Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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Smokey the Bear, I've always liked that guy. And he's taught me there's one thing you're supposed to do with forest fires - prevent them. So it bothered me a little when I read about a fire that happened in the boundary waters area of Northern Minnesota. It was a slow-moving fire and it burned through about 3,000 acres of canoe country. Now, here's what was unsettling: the rangers did nothing to fight it. They didn't even try. In fact, they called it friendly fire. Someone said in the paper, "The fire is doing its job. This is a prescribed natural fire."

Actually, I've learned that's done quite a bit. See the fire, this planned burn, well it releases nutrients into the soil, and the deer and the moose, the wildlife, thrive on that new growth that comes after the blaze. It's good for the birds and their food supply. A lot of good comes from it. See, that's kind of interesting, I thought. There is a fire that destroys things so it can make things live.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Renewing Fire."

Which brings us to our word for today from the Word of God; Acts 19:17-20. We're in the city of Ephesus, the power of Jesus there has been dramatically displayed. Satan has taken a visible beating, and it says, "The name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publically. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power."

Now, there is a renewing fire. A fire that burns up your sin and all the props that helped you do that sin. The result? It says, "the word grew in power." You see, powerful Christianity always makes repentance a key issue. Ordinary people can release extraordinary power when they abandon the sin that's been holding them back for so long. Now, maybe this explains some of your frustration in your life with Christ lately. Why there doesn't seem to be much spiritual passion or power or results. See there's sin that you've not brought to the fire.

We tend to be sort of casual about our sin sometimes. We excuse it, we minimize it, we resign ourselves to it, we blame somebody else for it, we tolerate it, we cover it up. Well I'll tell you this; Jesus doesn't take our sin casually. It killed Him! If you love Him, you've got to destroy the things that destroyed your Savior.

1 Peter 2:24 says, "He carried our sins in His own body on the tree that we might die to sin and live for righteousness." God calls us to deal with sin surgically to abandon it. Oh, we want the forgiveness, but we don't want the fire? Genuine repentance burns your bridges to the influences that have fed that sin. It makes things right with the people who have been affected by that sin. It finds someone to be accountable to so you won't do that sin again. True repentance sets up your life so you aren't going to do that again.

There is so much more power available for your life. But it's on the other side of true repentance. Yes, there's a fire that renews, that brings new life. And God may be calling you right now, maybe even through this time together, to come to that fire where you abandon that sin once and for all. You burn things up so you can't go back. Hasn't it held you back long enough? You know, the fire of repentance is friendly fire. And the same fire that cleanses you also has the power to take your life where it has never gone before.