Monday, January 25, 2016

Quenching or Fanning the Flame

The Holy Spirit came as flames of fire on Pentecost. But God appeared in fire as well from the time of the Old Testament, at the burning bush on Mt. Sinai, the pillar of fire in the desert, the fire that fell on Elijah’s offering in front of the evil prophets of Baal – God’s fire burns with great force and accomplishes all it’s meant to do.  But interestingly enough, we have the capacity to put out that fire inside our own lives.

In 1 Thessalonians, the Holy Spirit, through Paul, gives some short and quick commands that all interlock as one great command. DO NOT QUENCH HIS SPIRIT. Don’t despise prophecies. When God speaks, urges, rebukes, comforts, encourages, that’s His burning flame at work in you. How many times do we just shrug those things off as mere ramblings of our minds, when they were the actual thoughts of God Himself? The more we shrug off God, the more we quench that flame, throwing cold water on our only source of warmth, light and protection.  

He also says DO NOT DESPISE PROPHECIES, to not reject the teaching of the Word of God. Through your pastor, a spiritual mentor, reading His word – God can speak specific guidance to you that you don’t like or that you feel uncomfortable with. You decide to “pray about it,” which really means you shelve it, forget about it, ignore it. In God’s eyes, you’re despising His word for you, and in turn are quenching His Spirit.

Then He says EXAMINE ALL THINGS, don’t just take whatever anyone says at face value, check it in the light of the Word of God, see if the Holy Spirit confirms what is being taught. Many who I used to teach have been lured away by promises of an easier way to heaven with minimum effort. Instead of examining the spirit of the televangelist preaching a cheap gospel, they jump at the chance for an excuse not to live sacrificially for God, and totally quench the Spirit of truth.

FIRMLY HOLD ONTO WHAT IS GOOD – that should be a no-brainer, but we are naturally so negative, that we let go of good more than we realize. We hear a message of faith and encouragement, our resolve is buoyed up and we’re bursting with determination to live out God’s Word, and then something goes a little off course, and we drop our faith, douse the flame, and get frustrated with God. We eventually drag ourselves back to God, complain question and doubt, and when His fire is ablaze again, do the same old thing.  

And finally ABSTAIN FROM ALL APPEARANCES OF EVIL. Don’t just abstain from evil, but even from any appearance of evil! If you are the kind of Christian who looks for excuses to push the boundaries of what is and isn’t sin, this verse is talking about you. What exactly is a curse word? Do you find ways to kind of say them without really saying them? What is immoral behavior? Do you like to hang out in places where it goes on, with the excuse that you aren’t doing what everyone else is, so there’s no harm in it? Do you like to dress in a way that sends mixed messages of being fleshly but not really? If you enjoy the appearance of evil, it means that the Holy Spirit is of very little value to you. You are quenching Him.  

The overall command? We need His burning blaze to survive. Don’t treat Him lightly – it’s life or death. He guides us in all truth (1 John 16), which means that we never have to be lost or confused. If we are, there’s a good chance it’s because we’ve been quenching Him and even despising Him. Stay tuned for more posts on how to stay plugged into this blaze, our source of life.  

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Examine all things. Firmly hold onto what is good. Abstain from all appearances of evil.  (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 MEV)

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