Monday, April 6, 2009
This weekend I spoke at a Men-Boy's retreat on "Having a Hot Heart for God." I love to use visual props in my messages, so I gave this message around a campfire. Here are the four ingredients I spoke about in having a hot heart for God:
1. An outside source must light the fire. Without an outside source starting the fire, the wood is simply dead and dry. It has no life in itself. The fire cannot start itself. In the same way, we are dead in our sins and cannot save ourselves (Eph. 2). God, by His mercy, must come to us and save us. He is the One who shows us our sin and gives us the grace to repent and believe unto salvation. When we receive Him, He gives us His Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who works "in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). Ultimately, only God can give us a passion for Him. If you do not have a hot heart for God, ask God to give you a greater desire for Him. I believe this is a prayer God would love to answer.
Does point number one mean we just passively sit back and do nothing? Of course not.
2. We must stoke the fire for it to stay hot. We stoke the fire by spending time with God in the Word and prayer. We must seek the Lord in order to keep the fire of our heart hot. Even Jesus, while on earth, would often slip away to the Wilderness and pray. If the Son of God, who had an eternity of fellowship with God built up, needed to spend time alone with His Father, how much more do we need to spend much time with God in order to keep the fire hot?! When we meditate on the Word and prayer, we stoke the fire and add logs to the flame.
Does seeking the Lord mean it is just a "Jesus and me" deal? Not at all.
3. The logs must stay together to burn brightly. If you remove one log from the fire (which I did when I gave this message), it will soon go out. For a short time it will continue to burn, but it doesn't take long for it to get cold. In the same way, we need the support and encouragement of other "hot hearted" Christians to stay hot for God. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Prov. 27:17). I have been in a men's group of some kind my entire Christian life. I need this. I cannot do it alone. I will drift without other men holding accountable. And so will you? Are you meeting with others who help your heart to stay hot for God?
4. We must be relentless to keep water off of our fire. If you pour water on a fire, it will go out. There are many things in our life and culture that seek to pour water on our fire for God. You and I must identify those things and fight in the Spirit to keep them from our heart. We must "put on the Lord Jesus and make no provision for the flesh" (Rom. 13:14). Water on our fire can come in the form of temptations, sin, or just "good things" that become consuming - like a hobby. Hebrews 12 says to put off all sin and "everything that hinders." We know we must put off sin, but how often do we also put off things that hinder us that might not be outright sin? To keep a hot heart for God involves being relentless to keep the water off of our fire.
What I have just shared is not easy. The world, the flesh, and the Devil will all work to pull us down. It is increasingly difficult to live for Jesus in 2009. This is why we must depend on the outside Source (Holy Spirit), spend time with God, fellowship with others, and relentlessly fight against those things that can hinder our walk with God.
Do what it takes to get and maintain a hot heart for God. God is a consuming fire!