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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Same Fire

“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold” (Zechariah 13:9a, NLT). “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11, NLT).

The fire that refines is the same fire that empowers. The same fire that refines like silver and purifies as gold has the potential to burn powerfully in each believer’s heart. But that power can only be realized when it yields to the refinement of the fire—to the transformation of the Holy Spirit. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers,” the apostle Paul declared, “in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV).

“Now you must be holy in everything you do,” Peter wrote, “just as God who chose you is holy” (I Peter 1:15, NLT) However, we cannot live a righteous life until our attitudes and desires are what He wishes. As we are taught and transformed by His Spirit, we discover God’s holiness, and strive to live it. If something is not right, the Holy Spirit reveals it, and we immediately repent. If we also need to grow spiritually in an area, the Holy Spirit reveals it, and we choose to change. As we choose to add His virtues (2 Peter 1:5-7) our hearts and mind are open to His sanctifying presence, and we receive His power that makes true change possible. When we are constantly renewed, we are able to put off the old self and put on the new one. We are filled with the fire Holy Spirit for His purpose when we are continually renewed and changed by His purifying fire.

When we allow God to purify and cleanse, He washes away the sinful impurities that separate us from His love. He promises, “I will give you a clean heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36: 26, NIV). Where once our heart was as hard and unyielding as stone, now he promises it shall beat with the pulsating blood of His living sacrifice. Where once calloused inner pain held back God’s spiritual growth, now we shall be energized by the fire of His living presence. A new heart and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit fills us with the desire to keep His laws and commandments–not because they are rules to be followed, but because we love Him above all else. His law shall be our delight, and in every way He shall be our God and we shall belong only to Him (Ezekiel 26: 27-28).

Continually transformed by the fire of the Holy Spirit we are spiritually prepared for the fire of His power.  We wait just as the disciples awaited that Day of Pentecost. “Be filled with the Holy Spirit,” Paul wrote (Ephesians 5:18, NIV). The Holy Spirit fills a believer who is spiritually starved for the very character of Jesus—who continually yearns for that overwhelming hunger to be filled—who cries out for His very nature to live within. The Holy Spirit fills a believer that yearns for His presence more than His next breath—who believes that without Him there is no purpose to life. Do we want to live His power—His direction—His purpose?  We can only spiritually understand “blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matthew 13:16, NIV) when we have been purified by His fire. Then we are prepared for the power His fire brings to a yielded life.

The fire that purifies is the power that empowers. Allow Him to transform, and you will receive His promise of the fire of His Spirit that John foretold. Be refined for His purpose. God commands you to be filled, and your part of that command is to be prepared. When prepared He fills you to overflowing with the fire of His presence. Your part of being filled with the fire of His power is absolute surrender. His part is to act upon the gift of your life. It is a continuous beautiful never-ending work. It is His promise.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

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