The Fire On The Altar

Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, once said, “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or removes your desire for spiritual things – that is sin to you.”

Leviticus 6:12-13 And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.

According to the New Testament, true believers in Jesus Christ are referred to as priests. (See 1 Peter 2:9) As such we need to always keep the fire of devotion to the Lord burning on the altar of their hearts and not become lukewarm or cold.

Revelation 3:15-16 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.

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

Is the fire burning hot on the altar of your heart, or are the embers glowing dim? It is a proven spiritual principle that allowing sin and compromise to dominate in your life will cool your fervour for the Lord Jesus Christ and the things of God.

One passage that has greatly helped me in my service to the Lord has been 2 Timothy 1:6-8:

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

In the above verse, “stir up” means “to bring the fire to life again.” We are to use our spiritual gifts – not just keep them on the shelf (in a manner of speaking). The Holy Spirit has divided these gifts among the believers in each local church to edify the body of Christ and to equip them for service. (See 1 Corinthians 12:1, 7, 11 and Ephesians 4:11-16)

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Fear does not come from God – except for the fear of the Lord! The word for “fear” in this passage means “dread; timidity.” If I am cowardly and timid in my service and witnessing, then I know I am not submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit; I am not filled with (controlled or influenced by) His Holy Spirit, but am in fact controlled by my flesh or fear caused by Satan. We should never let either of these dictate whether we will be faithful to the Lord or not; whether we will be a witness or not. Some other related verses that have also strengthened me and helped me fight the battle when I am tempted to be timid are: Proverbs 29:25 and 28:1, as well as 1 John 4:18.

What has Jesus Christ given me instead of fear? His power for witnessing (Acts 1:8), His love for the lost (Romans 5:5 and 2 Corinthians 5:14), and a “sound mind” (notice temperance in Galatians 5:22-23). A “sound mind” means “discipline; self-control.” The Holy Spirit gives me the power and ability to resist the fear and the self-control to do the service He requires of me.

Because of the gifts, strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), grace (1 Peter 5:5 and 2 Corinthians 9:8), power, love, and sound mind the Lord has given us, we have all we need day by day as we strive to serve Him.

The Apostle Paul goes on to say this:

2 Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.

Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

“…A sense of the Redeemer’s preciousness makes the Christian useful, for that which is much in the heart will soon creep up to the tongue, and the testimony of the heart is a notable method of spreading the gospel. If thou lovest Christ much, thou will speak about him… Thus, telling out, with a burning heart, the things which he has made touching the King, others will hear the good news, and they will ask, ‘Who is this Precious One?’ and they will, by God’s good Spirit, be led to seek him and find him too. So, the Christian valuing Christ will come to be useful to the souls of men….” – Charles Spurgeon.

Fervency is the fire on the altar of your heart that burns the incense of prayer and sends the sweet-smelling savour up to God. – A phrase I coined, loosely based on a statement I had heard but could not quite remember.

“The preacher with fire in his bones does not only await an opportunity; he makes one. He must preach!” – John R. Rice.

The Altar Is Empty

The altar is empty –
The sacrifice has walked away.
The heart’s gone cold –
Where’s the willingness to pray?

Something is wrong, it shouldn’t be,
No peace within, convicting me!

Kindle my heart, stir into a flame.
Restore my soul, as I call on Your name.
Oh Lord above, grant me the grace
To deny myself and put Your will in its place.

The altar is empty –
There are no prayers offered today.
The heart’s lukewarm –
Where’s the desire to pray?

The field is white, but no reaping done,
No hearts breaking, pleading for God’s Son.


The field is empty –
Where are the labourers today?
Those faithful servants
Standing in the gap to pray?

Oh hear God’s voice, His Spirit’s call;
Repent, you watchmen, upon the wall.


Quicken my heart, in Jesus’ name,
Cleanse me from my sin – bring to life again.
Send me, oh Lord, and I will go –
Go and tell the world Jesus loves them so.

Devotional and song written July 29th, 2004
Jerry Bouey

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