“Meanwhile, the fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must never go out. Each morning the priest will add fresh wood to the fire and arrange the burnt offering on it.” (Leviticus 6:12)
Growing up, the only source of heat in our home was a wood stove. Its warmth reached our kitchen, living room, and front bathroom. The rest of the house was unheated. Winters in Central California are cold, damp, and foggy, so our family gathered near the stove all winter long. That’s where we did our homework, practiced piano, read books, watched shows and movies, ate popcorn, and visited.
My dad got up every winter morning to start the fire. Most mornings, he started the fire from the coals from the night before, but on mornings when he had to clean out the ashes, he had to start from scratch. That cold black stove took a long time to heat up. Many times, our living room was only just losing its chill when I had to start walking to the bus stop for school.
To make sure we had enough fuel for the stove, we took the wheelbarrow to the wood lot each evening, filled it with wood, and stacked the wood next to the back door. (Oh, how I hated that job and the creepy-crawlies that were involved!) Next, we filled the wood box by the stove. The giant, tarp-covered stacks of wood in the wood lot were the result of many sweaty days of work each summer.
The Fire of Faith
When I read these words in Leviticus last week, I immediately saw a picture of the fire of faith in my own heart. It must be kept burning. It must never go out. And to do that, it needs to be stoked continually.
These verses are the instructions God gave to Moses for the Levites as they served in the Tabernacle. The fire on the altar burned day and night. They must “never” allow it to go out. In order to keep it burning, they gathered the necessary fuel and tended it day and night.
It took a lot of work to keep the fire going in our family stove. Keeping a fire ablaze isn’t a once-and-done kind of a thing, and the same is true for our faith. There is so much that goes into tending the fires of our hearts. There’s the active “putting on” of the fuel that keeps our faith burning strong and bright. And there’s the proactive “putting off” of the things that can so easily quench it or cause it to burn out.
Activities that fuel our faith:
- Extended times of prayer (journaling my prayers, praying out loud, and praying on my knees all help me focus)
- Quiet time reading the Bible (with a pen handy to make notes)
- Singing worship songs at church or with the radio
- Time with Christians I look up to and are inspired by
- Reading Christian biographies and devotional books
- Hearing testimonies about how God is working in other people’s lives
- Gathering with other believers to worship, study, pray, and/or serve
- Other (fill in with your own list)
Activities that quench our faith:
- Anything that suffocates the fire in my heart
- Anything that numbs the spiritual side of my life
- Too much of any kind of media
- Certain types of television shows, movies, or books that bring me down, create temptation, or cause me to fear
- Too much time focused on worldly issues from a worldly perspective
- Too much time spent distracted by other things
- A lack of all the things that fuel my faith
- Skipping Bible study, church, or prayer meetings
- Other (fill in with your own list)
It’s dangerous to let the fire of faith die down because our hearts can grow chilly and cold quite quickly. Once that happens, it’s possible to get the fire blazing again, but it takes a lot more time and effort.
The Levitical priests added fresh wood to the fire each morning and arranged the burnt offering. What a great practical picture! It reminds me of how important it is for me to get up in the morning and add fresh fuel to my faith. I can’t forego that vital part of my day. If I wait until later, or if I lay just a tiny bit of fuel on the altar of my heart, I can easily burn out before I’m even halfway through the day.
Do you feel like the fire of faith in your life needs some more fuel? Is it burning bright or dying down? Please comment below or reply to let me know how I can pray for you today. Sometimes we need a little encouragement to keep us going!
Let us pray:
“Lord Jesus, thank you for the truth of the Bible and for this reminder today. Thank you that the Old Testament is still so radically applicable to me today because YOU are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Lord, I do want the fire of my faith to burn bright and hot. I confess that I haven’t been stoking my faith in these areas: ____ (fill in your own specifics). I also confess that these things are quenching my faith: ____ (fill in your own specifics). Please be the passion in my heart. Please show me one thing I can do today to fuel the fire. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
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