In public institutions you see fire drills. These are important. They help prepare by thinking about the potential hazard and running through it. These drills make sure they're ready and on the ball. In a similar manner, we as Christians need to have a spiritual fire drill. Spiritually, our object is not to escape fire, but to see we're on fire. As Christians, our slogan could even be, "burn now or later". Burn now for the Lord, or later in hell. Just like the world's fire drills, there's a danger we're preparing to avoid.
Scriptural Fire Alarm!
To start, we need to cover the basics in the ultimate fire manual:
A. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
This is really the starting point. It calls for complete and total commitment. It doesn't allow for God to be merely an interest or hobby. Ask yourself, "How
does obedience to this commandment reflect in all areas of my life?" I can't but conclude it would show up as fervor, and humbling before Him.
There are some who obey this commandment, but then the fire dies away. Why? Jesus covered it in the parable of the sower (Mark 4:13-20). What state is a
person's heart in? Do they love this world and life of comfort, more? Some grow cold with persecution, others with cares of this life: business, people, riches.
For these people, love of self is really the problem. They love self a little too much over the love of God, these two are at odds with each other. This love of self
caters to laziness instead of striving for Him. We grow cold or lukewarm for God, because we're lazy. We need to repent of our fervent self-love, to repent of our
laziness in pursuing God. We need to seek God to give us His new heart.
B. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
This continues the thought of the previous passage. Hungering and thirsting means we'll strive to grow and walk with God, always, in all things. When we
realize a certain pursuit, such as prayer, helps us grow in righteousness, we work towards that. If we come up with convenient excuses, (don't have time, etc.),
then our fire, hunger and thirst isn't really intense. True desire creates effective action. Flimsy desire never quite kick-starts us.
This verse also gives a promise of success. If the hunger and thirst is really there, conforming to God's call will naturally follow. In line with this verse, we
should continually grow richer and deeper in our walk with God. Can you say that is happening with you? If not, Matthew 5:6 is not being done.
C. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when
thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:6,7 (Numbers 15:39)
The next set of fire regulations are clearly written. Truly, no one could misunderstand the specifics of this passage. God and His ways should consume us. They
should be before us at ALL times. Even when we are walking or sitting, lying down or changing from one to the other. His ways are ever to be our meditation.
We're told these things should be in our heart, not just our minds, if it stops at our minds, there is neither love nor total commitment. "In our hearts" means they
should be precious to us! They should be our delight and what we long for. This attitude is seen all throughout Psalm 119 (Ps. 119:97,103-104).
D. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs
This regulation refers to the ever important heart. To have our heart fully committed to God, is to not be committed to self. We either trust Him or we trust
ourselves. We can't do both, this passage says so. This is commitment, this is love.
Verse 6 shows God's faithfulness. Our trust is not risky. From this verse, we see that ALL we do should be under His hand. If we look to Him, if we long for Him
to manifest Himself in our lives, He will be there. We can see what kind of involvement God calls for in our lives. Again, this is no mere side interest or hobby
which He's calling for. This is all-out commitment, like a soldier laying his life on the line for his cause.
Having looked at some of the fire regulations, I want to pause and examine three basic home lives:
A. THE TYPICAL WORLDLY HOME LIFE
TV is the center. Other things may come and go, but TV's always there. It serves as the stress removal of the family. For older children, the stereo will very
likely take its place. God is non-issue in activities. If He is ever thought about, it is certainly not with affection. There must always be activities to occupy time
when there's nothing on TV. Life revolves around the activities, not God. The heart of man is easily caught up in toys. (1 John 2:15-17). As we move on in this
home life, we see that careers, employment and schooling are all decided by self, instead of pursuing God's leading. Even whom one marries is decided apart from
God. For some families, they like to tag on religion here and there, trying to add God's approval. Marriage in a church and christening of the newborn helps
them feel they have God's approval.
B. THE BIBLICAL HOME LIFE
Next, we'll examine the Bible-based home. From the previous section, "Scriptural Fire Alarm!", we have this laid out. Let's see an illustration to bring it closer
In this home, TV's definitely not the center. Stress relief is found in turning to God. There are activities, but they're not incessant and they're not a must. A
good portion of time is spent in directly "religious" pursuits. Compare this time with what worldly families spend on TV. This home adds things to its life-style
that help growth in its relationship with God. Not only intellectually, though that is important, but developing in a Christ-like nature. Just as a young man,
courting, seeks to improve his relationship, so does the Biblical home do this in its walk with God. This type of home always thinks of God, and He's the top
affection. If you could sit like a spider, in the corner, and watch this home, you'd be heavily impressed with how much God is balanced into every activity. He's
never forgotten and is consulted in every area of life. You would notice this household meditating on God's Word, private and family devotions, private and
family Bible reading, conversation discussing things found in these devotions and Bible readings and of course, prayer. This Bible-based home and the worldly
home have no common ground. They're literally night and day (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). This leads us up to our final home life.
C. STANDARD COMPROMISED HOME LIFE
Unfortunately, there are homes that have encountered God somewhat, but still love the worldly home life. Not having truly placed God first, they try and strike
a "make-believe" medium. I say "make-believe" because Jesus is very clear that we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
This family has to live in a "religious" enough life-style, to appease a nagging conscience. This family, on closer inspection, looks like God is merely a
hobby (though maybe an intense hobby). They follow different activities which appear to appease God's demands (attending church, etc.), yet continue to live
their own life. They do their own things, going their own way. Quite often, they will appear to seek God's will in some matter. They do this, all the while
seeking how they can make their will look like His will. This is where the art of excuse making comes into play. Some even seek prophets who tell them what
they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:2,3).
There are also those who utterly fail, in regards to attaining to the full Biblical home life, because their love for God is not really perfect. Since they truly love
self, they walk in continual joyless oppression. Their home life would reflect all God's promises, if they would truly hunger and thirst for Him. If they turned and
really sought Him out with all their heart, He would be found of them:
But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 4:29
And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and
understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. 1 Chronicles
And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and
prospered. 2 Chronicles 31:21
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
These verses are clear. God does not lie! If we don't find Him, it's because we're not really, totally seeking. I can say this from seeing it in God's Word, from
personal experience, and from seeing it fulfilled in the lives of others who do seek Him with all their heart.
Looking back one last time at these halfway homes, we see them reading Bibles, going to church, maybe even teaching Sunday Schools or leading as elders and
deacons. We see religious activities without life. We see cold and lukewarm hearts going through the motions, but no real zeal, no real love, no real fire for God.
In this household, we may easily recognize the "Leave it To Beaver" syndrome. The lawn may be manicured, the house clean, the family clean-cut and well
pressed. They may have a pretty good set of moral values. They may go to church on Sunday and always look like a model showcase family. Looking at passages
such as Mark 12:30; Matthew 5:6; Deuteronomy 6:6,7 and Proverbs 3:5,6, can you honestly say that this "Leave It To Beaver" family fulfills these verses? In
all honesty, I can't. These "Leave It To Beaver" families have to fall under either the compromised home life or the typical worldly home life.
There are a lot of verses that continue the call of "Scriptural Fire Alarm!" I want to look at a few more to give some clear direction and warnings in this matter.
It's such a crucial issue. We can't afford to take this lightly. Fire drills deal with very serious, life and death issues, and that's what stands before us.
A. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue
thee out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15,16
We need to keep this before our hearts. Our natural man will grow cold if we're not diligent in our pursuit of God, PERIOD! That coldness or lukewarmness is not
acceptable with God. If we can't say we're on fire for God, we'd better correct that matter immediately. We may fool others, but we won't fool God. How do we
know we're on fire? Looking for signs of laziness is a good starting point. Are we diligent after things of growth? If we're not, we can't afford to lightly value
this slippage. That's a sure sign of growing cold.
If a person's on fire for collecting cereal box tops, what would you see him doing? He'd always want to eat cereal, more than just at breakfast. He'd ask friends,
family, and co-workers to save cereal box tops for him. He might even hit the local garbage cans, if he was real desperate for tops. This illustration certainly has
it limitations, at least I hope so, but it serves to make a point. What signs of fire do you know you should see in yourself, if you're on fire for God?
B. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that
beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1
Our Christian walk is compared to a competition. We're called to fight for the top honor, giving our all. Verse 27 ties a warning into the striving, there are
consequences for giving up in this competition. Most serious consequences.
C. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven
golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say
they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first
works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of
the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree
of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:1-7
There's a serious warning blaring out to us in this epistle to the Ephesian church. They had straight doctrines. They appeared the picture perfect church, with
one major flaw. They had grown cold in the area of love. They no longer really loved the Lord God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. Failure in this,
even though everything else was perfect, spelled condemnation before God. We must watch to see our love for Him doesn't grow cold.
D. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will
manifest myself to him. John 14:21
This verse completes the previous passage. Jesus said that we'll have a perfect, complete relationship with Him, if we love
Him. All that the Ephesian church was doing will be done, but will issue forth from that love of Him. We can have the appearance without having the reality, but
we can't have the reality of a love relationship without having the appearance.
E. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 1 John 3:3
This shows us, there will be continual growth and increasing in richness, if we're truly with Him. We'll be diligent to become like Him.
We have initial cleansing through the blood, as we come to Christ. We grow in this purity. We conform to it, by God's Spirit working in us, bringing out this
state as a reality.
We find the opposite point made by way the verse is worded. In other words, "if we don't purify ourselves, we don't really have this hope in us." This verse
says, "every man" meaning, all who are in Christ do this. Another passage that expounds on this verse in 1 John is found in Titus:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly, in this present world; Titus 2:11,12
F. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable
service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and
perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1,2
The commitment called for is total. It is our reasonable response to God. In other words, it is unreasonable if we don't give over ourselves, totally dying to
Verse 2 gives direction how to fulfil verse one.
G. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
The different kind of person, this fire drill calls for, isn't just revamping an old model. After we truly come to God, we are reborn as a new creature. If we follow
the direction of this new creation, that we have become, we will live the kind of life God calls for.
H. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on
things on the earth. Colossians 3:1,2
For those who have become Christians, this clearly shows what the call is. Once we have become Christ's, we have a new focus in life. We are in many ways,
I. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace
in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians
Here are more key elements of this recipe. They're like flour and water in making bread. If these are left out, you don't have bread. These elements are
continually abiding in Christ, and doing all things with Him in view.
J. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
This verse lights up a spiritual reality. This continual walk, if we are truly in love with Him, will provide a living strength in us. In the flesh, we struggle to do
right and seek Him, but we grow weary and fail. In a true spiritual relationship, we have life flowing into us on a daily basis. This means striving after God isn't
a burden, it's a natural outflow of His life in us! It is a joy, and is continuous. Two other verses that complete the thought here are:
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. Colossians 1:29
If we're looking for any other kind of Christianity than that which burns for God, we won't find it taught in the Bible. There isn't any "societal Christianity".
There are no "weekend only" soldiers for God. It just isn't there. I would like to close this in a rather unique manner. There are those who will just laugh off a
message such as this, thinking it too extreme, so I will give you a challenge. If you're sure this fervency isn't really called for, I offer $100 to the first person
who can show me clear scriptural evidence, from their KJV New Testament, that God is pleased with anything less. If it's there, you better start your hunt, the
race is on.