As we approach Christmas we are probably all excited about spending time with family and friends. If you are like me you may even be taking a break from all the hustle and bustle of ministry to deal with the programs, get togethers, and parties that come with this time of the year. Though there is nothing wrong with that, we need remind ourselves to stay focus on our relationship with God and not let our fire – our passion – die.
This time of year, while it is cool, many of us will light fires in our fireplaces or in the fire pit outside. Maybe spending time around some fire pit roasting marshmallows as we gather with family and friends to celebrate Christmas. “♬Chestnuts roasting on an open fire♬…” uh.. sorry, got carried away in the moment. Anyway, we start those fires and we don’t think much about them afterwards, unless the fire starts to die down and we stoke it or put some more logs on the fire to keep it going.
We get so busy in this time of the year some of us either forget or neglect (I will let you choose) our devotions. With the New Year fast approaching it is my hope and prayer we will find time to reflect on this past year on reaching our men. What did we do right and what could we approve on? One thing I feel we all can do more, is to encourage our men to develop an intentional and intimate relationship with God. How to keep the fire burning?
Recently I finished a study in Leviticus and one of the items I was drawn to, though I have read it many times, was the command God gave to Moses and Aaron about the fire on the altar. In Leviticus 6:12, the Lord told Moses, “The fire on the altar is to be kept burning: it must not go out” (CSB).
If you know anything about the anatomy of a fire, you know there are three elements required for any fire to burn. First is the heat. Heat must be present. Without heat the fire will not burn. Throw some water on it, you will take away the heat and the fire will eventually die. Second, a fire must have oxygen. Just like humans this helps the fire to breath. Just like us, you take away the oxygen, basically suffocating the fire, it will die; and finally, you must have fuel. Rather it is wood, paper, gas, or something else. It must be some sort of a combustible product. But if you take the fuel away from the Heat and Oxygen, guess what, the fire will die. You must have all three to sustain an active fire. Without any one of these – heat, oxygen, fuel – the fire will die. It cannot live on.
When I read Leviticus 6:12 it got me thinking. In fact, in verse 13 God was even more emphatic about keeping the fire going, He said, the “Fire must be kept burning… continually; it must not go out” (bold is mine). I wrote in the margins of my Bible here, “Example of our passion for God.” Our fire must not go out. The fire that is within us. The fire, that when we surrendered to God, that became alive in us, must not go out. But let’s face it, there are days when we feel this fire has gone out; or at least it is down to the embers just glowing, it is no longer a raging fire. It will not take much more for the fire to die. What do we do? What will keep this fire within us raging – burning.
Just like the fire in the Fire Pit or the Fireplace, we need three elements to keep the fire in our lives – our passion – burning for God. We need to have three disciplines in our lives active to keep that fire burning. Below is the three elements we need to maintain an active fire – passion – in our lives.
- Spend time in the Word of God. This is your fuel. I don’t mean when you go to church or a Bible Study, I mean read it every day. Discipline yourself to read the Bible. I recommend reading at least five chapters a day. Depending on the length of the chapters this will take 15 to 30 minutes. Dedicate a time in the day. Get up a half hour earlier. Turn off that TV a half hour earlier. Use your lunch break. Seek a time to do it and DO IT! Nothing will cause your fire to go out quicker than neglecting the reading of the Word; taking away the fuel of the fire. And when you read, allow it to find a place in your heart and meditate on it. “I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you” (Psalms 119:11).
- Spend time in Prayer. This is your heat. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” Always being in an attitude of prayer. But you also need to discover your prayer closet and spend time there. Often, we read in the gospels about Jesus stealing himself away to spend time in prayer – sometimes praying all night. You need to spend time talking and listening to God. If your attitude towards prayer begins to cool down then your fire – passion – will begin to become nothing more than embers, barely hanging on.
- Spend time with other believers. This is your oxygen. We cannot live this life alone. Jesus sent his disciples out in twos. The apostles had traveling companions in ministry. Ecclesiastes 4:9 tells us that “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” Verse 10 says, “For if either on them falls, the one will lift up his companion.” Then at the end of verse 10 a warning is given, “But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” All of us need Barnabases around us. Gathering together to worship. Hanging out with each other. Working together. We need others in our lives to keep us encourage and to pray with us when we begin to feel suffocated with the struggles of life.
If your fire is dying and it is just the slight glow of the embers or has gone out completely, examine yourself like we are told to do in Lamentation 3:40. Probe your ways. You may find out that one of these three disciplines are missing from your life. If one is, put it back into the mix to keep the fire burning. Do something to activate the fire again.
Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike