Ice or Fire? Frost or Heat?

Christmas is not to be discarded along with the wrapping paper and bows.  Christmas is not to be taken down like a dried up tree, nor packed away like lights and ornaments that have fulfilled their purposes for a few weeks.  Certainly, the importance of Christmas is not like New Year’s resolutions – soon broken and soon forgotten.  Christmas is an important Gospel-fire that stokes the fire of our hearts, to burn strong for the year, not just a month or so.

After Jesus revealed himself to the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus, they exclaimed, “did not our hearts burn within us…”  The beauty and depth of Christmas causes our hearts to burn within us.  The time of the year does not matter.  The end of a scheduled festival is unimportant.  The truth and blessing of Christmas is a fire that strengthens the heat of Christian hearts.

 

The Gospel Builds a Fire in Your Heart

The gospel fire of God consumes sin and purifies the heart – rather like the coal purified Isaiah when it touched his lips (see Isaiah 6:7).  The heat of the Gospel fire melts sin and its curse because of the cross.  The LORD’s Gospel fire melts through frigid, unbelieving hearts.  The LORD’s fire is the heat of forgiveness, redemption, truth, faith, and trust in the LORD.  The gospel fire calls to all people “You are freed from the frozen hell of sin, believe it and be saved by the good news of Christ.”  That Gospel heats the heart for life.  That Gospel fire gives Christian hearts the heat to better live for Jesus.

 

The Fire of the Gospel is for All

The Gospel fire of the LORD is for everyone.  When Jesus died on the cross, he was earning forgiveness for all. In truth the Lord Jesus comes to all through Word and sacrament and offers all a present.  In that present is the fulfilled truth of forgiveness.  As he holds that present before all people Jesus says,

“Receive this reconciliation.  You did not have to earn it.  My gift will save you from sin and eternal death.  Don’t reject the present.  Receive it and you are saved.  In this present is a fire for your heart that will dispel the frost bite of Satan, death and sin.  In this present is a fire for your heart that will ‘fire you up’ for the Christian life I have prepared for you.”

Sadly too many reject the heat of the gospel message of Jesus and forgiveness.  It is as if they insist on being frozen to their core, while the tropical warmth of Jesus is immediately in front of them.

 

Sin will Strive to Smother the Fire

Our sinful nature, the sinful world, and Satan will try to smother the fire of the gospel.  The fire of the LORD will always be hot, but our sinful nature will try to cool it’s affect.  The sinful nature encourages the rejection of the fire.  The sinful nature in the Christian tries to restrict the heat from permeating the icy nature of our being and action.  Our sinful nature will try to snuff out the fire and will try to close off the heat.

The Fire of the Gospel in the Christian fire can sadly become lukewarm as mentioned in Revelation.   15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”  (Revelation 3:15-17 ).  In their case the Laodiceans became focused on wealth.  They did not simply use the physical blessings the LORD gave them, but they 1) began to forget the LORD and 2) began to revere them more than the LORD.  So, their hearts cooled.

 

What Might Strive to Smother “Your Fire”?

What aspects, facets, things, or events, does your heart and this world throw at your life that strives to become more important than the LORD?  Be aware of those events.  Satan loves to turn good events and natural parts of life into temptations to frost the heart.

1.    When a person surrounds himself or herself with the fruit of sin, their fire will be cooled.

2.   To be unwilling to repent and have the attitude that “I do not need the Savior” creates a glacial flow that will cool down the heat of the Gospel.

3.     If we are not centered upon Christ, our associations with others may transform us or at least influence us and so cool down the faith.

4.    Starving the spirit by withholding the Word of the Gospel will cool our gospel heat.

5.    Our “favorite” recurrent sins cool the heart when left unrepented and when we do not strive to control those sins.

What might the devil throw at you personally to put out the fire of the gospel in your heart.

 

Fan The Fire of the Gospel

Satan will try to turn all which we care about and do to his temptation so we offer a few things to “fan into flame” the gospel heat in your heart.

Paul said to Timothy –  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).  Paraphrasing Paul’s wisdom – For this reason I remind you to fan into flame with the Gospel the fire that forgiveness has forged in your heart.

  1. Realize the full depth of the grace of forgiveness from sin at work in your heart through Christ. Do not “take for granted” the importance of forgiveness.
  2. Confess / profess out loud (at least to yourself) that Jesus is Savior and LORD. The devil likes to keep our hearts and hands quiet and inactive from faith.
  3. Set aside some time (it doesn’t have to be much) for a Bible reading and for prayer. Take to the LORD in prayer your desire for a “hot-faith.”
  4. Take into your hands an emphasis on at least one facet of ministry in your congregation. Have a passion for that growth opportunity.
  5. Practice trust of the LORD. Everyday events take place which may cause us to be concerned.  Do not just live with the concern.  Take it to the LORD in prayer and with trust.  Possibly verbalizing your trust of the LORD out loud will more firmly express your trust.
  6. When you are in good situations, remember to thank the LORD.
  7. When you are in harder situations, do not wait, but go to the LORD for help for in Him is our real strength.

Through all of the Gospel messages the LORD stokes godly fire for our hearts.  With each of the Gospel messages, all throughout the year, say similarly to the Emmaus bound disciples “do not our hearts burn within us” – not a question but an exclamation!

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