One sure way to get our whole family together in one room at one time was to turn down the heat a little on a cold night and then build a fire in the fireplace. Slowly but surely, the kids’ rooms upstairs would empty out as they made their way downstairs and said, “Man, it’s cold up there, Dad! You’ve got a fire in here?” Always worked. We all loved those fires. Building a good one involved several key steps, of course. First, you roll some newspapers into logs and put them into the fireplace. Then those little sticks that burn easily; they’re the kindling, of course. Then the logs stacked alternately on the kindling, leaving plenty of room, of course, for air to circulate around the wood. It looked nice, but it wasn’t a fire yet. There was a missing ingredient. It took that match to make it a fire. But a match all alone did not a fire make.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “How to Start a Fire.”
Before the match lit up the fireplace, I always had to do all the things needed to get the fire ready. That’s what it takes for a spiritual fire to start,as well. The kind of fire that may be what your church, your ministry, or your life desperately needs right now.
We can learn a lot about our part in bringing down fire from God in our word for today from the Word of God. It’s in 1 Kings 18, beginning with verse 32. God’s prophet Elijah has challenged 450 leaders of Baal worship to a spiritual duel on Mt. Carmel. Whose God could answer from heaven and consume by fire a sacrifice on the altar? That true God would be the one Israel would worship.
In spite of every spiritual contortion the Baal Gang could go through, their sacrifice sat untouched on the altar. The Bible says Elijah took the following steps: “He built an altar in the name of the Lord. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed. Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord – he is God! The Lord – he is God!'” Elijah got things ready for a fire that only God could send; trusting God to do what only He could do.
That is so often God’s modus operandi in sending us the miracle that is our only hope. Abraham has to move from his home in order to found a new people in a new land. Noah has to build a boat before there’s any need for that boat. Moses has to take the step of faith by choosing to go with a nation of slaves instead of staying with a nation of masters in order to see the miracles of the Exodus. You get things ready by steps of faith and obedience that God calls you to do. Then He sends the fire. Our approach is like this: “Do something, God, and I’ll get moving.” God’s approach: “No. You start moving, and I’ll do something.”
Billy Graham has often told the story of a visit to Yosemite National Park where visitors gathered in the valley beneath Inspiration Point, and this fire blazed at the top of the mountain. The U.S. Park Service put on this amazing demonstration years ago. The voice boomed across the valley, “Let the fire fall!” And it did! A ball of fire, Billy described, cascading down the mountain in this blazing Niagara!
Often in recent days, I’m praying, “Lord, let the fire fall” on our ministry, on those I love, on spiritually important meetings or conversations. I want the fire of heaven to come down and do the life-giving, amazing things that only God can do. But He’s got something He’s wanting me to do, and you, to get ready for the fire.