Many of us love the open fire. There is something cheerful and comforting in the flickering light, the smell of burning wood the direct heat of the dancing flame: the crackle of a real fire. Now you can't have a real fire without a fireplace, and, of course, it would be most unwise to try. We have four fireplaces in our home. They are all different but they all radiate heat when called upon to do so .
I've been thinking recently about God's fireplaces. Believe it or not God has always had fireplaces in His Wonderful World. There was the Burning Bush, the Brazen Alter of the Tabernacle Mount Carmel where the fire came' down and consumed Elijah's sacrifice. Then in the New Testament the " cloven tongues like as of fire" (Acts 2 ver. 3). The only fireplaces God has to-day are the hearts of His people. Isaiah spoke of the "Spirit of burning", We are exhorted to be " filled with the Spirit". The fire of the Holy Spirit is to burn in the fireplace of our heart.
The Holy Spirit is all that fire is, and does all that fire does. WHAT DOES FIRE DO?
(I) FIRE CONSUMERS. The other day I was rather grieved at the sight of a large pile of rubbish in our garden . With the help of some newspapers I started a fire underneath and very soon the fire had consumed the unsightly pile . The people at Ephesus who had become Christians had a big pile of bad books. Now that the old things of their life had passed away they no longer wanted this type of literature, so they had a big bonfire and burned the lot, and , no doubt, felt the happier for it.
The city of Sodom was a disgusting place. God sent down His fire and consumed it. When the sin of Achan was discovered the people stoned him and burned him with fire. If we let the fire of God's Spirit fill us, all that is undesirable in our lives will be consumed.
(II) FIRE PURIFIES. One day the phophet Isaiah saw the Lord in the Temple. Writing of the experience he said: "The house was filled with smoke". Now you know the saying "There's no smoke without fire". This was true in Isaiah's case for he goes on to tell us of the seraphim coming to him, "Having a live coal in his hand which he had taken with the tongs from off the Altar". The coal was laid upon his mouth and the announcement made that his iniquity was taken away and his sin purged . Isaiah discovered that the way to get cleaned up is to get "burned out". The Holy Spirit is the fire that cleanses.
(III) FIRE PREPARES. After His resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ met His Disciples on the shores of Galilee. When they came to land after working all night at fishing they found that Jesus had made a fire. The fire served a two-fold purpose, it warmed them and prepared the food to feed them. It was cooked with fire . Just a wee word to preachers, when you are thinking of a sermon make sure you prepare it with fire. Serve it up hot. The fire of God's Spirit will bring out the flavour of God's Word. "Preach the Word", but make sure you don't serve it up raw and cold, prepare it with fire .
(IV) FIRE CHEERS. In a week or so we shall be going to the Isle of Man for our 10th Annual Camp at King William 's College. One of the highlights of Castletown Camp in past s has been our Bonfire Night, when we go down to the beach and burn everything we can find . Many a cold night, witm the wind blowing in from the sea we nave sung and sizzled sausages around the old camp fire . Without the fire of God's Spirit this would be a cold world for the Christian, but the fire cheers us on our pilgrimage. There is wonderful warmth in Christ. "His eyes were as a flame of fire". Those "flames of fire" bring terror to His enemies but cheer to His friends.
(V) FIRE SOFTENS. In Psalm 68 ver. 2, we read "as the wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. The fire of God's Spirit softens the heart of the sin-ner and makes him willing to repent of his sin and put his faith in Christ alone.
(VI) FIRE EMPOWERS. One of our trips on the Isle of Man last year was a ride in the steam train from Castletown to Port Erin. I have discovered that the more fire under the boiler the faster the train will go. The reason we are so slow in the race heavenward is that we have too little fire in our hearts. What the wee train needs on the Isle of Man is fire. What the Christian needs is fire. Remember what the Lord promised His Disciples, "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you .. . . " Someone has penned these words, let us make them our prayer, "Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire".