pain.

Passion will push you through pain.  When your entire being is saying, “STOP NOW, WE’RE DYING!!!”, your heart will respond, “I.  WILL.  WIN.”  During a county title race when I was 15, I learned a great lesson about passion and desire.  I had about 200 meters left to run, was neck and neck with a runner from our high school’s rivals and I was one hundred percent spent.  I was beyond spent.  I was so wrecked by what I had physically pushed myself to that I literally started to descend into self-pity.  I could see the finish line and I could feel the guy beside me start to pull ahead.  “Who cares, let him go.”, I thought.  Then I saw a team mate of mine on the side line of the course, running along side us.  As I looked at him, he screamed “DIG DEEP, SIMMONS”.  I was suddenly reminded that the race wasn’t about me or my pain.  If I stopped now, it was all for nothing.  This got me angry enough to summon strength I didn’t know I had. I found myself suddenly in a full-on sprint.  I passed the guy who was pulling ahead of me and 2 more before crossing the finish line.  Thank God someone was there to catch me.  I remember thinking, “It’s over.  Oh God, it’s over.”  I was relieved, and proud.

For some reason, God related my running experiences with what Jesus did on that last day of His ministry.  Being God, Jesus knew what was coming.  The anticipation of the race was quite literally more than He could physically bear.  Stress hormones were so high in his blood stream that it broke the capillaries in His skin and caused Him to bleed from His pores.  The closest I can come to that feeling is standing at the starting line before a big race, knowing the pain that lie ahead.   I imagined myself on the side-line cheering Him on:  “DIG DEEP, JESUS!!” God showed me that this was Jesus’ big race.  He pushed beyond His physical tolerance and He finished well.  For the first time in my life, I was proud of Jesus, not as the Son of God, but as the Son of Man.

Bryan’s Gems – The Promise

Another beautiful post from Bryan. You can find this post along with the his others at his blog site:  http://readthegreek.blogspot.com/

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The Promise

Crushed under the weight of my circumstances, I cried out, “I NEVER ASKED TO BE BORN!!!”

Is there a time in your life when you could relate to that?  Either you couldn’t measure up to life or life couldn’t measure up to you.  All that was left to do was find blame somewhere, anywhere, other than your own hands. 

I sometimes find it odd that my first real connection, my first honest words with God, were angry questions that He never seemed to want to answer.  I didn’t remember a time before birth where I tossed up my hand during some great assembly in heaven and asked, “Here I am, God!  Send me!!”  So why was I put on the earth?  In times of great turmoil I would almost instinctively turn to God even if I wasn’t sure He existed.  Maybe I believed He did.  Maybe we all do.  But I certainly didn’t believe He cared.  Believers or not, we all have this inner understanding that our existence was not initiated by our own will.  At the very least, our parents agreed in deed to bring us into this world.  But again, a deeper truth of His existence is revealed in all of us when we have been pushed beyond our breaking point.

My understanding of Him shaped my fox-hole prayer.  When circumstances force us to lay down all pretense, social conventions, and manners, we cry out to the God we know.  If we see Him as a cosmic overseer, we relate to Him like a run-away slave.  If we see Him as an irresponsible parent, we relate to Him like an angry child.  If we see Him as a predator, we relate to Him like a victim.  Too often we see God like a super-powered human being:  selfish, fickle, irresponsible.  Like some omnipotent two-year-old in the sky who focuses sunlight on us through some giant magnifying glass in order to satisfy some perverse pleasure.  If that’s the God you know, you have every right to be angry with Him.  Without some kind of external knowledge or experience of God, who could say you’re wrong?

So I called God out on the carpet one day and demanded that He justify my placement on this earth, with this mind, in this body, and these parents, in this time.  I got the vague sense I wasn’t being very smart.  I mean, He’s God, He can squash me like a bug.  But I was too exhausted to care.  In fact, I wanted to die.  It would be better if my death, just like my life, were caused by Him.  I wanted nothing to do with it anymore.  I wanted Him to show up or squash me.  And nothing happened…  Or so I thought.

What if the statement, “I never asked to be born”, is a valid and acceptable statement to God?  What if He would say, “You’re right.”  What if He did and does take responsibility for all of His children?  What if there is a force underwriting every human being?  What if He sent us into this world with not only a purpose but also a promise:

Deuteronomy 31:6

English Standard Version (ESV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

 

Hebrews 13:5

English Standard Version (ESV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Joshua 1:9

English Standard Version (ESV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Matthew 28:20

English Standard Version (ESV)
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Joshua 1:5

English Standard Version (ESV)
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

English Standard Version (ESV)
20 Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LordGod, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.

Isaiah 41:10

English Standard Version (ESV)
10 fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
 

Haggai 1:13

English Standard Version (ESV)
13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord‘s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.”

Genesis 28:15

English Standard Version (ESV)
15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

Genesis 31:3

English Standard Version (ESV)
Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.

 
He says it over and over and over in scripture: “I am with you.”  “I will never leave you.”  This sounds like what a good father would say to a child who is scared about entering a dark room.  “It’s OK.  Don’t be afraid.  Daddy is coming with you.  I won’t leave you.  I’ll be right here.”  And when I look back on the times when my life was falling apart, I can see Him so clearly by my side.  
So, no, none of us asked to be born into this world.  But our Father made us a promise that still stands today:  “You are not alone.  I care for you and I will be with you wherever you go.”  How do I respond to a God like that?  How does a loving, perfect father shape my response in times of crisis?  How sweet and tender of Him to reassure us so many times.  Even when it was previously written for all to read, He said it again:  “I will not leave you.  I will not abandon you.  I am with you even now.”