Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "What Child Is This"1 (Lyrics)
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)
We were halfway through our Christmas Eve carol and candle-lighting service when it happened. One of the burning Advent wreath candles ignited a spray of red silk poinsettias. Fortunately, a parishioner sitting in a front pew had the presence of mind to leap up, grab the flaming stalk and run madly down the aisle and out the church door where she extinguished the flames in the snow.
Upon her re-entrance, everyone clapped, and then, we all burst into laughter, so relieved was everyone that what could have been a catastrophe had been avoided.
Yet, as I contemplated this event, I couldn't help but consider what it must have been like when the day of Pentecost came, and the apostles were all together in one place:
Acts 2:2-3 – Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what appeared to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. (NIV)
As I researched the biblical symbolism of fire on the Internet, I found that "fire provides a helpful picture of the work of the Holy Spirit as fire, in three critical ways, as He brings the presence of God, the passion of God, and the purity of God to Christians."
- The presence of God, for me, means comfort and encouragement that warms my heart and blesses me amidst any and all circumstances, giving me courage to continue in hope and faith.
- The passion of God empowers me to have enthusiasm in regard to everything and anything that He calls me to do.
- The purity of God humbles me to remember just how much of a sinner that I am and how marvellous, how wonderful, is His love and forgiveness to me through Christ, my Lord and Saviour.
Presence, passion, purity: the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in the life of the church, Christ's bride.
May it be our prayer and honour to see His work catch fire more and more within our own hearts day by day, which in turn will ignite the presence, passion, and purity of God anew within our homes, congregations, country, and world.
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for the work of the Holy Spirit within us. May we be open to the presence, passion, and purity with which You desire to bless us, that we might know You more deeply, love You more completely, and share You more frequently with all those we meet. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.