We used to have a real woodstove. We heated with wood the first winter we lived here. The stove was not an efficient heater so we burned a lot of wood. The next year we installed a furnace and the stove was removed.
I missed the glow of a fire so I installed a corner fireplace that simulates a fire. If I use my imagination when it is on, I can almost hear the pop, sizzle, and crackle of a real wood fire.
One early morning I turned it on. As I watched the "flames" flicker and the simulated logs glow, I thought of instances in the Bible where God ministered through fire.
God answered by fire
Several Bible characters had the unique experience of God answering by fire. Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Gideon, and Elijah sought the Lord and waited. Answers came in a fantastic display of fire.
God's answer also came in fiery judgment on an unfortunate few. It is much better to experience God's blessing in a positive way. Obedience to his word and following in his ways bring about better benefits than pursuing selfish desires.
A fiery display accompanied the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts chapter two. A centuries old prophecy was fulfilled then for 120 believers. The Spirit baptism experience quickly grew to three thousand more, then another five thousand. It spans the globe now with millions being filled with God's Spirit.
God delivered through fire
A Babylonian king conquered the Jews in Daniel's time. Many young men were captured and compelled to serve in the king's courts. They faithfully held to their beliefs while being educated in the knowledge of the Chaldeans.
When King Nebuchadnezzar set up a huge image and required all to bow to it, three of Daniel's colleagues did not. A fiery furnace was heated seven times hotter and the three were bound and thrown in. The king looked in the furnace later and was astonished to see the three walking unharmed in the fire. Moreover, he saw a fourth man in the fire! The heathen king acknowledged the divine presence of God.
God gave assurances that he will never leave us nor forsake us. He promised in Isaiah 43:2 to be with you when you go through tough times; including symbolic waters and fire that will not overwhelm or fire that will not burn. Peter wrote of "fiery trials" and suffering. He said, "the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." God's presence is there in the problems to help you pass through.
If fake, also has to be real
Another lesson I thought of as I gazed at the fake fire is that it shows there has to be real fire. Anything fake bears witness that there has to be real.
If there is fake, fickle faith, there has to be real faith. If hypocrites exist, there has to be true, genuine Christians.
Believing and trusting God is beneficial both for now and forever. Keep seeking and serving God; his power is very real to deliver and answer.
Mitch Glover is pastor of the Sterling United Pentecostal Church located on Swanson River Road at Entrada. Call 260-3107 for more information.