“The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” – Leviticus 6:12-13 (NIV)
Passion. Zeal. Zest. Fervor. Enthusiasm. Fire. All these are a fitting description of someone who has recently encountered Jesus. Immediately following conversion, that is normally the testimony of the new believer. The same is also true after a participation in a great conference. You hear the word of God preached by gifted ministers, you participate in deep worship and enjoy the fellowship of other believers and the result is that you are set on fire for God. Then days turn into weeks; weeks turn into months and months turn into years and you seem to have lost it all. You skip church meetings; you tell yourself there is no law that says you must read your Bible every blessed day; you cut down on your prayer times, after all you pray when you wake up and before you retire to bed; you no longer see witnessing as being compulsory. You are unable to explain how that fire that burned after your conversion or your participation in that great meeting went out. Sometimes you have rationalized it as you becoming mature; not being driven by emotions but by something ‘deeper’. In your heart of hearts, you know that you actually lost something. Is the problem with God? Surely not, for “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:10).
There must have been something that you did or didn’t do that allowed the fire on your altar to go out. While it is true that you are saved and sustained by God’s grace, the Bible has also asked you to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Peter also asks that you “be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10). That means while God is faithful to do his part in keeping you aflame for him, you also have a role to play in maintaining your fire for God. When the priest was tasked with keeping the fire on the altar burning endlessly, it was hard work. Every morning firewood had to be added and the burnt offering arranged. Fetching firewood is hard work, which may not be understood in these days of gas and electric cookers. The animals to be offered also had to be screened as there were regulations guiding what kind of animal, in what state of health, was acceptable. While we do not have a physical altar of fire, and animals to offer, we have our bodies to present as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. The fire on this altar must also never go out but burn endlessly. Here are six things that you should, under grace, do, to keep your fire/passion for God burning.
ABSTAIN FROM EVIL
“Abstain from every form of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:22
The warning is clear. What made your heart cold toward God before you surrendered to Christ in the first place was sin. Nothing numbs anyone to God like sin. If you must maintain whatever passion you have for God, abstain from every form of evil. Even if it does not fully rear its head but only appears in a form, avoid it. The King James Version says to abstain from all appearance of evil.
“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Prayer is communion with God. To do so without ceasing doesn’t mean to pray non-stop without doing anything else. It means to pray continually, consistently, often, night and day. Make it a daily habit. If there was anything Jesus exemplified, it was his life of prayer: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Notice the regularity with which he did this: often. Notice the place: lonely places. Notice what he did there: prayed. That is not to say prayer should only be made in lonely places, but it is important to have regular times when you break from the hustle and bustle of life and be alone with God to pray. The apostles set a similar example. On the day that Peter healed a crippled beggar, he and John were going to the temple “at the time of prayer” (Acts 3:14). You too, have a time/times of personal prayer. Prayer works for the fire on your altar like electricity to an electric heater. The heater requires a connection to the mains for it to heat up. Once it is disconnected, it is only a matter of time before it loses its heat. Connect to God in constant prayer if you want to remain on fire for him.
FEED ON THE WORD
“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” – Jeremiah 23:29
God himself likens his word to fire. If you must be ablaze for God and keep the fire burning continually, you must allow his word dwell in your heart abundantly. Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? Can a man feast on the word of God without his heart burning for God? Jeremiah had it and testified that “his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones” (Jeremiah 20:9). Friend, if you too have the word, you will find it to be a fire that burns. When Jesus, the living Word, met the two brothers on the road to Emmaus and expounded the scriptures concerning himself to them, the word had a similar effect. Hear their testimony: “Were not our hearts burning within us on the road while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). The fire that was lit in your heart, didn’t it come from a word you heard? If you will maintain your fire, stay with the word. A daily devotional helps with instilling Bible reading as a daily habit.
BE COMMITTED TO FELLOWSHIP
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25
In his exhortation to keep our hearts on fire as we await our hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus on that Day, the writer to the Hebrews urges a commitment to fellowship. While some are in the habit of not meeting together, he says you should not belong to that number. It is in fellowship that you have the opportunity of practicing the “each other” and “one another” commands in scripture that help to keep you on fire. The wise man asks in Ecclesiastes 4:11 that “how can one keep warm alone?” There is warmth in fellowship. The Bible says the believers in the newly formed church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). They didn’t do these things passively; they were devoted to them. If your fire will not go out and wait until the next great conference to be rekindled, be devoted to fellowship.
HAVE FIERY COMPANIONS
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
It is iron that sharpens iron. If you will keep the fire on your altar burning, find yourself friends who are also on fire. You can’t be best friends with people who are cold and numbed toward God and expect to be on fire for him. Fire and water are not friends. One of the things that kept Daniel in the pagan land of Babylon was his friendship with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The day that King Nebuchadnezzar gave an ultimatum for his dream to be interpreted or death would be the consequence, Daniel went home and summoned his fiery friends to prayer. God revealed the meaning of the dream that night. Do you have such companions in your life? One of the easiest ways to quench your fire is to have fire extinguishers for friends; people who mock the things of God. Scripture is unambiguous: “Bad company ruins good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33, MSG). Instead of them, “Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
PUT YOUR GIFTS TO USE
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6
You have a gift; for it to become a flame you have the responsibility to fan it. That means to put it to use. It wasn’t given to you to keep but to be fanned into a flame in the service of God. The parable of the talents told by Jesus in Matthew 25 clearly shows that God is not pleased with a talent that is not employed. What gift(s) have you received from God? Seek out and maximize opportunities to put it/them to use. As you fan your gift(s) into a flame, your fire will keep burning.