“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV)
Playing With Fire?
This whole verse seems hopelessly out of date in some ways. It claims that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, when it seems like Christianity is less accepted and more under attack than it has been in years; it talks about reverence and awe when our culture enjoys coffee and flip flops in church (and we better be out of church in time for the big game); and it says that God is a consuming fire in a world full of consumers who buy temporary stuff and want instant gratification. It begs the question: if God is a consuming fire, who is being consumed?
A Promise made is a Promise Kept
Let’s go shopping in these verses and see what we can take home… 1) First, whenever you see a “Therefore” in Scripture, you should look back in the passage and see what it’s there for. The writer of Hebrews quoted Haggai 2:6, reminding a repressed and skeptical people that no matter what their political circumstances, God still had a covenant with them and was still going to exercise His will.
“In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory…” The nations will be shaken, but not God’s plans. Remember what God has promised and take heart.
2) The writer of Hebrews says we should be thankful. All revival begins with thanksgiving, and all thanksgiving begins with the right transaction in your heart. Having a posture of thankfulness assumes humility before the giver and an attitude of gratitude. Do you feel the proper sense of humility before the Lord? Are you grateful for all He has done? Have you given thanks today?
Step Out and Step In
3) Worshiping God should involve reverence and awe. What we wear to church doesn’t really matter, but when was the last time you truly experienced reverence and awe in worship? Step out of your timed church service boundaries and your concerns about where to go for lunch and allow yourself to be steeped in the majesty and splendor of an Almighty God. Remember that He loves you and is jealous for you.
The writer of Hebrews quotes Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” He is not a petty suitor jealous of someone else but a passionate lover who is jealous for you and your attention. He wants what is best for you and wants you to experience His love and goodness in an overwhelming way.
4) God is jealous for you in the way a mother is jealous for her child’s safety, and the same way a husband is jealous for his dying wife’s health. He is loving and possessive in the best kinds of ways, and we should remember that in our everyday lives. We should be consumed not because God demands it but because He wants to place us in the security and protection of His love and His presence.
And finally, this: 5) If God is a consuming fire, then why are we not consumed? Is it He that is not hot enough or bright enough? Or is it that we just don’t WANT to be burned? Perhaps we selfishly reserve our passions for ourselves, refusing to be burned and thereby consumed. Consider this: if to avoid consumption, we stay away from the fire, then we also miss the warmth, the illumination, and ultimately the passion in being truly inflamed… Is God not warm enough? Bright enough? Perhaps you are sitting a bit too far from the fire…
Worshiping God assumes we're open to the things he cares for, And therefore look within His Word to see just what it's there for. Worship presupposes that we come to Him with gratitude, Allowing Him to shape not just our service, but our attitude. This Sunday, try to focus not on comfort or attire, But let yourself be open to the passion and desire That leads you to repentance as it lifts your spirit higher, And lose yourself in worship in our God's consuming fire.
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