#774. THE FIRE OF GOD (20/3/23)
This week we continue in our 9-week series entitled ’Praying Together’; this series is loosely based upon the book and course, ‘The Prayers of many’ by Mike Betts. During this series, we want to learn about the importance of corporate prayer.
‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’ (Acts 2:1-4)
Summary: The fire is God’s powerful, purifying and guiding presence when we meet together to pray.
This week’s devotionals are loosely based upon chapter 4 of Mike Bett’s book, The Prayers of Many. Here, he compares building a prayer culture to building a fire: it requires the right materials and some planning.
What is the fire that we see manifest in Acts 2 as ‘a violent wind…tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them’? We must be careful to understand this as the presence of the Holy Spirit. As they pray together, they are meeting with God and not some impersonal force or power.
Why wind and fire? Why, in this instance, does the Holy Spirit reveal Himself as wind and fire? Throughout scripture, the invisible God reveals Himself in various forms (As a dove, for example, see John 1:32); these manifestations are designed to communicate something about God to us. God is invisible and all manifestations are by His purpose of revealing His attributes to us.
In Acts 2:1-4, the attributes of wind and fire are used to reveal several characteristics of God:
The wind and fire represent the power of God. Just as wind and fire can be strong and forceful, so the Holy Spirit came with great power, filling the room where the disciples were gathered and enabling them to speak boldly and in different languages. In the creation we read:
‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit (or wind - Ruach) of God was hovering over the waters.’ (Genesis 1:1-2)
This verse is the first mention of the "ruach" of God in the Bible and sets the stage for His recurring presence throughout both the Old and the New Testaments.
2. HOLY AND PURIFYING
Fire is often associated with holiness and purification in the Bible. God is holy and this fire is communicating this to them (See Exodus 3:1-2 where God reveals His holiness in a burning bush). The Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire, purifying the hearts and minds of the disciples. This was the beginning of the New Covenant era where we are promised:
‘This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ (Hebrews 9:10)
Wind can be a guide, blowing in a certain direction and leading people to their destination. Through a pillar of fire, God led the people through the desert and to the Promised Land. Similarly, the Holy Spirit guides believers in their daily lives, helping them to discern God's will and leading them towards righteousness.
Fire can also be transformative, changing one substance into another. Similarly, the Holy Spirit transforms believers, renewing their minds and empowering them to live a new life in Christ.
RESPONSE - PRAY TOGETHER, EXPECTING TO ENCOUNTER THE FIRE AND WIND OF GOD’S PRESENCE
The attributes of wind and fire in Acts 2 reveal God's power, Holy and purifying nature, guidance, and transformative work in the lives of believers through the Holy Spirit. This is what we are to expect when we pray together. How would this expectation affect your attitude to our prayer meetings?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
During this series, we will be using the 'Prayers of Many' course by Mike Betts.
I encourage you to buy a copy of the book from: https://prayersofmany.org/book#buybook
If you need assistance in buying a book please send an email to the church office and we will happily purchase you a copy.
Please download the course handbook from: