Sunday, January 29, 2017

Consumed in the Fires of God - January 29, 2017


Hebrews 12:28-29 - Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there’s a fire. Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it. - Leonard Ravenhill "Why Revival Tarries", Bethany Publishing

Between barefoot running, the Lord's barefoot running ministry, work, and home life, there is not much time left for anything else. I like it that way. I enjoy being consumed with the things I love. Although my running schedule is time-consuming, I love the opportunity it affords me to have one-on-one time with the Lord. And, though the webpage and my writings take time, I thoroughly enjoy these also. We all make time for the things we really love. God, as we know by definition in the book of I John, is love in the most perfect sense. He is also a consuming fire as stated in the aforementioned scripture. So, which is He? He is both, and much more! As love personifies His nature, so fire is both literal and metaphoric for the passionate consummation He projects through His character toward the object of his intense focus -- humankind!

As we were made in the image of God, we were also made in the likeness of His character. The Lord said, "Be holy, as I am holy". "Be imitators of God". "... For God is love and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God". God does not merely want us to be casual observers of his character but partakers. He desires for each and every one of us to acknowledge our utter barrenness of ANYTHING good within ourselves and trust in His nature to kill the "old self" of sin within our respective bodies of death (see Romans chapter 6). Do we know that our self has been crucified with Christ, that we are dead to sin and alive to Christ? Our passions will testify to the reality of our position before God and man. If we love the things of this world, we will be drawn to the "fires" of this world as a moth to a flame. In the same respect, if we are truly born of God, we will desire the things of God and His will for us. Obedience to the things of God will merely be a joyous exercise of love if we truly belong to Him.

I quoted a favorite author of mine in the beginning of this devotional, Leonard Ravenhill. I had the privilege of hearing this great evangelist and revivalist in the late 1980s. Even at 80 years of age, his heart still burned with holy fervor for the Lord. Talking briefly with him one immediately recognized a heart and a voice of earnestness for the things of God. He had no time to talk about trifles. He was busy with the Lord's business. A.W. Tozer wrote about Leonard Ravenhill in the preface of Ravenhill's book "Why Revival Tarries?" stating that ...

Those who know Leonard Ravenhill will recognize in him the religious specialist, the man sent from God not to carry on the conventional work of the church, but to beard the priests of Baal on their own mountaintop, to shame the careless priest at the altar, to face the false prophet and warn the people who are being led astray by him.

Tozer could have just as easily been writing about any number of great spiritual, biblical leaders such as Moses, Peter, or Paul. Likewise, he might have referred to more recent godly men such as George WhitefieldJohn WesleyCharles FinneyD.L. Moody or Billy Graham. The fact is that God and His truths are timeless. No matter what generation, men and women that are truly called of God will turn aside just as Moses did to see the wonder of a bush that is not consumed. Then, and only then, can God put within these a desire for the "burn of holiness" that will transport an individual to lead others into the promised land of God's true rest. Oh, that those of us who know the Lord would burn with that desire! We do a huge disservice to those who do not know the Risen Lord. May they one day not have to stand before the Giver of Life and accuse us of denying them the truth of His Presence. I pray that we who are believers would truly begin to burn with a desire and a passion for souls that all those that we would touch in our daily lives would come to know the all Perfect One who consumes with a Perfect Love.

Dr. W.E. Sangster knew the consuming fire of His Lord as he sought to revive the Methodist Church in post-WWII Britain. "In 1949, Sangster was elected president of the Methodist Conference of Great Britain. The denomination's leader now, he announced the twofold agenda he would drive relentlessly: evangelism and spiritual deepening." The following describes his earnestness regarding the Lord's work:

How shall I feel at the judgment, if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me in full review, and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride?
Until his death in 1960, Dr. Sangster continued to be consumed with the fire of God's heart. "He longed to see lukewarm pew-sitters aflame with that oceanic love which bleaches sin's allure and breaks sin's grip and therefore scorches and saves in the same instant."


Truly, what ever consumes us is inevitably what we love. And, what we love is generally what we adore. And, what we adore is ultimately what we worship. If you are not consumed by God (or desiring to be so), then you are consumed with self. There is no middle ground. Jesus said the most important commandment was to "Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind". What is consuming you? Friends, if we are not consumed with and moving toward this "Burning Bush of Love" then we deceive ourselves. "God is a consuming fire" and will have nothing less than all we are.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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