Speaking with Fire
I hope you are sitting down because this post is going to be a little intense. You may not realize this but you are called to be a minister! God has appointed you to live in this very moment of this generation at this particular time to do His work that He planned for you before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:13). No pressure. I like to think of it as being an undercover agent for Christ, but we can discuss that another day. Recently I was reading Jeremiah 5:14 and this caught my attention:
“…I will make my words in your mouth a fire
and these people the wood it consumes.”
In this particular passage, the people had drifted away from God. They were corrupt, choosing self and other things (including idols) over God and had lost their fear of the Lord. Their hearts were far from Him. God used Jeremiah to deliver the message about how God was going to get His people’s hearts back. When I read this verse, the word “fire” really stood out to me. Jeremiah’s words meant nothing on their own, but when they came with the fire of the Lord, they were powerful: powerful enough to change hearts and transform culture.
I want to speak the Lord’s words of power within my sphere of influence. I want to have His fire pushing the words out from my mouth to give them weight and meaning to those receiving them. Have you ever heard a sermon or read a devotion or had a friend say something to you that stopped you in your tracks? It cut you straight to your heart? Like you knew that message was from God to you? That is what happens when we speak with fire from the Spirit. Our words are no longer merely human words trying to say the right thing, but they become God’s words saying the very thing that strikes hearts and changes souls. When laced with the Spirit, our words can have the power to set people free, build people up and point them to the Lord. Lives can be changed. Lives can be saved. Words like that make a culture of revival. Think about it: how could the world around you change? I want to burn with that kind of fire. I want the Lord to infiltrate my speech so that He can use me to change our culture!
There’s a thing you must realize, though. We can’t be a people spreading a revival fire at the same time that we are spreading gossip and criticism. How can the Lord use my speech to be powerful and life-giving to others if my same mouth is cursing others, speaking unkindly, judging, making dishonorable jokes, etc.?
Take a look at Isaiah 58:9-12:
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called
Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Stop with the “pointing finger”. Is it just me, or does anyone else have issues with this? It is easy to identify things like hateful speech or “malicious talk”, but what about that pointing finger? I think I point my finger at people deep inside my heart. I pass judgement. I criticize. Sometimes it comes out in what I say and sometimes it doesn’t, but it is there in my heart. Why does it matter what I am thinking in my heart if I don’t say it out loud?
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 NIV
God cares about our hearts. The whole problem in Jeremiah’s time was that the people’s hearts were far from God. He wants our whole heart. Our heart is where our speech and actions get their beginning- everything we do and say flows from our heart. We need to make sure our heart is aligned with His. When I read this passage, I realized that my speech is not always honoring Him. I lose my temper with my kids more easily than I would like to admit. I have thoughts of criticism of others and struggle with judgement. I have definitely fell prey to the temptation of discussing a “prayer request” with others that was honestly more of an excuse to gossip. God knows our hearts. He knows we are going to mess up. This is not a call to perfection but to surrender. He wants us to surrender our hearts and speech to Him so that He can use us. When we are surrendered, we have a teachable spirit that is sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings: when we go our own way, He can give us a nudge to get back on track. In this same heart posture, we can be used to deliver life-giving words from Him to those around us.
From our passage in Isaiah, we can see that when we take away “the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk”, and instead offer help and a heart of love and service to those around us, there are blessings in store for us:
our light will rise in the darkness
our gloom will be turned into light
the Lord will guide us
the Lord will satisfy us in the deserts
the Lord will strengthen us
we will be like a well-watered garden and a never-failing spring of water
we will rebuild the ancient ruins; we will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings
Those last two points are my favorite. When I examine my heart and speech to make it pleasing and honorable to Him, I become like “a well-watered garden” which is a place that bears fruit. I want my life to be fruitful for the kingdom. I don’t want to just survive through life. I want to bring life to others. The “never-failing spring of water” is the living water of the Holy Spirit who works in me. He fills my heart and then pours out into the lives of those around me through my speech and actions. With the power He gives me to speak with His holy water and fire, I can rebuild and restore things that were previously ruined, broken or even left for dead.
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to start building. To a person struggling with worthlessness and abandonment, I want to speak God’s Truth that he/she is chosen, valued and never abandoned. To a person trapped in a pit of despair, I want to speak words of encouragement, joy and hope. For that person who is living oppressed in the darkness of this world, I want to bring the light of the gospel of Christ. Let’s speak with the power of fire and build up the kingdom to bring a culture of revival to our world. It starts here.
Lord, help me to have a heart for revival. I want to speak Your powerful words of fire that change lives. I pray that my heart and speech are honoring to You. Reveal to me anything in them that is displeasing to You, and help me to be teachable so that I can be made more like You everyday. Make me a person whose heart is fully surrendered to You, so that I am available to be used for Your work. Amen.