by Ryan Wheeler
Everyone burns for something.
By "burn" I mean to be consumed by something or to be completely passionate and devoted to something. Some burn for money, others for power. Some burn for comfort, others for approval. Some burn for pleasure, others for success. Some burn for romance, others for possessions. Even the ones who live their life on the couch in front of a glowing screen are burning up on the altar of sloth and mindless comfort. Everyone burns for something.
For what are you burning?
Paul was a man who was always burning. Before he met Jesus he burned to advance himself with religious rank. He was a man who breathed murder and threats towards the Christians whom he felt threatened the religious system in which he was advancing. After meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, however, he burned for something new. Check out the way he talked after his encounter:
"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:20-21 NIV)
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." (Acts 20:24 NIV)
And at the end of his life...
"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Encountering Jesus did not cause Paul to stop burning. It caused him to burn rightly.
C.T. Studd penned this poem which has inspired many men and women of God to burn rightly:
Only one life 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.
So I ask again, for what are you burning? To burn rightly means a total surrender of self to the will of God. Are you brave enough to do this? Do you have the faith and trust in God required to offer yourself as a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1) on the altar of God?
Men and women who burn for the right thing are few but powerful. They are the fanatics. They are the heroes. They are the ones over the centuries who changed history for the better. They are the lovers of God like Amy Carmichael who gave her life to minister to child prostitutes in India during the first half of the 20th century. She wrote a powerful poem that might help to ignite the right kind of burning in you:
From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher.
From silken self, O Captain, free
They soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings;
Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified,
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
Burn up your life, Christian! Be the fuel for the flame of God. Burn hot! Burn bright! Burn until your earthly fuel is spent and Jesus welcomes you home to great reward!
To live is Christ, to die is gain!
Milton Hubbard has served as Pastor of Living Word Assembly since 1977
Ryan Wheeler serves as Associate Pastor at Living Word Assembly.