THE SPARK, THE FIRE, THE POWER THAT CHANGES OUR LIVES
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
26 MAY 1996
ByFrank L. Hoffman, Pastor
What is the Spark? What is the Fire? What is the Power that changes our lives?
It's the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
When He first touches us, or whispers in our ear, or shows us the presence of God in our lives, a spark is ignited.
But like any spark, it soon goes out if it has nothing to ignite with its heat.
Most of us have seen a steelworker or a plumber ignite a gas torch with a spark maker.
The spark is there only a second, but if the gas and air are also present, the spark turns into flame.
And, the flame will only continue to burn as long as there is a continuous supply of gas with the appropriate percentage of air or oxygen.
Then, and only then, does the power to do work come from the combination of the ability of the worker coupled with the heat of the flame.
John Wesley had been in the ministry quite some time, and things just weren't going the way he thought they should.
God had been showering him with sparks for years, and they just didn't fully ignite anything.
Then one day, while with a group of Moravians in their service, John said that a strange warming came upon him.
That was the day he fully allowed the Holy Spirit to enter his life, and the flame was ignited.
And because he continued to fuel the flame, the power of the ministry followed rapidly.
In the Book of Numbers (11:24-30), we are told of what happened to the seventy leaders of Israel who agreed to help Moses:
24. So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. Also, he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and stationed them around the tent.
25. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him [Moses] and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And it came about that when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again.
We are not told how they prophesied; we do not know whether it was the praising of God in other languages, or the speaking forth of the wonders of God in their own language, or actually speaking of the future.
But it lasted long enough to let the other people know that the Holy Spirit was with them as He was with Moses.
But this manifestation of God's power didn't continue, for the Lord wanted to make sure that the people would still look to Moses as His choice to lead Israel; the others were there to assist Moses and not to replace Him.
26. But two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them (now they were among those who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent), and they prophesied in the camp.
27. So a young man ran and told Moses and said, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."
28. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, answered and said, "Moses, my lord, restrain them."
Joshua was jealous for Moses' leadership, and he was afraid that if others in the camp began to prophesy, that it would diminish Moses' leadership.
But such power is not of man, but of God, and we cannot restrain it, nor should we attempt to.
Listen to what Moses says:
29. But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!"
30. Then Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel.
This is my hope and wish for this church.
Years ago, I heard Ethel say, after returning from Germany, that she always knew she was a lamp of the Lord's, but she never realized that she lacked the oil to burn in it.
How Ethel's ministry will continue is based upon how she maintains her lamp and the supply of oil in it.
Jim said that when he was in Romania, his flame was lit.
How he supplies the fuel will determine what kind of minister he will become.
Fred said that since he was a child, he has felt the call to become a pastor.
He was standing in the shower of sparks from the Holy Spirit.
And only recently, it came about that a spark began to ignite into a steady flame, sometimes bright, and sometimes just a faint glow.
How his ministry develops and progresses is based upon his willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to fully energize him into the minister the Lord knows he can be.
Last week you heard Angie say that she knew the Lord had been with her all of her life, but it was only recently that she responded to the call and allowed her flame to be ignited.
But it will be Angie's willingness to obey and respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit, that will determine the effectiveness of her ministry.
And I could tell similar stories of myself, and of Mary, and of many of the rest of you gathered here today.
This was true of many of the Jewish people in Jerusalem some 1,969 years ago on this day.
Letís turn to Acts 2, and listen to what took place.
1. And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.
4. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
If you have ever wondered how the Methodist Church got its symbol of the flame and the cross, it came from here; that all who would come to the cross would be ignited with this same flame.
The Holy Spirit is blowing forth His breath in here, right now, as a mighty wind filled with sparks. I pray it will ignite some new flames, and cause others to burn more brightly, as it did with many of these people.
5. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
6. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language.
7. And they were amazed and marveled, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8. "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?
9. "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10. Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11. Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God."
12. And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"
Our language is American English, and are we not hearing the word of God in our own language?
Does the word of God amaze you, and cause you to want more and become more, and be ignited as these people were ignited?
Or does it do something else, as it did to others in Jerusalem:
Acts 2:13. But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine."
I know there are quite a few people who think I'm full of sweet wineÖor something else.
But that's all right, for I know the truth, and I won't let anyone cool my flame or blow it out.
And I will continue to try to help ignite their flame, in spite of what they are like today, just as Peter did, and as I hope some of you will.
14. But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words.
15. "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day;
16. but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:
17. 'And it shall be in the last days,' God says,
'That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
18. Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
19. 'And I will grant wonders in the sky above,
And signs on the earth beneath,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
20. 'The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
21. 'And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
We, too, are living in the last days.
We, too, should be seeing the signs in the natural world around us, that is, if we have eyes to see.
And if we have ears to hear, we should be calling upon the Lord in such a way that we, too, are ignited with the flame of the Lord and filled with His power.
This is the power we need to bring the heavenly will of our Father to earth that it may be done here as it is in heaven.
This is what it means to be born again.
This is what it means to be saved.
Your Comments are welcome
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