The Flames

Friday, December 23, 2022
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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.

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About the author:

Lynne Phipps <>
Tawatinaw, Alberta, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.

    Dear Lynne
    Amen, Amen, and Amen.

    I thank you for your devotional this morning. We need that.

    How perfect for us! We need the 3 “P’s!
    Aligns with the Word! Thanks, dear Lynne!

    Thank you Lynne.
    I enjoy your messages very much. They seem to resonate with me.

    Thank you for your message – God’s presence through the Holy Spirit brings us comfort, power, humility.

    Loved this devotion very much! Not only beautifully written but a great lesson. Thanks for serving our Lord through your words!

    Thank you, Lynne, always a good devotion to start my day. May you and your family have a joyful, yet peaceful Christmas season. Blessings.

    Wishing you and your family a merry and blessed Christmas, Lynne. I hope you continue to write your wonderful devotionals. I always enjoy them!

    Amen to that message and prayer, Lynne.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Dear Lynne,
    Well done, I always love your devotional comments.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas, en famille.

    Thank you. Your devotional writings are always appreciated. God bless you
    and your family.
    From a faithful reader.

    Great message Lynne. Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    Does your church maybe need a sprinkler system?

    Thank you. If all the “fire” stories were collected, the volume would be thick! Great reflection.
    Merry Christmas.

    Hello Lynne
    Many thanks for this lovely and informative devotional.
    Do have a Merry Christmas and we wish you many blessings from our LORD in the coming year.

    Merry Christmas Lynne
    Thank you for this piece. It was interesting and thank goodness your church experience had a good ending. Every time I read your devotionals, I wish we were neighbours!!
    God bless.

    Dear Lynne thank you for this very beautiful and endearing devotional this morning. Through every devotional you write, there is clear evidence that you have the presence, passion, and purity of our Lord Jesus. You have a special talent of sharing how the Lord works in our daily lives and I always look forward to reading about your experiences. May you continue to write and share with us the positive and comforting care available to us as we follow the Lord’s ways in our daily lives. Blessings as you celebrate the Lord’s birth with your family and a very blessed New year ahead.

    Dear Lynne:
    This is one of the finest Devotionals you have blessed us with today.
    We thank and appreciate all the wonderful emails you have sent on many occasions this year. I always enjoy them and especially how you begin with a special story which always tells me this has to be from Lynne.
    May God richly bless you as you serve Him through these meaningful Devotionals.
    I wish you and your family a Blessed Christmas and only the best in the New Year.

    Good morning, Lynne,
    As my granddaughter says, “Everything that ends well, is well.” I am glad that your service ended well, and it sparked a devotional. It is always interesting to see what expressions means to someone else and you expressed yours very well.
    Christmas is definitely a time of hope as we remember that Jesus came over two thousand years ago, and people are still celebrating and learning about Him throughout the world. I think also if we work on our presence, passion, and purity that we can ignite the flame of faith in others around us and rekindle our own.
    Thanks for always sharing your faith and Merry Christmas. Blessings.

    Thank you, Lynne. This gives me a new way of thinking, not only about a flame of fire, but also about the Holy Spirit.
    Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas, and a Happy, Healthy New Year. Looking forward to reading more of your insightful devotions.

    Hello Lynne,
    I just wanted to thank you for your message yesterday. I loved the analogy of the Flames to describe God’s presence, passion, and purity – beautiful!
    May He be abundantly present to you and your family this Christmas.
    Happy Christmas, blessings, and thanks.

    Well, Lynne, I smiled when I read that you wrote this morning’s devotional. We think it has been cold here (11F) at our ranch and then I think about you and other Canadians who must think 11 F is nothing!!! We are in Houston where all our children live and where we will celebrate this holiday time together.
    All I could think of when I first read your devotional was how quickly that lady acted. We do not have anything around the Advent wreath at our church. Do you remember the Advent Wreath being a part of worship when you were growing up? I do not…the first time I remember it being a part of worship was 20 or 30 years ago.
    As for the rest of your devotional, thank you and many blessings to you and those your love.

    Thank you. As always, a message that hits home and is easy for your readers to share with others. Your gift shared so freely.

    Thanks Lynne!

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