The following sad phrases describe the spiritual condition of Israel just moments preceding the calling of a great man of God Samuel. "The Word of The Lord was rare", "There was no open vision", "The man of God's eyes waxed dim so he could not see" & "the Lamp of God went out"
Oh the tragic state of affairs in Israel those days. Eli the priest had grown old and obese and his children the apparent heirs of the service in the temple had grown worldly, careless and neglectful of the lamp of God. Where the revelation and proclamation of the Word becomes rare so goes the vision. "Open" in the Hebrew means "breaking forth, on all sides, multiplication and growth". The steward of the Flame, Eli, no longer could keep the Flame burning in the Tabernacle. No Word, no Vision, no Flame. It always follows that pattern.
Yet that is the moment the Divine Summons is heralded into the tender ears and heart of a youth, Samuel. The most unlikely prophet. But that is how God has often called prophets & men of God, in their youth. Jeremiah, David, Josiah, Samuel and others. It is in the famine of the word and vision, where the flame burns low and the testimony of God grows silent that God kindles a flame in the hearts of the tender eared. The young, the unqualified, the ungifted, the easily passed over, those that are unrecognized by this world. Those are often the ones that people miss when they talk about who God is going to use for His Kingdom.
When the Flame grows weak and dim and is quenched by the cares of this life, the frailty of human weakness, and the revelry of sinful flesh; it was extinguished in the hearts of those mandated to keep it lit.
The Flame was never to be allowed to go out to but to bring the designated oil to cause the the lamp to burn always. (Exo 27:20) "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always."
It is inevitable that we will be faced with similar circumstances where the Lamp flickers and almost goes out. Yet how we react is most critical. Many believers, leaders, servants, missionaries, will try to compensate for the loss of burning. They will try to produce fire by the sparks of their self-made fire. But that over-compensation always leads to sorrow, regret and burn out Isaiah 50.11.
As Keepers of the Flame we are to never attempt to keep it burning, strive to cause the flame to grow or ignite by some new program, effort or campaign but rather we are only to do one thing: bring the pure oil from the beaten, crushed, and mashed olive. This oil was pure because of what it suffered, the beating, crushing. What causes the fire to burn? The right oil.
It is only that anointing oil of the Holy Spirit that falls fresh on tender hearing hearts, hearts broken by God, prepared in consecration, and dedicated to the Lord's service. Only then can the Word of The Lord be heralded into the heart-ears of a new prophet as Samuel, and a vision break forth onto the people of God. Then the Flame burns strong and there is an undeniable testimony of God in the camp.
Of the 300+ prophesies predicting the birth of Christ, the location, the date, the circumstances surrounding it as well as His Name, I've compiled 12 of the most prominent. These prophecies were written between 1450 BC and 430 BC. Manuscripts have been found proving they were written at least 400 - 1000 years before He was born.
Below is a chart of just some of the Old Testament. prophecies concerning the birth of Christ. Along with each reference is the New Testament reference where the prophecy is fulfilled.
1. Promised Through the Seed of Abraham: Old Testament Prophecy: Genesis 22:18 New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 1:1
2. Promised Through Isaac: Old Testament Prophecy: Genesis 21:12 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:34
3. Out of the Tribe of Judah: Old Testament Prophecy: Micah 5:2 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:33
4. Born in the Family of Jesse: Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 11:1 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:32
5. Born in the House of David (King): Old Testament Prophecy: Jeremiah 23:5-6 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:31
6. Born in Bethlehem: Old Testament Prophecy: Micah 5:2 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 2:4-7
7. Born of a virgin: Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14 New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 1:18
8. Worshipped and Presented gifts by Kings: Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 72:10 New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 2:11
9. Worshipped by Shepherds: Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 72:9 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 2:9
10. Flight to Egypt Old Testament Prophecy: Hosea 11:1 New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 2:13-14
11. He will be called Lord: Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 110:1 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 2:11
12. He is the Son of God: Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 2:7 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:22 (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11)
Truly He is The Son of God, Messiah for Israel and our Prince of Peace!
Throughout human history there have always been an exclusive, privileged few that have had the honorable task of keeping, maintaining, caring for and watching over The Flame of God. Whether a chosen family or an individual - this keeper was to continually guard The Flame that it would not be put out, that the ashes would not build up around it choking it and that it would remain burning in the darkest of hours.
The Flame represented the Presence of God, the Witness of the Holy Spirit, the purging of all that can be consumed in sacrifice for the Most Holy. The Flame was the Light that bore the defining Illumination for The Path that had to be trod to The Way Everlasting, The Way into the Promise.
The Flame is characteristic of all that God is, His Desire, His Will, & His Love. Anything that is not all of God is and all that He is made up of is combustible, unstable, temporal and will be consumed. In short anything that is not of Spirit and Light will be consumed by the Flame of God until all that remains is God Himself and His Love.
In each epoch of the Bible it is carefully laid out who the keepers of The Flame were. These keepers were the guards and they themselves were the fuel for its Flame - Hebrews 1.7. These men & women of old and of now in the Church Age, were aflame with that Sacred Fire that burned within consuming their humanity yet not destroying it.
The Flame is not awful, nor is it destructive for those that are enveloped by its passion for Christ but it is a Holy Burning that purges all that is of self and of this rotting world. It sears away all that is love of ego, sentimental, all that is less than Love, Agape Love.
The Flame was ignited by God Himself in the forming of Creation when He spoke "Let the be light." Light originates from the Mouth of God, His Word, His Rhema. His Flame, His illumination comes by no other way than that of the Spoken Word of God. His Word is Light and it's how we see in this dark world.
But the keepers of the Flame, this Light, understood clearly that for The Flame to stay ignited there needed to be wood and there needed to be a sacrifice. Wood always represented that aspect of growth from the earth, trees, that could be cut down to build up and cover. Wood represents all that of Man, sourced in the Earth and not from the Heavenlies. Wood is strong for a season then fades and rots back into the earth only to fodder more. This is man. This is our humanity. This is our fragility. This is our temporal destiny. This is what must be placed on The Altar. This is what will keep the Flame burning with the Sacrifice above it enveloped in its Holy Flame.
We today, the Church of Jesus Christ, The Body of Christ on the Earth today, His Bride are the keepers of The Flame. The Flame is that Holy Spirit ignited in our Spirit that burns up that which is wooden - our humanity, and makes us a Flame of Fire.
This was the vivid illustration portrayed to Moses by God n the Burning Bush. It was a picture, a symbol of Moses' life the bush and the flame The Spirit of Burning that burned and burned yet did not destroy. Moses was to be God's Prophet a man aflame a burning light in deliverance of God's people.
The Flame burns as long as our humanity is laid daily, hourly at the Altar of the Cross. There the Flame burns till all the dross of this world is purged till we are reduced to His Love and only He remains. Then we are satisfied, healed and burn in our service & witness for Him and then find ourselves lit with The Flame that never burns out.
In the following posts I would like to discuss the subject of Fire in the Bible; the Flame of God. We have been talking about this in Philly at our services. I will begin this series with this poem by Amy Wilson Carmichael (16 December 1867 – 18 January 1951) who was a missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur.
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
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 Thy 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.
I am writing you as well as other friends and co-laborers of the ministry in Ukraine that have been and are today burdened for the Ukraine and the work of the ministry there.
Grisha, an assisting pastor in Odessa, a husband and a
father of 2, is in need of an emergency heart operation which will take place this Thursday the 13th. He has a valve in his heart that requires open heart surgery and due to this heart condition his liver is now beginning to fail thus the speedy operation.
Grisha with his family and team have been a dear friend and a key part in the ministry to troubled youth and orphans in Odessa. He is our first disciple in Odessa meeting him and leading him to Christ in 1995.
The remaining amount needed for the operation is about 3000$. We are believing God that this be raised by Wednesday the 12th.
If The Lord puts it on your heart to help with 10$, 50$, 100$ or more than please contact the GGWO Missions department email@example.com and designate your tax deductible gift for "Grisha's Operation"
Thank you and God bless you!
UPDATE: 12.24.2012 - God is faithful! The operation has finished and Grisha is now recovering slowly, he is sitting up in bed talking and smiling. Please pray for him and the recovery process and that his liver would also recover from the damage it got while his heart was failing.
“When you don’t have to think of anything, when your mind isn’t being taken to think by the environment…where does your mind go? What does your mind habitually go to? What do you most like to think about? What do you most enjoy daydreaming about? What gives you the most comfort to fantasize about? ... That’s your God. Your religion is what you do with your solitude." - Archbishop William Temple
This was passed on to me this morning and it was blessed manna for me. Enjoy this gem from FB Meyer from 1896.
"Many children of God are so deeply exercised on the matter of guidance that it may be helpful to give a few suggestions as to knowing the way in which our Father would have us walk, and the work He would have us do. The importance of the subject cannot be exaggerated; so much of our power and peace consists in knowing where God would have us be, and in being just there.
The manna only falls where the cloudy pillar broods; but it is certain to be found on the sands, which a few hours ago were glistening in the flashing light of the heavenly fire, and are now shadowed by the fleecy canopy of cloud. If we are precisely where our heavenly Father would have us to be, we are perfectly sure that He Will provide food and raiment, and everything beside. When He sends His servants to Cherith, He will make even the ravens to bring them food.
How much of our Christian work has been abortive because we have persisted in initiating it for ourselves, instead of ascertaining what God was doing, and where He required our presence! We dream bright dreams of success. We try to command it. We call to our aid all kinds of expedients, questionable or otherwise. At last we turn back, disheartened and ashamed, like children who are torn and scratched by the brambles, and soiled by the quagmire. None of this had come about if only we had been, from the first, under God's unerring guidance. He might test us, but He could not allow us to mistake.
Naturally, the child of God, longing to know his Father's will, turns to the sacred Book, and refreshes his confidence by noticing how in all ages God has guided those who dared to trust Him up to the very hilt, but who at the time must have been as perplexed as we are often now. We know how Abraham left kindred and country, and started, with no other guide than God, across the trackless desert to a land which he knew not. We know how for forty years the Israelites were led through the peninsula of Sinai, with its labyrinths of red sandstone and its wastes of sand. We know how Joshua, in entering the Land of Promise, was able to cope with the difficulties of an unknown region, and to overcome great and warlike nations, because he looked to the Captain of the Lord's hosts, who ever leads to victory. We know how, in the early Church, the Apostles were enabled to thread their way through the most difficult questions, and to solve the most perplexing problems, laying down principles which will guide the Church to the end of time; and this because it was revealed to them as to what they should do and say, by the Holy Spirit."