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Friday, January 20, 2012

Amish farm in Lancaster PA 1/19/12
I took this photo of an Amish farm yesterday in our travels through eastern Lancaster County. It was a cold day but the sky was bright and clear, same as today but snow is in the forecast!

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"Is Not My Word Like Fire?"

"It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself" (John 18:18). "Is not my Word like fire? declares the LORD" (Jeremiah 23:29).

Inside coal stoveWe have a fire burning in our home all the time from late October through late April. Our coal stove uses anthracite coal and heats our home with a steady supply of heat produced by burning coals. Brooksyne stands right next to the hot coal stove on a cold winter morning or after we've been out in the frigid air. Our annual delivery of coal came today and among our blessings is having a warm home in our cold winter climate!

Warming by fire
Today's first Scripture text is not a Scripture most believers would put to memory. It's an incidental detail that provides a backdrop to Peter's infamous denial of the Lord. The troubling scene in the court of the high priest shows the disparity of Peter’s willingness only a short while earlier to fight the whole Roman garrison alone. Now he is cowering in fear, denying the Lord. Many Bible scholars feel that Mark's Gospel is likely influenced by Peter's own experience. I’m sure this was a sorrowful experience burned deeply in Peter's memory bank.

Biblical illustrations are generally cross cultural and multi-generational. Such is the case with today's second verse: "'Is not my Word like fire?' declares the Lord." Regardless of where you are reading this you are familiar with fire, something that is used for good (like heating a home, cooking a meal, or extensively used in manufacturing) or something that can be disastrous such as a house fire.

An interesting consideration not specified in this text is how God's Word is like fire. Certainly we could consider the purifying aspect of fire or its use in hardening. However, today let us consider fire in the sense of its warming qualities.

Emmaus RoadTwo despondent disciples were walking on the Road to Emmaus when they encountered the risen Lord on Resurrection Day. Initially they didn’t know who He was, but when He opened the Scriptures to them they recognized Him to be the Christ. After He departed they said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

This illustrates a spiritual quality of the Word of God many have experienced. This may be through a personal reading of the Scriptures or while hearing the Word preached. This spiritual warming can be experienced in several ways:

1) Spiritual warming in the sense of conviction of sin: This aspect of God's Word can be seen in the description of the conviction that came over the 3,000 assembled on the Day of Pentecost as Peter preached God's Word. "Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

2) Spiritual warming in the sense of comfort and assurance: John Wesley wrote in his journal concerning his conversion: “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Spiritual warming in the sense of compulsion to serve the Lord: "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

Oh Lord, please light the fire,
That once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love,
That burns with Holy fear.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, ignite within us the fire of Your Holy Spirit to be convicted of sin, comforted in our hour of trial, and zealous in our Christian service. We want to warm our hearts with the fire of Your Holy Spirit that is uplifting and filled with eternal hope, rather than the enemy’s fire that spreads destruction and ruin to all who are in its path. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Oh, Lord You're Beautiful" Video  Keith Green  This is a live draft version that includes a thoughtful verse I had never heard before that was not on the studio version.

Oh, Lord my body's tired
But You keep reminding me
Of many holy, tireless men
Who spilt their blood for Thee

"Pass It On"  Video  Evie Tornquist "It only takes a spark to get a fire going" (This was "contemporary" music when we were youth!)

"Send The Fire"  Video  Musician not specified

"Burn In Me"  Video  Paul Wilbur

"Fire Of God"  Video  "Christ Our Life"  A very thoughful song with very coordinated graphics!

A Dirty Job: It's just a short clip but if you think you have a hard job consider the work of a coal miner! I watched the full episode from a coal mine in northeast PA where they get anthracite coal.

Brooksyne at coal stove
When it's really cold Brooksyne enjoys working near the coal stove and our pets also appreciate the warmth!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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