In last weekend’s sermon, Pastor Wu Yuzhuang taught on the steps needed to ignite an unceasing fire in one’s life.
On the weekend of 2 and 3 Jul, Pastor Wu Yuzhuang began his sermon with Acts 2:1-3. When the fire of God came upon the disciples of Jesus, their lives were never the same again, he said, introducing the title of his sermon, “Unceasing Fire”.
Fire in the Bible symbolises a variety of things, from God’s judgment, trials, suffering, to the presence of God (Exo 13:21) and passion.
“Passion is like a fire; strong feelings and intense emotions consume us,” the pastor explained, providing the analogy of someone who accidentally touches a hot kettle—the fire makes him or her jump. Likewise, a passionate Christian on fire for God lifts his hands to praise and worship Him.
Reading Matthew 3:11, the pastor noted that it is possible to have a relationship with God without being on fire for God. That was why Jesus came, to baptise people with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Jesus himself was the very example of someone who is passionate about the house of God. At the age of 12, he was found in the temple debating Scriptures with the teachers.
Pastor Zhuang went on to define being on fire for God as having a passionate, vibrant, intimate relationship with God. That relationship results in a contagious, countercultural life. “How you live your life should not be dependent on how others live their lives,” he remarked. “Your moral compass is not determined by social media.”
“One person on fire for the Lord is more important than one thousand people that are merely interested,” he continued. He gave the example of a person who is willing to believe in God but when it comes to committing himself to study and grow in God, he draws a line. These people are meaning interested in God but not on fire.
HOW TO POSITION ONESELF TO CATCH THE FIRE OF GOD
When John Wesley (1703-1791) was a young man, he went to the US to be a missionary. However, he was so unfruitful that he went back to England, disappointed. On the way home, the boat he was on was about to sink. In his terror, he saw a group of Christian praying and praising God at the edge of the boat. The boat did not sink but that experience sparked a fire in Wesley’s heart. He experience a revival at a meeting at Aldersgate after reading Martin Luther’s prelude to the Book of Romans. For the next 50 years, Wesley preached the Gospel all over England and Europe. He eventually founded the Methodist denomination.
When asked what his secret was, Wesley replied, “I set myself on fire and the world came to watch me burn.”
Pastor Zhuang encouraged the church that no matter how old or young a person is, he can catch the fire of God. He went on to share how one can position themselves to do so.
1. Stay close to the fire
Reading 2 Chronicles 7:1 and 3, Pastor Zhuang noted that the children of Israel saw the fire come down from heaven because they were close to the temple. “If you want God’s fire, you have to stay close to the fire. You need to drown in His presence, to worship. That’s why it is so important for us to come to church,” he preached.
In Acts 2:1, the disciples were together in one place when the fire of God came. “Not only did the disciples stay close to the fire, but they also stayed close to one another,” the pastor highlighted.
While it is important for Christians to have a personal relationship with God, it is also important for us to gather as God’s people to worship him together. Pastor Zhuang likened this to campfire, where the wood fire or charcoal pieces arranged one on top of another, touching. That way the fire would catch and spread. Similarly, one has to stay close to other Christians to catch the fire of God.
“That is why building a community of like-minded people in a ministry is so important,” he noted. “The heat of fire from others will ignite your fire for God.”
2. Watch out for wood that is wet
Reading Acts 2:12-13, Pastor Zhuang noted that where some were perplexed by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit while others openly mocked the disciples.
“Not only must we stay close to a fire, but we must also make an assessment of the condition of our wood,” he said. “No matter how intense the fire is, if our wood is wet, it prevents our wood from catching fire.”
When a Christian’s heart is dull, they are unable to hear or see what God has intended for them (Matt 13:15). Wet wood can come in the form of indifference, apathy or busyness, or simply giving priority to other aspects of your life instead of your spiritual life. It can also be a sinful lifestyle filled with immoral thoughts, unforgiveness, pride and resentment.
“We need to examine our hearts and deal with the ‘wet wood’ in our lives so that God can ignite the fire in us,” Pastor Zhuang encouraged the church.
“It doesn’t matter how strong your fire is, or how long this fire has been burning, it is the nature of fire to go out,” Pastor Zhuang said. “An unattended fire will goes out eventually.” Given enough time, discouraging situations and change of seasons in life, the fire of God will eventually burn out.
The good news is, that God wants to give His people an unceasing fire. Reading Leviticus 6:12-13, the pastor noted that God gave specific instructions “The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”
With this, the pastor shared three simple steps to keep an unceasing fire.
1. Feed the fire
Reading Leviticus 6:12-13 again, Pastor Zhuang highlighted that the priests have to feed the fire every single morning with wood—which speaks of Man in the Bible. “This means that you are giving yourself to the fire, not once in a while, not once a week, but every morning,” the pastor explained.
The first thing a Christian must give themselves to is prayer and worship. “We worship what we value the most,” Pastor Zhuang said. Some people may not worship God, but they worship other things, such as their jobs, social media, digital games or their dramas and movies. They may not have time to read the Word or to pray, but they will wake up early in the morning to participate in the activity they like, such as a sport or watching a football match.
“I’m not suggesting that you wake up at 4 am to worship God. But I’m suggesting that apart from the many things that we do daily, we should set aside time to feed ourselves with prayer and worship,” he continued.
Secondly, Christians need to feed the fire with the word of God. In Luke 24:32, Jesus spoke to two disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus and encouraged them from the Scriptures. The word of God ignited a fire within them.
Pastor Zhuang shared a story of a time when a fire ignited in his heart after he heard the Word of God. “However, that fire didn’t change my life, it simply started a change in my life,” he revealed. “I cannot depend on the one word or the one sermon I heard 30 years ago to keep the fire burning. That’s why I still read the Bible every day.”
2. Fan the fire
Fanning the flames is a conscious, intentional effort to keep the fire burning. Romans 12:11-13 reads, “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.”
When a Christian loses motivation to pray, go to church or even fellowship with others, Pastor Zhuang encouraged them to “pray all the harder!”
3. Guard the fire
If someone were to light a candle on a birthday cake, the first thing they would do is to cup the flame with their hands to keep it from going out. “Similarly, we must guard the fire of God,” the pastor commented.
He warned the church to guard the fire against distractions, and sins that will cause the fire to cease, including busyness and ungratefulness.
The fire on the altar was a reminder to the Israelites that they had constant need of God in their lives. One of the biggest problems with the Israelites was that they constantly forgot the goodness of God because they were ungrateful.
“The absence of gratitude will result in an unwillingness and inability to properly perceive God’s goodness to us,” Pastor Zhuang taught. He recalled a time when he felt so discouraged in life that he started complaining to a fellow pastor. His friend then reminded him of the goodness of God in his life. Pastor Zhuang cried when he realised that he had forgotten all the things God had given him. Right then, God ignited a fire in his heart that burned away all the wrong thoughts.
In closing, the pastor told the church not to be daunted by the seemingly long list of things they have to do in order to catch the fire. “If you want the fire, you’ve got to show it, but remember it is God who gives you the fire. It’s not your fire, but God’s fire. If you open your heart, God will set it ablaze,” he encouraged the church, before ending the service by praying for the married couples in the congregation to also keep the fire burning in their marriages.