A Flame for each of Us
It was a strange day, the Day of Pentecost. For the followers of Jesus, it was the 10th day of waiting. The huge crowd that saw Him ascend to the Father had dwindled to 120 who were now waiting and praying for what Jesus called, “the Promise of the Father.” He said it would be a new baptism, not in water, but in the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps it took 10 days to do the work they needed to do—to become one in purpose and desire. It could be that as they prayed
- personal differences were settled,
- ruptured relationships were restored,
- private failings and secret sins were confessed and forgiven, and
- motives gone astray were rounded up as
- defused passions found a new focus on what it might mean to be a follower of Jesus.
It may be that the 10 days were a part of the plan all along since, taken all together, it would make 50 days (the meaning of “Pentecost”) since Passover, 50 days since those final events in Jesus’ life they had witnessed. He told them to go to Jerusalem and wait until power came to them, the power it would take to do what He had called them to do—to preach the gospel story to the whole world and make disciples everywhere they went. Each man and woman among the 120 knew that he or she was powerless to carry out such a massive mission. It was a strange day. Secluded in an upper room, safe from priestly investigators and Roman spies, they waited and prayed. Finally, the 120 were “in one mind and one accord.”
Suddenly they heard a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind. The sound of the wind filled the house where they were sitting. A huge cloud of fire appeared over them all before separating into individual flames that settled upon each of them. Each one had a flame of truth, a cleansing fire, and a power source from heaven. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to praise God in languages they had never learned as the Spirit gave them utterance.
To All and to Each
It is striking to note the interplay between what happened to all of them and what happened to each of them.
- The sound of the rushing, mighty wind was heard by all.
- The fire from heaven was seen by all.
- The supernatural utterance was given to all and all praised God.
- All of them rushed into the Jerusalem streets to tell the story of Jesus.
The holy fire from heaven also separated into individual flames and came to rest on each of them.
There is significance in the difference between “all” and “each.” The Holy Spirit rests upon the Church, upon “all” of us, and at the same time, there is a flame of truth, cleansing, and power for “each” of us. The Spirit came upon the Church in power and a fire ignited in each believer’s heart. The work of the Spirit demands both the corporate, covenantal filling and the individual flame.
The Fiery Heart is the Key to Renewal, Reformation, and Revival
In some of our traditions there is a great concern for a true revival. In others, the concepts of renewal and reformation are the subjects of interest. Regardless of the theological emphases that may unite or separate us, these three goals share many characteristics in common:
- Renewal can be seen as a rebirth of classic Christian spirituality and a return to the influence of the Word of God as the primary source of guidance.
- Reformation is a restructuring of public worship in form and content according to the principles of scripture.
- Revival is the resurrection of the church with the power of a new level of spiritual power to affect our communities for good as we effectively tell the Good News about Jesus, and extend His eternal Kingdom.
Whether we are high church, low church, liturgical, free, evangelical, Pentecostal, contemporary or traditional, we want to see these three things:
- a greater adherence to the Word of God,
- a vibrant presence of Jesus in our worship services, and
- a spiritual power resting on and flowing through the people of God as they live every day in this world.
The Road to Emmaus—the Way of the Fiery Heart
The Bible provides us with a picture of revival in the story of the two disciples, Cleopas and his unnamed friend, who were joined by the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus. He opened the Word of God to them and set their hearts on fire. When they rejoined the disciples, their flames were added to the conflagration of the church. Jesus was alive! This burning truth changed everything. It turned the world upside down.
- Death was now life.
- Sorrow was now joy.
- Despair was now hope.
- Defeat was now victory.
Jesus had triumphed over the unbeatable foe of death. The forces of darkness now fled before the light. Truth shouted louder than falsehood and burned like a brand in each heart.
Fanning the Flame
As part of the Covenant People of God, we know the Spirit resides within the Church. Do we know that the Holy Spirit has a flame for each of us, as well? He kindles a fire in us that glows on our faces, flashes from our eyes, and roars in our voices, all to the glory of God. As a believer in the Lord Jesus, you have been given the gift of the flame. A fire burns within you to do the work God has given you.
Paul encouraged young Timothy to “fan into the flame” God’s gift within in him.(2 Tim 1:6) Those who want to see more of the power of God in worship, need to fan the flame of Spirit in their hearts, putting aside lesser things and learning the ways of the Spirit. When we do this, the impact of public worship will gain a new dimension of power in the spirit realm. This power is called “the anointing.”
This is no magic act, no mental trick, no musical manipulation, and certainly it is no illusion. This is real; it is the “treasure in the earthen vessel” Paul wrote about. It isn’t the power of the music, or of our personality, or some mass hysteria. It is the witness of the Spirit of God upon our spirits that we are indeed the children of God and that the power of the Spirit rests upon us and the art we produce.
The flame God has for each of us is a flame of truth, a cleansing fire, and a power source from heaven. How can we fan our spiritual flame? Remember the process of those 10 days:
- Pray and seek the Lord, asking for the Promise of the Father.
- Settle personal differences so that no unforgiveness hinders your prayers.
- Restore ruptured relationships if at all possible.
- Confess private failings and secret sins to those you have sinned against.
- Cleanse motives gone astray and
- Ask the Lord to give you a new focus on what it means to worship.
Because you are a worshiper, your personal flame is a key to renewal, reformation, and revival in your church. Your message is the same as that of the disciples centuries ago. Jesus is alive! This burning truth changes everything.
- It turns the world upside down.
- Death is now life. Sorrow is overcome by joy.
- Despair has died and hope is born.
- Defeat is temporary and victory is eternal.
Jesus has triumphed over the unbeatable foe of death. The forces of darkness now flee before the light. Even as we worship, truth sings louder than falsehood and burns like a brand in each heart.
There is indeed, a flame for each of us.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved