Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Spirit Of God Descend"1 (Lyrics)
Here's a riddle for those of you familiar with church tradition:
How are cake recipes and church bulletins alike?
You'd likely agree that both list ingredients to be assembled and enjoyed. But did you remember the fire? Yes: They both require fire — a fire hot enough to transform the ingredients into something useful and wonderful. An unbaked cake in a cold oven remains unchanged and useless. So, too, for the ingredients of worship: Without a transforming fire they remain merely words and rituals, and we remain like an unbaked cake in a cold oven. Fire is essential. It is the very fire of God. I believe that John the Baptist spoke of that fire:
Matthew 3:11 – I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (NIV)
That is about Christ's grand mission. Christ would send His Spirit to be a fiery agent of transformation, "like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap" (Malachi 3:2 NIV). John the Baptist was not suggesting merely a bulletin ingredient in speaking of a baptism of the Spirit and fire. He was referring to the real deal: the complete immersion of people's lives into the transforming fire of God's Spirit. God's fire would be hot enough to burn away the deadly grip of sin and create new life — Christ's life ruling within through His Spirit. The apostle Paul spoke of such a transformation:
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (NIV)
Consider again the unbaked cake. You know that it must be inserted into the oven completely. You know if it's really getting baked, by the sweet aroma filling the air. So, too, for those being transformed in the Spirit's fire: A sweet aroma emanates through their lives. It's the aroma of God's love. Yet we easily assume that we can be loving Christians without the fire. We may not realize, or even care, that little of the sweet aroma is detected by others.
With this in mind, I suggest an ingredient occasionally listed in the order of worship. It's the hymn, "Spirit of God, descend upon my heart" by George Croly. You may recognize it, and you may agree that without fire, this hymn is lifeless; nothing changes. Only the Spirit can set its words ablaze in the soul, transforming the hymn into a passionate plea — a prayer which God hears and answers — resulting in a sweet aroma.
For this devotional, I supply only a few words from the hymn, hopefully enough to help form a gripping prayer within each of us. May these words express our one holy passion:
Prayer: Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move.
Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame —
The baptism of the heaven-descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.
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Yes indeed. Thanks for the illustration.
Thanks for the encouraging words, Diane.
Thanks, Diane, for adding a new dimension to how we think about church bulletins!
You surely make the bells of heaven ring in my heart as I read and apply these good words today, Diane.
Amen! As usual, I enjoyed this lesson from your heart. Thank you!
Thanks, Diane, for a powerful devotion. May all who read be filled with the Holy Spirit and try with His help to spread the fire.
You really nailed it, Diane!! Thank you. It’s not only for those who lead, but for those who listen and make our testimony heard out in our community. God bless you.
Thank you for these beautiful and dynamic words. I pray too that we all be filled with the Spirit’s fire.
God bless you.
Thanks for the devotional today. The hymn I thought of ‘Shine Jesus Shine fill our hearts with your love,’ ‘Blaze Spirit Blaze set our hearts on fire’.
You have written an excellent analogy using the example of the cake recipe. May the spirit of the Lord within us be an ever-glowing fire radiating to others that they may know the power of His love and care.
Blessings for the writings you do.
Diane, thank you for your devotional today. That is one of my favourite hymns, one I discovered as a teenager and which frequently forms a personal prayer for me. Yet for some reason I have not chosen it recently when planning public worship. Thank you for reminding me that the fire of the Spirit must bake the cake!
Bless you for your writing ministry.
You are a wonderful writer of the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Every time I read your devotionals, I thank God for you. He has given you a special gift of bringing His word in a special way for many people to understand its meaning. I enjoy the depth you go into to bring up little gems to remember.
May the Lord give you many more opportunities to write these devotionals Diane. I read them every day.
What an apt and wonderful analogy you make! May our hearts (including mine!) allow that flame to burn ever more strongly every day!