Fanning spiritual flames

When we awoke one early spring Saturday morning, the temperature was cooler than anticipated, the wind was blowing and the skies were cloudy. It all added up to one more day to build a fire in the fireplace before the spring weather arrived for good. All day we enjoyed the warmth and coziness of the flames, and by eight in the evening, the fire was slowly beginning to cool down. But I had one more log to burn, so off to the garage I went for one last load of kindling to stoke my fire. And then I grabbed a book, stretched out on the couch, and enjoyed the last hour of crackling flames.

fireplaceIt is a simple combination of ingredients that will rekindle a fire’s flame: a steady supply of oxygen, a combustible material, and an initial source of combustion. But what about the flame of our heart? What will rekindle our passion for God? Because the reality is that every believer faces moments and seasons of a diminishing fervor for God. When we face those times, what is the combination of ingredients that will rejuvenate our souls into a blazing inferno? Here are some that we find in Scripture:

  • It begins with God. It is impossible to be renewed if one has never been made new to begin with. The passion of some will wane because they have never been made into a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation is solely the work of God apart from any of our self-righteous works (Titus 3:5). Spiritual weariness and coolness may be an opportunity to examine myself to see if I really am in the faith, or if I am attempting to accomplish my spiritual “goals” without my spiritual guide (the Holy Spirit).
  • It is a return. When the Ephesians faltered in their love for Christ, He exhorted them to, “remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first…” (Rev 2:5a). To recultivate their love for Christ, they first were called to remember what life was like when they were passionate in their love for Him, repent of the sins that led them to forsake that fervor, and then return to doing the things that cultivated their allegiance to Christ. That simple formula — remember, repent, and return — is appropriate for every believer who has strayed in their zeal for Christ. What did you do and what was your life like you were hungry for Christ? Return to doing those things again.
  • It is a decision. Maintaining and rekindling spiritual fervor is a decision to keep putting on the new man and to keep setting my mind on the things that are above in heaven (Col. 3:2, 10), regardless of what my feelings may be telling me to do. One writer put it this way (this is a loose paraphrase): “It’s ok to not want to pray. It’s ok to feel like putting aside your prayer list and getting on with your workday. It’s ok to feel the struggle of the flesh against the will. It’s ok…just make sure you pray anyway.”
  • It is a mind-set. Renewal comes from a transformed mind — a mind that is not fashioned after the external, superficial customs of the world, but is constantly being changed by the truths and ideals of God (Rom. 12:2). It may be that my dwindling flame is because I have become susceptible to some worldly lie or philosophy. It may be that I have begun to believe that I am unnecessary to the cause of Christ, or that I have no usable gifts to contribute to His body, or that I am incapable of changing some nagging habit or sin. Those thoughts of discouragement serve as much to extinguish my spiritual flame as water serves to douse a physical flame.
  • It is a perspective. A flame is rekindled when we remember our hope. It is not my outer man that needs replacing (or my outer man’s house, or car, or bank account); it is my inner man that needs rebuilding. And the inner man is being rebuilt (2 Cor. 4:16). Nothing that happens to me on earth can take away the treasure that has been laid up in heaven for me (1 Pt. 1:4). No earthly catastrophe can rob me of my heavenly joy.

Because of our fleshliness, every believer is prone to ebbs and flows in the spiritual life. The lulls need not be permanent. You can change. And the Lord has given you all that you need in order to experience the joy of satisfaction in Him.

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