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« What Kind of World Will Your Child Grow Up In? | Main | The Prophet Comes to Zarephath »

Fire on the Earth

Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.  47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.  49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?  50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!

This is one of those passages of scripture that makes people sit on the edge of their seats; that makes us look back over our shoulders with a sense that something strange is about to happen.  Who are these servants that are not prepared for their master to come?  Who are these who know full well that he was coming and didn’t seem to care? 

Much is given to someone; much will be required.  Much has been committed to someone; much will be asked of them.

Jesus sets up a scenario that introduces anticipation and hope, but also fear and dread.  We could speculate whether He is speaking about the Jews of His day or the church of our day.  There are some things that apply to both.

“I am come to send fire on the earth!”  That is not a statement intended to rock us to sleep.  To the contrary, it is meant to shake us out of our sleep.  Jesus was not trying to smooth over ruffled feathers or calm ruffled feelings.  He was waving a red flag in full view of the entire world that something was about to happen that would shake the world to its very foundations!

 “I am come to send fire on the earth!”  Another translation says, “I am come to send fire on the earth; how I wish it were already kindled!”  Immediately after saying this, He said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” 

He may have meant something like this:  “I am looking at something so terrible that I wish it was history instead of the future!  I have an ordeal ahead of me and I am extremely stressed out until it is over!”

I don’t think we fully appreciate what Jesus went through.  You see, He knew how He was going to die.  He knew it from the moment He entered this world.  He said to Pilate in John 18:37, “To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

Calvary did not take Jesus by surprise.  He lived its torment and felt its pain every day of his life, not just when it actually happened.  Yet, he kept going forward, moving inexorably toward that purpose.   That’s why the writer to the Hebrews said, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2.

But it is this haunting statement that captures my attention today.  “I am come to send fire on the earth!”  In saying this, Jesus drew a circle around His entire band of disciples and included them all.  No, they were not going to suffer the crucifixion as He did, but they were going to pay a price for believing in Him.

I don’t want anyone to be under any illusions.  True belief in Jesus Christ is not an insignificant decision in life.  It is the most profound, costly and demanding thing you can do.  That’s why it takes a new birth.  It’s not for sunshine patriots or fair-weather fans.  It is the most expensive decision you will ever make.  But let me warn you—the only thing more costly than believing in Jesus is NOT believing in Jesus. 

Why?  Because Jesus said, “I am come to send a fire on the earth!”  The outcome, not the process, is what’s at stake.  2 Timothy 2:11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:  12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

 “I am come to send fire on the earth!”

Fire means wrath.  God rained down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah.  Fire means decisive action.  God rained down fire on the sacrifice of Elijah.  Fire means judgment.  God rained down fire on the false prophets of Baal.  But fire also means something positive.  “I counsel…to buy gold tried in the fire.”

The fire of God is not an accidental conflagration resulting from a careless act.  God knows what He is doing.  He has come to send fire in a very purposeful way.

There are people here in all sorts of moods, mindsets and attitudes.  You may have a bone to pick with the pastor, the church or with God.  You may be sad, angry, depressed, belligerent or disrespectful.  You may feel cheated, betrayed, hurt or rejected. 

Please understand something about the fire that God sends on the earth.  The wildfires of California have taught us that nothing stands in the way of a raging fire.  The fire doesn’t ask how long the tree has been standing or how expensive the house may be.  There is no immunity to the fires of God.

I hope when you leave here this morning, you will sobered back into the reality of a real God who has this world in his all-powerful grasp.

First, we may very well be seeing fire on the earth in terms of current events.

  • The global economic outlook looks worse today than any time in our history.
  • The U-6 unemployment rate represents real world conditions and is now at 13.5%
  • If the current rate was calculated like it was 80 years ago (1929), it would be 17.5%
  • In 1930, the unemployment rate was 8.9%, about half what it is today.

2010: The year of bankrupt gov’ts

By RALPH PETERS Last Updated: 3:23 AM, December 25, 2009 Posted: 1:35 AM, December 23, 2009

“For spendthrift governments around the world, the new year’s going to bring massive defaults. The new globalization may be the globalization of a second wave of financial crises.

The world economy is not convalescing. It’s just been pumped full of unaffordable medicines. Borrowing madly, countries as diverse as Greece and Dubai have been buying time, not fiscal health.

In Ireland and Spain, housing bubbles created the illusion of roaring economies — and pandering governments inflated already generous social programs. In Italy and Greece, state giveaways, bubble economies and rabid corruption created national debts in excess of GDP. Even in this age of globalization and complex financial instruments, one law of the financial jungle remains brutally true: The bills come due eventually.

Dubai’s bankrupt, but frightened investors pretend otherwise. Greece is bankrupt, and the other Euro-currency states don’t know what to do: The strict fiscal-policy rules for the Euro-zone are crumbling.

And after Greece, what about Spain? With 20 percent unemployment and an economy strangled by disincentives to job creation, Spain counts on being considered too big to fail.

The Baltic states’ economies are tubercular. Central Europe’s headed for the post-modern equivalent of debtors’ prison. And even Britain (and the global bankers’ fortress, the City of London) is still in deep treacle.

Then there’s California (and New York).

Taken in isolation, any of these problems could be managed. But these “local” crises refuse to be isolated. Toss in suspect statistics from other troubled states and hollow economies from Argentina to Russia, and 2010 looks unpredictable, to put it gently.

Chain reactions could devastate European banks and budgets .

Venezuela’s also in serious economic trouble.

Then there are the great unknowns, a Russian economy that may be far more fragile than anyone wants to admit, as well as China, opaque and insatiable.

The best scenario we could see in the global economy in 2010? Rescue-package fire brigades rushing to deal with these crises individually. What’s the worst? A chain reaction that leads to a rash of national defaults, followed by a world banking and liquidity crisis, Part II.

What of our own country, with its soaring debt, congressional irresponsibility and an administration whose No. 1 priority is expanding unaffordable entitlement programs? Draw your own conclusions.”


There is a website called the U.S. National Debt Clock that has a running calculation of the debt of the United States.


The Outstanding Public Debt as of 27 Dec 2009 at 03:40:33 AM GMT is:


The estimated population of the United States is 307,541,093
so each citizen’s share of this debt is $39,392.67.

The dollar is falling and may not be the standard world currency much longer.  There is regular talk of a global currency, a global police force, and global initiatives in many areas.

In areas of foreign policy: 

  • Iran is drawing ever closer to acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • The regime of Ahmadinejab has just tested a long range missile reaching for 1200 miles.
  • The crazed leader of North Korea tested a nuclear blast in July of this year.
  • The big news on Christmas Day was a terrorist who was overcome trying to bring down a Delta flight landing in Detroit.

I have never seen the world in this much tension and turmoil.  A fire is breaking out in every corner of the earth. 

You will see fire in terms of trials in your life.

I speak in terms of 2009.

This has been one of the most difficult years I have faced for many reasons.  One of the reasons is that we lost the patriarch of this church, Bro. Kinzie on February 8.  I have been in process of bringing some of his unpublished works into completion for printing.  I don’t think this church should allow his memory to fade because he instilled some rock-solid qualities into it that make us what we are today.  Fiery trials were a part of his life as God brought him to a point of usefulness in the kingdom.  Here are several portions of his book on Timothy that explains what this meant to him:

Faith acts. “Abraham went out not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8). Genuine faith takes God at His word and acts upon it.  A personal illustration may help you understand. Before I really committed myself to the ministry, I was hospitalized in Pensacola, Florida with rheumatic fever. I had been there for twenty-three days when I promised God in an early morning fervent prayer, that if He would heal me, I would leave the farm and go preach. That day, without any assurance that I would be healed except a peace that flooded my heart, I requested my wife to write two letters. One was to my parents informing them I’d be leaving the farm; the other to my brother-in-law proposing to sell out to him when I returned home.  This was pure faith! Suffice it to say I was healed the next morning, went home, sold out and set out on a journey of ministry that has lasted fifty-nine years so far.

Also, there is this story.

Visiting Toledo before accepting the pastorate, I realized there was no way the church could support us. I was sure I would have to supplement what the church could supply. We were in Orange, Texas conducting a meeting. One morning, as I was praying about a job in Toledo, the Lord distinctly spoke to me that He would take care of us. I never doubted it. We held a two weeks meeting immediately upon coming to Toledo and five people came to the Lord. Everyone of them started paying tithes. That did it! Although we faced many difficult times, it was always there just in time.

Then this:

When I came to Toledo as pastor, within my first month I encountered a serious situation that had previously troubled the church.  This situation would cause me much anxiety for several years until it finally broke. These things disturb a pastor’s nervous system and cause fear and uneasiness. Trusting in the Lord works them out, but the wait sometimes seems endless. For sure, they are unwanted grace developers.

I am preaching to people this morning who feel themselves wilting beneath the load, fading under the stress and giving ground back to the enemy.  2009 has been a tough year for you and the prospects for 2010 don’t look much better. 

I am here to remind you of the scripture:  1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

You will be tested by fire. 

You may feel the fires of persecution.  You will feel the fires of temptation, the attacks of Satan against you, the constant irritants of false friends and hostile family members.  Stand up to the fire.  The fire will not destroy you.  It will purify you.  It will purge you from the dross and impurities that lie within you.

(Have the youth stand up.)  You must not get discouraged because of the fire.  God is not your enemy.  The church is not your enemy.  You are serving God in the middle of hostile territory.  Your role models are not rock stars, sports heroes or Hollywood icons.  Stand up to the peer pressure.  Stand up to the subtle criticism of professors, teachers and bosses.  Joseph made it.  Daniel made it.  Timothy made it—and so can you.  It is better to be known in the annals of heaven than the halls of fame on earth. 

(Have the women stand up.)    You must not get discouraged because of the fire.  You are women professing godliness.  You respect who you are; you respect your bodies, your minds, your souls.  You put your families first; you make sure that Christ is in the center of your home.  Stand up to the pressure to be like the world, to look like the world, to have “fun” like the world.  Too many who have done that have discovered that the fun was a mile wide but an inch deep.  When the glamour faded and the friends disappeared, they had nothing to show for their foolishness.  Be the kind of woman whose children will someday rise up and call you blessed!

(Have the men stand up.)  You must not get discouraged because of the fire.  You are men lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.  Resist the temptations of the alcohol and drugs, the gambling and wild living, the shady deals and compromises of your integrity.  Stand up to the buddies who want to influence you to do all the wrong things.  Lead your homes into spiritual ways; take responsibility for doing the right things.

This may not qualify for great preaching, but it is good, solid advice! 

There will be fire that will consume the earth in the last days!

It has already begun.  The word “meltdown” is now frequently used to describe what is happening.

Revelation 18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.


7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.


But we have a hope in Christ that lifts us up above all the cataclysmic events that will take place on the earth.  We will be in heaven observing all these things from above; not on earth going through the tribulations.

Revelation 18:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

The fire is coming.  Are you ready for the fire?  There is a fire that you need.  It is a holy fire, a fire that burns within you.  It is the Holy Ghost and fire!

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