Keep the Fire Burning by Filani Olabanji

 
Keep the Fire Burning by Filani Olabanji

Fire is one of the important agents that makes up a Christian, E.M Bounds who was a clergyman, a writer and prayerist once said that “No erudition, no purity of diction, no width of mental outlook, no flowers of eloquence, no grace of person can atone for lack of fire. Prayer ascends by fire.Flame gives prayer access as well as wings, acceptance as well as energy. There is no incense without fire; no prayer without flame”, this means without the presence of the fire of the Lord in our hearts, our prayers would not rise up to heaven. As christians, the fire must be sustained in our hearts because that is what helps us to sustain our soul and spiritual life. The "fire" in this context does not have the literal meaning of fire, rather, it is the supernatural fire from heaven, Leviticus 9:24“ESV:And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. To be an effective and powerful christian we need to keep the fire burning at all times.

Leviticus 6:12 ESV:The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. 
 
The continual burning of the fire explains and symbolises on one hand the unceasing love of God for the sacrifice of Christ, also on the other hand, it shows God's unending hatred for sin, it symbolises also the unending exercise of our faith, love, affection, prayer and praise. It also portrays the need to keep the presence of God alive in our hearts

The objects needed for the burnt offering are all symbolic, they all have deep spiritual significance, the altar symbolises the heart, the wood symbolises fasting, prayer and meditation, ashes signifies sin.

The fire illuminates our lives, our lives are not expected to emmit smoke, the fire is meant to rise up and go to God. 2Timothy 1:6 ESV:For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Believers are expected to fan into fire every good works, divine gifts e.t.c. the fire is not expected to burn lazily, it must rage, it must burn at its peak as this is what God wants Revelations 3:16 ESV:So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Any believer whose altar is lukewarm would be spewed out by God, and this is because the fire was initially given to us by God (Leviticus 9:24). In order to keep the fire burning, we need to engage in some activities which are explained in the succeeding paragraphs.

It is important to know that just like in the case of the children of Israel, the priest who is to set the altar and ignite the fire upon the altar for the burnt offering needs to put away the ashes before igniting the fire Leviticus 6:10b ESV:and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar. 
 
As stated earlier that the ashes symbolises sin, believers also need to do away with all appearances of sin, the presence of the ashes will not help in kindling the fire it will rather prevent the fire from burning, likewise, we Christians are to take away all blemish from our hearts, which is the altar, so as to keep the fire burning.

Holiness is an important factor to keep the fire burning, before the priest can offer the burnt offering, there is a linen  he needs to change into, Leviticus 6:10a ESV: ESV:And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body. The linen garment symbolises righteousness Revelations 19:8 ESV:it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. This indicates that for us to sustain the fire of God in our hearts, we need to be righteous, pure and holy, we need to guard our hearts diligently and be conscious of the things that we hear, see and speak as Christians just like the priest need to examine the animals which are to be placed on the altar (Leviticus 7:8). It is greatly important that we tend the fire in our hearts, by being careful of the things we receive into our hearts.

Furthermore, to sustain the fire, fasting and prayer should be done consistently, fasting and prayer are the woods needed to keep the fire burning, as Christians we must not stop praying 1Thessalonians 5:17 ESV:pray without ceasing. The wood is one of the basic requirements to ignite the fire Leviticus 6:12b...and the priest shall burn wood upon it daily...  All forms of prayer should be rendered; the prayer of thanksgiving, forgiveness, intercession and so on. We should not give room for the devil, he knows that a prayerless Christian cannot have a burning heart, nothing should take the place of prayer in our lives, we should not be too busy to forget the secret place, Christ lived a life of prayer while on earth, the apostles did the same, they were able to win more souls to Christ through prayer, fasting and sharing the word of God, likewise, we should live a prayerful life. Transactions occur in the place of prayer, just like the priest laid down woods and in turn he gets fire, we also get answers when we pray, most importantly, prayer and fasting is greatly needed to win more souls to the kingdom of God, because it is in the place of prayer we gather strength, we receive insights, the fire continually burns.

Also, thanksgiving is an important tool in sustaining the fire, thanksgiving allows us to see and know the depth and mysteries of God, in the place of thanksgiving we get to see the magnamity of all that God has done and can still do 1Thesaalonians 5:18 ESV:give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Thanksgiving is the will of the father, we should constantly appreciate the father for the fire he has ignited in us, too much petitions are like ashes which would prevent the fire from burning. Thanksgiving draws down the presence of God and this is one of the spiritual meaning of the burning altar ( the presence of God).

Conclusively, believers must endeavour to keep the fire upon the altar burning at all times because the fire is from heaven and it has been given to us freely, we should therefore tend the fire and ensure it keeps burning just like God commanded Moses and Aaron Leviticus 6:12 ESV:The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings.

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