Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Nearer My God To Thee"1 (Lyrics)
Early this spring, we heard and read about grass and forest fires in various places. We know from the reports that these fires are extremely hard to put out and to keep from spreading. I have a little bit of personal experience with a grass fire.
Many years ago, when I was in my early teens, my dad worked for an apple grower. The orchard was about 100 acres (40 hectares) in size. There were apple and pear trees planted on terraces on the side of the Blue Mountains. We lived in a house in the orchard. Every autumn, the owner would hire a considerable number of local men and women to help with the harvest. His sons and I would also help. At that time, many people still smoked cigarettes, and one Saturday, a carelessly thrown cigarette butt started a grass fire. There was lot of long, dry grass and a light breeze, and pretty quickly, there was a considerable fire spreading fast. All of us ran to the fire and started to swat the flames in an effort to put it out. It took a while but we were successful.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon those gathered in Jerusalem and the fire of faith started to spread. The apostles remembered what Jesus had told them at the time of His ascension:
Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (NKJV)
This they did indeed, starting right there on that very first day, and some 3,000 believers joined their numbers, soon swelling to 5,000. But the gospel did not spread very fast in those early days. There was a lot of opposition and persecution from both religious and government authorities, as well as reluctance and fear on the part of local residents. But believers were scattered to different places, and small settlements of "People of the Way" started, in some cases, far from Jerusalem. Slowly but surely, the Christian faith spread through the whole Roman Empire and beyond.
There still are many attempts to stop the spreading of the gospel, but unlike grass and forest fires, because the power of the Holy Spirit is behind it, the fire of faith is impossible to stop.
Let us pray for wisdom and boldness, as the Holy Spirit inspires us with new ways to do what can we to help Him spread the fire of faith.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, as we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit to those people in Jerusalem so many years ago, we pray that He will once again come in power even here and now. We pray, Lord, that Your Spirit will speak to our hearts and to the hearts of many, and that, indeed, thousands will be added to our numbers. We offer this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.