If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, I encourage you to stay on fire for God. I am convinced now more than ever that the world needs a church that is on fire. Not some dead, dry, barely surviving church…but a church that is on fire for Jesus!
We are looking at Leviticus 6:8-13 “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen trousers he shall put on his body, and take up the ashes of the burnt offering which the fire has consumed on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments, put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.
We can afford to lose a lot of things, but not our fiery passion for God. Most of us as bible readers, don’t like the book of Leviticus very much. It is right up there with going to the dentist. It is hard to read and digest because it gets so caught up in the technical details of what the priests were supposed to do.
I have been around church all my life, and I have always heard things like this:
“We need the fire!”
“That pastor was on fire!”
“That church was on fire!”
“I am on fire for God.”
“Stay on fire for God.”
“I need a fresh fire from the Lord.”
Now if you tell an unchurched person that your church is on fire, they are probably going to take out their cell phone and call 911. The truth is that we need the fire of God in our church.
IF WE ARE GOING TO STAY ON FIRE FOR GOD, WE NEED TO…
- UNDERSTAND WHAT THE FIRE OF GOD IS
We need to understand what the fire of God is. In the natural, fire is defined as: combustion or burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and typically give out bright light, heat, and smoke. Or, a strong feeling of excitement to ignite or as to cause excitement
Today, I want to discover the spiritual and the powerful implications of the fire of God because I think many people in the church have prayed for the fire of God. And we most certainly need it, but we don’t understand what we are praying for.
Fire symbolizes many things in the bible. Fire symbolized the holiness of God. When Moses received the ten commandments on Mount Sinai, the bible says that the whole mount was lit with fire. Exodus 19
In Genesis 9 we come to understand that fire can represent the judgment of God, because it was fire that fell down upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their immorality and unrighteousness.
When God pours out judgment, he pours out fire, you can see it over and again in the Bible. In fact, people who end up in hell, end up in a place of torment. The bible says a place of everlasting and unquenchable fire. No one in their right mind would pray for God to bring the fire of judgment on them.
And then, the fire of God in the bible represents God’s presence for the church. Because the Word says “A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.” In Leviticus, for the Jews, it symbolized that God was with them. God said, “I am going to bring a fire to the nation of Israel and this fire will represent my presence to you.” And so, he lit this fire in the desert.
When we pray for the fire of God, we are literally calling down the presence of God. When we ask God to send his fire, we are literally asking God to send his presence. When we say, Lord we need your fire.
We aren’t saying we need your judgment. We are saying we need your presence, because if we can get in your presence, everything is going to be all right. If we can get in His presence, all things are possible, mountains will have to move, and seasons will have to change. So, when you pray for the fire of God you are calling down the presence of the Lord.
In the New Testament, there is a further purpose of the fire of God revealed. The fire of God in the New Testament is the empowerment of God for service. John the Baptist spoke of Jesus ministry: Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
On the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2 a supernatural fire fell from heaven, and it empowered those present for service. A few chapters later in Acts, even the enemies of the church had this testimony of those Spirit empowered on fire believers, it said, they turned the world upside down.
If we are going to stay on fire for God, we must…
- UNDERSTAND THE SUPERNATURAL FIRE IN THE TABERNACLE
This fire at the wilderness tabernacle was supernaturally lit from God, it supernaturally came down from heaven. The bible says in Leviticus 9:23-24 “And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”
Now I want you to see this in your mind. This altar has been built in the outer court. It is the brazen altar. The sacrificed has been placed on the altar, and a fire supernaturally falls out of heaven. It lights that sacrifice, and it lights that altar. And the bible says, this fire is never to go out.
You see, the fire gave the children of Israel hope, that as long as it was burning, as long as there was fire in the camp, the people knew that Gods presence was with him. The Jews desperately needed that fire of God’s presence. They had to maintain the fire. As long as the fire was there, God was present. It doesn’t matter who attacks you, as long as the fire of God is with you, you have God to defend you. It doesn’t matter what desert you are walking through, as long as the fire of God is with you, he will guide you through. It doesn’t matter how difficult things get, as long as the fire is with you- you are going to survive.
And then if you are going to stay on fire for God,
- UNDERSTAND THAT THE FIRE HAD TO BE MAINTAINED
Someone had to maintain the fire. It was up to the hungry priests of those days. The priest who were hungry for God’s presence had to maintain it. God would bring it, but if they didn’t maintain it, it wasn’t going to stay.
A lot of people want God to come. But they have no interest in maintaining the fire and maintaining the presence of the Lord. They want to camping with Jesus from time to time. They want to warm themselves by the campfire…a little marsh mellow…a little sweet from Jesus. They want to come in and feel a little fire and then walk out and leave. But there are some of you reading this and you don’t just want a momentary encounter with God. You don’t just want to come up on the fire warm yourself and then watch it go out. There are some of you that down inside of you, you are saying, “I have to have the presence of God in my life, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Including that extra day for leap year.
It was up to the priest to maintain it. He had to prepare wood and put it on that fire. He had to sacrifice upon that fire. And if they would not do it, the fire would go out. The fact of the matter is, the fire stayed because the priest were hungry for God’s presence.
There is a lot of symbolism in this passage.
- The symbolism of the ashes
The priest were instructed to carry out the ashes everyday. They would obviously set the embers to one side. They would put on pure clean linen garments. The priest would take a pan, and they would take those ashes outside the camp. Most of us understand that the burnt offering is symbolic of Jesus. He is our Passover Lamb, the one and only perfect sacrifice. But the carrying out of the ashes has great significance for us as well.
Why? Sometimes we get to a point in our life where say to ourselves, “This is nothing but a bunch of ashes. Everything I love has been destroyed.” Your life looks like the street of New York after Nine Eleven. So, you ask the questions, who is going to clean up the mess? Who can take these ashes, and bring beauty out of it.
His name is Jesus. Isaiah 61:3b “To give them beauty for ashes,”
- The symbolism of our High Priest
Our high priest Jesus, pure and clean, has carried our ashes our sins away from us. Hebrews 4:14 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.”
Ashes represent…what we used to be…what we were… the times we messed up…the things that we did that came to nothing. But what Jesus did, pure and clean, on a hill called Calvary, he took our sins away. He was pure, I was impure. He was clean, I was unclean. But Jesus is the one who can straighten out a life. He carries out the mess.
Did he do any clean up work in your life? He sure did in mine!
- The symbolism of bringing a new sacrifice everyday
The priest were instructed to bring a new sacrifice everyday. To take the old out and to bring the new in. To put new wood everyday. To take the old ashes out and put the new wood in. To take the old sacrifice out and put the new in. And it was symbolic of the fact that when Jesus became our sacrifice. And because of His sacrifice, the Lord’s mercies would become new every morning. If the sacrifice worked yesterday…it works today. If he healed yesterday…he heals today. If he delivered from crack yesterday…he can do it today. If he can put your world back together yesterday…he can do it today. If he can do it today…he can do it tomorrow. Because his mercies are new every morning. Is anybody glad that when you got up this morning, you found new mercy? I am. Even when we didn’t deserve it. New mercy.
And the priest was instructed like this: You take those old ashes out every day, and you bring me something fresh every day. Today, we don’t bring in a sacrifice of goats and bullocks and turtledoves. However we can bring a sacrifice of praise. Hebrews 13:15 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
That is the beauty of a relationship with Christ, it is new every day. I don’t want you hanging out with yesterday’s ashes, and yesterday’s stuff. You see sometimes in church we try to bring yesterday’s praise, and yesterday’s worship. But we need to give him our fresh praise every day. And when we do he gives us his anointing, his power, his presence. But you see, the fire had to be maintained back in those days just as we have to maintain it today.
And as you further your studies, you will find out that the fire burned for over eight centuries. It burned without going out. It burned continuously. The source of that fire had literally been God himself. It burned for 8 centuries. But in about 586 B.C. we read where a king named Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered the Jews. They had become so rebellious. They were full of so much insurrection and iniquity, that Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered the Jews. He sacked Jerusalem. He took the king and his sons and he slew the king’s sons right before his eyes, and then he put the king’s eyes out. He went into the temple and he destroyed the temple, and he took that brazen altar where that flame had been burning for eight centuries and he put out that fire.
And what happened when that fire went out. When that fire went out…
The Jews bondage came
The Jews pain came
The Jews struggle came
And I am going to tell you if the fire ever goes out in America. You think we have trouble now. If we ever let the fire go out we are done as a nation. We can never let the fire go out. I am telling you that in America we need the fire of God’s presence more than ever before. Because if we don’t have the fire of God’s presence we are in trouble.
I never read again where that fire was supernaturally lit. I never read again where fire came down from heaven and lit the brazen altars. Men lit fires but God never lit a fire again. It seemed that after the supernatural fire of God had come, and it was snuffed out by Nebuchadnezzar that it was gone for good and for sure. Because God had instructed the people not to let the fire go out. And the fire went out.
Then, for hundreds of years nothing happened. From Malachi to Matthew 400 years of nothing.
No prophetic voice
It was the darkest time, as for hundreds of years there was no fire from heaven.
If we are going to stay on fire for God, we must
- UNDERSTAND THAT THE FIRE OF GOD IS STILL AVAILABLE
2000 years ago we began to see hope of heavens fire once again, as we hear the introduction from a man named John the Baptist. In Matthew 3:11 ““I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John said there is one coming and he is going to bring a re-ignition of the fire that is in the Old Testament.
But that old testament fire was confined to one place. The New Testament fire would be worldwide. But 2000 years ago, there were 120 who had gathered in that upper room. They had trusted in Christ and man did the fire fall. Acts 2:4 “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” That fire didn’t fall in the desert. It didn’t fall on the brazen altar. God said, now I am putting that fire on men and women. I am putting it on a man and on a woman. If you are reading this you need to say to yourself, “I want that fire! I want the Holy Spirit and fire!”
When you are calling down the fire of God. You are not calling down some cute little religious experience. You are not calling down something that just makes you shake a little bit or have an emotional experience. You are calling down the fire of God. Jesus said, I am going to immerse you in the Holy Spirit. I am going to baptize you in the fire of my presence.
I have had people tell me, pastor, why are you so passionate? When you preach, why don’t you just stay calm. You run around like there is a fire. There is a fire. His words are shut up inside me like a fire. The fire is on the inside.
I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It started burning 2000 years ago. It’s still burning in various people across this world. It is what our nation and world needs today! I am concerned about our nation. Crazy things are happening in our nation:
We don’t value life
We don’t respect our elders
We don’t even value the life of our own unborn
We exalt every name but the name of Jesus
We think we can redefine marriage.
Our young people think that life is found in the clubs
Our young people know more about the latest pop star than they do the Lord.
What we need is a fire to fall in America! What we need is the presence of God to sweep this nation. We cannot let the fire go out. The nation needs a church on fire. We will not let the fire go out!
How do I maintain the fire?
Five quick keys to maintaining the fire.
I have discovered that churches and people that no how to really worship have the fire.
Every time you read the Word, you are putting wood on the fire of your life.
- Willingness to obey God in all things
It is not just enough to read the Word, it is about obeying the Word
The reason why the Spirit was given was to make you a witness. There is no secret service Christian that has the fire for long. It is supposed to be like a river flowing from God through you to others
- Walking with Christ
How you actually live everyday will make a huge difference.
Let’s keep the fire burning! Stay on fire for God!