2 Timothy 1:5-7 (AMP)
I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith (the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), [a faith] that first lived permanently in [the heart of] your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am [fully] persuaded, [dwells] in you also. That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.
There is an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” I used to throw coins in fountains to make a wish. Looking at the fountain that used to be in our local mall, all I could think of were all those unanswered thoughts and desires shining at the bottom of a dirty fountain. The shiny coins were tossed with little certainty but looking over the shiny contents it was clear that many people thought it worth a penny, nickel, dime or quarter to wish for something. You can laugh and think it is children’s fancy all that you want but go to the local convenience store on any Saturday night and watch how many lottery tickets are sold as you wait in line to buy milk.
For many months now, we have asked for, prayed for and fought for approval to have further treatment to end our son’s battle with cancer. I have told his story until every single detail and date are etched on my mind. I have piles of notes and a folder full of emails on my quest for his care. I have been enlighten to the value of a dollar that exceeds the worth of human life and am completely appalled that men and women die every single day because although there is a cure to their disease if they do not have the cold hard cash to get it then they are allowed to die. Not on my watch. Finally after months of watching and waiting for the Lord to open the door to the next step, He has. But as this door opens, I feel the familiar heat on my face only to realize the fire is coming and it is hotter than ever before. I have little time to remove those things between my Father and I so that He can come closer, wrap us in His Love and carry us through the fire to His Promise on the other side. So I guess this experience is best called out of the frying pan into the fire. I did not wish for these circumstances or create these conditions but I prayed for the Lord to come and heal our son, deliver Him from this stupid disease and restore his broken body. What is my response as He approaches? I am supposed to have unqualified faith fully leaning all of my entire personality on God in Christ with absolute trust and confidence in His Power, Wisdom and Goodness. I must stir up, rekindle embers, fan the flam and keep burning with passionate love, trust and devotion to Christ even though the fire is getting hotter by the minute. God did not give me the Spirit of Fear and I refuse to take it. But oh Lord, I do not want to get burned the price is too high. God, You gave Your One and Only Son that I might survive this fiery trial and be set free to prosper and live out your purpose receiving every single promise that You have made me, but God I am not willing to give up my boy for anything. He belongs to you. You have given him to us. Please Lord, help us make it out of the frying pan into the fire to receive all that You have prepared for us!
Daniel 3:14-20 (AMP)
[Then] Nebuchadnezzar said to them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, dulcimer or bagpipe, and every kind of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, very good. But if you do not worship, you shall be cast at once into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, and who is that god who can deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, it is not necessary for us to answer you on this point. If our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up! Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury and his facial expression was changed [to antagonism] against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Therefore he commanded that the furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was usually heated. And he commanded the strongest men in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
There are many Christians today who live by the motto, “If you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen.” They come to church on Sunday and live for the world Monday through Saturday. These people seem to have it made and many believers cannot figure out why brother this-and-that and sister so-and-so just sail through this life untouched and unscathed by the tests and trials of life. God is not going to set up anyone to fail. Those without valid faith or substantial hope will not survive the “heat” of fire let along the lick of its flame. Of course, who better to read about than the three Hebrew men, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” when talking about the fiery trials of life. (Daniel 3) To summarize, King Nebuchadnezzar (a very mean, ruthless and volatile man) had built a golden image of himself (add ego maniac to the list). He made it a law that at the sound of a horn everyone was to bow down and worship his likeness. Well, obviously this was listed in the top ten no-no’s for the Jewish men. Their commitment to God would not allow for such behavior. So they refused to bow the graven image. Now these men did not make a scene about it or argue their point, but simply made a stand based on their faith in God. It was not about them but their relationship to the Lord that caused them to jump out of the frying pan (because let’s face it they had already lost their freedom) and move them straight into the fire. Needless to say that the king was furious with their insubordination and unwillingness to comply with his directive, so not only did he tell his assistants to throw them in the fire but to increase the heat seven times. It was so hot that when the men opened the door and threw them in – they died from exposure.
The three Hebrew men along with their friend and fellow Jew, Daniel are four of my favorite characters as I get to know them more. They did not constantly rise to the forefront with profound speeches or magnificent miracles but rather faithfully served the Lord day in and day our refusing to give in, give up or bow down. It doesn’t seem like a very exciting existence, but it was definitely a prosperous one. There are other characters like Joseph who went from the pit to prison to the palace. Faith is marked by a consistency in one’s confident hope that does not run from a challenge but simple takes a stand. Believers who truly stand up on their foundation of faith will find that they are faced with the fire sometimes. Faith allows us to boldly step out for the frying pan and not fear the fire. Jesus meets us on the other side. Our faith is secure in a foundation that will never let us down. His Presence is like fire consuming anything that might come between us.
Daniel 3:24-26 (AMP)
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king [saw and] was astounded, and he jumped up and said to his counselors, Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered, True, O king. He answered, Behold, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods! Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come out and come here. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the midst of the fire.
When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire, his heart melted in that moment. He forgot about the law and these men’s disobedience. All he could see was the miracle before him. He put three guys in but now there were four. The forth one looked like the Son of God. The Lord was waiting for them in the fire. He delivered them from the fire – fully. The fire had no power over their bodies. The fire did not singe a single hair on their head. It did not touch their garments every thread intact. The fire did not even leave a smell of smoke on them. The king and his advisors were in shock. This is not just some Old Testament tale but God’s Promise for your life. If you will just let go of your comfort zone labeled self-control to learn to trust Him enough to go through the fire, you will discover the true potential, purpose, power and promise for your life. What happened to these men will be your destiny? God was exalted. The men were promoted! (Verse 30)
Matthew 3:11-13 (AMP)
I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out. Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him.
Fast forward to John the Baptist in the wilderness. As he baptized new converts, he told them of the One who would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Hold your place for just a minute as we stroll down memory lane. God is an all-consuming fire. (Deuteronomy 4:24) It is tough to figure out how this all works with finite human minds but hopefully His Spirit will help us to discern how one can survive in the passionate flame of the Love of God. He is passionately jealous for your love and wants nothing to come between you as you give your heart to the Lord. The Presence of God is like fire. (Exodus 40:36-38) Throughout all time, people have feared the Presence of God unsure what will happen in His Midst. The Children of Israel stood on the verge of it and pushed Moses in. God speaks to us through the fire. (Deuteronomy 4:10-12) Fear of fire keeps most people too far back to hear the still small voice. See the truth of the matter is to have all of God means giving up all of our “self” as He consumes us with His Love. You cannot love Him from afar, you must decide that you want to be where He is. So you see, mankind had a problem. We feared the fire power of God. So Jesus came to free us from fear of the fire. Sin is the very thing that causes our destruction in the Presence of God. So Jesus Christ covered our sins with His Blood so we can step back into right standing with God the Father once more. Now perfect love has cast out all fear because we are consumed by God’s Passion and not His Judgment. Death to life occurs in this moment. The enemy wants to keep us from the Lord and all He has for us by giving us fear. We must refuse to take it and stay strongly attached to confident hope by faith in Jesus Christ. What better way to end our fear of fire than to put His Holy Spirit in us? (Acts 2:2-3) Now what is our excuse for fearing the fire? God’s Love has come to live inside the human heart so that we can withstand any fiery trial we face by faith in God that produces confident hope so that we can stand. Why would He do it? Well first of all, He chose to do it. His Love for us is so amazing and unfailing that even when we chose to give our love to other things less worthy – God still chose to send all His Love to us. He didn’t stop there. When we feared His Presence in our guilty condition, He wiped us clean and filled us with His Spirit so that we could be one with the Father again. How great is the Father’s Love? We cry out to the Lord and He answered. (Isaiah 64:1-8) We asked Him to rend the Heavens and come to us here. Now with one foot over the edge ready to jump in the fire, I ask the Lord to stir the embers of my heart so that I can trust Him more, to fan the flames of passionate love so that my pursuit of Him will never be in vain, and to keep the Light in me burning so that others will not fear the fire, too.
I Corinthians 3:13-15 (AMP)
The work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done. If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives [this test], he will get his reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss [of it all, losing his reward], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire.
When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water by faith in Christ, the storm made him sink because his faith was not enough to keep him up. Why jump into the fire? Why does God allow us to be tested in such a fierce manner? I know why. There is coming a day that few speak of anymore. The pulpits of our churches are too busy stroking their congregation about a get-rich-quick God rather than equipping strong and worthwhile builders who have structurally sound lives. When the last day finally gets here, the foundation of our life will be tested unless it is Jesus Christ we will be consumed in judgment. He is our only hope. We must let go of everything else we hold precious and dear that is flammable to embrace with confident hope the One who has overcome. Welcome the test because it will reveal the truth. The Truth will set you free – if His Name is Jesus Christ. God wants to seal your life with His Love today. He wants to consume you with His Love so there will be no question who you belong to when that day comes. Live for forever not just today. When the next door to a fiery trial comes, just step in. You are not alone. You are never alone. God lives in you. His Son is for you. His Spirit empowers you. God is sealing your heart with fire. You are being consumed by His Great Love.
Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (AMP)
Set me like a seal upon your heart, like a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy is as hard and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead). Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame [the very flame of the Lord]! Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man would offer all the goods of his house for love, he would be utterly scorned and despised.