The fire of God that fell on the first followers of Jesus at Pentecost
The raw ancient element of fire that offers comfort, protection and provision. Firepit is a journey to uncover the fire stories of the Bible and personally connect with the God behind them.
When someone chooses to become a follower of Jesus, the power of God comes upon them and something transformational takes place on the inside. Far from some kind of aftermarket accessory to the life we’ve already got, we are quite literally born again, we start to live out God’s plan for our lives and join his great mission to fill the earth with his love and purpose. This is Wildfire.
The Holy Spirit is the presence and power of God and is often portrayed in the Bible as fire. Not just the delicate flames that flicker on top of candles but an intelligent wildfire that ignites within us providing the internal combustion to propel us forward into a life of adventure and destiny in the hands of God.
Let me take you back to the day the church was born on the streets of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. Jesus has died on the cross for the sins of the world and then raised from the dead after three days by the power of Heaven. He’s appeared numerous times to his followers. On one occasion to 500 people saw him at the same time leaving everyone in no doubt that he was alive.
Jesus then returned to Heaven with the promise that one day he will return in glory. He left his disciples with an instruction to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the Wildfire. It would bring with it the power they would need and it would blaze a burning trail for the Gospel across the face of the earth to every nationn, tribe and people.
This is how the Bible captures those momentous days as the curtain falls on the three years of Jesus public life and the baton passes to a timid, frightened and rather underqualified group of nobodies. It starts with the final recorded words of Jesus on earth.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere, in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. (Acts 1:8-9 extracts NLT)
Then the disciples returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.(Acts 1:12-13 NLT)
The very first President of the Coca Cola Company nearly a hundred years ago had a vision that no one would die without having tasted Coca Cola, he didn’t do a bad job. People fill the world with their messages and their products all the time but the Good News of Jesus and God’s eternal plan for humanity is a bit important than a carbonated soft drink.
Those words from the Bible capture ten tough days for eleven ordinary guys struggling to find their way. Peter had denied Jesus three times and needed rescuing. Another guy, Thomas has had a crisis of faith and Judas has traded Jesus for a few quid and ended it all in shame. None of them are going to win the disciple of the month competition.
Let’s try and catch the mood in that upstairs rented room. They are waiting, hoping, praying and handling the small matter of a by-election to replace Judas the outgoing member for South Judea. Just maybe, for some of them, this whole Jesus thing has pretty much ground to a halt.
Perhaps they’re considering popping back down to Galilee, to put an offer on a second hand boat to resurrect a fishing business. They’ve done it before after all. But it was all about to change in a very big way. Back to the Bible.
When the Day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong gale force wind. No one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through them and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. (Acts 2:3-4 The Message)
This divine visitation of the Holy Spirit changed everything and it still does. The fire that fell upon the followers of Jesus in an upstairs rented room incinerated their fear, their doubt and their self-pity. It was to create a backdraft that would fire them into an adventure that would even eclipse the years they had spent with Jesus.
Jesus himself said that we, as his followers, would do greater things than he did. Almost unbelievable isn’t it but that’s what this intense wildfire is all about. It’s a fire that first touched my life many years ago now and I have tried to shape my life around it ever since.
This is a family business not a solo effort, a fire burns best when the burning logs are next to each other. If we allow Jesus to put us all in the right place we will succeed. If we try to do it our own way, we’ll end up with lifeless activity and burnt out people.
John Wesley who was one of the most successful Jesus followers I’ve ever read about said this about the movement he started “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist but I am afraid they will only exist as a dead organisation, having the form of religion without the power”
It took me years to work out that God wasn’t looking for a religious performance from me. He wanted to come alongside me and fight with me and for me. Everything we need is in the two great works of God, the work of the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit. This prayer will help you to open up your life to God’s wildfire.
Father God, thank you for the firepower of your presence. I confess my absolute need of the forgiveness and new start you made possible through Jesus your son. I ask you to fill me with the wildfire of Heaven and use my life to reach others for you. Amen