The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Friday, January 14, 2022
The Seamen's Bethel in New Bedford, MA provides spiritual services to fishermen.
"Spiritual Fire Extinguisher"
Message summary: A spiritual fire extinguisher comes in pretty handy!
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"'Is not my word like fire?' declares the LORD" (Jeremiah 23:29). "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). "Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:16).
The Seamen's Bethel is in the seaport city of New Bedford, Massachusetts across from the Whaling Museum. Since the early 1800's this Christian chapel has been active for the many fishermen and sailors who are based in New Bedford. In fact this very chapel is mentioned in Herman Melville's classic "Moby Dick" which was then referred to as the "Whaleman's Chapel".
"In the same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman's Chapel, and few are the moody fishermen, shortly bound for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a Sunday visit to the spot."
We visited inside the chapel and the most striking feature is the huge pulpit, which is shaped like the bow of a ship. When visiting historic churches I often stand behind the pulpit to get a feel for what it would be like to preach in that setting. So I stood behind the bow-shaped pulpit and looked out over the benches, imagining what it would be like to share God's Word with the whaling men one hundred and fifty years ago. In the classic Moby Dick movie there is a scene where a fire-and-brimstone sermon is preached from this very same pulpit.
But I found something else most interesting behind the pulpit, where only the preacher can see it; a fire extinguisher! Now I'm quite sure it has a very utilitarian purpose and when you think about it, it's really a pretty good idea. If a fire should break out we'd certainly expect the preacher to be alert and quickly notice it. This may not always be the case with some in the congregation (depending on how wide awake, or not, they are!)
I just hope no one would ever use an extinguisher to extinguish the genuine fire of God's Word. But do we? I'm afraid it happens, though I certainly hope it wouldn't be the preacher! Paul warned his readers "quench not the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The word for "quench" literally means "extinguish". The NIV translates this verse, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire".
But actually there just may be a good reason to keep a spiritual fire extinguisher behind the pulpit and on us at all times. The apostle Paul wrote in regard to the armor of God: "Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:16). Indeed, a spiritual fire extinguisher comes in pretty handy!
We may face some flaming arrows today but we are not powerless when we use the extinguisher that God has provided. Lift up the mighty shield of faith as a powerful defense against the attacks of the enemy from within and without! The shield of faith cannot be pierced by Satan's flaming arrows no matter the venom, speed, or frequency with which he discharges them. Let us be filled with the Spirit of God so that we extinguish the enemy's fire while setting ablaze the fire of God's Word.
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we are grateful for the fire of Your Spirit that ignites us to be strong in our faith, wise in our understanding, and obedient in our service to You. May we be eager to listen to Your Spirit and His promptings as we fulfill our duties this day. When the flaming arrows come our way may we ready to use the divinely appointed extinguisher of the shield of faith. Amen.
Years ago we attended a community prayer service with numerous congregations joining together. The host pastor warmly welcomed everyone who was visiting. He then gestured toward the various pastors who were sitting together in the second pew and said, "I would now like to introduce these extinguished pastors." After hearing his own misspoken words he quickly corrected himself and then properly referred to them as "distinguished pastors".
Follow-up to yesterday's message on our kitten Gracie. She seems to continue to recover well. A Maryland reader wrote with an interesting observation about the "theology" of cats and dogs:
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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