Forest FireWhen a tree’s life is threatened—stressed by elements of fire, drought, or another calamity—it twists beneath its bark to reinforce and make itself stronger. This new inner strength may not be visible, because bark often continues to give the same vertical appearance. However, when the exterior is stripped away, or the tree chopped down, its inner struggles are revealed. 

Would you please read Mark 9:42-50? Here Jesus explains that everyone will be salted with fire, and this adversity creates strength. 

God’s fire purifies. Sooner or later you will face the fire. The sooner you face the fire, the sooner the fire will purify you. 1 Peter 1:6-7 promises that trials can refine and prove your faith. 

Fire helped prepare my wedding ring. The gold that makes up most of my ring had to go through a process of refining, which was not conducted at pleasant temperatures [like a warm summer day]. Rather, extreme temperatures were necessary to remove the impurities from the gold. The process is not easy, but the results are worth it! 

One wise man claimed, “You can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy holiday, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.” 

Would you like more faith? The Apostle Peter explains that faith is purified by fire. When you ask for more faith, do you realize what you ask? You are asking for more fire in your life. You are asking for more adversity, not for comfort and ease. God is more interested in your character, than in your comfort. Jesus has come to comfort the troubled and to trouble the comfortable. 

You may have invited Jesus Christ to be your Saviour, but if you don’t fully surrender to Him and ask Him to live His life through you—you will miss out in both this life, and in the new life in heaven and on the new earth. 

How much do you want to be strong in your faith? Enough to face the fire now? Will you dare to pray with me to ask the Lord to take you through the fire? 

God’s fire purifies or punishes. Sooner or later you will face the fire. The later you face the fire the more you will lose in the fire. Parents are commanded in the Bible to drive foolishness, or rebellion from the heart of their child through discipline. 

A problem child was becoming too well acquainted with the principal’s office. One day the principal remarked with annoyance, “This makes the fifth time I’ve punished you this week. What have you to say for yourself?” The child quickly replied, “I’m glad it’s Friday.” 

Ge-HinnomDid you know that Jesus talked about hell more than He talked about heaven? The English term “hell” in Mark 9 is translated from the Greek word “gehenna”—a loose translation of the Hebrew term “Gehinnom” or “the Valley of Hinnom.” Gehenna was a ravine just outside Jerusalem which, in ancient times, had been the scene of human sacrifices but later became the city’s garbage dump. Since a fire burned continuously at the dump, it became a natural metaphor for the place of future eternal punishment. 

It seems that boys, particularly, are fascinated by fire. This was certainly true for me growing up on a farm. My friends and I would do all sorts of crazy things with matches and magnifying glasses. When I almost burnt down our barn, I learned a valuable lesson—fire is something to be respected. 

Many people refuse to see God as someone who can punish. They hear us say God is love, which is certainly biblical; however, we fail to understand that love has a hard side and a soft side (see Romans 11:22). The God who loves is the same God who punishes. The fire of God is something to be revered. This kind of awe or holy fear can help motivate you to avoid sin and its consequences. 

Have you asked Jesus Christ to come into your life and be your Master and your Saviour? Are there things in your life you know are standing between you and a strong, close relationship with Jesus? Let them go today. 

A vacationer watched, with curiosity, a lumberman who occasionally jabbed his sharp hook into a log, separating it from the others that were floating down a mountain stream. When asked why he did this, the worker replied, “These may all look alike to you, but a few of them are quite different. The ones I let pass are from trees that grew in a valley where they were always protected from the storms. Their grain is coarse. The ones I’ve hooked and kept apart from the rest, came from high up on the mountains. From the time they were small, they were beaten by strong winds. This toughens the trees and gives them a fine and beautiful grain. We save them for choice work. They’re too good to make into plain lumber.” 

God’s fire purifies or punishes. Sooner or later you will face the fire. 

Allan Pole photo

Allan Pole
CESLM President