General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, told those who worked with him: “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your heart.”1 A fire left to itself usually goes out.
What a profound statement and challenge to every pastor: Watch the fire on the altar of your heart. Oftentimes we become so concerned about the fire of God upon the church, we neglect to evaluate the fire of God within our own heart.
Of All Things
When writing to his protégé Timothy, the apostle Paul, with a sense of urgency knowing that his days on this earth were coming to an end, challenged Timothy to do whatever it took to ensure he lived and ministered with the full flame of the Holy Spirit. Of all things Paul could have told Timothy to do, he told him to stir up the gift within him, to keep the Spirit of God blazing through his life and ministry.
Under the inspiration from the fire of God’s Spirit in his own life, Paul told Timothy, “Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7
Pastor, is the Spirit of God blazing through your life and ministry?
Grasp This Moment
Grasp this moment in history: Nero was reigning ruthlessly and violently against Christians, bringing their lives to an end in all kinds of ways. While this was happening, Paul told Timothy there was no need to fear, but to be filled with God’s power, motivated by God’s love, and to navigate through the future with sound judgment.
Paul was not rebuking Timothy but cautioning him. Watch the fire on the altar of your heart. He did not tell him he believed it was going out or had gone out, but Paul was reminding Timothy that if the fire of God is ever going out in your own heart, you are entering dangerous territory personally and in ministry leadership.
While we know the apostle Paul refers in his writings about the gifts of the Spirit, here he is referring to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Within the context of this text, we know that the power of the Spirit of God is the only One who can replace fearfulness with fearlessness, selfishness with sacrificial love, and disorder with discipline. Pastor, watch the fire on the altar of your heart.
3 Actions You Can Take to Watch the Fire on Your Heart
Action #1: Retreat Now to Be with the Lord
Each morning we need to go with the Lord on our own personal retreat. We need a time to hide away with God, evaluate our own life honestly, check the level of God’s fire in our heart, and then plead with God to set our heart on fire for our life and ministry. Never should this moment be minimized or compromised.
Action #2: Reset Your Own Life and Ministry
When we have practiced due diligence spiritually, God will reset our own life and ministry. His priorities will become our priorities. His mission will become our mission.
Action #3: Rekindle the Fire in Your Ministry
When we retreat with God and He resets our life and ministry to align with His priorities and mission, it is then that the blazing fire of God will empower us with His full flame. Then, through His powerful Spirit He has given to us, we will live, we will preach, we will serve, we will lead, we will pray, and we will love with the blazing fire of God.
Pastor, of all things, watch the fire on the altar of your heart. Remember, a fire left to itself usually goes out.
Now is the Time to Lead,
Ronnie W. Floyd